I'd been hunting since 7 am and since it was a sunny, but very windy day (gusts to 30), I was checking out the sheltered, sunny slopes and about noon I saw this big boy, a little below me and across a deep ravine.
He saw me first, so I dropped down into the tall grass immediately. I was in a spot where I couldn't retreat and stalk around out of sight for a good shot without spooking him. After glassing him several times to be sure he really had antlers, I decided to try to move closer through the patches of alders. Luckily, the sound and motion of wind covered my movements and allowed me to crawl through the alders and then through tall grass to get into position for a sitting shot at about 100 yds even though he was watching in my direction the entire time.
By the time I was in position, he had turned to face me, giving me a straight-on shot which I was not about to take at that distance. So I sat and waited (and waited) and finally he turned broadside and I was able to take my shot. There was no indication that the first shot hit him, but he started up the slope diagonally, still broadside to me - when he paused, I took the second shot and he ran up over the hill and disappeared - I was convinced that I had missed both shots and was quite disgusted with myself!
I spent a couple minutes searching for my pack which I had dropped in a stand of alders, then hiked up and around the ravine over to where I thought he had gone. I spooked a little doe from the alders, but did not see any sign of the deer - no blood, nothing. I was convinced that he was long gone and I was pretty bummed out.
I decided the wise course of action was to go to where he was standing when I took that first shot and try retrace his route - as I headed toward that area, I looked down to my right and there he was, dead, laying in a small depression. My mood changed radically at that point! Apparently, he'd died right after he hopped over the crest of the slope where I shot him. The blood trail indicated that it was the second shot that dropped him and I'm glad that he went down quickly without suffering. For those who are interested, I was shooting a 180 gr. partition bullet with a stainless steel, composite stock Browning A-Bolt 30.06 with a Burris 3 x 9 scope. This is the only rifle I own, and it has served me well over the years.
I dragged him into a nice sheltered spot where I was able to skin and debone him out of the wind, but in the sun. The temperature was in the low 40s and there was some breeze, so it was perfect for cooling the meat as I worked. He had a very thick layer of fat under his coat and a stomach full of vegetation. A very healthy deer!
Packing him out was tough, especially at first when I had climb up a steep slope only to drop down another sleep slope into a ravine, cross the creek, and then literally crawl up out of the creek and climb the opposite slope. After a few more ups and downs crossing ravines, I was able to hike down a moderate slope to level ground and it was all downhill or level from there. My
I returned to my vehicle and enjoyed a cold Alaska IPA to celebrate a successful hunt!
As a life member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) , I am proud to say that I did this hunt without the aid of an ATV (Weapon of Mass Destruction) or any other motorized support. I hiked in about 4 miles with 2000 feet of elevation gain to get my deer and then packed him four miles out on my back.