I heard Kevin's Alarm go off at 2:55 Am and again at 3, I asked him if it was time to get up even though I already knew the answer. We get dressed and I have some granola bars while Kevin has his cup of instant coffee. We get our head lamps out and start our hike up the steep and nasty hillside. We had picked out a route the night before while it was day out and tried to start in that area as there is no trail heading up the mountain.
We found that our trail worked pretty good except when we would come to rock faces other wise known as cliffs. It just meant extra time finding our way around the rocks. We took a couple breaks while hiking up the monster. On one of breaks I told Kevin that I shoot my deer before 9 am so we should be getting back to camp before it gets hot. I was half joking, but I really do shoot most of my deer early in the morning.
When we reached the summit everything was good. We had about 40 minutes until hunting hours so I broke out my camera and started taking some night time photos as the suns light was hinting over the far off mountains. We get our guns loaded and the contents of our bags situated for hunting. In front of us was a steep drop off that we didn't want to look over until shooting hours because there could be "The Big One" right below us.
I start walking my way down the hill and dropped off the top of the ridge. Taking my time and looking around every few steps I took. I found a rock about 50 yards over the ridge and started watching all of the hill sides. I see Kevin about 500 yards away on the next point of land. After a few minutes of sitting there a grouse flush about 70 yards to my right and sailed around the hill, I said I was not going to go around. That grouse made me feel for whatever reason that I should go around that hill and follow it. After having a mental war with myself in my head I decided that Kevin could see that I was going around the hill.
So I walked down to where the grouse flushed from and started walking around the hillside. Right as I got to the apex of the hill into the next bowl I saw it. A big ol' white butt of a mule deer about 70 yards above me. I dive down prone behind a log and get my gun up into a good shooting position. I can tell it is a big bodied deer. It lifts it's head up and looks right at me. My heart starts to pound against my chest, I feel like every time it beats my body is jumping off of the ground. At this point I can tell it has wide, thick antlers, I just can't tell how many points it has. As I watch it though my scope for what seems to be hours it finally turns its head. I see the single tine behind a double tine so I know its a shooter. I take a deep breath put my crosshairs right behind the shoulder and squeeze the trigger. I didn't feel the gun go off, I didn't hear the gun go off but the deer just dropped.
Now the bottom of the canyon was about 2000 feet below us. The deer started to kick and roll down hill. All I could think about was I really hope it doesn't go down there. The deer came to a rest still kicking. I thought it was done at this point so I turned to where Kevin was and stared waving my hunter orange like he didn't already know what was happening. When I turned around the deer was gone. So I got up and started walking up the hill to where it was. I found it about 10 more yards down the hill. Again the first thing I saw was its butt up on a log. The bullet a 180 grain .30-06 entered right behind the left shoulder and exited just below the back on the left side in its mid sections. I assumed it was a lung shot as the blood coming out of the exit hole was bright pink.
Kevin got over to me and said that it was in the perfect position to bone it out. I have never done a butcher job in the field. We made a cut down the spine of the animal with our Havalon knives and skinned one side from the back to the belly and took all the meat off from one side of the deer placing it in plastic bags. We then flipped the deer over and did the same. I removed the head and we were done in a few minuts.
We figured the hardest part of the hike down would be the really steep first mile and a half from camp. We took out breaks but made good time not feeling dead. We get down the mile and half to the main trail to take a break on a bridge. When Kevin takes his pack off the straps rip off of the bag. This is not good seeing as we still have a ways to go. after exploring the issues Kevin finds that his $400 pack was put together wrong. So Kevin put it back together the right way (We think) and we continue on.
Now all I can think is "What A Trip".