The one that "THOUGHT" he got away!
This was a great third season Colorado muley hunt for me. It started three days before the season began when a new guy at work, Bill, started talking about maybe getting an OTC elk tag but did not know any of the country around Western Colorado. As we talked, I felt he was a pretty good guy and I was not going to be hunting in my usual hunting spot - due to the unit I would be hunting - and asked if he would like to go up with me. Of course he said yes!
The next day I received a call from another guy, Bruce, I knew from delivering to jobsites and he asked if I could help him out with a spot that his son might have a chance of taking his first bull; he also had an OTC bull tag for third season. I told him that if he wanted he could also go up with us and hunt the same area. This is the first time I was going to have guys hunting with me that I did not know real well and had never hunted with, but accepted the challenge with a smile (especially when it comes to kids).
Opening morning I had Bill pick me up bright and early, and Bruce and his son would meet us in Debeque. The spot I was going to hunt had about 12 inches of crusted snow and made for a tough walk as the sun was just coming up. I was going kind of fast because I was in a hurry to get in "the hole" and they were having a very tough time keeping up. I remembered why I let them come with me, to help them out, so I slowed way down. We got to "the hole" a little late, but no worries, no one else was in there due to all the snow.
I started glassing to see if anything was out and about, but did not spot anything, so I made a plan. There were tons of elk tracks in the snow so I had high hopes for them, but there were not many deer tracks at all. Because of the lack of deer tracks, I told then I would dive into the thick nasty stuff and have them stay up higher and see if I could push the elk out to them. They would stay up on the ridge and slowly head north then drop down to me in the very bottom.
I headed northwest down through the thick nasty cedars. I would stop every fifty yards or so and glass back up under them in the oakbrush just in case an old muley was laying up on the ridge and they may make him move, but to no avail. I did not bump a single elk or deer the whole way down and was starting to get a little depressed myself. We met up down in the bottom and they had not seen a single critter either. So I decided I would have them spread out in the bottom about 100 yards apart and I would head a little further west and meet them back at the top.
As I got up to the top, I glassed down to see how they were coming. They were still a long ways down in there. They were super tired from plowing the snow and were moving very, very slow. So I headed over to the old two-track where I told them we would meet. It sat at the top of the ridge we started down and it also formed a saddle in the terrain. So I took off my pack right in the middle of the road, dug out some snacks and made myself comfortable for a long wait.
After sitting there for over an hour, I stood up and stretched my legs and looked around a little with the binos. As I was glassing, I heard some noise from where they were to come up. I put down the binos and looked around some, but saw nothing. Just as I was bringing my binos up again, I heard the noise and this time caught a glimpse of something moving just on the edge of the oakbrush, "It was him!" Here was a decent buck about 90 yards from me with no clue I was even around. I could not tell how good he really was from the side and I was looking for something good. I did not even grab my gun yet as it was about 5 yards from me in the brush. The old buck moved right past me and turned to cross the road about 50 yards in front of me. He then turned and headed right at me and I could see he was a very good buck. He came to within 15 yards of me then turned and finished crossing the road and started heading away from me. I grabbed my gun as he stopped about 45 yards from me and he had still not seen me standing right in the middle of the road. He was quartering away from me and I put the crosshairs on the base of his neck and squeezed the trigger. He went straight down without even a flinch. I walked over to him and realized I had taken the widest buck ever (taped him later at 29 3/4" wide). This old buck had snuck out ahead of them and had thought he had gotten away!
When the guys got up to me they asked if I had shot and I smiled and pointed. They could not believe how it all went down and it was the biggest buck the young man had the priviledge of seeing on the ground. I had them help me skin and quarter the buck so we could pack the buck out.
By the time we made it back to the vehicles, a lot of the snow had melted. It made for a tough trip out, but it was all worth it. The next day we tried another area, but were not fortunate enough to find an elk for the guys.
Even though they did not take an elk that weekend, the young man called me in the middle of the next week and thanked me for letting him come hunting with me. I told him it was my priviledge! I took them hunting and it was them that actually helped me take my buck.