Story featured in the 2013 Arizona Hunting Edition
a Season to Remember
Three years ago, my dad took me hunting for the first time. I had drawn a mule deer tag in northeast Arizona. After 3 brutal days of hunting the backwoods, I was able to harvest a beautiful 4 point. From that day on, I was hooked. I fell in love with the outdoors and the pursuit and challenge of hunting wild game. In April, the long awaited draw results for Arizona elk were released. I had drawn a coveted rifle bull tag in a quality unit. With as much scouting as possible needed, my dad and I put in our mule deer apps for the same unit. That way we could scout for elk, but we could have deer tags in our pockets at the same time.
In July, the deer draw results were released. Astonishingly, my dad and I both drew out first choice tags. Two weeks prior to opening day of my deer hunt, we had 5 different bucks located; two fork horns, two 3 points, and a nice 4 point. Four days prior to opening day, the phone rang. It was a long time family friend. He sent a picture of a monster buck that his friend had seen on the early bull hunt. The picture was blurry, and all we could tell was that the buck was bigger than any we had seen. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we had to go after that deer.
Thursday we were in the backcountry, 60 miles from civilization, just my dad, grandpa, and I. For two full days, we didn’t see an animal. We battled freezing cold conditions and thunderstorms; we were soaking wet and shivering. The only sign of deer was some month old tracks and a chalky four point shed antler. I knew this was going to be a challenging hunt, but I already started to hang my head. To make it worse, we ran into another hunter, who was scouting for the cow hunt starting the next week. When we told him we were deer hunting, he said, “I’ve hunted in here for 20 years and never seen a deer.”
Saturday morning we rolled out of the tent to dry air. The rain had stopped. It was a miracle. We made our game plan while we made our coffee and breakfast burritos. We set ourselves up on a premier glassing hill overlooking a small tank about a half hour before light. The sun rose, and the elk went nuts. There were screaming bulls running everywhere, distracting us from deer hunting. We must have seen four different herd bulls with their harems. We stomped around the woods until noon, when our stomachs were growling and we were out of breath
The trip back to camp seemed to have taken forever, because all I could focus on was a sandwich and a cold coke. About a half a mile from our camp we worked over the top of a small draw, and when we least expected it, there stood a bachelor herd of mulies down in the cut, still feeding at noon. I slipped into 150 yards and set up to shoot “indian style”.