It was my first ever morning of hunting. My dad and I were sitting on a point overlooking some pinyon juniper country, we had set up there just before civil twilight and I was really excited. I understood that I was in primarily deer country and stood little chance of seeing the elk that I had a tag for but through my 14 year old eyes everything turned into an elk. I tried to turn every stump, rock, and bare patch of ground into the cream colored rump of a wapiti.
I remember my dad tapping me on the shoulder, pointing to the left and asking, “Did you hear that?” Of course I was already locked onto the sound that was bounding through the junipers. Out trotted two does, the one thing my father and I didn’t have a tag for between us. Even though neither my father nor I was pulling the trigger, I got that first big game rush and I was hooked for life.
Dad and I came up empty handed that morning but luckily our family hadn’t. My cousin, Dan had pulled the trigger on his first deer just a half mile up the ridge. His deer had crossed into our unit from the farmland to the north and worked its way up to where he was set up. Just after the buck’s antlers were visible and he could tell it was a legal buck he made a perfect 245 yard shot right through the boiler room with our brother in law Brian nearby to see the whole thing. It was my first day of hunting and I already got that first big game rush and been to my first kill site.
After watching Dan dress his first deer and paying close attention as I hoped I was next, we around trying to find the other, supposedly larger, buck that was alongside his deer. It was a fruitless effort and after a nice hike and an overall good day afield we headed back to camp for some food and to recap the successful hunt.
The next morning was uneventful but that was fine because the afternoon held the joy of listening to our beloved Broncos beat up on the Oakland Raiders on the radio. After listening to the game for a while my eagerness to hunt again had hit its peak. I convinced one of my bro-in-law’s to take me out to a new spot so we could try to glass up some elk in the aspens and dark timber. My uncle decided to tag along as well; good thing as he had the tag that would later be hung on a whopper buck. Shortly after leaving camp we were rounding a turn in the county road when I looked down into a small sage brush flat and noticed a small band of deer. “Deer”, I called out. After further examination, I exclaimed “BUCK! BIG BUCK!” The buck had a tall and very symmetrical rack with deep forks front and back. Since my uncle’s rifle was cased in the bed of the truck and my bro-in-law’s rifle was nearby, he had to use a rifle that he was unfamiliar with. The relatively short range shot rang out and the buck dropped. We were all excited and somewhere between grabbing the rest of our gear and heading down to recover the deer, he must have got up and made a 100 yd dash where he later laid down. After about an hour of searching and not finding much of anything, my uncle went back to camp to gather the rest of the guys.
Once the group arrived we started walking a grid pattern trying to find that buck that seemed to just vanish into thin air. One of the other guys eventually jumped the buck at a mere few yards. Three of us took off to try and get into position for a kill shot. Eventually, after much positioning and re-positioning, we got into a place where my uncle could get a shot at the old mossback. My uncle put a perfect shot through the buck’s vitals at over 200 yards with an unfamiliar .270 win. The buck rolled head over heels into a nearby bush and was down for the count.
As light faded, we dressed the buck in near pitch black as we didn’t have a flashlight between the three of us. The rest of the group gathered and the seven of us prepared for the grueling hike out up the steep shale canyon the buck had ended out in. The shale made the pack out miserable; it took ten steps to make it five feet cause of how much you would slide backwards. We finally got back to the trucks and made it back to camp to celebrate the evening’s harvest.