/  Hunting Stories

Mentally drained and physically exhausted, I just sat there in disbelief. To say I was bummed would be a gross understatement! The swing of emotions in such a short span of time was simply unbelievable. Only moments earlier, Nate Simmons had the camera rolling and I had a huge rush of adrenaline as I was about to come to full draw on the unsuspecting buck that was 37 yards directly below me. But instead of exchanging high-fives in celebration of our great accomplishment, we both found ourselves sitting there, not even saying a single word to each other, as we watched the buck scoot across the basin in what looked like some sort of an attempt to break a land speed record. Seconds later, the only remaining sign of the buck were the small clouds of dust he left behind in his wake; just another typical day of hunting high country mulies.

I felt a sense of relief as I peeked over the edge of the rim rock cliff and saw the lone buck was still lying comfortably in his bed. The buck was perched on a long, narrow bench at 12,000’ where he was very contently overlooking the large alpine basin below him. His velvet covered antlers protruded well above the stunted willows as he laid there next to a lone rock on this cold and wet September day. Thankfully, the rain and snow mix that had been falling all morning, had kept the buck bedded during our entire 3 hour stalk.

SNAAAP! The first thing that went through my mind was my rifle stock had just snapped in half! Thankfully, after I slowly rolled over, spit the dirt out of my mouth, and cleared my eyes, a quick visual inspection revealed that my rifle was still in one piece. The large crack that I had just heard was in fact a downed dead tree that I had just body slammed on my way to the ground after my boot became wedged under a dead branch that was hidden underneath the tall overgrowth vegetation. With over 100 lbs of meat on my back, I simply laid there, trying to figure out how I was going to get back on my feet.

It was a beautiful morning, September, 15th 1952.  The temperature was 39 degrees at 6:00 am. My grandpa, Albert D. Bazzanella was getting things ready to head to the south country on a typical deer hunt.  The "South Country" where my grandfather was planning to hunt, is about a 2 hour drive from his home town of Rock Springs, Wyoming.  He would drive to Baggs Wyoming where he would then head south for about another hour.  This country, at that time, was prime deer country!  Back then, anyone above 11 years of age, could purchase any of the big game animal tag and hunt them anywhere in the state of Wyoming.  This area was my grandpa’s favorite area.  I remember as a very young boy going hunting in this same area with my grandpa and my dad, years later, and passing up 26 and 28 inch bucks because it was too early in the day for them to kill anything...grandpa would say, "The day will be ruined!"  Anyway, back on track...my grandpa was putting his Winchester model 94, 30-30 lever action rifle into the Jeep and realized that he didn't have any shells for it.  By this time, it's around 7:00 am.  Mike's Sporting Goods was the only sporting goods store in Rock Springs and it didn't open until 8:00 am.  That didn't bother grandpa, because he knew that he would have no problem harvesting a buck deer anytime throughout the day.

The “Buck Haven” during the summer scouting trip What doesn’t kill you will make you want to do it again right? Going into the application period for Nevada in 2005, I envisioned a semi-comfortable horseback hunt deep in the pristine wilderness with one of my good buddies. That vision was snuffed out as the drawing results arrived and he didn’t draw and I did. So much for the ponies I had planned on carrying me and all my stuff.

It was nearly 12:00 am as we had just finished topping off the coolers and loading the remainder of our gear. I gave my wife and kid’s a hug goodbye and my brother and I headed for the truck.  As my house became a distant blur in the rear view mirror, we were officially on our way to that long sought after place we like to call hunting camp. Wide awake, full of energy and with only a couple hour drive between us and the great mountains we love to roam, we could not wait to see what this journey had in store for us. After waiting what seemed like a lifetime, my brother had finally regained his Wyoming residency and we were pumped and ready to go.