MonsterMuleys.com

"Dads Big Buck"
Written by Larry Pasero Jr., aka five_point_buck here at MonsterMuleys.com

Dads Big Buck
Larry shows off his dads big buck.
Once again Dad, Rich, Jerry and I made the trip to the Northwest corner of Colorado. The journey was a quite one. We took turns driving and napping, and dreaming of the bucks of years past and what the 3rd rifle season of 2001 had planned for us. This was to be the best year yet. The weather and winters had nourished a thriving deer herd. Another year of hopes and dreams sent us once again to chase the gray ghost.

Our trip couldn’t have started off better. Leaving the Golden State, eastbound and down, we weaved through cold spells and snow flurries. Would we get weather for once? Would the big bucks be chasing does into a full-blown rut? These are the questions that made my head ache. With weather we knew we would be in for a season of all seasons.

After arriving in camp, we hiked to a favorite lookout. To our surprise, the weather was mild. As the painted Colorado sky went to sleep we could see a large harem of does meander out of the river bottom. With them was the largest buck we had seen on hoof in our 5 years of making the journey. This nice 29-7/8” 5x4 buck was fun to watch. He threw caution to the wind as he tended to his does. I could only imagine the wars waged to collect such a group of does. He had earned them, and the respect for him was apparent. Never a challenger approached as he strutted and swaggered from doe to doe. He was the boss.

We had lost most of that nights sleep, wondering how to wrap a tag around his antlers.

As opening morning broke, Dad and I decided to split up. I would hoof it across the canyon to the bedding fingers. These are the dark recesses with vertical slopes and rocky gates guarded with greasewood and juniper. These places seem to swallow up bucks and hide them from our dinner table. As the lazy sun limped over the crests and into the gulches and gaps, we found the buck once more.

Throughout that morning, we had our chances. I approached from the far side. My stalk through head high willows and over broken washes landed me across the river from the buck. Not more than twenty-two yards separated us. The buck drank with a 4x4 subordinate. It was easy to see the gray in his face, and the age around his eyes. His attitude echoed years of battles waged and won. You could see in his eyes a confidence.

Something came over me as I watched him casually walk back to his find his bed. I really wanted my Dad to take this buck. It would be his best ever. So my gun never found that familiar rest on my shooting sticks. My binoculars would be the only glass to frame the majestic buck. Although our best laid plan didn’t put a buck in the truck, we new it was only the first morning of our long anticipated 7-day adventure.

Larry's Buck
Larry took a great buck himself!
After lunch we addressed the issue at hand. How do you get an old crafty lovesick buck into shooting range? Dad had earned the right to get this buck. Raising three kids and putting his dreams on the shelf for so many years, I couldn’t think of a better reward. He had killed nice bucks in his time, but none like this. Somehow, I thought this buck would reward the patience, generosity, and outdoor knowledge he unselfishly has given me. I wondered if it could replace the time he lost while giving me everything I demanded.
The day wore on. We broke with a new plan. We assumed our spots and as the shadows grew long and the sun gave up on the day, the plot unfolded. Once again the Does made their way from the willows. After a long warm days rest, their heads were quick to find the ground. As they fed out we wondered if the ol’ boy would follow, and he did. It began another familiar race with the setting sun.

It was obvious the buck new this game. He had won countless times, and the plan was proven. He would wait till the crack of dark and work his harem, forsaking food and drink, in search of the one that would carry his genetics for years to come. The deer fed out into the open field, hungry to finish the preparation for another winter. The sun made the move to sneak behind the darkening peaks. The time was upon us.

I anxiously watched through my binoculars as the buck lumbered from doe to doe. I could barely stand the excitement, my ears begging to hear the bark of the .300 Weatherby. The same sound I had heard so often before. Fixed on the buck I watched as he hunched up before I heard the familiar CHICK-BOOM----CRACK, of 180 grains hammering home. He took two more steps before the second shot put out the flame in his boiler room.

A Great Hunt
Everyone had a fantastic 2001 hunt.
Like a kid again, I sat back and listened to the excitement of my Dad’s voice on the radio. I watched as he skipped off his stand. The sight and sound and his exuberance took 25 years off his life. I could see the spring in his step and I heard the youth in his voice. I wondered if this was how he was when he was my age? His excitement couldn’t be contained; I thought to myself how much he deserved it. At that moment nothing else seemed to matter. I could have gone home at that moment, empty handed, knowing I had just shared the greatest moment in our hunting lives.

The trip ran until Friday. I collected a heavy 3x3 on Thursday. My other hunting partner, Rich Jones connected on a nice 3x4 as we sat down for a snack. The great thing about hunting muley’s is that you never know when they’ll appear. They are gray ghosts, filtering in on a fall breeze or disappearing into the cold clay crevices. What would we be if they stopped haunting our dreams?