Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mule Deer Bucks

The past two days of hunting have been exhilarating, exhausting, an incredible learning experience, and ultimately frustrating, all rolled into a beautiful package.

Yesterday morning started a little slow, ended with a bang, and yielded an epic chase. At least epic in my eyes. We had one guest hit a 3x2 buck not far from the cabin. 200 yds out and moving. A hell of a shot. He was immediately brought back to the lodge.

Two others were shot right in the back yard. We found blood trails on both, as they were hit, but unfortunately not fatally. One was a very nice 4x4. Greg and I literally chased it for four straight hours. It laid down 10 different times. We must have pushed it 3 miles. We often debated whether to let it lie down and hopefully die, but in the snow, we could see such a distinct trail, and a good amount of blood, so we pushed on and hoped to make it continue to bleed.

We got it to one point where Greg had another shot at it, but we weren't in a place that would have been prudent to shoot, so we pushed on.

After four hours, we decided to give it a rest, and went back to the lodge. Two hours later, we went back at it with Sid, and Sid jumped the deer and pushed it for another three hours. He had a shot at it from 60 yards, but I was up the hill higher, and according to Sid, "I still need some help til the end of the month, so I decided to wait. If it were the last day and I didn't need you anymore, I might have risked it."

He was kidding, of course. But frustrating in the end that we didn't get it. Sid even chased it down another three hours today, but to no end. Truly amazing how strong these animals are, and their will to live.

Sid described it as they don't have a mortgage, they don't have bills, all they have to do is mate and survive, and they're very good at it. It really gives you an appreciation for how smart and willful these animals can be, and how extremely difficult a true free range hunt is.

But, in the end, as you're up on the top of the peak at the end of a hard day, you always remember to appreciate where you are, as dusk approaches, the sun sets, the moon rises, and you can smile, even at the end of a rigorous, frustrating, but extremely exciting day.

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