I have been wanting to share this buck on the blog since I began...yeah, it's only been 5 days, but I'm excited about this one! Jessie Davis, of Cedar City, Utah as worked with me on the fire crew here in Escalante for a few years now. As a few of us from the crew took to the field during this year's muzzleloader hunt, Jessie was the first to send out a text to the rest to share his success. The following story is written by Jessie. I want to thank him for writing up this story, and for allowing me to show off this buck on our blog!
Who could have ever believed it? For me the 2011 black powder hunt was one of those rare events where everything happened exactly according to plan!
It all started the week before the general muzzleloader hunt even began. I set up on a vantage point with my Vortex spotting scope at the crack of dawn one morning and began to glass hillsides where I have seen great bucks in the past. Through my binoculars I could make out the distinctive white rump of a couple of mule deer about 1,000 yards away on a north facing slope covered with tall choke cherry and snow berry browse. I dialed in the old Vortex on these deer to get a better idea of what they were and when I got my first good view of them my jaw hit the floor. Two of the biggest bruisers I have ever seen on this mountain! They had good spreads, great mass, deep forks, and extra trash. Everything a deviant horn-porn junky could ask for.
I watched these two bucks feed around from sunrise until about 8:35 where they slipped off the hillside and down into a bench covered with thick quaking aspens. I immediately started scheming on how I was going to get within muzzleloader range of these brutes come Wednesday morning. I returned to the same location two other days and saw the bucks in the same location at the same time each day. Great, I had them patterned! Even though I was so familiar with their habits I figured it was still going to be tricky to get a shot at them do to the terrain they were inhabiting. Gnarly six-foot tall choke cherry bushes enclosed their stomping grounds that would act as an alarm system if I even made the attempt to get close to them. I realized that my best chance would be to find an ambush spot and lie in wait for them to come to me.
After they had bedded down for the day on the last day I scouted them (the day before the hunt opener) I found a place where I could sneak in silently and set up in the quaking aspens that bordered their choke cherry hillside. If everything went according to plan they would walk out in front of me opening morning and give me a shot that would be anywhere from 100 yards in to a distance that I could hit them with a rock! I let my dad know of my findings and it was decided that he would come with me and maybe we could get not one, but both of these monsters on the ground.
After a sleepless night dad and I headed out before the sun even began to break and hid up in the spot I figured would allow us a shot. Much to my disappointment a sturdy breeze picked up and blew straight towards the bench that I knew these bucks would be coming out of. We took the precautionary measure of spraying ourselves down with scent killer before we left in the morning but I still had my doubts as to how well the stuff worked. Oh well. All we could do is cross our fingers and hope for the best at this point.
After only a few minutes of legal shooting light had arrived I spotted something in the choke cherry bushes that looked a little out of place. I could have been just part of the choke cherry but I had a feeling that what I was looking at could also have been antler tines. Lively movement confirmed my suspicions and excitedly I whispered to my dad, "Those are antlers! That's him!" Once my dad zeroed in on where I was looking at he looked at the buck briefly through his binoculars and concluded that he was definitely worthy of dropping the hammer on. Unfortunately, the other buck had not shown but we figured we better get this guy while the opportunity was presenting itself.
There was one small problem. All we could see on this buck were his antlers and the very top of his head due to the thick, tall bushes around him. Had I more time to prepare I would have tried to find a tree stand to set up that would overcome this obstacle but now I was going to have to make do. Right next to the spot where my dad and I were standing was on oddly configured aspen tree that grew straight up two feet, jogged to the left a couple of feet, then grew straight up again. My dad came up with the bright idea for me to climb up in the crook of this aspen tree to give me the needed elevation to get a clear shot at this buck.
I climbed into the tree and was stoked to see that I had an awesome broadside view of this buck's whole body at about 80 yards! I raised my smoke pole but felt a little discouraged at how awkward it was trying to make a free handed shot while trying to balance yourself on a tree trunk. My red dot sight was doing figure 8's all over this buck and I was about to climb down and reevaluate how I was going to get my best shot on this deer. Then I leaned my left shoulder against the aspen tree trunk and noticed that this steadied my aim considerably.
After finally being able to hold steady on the heart and lung area of this big toad my Knight T-bolt shattered the morning silence and the 250 grain Hornady SST connected with a resounding thud. The cloud of smoke that follows a black powder shot made it a little hard to tell but I was fairly certain that I saw the buck drop right in his tracks. After a few moments of silence I whispered "I think I dumped him dad. I think he's down." A brief moment after I said that, there was some thrashing in the bushes and I knew my shot had been good! I quickly reloaded my gun and put a finishing shot in him. He was by far the best buck I have taken to date. A tall, heavy typical 4 point frame with incredible cheaters shooting straight out of his G 3's on each side along with a little kicker coming off of the G 2 on his left side. He hasn't been officially scored yet but the three unofficial scores on him have came in at 204, 208, and 210.
I gutted and dragged the buck about 100 yards while my dad went and got the 4 wheeler to haul him back to camp. On my dad's walk back to the 4 wheeler he saw a huge 6 point bull elk that unfortunately failed to show itself during the general season any bull hunt that took place the following weeks. I originally planned to just have a European mount done on him but after a lot of harassment from family and friends about not doing a shoulder mount on a buck that big I decided to spend the money and have a mount done by "Wildstuff Taxidermy" out of Redmond, Utah. I am beyond excited that I was able to pull it all together on this awesome buck. I still feel like I have some unfinished business though. I need to locate the other buck and put him on the wall next year!