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TOPIC: My Buddy Gets His First Buck

My Buddy Gets His First Buck 2 years 1 week ago #9

Now that general deer seasons are wrapping up across the west I thought I'd share some of this years success. On opening day in central Arizona my buddy Jason took his first buck.

We traveled three hours on rough back country roads to get to a remote area that I had been to only once before. I knew from studying maps and a little scouting that this country had everything deer needed and we would have a few bucks to choose from. We arrived late the day before the season and set up camp on the only flat spot we could find that wasn't covered with rocks. We got to bed early and hit our first glassing point of the day only 500 yards from camp.

As soon as the sun came up we started glassing deer from our vantage point.

Most of the deer were a couple canyons over so we decided to stay put to see what turned up. About a half hour later we located a nice 150" buck that would make a great first deer. We watched him for about an hour until he bedded and then re-bedded. We had about a 800 yard stalk to get into range and needed to cross two canyons. Once we were out of sight of the buck, we were able to make our way over fairly easily and slowly eased into some cover on a distant ridge to locate the bedded buck.

We couldn't seem to find him in the scrub oak so we just made ourselves comfortable under a juniper and resolved to wait for him to get up. After a couple hours of constant scanning for the buck I was surprised to see my Swaros suddenly full of deer! A heard of does was hastily making their way down the canyon, they seemed to be retreating from something and I suspect another hunter bumped them our way.

I told Jason to get ready, the buck could get up after hearing the does. Jason put his Weatherby on his tripod as I picked up a set of antlers in my glass. There was a buck on the ridge directly across from us and he seemed to be hanging with two does. The does came directly toward us following the same route the previous herd had just taken. I was hopeful the buck would follow because it would bring him past us at less than 100 yards. As usual the buck did something else an turned and began traveling parallel to us on the top of the ridge. He was moving through the scrub oak but only had 50 more yards before he would be in the open. Jason was on him but the buck would not stop for a shot. As he followed the ridge he began quartering away from us and the distance was growing. Once he was in the open I decided it was now or never so I stopped him with a grunt. I ranged him at 309 yards and told Jason to put it on the top of his back and about 4" behind the shoulder to compensate for the nearly 15 mph crosswind and slight shot angle.

At the shot the bucks front legs gave out and he barreled downhill. The recoil from the sitting position Jason shot from knocked him off the target. I was just about to suggest he shoot again when I saw a fatal stream of blood gushing from the exit wound. Jason asked "did I miss?" and I just said "no, that's a dead deer". I no more uttered those words and the buck was down. I watched everything through my Swarovski 12X50 ELs, and it was better than being on the trigger! Once his buck was down he never kicked again, the 180gr Nosler Partition from his .30-06 did its job. It was not the buck we originally glassed up, but Jason was adamant about shooting the first buck that gave him a shot. He definitely made good on that statement!

After the shot Jason was flooded with adrenalin and excitement, we exchanged hi fives and handshakes. He made a great 300 yard shot on his first buck and he did it in a stiff cross wind. I let Jason savor the moment, calm down a little, and congratulated him again and again on the buck and the nice shot! I remembered my first buck from 24 years ago and how excited I was then, I'm glad Jason got to experience that and I feel fortunate to be apart if it. Before long we were packing up our optics and making our way toward his buck. We made our way up the slope to where the buck was hit and picked up the blood trail. I gave Jason a brief lesson in blood trailing and in less than 100 yards he had his hands on antlers. We celebrated with more hi-fives and back slapping before pictures and field dressing.

I gave Jason two options he could watch and help me quarter his deer or I offered to coach him on the process. He opted to do it himself and he did a great job. We used the gutless method and within an hour we had the deer in our packs and were headed back to camp. This was one of the most fun and most rewarding hunts I had ever been on and I was impressed with Jason's resolve and how cool he stayed with things happening so fast. I know he's hooked for life!
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