The Never-Ending Search for the Perfect Hunt

The Never-Ending Search for the Perfect Hunt

I’ve always believed that you must suffer before you succeed, that you must go through pain, mishaps, and adversity to make an experience worthwhile. My experience in the eastern Nevada mountains came with no shortage of suffering, but that made it so much more rewarding.

My hunting partners, Hank and Clayton Combs, and I didn’t see a buck until day two.

As I was setting up the stalk, a three-pointer ran across the adjacent hill and I decided to take my shot—missing him twice. Disillusioned, we made our way back to the side by side and ran into a forkie. Twice more I let lead fly, but to no avail.

The ceaseless heckling from my buddies drove me to test the gun’s accuracy (and my ego) but it only confirmed that user’s error was the only thing that caused this series of egregious marksmanship mishaps.

Deciding to try again, we climbed to the top of a ridge to scope an area away from most roads. Within 10 minutes, I had a buck in my lenses — smaller compared to the two I missed earlier, but a worthwhile buck sure enough. We arrived at an adequate vantage point when the deer spooked: He probably smelled us since the wind wasn’t in our favor. I continued to scan the mountains hoping to get a shot at him, but I lost sight of him amongst the doe dominating the field.

Hank came through over the radio alerting me of a buck and doe under a tree right above where Hank was glassing. I scoped the area for 20 minutes unwavering, never catching a glimpse of the one Hank mentioned. Finally, the buck got up from behind a burnt tree and started walking uphill. Not letting another opportunity pass me by, I took my shot right at his back.

The dust settled and off he went — user’s error once again. I lost sight of the buck’s location and thought we were cooked. With my eyes scanning every inch of the mountains, my heart sank as I slowly began to accept that today would be wholly unsuccessful.

Suddenly, my attention was drawn to a doe popping out of a tiny sliver next a tree line and what was behind her: the buck I was searching for.

“There he is!” I exclaimed. I lined up the buck in my crosshairs, determined to get it right this time and BAM!

As all the deer ran for the trees, I turned to my hunting partner in a moment of panic, “No way I missed dude, I was right on him!”

My partner couldn’t locate the downed deer either, but right before all hope was lost Hank came in over the radio once more, “Great shot!”

I peered back through the scope and saw the buck face down, kicking the air for the last time. My bullet traveled 360 yards across the mountain and shot him dead where he stood: He never even knew what hit him. Had he made it just 20 feet to the right, he would have found cover and beaten me in the hunt. Today, I was the victor.

Getting the kill on that buck was like making a clutch three-pointer or scoring a game-winning touchdown. I felt larger than life, but it took some time before I realized what I had accomplished.

Hunting is a huge commitment, requiring countless hours of planning, preparation, and execution. It’s a significant investment of money, time and resources — one that takes away from family time and relaxation; however, the bigger the investment the bigger the payoff. When all my hard work came to fruition on the mountain my reward was extraordinary.

Was he the biggest buck on the mountain? No. But I spotted, stalked, and harvested him. I’m sure I’ll shoot many more bucks in my life, but this was everything I could have asked for. St. Hubert smiled down on our group that day.

This trip in the Nevada mountains may not have been gone according to plan, but hunting has always been about the journey rather than the destination: It’s a never-ending pursuit of perfection, after all. In a way, I’m relieved that I didn’t get that prized Boone and Crocket buck; otherwise, what would I have left to dream about? 

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