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I got really lucky this year on the general season deer hunt in Northern Utah. The past three years I have spent a lot of time chasing big bucks in the high country, and was excited to do it again this year. This year I went the extra mile and put out a few trail cameras in the area I typically hunt. Over the summer I got several nice bucks on my cameras, and had taken several pictures of good mature bucks through my spotting scope. There is usually a group of us that backpack in and spend several days when we go hunting, and with a week to go all of them had something that had come up to where they weren't going to be able to go hunt the opening day of the rifle hunt with me. Since I usually see more deer later in the hunt when the crowds die down I decided I would go to the USU/ Boise football state game late Friday night and just bag the opener and avoid the crowds. One of my neighbors called me the day before the hunt opened and said that he would like to shoot a meat buck, and didn't care how big it was, so I agreed to go up behind my dad's house where there were always a few small bucks hanging around.

Opening day found us on the side of a ravine that serves as one of the major travel corridors for deer that are making a mass exodus off the mountain when the shooting starts up higher. As we sat there waiting for it to get light I told him that we should probably go around the hill and check out a big cliff face where I had seen some decent bucks in the past.

We sat and glassed the cliff face for about half an hour before we spotted a deer. We could tell it was a really good buck, but it bedded down under a cedar tree before we could get a feel for exactly how big it was. At this point it was over 1000 yards away. My buddy said that he would stay there and watch it through the spotting scope while I made a stalk on it since he didn't care how big the deer he shot was, and since it was my home turf. I thought that was very nice of him, and started down the hill to get into position for a shot.

I had only made it 100 yards before I heard shots from across the canyon. I thought for sure someone had spotted the buck and was winging shots toward the buck. The buck got nervous and stood up, but the shooting stopped, and he stepped back into the boulders he had bedded down by. I finally got within 150 yards of where I had seen the buck last and got a good rest on some rocks perched above where he was bedded. After glassing the terrain for 20 minutes or so, and not seeing him I got on the walkie talkie and asked my buddy if he could still see him. He told me that he lost sight of him when he stepped back into the rocks, but there was a doe with him last he saw him. About that time the doe stepped out from behind a cedar tree. I ranged her at 175 yards. I figured the buck had to be there somewhere, and spent about 30 more minutes trying to see him in the scrub maple and cedar trees that were there.The doe eventually walked up over the top of the cliffs, and I had to wonder if the buck hadn't done the same.

I decided that I would slowly sneak into the last place I had seen the buck. The wind was at my face, but the terrain was pretty rocky.I slowly made my way up to where he had first bedded down. All of the sudden the buck jumped up and started running directly away from me, and got behind a cedar tree. I ran up the hill, and saw him trotting up the hill, quartering away from me about 75 yards away. I didn't have much time to take a shot, and squeezed my first shot off. Much to my dismay I saw rocks fly up right in front of him and knew I had missed.I was amazed when the buck slammed on the breaks, not knowing where the shot came from, and turned and started running down the hill right toward me. By this time buck fever had set in with all the excitement and I shot again only to see dirt fly up between his legs. I chambered one more round, and squeezed a shot off right before he went behind a boulder 50 yards in front of me. The deer was gone, and I wasn't sure if he was still running up through the boulders, or if I had hit him on my last shot. About 5 seconds later my buddy got on the walkie talkie and told me that I had made a great shot and piled him up on my last shot.

As I walked up to the buck I was shocked. I had hunted the hill behind my dad's house for over 25 years and never seen anything bigger than a 20" 3x4. This buck was a 30" 5x6. I knew my dad was up on the hill with my nephew, so I got him on the cell phone and told him that he better come over and take a look at the buck I just shot. My buddy was able to shoot a small 2 point later on as well. Overall, it was a great hunt.The thing that made it really special for me was that I shot it in a place I had hunted since I was a kid, and where I had made so many fond memories growing up.
 

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Great buck captain!
 
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