As a teenager I read Larry Benoits book titled How to Bag the Biggest Buck of Your Life.
Later I met a new friend who had all the best hunting in the local mountain range to use the tracking techniques and his stories encouraged me to try.
I learned to track deer and started to find success but then developed a passion for elk hunting that took away from my deer tracking time and eastern Montana mule deer hunts took even more time away from otherwise good tracking days.
This year I found myself with no tags left in mid-November. The pan handle of Idaho beckoned me to track down the biggest buck of my life and I went.
The early morning hours of November 20th was spent driving along a forest service road looking for tracks in the fresh snow that fell just hours before.
I took a compass bearing, stuffed a drag rope in my pocket and rocketed out of my truck when a big buck track showed me exactly where he was.
The tracks led me across a creek and along a bench that I would never have known were there. Fresh dirt clung on top of fresh snow next to a big scrape and the trails climbed up, up and up. In that order.
At the top of a ridge fresh tracks in four inches of powder put me in a death creep through blown down lodgepoles and douglas firs. A doe stared me down at 100 yards and I scanned the woods for antlers.
Like a beacon of light, his rack contrasted against the dark timber and my scope found his shoulder. For the first time in my life, I felt like a tracker. It’s a distinctive method of hunting whitetails that took me 26 years to figure out.
A long drag down the mountain to a trail and a helping hand to photograph, quarter and pack the biggest buck of my life back to my truck completed the best hunt of my life.
I can’t say that tracking bucks in the snow is easy. And I can’t say that it’s for everyone but I can say that it’s the way that a guy who can’t sit still bagged the biggest buck of his life.
For me, there is no more rewarding way to hunt a big buck than on his turf, on the ground and miles from nowhere.