Steve's son took this dandy buck on the Arizona "strip" during the 2007 season. Finding a buck down there is like finding a needle in a haystack!
Here is the story Steve wrote:
More Than a Memory
As the sun began to bring a bit of light to the sky my mind was racing to choose what spot I should take my son, Dan, for the opening morning of the hunt. I had hunted this unit four years ago and I wanted to hit an area that I had seen deer every day. But first I had to check out the area were I had taken my buck. We did some glassing and looked over the juniper dotted ridges but saw nothing. I knew that this might be the start of a tough hunt and with the temperature so warm, even in the early morning, I was apprehensive yet excited for my son’s opportunity to tag his first deer. I also had the great feeling that just being out there with him was reward enough and that killing a deer would be a bonus.
Several days before I called Luke Thompson who is the game warden assigned to that unit. I left a message at the regional office and was happy to have him return my call. He was very helpful and gave me a great deal of information. We did scout some of the areas that Luke suggested and looked over other areas that I remembered from my hunt. The only deer we saw in our scouting were two young bucks crossing the road, but we at least knew of areas to try for the upcoming hunt.
We then made a big loop on foot in a burned area. I noticed some deer sign but also noticed the grass was not nearly as high and plentiful as it was four years ago. We made our walk and did not see a deer. As we came back to the truck the AZ Game and Fish truck approached us and there was Luke and his fellow officer with him. We discussed the potential for the hunt and Luke pointed out areas on our map. Both of them treated us great and offered words of encouragement.
We decided to hunt a mountain that had a good reputation and might be an area to hold some good bucks. We glassed and checked out a water hole but no luck. With no deer sighted on the opening day I felt we should check out another area that Luke had suggested. So on the second day we made the long and dusty trip to this new area. The fingers extending out from the main ridge looked like they had to hold deer. So we chose one and went walking. We went a mile or so and decided to return when we noticed movement. Finally we spotted deer, but they were does. We watched them and looked around the area hoping for a buck to be back in the trees.
The third day was to be our last day. My son had to be back for work so we crammed a ten day, probably once in a lifetime draw hunt, into a 3 day hunt. I had my mind made up that we were going to hunt hard the last day. It was near noon when we saw hunters hauling out a 5 x 5 out of the mountain we hunted the first day. So we decided to climb the mountain and see if we could find the buck we were looking for. After several hours of working our way up and around the mountain we headed back to the truck. It was late in the afternoon with just a couple of hours left in the day. We decided to head back to the area where we spotted the only bucks of the entire trip. We had just passed another area we had hunted when just off the road was a herd with five does, two young bucks and a big bodied 4x3. We pulled off the road and Dan slipped out of the truck and crept out into the brush. I stayed frozen in the truck afraid that any additional movement might spook the deer. I watched Dan sit down on the ground and rest his elbows on his knees for a close broadside shot. The big buck was staring at him when I heard the shot. Then Dan jumped up and yelled “I got him.” The buck ran about fifty yards and I yelled to stay on him. When the buck piled up, I jumped up and down, gave Dan a hug and realized that my son had just killed a 300lb. plus deer for his first deer. He has an outside spread of 26” and grosses 174”. With only a half hour of daylight left we had pictures to take, and the fun work to do.
I would like to thank my wife, for her support and my dad for teaching me to hunt. I now am “passing the torch” to my son to love hunting. It surely is “more than a memory.”
Rifle: Winchester Model 70 300WSM
Ammo: Federal Vital - Shok 180 grain Barnes Triple Shock X