by Brandon Talbot
Opening Opening morning of the general rifle hunt in northern Utah found my Dad, Mark, my two brothers, Brett and Bryan, and I in our favorite spot as soon as it was light enough to hunt. This is a long anticipated moment for our family, as we love to be outdoors with each other. The last week in October is always set aside for one thing: DIY mule deer hunting. We are all mule deer addicts, and love to hunt. As we set up with our binoculars and spotting scope that morning, we immediately started spotting deer across a immense, sagebrush ridden canyon. We could tell that a couple of the deer were bucks, so we moved across the big canyon and snuck up a hill to look across a small basin where the bucks were feeding. As soon as we were in position, we slowly glanced over the top of the hill and found that one of the deer was a respectable twenty-inch three-point. Since this was my younger brother Brett’s first deer hunt, he had the chance to shoot first. As he got into position, the buck ranged at about 300 yards. After he shot, the buck kicked and started to move up the hillside. As soon as he had shot, the entire hilltop came alive. Many does, fawns and an exceptional four-point jumped up and ran over the top of a hill about 500 yards away. We were shocked to say the least. We had no time to even get ready to shoot. As we ran over to see where the big buck went, there wasn’t a single deer in the next canyon. They had all disappeared. Stunned, we started to look for the deer Brett had shot at. We looked for a couple of hours trying to find a blood trail, tracks, or any sign that Brett had hit the buck. We never found any, so we continued on our hunt and later found out that that three-point had survived without a scratch. Even though Brett didn’t hit that buck, later that day he took his first buck, a nice four by three when he made an incredible one-shot kill from well over 400 yards. My Dad and I tried for five days to find the four-point we had seen on that hillside opening morning, but we never could find him.
Thursday, October 26th brought new changes to the area, snowing six to eight inches. My Dad and I hunted in the snow, but never could find the quality bucks we were looking for. The next day my Dad, my older brother Bryan and I decided to change out tactics and see if the big bucks were higher up on the mountain range. We hiked a good 4 miles up a canyon and then decided to hike up a steep, snowy mountainside to get into a good spotting location. As soon as we sat down with the spotting scope, we spotted several deer shining in the sun across the canyon we had just hiked. My dad looked through the scope and said almost immediately that there were two four-points in the group. He said that one of these bucks was a solid 26 or 27 inch four-point and that we needed to get a closer look. It was later in the day, so we were all worried that the buck would bed and we would probably never find them again. We slid and ran back down the steep slope to the bottom and then had to hike back up the other side canyon to get into position to make a stalk. As soon as we got to where we needed to be to cross over a small knoll to get to the buck, my Dad made everyone catch their breath. Running down and up that canyon had all of us gasping for air. I took several deep breaths to get myself to calm down and we all slowly crept up and around the knoll. I was shocked that to see the buck still standing there at only 150 yards, facing away. I made sure with my Dad that this was the big buck and he said it was. As I looked through the gun scope there was no doubt that was the big buck! All I could see what his massive back tines moving back and forth in the midday sunlight as he feed on the hillside. I settled the crosshairs on his front shoulder, took a deep breath and shot. The .243 Winchester sounded off and we heard a heavy thump as the buck kicked and ran over the top of the hill. As Bryan and I marked the spot where the buck went over, my Dad went to look for the buck. When I finally got to where the buck was, not thirty yards from where I had shot, I could see that there was no ground shrinkage on this big old boy. I could not believe the size of the body on this buck. My Dad guessed that the buck weighed in the 220-pound range. The antlers were incredible, a lot wider than I had originally thought, and I was amazed at the size of his back tines. I could not wait to get a measuring tape to him and see how wide he was. After pictures and field dressing the buck, we knew the work was about to begin. We tried to see if we could drag the buck back to the truck, about 6 miles away. No chance. He was so heavy and the oak brush was so thick, that we decided that the easiest way to get the buck out was go home and get the four-wheeler. It really worried me to leave the buck on the mountain, but we retrieved him and got him down the mountain later that day. As we were at my Dads work showing his co-workers the buck, I was finally able to get a measuring tape to him. I was ecstatic when he measured at exactly twenty-nine inches. I thought our hunting season couldnt get any better, but it did.
The next day my Dad and Bryan still had tags to fill and wee began the day looking for the four-point that had had disappeared opening morning. As the sun started to come up, we could not believe our eyes. That four-point was down on that exact ridge. The spotting scope verified that it was the same buck and the stalk across the canyon was on. We came around the backside of the canyon where the buck had gone before and waited for him to come out. He ended up being the last in a line of does and fawns, but when he came out, Bryan took the first shot and missed. Fearing the four-point would put the slip on us again, my Dad shot and the buck went straight down. Once we got closer we could not believe the tine length and how symmetrical his buck was. As we were looking at my Dads buck we noticed several deer moving up the next ridge over 600 yards away. We all got our binoculars up and saw that in the middle of the pack was a heavy-horned four by three. As we made the stalk on the buck, we chose a spot where we would have been in perfect position to for Bryan to get a shot. We waited and waited but the buck never came by. He had broken off from the group and went into a thick oak patch. As we relocated, my Dad told Bryan to be ready that he was sure the buck was in there. At almost the exact time that he finished the sentence, the oak came alive. The buck ran through the brush and gave Bryan one quick standing shot from about 70 yards. He shot and the buck immediately went down. I could not believe our luck! Three high quality bucks all in two days! Bryans buck measured 25 and my Dads buck was 24 inches wide. The hunt was a once in a lifetime hunt for our family, but the experiences weve shared will be something that we will enjoy for the rest of our lives. I would like to thank my Dad for the countless scouting trips and a week straight of getting up early to help make my hunting season a success. Thanks Dad, Bryan and Brett.