I was talking with my uncle the other day about hunting strategy. He knows I like to hike long and far to get “way back” into some spots where I’m sure to be alone. He’s hunted for 50+ years and he’s got a theory about the close to road spots that are hidden and overlooked.
So yesterday after my oldest boy got home from school around 3:15 we quickly packed up and headed up the Mirror Lake Highway. With thoughts of my uncle and our conversation as we left the trailhead, my son and I turned off the trail withing a couple of minutes to walk a lesser traveled ridge and find a place to sit down, in an area just a stones throw from the highway but an area I accidentally found and thought it might be a good spot.
We saw some tracks down low in spots I wasn’t thinking we’d see some and along the ridge in obvious crossover points between the aspens and timber we didn’t see any. It sure gave me pause for thought. The snow was falling lightly and my 11 year old was getting ready to find a spot to sit when I saw a big pine tree on a bare ridge/point and said that we’d circle around to that point and sit down for the rest of the evening.
We crossed a few tracks which was encouraging as we made our way to the point. As we came up to this big old pine tree, sitting all stoic on the rounded ridge, I told my boy to walk further on a bit and see if there wasn’t a better place to sit as there were no rocks here. As he walked off I ranged the area – 278 yards to the clearing where we had come from, 156 to the timber cross canyon, 74 to the bottom of the draw.
Just then I saw antlers moving through the exact opening I just ranged in the bottoms and a nice little buck walked through and turned to come up the hill towards me. I motioned for my son to hold up as he was just 20 yards from me making his way back to the tree and surely would be seen from below if the deer lifted its head. I had told my son we’d take any buck with 3 or better on one side so when I saw this guy had a little 4 on one side and deep fork 2 point on the other I held steady, waited for him to present a good shot and just like that the hunt was over.
This is where he landed, and the far tree on the left is where I was standing. I hit him while he was next to the small snow covered pine trees and as he was walking up the hill.
It started to snow a bit more as we pulled the buck back into the bottoms of ravine, made quick work of quartering him up and stacked him in the new Blacks Creek pack I recently picked up (the Featherlight Barbarian). It handled the load very well, in fact better than other packs I’ve hauled with, as we hiked down what turned out to be a perfect trail along side the dried up creek bottom back to where we had deviated from the main trail. By 8:15 we were back at home to a disbelieving wife/mom who couldn’t figure out how we got up there, got a buck so fast and got back home. I just told her we didn’t go “way back” to find the buck.
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