The year was 1989 and as usual I looked forward to the coming hunting seasons with much enthusiasm. I had gotten married in January of the year and had a baby on the way. Money was pretty tight back then and since I couldn't afford a real vacation, hunting on my days off were all I had to look forward to.
We hunted the third season back then and the weather was perfect that year with just a little snow and perfect temps. We had permission to hike through some private lands to get to some good public land about a mile fron the road. I had made up my mind to shoot a bigger buck than the little spike I had killed a year or two before. It took us nearly an hour in the dark to make our way through the unfamiliar country we were in and were dissappointed to to be met by a group of guys on four wheelers that had better access from some other private land when we finally got up there. Oh well it was a fairly large area so we continued on. We split up as it lightened up and headed out through the oak brush on opposite sides of the big bowl we were hunting in.
It didn't take long before I spotted my first deer and with great excitement I got him in my binoculars. Unfortunately it was only a two point and I had to fight with myself to not take a shot, but I did finally let him move on. I only walked about another 30 minutes before I spotted my second deer of the day and it was clear that this one was much bigger. A nice 4x4 on the opposite hillside standing broadside, this is where my inexperience in open country messed me up as I quickly he decided he must be over 300 yards away and at that age not knowing my ballistics I just held high and started firing. Three shots later and he was gone forever, clearly without being hit but I spent quite awhile looking just to be sure.
I finally hooked up with my dad about noon and found out that he was much luckier than myself. He had already been dragging a nice 4x4 that he had killed about the same time I was missing the one I had seen. It took us the rest of the day to drag that buck down off the mountain as we had not yet dicovered the value of backpacks and boning out your animal.
The next day was uneventful other than picking up an elk shed That I had found but after carrying it around for an hour I dumped it anyway and decided to focus on just the hunting. I was not able to hunt for the next several days and was pretty depressed about the shots I had missed and apparently my dad had seen far more deer than I had on the route he had taken.
The next day that we were able to get out my dad decided to walk with me as his buck tag was filled, he still had a doe tag but wanted to fill that one a little closer to the road. We had only hiked a couple hundred yards before my dad started spotting deer again. Aparently I had made a bad choice due to lack of money and had decided to not replace my glasses earlier in the year when they had gotten broken thinking that my vision had gotten much better and I didn't need them anymore. He spotted a small group of does that I had walked right past and unlike him I decided to shoot one with no concern about how far we had to drag it. After my miss the other day I just wanted to get something on the ground. This time with his guidance I was able to make a one shot kill but was startled to discover upon walking up that I had killed a very small buck and not a doe as I had thought. I had both tags but this one actually qualified for the doe tag as his antlers were so short.
I was only able to hunt another couple of times that year but was never able to put my other tag on a bigger buck like I had hoped. It would still be another couple of years before I would be able to make that happen.
I added a picture of the antlers from that little buck next to the spike I had shot in the previous season for comparison. I would have never believed I would have been able to find a smaller buck than the first one.