After a day with the family and enough time to dry our gear and re-stock we had just enough time to attempt a big buck hunt. There was a small window of opportunity for some clear weather ahead. I decided to take Scott to the location of the buck from opening weekend. I knew there was at least one buck up there that Scott would want to take.
A steady drizzle soaked us as we made our way to the mountain. The old growth forest made for good walking and we made the beaver sloughs in short order and managed to find a way across again.
By noon we were in position at about 1,800 feet elevation, but clouds enveloped us. I knew from my previous trip that there was no point going any further until the weather cleared. We were at the perfect vantage point to observe bucks on the mountain slope, the one that was on the map but invisible to us. On POW if you can’t see, it is pretty much pointless to hunt alpine areas, especially if you are looking for trophy bucks. We made camp and settled in for some “strategic napping” while we waited for the weather to hopefully turn. SIX hours later we woke. Wow, talk about a power nap. That five hour hike in the rain just a day removed from packing out our big meat bucks must have taken it out of us. The mountain was still socked in so there wasn’t much to do except eat a mountain house, turn in for the night and hope for better weather tomorrow.
The alarm went off at 4am. We unzipped the tent to a clear sky full of stars with the dark outline of the mountain before us. Yes. The hunt was on. We were pumped. The weather forecast was spot on and it appeared we’d have at least one full day of clear weather. We were on the binoculars before daylight and began picking out deer right away. Two in particular really caught our eyes.
There was a stud of a 4x4 that just acted like a big buck and a 3x3 that rivaled him. We watched them for a good hour at least to figure out where they were going and plan our strategy. The 4x4 eventually fed into some mountain hemlock near the peak. The 3x3 was near where I had killed the 4x4 from my first hunt. Our stalk, again required a 1000’ climb plus we had to work around several good bucks including the tweak horned 3x4 I recognized from a couple weeks ago and one 3x3 that sorely tempted us. After a long hike around we were on the spine of the ridge. Scott had first right of refusal and he wanted the stud 4x4. We were pinned down with the 4x4 at the top of a bowl bedded and facing our direction on the left side of the ridge. The 3x3 I wanted was on the right side of the ridge. We waited from a patch of scrub brush. Finally the 3x3 bedded facing away in such a way we thought we could get around him and have an opportunity to move up on the 4x4. We belly crawled to a patch of hemlock we thought would get us in range. The rangefinder said 290. We set up a sniper post and waited for the buck to stand. And waited, and waited. It takes a lot of mental stamina to keep your eyes on a deer that long. It only takes a moment for one to stand and slip away when you aren’t paying attention. Finally he rose. Facing right at us. We waited for broadside. And waited, and waited. It was interminable. A leg would twitch and we’d get ready only to have to wait longer. Finally he turned and Scott wasted no time putting one in the boiler. The buck rolled and skidded to a stop a few feet from a cliff. Whew.
Instead of getting right down to butchering we made a play for the 3x3. If our hunch was correct, he would be right over the top of the ridge if he hadn’t spooked at the shot. The ridgeline was only a couple hundred feet up. We topped out slowly and worked our way across the top. He did not appear to be around but then Scott spotted just a tip of an antler. We were right on top of him. In order to get the shot on film we had to put on simultaneous stalks. Scott went up and to the left while I belly crawled down and to the right. The buck was bedded a mere 50 yards away and totally unaware of us. With hand signals Scott gave me the ok and I sat up and efficiently put a round behind his shoulder. The buck stretched but did not get up from his bed. He turned out to be a super buck, every bit as big as Scott’s 4x4, with a wide spread and a couple sweet kicker points for added character. Two trophy bucks down within minutes of each other.
It took the rest of the day to cape and butcher them out. Of course no Scott and Steve hunt is complete without a hike back to camp in the dark. It was one of those awesome walks in the cool of the evening. Dark, but not so much that you needed a headlamp. We still had sunny skies the next morning and the weather held off enough to have a dry hike back to the truck. On POW that isn’t something to take for granted.
The Lubers departed north a couple days later, but Scott and I were just getting started. I still had an unused sheep tag and plane tickets to Anchorage just a few days later…