By Paul Hines
-- For the past five years, I have been traveling with my friend, Gene, from my home state of Washington to Atlanta, Idaho, to hunt mule deer. Typically, we leave at night and drive straight through so we do not have to deal with traffic. We spend seven to nine days hunting for mule deer.
About two years ago, Gene had asked his dad if he would like to come along. Gene's dad agreed but did not think he could do much hiking because he has a bad back.
The season started on Oct. 10, so we headed for camp on the eighth. We got there during the middle of the day on the ninth and set up camp in plenty of time to drive around and show Gene's dad some of the trails we liked to hunt. As we drove down the road, we managed to jump a few bucks. Gene's dad said he wished it was opening day because one of the bucks had a nice set of antlers.
The following morning, Gene's dad was not feeling well due to the long drive. Gene and I left him at camp, and we decided to head toward one of our favorite hunting spots. On our way, we saw a lot of hunters. So we changed direction and headed to Euba River Trail.
We hunted there all day and managed to see more hunters than deer. Later, we found out that Idaho had given 500 cow elk permits for that side of the Boise River. Normally, we would hunt all day and not see another soul. When we got back to camp, Gene's dad was feeling a lot better. As he hiked around camp, he spotted a few deer.
The next day we decided to hunt close to camp beside Eagle Creek since there were no elk hunters in the area. We had been hiking up the mountain for about two hours when we started to hit the top of a ridge. We decided to take a break for a rest and a snack.
After resting for about 15 minutes, I started glassing to see if we could spot any deer. Right away, I saw six deer. There were two bucks in the bunch, and one looked like it had great potential. We watched them eat and hoped the one with big rack would stand up.
When we'd watched for a half-hour, the big buck got up, and we could see its rack but it was only a very large 2-pointer. We passed on this buck and began hiking farther up the ridge to eat lunch. Again, we saw deer but nothing that made us excited. The hiking continued, and we had not made it very far when we noticed deer coming out of a bowl-shaped area.
We had just started to walk toward a deer trail when we spotted two bucks. I shouldered my rifle to take a look at the deer. Gene whispered that the first buck had at least four points on each side. I asked him to shoot, but he insisted I pull the trigger instead. My 100-yard shot hit the buck in the base of its neck. Like a flash, the deer was gone before I could take another shot.
We had a tough time finding the deer because it did not leave a trail for us to follow. Eventually, Gene found the buck, we took some photos and got the deer back to camp.
We did not see any other bucks until the last day. Luckily Gene and his dad both harvested bucks on the last day.