It was the one week of the year that I start dreaming about as soon as it ends. It was the beginning of November and that means blacktail deer are in full rut.
With the sun out and about 80 degree weather, Mother Nature was not helping my hopes as I packed my gear, getting ready to head to the beautiful back-country.
I rarely hunt alone, so I was taking a friend with me. I met up with him in town, put his gear in the back of my truck and headed out, hopeful to see some deer. I can't describe the beauty of the country- just being out there, I always consider it to be a successful hunting trip.
Getting camp set up, all the gear unloaded, we had a couple hours of daylight to burn, so we decided to take a hike from camp to see if we could glass any nice bucks feeding.
We didn't even see a doe that evening.
Heading back to camp I could see the clouds rolling in, and the temperature began to drop. Realizing I might be in for a long night, I set up my tarps over the tent, and got my rain gear out.
With the tents set up and a full stomach we got some shut-eye.
I awoke in the morning to cold air that took my breath away as I came out of my sleeping bag. I knew it was going to be a good day for hunting, with the rut in full swing, temperatures dropping- I couldn't have asked for a better setting.
Walking outside my tent I noticed it had snowed quite a bit during the night. I then noticed what appeared to be a log covered with snow where my friend's tent was. It then hit me "that's my buddy's tent." I chuckled as I woke him up, drank some coffee and headed out.
He went down the hill from camp, and I took the 4-wheeler a little ways before getting off it and venturing out on foot.
After a couple miles of hiking I spotted a couple does feeding with a smaller buck. I sat there watching them for a little bit before moving on, looking for that one shooter buck.
At about 10:00 a.m. I walked past a clearing where I noticed a buck that was worth shooting. He spotted me at about the same time I spotted him and he bolted for the nearest hiding spot, which happened to be a small brush pile that was in the middle of the clearing.
Knowing he had to come out eventually, I stood there with a bullet chambered, waiting patiently. After about 5 minutes he tempted his fate. He was 80 yards away from me and about 60 yards away from the nearest cover, besides the little brush pile he was behind.
He slowly crept out, trying not to be seen. He stuck his neck out, looking at me. That gave me the clear shot that I needed. BANG! One shot out of my trusty .270 and the job was done. He expired right where he was standing.
Walking up to this amazing buck, he had no ground shrinkage at all. I was amazed at exactly how big he was. I sat there taking in all of the scenery, the beautiful snow that covered the ground, and the mountain tops. I then thought about how blessed we are as hunters in this great country to get to spend this time outdoors. And I thought about how hunting to me is not all about the harvesting of an animal but the whole experience.
Day dreaming over- I drug him back to the quad and drove back to camp. Arriving back at camp I saw a huge grin on my friend's face. That meant one thing. We were headed home early with two deer.
He ended up shooting a nice 5x4. We congratulated each other and then packed up our wet camp.
Packing up a successful deer camp is a bittersweet time. It is cold and a bit miserable but at the same time you want that moment to last.
As I sit here and write this, I am already day dreaming of being in the back-country again. That feeling is the common bond all hunters share and is something that I cherish each time I go hunting.
Editors note: Jeff is the second winner of a Blacktail Antler Pen from S-Man Pens and Antlers.