The Back Door Buck

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We had a summer for the ages in SE Alaska this year. I had a buck in the freezer, but the clear mountain tops had me hitting the woods again to take advantage of the rare sunny weather. For this hunt I wanted to hit a place I’ve hunted before with great results but wanted to try a new "back door" approach. This hunt required hiking in several miles on a water-barred road, then a steep climb into some of the tallest mountains on the island. My new route turned out to be money. I cut a couple hours off my approach and my campsite on a low finger ridge coming off the peaks gave a perfect vantage into my buck bowl.

It was very hot that day and nothing was showing as I began to glass in the mid afternoon. But as the temperature cooled that evening the bucks began magically appearing. Again it was just as I hoped as I looked over 40-50 bucks. I spotted numerous decent 4x4’s but nothing really stood out. Then just before dark a buck appeared that didn’t take a lot of sizing up to know he was special. And to make it even better, he was on the same ridgeline as my camp. He had a smaller buddy that was working his way toward me on a heavy game trail and I knew if the giant 4x4 followed I’d get a shot, but he peeled off into a series of small knolls and mounds. He gave me a 350 yard shot opportunity but I passed, just not quite comfortable with that shot distance. Plus he was still working toward me. He passed out of site and I anticipated he would re-appear within range, but darkness settled and he never showed. I assumed he bedded out of site.

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I was up and glassing before daylight, trying desperately to re-locate him. I identified all the other large bucks I had seen the previous evening except him. Was he gone? Finally, there he is! He was the last to show, exactly where I had last seen him. And this time he was working my way. I got set up on my pack for a prone shot.

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At 290 yards he fed broadside and I knew I could make that shot. I wasn’t disappointed when I walked up to him. He was a heavy antlered buck, one of the best ones I’ve ever taken.

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