By Mike Deming
“There’s a Monster Right There Dad” were the words that came out of my 8-year-old daughter Taylor’s mouth as we sat in our double bull blind opening morning of the Utah muzzleloader season. I grabbed my CVA Accura and slowly pivoted to the right hoping to see the huge framed 180 class buck the owner had told me about, frequenting the orchard. I could see a forked horn and a 140 class 4-point, but nothing that I considered a monster. The 4-point was having a staring contest with us at 15 yards as I scoured the trees for the 180 buck. I asked Taylor if that was the “Monster” looking at us and she confirmed with “DEFINITELY”! “Is he a shooter” I asked, “ABSOLUTELY” was her response. Her excitement was very obvious, but a shot didn’t present itself.
I have been hunting big trophy mule deer for so many years now that unless I am truly in the presence of a giant, the excitement just isn’t quite there for me anymore. I had forgotten what it was like to get amped up by a mature buck, but Taylor spent the rest of the week reminding me that we messed up by not shooting that big buck. I had to agree that I had robbed my new hunting partner of the great experience of success in the field. I vowed that I wouldn’t make that mistake again if given the chance.
We were hunting an absolutely great piece of property owned by Roger Bringhurst in southern Utah. It isn’t the biggest piece of property, but it is absolutely the right piece. It has running water year around, a heavy producing apple orchard, irrigated fields and a perfect bedding area. The bucks spend their summers right here and continue to live and feed through the muzzleloader season and some stragglers still exist into the rifle season. Although several great bucks were harvested during the archery season, he assured us that there were still many great bucks living in the area. We would just need to be patient and we would get our opportunity. I only had five of the nine days of the season to hunt because of prior commitments and Taylor still needed to make it to school after the morning hunts. So, we were limited on our time to hunt.
By the end of the 4th day of hunting, we hadn’t seen any signs of the buck from the 1st day or any of the other big bucks known to be in the area. Maybe the new blind we had put up had changed the deer’s patterns or the bucks might have gotten spooked more than I thought. One thing was for sure, I was taking a daily dose of ‘daddy beat down’ for not making the shot on the first day. I was really regretting my first day decisions to not close the deal on the 140 class buck. He had grown in Taylor’s storytelling to epic proportion. He was a true monster for sure.
We had been consistently seeing a heavy horned two-point for the past four days and he looked like a mature buck that was at the end of his lifecycle. On the drive to our last day of the hunt, Taylor asked me “Could we harvest that buck today if he showed up”? I assured her that we would fill our tag today if the opportunity presented itself.
We snuck into the blind well before daylight as we had done all week. As the new day started, deer funneled out of the orchard and towards the bedding area just as they had every day. Several smaller bucks, but mostly does and fawns appeared and at 7:30 am, “Mister Two-point” showed up like clockwork. Taylor whispered, “Are we going to shoot him dad”? I flipped on the camera and gave her the nod. We were going to share some success together and some great backstraps for dinner. Just as I was about to drop the hammer, I looked back at the camera to make sure we still had the buck in the frame and I could see another buck back in the trees. Taylor gave him a quick look through the binos and whispered, “It’s the MONSTER”! I put down the gun and grabbed my binos and confirmed that it was the four-point from day one with six other smaller bucks. He slowly worked his way towards the field and my excitement grew. It looked like this was going to happen. Buck fever started to overwhelm me unlike I had experienced since I was a young boy. I was praying for everything to go right as I shared this experience with young Taylor.
What seemed like an hour was really only several minutes, then the buck turned broadside at 50 yards and I gently squeezed the trigger. Smoke filled our blind from the muzzleloader and I could see the buck busting brush as he ran for cover. I was pretty sure that I had made a good shot, but for the first time in years, I didn’t even remember aiming the gun or squeezing the trigger. I had the shakes and the adrenaline was rushing through my body. Taylor was having the exact same emotions. We high-fived and vacated the blind. Taylor wanted to go see the buck right away, but we used this time to learn some valuable lessons on hunting and what we had just done. Taylor tracked the buck 25 yards to his final resting place. Her first response when she saw the buck was “He is Huge”. We had successfully harvested the Brinkhurst Orchard Monster. We set up a great photo session and enjoyed our father and daughter moment, which is one of my best hunting memories of my life and I’m sure one of many more to come.
Roger Bringhurst offers a minimal amount of hunting on his property with only one hunter there at a time, including 3-4 archery hunts and 1-2 muzzleloader hunts available each fall. If you’re interested, Roger can be reached at 435-590-2390 to secure one of these spots.