There’s a feeling few people experience; the sensation of hunting and harvesting your first mule deer buck. There isn’t a better way to experience that sensation than being surrounded by the people closest to you. Trip after trip, year after year, I experienced many hunting excursions with my Dad and Curtis. Now it was my turn and they were there to make it a memorable hunt for all.
I awoke early to see a new tent next to ours and a light on inside, which could only mean one thing; Curtis drove all night to assist on the hunt. After eating the typical hunters breakfast, we headed for a spot we knew had bucks feeding. We hiked up the trail slowly, making sure to stay quiet and checking the wind. Consequently, it took the majority of the morning to arrive at our spot. We spotted deer through a small patch of aspens but none of them were calling my name, especially considering this would be my first buck. It had to be perfect. Near the end of the trail we spotted two bucks, both of which were perfect for me and the stalk was on.
The bucks were slowly feeding away from us, so we took off our shoes to stalk them more quietly.
My dad quickly dropped to the ground with his binoculars. Ready and quiet, he watched the buck he could see. After Curtis pulled out his camera, we started to close the gap between us and the feeding deer. The wind was still blowing in our favor and we didn’t make a sound. Suddenly, the two bucks turned and started coming back towards us. At that moment, we were between their bedding grounds and feeding area.
Quickly and quietly, I knocked an arrow and stood still. I was waiting for the right moment. My heart beat rapidly and my entire body shook as the deer slowly made their way closer. I heard Curtis’s voice whisper, “Draw J, draw. Forty five yards.” One of the bucks had stopped. All I could see was the buck’s exposed vitals as he stood broadside between two trees. I drew back, took a deep breath, told myself to take my time and my shot was off. Instantly I turned to Curtis and said, “I shot over its back into the tree behind it!” I put another arrow on the string when Curtis asked me if I was sure I missed. The buck had gone twenty yards from the spot where I shot it and stopped. It was just standing, not moving at all, and facing the other direction. “I think you hit it!” Curtis said, as the deer started to stagger side to side.
Both of us excitedly waved my dad over from his spot behind us. When he arrived he asked, “Did you miss? I saw the buck run off and then you knocked another arrow.” He had been watching the other buck because he couldn’t see the one I shot. That’s when Curtis turned to my dad and told him, “He’s down!” Curtis pointed to the deer lying sixty yards away in the grass. A big smile crossed my dad’s face, followed up by congratulations. We first walked to the spot the deer was shot, but couldn’t find my arrow. So, we went to the deer for pictures. After pictures with Curtis and my dad, we traced the blood back and eventually found my arrow lying in a bush a little farther back than we expected. The much-regretted drag was next. However, I guess it wasn’t too bad, all things considered. A great deer hunt with some great people; I don’t know what could be better!
Now I have a nice reminder on the wall of how much fun we had together. My first buck represents memories and feelings that will never be forgotten. I hope my next hunt creates even better memories with another long haul.