While Scott was out “scouting” and ruining our 2013 sheep hunt plans, I hit the mountains on Prince of Wales for some last minute conditioning and to see if I could put a couple bucks in the freezer. It had been a mild winter on POW and I was excited about the potential for some real quality bucks out there. For my first hunt I wanted to try someplace new. A distant peak far across a valley had been on my mind for a couple years. As I parked the truck that evening and looked at that far off ridge I wondered if I was biting off more than I could chew. It looked a long ways away. Three hours later I had descended 1000 feet, navigated the beaver slough infested valley, and battled through thick brush to camp in a subalpine muskeg at the foot of the mountain I wanted to hunt.
4am I was back on the trail. I spooked a large buck just prior to busting out into the alpine. I kicked myself for not being careful enough but excited to be into deer already. I began carefully glassing the mountain slopes and it was just as I had hoped. The red coats of velvet racked bucks stood out plainly in the early morning sun. I spent a couple hours behind the spotter and picked out a good 4x4 bedded in a patch of mountain hemlock near the top of the ridgeline and planned my stalk. He got up to feed and slipped from view over the ridge. The stalk required a 1000’ climb and I had to make it past numerous smaller bucks and does. I made my way up the slope and snuck into some brush a few hundred yards from where I had last spotted the big 4x4. I couldn’t find him but farther along the ridge, near the mountain peak I spotted a bachelor herd of bucks including some good one scattered among the boulders. I didn’t see the 4x4 I was after but assumed he had met up with that group and was somewhere among them. Now I had to cross back to the front of the ridge line to attempt to climb above and around them, just like if I was sheep hunting. But I didn’t make it far when the big 4x4 burst out in front of me from basically where I had last seen him. At under 100 yards I knelt and he looked back long enough for me to take the shot.
As I butchered him I got a good look at several of the other bucks on the mountain and one tall racked buck as I was hiking out convinced me this was a spot I’d have to re-visit.