Cameron McQuillen writes, "2006 was the beginning of my junior year of high school. It was another year closer to graduating, and another year I couldn't wait to be in the Kaibab deer woods. With high hopes and an overdose of anticipation, the hunt was finally here.
It was a Thursday morning when I was up at 3am anticipating the chill of the fresh air and the smells of pine, aspen, and deer huntin'. The only hard part was making it through the 8am to 3pm school day before I left for the Kaibab. Yep, I had to be to school at 8am and was up at 3am because I was so anxious, I just had an awesome feeling about this up coming hunt. Well, the school day ended not soon enough but it ended and I was on my way to the great Kaibab by 3:30pm.
After the long 9 hour drive and a few pit stops in between, we had finally made it. It was now about 1:30am Friday morning. We decided to just park the trailer and get a couple hours of well needed rest before hittin' the woods. Well, 3am roled around in what seemed like minutes. Scrambling to get on some warm camo before I froze, was an accomplishment in itself.
The first morning I set out with high hopes and that gut feeling and anticipation of not knowing what your gonna' see, but you just know its gonna' be good. Well, that sounds so much better then what really happened. About a 25 minute drive on the four wheeler in what seemed like 12 degree weather was made easier with the site of 3 deer crossing the road in front of me. Like I said, hopes were high and anticipation strong.
After reaching the hunting spot and going all morning, the only deer I saw were the 3 on the quad ride into the area. It was a bit of a bummer, but with 8 more mornings and 9 more evenings to hunt, it was just getting started.
That afternoon I walked down a thick canyon not knowing what to expect, but it looked amazing. I mean, if you were gonna' see a monster buck this was NOT gonna' be the spot. It was just too far and too perfect of an area, with far to perfect cover, and to say the least, it was just to perfect. But that's bowhunting. I couldn't not pass this spot up. So, I came back down with a tree stand and set it up where 3 runs came together. And man, were they beat with track!
The stand set up was still to this day one of my favorites, perfect tree and was so comfortable. Well after hanging the stand I left that area to hunt another and was gonna' come back in the morning.
The next morning came, and as the night before was not successful, I was off to the stand I hung the afternoon before. As the sun peeked over the trees, I already had deer in front of me. They were there when I first got into my stand before sun up, and hung out until the sun came up. All morning deer were coming through and it was amazing adrenalin, deer, and bow in hand.
It was about an hour after shooting light and I saw a big rack moving through the woods. It was coming off the ridge in front of me and heading straight for my stand. This was it I thought, and the adrenalin kicked in. The buck walked out at 30 yards and was a big, big forked horn. I had never seen such a big little buck before, so I drew back and let that arrow fly. A loud crack rang out as the arrow connected, the only problem was it wasn't with the buck. I hit this little branch, I mean little, it was no bigger then my arrow shaft, but I nailed it. Long story short, the buck ran off and that was the last deer I saw for 6 days.
It was now friday night, returning back to camp cold and hungry. I had one more full day to hunt, as Sunday evening we were heading home. After dinner and a bit frustrated, I tried to piece together a game plan for the morning. A buddy of mine told me about this tank he had sat for a couple days and a little forkhorn kept coming into it. Being the end of my hunt, I was gonna' take anything, so he let me sit his stand. At 3am I was up and ready to go.
I got to the stand a little later than what I wanted to. As I was putting on my safety harness I caught an outline of a deer about 200 yards away staring at me. I could make out a set of antlers and let me tell you my heart sunk as the deer was looking right at me. He eventually turned and walked back into the tree line and I hurried to get set.
Maybe 20 minutes after that whole thing happened, I heard a loud crack off to my left. Not knowinb what to think, I just sat there hoping for something good. Well, what happened next I will never forget. It happened so fast and just like it's supposed to. Out stepped this buck 30 yards on the burm I had my stand on. He stood there surveying the tank for about 2 minutes and started walking directly towards me. At about 20 yards he turned broadside and I was ready. At full draw and a mule deer buck 20 yards in front of me, talk about excitment. I let that arrow fly and the buck didn't even flinch. He ran to the bottom of the burm, turned and looked at me. I saw the arrow hit right behind the shoulder, I could see my arrow in the ground all 3 red vanes, my vanes where 2 green and a white. The buck walked back up onto the burm at 40 yards. I didn't know what to think. He then walked up the hill and faded into the timber.
I sat in my stand replaying the shot over and over and to this day still replay it. But after about 10 minutes I couldnt take it, I had to see that arrow. I climbed down and picked it up. I've taken quite a few animals with my bow, but let me tell you, I have never seen an arrow that covered with blood. Knowing the shot was good I went and found my grandfather. After about an hour of waiting and telling the story, we were on the blood trail. It was about 200 yards and very little blood before I saw antlers. I had no idea how big the deer was, how many points or anything. All I knew was he was a he. So, when I got my hands on him and saw he was a nice 3x3 I was, well I really can't explain how I felt...no words can or ever will.
A long 8 days in freezing Kaibab weather, thick timber, up and down canyons finally paid off with a nice 3 point. This was my second Kaibab buck and you can count on me being back up there next year!