Home News Two First Bucks
Two First Bucks PDF Print E-mail
Written by JackAZ   
Friday, 28 October 2011 00:00
We started out on Friday by taking my brother in law up high to sit a stand. Joshy was kind enough to point us in the direction of a good area to sit where he was sure we’d see some little bucks. This was my brother in law’s first big game hunt of any kind.
We were there by gray light, but went many many hours without seeing anything but a handful of does. By the end of the day I could tell that my brother in law was having second thoughts about this deer hunting thing….I guess 12 hours of inaction while sitting in the dirt will do that to a new hunter. As 5pm approached, I told him that more deer are probably killed in the last 10 minutes of daylight than at any other time of day, and that we would should stick it out until at least 5:45. I’m not sure if he believed me or not, but he finally got comfortable enough to fall asleep.

At 5:38 I saw movement in the trees on the other side of the creek, about 80 yards away. I assumed it was one of the many squirrels that spend the day raising our heart rate by swinging their tails around, but then I saw a hind quarter. I quietly, yet forcefully, nudged my brother in law awake to let him know that I had seen deer. I couldn’t relocate the first deer when I turned my attention back to the woods, but I did notice a second animal moving in 20 yards behind it. I had my brother in law put in his earplugs and told him to watch the openings in front of us.

The trees were thick, and we caught only pieces of the deer as they moved in. By the time they moved in to about 50 yards we were both sure they were does. Just as we were ready to give up on them, my brother in law said he thought he saw an antler. I focused in hard with my 10x42s, and at that moment the deer moved just right and I could tell that it was a spike. I informed him of this as the deer moved the front half of his body into a small opening in the trees. The buck was quartering slightly towards us, and I quickly explained to my brother in law how to adjust his aim to account for the angle. He steadied the rifle and I barely had time to get my fingers in my ears before it went off. It was 5:44pm.

All h ell broke loose at the shot. What we thought were two deer ended up being four or five, and they went in all directions. There was just enough shadow on his buck that I couldn’t reacquire him with my naked eye before he pulled the trigger, so I wasn’t sure if one of the blurs running up the hill was the buck. I informed him of this, and his response was “there’s no way I missed that shot.” I decided to go down and have a look for myself, hoping that he was right.

I had him stay in the blind so he could direct me to the last place he saw the deer, but as I came up out of the creek bottom I saw it crumpled up under a tree, a little more than 40 yards from our blind. After the shot, he’d actually run 10 yards towards us before expiring. It was a perfectly placed shot, and I’ll just say that a 50 yard shot to the vitals with a 150 grain TTSX from a 30-06 is absolutely devastating to a small coues deer.

Here’s my brother in law with his first buck:


My buddy Kyle, who had been hunting a few miles away was kind enough to hike down and help us pack out. His help went a long way towards getting us off the mountain and home at a decent hour so we could do it all again on Saturday.

The plan for Saturday was to hunt open country and do some glassing. Kyle came by my house at 3:30 in the morning, and Joshy and Danny planned to meet us at the trailhead at 4:30. Only Kyle and I had tags, but they were gracious enough to volunteer to help us out for the day. I’m not going to point any fingers, but the members of our party didn’t actually come together until after 5am.

Joshy and I had spent some time looking at the area on the map, but we hadn’t actually walked in yet. We decided that we would walk in until it was light enough to glass and then find the nearest high point to set up on. We made it just under two miles before making our climb.

As you all remember, Saturday was hot; like really hot. The heat waves were affecting the field of view in my glass almost right after the sun came up. Nothing was moving. I thought I glassed up a mule deer doe, but she seemed to disappear into the landscape so quickly that I can’t really be sure.

A little after 8am I noticed something that looked out of place in the shadow of a tree 900 yards away. It looked like the profile of a head, but it didn’t seem like a deer. I asked Joshy to bring his spotting scope over, and just then I saw the flick of a tail. As Joshy was walking over it stood up and started walking uphill. It was a cat! My first instinct was lion, but when I couldn’t see a long tail I decided it must have been a bobcat.

I called the rest of the guys over, described where I had seen it, and we all tried to relocate it. Just then, Kyle (using 10x glass with no tripod) announced that he could see a deer coming out of the draw the bobcat had walked into. I quickly found it, and could tell right away that it was a buck. The bobcat had scared a buck out of his bed (in an area where we would have never seen him), and now he was keeping a close eye on the cat from out in the open.

Some of you may know that I’ve only been able to get back into big game hunting in the last few years, and my experience prior to that was rather limited. Kyle has never killed a coues deer, but he has taken several muleys. Deer have been my nemesis. Kyle knew this, and he graciously offered to let me take the shot.

As Kyle and I excitedly laid out a plan for a stalk, Danny kept the cool head and reminded us that we should probably wait for the buck to bed back down before we did anything. We didn’t have to wait long. Once the cat was far enough away, the buck found a nice bush and settled down behind it. If we hadn’t been watching him when he went down, we never would have seen where he went.

When the buck was down, Kyle and I picked out a rock outcropping that we thought could get us within reasonable shooting range and headed off parallel to the mountain where he was bedded. We took care to stay quiet and, where possible, to keep the skyline between us and the buck. Eventually, we found ourselves at our destination and I relocated the buck at 500 yards. It was still too far for my liking, so we decided to try to get closer. However, the only way to get closer was to walk out in the open down the slope in front of us, towards the buck. After a short and deliberate walk across the slope, we found ourselves 370 yards, and roughly 45 degrees below the buck.

The buck was bedded out in the open, completely broadside to us. His antlers shone a little in the sunlight and his pale grey coat made a nice contrast to the red dirt behind him. The angle was steeper than I wanted, but this buck was just asking for it.

Joshy and Dan had stayed back at our original glassing point to watch the show and keep an eye on things for us. Kyle called over to let them know that I was about to shoot. I tried to settle in for a prone shot from my backpack, but the angle and many rocks where we were made that too difficult. So, I pulled the Claw out of my back, took the plate off the bottom of my binos, and mounted the rifle on my tri-pod to shoot from a sitting position. I locked in on the deer and the crosshairs were dead steady on his vitals; at least they were until I tried to settle in for the shot. Every time I would get ready to shoot, my heart rate and breathing would increase and I couldn’t keep on the deer. I think I could have taken my pulse by watching the crosshairs in my scope jump with each beat. I sat there trying to overcome buck fever for what seemed like forever. Joshy later said that at least 15 minutes passed between the time Kyle had called him to watch for the shot and when I actually pulled the trigger.

Finally, I got calm enough to squeeze the trigger. The shot felt really good, but when I reacquired my target, I could see a huge cloud of dust and a coues buck looking around trying to figure out what just happened. The buck settled down, and I shot again. Same result. The buck took off to the right, moving sideways along the mountain. He stopped again, and I shot again. This time I could tell the I had hit just a little high.

My gun is sighted in for 300 yards, and the .257 Weatherby shoots really flat. As I reloaded, I realized that, although I fully intended to compensate for the steep angle by aiming lower than I normally would for a 370 yard shot, I had forgotten to do so in the heat of the moment.

With a shell now in the chamber, and a vision in my head on where I should be aiming at this buck (300 yard crosshairs just below his back) I turned my attention to the mountainside trying to reacquire him. I was a little scared when I couldn’t see him, but got excited when I caught movement in the rocks. I told Kyle that I’d found him, but as soon as I said this I realized it was the dang bobcat! He didn’t like what was going on and was trying to the get heck out of Dodge.

Just then, Kyle’s phone rang. It was Joshy calling to tell us that the buck was now two draws over. I looked another 50 yards to the right of where I had been watching and, there he was, moving through the rocks. He stopped just as I moved my cross-hairs onto him. I squeezed the trigger, and the shot felt good, but so had the others.

After the shot, I couldn’t see the buck anywhere. He had just disappeared. Kyle, who was running backup with another rifle in the event I couldn’t make the shot, had never been able to find the buck through his scope after the first shot (thank goodness for me). After my last shot, however, Kyle said “Dude, I couldn’t see him, but it sounded like you hit him.” From nearly 400 yards away, and through his earplugs, Kyle was sure he heard the sound of a hit. At first, I didn’t believe him, but as the seconds turned into a minute without any sign of the buck, I started to think that maybe he was right.
After what seemed like a lifetime, but was probably more like two minutes, Kyle’s phone rang. It was Joshy, calling to inform us that I had dropped the buck where he stood, and he wasn’t moving. It was nearly 10am, and it was getting really hot.

Kyle and I packed up our gear and started up the mountain towards the last place I’d seen the buck. Joshy started towards it too from another angle. It took us a while to get up there, and when we did, I walked right past the buck. A phone call from Danny turned me back in the right direction, and I finally had my first buck.


I used a .257 Weatherby (purchased from azcouesandelk’s dad earlier this year) shooting 110 accubonds.


Joshy arrived a few minutes later to help with the photos and field dressing:


About an hour later we were on our way back down the mountain. We made it back to the vehicles at about 1pm. It was 94 degrees. We talked about continuing our hunt later that afternoon so that Kyle could fill his tag, but we were wiped out. Kyle and I headed home for some sleep, and Danny and Joshy drove the other direction so they could get in some evening scouting for Danny’s upcoming mule deer hunt.

It was a great day, and we made a lot of great memories. I’m very pleased with my first buck. He’s not a monster, but he’s a beautiful representation of a mature coues deer. Also, I got to take him in the company of friends, which makes him a trophy in my book.
Last Updated on Friday, 08 February 2013 04:40