Written by Larry Pasero Jr.
I was at a crossroads. I had taken some good muley bucks from this corner of Colorado, but wanted something more. I guess there is a time in a muley hunter's life when the bar is raised. I spent most of those 1,189 miles putting together a plan. I would wait for "THE ONE". I had dreamed about "The One" almost every day for the last year. As we passed through Heber Utah, "The One" had become a straight 4x4 or better with eye guards, at least as wide as his ears, with a cheater or two, deep forks, and good mass. At every meal break and gas stop I would ramble on about "The One", heck, I told a whole blackjack table in Wendover about him. By the time we crossed the Colorado line, eyes would roll as I diagramed my plan to find him.
Upon arrival at camp, evidence of the residual drought was apparent. Black dry sage, dusty roads, sparse junipers and stale buck brush were the norm. Although the conditions were disheartening, we managed to locate a few nice bucks on the day before the season. With each new deer spotted our excitement grew in anticipation for the season opener to follow.
Jason and I started his first muley hunt on point at a favorite ambush spot, and I was excited to sit in the fresh falling snow. We were able to locate deer in a few pockets, but nothing that warranted ending the season on the first morning. It was a breathtaking view. The sage rolled out below us. From our perch high above, we could see into a few shallow draws and pockets guarded by thick cover. After a morning tailboard meeting and snack, Jason, Rich, and I decided to head to another area as the morning warmed up. We got stuck in the slick Colorado clay mud and almost rolled the truck. Most of our energy was spent avoiding catastrophe and once our vehicle issues were resolved, we headed back in the other direction, beat up and exhausted.
The next morning we went to another favorite outlook. It was cold and crisp. As we glassed a few forkies and one super tall 3x3, the thought of passing on the buck the previous evening had started to sink in. Time was running out on the 2002 deer season. My good Pal Rich beat me in a quick "Ro-Sham-Bo" to see who got to look over the edge at one of our favorite "lucky" spots. Half disappointed, I took Jason off in a loop to our left to make a pit stop. Rich crept to the edge as we made our way to give him some space. I had my mind on loosing the lookout to Rich when below, a rustling willow caught my attention. Jason and I instantly spotted a large buck at the bottom of a tree, broadside, assaulting the sapling with his deep forked rack. As the new sun started to glisten the dew on his back, and as golden leaves fell from the violent display, the decision was made instantly. Not three seconds after we saw him, and before mention was made, I was setting up on my sticks muttering "I'm gonna take him, he's THE ONE"'. My poor brother didn't even have a chance to respond as I found a rock solid rest on my Steady Stix. When my crosshair found the spot, I let out half a breath and squeezed through the shot. The .300 Weatherby barked and we heard the smack of success. Ten steps later he piled up in the wet underbrush. He was mine.
That night we headed back to the buck I had passed on. This time it was Rich's turn. Luckily, we found the buck in the same general area as before. Jason and I glassed and took ranged distances and gave hand signals to Rich as he got locked in. As soon as the shot presented itself, the buck laid down for an afternoon nap with 6 does. 45 minutes later, he got up to sniff around, and Rich made a great 300 yard shot, anchoring his biggest buck to date. The best part was that Jason had been witness to all 4 bucks taken, all with different methods, in different scenarios. He did well in his accelerated Muley 101 class. Now he's hooked just like the rest of us.
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