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"Dedication Pays Off for Walter - 195 Incher"
Photo provided by: Walter Baker

This 195-inch 5x4 was arrowed by Walter Baker in Colorado. Here's Walter's story:

On opening morning of the Colorado bow season, I was up at 3:30 am, grabbed my gear and headed into the woods with my hunting buddy Steve in search of a certain big muley buck. I knew where he was likely to be because I had been scouting the area for three months, could identify many individual bucks, and had patterned them during the late summer and early fall. Most of the big bucks had distinguishing features, like a torn ear or one eye guard. This let me follow their progress as they matured. As the bucks’ antlers grew, it soon became obvious which would be the big bucks. I had my eye on a nice 9x7 with stickers everywhere when I stumbled on a large 5x5. I rarely saw the 9x7 and was now focused on the buck I nicknamed Grayback because, when he transitioned from his summer to winter coat, he had a gray stripe down his back. Grayback also had an odd looking stubby brow tine which later proved to be partially split in a single velvet covering. I saw him a couple of times a week all summer long and his size and mass became impressive as his rack matured – I estimated a 190 class buck.

Steve and I separated by a few yards as we each watched a sidehill. Darkness faded away to first shooting light around 6am. We watched and waited without seeing a single buck – had we spooked them? Usually, I would see them around 6am each scouting trip. Motion caught my eye as I finally saw some bucks approaching their usual bedding area – but I could not see if Grayback was with them. Needing a closer look, I left Steve as the spotter and made a stalk. I looked back and Steve indicated the bucks were nervous as I came up behind a scrub oak thicket. I came around the thicket at full draw and was less than 20 yards from a buck. I realized it was not Grayback and let down my bow as I had promised myself to not shoot any of the smaller bucks on opening morning. I rejoined Steve and he could not believe I had passed on a 175 class buck, a huge 5x4.

We later spotted several other bucks in the area but no sign of Grayback. I decided to make a large loop around the hill top as Steve continued to glass. While returning I caught movement coming up the hill. I glassed and saw Grayback. He spotted me at over 150 yards but was not alarmed as he had seen and winded me several times during scouting and apparently believed I was not a threat. He was with another interesting buck that had a unique 6-inch sticker off one side making him a more than 30 inch wide buck, but with only crab claws on his fronts. My focus was still on Grayback. Steve glassed them and thought they were the same bucks we had seen earlier but I pointed out to him that these had brow tines. It was now 7am and they bedded in the scrub oaks part way up the hill with the wind coming from above. We planned another stalk and I walked below a ridge line to the bottom of their hill and then started sneaking up toward the bucks. During the stalk a smaller buck joined them and fed next to where they were bedded. I could see Steve on the next hill and he indicated that they were still bedded and that there was now a third buck. As I worked toward the bucks the wind became stronger in my face. I was closing the gap when I realized they were bedded on a bench on the hillside with the smaller buck about 25 yards closer to me. I was sidestepping up the hill when the little buck saw me and went on full alert. I looked over and could see the antlers of the larger bucks. I was at 10 yards from the small buck when he bolted over by the big bucks. They jumped up to see what had spooked him putting Grayback in range but with a small bush covering his vitals. I leaned forward and had a slightly quartering away shot at 23 yards. The arrow hit home with a loud thump and he bolted. Steve saw two bucks come running out, the small buck and the sticker buck. We found the arrow which was covered with frothy blood that looked like a great heart-lung shot.

We began tracking Grayback and, just over the hill, I finally saw his rack behind a clump of trees. As we got closer the rack looked larger and larger. Steve and I were amazed as we realized the size of the velvet rack. The buck green scored 195 and has a spread of 29 1/8. Steve now understands why I passed on the 5x4 bucks to harvest a trophy like Grayback.

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