Zach’s first Mule Deer

Zach is one of my great buddies.  Not only does he look a lot like his old man, we also share the same carefree attitude toward life and quirky sense of humor.  Zach started out the hunt by watching his older brother make a great shot on a great animal.

The Trophy

After Nathan harvested his mule deer, we were told that two other three point bucks were hanging out with this Nate’s buck.  Our friend Gary made a push, but at over 300 yards, the buck was difficult for Zach to find in his scope.  It was probably outside of Zach’s range.  Our friend Ben made a great shot on the old three pointer.  Later than day, Zach would miss a golden opportunity on a nice two point, and later a longer shot at a 2×3 silouhetted on the ridge.   A disappointing day to say the least.  We agreed that none of the animals on opening day were meant for Zach.

Zach and Dad

The following Saturday found us on the mountain again.  Our friend Matt took first opportunity on an old and heavy horned buck in a group of 8 to 10 bucks.  Unfortunately, Matt’s scope was off and all 9 bucks slipped away without a harvest.  20 minutes later and high on an adjacent ridge we spotted a group of deer that held a nice 2×2.  Dad and Zach put on an hour long stalk over 1000 yards.  At 150, the buck came out of the brush and stood broadside.  Unfortunately, another close call saw the buck bound off unharmed.  What a long hike back to the truck (especially after we got a bit lost).

Cleaning First Deer

Later that afternoon, our friend Gary showed up and suggested another push through the same valley from the week before.  He had seen two smaller bucks hole up in some brush.  Being that it was only 3pm, the time seemed right to locate these smaller bucks.  We walked off the ridge and quickly found both bucks.  Two shots both missed the mark.  That was when I realized that I had left the ammo back at the truck.  One of the bucks was about to walk into a clearing on the other side of the draw.  I turned to Zach and said, “Zach you only have one bullet.  See if you can focus and really make this shot count.”  He calmed down, focused in like a hawk and waited for the buck to step into the clearing.  The buck stepped out and he gently squeezed off the shot.  “BOOM”  The buck leapt into the air visibly hunched as if he was hit hard.  After several other close calls we hardly dared to celebrate.  We watched as he moved through some trees and slowed to a walk in a second clearing.  Without any ammo, I know there were at least three silent prayers going at once.  The buck slowed,  then stopped…we held our breath as his head sunk lower and lower to the ground.  Gary kept saying, “he’s going down.  He’s going to fall over…just wait.”  After at least a full minute, the buck seemed to recover and moved a bit further.  Suddenly he disappeared behind a bush.  “Gary did you see him?  I think he bedded down, but I’m not sure,” I questioned.  Gary replied, “I turned my head.  I’m not sure.”  I turned to Zach and explained that I was headed back to the truck for ammo and the camera. 

Zach with his Buck

When I returned, the buck still had not shown himself.  Gary agreed to see if he could push the buck out of his hiding place.  We soon discovered that the buck had bedded down behind the bush and was in the process of passing away.  When Zach and I joined Gary, we slowly approached the buck’s position.  I noticed the bush’s moving.  As we rounded the corner, Zach was poised to finish the job. But, the buck was already dead. 

Packing It Out2

We celebrated in the way that only a hunter who has hunted hard, kept the faith, and experienced more than a hunt’s worth of dissapointment can celebrate.  At that point, Zach and his old man couldn’t care less about the size of the horns, the amount of meat or anything else other than appreciating the fruits of two weekends of hard hunting.  This 2×2 was a true trophy to both son and dad.  The icing on the cake was that we could experience it together.  After cleaning his first buck, I was proud to pack out Zach’s first trophy on my shoulders.  A labor of love and a gift of service to my son Zach.

Packing It Out


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