Two Times a Charm
When we started our 30 hour drive to Colorado on November 1, 2010, we had visions of repeating our 2 buck harvest of the previous year. John’s buck, with a dressed weight of 197 pounds, won the Massachusetts Bowhunters Association Out-of-State Big Buck Award. My buck had been a bit smaller, but boasted a nice 9 point rack. We stopped by our taxidermist to pick up John’s 8 pointer and what a great job Laurie did. She is an unbelievable taxidermist and just having the head hanging on the wall all week was motivation to get out there and find one of the many big old deer running around on the river bottoms in Southeastern Colorado.
John and I lease about 3,000 acres of Arkansas River bottom and own a house in town. Although its a long drive out to Colorado, we can bring everything we need with us and take our time getting out there. Plus, we have the flexibility on departure time. We have been fortunate in that the farmers let us leave our 15 stands up year round. As long as we pay the lease, we are pretty much set when we get there. Cooking our own food means the hunt ends up costing us very little because we do it all ourselves. We have the great opportunity to be the only hunters allowed to hunt the farms and we’ve gotten to know them fairly well after 5 years. Each year we meet new farmers who are extremely generous in allowing us to hunt their property.
We decided to put up one additional stand this year as we saw a lot of deer in an area we had not previously set up. It was on a scrape line that came out of the river bottom. After setting up the stand we let it sit for a day. Opening day I had to work, attending a meeting near Denver which is a three hour drive way. But, because no one else is hunting our property, it didn’t matter. Because I had gotten back so late from Denver the night before, I didn’t hunt the following morning but hopped into my stand, the new one, at around 2pm. At 4 pm two does entertained me for a couple of hours and then went on their way. Just moments later, I saw a buck working their scent trail. He circled downwind to a scrape just 25 yards from my stand. I watched as he lifted his head, tilted it back, and curled his lip in the Flehmen maneuver. He rubbed his glands on the overhanging branches and urinated on his haunches. His rack was wide, tall and extremely massive. I told myself he was a shooter. He decided to head into the wind the way the does had come in and that would put him at 17 yards broadside in a couple of seconds. All he had to do was clear a large Tamarack bush. As he went behind the bush I could only see his outline. He stood there for a minute or more and I saw his tail flick. I drew back my High Country bow, loaded with a Carbon Xpress arrow tipped with a 4 blade Muzzy 100. Then he was there in the opening. I put the pin on his
shoulder and released. My first day, 2 hours into the hunt, I heard him crash in the thick brush. Knowing it was him down, I still waited. Thirty minutes was long enough. I knew he had expired. Turning on my phone, I saw there was a call from John. I tracked the buck 50 yards without even looking for a blood trail and found him right where I heard him pile up. A beautiful big bodied 8 pointer. No world record, but a fine animal. Thinking about enjoying the back straps for dinner, I called john and asked him to drive his truck over. A short 50 yard drag and he was at the truck.
Well, I’ll tell you, I have been hunting for 40 years and of all the one deer limit hunts I’ve been on, I have never got my buck on the first sit. I was done hunting for deer in Colorado. Fortunately, one farmer has a 100 acre pond and the Adobe and Horse Creeks run right through it. For the next few days I hunted Snow Geese and saw lots of ducks I am not used to seeing. A friend of mine from high school called to tell me he was looking at an antelope in Southern Colorado. Amazed that we happened to both be in Colorado at the same time, I asked him where he was and he was just 80 miles away in Pueblo. We decided to get together and we went on his first duck hunt ever, and there was plenty of action. He was good luck because I shot a brace of Redheads, a duck I had not previously been lucky enough to add to my mounted bird collection. Then the next day, I was walking up the Adobe Creek hoping to jump some Woodies we saw flush the day before. As I walked to where we had seen them, 2 spectacular males were in the air and 2 shots later I had one for the pot and one for mounting. This was my week. Joel, my high school buddy, and I were hanging out early the next morning (Sunday), when we got a call from John. He said he had hit a Mule Deer. I said, “No way”, because the farmer had told us he never had seen one on his property before. Joel and I drove up to John’s stand and there was a good tracking trail. In about 150 yards we spotted the deer and sure enough, John had downed a 3×3 Muley. His first Mule Deer, a 180 pounder and a buck. Joel got to enjoy some of the best the outdoors has to offer. We loaded the buck up and took him to our friend’s meat locker and butcher shop. He let us use his facility in trade for some refreshments.
The next day, John and I were heading home with over 100 pounds of fresh ground hamburg and steaks, all freezer wrapped. We stopped by Laurie, the taxidermist, to drop off the ducks and deer hides and have already started thinking about next year. Two bucks each in 2 years. Can we make it 3 years in a row? We will have to wait and see.
All the best.
Dennis “Boomer” Hayden