We had been warned that once the fog rolled into the valleys and cooleys, it was easy to get disoriented and turned around and sometimes, you just have to encounter it to believe it. The storm was settling in and the fog was freezing to everything, the camera equipment, the rifle and even our clothing not only making everything slick and dangerous but also taking visibility down to nearly nothing.
Three days, 18 inches of snow accumulation in some areas and negative 15 degree temeperatures later, the storm broke. Jim and I were freed from our hotel prison. When these types of storms break, they can cause a gleeful excitement within any hunter, no matter how cold it is. The deer that have held up in heavy timber will be out and about in search of food and water. The bucks having been pushed out of the high country will be in pursuit of hot does.
A cold so bitter it bites through exposed skin like a 1000 tiny needles can't slow down the determined hunter and determined we were. Skyline on the ridge back stood a stunning sight, a wide, mature buck milling around the snow and eventually out of sight. Jim and I knew that we could close the distance on the majestic buck as all of the conditions were in our favor. We found that the buck had nestled down in a drainage surrounded by does and distracted as he showed off tearing up brush with his antlers.
Creeping into position at less than 100 yards, Jim set up to take the shot as I said a silent prayer that the camera would keep rolling and not freeze while Jim took the shot of his lifetime. Our patience had once again paid off...Jim had taken the buck of his lifetime and I was privledged enough to share the experience with him, all caught on camera.
The elements of this hunt were brutal by anyone's standards but the rewards were boundless. Memories created that will last my lifetime, recalling the bitter freezing cold, freezing equipment and two friends that stuck it out to fulfil a dream on the mountain.