Jared Provost writes, "On a scouting trip this summer I had the good fortune of spotting this magnificent buck for a brief moment. It was a beautiful sight to see him emerging from a silhouette as the sun came up over the mountains. I was stunned and couldn’t believe what I was seeing as he walked into the trees. My desire to relocate this awesome buck took me back to the same location a few weeks later. Not far from where I spotted him the first time, he appeared again, for a short-lived moment. But it was during this sighting that I knew he was HUGE…and it was also when I became obsessed with the desire to harvest him on the upcoming hunt. I spent almost every weekend looking for him hoping to find him again. Wanting to use every advantage possible, I set up a trail camera near a spring close to where I had seen the buck. Over the next few weeks the camera produced some great photos of other deer, elk and moose, but not the one I was looking for. However, my fortune changed about a month before the hunt started at 4:22 am, my trail camera took a series of photos that made the hair on my arms stand straight up. The photos confirmed how big he really was and that I wasn’t just excited and over exaggerating… he was truly a TOAD!
My wife agreed to go hunting with me this year; she agreed to get up early, hike with me and sit in the cold as long as I packed enough clothing to keep her warm. So when the hunt came around, we left the kids for the weekend with family and took off alone. The night before the hunt opened, I could hardly rest knowing that he was out there. On opening morning of the hunt, after a healthy hike, we reached the area where I assumed he would be and from this vantage point we would have the best opportunity to spot him from. My heart was racing all morning and I had to continually remind myself to stay put. Around 9:30am I spotted him bedded down in a grove of trees on the other side of the valley. I set the spotting scope on him and told my wife the plan I had to go after him. I couldn't believe it… there he was, hidden and way out of range!
The elements were on my side, using the wind to my advantage, I slipped down a finger ridge and slowly crept into position. After getting settled, I saw he had stood up and was feeding. I ranged him and he was only 123 yards away from me. I was looking down on him and he was facing away from me. However, the only shot I had was in the back and since I didn’t want to take that shot, I settled my heart down, fixed him in my crosshairs and committed to wait for him to turn broadside.
The 5 minutes it took for him to do so felt like an hour and you can only imagine the horror as when I squeezed the trigger, a single and distinct CLICK echoed back from the rifle! Panic set in as I realized I had just dry fired my rifle at the biggest buck I ever had in my crosshairs! Holy crap, in all the excitement I never put a shell in the chamber. My adrenalin was maxing out as I quickly worked to chamber a shell. I had to take a deep breath to calm down before I raised my rifle to put him in the crosshairs. I squeezed the trigger and watched him drop. As the reality of the situation set in, my heart was raced…what a rush!
When I got back to where my wife was waiting, she was just as excited as I was. She said it took her a minute to figure out why I was waiting so long to take the shot. She said her anxiety was driving her crazy. She said she could only imagine how anxious I must have been while waiting for him to turn broadside so I could take the shot. As we walked up on him, I said “We are putting him on the wall” Thankfully, without any hesitation at all, she agreed.
We took some pictures to remember this awesome adventure we had together and I can honestly say the best part of this hunt was having her be a part of the whole thing. Most men shoot the buck of their life with a hunting buddy or a guide, not their wife. I am a lucky man!
I shot this buck on the Utah general season rifle hunt in the northern unit. His official score is 192-3/8" Ggoss and 184-0/8" net.