Member's Hunt: Persistence

posted on November 7, 2023
MH Daryl Benish Lead

By Daryl Benish, Berkley, Mich.

Three days into my third Colorado rifle season solo deer hunt and I’d yet to see a single deer.  I’d never been to this area before, so I did plenty of e-scouting before making my long drive from Michigan. My attention was focused on public-land foothills of a fourteener towering in the backdrop. Predominantly covered in sagebrush, there appeared to be good hunting opportunities far and wide, but striking out on seeing even a doe left me feeling concerned soon enough.

While talking to a successful hunter that afternoon, he offered a tip of where three out of four in his party shot their bucks. Sure enough, I caught a glimpse of a cruising buck in the early light in the same area shortly after leaving my truck the next morning. Instantly, I started stalking parallel to him, up and over then down and back up to finally get glass on him at 400 yards. Studying his antlers, he turned out to be a wide 2x2. I passed on that buck, but was thoroughly content because I was finally hunting. A good day for sure.

Covering miles of ground over the next couple of days, my concern for not finding success grew louder in my head. But then I spotted a group of seven does feeding midday, which I found particularly curious because, first, it was midday and second because they were quite close to the only two-track road for miles. Pondering how relaxed they were, it was apparent feeding there was routine. “Where there are does pre-rut, there will eventually be bucks” is no secret. My plan shifted to take a closer look.

Perched on the highest point in the vicinity on the sixth morning, the sudden crack of a rifle broke the morning’s silence when it was barely light enough to see. Off to the west I witnessed a hunter clamoring up a hillside a quarter-mile away. With such unexpected activity, I hurriedly glassed in that direction to see if a buck was coming my way. I was on high alert. Seconds later a buck with a wide rack facing away 150 yards to my left dropped out of sight over a ridge. At first, I thought that must be the deer the other hunter was looking for, but I eventually watched him reach his downed buck. Later the same day, a few more does showed up with a young forkhorn in tow. A bit of action lifted my spirits. Maybe I’m still in the hunt.

To my surprise, the following day I saw a shooter, but I ranged him with my Leupold RX-1000 TBR to be 590 yards away in that same feeding ground. I decided to hike back to my truck and drive downhill about a mile to put a stalk on him. Starting below him, I hiked up one hill, crossed the top of a second in order to get to a third. Paying attention to wind, and moving as quietly as possible, I did a fishhook-shaped stalk. After an hour and 15 minutes, I was in position only to find that he and the six does he was with were gone. I knew I hadn’t spooked them, though, because a second group of three does was still there.

Feeling discouraged, by the end of the day I’d convinced myself I’d be heading home empty-handed. The last morning, my eighth, I was back in the same area hoping he’d make a repeat appearance, only this time I’d moved down a couple hundred yards. “There’s a buck!” He just showed up from nowhere, only closer than the day before. Topped with a Leupold VX-III scope, I took a shot at 297 yards with my Remington 7mm Magnum on a bipod. Shivering from it being the coldest morning so far, I watched him run behind a stand of aspens. After several minutes of glassing, I found him walking slowly in some sagebrush. Fifteen minutes after my first shot, the second rang out as he dropped at 200 yards. Afterward, I really started shaking not from the cold but from adrenaline I’ve only heard about before. Man, was I ever happy. Persistence certainly paid off after all.

Do you have an exciting, unusual or humorous hunting experience to share? 
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