My Two Finest Bucks
By Dave Owens

The beautiful Alaskan scenery on Mitkof Island and two big Sitka Blacktails made
for a memorable season for Alaska resident Dave Owens

I grew up on Chichagof Island in SE Alaska. It is an area with fantastic hunting and my dad and I spent alot of time chasing deer during the August to January season. A few years ago I moved to Mitkof Island which has a two week buck season in October. I have hunted a number of times on the island and never seen a deer.

This year, for opening weekend, I decided it was time to go for the high country. I took my brand new Kifaru pack and headed for the alpine. On the drive to the mountain, I saw a buck cross the road in my head lights. I wanted to go try a particular spot, further out the road, so I kept going. It was a two hour hike to some patchy alpine and I could not find any sign. I kept hiking for another couple of hours without seeing anything. By late morning, the wind had shifted to my back and was carrying my scent to any deer that might be dumb enough to be up high this time of year. I decided to cross over to the south side of the ridge hoping to find some sunlight which might bring a deer out. I found a spot to stop and glass. Nothing was moving and the wind was still at my back, so I began planning the fastest way of the mountain. I thought I should enjoy the view for a bit longer, when out of the scrub brush at the very top of this 2300 foot peak walked the biggest buck I'd ever seen. He looked right at me, sniffed the air, and kept on coming. I wasn't concealed, and I knew he smelled me, but he wasn't the slightest bit concerned. I tried to tell myself not to look at the rack and squeeze the trigger. He wouldn't turn broadside and I didn't have the greatest shooting position for this 250 yard shot, but I ended up bringing him down. He turned out to be a fine three point with long tines and a very heavy, symmetrical rack. I had a hundred pound pack coming off the mountain, which completely wore me out. Even so, the whole time I knew it was worth it!

Click on photo for larger view
Dave with his two best Sitka Blacktails to date, both taken on his high county hunt.

All that week I couldn't stop thinking about that buck and the thrill of the hunt. I decided to get a proxy tag and try again the next weekend. I headed for some lower alpine this time, but that week's cold weather had brought snow, and after hunting for a half mile in one foot deep snow, I turned around. I saw a bull moose, but no deer sign. I decided that since it was still midmorning, I would go to where I had seen the buck in my headlights. I parked a few hundred yards past the area and headed into the woods. I called using a bleat call and immediately brought in a doe. I figured the buck would be close by and rutting so I continued to slip through the heavy timber. I found a bit of a cut bank with over hanging hemlock boughs. I had brought along some horns and a buck grunt that I wanted to experiment with. I had never done it and thought it would be worth a try. After a couple minutes of sitting and a few minutes of waiting, I got impatient and started to hike again. After about fifteen steps, I saw the doe again. I thought I should raise my scope and double check. When I did, I saw horns and so I immediately squeezed the trigger. The deer went down. As I hurried towards it, I thought to myself that it was a two point. As I walked up I counted first three, and then four points on one side. By that time I was giddy with excitement, but figured that the other side was probably a three point. It turned out to be a four point as well. To top it off, there were nice long eye guards and this rack was as symmetrical as my first!

Without doubt that was my most enjoyable week of hunting, and those were my first two bucks taken while hunting completely solo. I'm afraid it will prove hard to beat!

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