"Sherry's Big Buck"
Three years ago, when Sherry was pregnant with our first baby, Tina, I put her in for a moose draw in eastern Idaho. Now we all know that guys who throw their name in the hat year after year, usually have no luck, myself included. Well, we laughed pretty hard the day her CONGRATULATIONS letter came in the mail after only one attempt.
The cutest thing I have ever seen was my wife, seven and a half months pregnant, strolling up a hill packing her Remington .308 and a big ol smile on her face. Her smile got even bigger when my brother John and I found her a nice 42" Shiras Moose, which she dropped with one well placed 50 yard shot! We ate well that winter and the memories of the trip will last a lifetime!
The following two years brought no babies and no luck drawing tags. Well that's the way it goes we thought, until this year. 1999 brought our son R. J. as well as the most coveted trophy Mule Deer tag in the state! Approximately 2,000 applicants put in for 50 tags and guess who drew, that's right, the prego lady! What the heck is going on here?
As soon as I got the good news off the Internet I called Sherry at home and told her to get her rifle out and start practicing. She had no idea what I was talking about until I explained that she just drew the tag of a lifetime! She was very excited to say the least, but didn't realize what she had until we attended the Idaho Mule Deer Foundation Banquet. Everybody we talked to that evening was amazed that she actually drew a tag. A friend of mine introduced us to Steve Alderman, who grew up in Sherry's hunt area and is an avid Muley hunter. "Avid hunter" does not do this guy justice. He is in fact, the president of Deer Hunters of Idaho and would rather be hunting mule deer than anything else. He volunteered to take us into one of his areas and show us around.
Numerous meetings were held to pour over maps and talk strategy. From the very first I told Steve how challenging this unique hunt was going to be for him. Sherry and I planned to take our 2-month son along on the hunt! My mother in law volunteered to stay in the motor home and baby sit during the day while we hunted. That meant a one-hour trip each way just to get into the hunt area. That, plus the fact that Sherry didn't have enough time to get back into hunting shape, should have been enough to drive anyone in their right mind away. None of this deterred Steve, who was determined to see Sherry get a nice deer.
Living in the middle of farm country allows me to put a rifle range in the back yard and we practiced marksmanship every chance we got. We even paid the neighbor kids to come over and baby sit while we shot. Sherry practiced on 18" steel plates from the standing, sitting and prone supported positions. We even shot a few times over the four wheeler just in case that kind of shot was presented. By October Sherry was ringing the 400 meter target regularly.
Opening morning was warm for November. We unloaded the four wheelers and drove into the hunt area. By daylight we were in the middle of 30 deer, five being bucks. We glassed them hard, but none met our expectations. We drove to the end of a two-track road and parked the four wheelers. We were in the middle of an area jokingly referred to as "Steve's square". We immediately ran into deer, one buck being a real lunker. Steve judged him a 30 inch 4X4 with good mass and deep forks. I lazed the buck at 500 meters, which put him 100 meters out of Sherry's comfort zone. We watched him for about an hour. He put on a great show for us, shoving smaller bucks around and cohorting with the ladies in the area. He never got closer and a cross canyon stalk would have been impossible. We moved on to see what else the area offered.
After glassing numerous bucks all morning, I spotted a possible wall hanger across a canyon about a mile away. Even from that range we could tell he was bigger than most of the deer we'd been seeing. Steve eyeballed the buck and decided we should get a closer look. We crossed the canyon slowly, going at Sherry's pace. I could see the look of urgency on Steve's face. But he was a real gentleman, not once getting impatient. Topping the opposite rim, we spotted a real tall 24" 4X5 we named gimpy because of his obvious limp. That buck jumped out of his bed and ran right at us from 300 meters out not stopping till he was 40 meters from us! Sherry could have taken him with a pistol, but Steve new she could do better. We watched him skirt down wind from us until he got a nose full, then was out of there like someone zapped him with a cattle prod! Steve got the whole show on video, and it's a riot!
We snuck over to a small depression and peeked over the side. There he stood 200 meters out surrounded by six does. Steve field judged him a 30" 4x4 and thought he was a good buck. Not a monster, but a great looking buck for the living room. Sherry and I made the decision to take him. She got into a prone position supported by my daypack. She held right on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The buck jumped and Steve and I yelled "you got him" at the same time. Sherry chambered another round and got back on target just like we practiced all summer. The buck started walking away and I told Sherry to shoot him again. As soon as I said that the buck fell down dead. The 150 grain Hornady Light Magnum round did its job. The bullet mushroomed perfectly and came to rest underneath the hide on the opposite side. We waited a few minutes then walked over to Sherry's deer. She was all smiles when she got close enough to appreciate her deer. All the planning, scouting, rifle practice, and baby sitting expenses paid off! Sherry accomplished what she set out to do; put a nice mule deer on the living room wall right next to her moose.
Thanks to Steve for the patience, his knowledge of mule deer, and the entertainment he provided during the hunt. The video he made of Sherry's hunt is priceless and just adds to the memories of a great time.
I hope this pregnancy thing isn't a habit, I can't afford any more kids!
Written by Bob Mancuso
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