2012 Utah Rifle Deer Hunt - A Big Buck Gives Dallen The Slip

Dallen hiking in with a PAck Wheel game cart.

Dallen hiking in with a Pack Wheel game cart and an Alps Commander frame pack.

Dallen hiking along a ridge with a Pack Wheel game cart on a rifle mule deer hunt.

Here is another photo of Dallen hiking along the ridge line.

Dallen posing for a photo a sunset.

Dallen posing for photo at sunset.

Our Pack Wheel game carts loaded with all our camping gear hiking off the mountain.

Here's our Pack Wheel game carts during a break in the hiking back off the mountain.

Dallen shortly after the big buck gives us the slip.

Dallen's a little sad just after we missed our second opportunity of the day to bag a nice really buck.

Dallen hiking out with a Pack Wheel game cart.

Dallen grinning over how easy it is to hike along the trail with the Pack Wheel carrying his camping/hunting gear.

The cliffs the big mule deer buck escaped down.

Here are the snow covered cliffs where the big buck made his escape a couple days earlier minus a few feet of snow.

My broken leg during the rifle deer hunt.

My Tibial Plateau fractured leg.  :(

With Dallen having a great experience on his elk hunt two weeks earlier we were both excited to find a nice buck for him to take. For this hunt Dallen again was going to use my X-Bolt Stainless Stalker 270 WSM with my favorite 140 gr Accubond handloads.

The day before the hunt we packed in the near three miles we wanted to go to hunt the area I shot my small four point in 2011 with a muzzleloader and specifically we wanted to be watching the canyon I took my busted up buck back in 2010. To pack in we each used a Pack Wheel game/hiking cart. The carts were a dream to carry all our gear around the single track hiking trail that runs along the ridge that takes us out to where I like to hunt for big mule deer.

We made it in that evening and took some cool photos along the way as the sun was setting. One thing we forgot was a flashlight. Oops! As it got dark we had to use a flashlight app on my Galaxy S III phone to get our sleeping bags out and setup under a scraggly pinyon pine.

The next morning we were up before light working our way around a ridge to view down and across one of my favorite canyons. As was glassed at first light we watched four small bucks below us sparring off and on. We also saw a few does further down the canyon. Then we spotted a nice looking four point with a 24 inch sized rack below us. We decide to make a play on the buck and started working our way down the canyon rim trying to get within range of him. Unfortunately this buck was headed off the mountain and we could not catch up with him.

Then to our horror we looked back up to where we had just been and watch 3 bucks coming around the other side of the canyon... and one of the bucks was a dandy. Dang it! These bucks entered into some pines to bed down for the day. We decided to try and sneak in on them and get the big buck. I knew this buck had been around the block and was going to difficult to determine how he would react. Often large bucks will bed and hold until you jump them like a pheasant. I was hoping this was the case. We slipped along the far edge of the pines slowing working our way through constantly scanning for any glimpse of a rack bedded down under the pines. As we worked our way to a ridge line there they were escaping up and over a boulder field and down a rough ridge line. Not what I was expecting but I knew to expect the unexpected and this was definitely unexpected. Dallen setup and was ready for a shot just as soon as the buck stopped... and he did at just over 300 yards but... this entire body and head was behind a mahogany tree. All we could see was his beautiful 27-28ish wide typical rack sticking up above the tree. He paused there for maybe a minute then took a couple bounds and over the ridge for good. Sorry Dallen. :(

By now there were many groups of hunters in the area and with all the deer in the area spooked, deep in the private ground we headed back off the mountain.

The Pack Wheel game/hiking cart were a dream at carrying all our gear. What a nice lifesaver on my bad knees. We planned to come back and hunt later in the week after things settled down to make another attempt at the large buck that got away.

Needless to say we were never able to make it back out on the mountain. On Tuesday after months of being heckled for not playing basketball with the guys that Dallen plays pickup games with I decided to get a little exercise. After just a few minutes of playing I got hit in the knee. The blow caused my knee to immediately swell up with blood and I lost all mobility. Turned out after the blood was drained by Dr. Harrison that the MRI showed that the Tibial Plateau was crushed and I had some meniscus torn. My DonJoy Defiance knee brace had saved me from having my whole knee taken right out but I was done hunting for some time...

After about five weeks of crutches I am now slowly getting my leg back into shape. Sorry I ruined your hunt Dallen. I knew better. Just 10 minutes of basketball in the past 21 years and I get my knee crushed. I'm taking it as a quick reminder that I shouldn't be playing basketball risking my legs and hindering my "quality of hunting" in the future.

Then if it wasn't bad enough knowing I couldn't get back out to help Dallen hunt we had the best snow storm in my memory during the deer hunt. Thanks to the heavy amounts of snow many nice bucks were taken during this year's Utah deer season.

2012 has not been my luckiest year, between all the time I spent trying to get a bull on my Limited Entry archery elk hunt and getting skunked, my son needing surgery causing me to turn around from going up the mountain on my muzzleloader deer hunt and now my broken messed up knee. Dallen did put the hurt on a nice bull this year for his second bull. And any time on the mountain experiencing the trills, ups and downs, excitement of the trying to find and outsmart elk or mule deer on public ground is priceless. There's also nothing like sneaking out to your favorite glassing point in time to watch the beautiful sun rise breaking the darkness of night. I love it!

Now I really have to get my leg working quickly so I can get a cow elk and help Dallen and Weston get one also this winter.

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