After a few years hunting out west in Colorado I was beginning to get a little discouraged with my limited success on bucks. I was happy of course with the three little one I had taken but was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to be able to get a bigger one. It seemed I was always seeing great ones in the back of other guys trucks and while driving around glassing before and after the seasons but I just didn't seem to be able to find one when it mattered the most. After the big one I had missed a couple of years before I had never had another chance to even get a stalk on one. I admit my efforts were not the greatest as I mostly hunted after work or close enough to home to be able to return midday to help out with my daughter.
Despite all this the next year started with all the same enthusiasm and excitement that preceded all my hunts. My dad had hunted archery this year with a friend that had come out from Wisconsin and had taken a little buck so I was not competing with him. He still geared up and went along hunting with me for the experience as it was unthinkable that I would be hunting without him. It does happen from time to time now but is still unusal for us to be apart while hunting.
We no longer had access to the great spot where I had missed the big buck as the owners of the property that we hiked through to get to public land had sold thier home and the new owners were not as hunter friendly as the others. This being the case we headed back to where we had enjoyed success the first year we had hunted in Colorado. The first few days we tried the same tactic we had in the past and merely hiked in to a good looking spot just away from the road bordering some private fields. Although we saw many deer none of them ever made it onto public lands and seemed to be coming into the fields from deeper in the private side. I saw a few does and a couple of little bucks but I was determined to get something at least a little bigger than I had before and decided to pass them up. After a few days of this I decided it was time to change tactics and start moving around more and go to the deer instead of waiting for them to come to me. The first day of my new plan I did manage to push some deer around but always seemed to see the back end of them as they were going over the next hill. After talking to some other more seasoned hunters I learned for the first time about the need to watch the wind and use it to your advantage. The next day for the first time I checked the wind before heading out and carefully although sceptically changed my normal direction and started sneaking across the hillside with the breeze in my face. I had barely covered a few hundred yards and just as I topped over the first rise where I could see something new the object of my desire was spotted moving across the opposite hillside totally unaware of my presence. That was short lived however as in my excitement I fired my first shot off hand at about 150 yards and promptly alerted him of my being there and my intentions. My first shot was obviously a miss and I quickly realized my mistake and found a position where I could sit down and rest on my knees for the second shot. By this time he was about 225 yards away but with my new rest I was able to get off a much better shot. The hit was not great as he was angling a bit too much but it entered in his back quarter breaking the bone and continuing up into his chest. The buck was down and dead by the time I got up to where he had fallen. I was overjoyed to find my first branch antlered buck in the form of a little 4x3. Not much by trophy standards but but a huge step up for me and a bit more respect from other hunters. It took me about a hour to get him dressed out and drug back down the hill in the direction I had come from. My dad had headed up in the direction of the shots as although we were hunting together we were not side by side and he was carrying an elk tag and still watching closer to the private fields just in case some came through. He got there just in time to help me about the last 100 yards. Too add to the occasion he was able to pop a coyote just as the truck came into sight as an added bonus. I was jealous of that a little as I still ahd not killed one of those either. But I was happy both of us once again had taken something on the same day.
The spot we hunted that year and before would be unavailable to hunt in the future because as sometimes happens out here the blm land there was traded away to some ranch for half the acreage somewhere else supposedly for the better of the public. Supposedly as part of the deal they would have to continue to allow hunting with permission but I tried and was never granted access. Many excuses were given but that was the end of it. Still a sore spot with me after 20 years but as result we moved on and learned some great new areas.