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"A Great Hunt"

A Great Hunt
Pictured on the right is my best hunting buddy Rich who helped with the drag. My Dad took the picture (Thanks Dad).
My 2000 season was different than the past five I have spent hunting in Colorado. I got the feeling as soon as we arrived that the deer in our area had really rebounded from the bad winter of '92. The night before the season started, we glassed many fat does and a few smaller bucks. All the deer we saw were in great condition and didn't appear to be spooky. The smaller bucks were grouped up and were performing for us with a little sparing action. The weather was turning cold, with temperatures hovering in the 40's our first afternoon.

Our trip started off with lots of excitement. After getting our stuff situated, Rich and I got our bearings and went to look for our trophies. I asked Rich to get out and open a gate, but somehow the door lock got stuck on the old Chevy. We tried to pry it open, but had no luck. Rich broke out his knife and tried to pry it up with the back of his blade, bad move. Seconds later, he had a big deep gash on the back of his hand and we were in route to the hospital in Meeker.
This was Rich's first out of state hunt, I guess his mind was focused on getting his first buck!
On our trip to town, we saw hundreds of deer, including some nice bucks. That helped to keep his mind off the pain. We managed to stop at the edge and watch, along with a few other hunters, a huge 4x4 in someone's front yard. What a way to get the juices flowing! We moved on to a first class hospital where a good doctor did some masterful work to repair Rich's wound. Two hours and twelve stitches later we were back at the ranch in desperate need of sleep. And, that first night was very difficult, as I had nightmares about the big ole' buck I had missed the year before.

The first three days of the hunt were very encouraging. We were seeing lots of deer and found some nice bucks. I personally passed on a few 3x4's, a thin 5x4, and countless forkies. I spent the first day with Rich, and helped him collect a nice 3x4 that was still in full velvet. It was his first buck and he was thrilled.
I usually try to look over a lot of ground the first couple days of the hunt. And the 2-day extension on the Colorado hunt has helped my tactics. I try to get the other guys into deer early, that way I can hold off 'till the end of the season when the larger bucks start making mistakes. You can tell when the rut is close.

In truth, I was looking for the buck I had missed the previous year. I had missed a 100-yard off-hand shot and two others in my group had also tried to get on him. He was always one step ahead, like a ghost. The previous year he was a typical 4x4 around 25" wide and very heavy, but you could tell by the size of his body that he was young. I had spent 11 months dreaming about finding him and wondering what he would look like in 2000 after another wet spring.

I spent those first three days looking, but with no luck. "Lucky", as we dubbed the big buck, was no where to be found, so I began to broaden my sights. On the morning of the fourth day, my dad and I spotted a nice 5x4 in a field about 800 yards out. The snow had started to fall and I started on a long stalk through some breaks and on top of a plateau trying to close the gap. I got to within 250 yards, the buck and his 12 does bunched up and upon further inspection, I found him to be a little thin and only about 24" wide. I later learned from my Dad, who watched me make the stalk, that a group of about 50 honkers bumped the buck and his does from the field. They were making a ton of racket and helped move the group of deer towards me. I put that stalk to bed after a lot of scrutiny. I had never passed up a buck like that. It was quite a rush!
I spent the afternoon checking the canyons and sage flats, wondering if I made a mistake. I had opportunities at two more average bucks but again decided to pass.

That night at dinner, I learned that another father and son in my group got on a heavy 4x4, but the boy didn't want to try a 250-yard quartering shot. The others were impressed with the bucks mass. They were going to hunt another area and look for elk the next day, so Dad and I decided to look for the buck the next morning.

We headed out and got on the edge of a plateau at daybreak. It was bitter cold as the sun awakened. We had only been there a few minutes when my dad decided to walk to an edge off to our left. I laid down in a prone position and looked into the willows below, and quickly found deer. As I scanned a river bend I kept finding deer in almost every nook. I rested the bino's on a nice tall and wide three-point with 11 does as my dad continued to circle around to my left.
All of a sudden, the deer perked up and the three-pointer got real antsy. I had to shoot but was no where close to being ready. Then everything started happening real quick. A few deer exploded from my left, I thought for sure my Dad had spooked them. As the plot unfolded, I spotted a big buck. He was running does back to the group and got rid of the 3-point. I watched him for a few minutes, enjoying his antics. He tore up some willows and harassed the ladies, nose to rear, running them all over. I knew he was a great buck, after all, it was the second to last day of my hunt, and he could be my best yet!

As he turned away I pulled out my shooter stix and got into a comfortable position just below the edge of the plateau. I tried to steady myself, but it was hard to move with all those eyes looking around. I just kept thinking, what a great buck!
Buck fever got the best of me as I fired the first shot---I missed. After that he just stood still as all hell broke loose around him. His does bounced all over and it bought me enough time to recycle my .300 Weatherby. The second shot anchored him in his tracks.
I guess he wasn't sure which lady to follow.

I took this buck in northwestern Colorado. He is 22" wide x 24" tall. He has nice, dark, heavy horns. He's a 4x4 with a worn down cheater inside his right side and four brow tines (2 lie flat on his head, hard to see). He was the best buck taken by anyone in our group.
The deer in our area have been getting bigger and bigger with each year, I hope the trend continues!

What a great trip I had hunting with my Dad and Rich. After everything was said and done, we couldn't believe how many deer we saw. We had a fun drive home and our experiences have given us much to dream about. I can't wait for the 2001 season.

Written by Larry Pasero