Three Forks Hunt: The Final Chance

It was our last day in Colorado, the pressure was on to achieve our goal, beat the fog and down a big muley.

When the Fog Lifts
As is often the case, I was still hunting on the last day of our Colorado outing. My partner, Jason Carrico from Brownell’s, was more decisive and took an excellent 5x5 buck that was both wide and tall. He showed just how effective and quick the Aimpoint Micro can be for hunting when his buck jumped hellbent from his bed and had to be intercepted on a dead run. 
Although I was tempted a few times, it seemed I couldn’t commit to pulling the trigger.
 

Then the final morning was seriously foggy. It kept looking like the haze was about lift, but for hours the clouds just stuck on the high basins and ridges where we wanted to glass. We walked and looked whenever and wherever there was a seam, but mostly we just had to wait. Finally we got a little break, found a good 4x4, and set off on an intent stalk. And wouldn’t you know, that rascal gave us the slip.

Then on our way back to camp for lunch, Jeremiah spotted another—and bigger—4x4 feeding high above us on a mountainside. This dude had some serious width and good mass, and while he was no Booner, there was no doubt that lunch could wait. Considering the buck’s elevation and the mountain’s steep grade, I accepted that this was our final play, that if I didn’t score on that buck I was going to “eat” this tag and to some extent let down my Aimpoint hosts by not fulfilling our objective. 

So, yeah, the pressure was on, and perhaps that helped “motivate” me up that mountain. As Jeremiah predicted, we bumped lots of deer on the way and eventually got a better look at our buck just before he disappeared over a ridgeline. We proceeded on, hoping we didn’t blow him out on the way. And when we finally topped out at the ridgetop cliffs it didn’t look good. There were two dozen muleys bedded on that high peak, but our boy was not among them. Naturally we hunted our way back down, and while it was Jeremiah’s hope to find the buck bedded, I could see we were looking for the old haystack needle. 

All along Jeremiah and I shared our hunting beliefs, and we agreed that more often than not, luck equals patience and persistence. All three factors were about to come together.

Slipping along the edge of the second bench, we peeked over and found ourselves just 40 yards above the wide 4x4, which was looking the other way and completely unaware. I put the Aimpoint’s red dot on his neck and it all fell into place, the culmination of a classic high-country deer hunt. Once again I had the good fortune to tag a wide-antlered buck and to stock up on steaks and roasts from an animal that had lived in a pristine environment.

Wherever mule deer are found it is a thrill to hunt them, and that’s why a cult exists around this animal that is as rabid and obsessive as anything in our present-day hunting culture. When you can do so amidst breathtaking scenery in the central Rockies and stay in a five-star lodge to boot, it’s no wonder why some of us are so obsessed.

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