by Brandon Wicks
I took this 185 inch P & Y buck in Utah in the 2005 Archery season. I saw him hanging out with four other bucks a day before the hunt started. The five bucks were hanging out in a bachelor heard and feeding from the thick oak down into the sagebrush flats at night and moving back up into heavy cover in the morning into the thick Utah oaks “if that gives you any idea what part of the state I was in”. I made numerous attempts to place myself where the bucks would pass because the hot temperatures made for hard stocking and put the bucks down yearly before the heat rolled in. If anyone has ever hunted the Utah archery hunt they will know what I’m talking about. The Utah archery opener for deer usually consists of dry hot conditions with full moon phases and short morning and evening hunts. After a couple of fuddle attempts I decided on the last evening to set out early in order to position myself where the bucks might pass on there way out to feed in the evening.
During this time of the year it doesn’t get dark until around nine so there is a lot of time to think where is going to give the best chance for success. This last evening I set out at 3:00pm to get a good start on the last of my hunt on the private ground. The hike wasn’t terribly far for once on this hunt because I had it all worked out and I got in there early before things even got close to stirring. When I first got over to the area I was going to hunt for the evening I couldn’t find great cover because it was in the flats between two knolls an in order to give myself a good chance of a reasonable shot I had to find a place in or around the flat hanging meadow that the bucks would pass around. After setting up for an hour or so I decided to change my position because the wind started to shift and blow over the open area that the bucks liked to stop by on there way down to greener pastures in the valley bottoms where there were agriculture.
I moved across the open meadow as slow and quietly as I could so I wasn’t to spook anything moving in and as soon as I got to the other side of the meadow and looked across to where I just was I saw the five bucks hanging out not more than 100 yards from where I just was. I couldn’t believe it. The first thing I couldn’t believe is how they didn’t smell or hear me as I moved a 100 yards from where I first set up. I found a large sagebrush to hide behind but that was all there was around me except for sheet grass. As I sat there for several hours watching the five bucks I had two smaller two points approach me within thirty yards and I thought they were going to spoil it all but even when the small bucks got spooked from getting to close to me the other five bucks that were still in the same stop didn’t take off. As the sun started to fade I wondered if the bucks would make it over to me. They seemed a little shy from when the small two bucks approached me but the draw of heavier pastures kept them wanting to come my way.
After patient waiting the bucks finally started to make there way towards me but as they got closer I lost sight of them because of a small impression in the hanging valley that they dropped into. While I was waiting there I wondered if it was getting to dark to see but when I raised my bow, I could c see well enough to get a fifty yard shot if they came that close. When I thought my hunt was over with and all hope was lost a buck stepped out about 45 yards and I looked through my binoculars and I saw that it was one of the other bucks I waited nervously. As time seemed to stand still a few seconds later the leader of the five pack stepped out just behind the first buck. I knew right away that it was him so I dre my bow back slowly and as soon as I got my sights on him he started to move again right behind the other buck. Afraid of spooking the bucks I didn’t want to let off so I held as long as I could. Just when I didn’t think I could hold my bow back any longer the big buck started to move again out away from the other buck but wouldn’t stop to give me a shot so I made a kissing sound with my lips to stop the buck and it did.
When the buck stopped I put the vitals between my 40 & 50-yard pin and let her fly. When I shot the buck jumped and I wasn’t sure how well I hit him. I ranged out my area before the bucks came to get a idea on yardage so I felt confident that I had the right range but the buck took off with the other 4 bucks so I couldnt get a good look if it was hit hard. I finally got a visual on my buck and he was standing there like nothing was wrong but just then he started to act weird and the other bucks scattered. The big buck then started to head down hill then he just seemed to disappear. I waited a couple hours and then decided to go look for blood.
With my headlamp I went over to where I thought I should have hit the buck but there was no blood. I also couldn’t find my arrow anywhere so I decided to wait until morning so not to spook a wounded buck in the dark. After a restless sleep I got up early to go see if I could find my buck and when I got up to the spot I walked up on my beautiful buck just like it had died in it’s sleep. I ended up putting a shot on him in the spine and he died very quickly but not to take any chances I waited but it was all worth it.