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"Opening Day Buck"
Written by Brian Thomas
Featured in the Spring, 2006 issue of Trophy Hunter Magazine

Opening Day Buck
I'm a deputy sheriff in northern Colorado, which allows me to be in my deer hunting areas year-round. In 2005, as early as September, I knew this was going to be a great year for big bucks. We'd had a fairly wet spring that kept the grasses green far into the summer…good feed, good antler growth. As late October rolled around I started to see a few larger bucks cruising around, crossing the roads, especially at night.

I had drawn a fourth season buck tag for 2005. I could hunt from the 16th until the 20th of November. This is the prime time for the rut in northern Colorado. I couldn't wait to get out and do some scouting on the ranch that I hunt.

On the 14th of November I spotted a deer that was AWESOME! He was a monster 230 to 240-class non-typical that was following a group of does. I went back the next day and could not find that buck anywhere. As I was driving home, two miles away from where I'd seen him the day before, there was the non-typical. He was chasing does on a neighboring ranch where I could not get permission to hunt.

On opening morning I set up close to an area I hoped the non-typical might come back through. I parked my truck at the base of a hill and walked a two-track road to the south end of the ridge. When it was light, I started across the top back toward the truck. I had the wind in my face and the rising sun at my back.

I had only walked about a half mile when I spotted a small four-point staring at me. He acted very nervous and kept looking to his right, then back at me. As I scanned the brush to his right I saw another antler, then an ear, and finally the head. This deer was much larger. He was looking in my direction, but with the sun in his eyes and the wind blowing toward me he didn't run. When the bigger buck looked at the smaller one, I knew this was a deer I could not pass up, opening morning or not. One shot from my Ruger M-77 .280 caliber and the 140-grain Federal Premium dropped the buck where he stood.

This was not the big non-typical. It was a perfectly matched 6x6. He has a unique set of antlers. So one hour into my season it was over. I had taken a beautiful buck with a 28 ˝" outside spread and dark antlers that green scored right around 200" B&C. Oh yeah, the big non-typical…I saw him two days after the season on a different ranch six miles from where I'd seen him before the season.