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River Bottom Buck

  • 3 min read

Working full-time and completing my master's program severely cuts down on the time I get to hunt. I had only one day after Thanksgiving to hunt. My dad and I headed to eastern Colorado to find what we could find.

We have been hunting this area for over 20 years. The deer numbers are down, and with the drought this year, most of the CRP sections we can hunt were short and weren't holding the number of deer we are used to seeing.

We hunted the morning and had a good stalk on a 4x4 Muley that I decided to pass on. After checking our other spots, we were about ready to head home, but I remembered my buddy said his grandpa had some land in our unit. I decided to call him, and we got permission to check the land out.

It was midday and very hot for November. His grandpa showed us some spots, and we slowly walked a mile-long river bottom, glassing and trying to get on a buck in its bed. We walked about 3/4 of the river bottom and hadn't seen a deer; my dad decided to head back to the truck and pick me up where the river ended on the County Road.

I kept going, glassing every nook and cranny where I thought a deer might be bedded. As I came to the last turn in the river bottom, I saw a big whitetail buck, head to the ground coming straight towards me. I quickly crouched down behind some weeds, waiting for him to pop out in front of me.

I sat there for 15 minutes. The anticipation mounted, but nothing happened. I started to creep out of the bottom, glassing the sorghum fields, but the buck was nowhere to be found. My adrenaline receded as I trudged back to the truck.

Luckily my dad saw the buck! He'd gone to the far corner of the river bottom we had just walked through. We decided to go back to where we started and try to find this buck. As we approached the cedar row, we crept around the corner, glassing everywhere we could. There were a few cedar trees 200 yards beyond the corner where we were, and I saw him standing right between them. We quickly got down and began to watch him. The buck made a scrape and then bedded down!

The river bottom led straight down to where he was bedded. There was an old piece of machinery in the river straight across from him. We decided that I could get a shot if we could get to that point. The stalk was on!   Carefully, we began to crawl through the bottom. It took us almost an hour to cover 200 yards, and we finally made it to the machinery. The buck was still bedded. My dad ranged the cedar he was in front of at 70 yards on the money. I worked to maintain my composure as the adrenaline started pumping. I found a spot where I felt comfortable making the shot, and the wait was on.
My dad could see his antlers through the tall grass, and we were waiting for him to stand up. Another half an hour passed, and I saw him shake his head as he stood up. He was facing away from us, and my dad got another range, 71 yards.

I began to get ready, waiting for my dad to give me the go-ahead. He was quartering away, looking in our direction, then he looked away, and my dad said, "draw."

I rose out of the bottom and came to full draw. His head quickly snapped back as he looked right at me. I knew I had had very little time to make the shot. I settled my 70-pin right behind his shoulder and slowly squeezed the trigger. The arrow released, and my arrow flew through the air, connecting right behind his shoulder. As he ran, I saw blood spewing out of his side and heard my dad say, "You smoked him!" We watched him go behind the cedar tree, and he never came out on the other side.

My dad tackled me in excitement. We could not stop shaking. We gave him 20 minutes to pass away. Then we began to head to the cedar tree, where I shot him. As we approached the tree, there was blood everywhere. He didn't make it 20 yards. A perfect shot, to the top of the heart and my biggest buck ever, and a hunt I will never forget.

Colorado Whitetail

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