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.
Finally, 8:00 am rolled around and my grandpa headed down to Mike’s Sporting Goods. He purchased one box of 30-30 shells. While grandpa was paying for the shells, the store owner, Mike, told him that they were having a big buck contest and he should enter. My grandpa told Mike that he never kills big bucks anyway, so why should he enter? Mike told him that the grand prize was a 1952 Jeep pickup. That right there made gramps enter the contest! By now, it was almost 9:00 am. Grandpa finally got on the road and headed to the “South Country!” Grandpa arrived at the area he wanted to hunt at around 12:30 pm. He had spotted and passed up several good sized bucks before he pulled up to his favorite spot where he had hunted many times in the past. It was an area that was covered with cedar bushes and a lot of sagebrush thickets. He decided that he was going to go for a walk in a total opposite direction than he usually walked in. Grandpa taught me that when you are walking while hunting, you always walk for a ways and then stop and listen. He always said that if there were any animals walking nearby, you would hear them and be able to sneak upon them. And he was right. The temperature now was almost 60 degrees. Grandpa walked around the cedars and the thickets for about an hour or so. He kicked out quite a few does, fawns and little bucks, (24-26 inchers) haha, but nothing huge.
He decided that he would sit down against a cedar bush on top of a ridge, take a little rest, and do some spotting. He stayed in that same spot for about 45 minutes and then decided to do some more walking. It was around 2:30 pm now and the temperature was still around 60 degrees. He decided that he would start making his way back towards the Jeep. He had been walking for about 10 minutes when he stopped to listen. He heard some noise on the other side of the cedar bush where he had stopped. Slowly he started to make his way around to the other side of the cedar when he met up “Face to Face” with a monster buck! The buck scared the s**t out of him and he scared the s**t out of the buck! For what seemed like hours, the two just stood there and looked at each other. In fact, it had only been seconds, and the buck took off down the ridge. Grandpa took off after the buck, but lost sight of him. He kept walking down off of the ridge, stopping, listening and looking for the buck. About 30 minutes had gone by, and he stopped again. He looked up at the other side of the ridge and there was the monster buck standing broadside looking right at him somewhere around 100 yards away.
Almost instantly, his heart rate went up and he started breathing hard. He couldn’t believe that the monster buck was right there in front of him. He sat down really slowly and tried to settle himself. That wasn’t easy, because this was the biggest buck that my grandpa had ever seen in his life! He jacked a shell into the chamber, grandpa never walked with a loaded gun, and slowly raised the rifle in the buck’s direction. He took aim the best he could with open sights and squeezed the trigger. He looked up and the buck was still standing there. He jacked another shell into the chamber, took aim and squeezed the trigger. Again, he looked up and the buck was still there. He couldn’t believe it! He’s thinking to himself that this is not happening. He jacked another shell into the chamber, took aim, and the buck ran up the side of the ridge and into the cedars. Grandpa removed the shell from the gun and started up the other side of the ridge. He knew that he missed a great opportunity to bag a monster buck.
He made it to the top of the ridge, out of breath and exhausted. He looked around and could not believe his eyes! There was the monster buck, again standing broadside looking at him within a 100 yards. Grandpa jacked a shell into the chamber, again took aim and shot. He looked up and the buck was still standing there. I know that this is starting to sound like a broken record, but grandpa told me that this is what happened! He had two shells left, as he did not put any extras in his pocket. Grandpa always said, “It only takes one shot!” Well, he realized that on this day, that was not the case. He jacked one of the last two shells into the chamber, again took aim and squeezed the trigger. The dust cleared, he looked up and the deer was gone. He was disappointed. He sat down on the ground and thought to himself, “I just missed the biggest buck deer that I have ever seen in my life, four times!” After about 10 or 15 minutes, he got up and started walking toward the area where the monster buck was standing.
As he kept walking he seen what he thought was an antler in the brush. He high tailed it over to the thicket and sure as hell, the monster buck was laying there! Grandpa’s heart started pounding and he started breathing hard again! He sat down next to the monster buck. The biggest buck he had ever seen in his life was laying there on the ground in front of him! Then he thought to himself, “The fun is over, now the work begins.” While telling me this story, my grandpa said that he knew that there had to be something wrong with that deer…”It was like he wanted me to kill him. I shot all of those shots at him and he never got farther from me than a couple hundred yards.” That was a wonderful day for my grandpa and a great memory for me and my family that we will never forget. When my grandpa passed away, I was lucky enough to get the mount. I have since passed it on to my son. He is very proud of his great grandpa’s buck and it is hanging on his living room wall. It will always be in our family, and oh yes, he did win the 1952 Jeep pickup in the big buck contest!