Although it has been three years since this hunt has taken place, I remember it as if it were just yesterday. I am sitting here now, admiring the beautiful mount of this gorgeous buck and reflecting back to the awesome journey that I was so fortunate to be a part of that rainy October day. A hunt filled with numerous ups and downs and twists and turns, yet by some last minute miracle turned out to be one of my greatest adventures to date, an unbelievable adventure that undoubtedly won’t soon be forgotten.
It all began in early July while out on a family camping trip. The wife, my girls, and I were out on an evening ATV ride enjoying ourselves when we came across a bachelor group of bucks, one of which was the biggest buck I had ever laid eyes on in that particular unit. As we watched the bucks feed, the setting sun’s rays illuminated the massive red colored velvet rack of the larger buck. It was in that moment of splendor that I knew he was the buck I wanted to pursue in the coming fall. With images of that buck’s magnificent antlers dancing in my head for the next few weeks, I felt that the archery season couldn’t get here soon enough.
I continued scouting for deer throughout the remainder of July and for the majority of the month of August. I had intentions of keeping an eye on the deer that I later named the “miracle buck”, until the season opener, but unfortunately I never laid eyes on him again. Wondering where the buck had disappeared to, clouded my mind and made it hard for me to stay focused. However, I was able to locate several other good bucks in the area. With the archery opener just around the corner, I was overwhelmed with excitement and I was ready to see how the season was going to unfold.
The archery season, as it always seems to do, had come and gone before I knew it and still there was no sign of the miracle buck. I had several close encounters and I even passed up a shot at a nice four point muley bedded at just 40 yards. Half mad at myself and contemplating if I was crazy for passing on such a golden opportunity, I carried on in search of the miracle buck knowing that I still had the rifle season ahead of me.
The first week of the rifle season really had me questioning myself and my decisions. The number of hunters in the area along with the amount of pressure put on the animals was continuously increasing and the decreased sightings of deer were proof of that, as they became fewer and fewer. My patience was wearing very thin at this point and I was just seconds away from throwing in the towel on this whole deal. With the rifle season coming to a close I gathered myself together knowing that I had hunted way to hard up to this point to just call it quits now.
With a renewed sense of hope and two short days left to hunt, I found myself in the mountains and back at it again. This time I decided to go back to the spot where it all began, that same spot where I had seen the miracle buck for the first and only time. I knew at this point with the limited amount of time that I had, it would take a true miracle for this buck to present itself after completely vanishing for what was now nearly 3 months, but it was worth a shot. With the weather conditions less than ideal, I pulled my rain gear from my pack and slipped it on. Slowly and cautiously I began hiking and made my way into the area, almost immediately spotting movement in the distance. I sat down, put my binos to work and found that there were several deer in the area feeding amongst the fallen timber. I carefully glassed the surrounding area accounting for every deer within sight, one of which was a nice 3×4 buck bedded only 100 yards away. With a finger just itching to pull the trigger and the temptation to put a cap on this frustrating endeavor. . I watched the buck through the cross hairs of my scope for the next forty minutes until he finally emerged from his bed and fed over the hill. Another hour passed by as I once again questioned my thought process. Are you kidding me? Less than a day and a half left and I let that buck walk. I knew I was completely out of my mind at this point and concluded that I had just blown what was probably my last opportunity.
Frustrated and wet from the rain, I gathered up my gear and made my way to the spot where the 3×4 buck had been bedded in hopes of relocating the herd. I reached the deer’s empty bed and for some unknown reason turned around and scanned the area where I had been sitting. To my astonishment a nice buck had fed out of the trees and was standing broadside. I raised my gun and couldn’t believe my eyes, it was the miracle buck. Without hesitation I settled in and squeezed off the shot, the buck jumped straight into the air and bounded off, crashing into a pile of logs just fifteen short yards away from where my bullet had pierced his heart. After pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, I worked my way over to where the expired buck now lay. Overwhelmed with joy and speechless from the events that just unfolded before my eyes, I kneeled next to the deer and admired its magnificent rack now residing in my hands. Not even words themselves can describe the emotions that flowed through me at that particular moment. I could not believe that after an absolute roller coaster ride of a hunt, that I had finally accomplished what I had set out to do. The feeling of success had never been sweeter.
Through all the trials and tribulations, this hunt taught me to never give up and to push through the hard times, because with sheer determination and a little bit of luck, anything is possible. With my tag punched on what was now my best buck to date and with the incredible experiences I encountered while on this journey etched in my memory. I know this is a hunt I will look back and reflect on for many years to come. I guess miracles do happen after all.