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Tag Archives: Hunting

The Illinois Whitetail Disaster

By Don Higgins
AHT Guest Commentary

I am blessed to have watched the whitetail herd in my part of Illinois rise from nothing to become the greatest whitetail herd on planet earth. As a kid running the creeks and woods of east-central Illinois we basically had no deer whatsoever. Seeing a deer track was newsworthy and announcing such a discovery was more likely to bring ridicule than belief.

Author Don Higgins with several Illinois giants from years of hunting the Land of Lincoln

Author Don Higgins with several Illinois giants

Then, slowly at first, the deer started to appear. When I shot my first buck back in 1979 I only knew of three men who had taken a deer and two of those were harvested down in southern Illinois.

Back in the early days Illinois was blessed with a couple of cutting edge whitetail biologist who were ahead of their time in their approach to state-wide whitetail management. Forest Loomis and Jack Calhoun micro-managed Illinois growing deer herd county by county utilizing county check stations manned by college students and started a new management approach that other states would soon adopt; either-sex hunting.

Up to this point, states that allowed deer hunting managed their seasons by larger zones or even state-wide and only allowed bucks to be harvested. Loomis and Calhoun put Illinois on the fast-track to whitetail stardom with their hands-on approach to managing Illinois most precious natural resource. These pioneer biologist deserve way more credit and recognition than they have been afforded.

Soon whitetails were at huntable populations in every Illinois county. Not only that but with the management approach of these cutting edge biologists, the state enjoyed a whitetail herd with great age structure and proper sex ratios. By the mid-1980s Illinois was home to a whitetail herd that would please any deer hunter. Monster bucks were present in suitable numbers in every county for those seeking the challenge while a growing population meant plenty of opportunities for the meat hunter as well. Illinois became the destination of choice for whitetail addicts from across the globe.

Then disaster hit. No, it didn’t hit with the force of a tornado that was obvious and clear to see. In fact many didn’t even realize anything happened. But it did. And it was bad. Loomis and Calhoun retired and some time following a new whitetail biologist was hired. Paul Shelton was a waterfowl biologist from Tennessee when IDNR director Brent Manning hired him to come to Illinois and oversee the greatest whitetail herd on earth. Shelton was noted for his “computer models for waterfowl management” and apparently the idea was that he could bring this experience to Illinois and use it on our beloved whitetail herd. The problem is that whitetails are not waterfowl and in the past 20 years Paul Shelton has yet to figure that out.

Today the Illinois deer herd is in serious trouble and Illinois deer hunters are finally seeing it. Most are blaming two straight years of massive deer die-offs from EHD as the culprit. They are only partially right. Today’s deer herd disaster is the result of 2 years of EHD and 20 years of bad management. The quality of Illinois deer herd has been slowly trending downward for some time but the casual deer hunter didn’t see it and most wouldn’t even acknowledge the possibility … until this year.

With a firearms season harvest that was down 25% statewide and archery harvest figures likely to mirror those of the gun seasons, eyes have been opened and voices raised. The thing is, most of those who are finally upset have no idea how bad things really are. The “harvest” may be down roughly 25% since last year but the “herd” is really down more like 70% in some areas. On top of that, if you compare this year’s firearms harvest to that of 2005, it is actually down 40%. If you think the deer hunting was off this year, mark my words, the worst is yet to come.

IDNR biologist Paul Shelton and his cohorts John Buhnerkempe and Tom Micetich are in over their heads and yet have never worked under a DNR director with the guts, motivation, desire or wisdom to rein them in and get them on track. Current director Marc Miller seems to be no different. Team Shelton has destroyed the great deer herd nurtured to life by Loomis and Calhoun, yet I am not sure if that fact is as sad as having a string of IDNR directors without the concern for Illinois deer herd to insist that the management of our deer herd get back on track. I find it frustrating and more than a bit odd that Illinois fish biologists do an awesome job of managing Illinois waters for quality fishing with well-designed regulations such as creel limits and size limits, yet our whitetail biologist manage our deer herd like high-school drop-outs using $1.99 Wal-Mart calculators.

I personally was at a meeting in Decatur a few years back where John Buhnerkempe was telling a group of hunters about the approach they take to manage Illinois deer herd. Buhnerkempe said that they simply look at the herd numbers at the beginning of the season and set a goal of how many of those deer they want to be killed by the end of the hunting season. He went on to explain that they don’t care how those deer are killed or which ones are killed, they just want to get the herd down to a specific number. I’m serious folks, that is Illinois’ whitetail management approach in a nutshell. No regard at all is given to setting regulations that will improve sex-ratios or age structure. Nope, just go out and kill X number of deer. What’s worse is they can’t even do this right as evidenced by this year’s dramatic drop in harvest. They are so slow to react to changes within the deer herd that calling them “reactive” rather than “proactive” is too kind. It takes them years to even address a problem and never really admit that there was a problem to begin with. Again, mark my words, we haven’t seen the worst yet.

This leaves us with the obvious question of “where do we go from here?” Personally I hold out almost no hope that we will ever again see a deer herd of the quality that we once had. I have heard a couple of older hunters note that we still have more deer today than we did in the early 1970s so we can turn things around and have a good deer herd again in a few years. Let me give you three reasons why this won’t happen.

First and foremost we had Loomis and Calhoun in charge in the early 1970s whereas today we have Shelton, Buhnerkempe and Micetich. The former were clearly cutting edge pioneers whereas I have seen absolutely nothing from the latter to hint that they even care about the resource that they are in charge of managing. On top of this IDNR director Marc Miller has shown me nothing to indicate that he will step in and insist that the ship be righted. Strike one.

Secondly we have a lot more deer hunters today than we had during the 1970s. I would venture to guess that we probably have 4 or 5 times as many deer hunters now as compared to then. That represents a lot more pressure on a resource that now needs to be expanded rather than simply maintained at current levels. On top of that we now have a younger generation of deer hunters who do not remember the days when we had so few deer that a hunter would typically go years between deer harvests. Most of today’s deer hunters have always hunted during a period when they could easily kill multiple deer each and every year. It won’t be easy, and will likely be impossible, to get this group to accept a more limited role as true conservationists. Strike two.

Finally, Illinois politics will never allow for the proper management of our whitetail deer herd. Besides the fact that hunters themselves cannot agree on what is best for the herd, we also have to throw in the wishes of groups like insurance companies who want all the deer gone and are willing to fork over the bucks (pun intended) to see that their opinion carries plenty of weight with politicians who make key decisions regarding the management of our deer herd.

Let’s face it, IDNR director Marc Miller is simply in his position because he was appointed to be there by Governor Quinn. It is no secret that Illinois politics is a dirty business and Marc Miller is really nothing more than a puppet whose strings are being pulled by someone else. Strike three.

In a perfect world the management of big game herds is left to qualified professionals. That is what created the Illinois deer herd that was truly the best deer herd on the planet. Loomis and Calhoun loved what they were doing and did so without politics tying their hands. The Shelton gang has clearly demonstrated that not only do they not know what they are doing with regards to deer management; they also don’t seem to care. Illinois politics is simply the final nail in the coffin.

Loomis and Calhoun left us the greatest whitetail herd of any state in the nation as their legacy. Now it’s Shelton and Millers turn to leave theirs. Just as decades later I remember and reminisce about Loomis and Calhoun, so too will others someday do the same with Shelton and Miller. Shelton created this disaster and this is clearly his legacy. IDNR director Marc Miller didn’t create this mess but he clearly came on board in time to turn it around. He didn’t. Instead he went along with status-quo and the wheels came completely off the bus under his watch. Shelton won’t do anything to right the ship, I am certain of this.

From what I have seen from Miller, I don’t really expect him to do anything significant enough to make a real difference either. Mark my words, we haven’t seen the worst. I just hope that 30 or 40 years from now someone remembers the names Shelton, Micetich and Buhnerkempe as the ones who destroyed the world’s greatest whitetail deer herd just as clearly as I remember Loomis and Calhoun as the ones who created it.

About the Author
Don Higgins is a freelance outdoor writer from Shelby County, Illinois who has had articles published in just about every major outdoor magazine. Don has also authored 2 books on hunting whitetails and operates Higgins Outdoors, a multi-faceted company specializing in wildlife habitat consultation and creation. He can be reached through his website – www.higginsoutdoors.com

DonsBookCoverScreen shot 2014-01-02 at 8.46.11 PM

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A Head Scratcher and Kentucky Elk

For the last several years, I have joined some 35,000 individuals who have entered an annual lottery for a Kentucky elk tag. In all, 90 hunters will receive a tag to bow hunt the burgeoning herd that roams the Bluegrass State.

Waddell and Mundt, who are both among my favorite professional outdoorsmen, pose behind Waddell’s 2012 Kentucky elk. Photo borrowed from facebook.com/RealtreeOutdoors

Before I go further I want to go on the record, and be crystal clear, that this post is not in any way a bash on celebrity hunters. In fact, it’s far less about them – in this case two of the most popular in the country – and more about a program that decided to provide tags to celebrities sans the normal procedure for obtaining one.

I noticed a Facebook post this evening highlighting the successful exploits of Michael Waddell and Nick Mundt of each taking a bull elk this week in Kentucky. Congrats to those two Bone Collectors for closing the deal.

But I’m left scratching my head a little bit on what the “deal” actually was here. If I’m doing my scratch-pad math correctly, the chances of both hunters (neither a resident) drawing a Kentucky tag this year is less than .00013%. And that’s rounding up!

Providing “media” tags to out-of-state hunters for the purpose of highlighting and promoting a state’s hunting attributes is not a new practice. For years the state of Iowa has provided annual tags in order to get their state in focus on television. And they’re certainly not alone.

I point to both of those states, though, after feeling the same level of confusion with why they’re doing it at all.

Here’s why:

In both cases – Kentucky for elk tags, and Iowa for whitetail deer – the demand for tags far outweighs the supply of tags. The famous economic supply/demand curve shows that in this case, the two are in different countries.

It takes no fewer than two years to be selected for a non-resident archery tag in Iowa, considering that most hunters try in the first year, are denied and provided a preference point, and then re-apply the following year. That’s the minimum time I’m aware of for the large contingent of hunters I know who apply each year. Three years is becoming more the norm for those hunters.

Winning the lottery, literally, in Kentucky is seemingly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

So why do either of these states, or the large groups of others, supply these tags to hunters in order to be featured on their television program? My spidey senses say at the core it has something to do with dollars and little sense, but I’m sure some politician getting ready to seek re-election can provide a better explanation than me.

Perhaps it’s to shine light on the successful conservation efforts by a lot of groups to re-introduce elk to Kentucky (side note: pretty amazing is the success of this program, by the way. It’s a testament that pretty much pokes anti-hunters, ones who doubt hunting as a fantastic conservation tool, right square in the eye).

For now, though, I’m left to ponder the logic alongside more than 34,000 other hunters who don’t stand a chance of getting drawn for a Kentucky elk tag next year!


At the Tip of the Sword.

By Kenny Roberts
AHT Contributor

Each year, as we approach the Memorial Day holiday, my thoughts turn to those who have served in the military for our country and those who gave the “last full measure of devotion” (as delivered by Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 1863, Gettysburg, Penn.).

The Red, White and Blue

There may be more sacred holidays – I certainly will not question that. However, I truly believe that the Memorial Day holiday is a special time and that we as Americans should take some of it to reflect on the true meaning.

As outdoorsman and hunters, I think we as a whole hold a great appreciation for our military and those who make the sacrifice to preserve our freedom. Maybe it is the camouflage clothing, the weapons that our military personnel carry, the utilization of cover in military tactics or event the weather elements that they endure; whatever the reasoning is – we generally hold our military personnel in great regard.

Many years ago my brother-in-law, Richard Fasnacht, and me took my nephew Kevin Green to my hunt club for an afternoon of target shooting with my Marlin .22. Kevin was probably 7- or 8-years old at the time. After discussing the importance of gun safety and getting Kevin familiar with the rifle, we placed a couple of aluminum cans 15 yards from our shooting location and gave Kevin the o.k. to “fire-at-will.”

Kevin settled the stock against his shoulder, acquired the target in the scope and deliberately and safely released the safety mechanism.

He focused his attention and the crosshairs of the scope on the aluminum can and after numerous seconds of concentration, he pulled the trigger. The can rattled as the bullet passed through it. We placed another cartridge in the chamber of the rifle and the same sequence occurred over-and-over again.

Kevin never once pulled the trigger until he was fully confident that the target was centered in the crosshairs. The delay between acquiring the target and the report of the rifle seemed like an eternity to us veteran shooters who were standing behind him. Can after can fell to the ground as the bullets ripped through them.

The next fall Kevin joined my duck-hunting mentor, Bill Valentine, and me on a morning duck hunt in Richmond Hill, Ga.

Kevin was still too young to handle a shotgun and he had yet completed his hunter safety course, so he simply hid along the creek bank while Bill and I scratched out a few wood ducks. Although he was not “hunting” with us, he was there and seemed to enjoy the camaraderie and watching the sun come up over our little duck-hole.

Several years later, Richard and I accompanied Kevin on his first deer hunt in eastern North Carolina. No deer were harvested, but several were spotted and I recall one in particular that ran by fairly close to our position. As the small buck passed by, Richard instructed Kevin to not take the shot due to the distance and the probability of not making a humane kill. Even though extremely excited, Kevin did not question the advice or decision.

The next year, Richard and I once again took Kevin deer hunting on property in Alamance County, NC. I placed Kevin in a ladder stand at the base of my feet on a cold November morning prior to sunrise.

As the sun peaked over the horizon and the anticipation of primetime deer movement approached, Kevin turned over his shoulder to me and informed me that he felt as if he was going to be sick. Seconds later, his premonition came true and we exited the stand and went back to the truck for a little heat and an hour-long nap. Apparently the excitement of the moment, in the deer stand – one of the most productive deer stands I have hunted from, his two uncles with him and the anticipation of harvesting his first deer were more than his young nerves could handle.

You simply cannot put a price tag on that type of excitement and enthusiasm that he showed that morning.

Kevin (third from left) joined Kurt, Dave and his Uncle Kenny on Ossabaw Island for wild hog hunts


Our next great hunting adventure with Kevin was our hog hunting trip to Ossabaw Island, Ga. My brother, Ronny, my good buddies Kurt Culbert and Dave Casey “allowed” Kevin to join our fraternity of hog hunters on the island (a.k.a. the Hat Creek Pig Company). This is a high-intensity, powder-burning hunt!

Hogs are numerous and around each bend or in each slough you encounter, hogs that are found are met by a large number of gun reports!

Obviously, safety is of utmost importance and that point was stressed over-and-over again with Kevin. Throughout the trip, though, Kevin handled himself as if he was a seasoned hunter. And at no time did he violate any of the golden rules of hunting gun safety! Around the evening campfire, he was just another one of the guys and he fit right into our little band of brothers.

Kevin participating in PT as part of the Jr. ROTC


Hunting, and the outdoor lifestyle in general, afford us an excellent opportunity to mentor our youth and teach them many life skills. My hunting and fishing companions are not randomly selected, nor is it based on what opportunities they may provide me in the field. They are role models – people I trust and people that I would allow my own child to be under their supervision. They are people that I knew would have a positive impact on my nephew.

Now I would like to clarify something very important: My hunting companions or I will not take any credit for the man that Kevin has grown to become. That credit goes to his most important mentors, his mother and father.

Kevin, along with his parents Jeanie and Randy (and niece), at his recent graduation


I would simply like to say “thank you” to Randy and Jeannie for allowing us (and I think I can speak for Richard, Bill, Ronny, Kurt and Dave) the opportunity to expose Kevin to the lifestyle that we so dearly appreciate. It was our honor and privilege to have Kevin join us on these hunting trips and adventures. We look forward to them continuing for many years in the future.

I am extremely proud as both an uncle, and an American, to report that our hunting buddy Kevin Green graduated from Army basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. on March 2, 2012.

Kevin Green, 101st Airborne Div., 1st Brigade Combat Team (1 BCT “Bastogne”), 327th Inf. Regiment


Kevin is now stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with the 101st Airborne Div., 1st Brigade Combat Team (1 BCT “Bastogne”), 327th Inf. Regiment.

Allow me to quote a passage from the Soldier’s Creed: “I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I AM AN AMERICAN SOLDIER.”

It is comforting to know that at the tip of the sword of our country’s military forces are fine young men and women like Kevin Green!


Season Recap – Antler Discovery

Four antlers, two deer and one lucky hunter. That pretty much sums up my 2011 hunting season. As documented here on AHT I killed a deer dubbed ‘The Ghost Buck’ on Nov. 19 with archery tackle in hand.

'The Ghost Buck' Mount

The only history I had with the deer was a single trail camera photo – or so I thought.

On Nov. 23 I tagged another hit list deer I had dubbed ‘The Shed Buck.’ I had both sets of sheds from the deer from the previous year. I was thrilled with the outcome of my season – one that I deem my best in my nearly quarter century hunting career.

'The Shed Buck' - And The Sheds


The story however got even better in early April when I picked up ‘The Ghost Buck’ from my taxidermist. After securing the buck in the trophy room and admiring him I recalled a set of sheds my then 3-year-old son and I had retrieved the previous year. We had found the sheds just a stone throw away where I arrowed the buck.

The Sheds

I dug through the shed pile and located the antlers in question. I held them up to the mounted animal and was amazed to see that they were a near perfect match. The deer had grown significantly, but carried the same characteristic – sweeping beams with small times, and more of them on his left side. There’s no doubt in my mind that indeed the antlers I found in 2010 are a match set to ‘The Ghost Buck.’ This discovery means I have matching sheds to both bucks I killed in 2011. You can’t ask for a more satisfying feeling in the deer hunting woods.

Proof that passing young deer grows bigger deer.

To say I’m tickled would be an understatement. We’ve put a lot of effort, time and money into growing deer on our properties.

My accomplishments in 2011 are the result of this effort. Taxidermy photos of ‘The Shed Buck’ expected in early May.


When Deer Attack …

Among the several reasons I share for hunting deer, I can honestly say “self defense” has never been one of them.

After an unusual deer:human encounter last week in Preston, Idaho, I think protecting citizens from deer is a fine enough reason to hunt.

The screen shot shows the corn field where a struggle with a muley took place (image borrowed from localnews8.com)

AHT reader Jason Shell sent along the following story.

According to LocalNews8 in Idaho Falls, jogger Sue Panter was attacked by a shady mule deer as she ran alongside a corn field. She knew right away that something was unusual about the animal as it walked parallel with her as she made her way down the roadway. Could you imagine the fear?

Thankfully, for Panter, Michael Vaughan and his 17-year old daughter Alexis were able to play the roles of hero to make sure the buck didn’t kill Panter in the freak accident. And according the report, it was Alexis who should most be credited with going to combat against the muley.

The story is well worth reading. Click here for the written and video stories. Perhaps a rut-crazed young buck? Idaho officials are in search of the deer to try and figure that out.


The “Majors” of Hunting

Fresh on the heels of a fantastic Super Bowl, and just a few wake-up calls short of the biggest NASCAR race of the season – the Daytona 500 – I wonder what would be considered the “majors” for hunters.

My hunting buddy, Jason Shell, and I pondered the topic last weekend. And for the most part, he and I are in accordance with what we consider the “majors” in our hunting minds. There is no question that majors of hunting are quite a bit different from the top events in sports like golf. With hunting, it surely is a more individual thing.

Hunting elk with a bow is among this blogger's "majors" in hunting!

I think most hunters in our country would consider hunting the majestic whitetail in the midwest as one of their majors. After several trips to the corn belt, and seeing some of the deer that roam those parts, I would easily agree, and I consider chasing deer there one of my favorite pastimes.

Having the opportunity to hunt elk with a bow is one of the majors I hope to accomplish someday. It’s a dream I’ve had for a number of years. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself expedition or with an outfitter, having the chance to get within bow range on a bugling 1,000-pound elk is on my bucket list! Could you imagine? I’m envious of all my friends who have had the opportunity to do that!

Also on my to-do list is hunting mule deer, chasing a 30″ monster in the western part of this fine Union. Consider this a slight hint to a certain friend who grew up in North Logan, Utah, to think about hooking his favorite blogger up with the right folks to make that happen!

At some point in my hunting career, I’m going to schedule my spring around completing the Grand Slam in turkey hunting. Fueled partially by the end of deer and duck season and the turkey season being next on my hunting agenda, I get ridiculously excited about considering the challenge of completing the royal flush of hunting thunder chickens – successfully killing all four major subspecies of turkeys (Eastern, Merriam’s, Osceola and Rio Grande). I know of several friends who have accomplished this feat and, once again, I’m envious. This is one where family and work might make it hard to achieve until retirement, but mark my words that it will happen at some point! I can’t wait.

Much like golfers who lift above all else the possibility of holding all “majors” in one season, I can’t help but think that completing all the “majors” above in the same year would be the greatest of all hunting achievements.

Of course, it would come with a helluva taxidermy bill!

Tales: Just a heads up that the Daytona 500 will air live on Fox, Feb. 20. Green flag is slated for 1 p.m. EST.


The Hit-List Buck Falls

By Greg Johnston
AHT Guest Contributor

Grandpa always said he’d rather be lucky than good, but on opening day of the New York firearms deer season, I was a little of both.

Rewind one week to Nov. 13 when my hunting pal, John Koska, and I were hunting my family’s property in Livingston County.

The author with his Great 8 2010 NY buck


It wasn’t long into the hunt and I felt the vibration from my phone in my safety vest. The message was clear and to the point: “Shooter chasing a doe.”

After a short while John gave me a call and said he watched the buck breed the hot doe and then work past the treestand with the doe at about 25 yards. John said the doe trotted through the shooting lane and that the buck had followed. Not feeling comfortable trying to squeeze a Carbon Express arrow through the young saplings, he elected to pass the questionable shot. You have to respect that.

My question to him was “where did the buck go?” He answered “west,” and that gave me an idea. I had a treestand at the bottom of the hill where the buck seemed to be working towards and with the doe in heat I was confident he wouldn’t go far.

It took multiple encounters for this mature buck to fall

So, I packed my gear, climbed down from my stand and hiked to the truck. From there I drove around the block where I planned on entering the same block of timber, but from the west side. It’s probably about 9:30 a.m. or so at this point.

I eased up the hill and reached the stand. Once settled, I could see a flurry of activity up the hill and it wasn’t long before several does worked by. I then caught a flash of something running and knew that mature buck was exactly where I anticipated he’d be. This meant two things: First, I’d positioned myself so the shooter was now in between John and me; and Second, I was now in a position to try and kill him.

With the help of my 10x42s I could see the brute laying into a tree about 90 yards away. I watched for a few minutes and examined him. “Man, he’s got cool-looking bladed main beams,” I thought.

What now?

I decided to grunt – all while watching him through my binos. He didn’t react, so I became more aggressive with a snort wheeze. At this point I realized it wasn’t meant to be. There is no replacement for love and this bad boy was in it.

At 12:30 p.m. I called it quits, as my son’s birthday party was the next day and I had to tend to some household chores.

With that, I hung up the Bowtech for another year and headed to work for the week, waiting for the following Saturday – the opening of firearms season – to roll around.

John and I talked and decided that the “Great 8” had leapfrogged his way to the top of the hit list.

On opening morning, I was carrying my Remington 1100 Special 20 gauge and entered the woods just hoping that I’d have a chance at the buck – or at least a mature buck. The morning hours came and went with many shots fired, but none from inside the perimeters of our property.

I backed out for lunch and John, my Dad and I discussed the afternoon hunt. After a sandwich, we were back at it. I reached the stand around 2 p.m. and settled in. Shortly after, a doe and yearling worked by. From there it gets a little blurry, because I dozed off in the stand. What? You’ve never done that? Whatever…!

Okay, after my cat nap I awoke to a much calmer woods. The wind, which had been stiff out of the west, had faded and the conditions had improved.

I sat and texted back and forth with John as he was hunting a stand in the middle of our property. It wasn’t long after that I caught movement to my right. Guess who? At 85 yards I struggled to find a clear lane to squeeze a Berennke through. That is until he stopped to work a scrape. I steadied my recticle on him and fired.

Bang.

The deer whirled, ran 10 feet and stopped. Bang. I fired again. This time, he went on a dead run through the woods, but angling towards me and closing the distance. I knew the second shot had hit him, but I wasn’t sure where.

I begged him to stop. And at 60 yards my recent string of bad luck ended as he applied the brakes. Bang. I shot a third time and with that he disappeared over the nearby gully.

So, you’d rather be lucky than good? Grandpa was right! Me too. That third shot had found its mark and entered his front shoulder.

I waited awhile and eased my way along the edge of the gully. What I saw at the bottom of the gully was the end of a lengthy, season-long quest. The “Great 8” was down! I stood at the top of the bank for 10 minutes or so collecting my thoughts before descending down to put my hands on him.

I couldn’t believe it had happened. I called John and told him the news. He was pumped and made his way over for the celebration.

Now my problem was talking my wife into another taxidermy bill. It’s like Dierks Bentley sings: Man what was I thinking?