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ISSUE 106

Four Year Quest

The first time I ever laid eyes on the deer, whom I later named Alvin, was in 2013. I was heading to an area where I had harvested my rifle mule deer a few days prior, when a deer caught my eye. I knew he was big before I even got my binoculars on him. Caught off guard by what I had just come across, I was in a panic to get some pictures through my spotting scope. I managed to snap a few blurred images and a quick video.The first time I ever laid eyes on the deer, whom I later named Alvin, was in 2013. I was heading to an area where I had harvested my rifle mule deer a few days prior, when a deer caught my eye. I knew he was big before I even got my binoculars on him. Caught off guard by what I had just come across, I was in a panic to get some pictures through my spotting scope. I managed to snap a few blurred images and a quick video. I put the phone away and watched the buck, saying to myself, “That’s the one I’m going after next year.” At the time, I guessed he was about six years old and a warrior, judging by the missing piece of ear and beat-up old face. One thing was certain, he was definitely a mature animal. I only got one minute of him standing completely still, looking at me, then he turned and ran over the hill. I spent the rest of my fall months trying to find this buck I’d named Alvin again, but with no luck. Shed season came around with still no sign of him and me thinking that he may have ended up on someone’s wall or in some farmer’s Quonset hut. I spent the falls of 2014, ’15, & ’16 looking for Alvin, only catching fleeting glimpses of him after the mule deer seasons had closed. He was truly a ghost; I couldn’t even turn up any of his sheds. Because of my lack of evidence that he was alive and how old he had to be by now, Alvin was the last deer on my mind coming into the 2017 archery season. I stopped to visit with some other hunters on opening day to see if they had any luck; one told me that some elk hunters had driven by one of the biggest mule deer they had ever seen. From how he described the area and the deer, it sounded like it was worth checking out the next day. I ventured to the area, which at this point I knew very well, and in the back of my mind I was hoping for the amazingly slim chance that this might be Alvin. At the exact moment I was thinking about this, I looked to my left and there, standing in a slough bottom, was the oldest-looking deer I had ever seen, with a piece of his right ear missing and a beat-up white face! My hands where shaking so much I couldn't even text my buddies to tell them which deer I found. Finally, after a few deep breaths I was able to calm down and get a good look at him. I could not believe the antler growth he had put on. Every time I had seen him before, he was a mainframe typical, but now he had tons of junk on his left side. Because it was too late to put a stalk on him, I snuck away and had the longest drive and worst night’s sleep of my life. I was in the area before daylight hoping to watch where he would bed down. At about 6:00 I caught a glimpse of him and watched him bed down in another slough bottom. Grabbing all my stuff, I snuck behind hay bales, inching closer and closer to the slough, but I could not see tines sticking out of the grass. Closing to 30 yards from the slough, I finally got a glimpse of antler through the grass. He was still about 50 yards away, but with the height of the grass I couldn't accurately range him, so I waited a few minutes. Soon he stood up and walked directly toward me, bedding down again at the edge of the slough closest to me at the base of a rock pile. Knowing that if he stood up again I would not have a clear shot, I inched closer to the rock pile, but with no cover I was taking a big chance. I managed to get to eight yards from Alvin, and at this point I was shaking like a leaf. I waited for what felt like hours when he shook his head and stood up. As he stood I crouched slightly, took a deep breath, drew and then stood straight up. He just happened to be looking away from me. I took one second and looked at his antlers in amazement, a terrible mistake. When I pulled the trigger on my release it was followed by the sound of the arrow hitting nothing but slough grass. I’d shot right in front of his brisket. Talk about disappointment; five years of wishing to get a shot at this deer and I miss at eight yards! The fact that he never saw me helped, because he only ran a few hundred yards to another slough, fed for a bit and bedded down. I watched for a bit and went back to the truck to give him a bit of time to calm down--and quite honestly for me to calm down as well. I went back out in the evening and found him, but the setup was all wrong, so once again another sleepless night, only to go out early and find he had disappeared! I searched for four days with no sign of him. The disappointment was wearing me out, but on the fifth day I found him in same slough where I had spotted him previously. This time my brother Dylan was with me, and we made a game plan to come from the north. With a slight crosswind from west to east and little to no cover, it was what we thought would work best for the spot he was in. Taking off our shoes at about 100 yards, we walked very carefully to the edge of the slough where he was bedded. Hidden behind a thin row of weeds that didn't offer us much cover, we ranged a few things around where he was bedded. Only seeing his antlers, we couldn't get a good range on Alvin himself, so once we had a good idea of how far he was, the waiting game began. We didn't have to wait long: about 10 minutes later he stood up. As Alvin slowly came to his feet, my brother was going to range him and tell me the exact distance, but once Alvin was standing his eyes locked on us. I could hear Dylan whispering, “Oh my gosh, oh my, oh boy,” but he wasn't giving me a range, so I put the 30-yard pin on the buck and let the arrow fly. This time it made the right sound, connecting a little far back but still a damaging blow. I sat down and looked at my brother and said with a slight pause, “I JUST SHOT ALVIN!” We watched him run over the hill and then found my arrow. It had a decent amount of blood, but it wasn't a clean pass-through. We walked up the hill and spotted him some way off, just standing there looking back. We watched him until he disappeared in another slough, so we gave him a couple hours. During those few hours, I contacted some friends to help me find and load the deer. Once we were all assembled and ready, we went to find Alvin, and it didn't take long before we spotted him. We snuck up to make sure he had expired, and once I realized Alvin was mine, my mind went into orbit. I could not believe that the buck I’d been hunting for four years was finally in my grasp. This was definitely a hunt I will not soon forget. I owe a big thanks to my brother Dylan and all my buddies for the help. SCORE: 230 3/8 B&C GEAR LIST: Bow: Martin Arrows: Easton Broadheads: Rage Sight: Walmart Rest: Whisker Biscuit ​ Release: Scott Binoculars: Vortex Diamondback 10x42 Spotting scope: Leupold Clothing: Realtree Boots: Runners Rangefinder: Halo Knife: Buck