THE 11000 FOOT WILLOW BUCK... by Jeff Lunow
2020 started of by applying for tags, and the uncertainty of covid. I drew a archery deer and elk tag for the same unit in Colorado and although it is not a great unit for either I was excited. A early scouting trip of about 50 miles proved that water was skinny and elk was going to be tough. The end of August rolled around and I left the truck at one trailhead and a motorcycle at another. I hiked solo away with 8 days of food with another 6 in the truck.
The summer was spent working out and shooting and I felt confident in everything but my ability to find a good buck. After 7 hours and 3500 ft elevation I made camp above tree line and began glassing. By the evening before season opener I had located 2 bachelor groups with good mature deer. Opening morning i was perched at 12500 ft and found 3 different groups of deer and put all 3 to bed, 1 group was in a place I thought I could get myself above with a great consistent wind. The 2 hour stalk began putting me within 100 yards of the large willow patch just under a steep cliff with a bighorn ram watching the show.(the ram was ranged at 350 yrds) With the last 70 yards of slow moving I approached a small cliff that would do the trick, but left no visual of the deer, as I slid it place with a arrow knocked and range finder in hand the buck was on his feet moving towards me thru the willows with nothing but the tops of the velvet antlers showing. I quickly positioned myself and ranged a small opening in the crazy tall willows and as he fed into the small narrow lane I laced an arrow 30 yards and connected tight behind the shoulder on a quartering to shot.
A few pictures and the work started. The mile plus hump back to camp after dark thru the cliffs and a long heavy pack out the next morning were worth the sweat. The elk tag was placed in the tag soup file and I now I set patiently waiting for a whitetail to move into bow rang, while missing the steep mountains.
Author – Jeff Lunow