Second Shot – Ryan’s Big Idaho Buck

Ryan Idaho Buck 2

My love for hunting began as a young boy following in the footsteps of my grandpa, dad and my uncles. I would beg to tag along to learn the ins and outs. I can remember them taking many deer as they could shoot either sex. We weren’t trophy hunters we were hunting to put meat on the table. I packed my BB gun as I tagged along the first time watching my dad dump his first big buck in front of me. That’s when the fire was lit inside of me and I knew I was born to be a hunter. I shot my first doe when I was twelve years old. We would work together and push pockets through canyons to drive the deer out which was very effective when you could shoot either sex. Not long after the rules changed here in Idaho where you could only shoot bucks. By the time I was around eighteen I had harvested many two/three points but never a mature buck. I asked my uncles “where can I find a mature buck” as they all laughed they told me “there was no more left.” I told them I was going to start hunting on bigger and steeper ridges thinking to myself that’s where they would be. As luck was on my side I shot my first four point while hunting alone. I gained knowledge from magazines articles that would share stories and through them I began to paint a picture of my dreams. I’ve taken pieces of their experiences along with me on each hunt. As I’ve have grown older my tactics have developed and I have begun to harvest bigger bucks. By studying the regs and units I learned which hunts to start putting in for. This led me to my lucky tag.

In May of 2014 I put in for my usual hunts; antelope, elk and deer just like the following years. In July I found out I hit the Jackpot. I had drawn one of the lucky five tags in unit 36A. This gave me the opportunity to finally hunt deer in the rut. Better than winning the lottery Id say! I have only been up in this county a hand full of times steelhead and salmon fishing along the Salmon River. My uncle Joe Baker showed me a few canyons which were fantastic leaving me wanting to get back up there.

The following four months dragged on as I knew I had a special tag in my wallet. On November 3rd I started my journey seeing several bucks along the way noticing they were starting to rut. I was finally back into the country I dreamed of where the big bucks lived. The weather was exceptionally nice for this time of year. Gearing up the first morning I put on all of my “luckies” such as; my red shirt that contains my grandpas name “Butch” that was the only thing left to me since he is no longer with us, my green hat that is signed by Jim Shockey and last but not least I pack my 25.06 1985 single shot Browning Highwall from my mothers dad who I never got to meet. My grandpa Butch had told me it was a one of kind inheritance being as he said “it only takes one shot.” With all my gear loaded I had an idea of where I wanted o be by sunrise. Sure enough that morning all the magic had started to begin. I was on top of the mountain I wanted to be and was already spotting a ton of deer. By 8:00am I had spotted approximately a twenty-six inch wide heavy horned four point, which was hard to pass knowing the country had more to offer and it being the first of my seven day hunt reminding myself to be patient. As I was glassing the area I caught a glimpse of what could be a good buck. So I sat up my spotting scope for a better look and low and behold before me was my dream buck. I asked myself am I dreaming is that what it really seems to be. I told myself no way as my heart began to pound I watched the beauty for about a minute and half. It took no longer than that to know that he was the one. Knowing I had more ground to cover I dropped down the mountain to get at his level as he was in the sage brush with one hot doe. From up on top I watched him get up and down five or six times traveling along with her as he did not want to be seen. Of course, being that as he didn’t get that big from being stupid. He continued to follow his hot doe as I followed along the way knowing now I was in his bedroom and they were unaware of me. I had one little ridge to get on top of and I would then be within 100 yards of them. As I crept over the top there were no deer in sight. I froze; I asked myself did they hear me, see me, smell me? About that time the monster stood up in front of me 75 yards away. I was busted. He began to trot into his stride. I shouldered my riffle with a little buck fever and took one bad shot. He then was getting away picking up a few more deer along the way heading into a pine pocket. I sprinted uphill for a better view while praying to my grandpas for a second shot. One by one they began to show themselves breathing hard I knew I needed to calm myself down. Searching through my scope trying to find him he was still in the pocket. He then finally showed himself. Thanking them for another shot. As he was standing broadside at about 250-275 yards away I put my crosshairs on him and squeezed the trigger. So sweet was the sound of the 120 grained Nosler partition as it thwapped throughout the canyon, leaving the buck rolling downhill. As I quickly reloaded preparing, I watched him in my scope, this time he was down for good. I made my way over to him as nervous as I was I knew I was not alone. I had my grandfathers with me. When I made it to him there was no ground shrinkage he was even bigger than I had imagined. Truly my dream buck. Still in disbelief had all my dreams come true on the first morning of my hunt? I had all sorts of feelings throughout my body as I looked him over being such that it was only 9 o’clock in the morning telling myself that this doesn’t happen, not to me anyhow. This must have been my year, my lucky tag, my ideal hunt over the first morning.

Written by Emily Suzanne Frazier

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