As light approached on opening morning I was filled with much anticipation for what was to come, as I knew this was the mecca. We split up as we normally do to hunt different areas for the morning. The wind was slow and forest was quiet. On my way into this area I started noticing alot of fresh sign as the rut was in full swing. My normal vantage point overlooks a large rivine/ creek drainage which is always a great spot to catch passing animals.
Not five steps down the road was the first deer of the morning, a large doe feeding out of the bottom and up onto the road. I could tell from her actions she was in estrus and knew she would be frequenting the road during the day. I let her carry on without seeing me and continued my hike to begin glassing.
Once in position to view the basin and the upper cut I spent the next hour or so glassing. With nothing else moving and the mid morning sunshine approaching, I decided to move down the road and into the timber a bit for some cover. I jumped a bedded buck on the back of nearby knob and stayed put while he moved out. I had the wind in my face, and was damn near silent entering the timber. I knew he most likely saw me, and not scented me.
I moved to a spot I could glass the road. In the past this has been a high traffic area. With the rut in full swing I like to just chill in one place. Not more than ten minutes observing and glassing I spotted a small buck moving through the timber. I patterned him for a bit and watched him move a doe around. This most likely being the same doe from earlier morning. I spent the next 40mins to an hour motionless, as I knew any moment one of the big guys might show up.
It was now around 9:30am and still no shots. We had the radios so if anything was down he would call. I had no idea what the next ten minutes held for me. I heard movement coming from the left side of the ridge. ( the road is long and narrow running the length of the ridge to a lower unit, both sides dropping off into big canyons and 25year old firs). As the movement got closer I knew it was a deer. It was very inttermittent but unmistakeable. The animal moved up towards the road. It popped out of the timber...doe. With this much doe activity my patience was at an all time high. I could feel the activity around me. Again from the left side, more cracks and pops, this time closer and more definite. The doe showed me that she was expecting something out of the timber..... With big buck bonanza filling my soul I waited.
Soon the doe moved off and I was left animaless sitting in the timber. It was quiet for a minute. Then so swiftly not even making a noise, He entered the road. He had his head down, horns were back and very black, the way I like em'. It was so subtle, I shouldered the 7mm and looked for a kill shot.
Remember All I know is this gun shoots straight. Cuvrluvr shot it once and stamped it so no questions right? To my avail my loaner gun managed to be fogged internally and completly white, as it was a bit warm that morning and moist. Nice rifle the 700mag tride and true. Terrible tasco . I knew the scope was fogged but nothing I could do about it. Beggars are not choosers, and this was it. I was thinking this as I looked for hair behind his shoulder, as well as thinking this is the blacktail of a lifetime. With the buck at less than 80 yards and him moving swiftly, I found his front shoulder and touched off. He didn't lift up as they normally do from the shock and he surely didnt fall in his tracks. This is a heavy mag remember so my heart sank.
Once the timber settled and deer was gone I sat...I sat in shock and awe. This being the largest blacktail I have ever seen or even had a crack at, and I missed? WTF!!!! I dont miss, or do I? Is this the real buck fever? That once in a lifetime fever that will never go away? Do I have a scope ring between my eyebrows? I radio' and told covrluvr of my circumstances and told him there was nooo way I missed..... too close.... Must have been the gun lol, soo much for loaners He said take it easy, and he would hike over to me.
I gave it a while and recounted the shot. Then the gun, then scowering for prints and any sign of what just happened so quickly at 80 yards. No blood, no sign only track pouring off a large ridge.
As I recounted the shot I remembered hearing him bounding and bounding with a small crash behind the last sound. Maybe I got lucky? I couldnt wait any longer, If i had hit him, this hour would have been plenty of time for him to lay down.
My search continued through the timber and down the hillside. Before I could even wonder where the blood was, I spoted him piled up laying downhill, with his horns back and head rested east on a log. It was surreal. I didn't even walk up to him, I just knew right then and there that everything had worked out the way I envisioned it. The buck of a lifetime was mine and he was a beauty.
I took a moment to radio and tell of the incredible news. He said Keep your voice down. As I am a big guy with a deep voice of joy that carries loudly through the timber. Lets keep in mind I just pushed another buck out and watched two move in (one of which was a dandy). He was hunting also so we didnt want to spoil it.
When I approached him I realized how large he really was. 20'' wide very tall and 11'' back daggars with very deep impressive forks. His mass was everthing I had always wanted and then some. Body size was there also. I was soo astonshed with his symetrical dimensions and dark horns.
Nels showed up and was very excited, giving me praise and sharing the moment. I thanked the man many times over for bringing this opportunity to me. We pulled him to the road for pictures and to harvest.
Amidst the moment of dressing him, we heard more crashing from below. We both knew it was another animal. Covrluvr grabbed his gun and we creeped into the timber. We sat still as we waited for what else was making its way towards us. With not more than 80 yards between the noise and where my buck lay. We watched a large 3point move to within 40yards. What can I say....middle of the rut, no pressure and a keen knowledge of the area. We were in deer mecca. Covrluvr passed on the buck with hopes of bagging a larger in the following days of the rut. His 05 buck was very impressive and this one didnt quite size up.
We finished dressing it, quartering it and caping it out from the 4th rib. As we packed it out ( 2 miles on foot) and recounted the hunt, we were left in a feeling of amazement and joy. I have many people to thank for my success. First off my stepdad covrluvr for showing me the value in ethical hunting and hard work. He has taught me patience and discipline throughout the years. Also I would like to thank uncle lawn for (loaner 7mm) Obviously it worked This animal was later estimated to be 3-5 years old (very good genetics, low pressure). Covrluvr got an elk later in november, same area with his bow. Check out more pics in his folders covrluvr. I also would like to thank the road closure gods. Best wishes