Published by AZelkhntr on 02 Jul 2009 at 10:26 am
Where to start? I have been bowhunting for about the last 12 years. I owe the discovery of bowhunting and all that it means to me to a good friend of mine. Ray Kessler,prior to meeting him I was a rifle hunter for most of my life. I met my hunting partner and friend Ray at work right after he started working there. It didn’t take long before we got on the subject of hunting. I had tried bowhunting with a recurve on a occasion or two. Ray on the other hand had bowhunted most of his life. After a few conversations with Ray it didn’t take long before I was at the local archery shop buying my first compound bow. Since buying that first bow I have become addicted. The feeling of being so close to animals and nature that you get with bowhunting is unlike any other hunting in my opinion. We have hunted together for the last 12 years and have experienced some awesome times, from me shooting my first deer with a bow to sitting on a hilltop and watching two huge bulls fighting to see who is the king of the hill. Bowhunting has and is the passion that drives me.
2007 started out like many others with both of us putting in to try and draw a covenant elk tag. Unfortunately we were not successful, this was disappointing and rewarding all in one. Although we did not draw a elk tag we knew that meant one thing, we were going to be focusing all of our attention on a trip to Kaibab to hunt the huge mule deer of the Kaibab.
We made the 6 and a half hour drive to the Kaibab plateau a month before opening day to do some scouting set up our game cams and try to pinpoint a game plan for opening day. While driving up there we had a pretty good idea already where we would be hunting. I have hunted the Kaibab several times in the last 12 years and Ray has been going there for the last 25 years, first with his dad and then with friends and family. On the ride up there he stated that he had just realized that this would be his 25th year hunting the Kaibab and had taken several deer out of there but had never taken a really nice buck yet. We both agreed that this year was going to be different. After our scouting trip we were both very excited we had seen some great bucks and couldn’t wait for opening day.
We arrived two days before opening day and everything looked really good, we went out checked our game cams and saw some nice bucks and the mood in the camp was very upbeat. Opening day arrived and we were both sitting treestands hoping for one of the bucks we had seen earlier to make the mistake of walking by us. It was not meant to be, due to all of the other hunters in the area we believed that the big bucks must have gone in to hiding.
The next 11 days were pretty uneventful, we both had seen smaller bucks and we both had oppurtunities to harvest a smaller buck. We passed on harvesting smaller bucks in hope of getting a chance at a bigger one. The motto for our camp was “You will never shoot a big one if you keep shooting smaller ones”
The last day of the hunt was upon us and we knew it was make or break time. We woke up at 4:00am with high hopes. This was our thirteenth day of hunting and we were determined to make it a Lucky 13. We were driving to our hunt area when Ray looked at me and said. We just drove by a great buck feeding about 150 yards up in the treeline. Needless to say we both got pretty excited. We came up with a quick plan to drive up a ways and stalk into the treeline and then wait. In hopes that the buck would feed to us.
We made it to the treeline undetected. It was freezing that morning and we both spent the next half hour trying to stay still and not give away our spot by our uncontrollable shivering. Finally I saw deer legs through the trees. It didn’t take long before we realized if we stayed where we were a shot was not going to happen. We decided to move up about 20 yards to another tree. Ray went first, and when he made it to the tree the deer was just coming into a opening. There was no time to lose if he didn’t take the shot the deer was going to move into some thick timber and we wouldn’t get another opportunity.
Ray ranged the deer at 58 yards, I know some people would not take a shot at this range. Ray and I practice out to 80 yards throughout the year and shoot every 3D tournament we can. It is not uncommon to be presented with shots of this range in the west. We practice at these ranges and only take shots that we know and feel comfortable at making. Ray came to full draw and the arrow was on it’s away, I was watching and knew he had made a good shot. The deer ran off and we both just sat there and couldn’t believe what had just happened. We waited a hour before taking up the tracking , it wasn’t long before we were standing over a great Kaibab buck. Ray looked at me smiling and said who says 13 isn’t lucky. We decided right then that this was the Lucky 13 buck.
This hunt wound up being one of the best hunts I have been on. It just shows that perseverance along with a never die attitude usually pays off. I would like to thank my wife for putting up with my obsession, without her understanding of my addiction, living my dream would be a lot harder.
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