Brad Robins writes, "This buck was a two week quest. I watched him hide from two hunters opening day. They came out on some rimrock to glass the same canyon I was glassing. They were about 3/4 mile away. I watched them with the thought that they might kick out something to me. I noticed something move 100 yards below them. Here was this nice buck craning his neck to see what was above him. He was in this tight spot under this small chunk of rimrock. To watch his patience was incredible. As the two hunters left, I saw that he followed them with his eyes. I left my perch as they crested the ridge.
The next thing I heard was shale being ran across. It was that buck! It was coming my way. I settled down to watch it come to 800 yards below me. He never came out of a bend in the canyon bottom. With it being close to 80 degrees, and the wind bad, I decided to come back later.
I whispered to him, "I’ll see you tonight."
That afternoon, I hiked back to the canyon that I left him in. It took a bit to find his bed, but he was there. I plotted my route to get within rifle distance. A chunk of buck brush would afford me a nice shot. I made my way down the steep, rocky slope. Just short of the buck brush, I noticed three does making their way to the buck. I immediately thought the worst. I readied myself as the does started heading my way. All of a sudden, at 100 yards directly downwind to my left, I see antlers above the buck brush. I quickly snapped the safety off. The buck never showed. I ran towards the brush, ran up the ridge, and ran over the ridge. GONE. Disappeared.
All week long at work I thought of the shoulda’s, coulda’s, and woulda’s. Friday night found Al and I traveling down HWY I-84. We hit the ranch at 12:20 am. A few short hours later, we were up.
We drove out to the end of the wheat stubble to cut the time in half for the hike out to the three ridges we would hunt. On our way to the easternmost ridge, we watched some neighbors chase some smaller bucks around. With a large canyon between us, I was sure that we would not be bothered. We hit the first ridge as the sun came up. We slowly glassed all slopes. As we dipped into the head of the canyon, I glassed the very bottom as far as I could. I saw neck and horns at about 500 yards down, right at the bend. He was bedded in the most perfect spot. He could spy anything down the canyon and smell anything that was behind him. If only the steelheaders on the Deschutes River could look up here and see this beauty.
We quickly escaped to a safe spot above him on the same side he was bedded on. The thought was to crawl down directly above him. I landmarked him and set off to get above. Al stayed behind due to all the shale we had to negotiate. After about 20 minutes, I spotted antler tips at 150 yards. I adjusted my route and aimed for some rimrock 50 yards to my right. I got there and slowly crawled out to the end of it. My sweatshirt made a good solid rest for my .270. I realized that the buck was snoozing. I motioned to Al to come down and take part of the experience.
He crawled out to the edge with me. In the next hour, we talked about many things. We actually talked about who is in charge of watching the antlers while the other would doze. It was crazy. We made bets on the width, height and if this was the biggest we’ve seen on the ranch. Should we whistle? Should we stalk him? A decision was to stay put. He was one step away from freedom as he was on a little shelf. He would have a running lane under him that would hide him from us. Certainly, he would rise to stretch or eat a bit.
The 111 yard shot came suddenly. Almost in mid sentence did we notice him rock his antlers and rise. A quick, almost unsafe scramble down the shale found the buck crumpled at the bottom of the canyon. We snapped a few pics and started to quarter him for the pack out. He was 23-1/2" wide and 22" tall. A good buck for this area of north central Oregon. Heavy bases and a swollen neck, early for this part of the year we thought.
I hiked out with all the unnecessary items so the pack out would be easier. I returned an hour and a half later with pack frames. Al had cleaned up the meat and was ready for strapping on. The pack out was slow and steady. I am not a fan of ATVs, but in this case, my Dad’s 4-wheeler came in handy by cutting the trip by over half.
It was a fun season at the ranch. Al had done a great job on his buck the weekend before with a very quick humane 336 yard shot on a nice forked horn. He is a real good partner. Al and my Dad packed it out about the same time I was watching my buck evade hunters. The ranch has been in our family for over 110 years. We are truly blessed to have access to a beautiful spot in Oregon. I look forward to going there each year that we draw tags.