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"Big Bucks & Good Company"
Written by Kevin Samz

Big Bucks & Good Company
They say male bonding isn't cheap, but one could never put a price on this experience. For years now, I have been going out west to hunt elk and mule deer. It's not so much a hunting trip, but more of a reunion with my brothers and nephews.

This particular season, Colorado's second combined rifle season, I headed out to Colorado from my North Carolina home. I am an active duty Marine, and after spending 10 months in the Persian Gulf, this was a welcome respite.

We hunt in an area southeast of Silt, Colorado in the oak brush country. This terrain is very steep and choked with aspens, oaks, and occasional pockets of spruce. At times, one's vision is totally obstructed, so naturally this thick covered, steep country is a haven for elk and deer.

My brother, Dean, a native of Kiowa, Colorado is physically and mentally well suited for this terrain. His long strides and huge lung capacity makes it hard for and easterner to keep up. He is always faithful to have a comfortable camp set up with plenty of food and firewood.
My brother Mike, a native of Green River, Wyoming and his son's, Levi and Tyler, come down to camp and to see their eastern Uncle. They are usually done hunting because Wyoming's elk and deer season is earlier in the year. This makes for great conversations about previous Wyoming hunts and of course, my "Sea Stories".

It was a great camp with a dusting of snow, anticipation and expectations were high. On opening day however, a huge west wind set in and the only relief for a man or beast were the south and east facing slopes. We tried our best, but only a few does, fawns and one cow elk were seen.

Big Bucks & Good Company
On the second day, a long climbing stalk with Dean and my oldest nephew, Levi, enabled us to see one small buck and a dozen does. Tim, a friend of Dean's from Denver, owner of "Never Summer Snowboards", scored on a decent 2x3 muley, and also had a decent legal bull walk within 40 feet. No tag however!

The third day started with a lot of snow. Dean and I decided to hunt high, along a ridge above camp. We drove his jeep to a logging outfit camp, parked, and walked along the top of the ridge together.
We instantly saw a doe in her bed. It seemed a lot of deer were moving about half way down the ridge, so we decided to split up.

I remained in the middle and Dean would push the bottom and the pockets of spruce. Going was tough through blown down aspens and knee-deep snow. Several does and fawns later, Dean, somehow ended up a few hundred yards ahead of me and called on the radio to find out where I was. Before I could respond, a shot rang out below. I called Dean asking, "What did you get?" He responded, "A big old' muley!"
The sight I saw when I got to him was unbelievable. The buck was lying on his belly next to a blow down; his antlers were visible 300 yards away!
Another camp member, Butch, had left camp on foot that morning and came across the same ridge, but in the opposite direction. We believe that this action had confused the bedded buck. In an attempt to elude Butch, the buck headed straight towards Dean and I.

With his 7mm Remington, Dean made an excellent 150 yard shot. In over 30 years of deer hunting by all of us, including my father, this was the biggest buck my family has ever killed.

Big Bucks & Good Company
The next morning was more snow, and Dean and I were on the same ridge we hunted in the wind on opening morning. We headed up a steep cattle trail, and as we stopped to catch our breath, we looked down over a snow covered plain. Dean was mentioning how this would be a good place to sit in the evening. Just as that came out of his mouth, we spotted a deer standing broadside at about 300 yards. His rack could be seen with the naked eye and Dean said, "Good buck brother".

I got down in a good kneeling position, 18 years in the Marine Corps. taught me this, and Dean, like a good range coach said, "Breath brother, I got your back".
I placed the crosshairs on the front shoulder and squeezed away a shot. The buck jumped on impact and nose-dived into the snow. It was my best shot in my life!

All in all, it was another fantastic hunt, especially having taken two great bucks. Dean's buck is 30 inches wide, 20 inches tall, and heavy. My buck measured 24 inches wide and 19 inches tall.
Big bucks and good company, in a beautiful, free country---you can't put a price tag on that!