As the sun came up over the red hills silhouetted in the horizon we strained to see the deer leaving the field and headed to the canyons for the day. What a beautiful sunrise with the red rocks of Southern Utah, the pinks and blues of the sunrise, the reflection of it all on the river below us. Slowly we watch a couple does and a small buck appear between the trees and sniff heading towards the bend in the river, not long after 3 nice bucks and more does appear. They are too far away for taking a shot and not really in a good place to sneak up on them either. So we do what we can do and that is sit here and watch them. We dressed for hiking all day and not for sitting in the early daylight so the cold soon crept through the layers I had on, but I didn’t pay much attention as we study the terrain and options below, I could tell my toes were going white and my fingers had gone white some time ago, I wiggle them the best I can without losing site of the deer. They had crossed the river now and were headed up a canyon on the other side. At this point Randy says, “We are going after them”. What are you crazy, we would have to cross the river, but he is already on his feet and gathering his gun. Not wanting to admit that he is right I argue slightly as I am already to cold to walk and we have to wade across a river. But the deer are disappearing up the draw as we gather our gear and I know if we want a chance at them we best get to hooving it. As I step into the water it takes my breath away, but I push the thought out of my head and follow him across the freezing river, it is not real deep if you pay attention and don’t step in a hole, but none the less it is up to our knees. The pain started about half way across, shooting pain from the already frozen feet, screaming at me as if to say “What in the heck are you doing to us” I tried harder to push the pain and thoughts away but it became overwhelming as I stepped up on the bank tears escaped my eyes and ran down my face. I tried hard to hold them back but was not able to, Randy felt so bad but we really didn’t have much time to dwell on it and took off at a rapid pace, (as rapid as you can with ice for feet). I felt like a deer could have heard me from a mile away, I couldn’t bend my toes or even my feet to walk quietly so I plodded the best I could while trying to keep up, looking back now it is kinda funny, needless to say that is not what I was thinking at the time. We cut across a wide canyon and up behind some huge boulders trying to get in position before the deer got too far up the draw, but to no avail, they were long gone before we got there. By now I was warmed up so we turned and headed back to the river and off to hunt another area for the day.
As the week went by we hunted hard, the bucks are out there but in this desert they are tough to find and can hide in brush the size of a garbage can, we spotted and hiked and hunted our rears off and were down to one day left. There was a canyon left that I had heard my uncles had been pretty successful in and I was dying to give it a try, one small set back was I would have to cross that dreaded river again at daylight. This time I took an extra pair of boots so I could have a dry pair to hike in all day and it seemed to make all the difference, I am not saying it didn’t jolt me awake better than any coffee ever known to man, but it was bearable plus we had mile hike before we got to the river and wasn’t already cold. The canyon was breathtakingly beautiful, solid red walls the sun rising with scattered brush and trees, often times water gurgling through the bottom of the draw. We kept a close eye on every bush, as you never know when a deer will jump up, tracks were leading up the draw to the end of a box canyon area. None of them looked too big but adventure seeped out of our pours and we couldn’t resist the challenge so off we went. We got to a wide area where the canyon forked, my sister Vicki, her husband Guy and I went up the left fork while Randy and Jeff scouted the right fork. We were having such a great time checking everything out that we forgot how far we had gone when suddenly Vicki says, “hey, I got you a buck, get your skinny rear over here”, I thought she was joking until she repeated it again, as I get my gun in position and creep across the canyon to see I can only imagine what I look like. With adrenaline racing through my veins my creep was more like a monster mash, I am surprised I didn’t spook every animal around away. But the buck was frozen trying to find in the brush but in plain site to us. I pulled up and took a deep breath, “Dear God please direct this bullet for a quick, effective and safe kill, in Jesus name” Bamm. He is hit and goes down, I know I have a great shot but we wanted to wait as he fell in some bushes. I heard him thrash once and then was quiet; I knew the guys would be there soon. So we relived the adventure over and over while holding my rifle ready in case he jumps up. Once the guys got there I put the creep on him and he did jump up and take off, so off we go around a bend in the canyon, I know he is hit hard but want to put him down as soon as possible. The chance came as I rounded the bend, I made a call and he stopped and looked, I took a deep breath and squeezed and he was down. “Thank you Lord” what an exciting hunt, what a wonderful day with my sister and family, what a wonderful buck. It was just so much to be thankful for. He is not a monster but is a beautiful buck and I am so proud. I stay and start to take pictures and get him ready while Guy, Vicki and Randy take off after more tracks and sure enough I hear gun shots and we have another buck down.
Well the hike out was quite a hike with two deer to pack for several miles and across the river again, but the whole day was one I will always remember and cherish. Thank you again Lord for such a wonderful hunt and harvest.