February/March 2014 EHJ (Issue 141) - This deer hunt started in July when I went up to meet my hunting buddy Josh for some preseason scouting. Every year at the beginning of July we load up the dirt bikes, spotting scopes, cameras and tents and head up to the hills, hoping to turn up some good bucks for the general season. Josh had gone up the day before, so when I arrived that evening he said he had something to show me and pulled out his camera. I knew it was probably a nice buck but I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see. It was one of the biggest muley bucks I had ever seen! The pictures were a little blurry because of the distance but you could definitely see that he was a toad. We guessed him at 33 inches wide and around 208 gross!
We finally decided the only way one of us would harvest him was in the general season or to get an early tag, which is a controlled hunt for that same unit. The problem with the general season is he would already have shed his velvet and headed into the timber and we might not ever see him again.
Since neither of us had put in for the first drawing and it was long gone, our only option was to hope that some poor guy failed to pick up his tag and maybe we could get one in the second go-round. The second drawing tags wouldn’t be posted on the Idaho Fish and Game website for a couple more weeks and those weeks felt like months. When they finally came out there were only a few left. Well, I don’t have to tell you who got the tag.
There were still two weeks before opening day, so I tried not to think about the buck. I was doing pretty well until a couple of days before the season opened. That’s when I found out there were several forest fires started by lighting in the unit and they closed the unit down a couple days before my hunt! Idaho Fish and Game called me and said that they were offering rain checks for hunters that had that tag. I told them no thanks. I thought, what are the odds? The biggest buck I might ever harvest and I can’t even hunt him.
Josh and I switched gears. We put the big ol’ buck in the back of our minds and started looking for other portions of the unit we could hunt. We found what looked like a good area on Google Earth so off we went. It was great-looking country with high mountain peaks about 8,000 feet in elevation descending to long sage and timber-covered draws with plenty of water.
We saw a handful of bucks but nothing worth looking at twice so we headed back home. I studied the closure maps every day and then one morning I got the good news that they had lifted the closure. That meant we could go in the next morning. I immediately called Josh and told him the good news. I don’t think I slept at all that night. Early the morning we were on our way.
We pulled up to our spot, unloaded the bikes, grabbed our gear and raced up the trail. From where we left the bikes, it was about a half-hour hike up to where we wanted to glass. We made it to the top of the hill while it was still dark and set up our spotting scopes and waited. The anticipation was killing me.
For a full account of Kane's adventure, go to page 38 in the February/March 2014 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.