That Time of the Year
by Jaqub Gurule
It was that time of the year again. Time to start reloading and checking my checklist to make sure, I had all my things together. This October was my fifth year of being diagnosed with MS. I am driven to succeed at my passions; MS is not an excuse to give up, rather a reason to keep living!
November 3rd was here; time get packed up, grab some last-minute items, and depart to the mountains. We were about two hours away heading North/East. About thirty minutes into our trip, my uncle blew a tire on the camper. This hunt was not starting off good. After changing the tire, we give the truck a quick inspection—all good—so, back on the road we go.
As we hit the mountains, we see our first group of deer, there are five deer in the group; one decent size buck. Finally, we arrived at the location we want to camp, a good central point to our hunting areas we are focusing on. Travis and I get camp set, while my father and uncle level the camper. At last, our home for the next seven days was all set up. About that time, daylight is overcome by darkness, so we head in to start cooking dinner and making a game plan for the morning. The ever-growing excitement has hit a boiling point!
Day one was here, and I was up before my alarm; running around cooking breakfast, taking vitamins, saying my prayers and getting snacks together. I stepped outside grabbed some water for my backpack, and started the trucks even though it was warm for a November morning in Colorado. Soon, Travis and I had arrived at our first spot; we walked over the hill and start glassing. My father and uncle were about three miles away from us to the West. Travis, my uncle and I are the only ones with tags, but my father came along to be an extra set of eyes. Travis and I saw seven deer, but no bucks worth shooting, especially on the first day. So, we jumped back in the truck and drove down the road a quarter of a mile, and hiked into another glassing point. Once my body heats up, I lost my legs and vision, so I had to take my time getting there. I am stubborn, and I don’t let this minor roadblock get in my way. After all, once you give up doing the things you love, you might as well turn it in.
I finally make it, walk over to a ledge, and start glassing. Immediately, Travis spotted a tall 2×3 with some does. He keeps looking him over; I told him I would wait. After all its only Saturday, and we still had six days left. We glassed until dark, seeing only little guys. We met back up the camper and talked about what we had seen. Dad and my uncle saw about the same as us, and Sunday came and went without a good buck being spotted. When Monday morning arrived, I was up before my alarm again. I guess I set it for insurance purposes only; better to be early then late. It was a huge temperature change that morning, 20 degrees. There was supposed to be a storm come in that night, which would really kick these deer in to the rut, hopefully.
We saw our first deer while driving to the ridge we are going to glass from. It was just a basket buck with four does. Arriving at our destination, we spotted some elk; three cows and one small bull. It was cool to see how big these animals are. A doe walked by the bull and there is no comparison on the size difference. We saw a lot of deer, but no shooters. We stayed there an hour and glassed. The deer in this country move so much, you rarely see the same buck. We spent the rest of day glassing, seeing more of the same. It seemed the pre-rut had started, but still not enough to get the big bucks going.
That evening, Travis and I talked to my dad and uncle about our day. I guess they had seen a stud in the morning, but could not get on him fast enough. The big buck went into a thicket and disappeared. We talked about how the big buck we harvested four years ago had done the same thing. On that hunt, I waited him out all day, when he popped up, he was 400 yards to my left. I told my uncle they get big because they are not dumb. We ate dinner over some small talk. I took my vitamins and went to bed.
I woke up to 2 inches of snow and a temperature of just 9 degrees. I told my dad, “If this doesn’t get the big bucks fired up, I don’t know what will.” That morning we saw a beautiful 4×4, just a little out side of his ears. I figured the buck to be about 23inches-ish wide. I told Travis shoot it if you want. We looked him over and over, and ultimately, Travis decided to pass. Later, we met up with my old man and uncle. While we were talking and glassing, I spotted two does and this time of the year does are never alone. Tucked into brush my dad spotted the buck. He was not real wide, maybe 20-22 inches wide, just funky looking. The buck was 523 yards away, my dad wanted to get closer. We got within 200 yards; the buck is getting antsy. Finally, the buck jumped up and took off running. At the same time a shot echoed, and the deer piled up. My uncle said, “See boys that’s how men do it.” I chuckled, and offered a congratulatory handshake. We spent the rest of day we taking care of the buck.
The next morning arrived, and another inch of snow had fallen. It was a brisk morning. I could tell Travis was getting antsy. Early on, we glassed up a really tall 3×3. Travis thought about it, but really wanted a four point. All morning long that was all we see, and now Travis has an itchy trigger finger. Evening arrived as we begin the journey back to camp. While we were walking, Travis mentions something about shooting the next good four point. I nodded in agreement. As we were rounding a corner, I said “there’s your buck.” The buck took off running; Travis runs up the closest hill to get an eye on the buck. Out of breath, he steadies for a shot…he shoots, but I don’t hear the whack of the bullet hitting. I am unable to run anymore or else I would have been right there with him. I had faith in his shooting ability. We grabbed lights and knifes thinking we will find the deer over the hill. We found little blood, and Travis is starting to have second thoughts on his shot placement. We spent 45 minutes looking for blood, nothing. Now dad, Ben and Mark show up. We continued to look for the buck when Mark yells, “here’s your buck.” He was just 30 yards from where Travis saw him last. We took care of the buck that night.
Now, it was just me left to fill a tag. My thoughts returned to the last big buck I killed up here 4 years ago. I readied for bed, say my prayers and go to bed. I woke up the next morning knowing I had leave the next day. I packed my backpack with snacks and water, and we loaded up in the truck. We saw nothing all morning. When evening arrived, the wind was blowing, and nothing was moving. Tag soup crossed my mind about the time we glassed up our first buck. He was a little 2×2. All I could do was smile. We got in the truck and started back to camp. On the way we found a tall 4×4 rutting hard. I made the call to take him. The buck’s does spooked, so the buck followed. My eyes aren’t that good anymore, so it took me a minute or two to re-find the buck. When I did, it stepped out of the tree line following a doe. Off-hand I steady for the shot, I touched the trigger, and the deer drops!
Friends and family: witness perseverance, laughter and compassion. Just remember you’re never out of the fight. Even though it was not the giant I was after, the memories and laughter outweigh everything else. After all we have are great MEMORIES.