By Karl Pridgen
It had been a long week, and I was down to the last few hours of a six-day bow hunt. I was in southeastern Montana hunting a 3-mile stretch of a river bottom. The river bottom of cottonwoods and alfalfa fields ran through a hilly landscape with ridges and plateaus on both sides.
I finally tagged in the last hour of the hunt with the help of some luck and determination. I had been watching four or five nice bucks all week and had passed an equally sized buck at mid-week. Being slightly dejected, my last day came with plans on hunting only the morning and taking the afternoon to pack and kick back. The rancher convinced me I had to hunt the afternoon, and he would help me with my gear since it was getting close to departure time.
Having been close all week to four or five big bucks, I had a good idea where two bucks might have bedded. I made a guess as to the approach they would take me from a ridge to an alfalfa field that afternoon. I had my wife create a diversion by dropping me at the base of a bluff, under the ridge where the deer were bedded. She kept the vehicle rolling as I bailed out, and she kept on going down the ranch road and back to the ranch house.
I then crawled up a crevasse to the edge of a plateau and peeked over the edge. While lying flat on my belly, I glassed the top of the ridge line. I hadn't been there 5 minutes when I saw the deer I eventually took and a smaller 4-pointer appear on top of the ridge and then stop on a shelf. The smaller buck continued coming down, and I lost sight of him.
The larger buck just kept looking down past me to the alfalfa field. I spotted two other nice bucks bedded in the shade 150 yards from the first big buck. Another 5 minutes passed when the 4-pointer walked past me at 10 yards to my right and headed for the field. The buck never saw me. I froze as it walked by then I regained my wits and glassed for my buck. There it was.
A few minutes passed before the two other bucks walked up to my left, not 5 yards away and above my head. They seemed to want to walk down the crevasse that my feet were in. I was frozen as they stopped and looked at me then looked at each other then back at me. It was if they were saying, "Yeah, that's a dead hunter. We win. Should we go over or around him?" Then one of them walked over to my outstretched hands, holding the binoculars, and I can hear the buck breathing. The pair eventually walked around me and down to the field. I got my heart started again after a few minutes and then glassed the ridge. My deer was gone! I started to panic, knowing that the buck was headed toward me, and I didn't have much time to get ready.
I slid down to the bottom of the crevasse with my back against the other side bank. I laid my binoculars down, placed my bow across my stomach and nocked an arrow. I looked up and the buck was standing nearly broadside at 15 yards away and looking through me. I thought, "This won't last long," so I went into super slow motion to raise my bow and draw back the arrow. I let the arrow take flight and connected with a double-lung hit.
The buck spun around, stopped, looked at me and fell over in about 30 seconds.
I was ecstatic to say the least.