The weekend started off with good duck conditions, and we were able to hunt a piece of open water, on a marsh that was mostly iced up. At first the action was kinda slow, but by mid-morning the birds starting coming back off the fields and we had a pretty good shoot, picking out some nice Greenheads, Pintails, and Wigeon.
On monday we had school off due to Veterans Day. A big thanks goes out to our Veterans, we couldn’t live the way we do without them. So we took advantage of the day off, and my buddy Jordan and I went up into the mountains again in search of a respectable Bull or Buck. We started ascending up into higher elevation before first light. We had just got about 5″ of fresh snow, so our steps were kept pretty quiet, but it didn’t make the climb any easier. After a little over an hour over walking, we made it to the area we wanted to be, a high-elevation basin. We split up, each going a different way on a ridge. For the most part I still-hunted in this area. Slowly moving to different openings in the timber, and taking a seat against a tree for a little bit. I passed up shots on a couple small bucks, and saw a handful of does as well over the next few hours. Around noon the temperature was still 20 degrees, and I had some homework to do that afternoon. So we decided to ease our way down. We made our way down an old logging road along the side of the mountain. Looking downhill, I saw the silhouette of a rack and ears against the snow, down in a bottom. The buck was looking right at us from his bed, and I knew I had to squeeze off a shot fast. I used Jordan’s back as a rest, and shot. The Buck jumped out of his bed and ran off. At first I thought I had missed, since he showed no sign of being hit while running. We followed his tracks in the snow for about 200 yards before we found first blood. We knew he was hit, but I didn’t think it was a mortal wound. We decided to back off and wait for an hour before we tracked on.
To make a long story short, we tracked him for over 2 miles up timber faces, through gnarly brush, and straight down rocky slides. We lost blood for the last 500 yards, luckily just picking out his tracks amoung other deer tracks. We finally found him laying right at the edge of one of my favorite rivers. He was still alive so I quickly dispatched him at close range. Once we got to the buck, we saw that the original shot was back, in the liver/gut area. Had I known that I probably would have waited until the next day to let him die overnight, but because of the lack of blood and the dragging of his feet in his tracks, I thought i was a non mortal leg shot. Luckily he must have given up once he got to the river, and I was able to recover my first buck in Montana.
A big thanks to Jordan for helping me track him down, it was a fun weekend afield with great friends.