Well, my dreams became reality this past weekend. All my hard work and scouting paid off in a most perfect way. After making a seemingly impossible stalk just to miss a really nice buck on opening morning with my buddy Casey filming everything I was a bit discouraged and had to fight off the negative thought that come with blown opportunity. Later that day we happened to relocate the same buck I had missed and dubbed "9 lives". Casey was up and after another intense stalk with film rolling he let an arrow fly on a shot very similar to mine. It was a clean miss and we both couldn't believe our luck. We both agreed we need to spend more time practicing vertical angle shots and decided to use our misses as motivators to become better archers. After a few more really close calls opening day came to an end. We both agreed it was a day to remember after seeing over 20 different bucks including a super impressive buck that would easily break the 180 mark.
Day two found us with another group of bucks just above camp. This was my first run in with "the cheater buck". Things looked perfect as I began the stalk on this buck but after getting tunnel vision I blew a deer out just below me that eliminated a chance at "the cheater buck". Day two found us with two more very close calls on some nice bucks but in the end tags in pocket. I had to get back to work on Tuesday so we packed out. Casey had some more time off and was able to connect on an awesome buck he had found on our first scouting trip we took. I was extremely stoked to hear the good news and couldn't think of anybody who deserved it more. Casey puts in more time and hard work than anyone I know and earns every animal he harvests.
With the excitement in the air I prepared to go in solo Friday after work. I got to the trail head at dark and with thunder and lightning all around I began the lonely treck to where I wanted to camp for the night. I got in very late and began throwing my tent up as soon as I could as the lightening was now just over me. Not two minutes after getting my tent up, it began to dump rain and the lightening got more severe. I put ear plugs in and prayed I wouldn't die (I'm a chicken when it comes to lightening) I woke up at 5:30 like usual just to find that the rain and thunderstorms were not letting up I decided to stay out of the rain and wait for it to break. I was cooped up in my tent till 9am when finally some sun broke through and I was able to get out and hunt.
I spotted a buck just above camp and began a stalk on him. The fog kept rolling in and out and helped me get within 35 yards of the buck with no clear shooting lane one gust of wind ended my stalk and little did I know set me up for bigger better things. I decided to side hill around the mountain to an area where the deer bed and where we had seen some of the best bucks on the mountain. I decided I would still hunt my way through this bedding area in hopes of catching them before they caught me. As I began to sneak down a well-used deer trail I caught site of antlers directly below me in the brush. I couldn't believe my eyes! Not 20 yards below me was "the cheater buck" bedded facing away from me the wind was howling in my face and conditions were as perfect as they could get.
I slipped off my pack and tried to get a range on him but could only see his ahead and antlers as his body was covered by some small trees. I knew I needed to sneak up the mountains another 5 yards to be able to shoot over the trees. I creeped up the hill making sure every step was meticulously placed to not roll a rock and blow my perfect opportunity. I made it 5 yards when I noticed he began to get nervous and looked as though he was going to stand. I drew my bow and he stood as though on cue. I anchored and releases to hear the oh so sweet thwack!!! To my complete surprise he dropped and began rolling down the mountain.
I knew had probably only spined him since the angle was so steep and I knew I needed to get another arrow in him. I ran down and knocked another arrow. I shot him again to leave no question. My arrow was true and he expires only seconds after. Words can't describe the rush of emotion that comes with harvesting a high country buck. I was on cloud 9 and almost threw my shoulder out after a wild fist pump session. All the sacrifice and hard work has paid off and I wanted to bask in that moment for as long as I could. I called Casey and shared the good news. We both were ecstatic that after all are hard work we were able to double up on great bucks. This will be a season we will never forget.