Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mike Marshall's 2012 Last Day Rifle Buck

 I've said it many a time, there's nothing like the last day of a hunt.  So often does it seem like all your hard work, dedication, and effort is going to end in failure,with only a few hours left to hunt.  More often than not, the last day of a hunt rewards your sacrifice with some of the most amazing hunting experiences of your life.  Why do it any other way?  I mean, who wants to tag and go home early?

Well, maybe to save on costs, ulcers, and grey hair!  Well, however you prefer to do it, several last day bucks and bulls have graced the pages of Southern Utah Hunt and Fish over the past year.  This year's Utah general season rifle hunt rewarded several last day hunters, including Mike Marshall, of Panguitch, Utah.  While many last day hunters were just excited to fill a tag, the last day provided Mike with a true trophy mule deer buck.  Sit back and enjoy as Mike has written this piece about his hunting experience!

I was very excited to see the successful draw result on my 2012 hunt application for Panguitch Lake Rifle Deer.  My wife Mona, my younger sister Chrissy and her husband Jamie had also drawn the same tag.  We all camped together in one of my favorite areas on the unit.  I was optimistic about the new hunt boundaries but as the sun began to rise on opening day I wasn't sure if that optimism would stay with me.  We watched as more hunter's vehicles drove past camp than I had seen in recent years.

We spent 4 days in that area trying to hold out for a decent buck, seeing only about a dozen small bucks.  No shots fired.  On Thursday night of the hunt Mona made a sweet 225 yard shot on a two point buck.  With fresh meat soon to be in the freezer, I called my close friends Zach and Spenser Owens to let them know I was ready to go look for a big buck.  We weren't able to get together until Saturday night.  With just one day left to kill we put a game plan together.

Five thirty AM finally came and  into the hills we went.  As we hiked to the top of the ridge I was thinking to myself that I was more than likely going home without punching my tag.  A big smile and a series of butterflies reminded me that this was what it was all about.  We were sitting on top of the ridge glassing the distance when we heard some sticks break and rocks rolling direly below us.  I raised my gun to be ready in case it ended up being a deer, hopefully a buck.  Right then a deer's face peeked through the thick mahogany about twenty five yards away. I asked my friends, "is it a buck"?   No response.  Desperate for an answer I asked louder.  "Does it have antlers"?  Silence.  Just then the deer bound away.

 I could see a small clearing in the direction the deer had gone.  I ran towards the clearing, just in time to see a dandy buck bounding through the only opening on the hillside.  I raised up my Rem. model 700 with a new Vortex Diamondback 4-12 scope, aimed, and fired.  Miss!  Another shot.  Miss.  Another shot.  Hit!  We started to celebrate a little then quickly reminded ourselves to relax as the big buck did not go down.  If the buck made it out of that draw it would be a long day.

After a short time we walked over to look for blood.  No blood, no hair, no shuffled step.  My heart began sinking into an abyss of shame, sorrow, and regret.  I could not believe I had just turned a big buck loose on the last day of the hunt.  Spenser and Zach reassured me that they had seen a hit on the third shot.  With a ton of skepticism but absolute trust in my friends we began to track the buck.  Still no blood.  None.  Not a tiny speck and no hair.  The tracks headed into the thick timber.  Zach and I tried to get to a vantage point in order to be able to see the buck if he went out the top.  Spenser followed his tracks into the trees, as he did the buck jumped up and we could hear him going towards the top.  Unable to see him my heart begin sinking once again.  I took a few more steps walking up the hill, looked up and could see what looked like the biggest buck I'd ever seen staring at me from over a sagebrush.  With a lot of stimulating encouragement from my comrades, I fired off two more shots to finish him.  When we walked up I saw that he was a very nice buck.  Just under thirty inches four on each side with eye guards.  Then the celebration really began.  I could never have asked for a better way to end any hunt.  I'm very happy that my closest friends were there with me to enjoy such great time and memory.

Mike Marshall

Congratulations on one awesome buck Mike!  I had the privilege of hunting spike elk with Mike, Zach, and Spenser this year, and let me tell you, these guys work hard and definitely earn their success when it comes to hunting.  I want to thank you boys for all you have submitted and added to Southern Utah Hunt and Fish, and we look forward to seeing more trophies down the road!

We have Mike's photos entered in out "Bucks, Bulls, and Fins" photo contest, that ends on November 30th, 2012.  Have you entered?  Check out the details under our "contests" tab at the top of the page.