Boundary Blacktail
By Dave Wood

...Pushing through the snow I glanced down at the motionless doe. Above her, already halfway across the small opening, trotted the biggest buck I have ever seen! Caught completely off guard I snapped a quick shot; the buck vanished into the trees without missing a step. I stood there…stunned!
...Dad and I planned our late season well this year. I was to take the first day of the four-day season off from work. Work the following day, then the weekend would be free for serious hunting. We would hunt together the first day. Dad would drop me off for an early start on a high hunt. He would then snooze till daylight and try a favorite spot of his own. It was 4:30 or 5:00 when we parted at the 'spot'; a couple last minute 'good lucks' and I was off.
...The trail was like an old friend; I remembered the countless stories each resting spot holds. Sometimes the moonlight is all I needed to traverse the winding path. This was around the fourth trip up for the year. As I rested along the trail, I dreamed of boundary bucks migrating in from the park line to chase the doe's around. I guess in reality I was hoping for some new blood in the area; I I had only seen smaller bucks in my previous trips. I am only one of a close-nit group of friends that love this basin; we all share the dream of that occasional 'boundary buck'. It was a special morning because I had not visited it during the late season in four years.
...Hitting fresh snow near timberline, it was 6-8" deep in the meadow above camp. Just as I found some fresh sign a nasty blizzard blew in; I headed for the draw above the old camp. It was protected from the wind and the tracks seemed to be heading that way. Scanning the basin as I crossed the side-hill, I tried to make a plan. "Oh well" I thought "In this kind of weather I'll just hunt and take what comes".
...Entering the stunted trees just above our old camp, I could see it was clearly cut up with tracks. At one point I thought I could smell a raunchy old buck. I hunted along towards the small stream and soon jumped a little doe. Now on ALERT, it was not clear if she was alone; she was beautiful moving across the snowy hillside and out of site. Well, it was a start! Quietly I moved across the steam and went about twenty yards to a knoll that offered good visibility back on the ridge I just left. In short order I spotted another doe standing under a tree in the middle of a small opening. Looking intently for several minutes, it was no use; I simply could spot nothing else. With impatience and getting cold I decided to trudge on to get another angle of the hill.
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Buck on left is the 'boundary buck', Dad's buck was taken the following day and was his first 4x. The Boundary buck has 4 points with eye-guard on right side and five with eye-guard on the Left. He also has 3 legal cheater points and is just under 19" wide...just a dandy!

...In only two steps I glanced down at the deer and this brings us to the before mentioned buck! How I missed him in the opening I'll never know. And on top of that, he was nearly out of sight by the time I got off a shot! As the echo of my 243 drifted into silence I stood there half-stunned! Gone! An eerie silence fell over the draw as I pondered the next move.
...Intensely I searched every opening in the direction the buck was traveling! Nothing…not even a branch cracking or the sound of running game…nothing! I'll never forget the feeling of that silence! The picture of that magnificent buck in my scope was one I will always remember; I ached all over. Well, it was time to 'cowboy up' and go double check the shot. Ready for anything, I moved down the ridge towards the spot that I last saw him. With tentative excitement I spotted what looked like blood near where he was running. That was all it took to put me in full gear, down, across and up to his trail. Sure enough, he left a trail that said he might be hit hard. Could it be? Cautiously I followed the tracks of the wounded buck; once I thought I heard something. Listening intently I continued on the trail. Suddenly he jumped up from a bed in the middle of the trail! Standing there looking over his shoulder at me, he was awesome! 'BOOM' the buck of my dreams was at my feet! Wasting no time, I thanked God for such a blessing. After a few pictures, I caped the buck and headed for the trailhead. It had been quite a spell since I packed out a nice four-point. On the way down the mountain I was already making plans on the meat pack. The head and cape was plenty of load for the little daypack; it was also quite a site!
...I met Dad, we hoorayed for a while, then headed out for the house. It was really something, back to the road by ten, what a hunt! I could tell Dad was proud of me and that's OK; by the next evening it would be my turn. When I got home from work he had a huge buck of his own! Yep! A four point of his own! What a weekend to remember! Thanks to the help of wonderful friends, Dad and I got all the meat to the freezer in fine shape! Thanks Randy! Thanks Craig! We made memories all the way around. In fact the trip up that mountain with Craig was in a blizzard to remember! Small price to pay for a 'Boundary Buck'!

Dave Wood, Ketchikan, AK. March 17, 2001
Date of hunt: November 18-21, 1998
Rifle: Ruger 77S, chambered in 243 Winchester Sling: custom piece of rope.

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