MERIDIAN — (Continued from last week)
Brian hit the road early the next morning. He had spotted a 500 foot peak that overlooked the milo field and we both felt it was worth a try. Milo that has not been harvested is about four feet tall and when bucks are standing in it all you can see is their antlers. At lunch, Brian rolled in and indicated he had never seen anything like it. As the sun came up he counted 28 racked bucks in the milo field. He said, “I saw more big whitetail bucks this morning than I have seen in the last twenty five years!” Several had been mature animals. I could not convince him to hunt anywhere else on the ranch and don't believe I could have dragged him off that hill with a tractor.
For the next two days, morning and afternoon, Brian sat on that hill trying to choose a buck. Turns out the big bucks would bed down in the standing milo by mid-day. So in the morning and evening you would suddenly see a set of antlers appear above the milo. On the third evening of the hunt as we sat by the fire, Brian told me he believed he had found his deer and asked me to go with him the next morning for my opinion.
The next morning we saw deer at first light as they moved to the milo through a light fog. About 600 yards to the west, a group of five or six deer moved along the edge of the milo in our direction. One of the deer appeared to be a four-year-old ten point that would score around 150. At first glance, I suggested we pass. Brian had spotted a larger buck the day before. As the buck came closer, it became apparent it was in fact a mature shooter buck.
A shallow draw would provide cover to within about 200 yards of the buck. I ranged the distance from the hilltop to where we felt the deer would be and also ranged the distance from the hilltop to Brian's projected shooting position. Brian would have to cover approximately 400 yards to get a 200 yard shot.
Once I gave the green light, Brian moved quietly and quickly before the buck entered his milo sanctuary.
I was able to view both Brian and the buck in the binoculars at the same time. Once the buck came to the spot we discussed, Brian took aim and fired what appeared to be a clean miss. The buck took off through an open area with no sign of injury. He ran about 1,500 yards into a small wooded depression. Brian figured he had shot over the buck's back. The distance had looked farther than 200 yards and he aimed a little high.
We waited an hour for the buck to settle down and Brian decided to attempt a stalk. After a twenty minute hike, he slipped into the small draw. Seconds later I heard a shot. Brian had put the buck down as he tried to exit his hideout. Incidentally, Brian had hit the buck with the first shot which had skimmed his back just cutting the hide.
The buck was a heavy antlered ten point that scored 156. As I look back on the hunt, the obvious memory is Brian taking a fine buck. However, my best memories are telling stories by the fire in the evening and sitting on that hillside watching the sunrise with an old friend. I also learned that 30 years and 1,200 miles does not diminish a friendship.