My friend and I headed out early in the morning and had a spot in mind from the night before. He had already filled his tag and was my second set of eyes. As the sun broke we spotted what seemed to be a really solid buck. Before I could get him sized up he pushed into some thick cover and was gone. The buck was a long ways off so it was time to make a plan.
There were a lot of does in the area and the rut was definitely going, so we decided to set up close to were the buck ran into cover hoping I could catch him coming out that night. I had to get to the other side of were we saw him because I didn't want to disturb the does he was chasing.
We located an access point on the map and drove to it. Once there, I hiked in about three miles. It was 11:00 AM, which was perfect as I wanted to be moving when the deer were bedded, staying low, and out of the wind. I got to my destination, which consisted of a tiny piece of cover that gave me a great view of the open grass were the buck had been chasing does. I figured that the shot would be 100-300 yards if the buck came out were I thought he would. Time to sit, wait, and watch.
The hours went by slowly. It was around zero degrees with a twenty mile an hour wind. As it grew closer to dark, so did my anticipation. I was playing out the shot in my head, everything was ready. I just needed the buck to step out. As it got darker I started to doubt my position. Typically, once I commit to a spot, I stick it out until dark.
However, on the hike in I saw a wide wandering coulee and it wasn't far off. I had about 20-30 minutes of light left and my gut told me to go glass it. When I got there, it was pretty close to being dark I threw up my 10 power Swarovski binoculars and started scanning the coulee...nothing! It was looking like this would not be my night. I always pack a spotting scope with me, but sometimes when I'm cold and can't feel my fingers, I just don't want to dig that scope out of my pack. I dropped my pack to the ground, unclipped my Leica spotting scope, set it up, and started looking up the wandering coulee. I had the power set at 20x and could see really well through the Leica glass. Holy crap there he was! I could just see the white of his face, and the white tips of his antlers. It totally surprised me and I froze for a second. Now what to do? He was at least a 1000 yards out and I could barely see him. My head started spinning as I had about 10-15 minutes of light to work with. I wasn't sure if I could close the distance without scaring the buck.
I decided to go for it. I grabbed my old school oak shooting sticks leaving everything else behind. I quickly found good cover and ran, ok jogged the first 200 yards into the coulee were I could approach unseen. I turned toward the buck and moved as fast as I could up the coulee. When I finally got close enough I stopped, and waited to get control of my breathing. It was time I crawled up the embankment to a small bush and glassed. I couldn't see the buck I needed to move closer, so I crawled another 30 yards to the next piece of cover and peered over.
There he was, in the same spot laying down facing me, I quickly ranged him 254 yards. I slowly rose up with my rifle squarely on the sticks, and just saw a glimpse of him. He was gone. Damn! At this point it was getting too dark to shoot. The chance of me killing this buck that night had just faded. I decided to wait until total darkness to leave cover. The chances of the buck spotting me were too high and I would definitely be back in the morning. I had no idea were the buck had gone. I started to think about the following morning and where I should be when I saw movement to my right.
Holy Crap! There he was, 70 yards out, in the bottom of the coulee headed right toward me. I came up tall on my knees and put him in the scope, he stopped in some willows and tall grass I could see his head and antlers through the brush. My heart was racing, he held up for what felt like eternity. Finally, he broke cover walking another ten feet when he stopped and looked right at my sky lined body. The cross hairs were on him, and I touched off. I didn't see him fall after the shot from the recoil. I stood up while cycling in the next round looking for any movement. Nothing, I started to make my way cautiously toward were I had shot I could not believe my eyes. There he was. The buck we had spotted that morning. It's hard to express how exciting a hunt can be when things just work out! I felt incredibly lucky to have gotten that buck and for everything to work out the way it did. My buddy wasn't far behind. He heard the shot and came to celebrate with me.