Thursday, January 1, 2015

Last Day Buck

By Darr Colburn

My oldest son Parker drew a late whitetail tag.  I was pretty excited and had high expectations for the hunt.  Being able to hunt during his Christmas break from school was a huge plus.  We hunted a few days each of the first couple of weekends of the hunt.  We would typically see four to six bucks a day.  Most of the bucks were together or by themselves.  I kept telling Parker that the hunt would get better after Christmas and that hopefully the bigger bucks would start to move around.  Christmas eve Parker came down with a high fever, stuffy nose and a cough.  He spent the next few days in bed feeling awful.  Parker has asthma and lots of times when he gets sick it moves into his lungs.  His doctor gave him several prescriptions and told us he had to have breathing treatments 3 times a day.  On Saturday the 27th Parker was feeling better but still had a cough.  Parker and I begged his mom to be able to go hunt the last four days of the season.  She gave us the go ahead as long as the power inverter in the truck would run his breathing treatment machine.  We packed the truck and headed out early on the morning of the 28th to hunt the last four days of the season.  We arrived at camp just as it was staring to get light and the temps were in the 20's.  We hunted hard for the first two days and saw several bucks but nothing over 90 inches.  Some of the smaller bucks were starting to chase does around.  At the end of the second day Parker said dad I am having a great time and thank you for taking me hunting.  He said deer hunting is hard and I told him yes it is.  He said dad I really want to shoot a buck.  The two previous seasons Parker had shot bucks the first day of the hunt and had not had to grind it out.  That night at camp I was getting texts that a big storm was rolling in and that we may not be able to hunt the last day of the season.  Our plan for the second to last day was to go where we had seen the most deer and bucks and pretty much shoot any buck.  At first light I glassed up three different bucks on one ridge and we watched two of them bed down.  We made our move and got on a ridge about 350 yards from the bucks.  I set up to start glassing and the bigger of the two bucks was not there any more.  I picked up the smaller two point and Parker said he wanted to shoot it.  We got set up and Parker missed two shots and the buck.  He told me he was sorry for missing and I told him it was no big deal and not to worry about it.  That evening we ran into another hunter who we had talked to before and he told us that he missed a big buck at 250 yards.  I think that made Parker feel better about missing.  That night in the tent the texts came in saying the storm was going to hit at 8am on the last day of the season.  We made a plan that we would get up at 4:30am and pack up camp and then try and glass a little bit before the storm.  When I opened the tent door the next morning it was calm and I could still see some stars.  I was hopeful we would get a couple hours of glassing in before the storm hit.  We packed up camp and drove the Ranger down to a glassing point were we had seen lots of bucks.  We glassed for two hours without seeing a deer.  I told Parker lets jump in the Ranger and go check one more spot about 20 minutes away.  We got to the point and started glassing.  Parker and I both picked up a few does but no bucks.  The wind started to pick up and the clouds rolled in.  Just as we were about to call it quits I picked up a buck on an open slope and watched him bed down.  We grabbed our gear and headed over to where the buck was.  We hiked up on a point across from the buck and I picked him up.  We got set up for the shot and Parker shot and missed twice!  The buck ran off with a doe.  A couple minutes later the buck came back chasing another buck.  The original buck never gave Parker another shot but the buck he chased off bedded 470 yards from us.  We got set up on the other buck and waited an hour for him to stand up to give Parker a shot.  It was spitting snow and getting very windy.  I told Parker this was going to be his last shot and that he really needed to focus and squeeze the trigger.  The buck stood up and Parker made a great shot!  The snow really started coming down on our way over to the buck.  We got over to the buck and got a few picks.  By the time we finished taking care of the buck our packs were buried in snow.  It was a wet cold pack out but we hardly noticed.  I could not have written a better ending to the hunt.  I would have loved for Parker to have shot a big buck but we hunted 8 days and just did not turn one up.  In the end the days we shared together in the field and the lessons and memories made are far more important than the size of the animal.  I am very proud of Parker for sticking it out on a tough hunt a shaking a couple of misses off.  We never gave up and hunted hard until the very end.  Happy New Year!

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