I’m proud to be a hunter and I love everything that comes along with hunting. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m good at it. This year is the second year in a row that I’ve been unable to fill my tag during the allotted archery season. Luckily enough for me, Utah has what’s called the Extended Archery Season. During this extended season any archery hunter who did not fill his/her tag during the regular archery season is able to hunt along a specific stretch of the Wasatch Front. For me, this is my saving grace.
I decided to take a day off of work and go up a canyon that I heard had several deer and even elk. I started up the canyon but was stopped short by a gate that was blocking the road. Apparently the road that leads up to my desired hunting spot closes after November 1. I was upset, but mostly upset at myself for not thinking about possible late season road closures. It was something I definitely could’ve avoided, but nonetheless I was unable to get to the spot I needed to be.
I pulled to the side of the road and started looking at the map. I realized that there was another area that I could get to that wouldn’t deviate me too far off my original plan. I turned around and drove to this other trail head and started hiking. The hike wasn’t too difficult and it only took me about two hours to get to the summit. Shortly after getting to the summit, I spotted some movement about 1000 yards away among some pine trees and oak brush. A buck! I was so excited! I quickly made a plan to go around the back side of the ridge where the deer wouldn’t detect me. Then once I got close enough I would crest over the ridge and stalk in on this buck.
The plan went great. I got within shooting distance of the buck and realized that he had several does with him. This made things more complicated since I now had to avoid being detected by five deer instead of just one. I couldn’t completely see the buck yet, but I knew he was with those does because I could see a little bit of antler through the trees. Then the buck passed through a little clearing and I was able to see for the first time how big he really was. He was definitely the tallest-, biggest-antlered buck I ever seen alive. His antlers stretched a full 2 ½ – 3 feet above his head. I’m terrible at field judging deer, but I would’ve guessed he was in the 180”-190” class.
Long story short I ended up blowing the stalk after a couple of the does winded me. The group of deer ran down and away from the hillside I was on. I was bummed that I didn’t capitalize on the opportunity, yet I was excited that I had already seen so much action so early in the day. I set off to look for more deer, but I didn’t know it would be that same buck that I’d set my sights on later that evening.