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"Youth Hunter’s Success"
Written by Stephen Richins
Edited by Rod Hart (Alpine Productions -- Professional Writing & Editing)

Youth Hunter’s Success
On opening morning of Utah’s regular season rifle hunt, my companions and I hiked into a canyon that usually held quite a few deer. It seemed only a minute or so had passed before we spotted a nice 27-inch four-point, along with a small 2x3. The bucks were quite some distance away, but I decided to try for the big boy anyway. At the shot, the two bucks bolted out of the area untouched. After that, the deer were scarce and we saw only one two-point and a couple of small four points.

As the season began to wind down, I wasn’t sure where to go next. I’d hiked everywhere and still had not seen a good buck since that first day. Finally, my brother, my cousin, and I decided to return to the area we’d hunted on opening morning.

After my brother and I had glassed the area for awhile, we headed over to a side ridge that lay beyond our field of vision. Again, we struck out, with only a few small bucks spotted. By then, we could see my cousin heading for a pocket that usually held some bucks, so we hurried over to meet up with him.

When we arrived at the turnoff, we were amazed to see a 20-inch four-point standing in the middle of the road. My brother asked me if I wanted to shoot, and since I was becoming very discouraged, I said, “Yes.” Raising the rifle, I was just about to squeeze the trigger when my cousin drove by in his truck and spooked the buck.

From there, we moved up to a small knoll that offered a good view of the pocket I mentioned earlier. Four bucks stood in the opening below us, including a 20-inch 4x4, a 26-inch 4x4 and two 28-inch 4x4s. I was about ready to shoot one of the larger four points when an even bigger buck walked out of the cover. As I swung my crosshairs over to the new arrival, he disappeared behind some brush. What seemed like an hour was in reality only a few seconds before the big mule deer walked out, turned to look in my direction, then turned the other way to sniff a doe. My first shot missed, but the second one connected and the deer went down hard. The animal was still struggling, so I touched off another round to finish him.

Mine wasn’t the first big buck taken by our family from the canyon where we were hunting. My older brother has taken six deer over 30 inches from the area. His trophies include one four-point that is 32 1/2 inches wide, a 30-inch 9x9, a 31-inch 7x5, and a 6x6 that also measures 31 inches wide. In addition to these, he has also taken two other 30-inch four points from this canyon, all taken during regular deer seasons.
Note: Sixteen-year-old Stephen entered his trophy in a local “Big Buck” contest and won a Knight Muzzleloader for his efforts. Congratulations, Stephen!