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"The Unselfish Buck"
Written by Brandon Verde, aka Browtine
Featured in Summer, 2006 issue of Trophy Hunter Magazine

The Unselfish Buck
This year started off like many before. In January of 2005, I put in for the annual Utah big game draw like I had every year since I was fourteen years old. A few months later I received my letter in the mail from the DWR and opened it with anticipation. As I scrolled down the letter, the word "UNSUCCESSFUL" stood out. I realized I had just failed to draw a general season rifle tag as well as my limited entry tag. Needless to say, I got sick to my stomach knowing I wouldn't be hunting this year. I had sort of expected not drawing the limited entry but it was a real kick to my butt not drawing a general season tag.

During the summer I continued my normal scouting routines. At this point I just planned on going out with my buddies and helping them. In September a friend, Chad Bellon, called me. Chad told me that he had a brother who had just been given a cow elk voucher from the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. Chad told me that his brother also had the opportunity to get a rifle deer voucher. I said without hesitation, "He got it, right?" Chad laughed and said, "Do you want it?" I was shocked that he offered it to me. Chad hadn't drawn a general tag either. Chad told me that he had decided against taking the voucher, and that I had better take it. I was pretty excited knowing that I would now have a tag. I took the voucher to the DWR office and got my general season permit.

Having much more anxiety for the hunt by this time I started scouting more often. As the season approached, my hunting partner, Rod Williams, and I tried to determine where we should be on the opener. We had a couple of choices, but without hunting weather these areas were looking less appealing. Rod and I made our decision and spent the first four days from sunup till sundown hunting the spot we had chosen.

At the end of one week hunting I hadn't seen the buck I was looking for. Rod had been fortunate enough to take a deer a few days prior to this and he decided to go back to work instead of burning all of his vacation time. On Saturday morning, I was considering hunting a new area when the weather finally changed and some snow fell on the mountains. I decided that I had better keep hunting there and hope that the cold weather would make a difference.

I made my way to a glassing point before sunrise. As soon as it got light I was seeing deer. I told myself that I was going to try and cover a lot of ground and glass as I went. I had a feeling that something had to be there.

At 9:00 a.m. I located a lone deer and knew without binoculars that it was a buck. He had a very white face and a body that was enormous. The deer was moving uphill. Through the binoculars, I could see he was the caliber of buck I was after. I raised my gun and as I looked at the buck through my scope… he was very tall, with good width and great forks. The buck stood broadside and looked at me while I took the first shot at just under 100 yards. The shot was true, right behind the shoulder, and I knew that he wouldn't go far. He turned around and started going back down the canyon and I shot one more time. Down he went, ending my pursuits for the 2005 season.

I sat in shock looking at the downed buck for several minutes through the binoculars before walking over to him. I decided to "phone a friend" before I walked over to this majestic animal. While talking to Chad, I told him I had just downed a really, really good buck. He was asking for specifics and when I said, "I haven't hiked over to him yet," he just about hung up on me. Needless to say, I started hiking right then.

As I made my way to the downed buck I talked to Chad on the phone. I described the events as they unfolded, just as if I had someone else there to share it with. I could not have ever hoped for a better deer in a general unit on public land or anywhere for that matter. When I walked up to the buck for the first time it was like no other experience I have had during a hunting situation. It's an experience I won't soon forget.

I thanked Chad again for thinking of me when he had heard about the voucher. Chad had not drawn a general tag either. For him to offer his tag to me, knowing he would not be able to hunt surely shows how great of a friend he truly is. That is why I called this article "The Unselfish Buck". Thanks, Chad. If it were not for you, I would have never fulfilled this dream.

I also want to thank my wife, Misty, for allowing me the time to spend in the mountains chasing that one moment we will never forget. If not for her and her support this experience would not have been as rewarding as it was.