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The Elusive King
Written by Jaxon Bates

The Elusive King
It was late afternoon on September 7th, already three and a half weeks into the season. We were fortunate enough to have drawn an early "any weapon" tag and my hunting, Mark Moore, had already taken his deer. We had been hunting the high country the first several times out, but weren't seeing the deer that we expected, so we moved to another area. Mark and I got out and started our afternoon hunt about 4:00. About 20 yards up the hill, we stopped and discussed how we wanted to approach the hike. It was an extremely brushy, thick treed ravine. About 5 seconds into our conversation, without hearing a single thing, Mark says, while pointing over my shoulder behind me, "There's a deer".
As I turned to see what he was pointing at, I couldn't believe my eyes. About 20 yards from us was the biggest, most beautiful deer I've ever seen in mid-bound. It was following a two-point. As he landed he took one more leap and was in a thicket of brush and disappeared. I got a look at him for about one second before he was gone. With the thicket of brush he went into, I thought he had no chance of escaping without me getting another look (and hopefully a shot) at him.
We were in the very bottom of a gully between two ridges, the far ridge being nothing but open sage. I was praying he would come out on the far ridge and not have any cover. We wouldn't be so lucky. I never heard or saw him again that day.

One week later, I headed back up to the same area in hopes of a chance at that same deer again. This time, I drove up further and made the two mile hike into the top of the bowl in hopes of catching him feeding between the top of the tree line and the top of the ridge where it was just brush and sage.
Glassing across the large open area, into the brush pockets below and along the ridge, I was not seeing any movement. I decided to make my way to the next small ridge to look over. As I picked up my foot to make my first step out into the open, I heard a big crash. About 75 yards below me, a deer went crashing through the brush, heading away from us. It was him!!

The most elusive animal I had ever encountered. He jumped out of his bed the second I stepped out into the open and bolted through the brush straight away from us. I saw that awesome rack for a split second again and then it was just glimpses through the trees and brush until he was out of sight. Once again, he left me without a shot, but extremely impressed with his mass of antlers. This deer had me hooked.

The following week I was headed back in search of an end to this year's hunt. It was the last day I was going to be able to hunt, as my hunt ended that Friday. I hiked into the spot on the upper side of the bowl. We started over the first small ridge on the hillside and I saw a two-point standing there looking at me from about 125 yards away. I had a feeling we were extremely close to more deer and hopefully the one I wanted.

As I scanned the hillside a little more, I saw another deer standing in the middle of a small brush pocket feeding. It was a buck. He was a nice four-point quartering away from us with his head facing the exact opposite direction. He had no idea Mark and I even existed. I was in the wide open and had nowhere to rest my gun. It was about 125 yard shot and I could tell the deer was starting to sense something was up.

As I got steady enough to pull the trigger, the buck jumped and I didn't get a shot. When he jumped, several deer started moving. They all gathered up on the far side of the brush pocket and headed over the next ridge on the hillside.
As they came out from behind the brush I saw the buck I had been after. He was one of four bucks in the group, but once again, I didn't get a good look at him.

The second that the last deer went around the hill, I sprinted 150 yards to the top hoping to catch them out in the open on the other side. As I crested the ridge, I saw that the entire group was down the other side and up the far side just about to go into the trees and disappear. The buck I was after was about ten feet from the tree line. I made a loud crying sound, stopping him dead in his tracks. He was quartered away from me, looking back to see what the noise was from about 220 yards away.

I couldn't believe the size of the buck that I was looking at. He was definitely the king of the mountain. Once again, I had no rest for my Remington .260, but I had Mark bend over to use his back as my rest.
With my gun across his back and both of us breathing heavily from the running, trying to get a steady shot was next to impossible. I squeezed the trigger slowly, knowing I only had another second or two. The buck dropped and rolled down the hill. I was shocked. I finally got him! When I actually got to the buck and got a close look at him, I was amazed. I've never seen a deer with antlers as enormously thick, tall and wide as this one had.