BLACK JACK BUCK: by Kurt Lawson
The 2015 Utah hunting draws came around and they sent out the email every hunter wants to get. I had finally been successful in drawing the limited entry elk permit I have been trying to get for years, in addition to a Pine Valley archery deer tag. My main focus would be harvesting a great elk. For the next two months every weekend was spent scouting, checking trail cams, and putting feed out. However, after 21 days of hunting hard every day, I realized this was not the year to draw this tag. The hunt started too early, mother nature wasn’t cooperating, and there were way too many hunters.
Half way through the hunt I met a guy named Kemp Barney who had the same tag that I did. For the remainder of the hunt all this man (who is an Army vet) wanted to do was help find me an elk. We hunted up until the last hour of the last day, but we weren’t able to get an elk to come within bow range. Thanks to Utah’s extended archery hunt, I contacted my good friend and owner of Rocky Mountain Rednecks, Steven James, to help steer me in the right direction for an elk, deer, or both. On Thursday morning we headed up the mountain in search of animals. It was obvious after seeing only deer that the animal of choice was going to be a buck. We saw a few bucks early on but nothing I wanted to take.
Later in the day we glassed a very nice two point that was worth going after. Unfortunately, after a 25 minute stalk the buck winded us and was gone. The rest of the day was spent behind the glass without success. The alarm went off early Friday morning and, while still motivated, we hit the mountain just as the sun was coming up. The next three hours were spent glassing, but all we saw were a lot of hunters. That evening I had a second chance at the same two point that I had stalked the morning before and I missed and shot over his back. As it turns out, I am so glad I missed him.
Saturday I was going to be hunting by myself. Steven had informed me that hiking for two days on a broken foot was enough and he needed to rest. Even with a broken foot the man is a billy-goat. The day started on a side hill glassing for deer. This morning I was amazed at the number of hunters. I chose to sit and see if they would push anything to me, resulting in a video of a very small spike. After the morning hunt I hiked out and found a high point to glass until the night hunt began. I called my wife to let her know how the hunt was going and that I couldn’t believe how many hunters were up there. She offered me her positive support and encouraged me to seal the deal.
As I was glassing, a couple of elk hunters stopped and started doing the same thing. We talked while we glassed, exchanged some pics and swapped hunting stories. One of the guys located a nice four point pushing a doe down the draw. We all watched him for a bit. About 15 minutes later one of the guys noticed there was another buck coming along the hillside behind the other two. He was bigger and it looked like he had trash. As he got closer we debated my best plan of action. They told me to jump in my truck, drive down, set up on a small knoll, and wait for them to come up the draw.
By the time I had made it to the small knoll the deer were already in the draw below me. The buck with the trash must have winded me a bit because he turned and started back down the canyon. After ranging the only opening there was, I waited for him to step out from the trees. Then, making a kissing sound to stop him, I drew my bow, settled my pin right behind his shoulder, and sent my arrow on its way. I thought I heard the THWACK that every bow hunter loves to
hear, but he didn’t react like I had hit him. He moved from my line of sight. I waited about 15 minutes before going to see if I could find my arrow or blood. When I got down to where he should have been, there was no arrow or blood, so I started down the draw slowly. Twenty-five yards below me, laying in an opening, was my buck. When I walked up to him all I could see was trash everywhere. I stood in awe of this buck I had just harvested.
When it finally sank in I let out the biggest scream. I cried and paid homage to the animal. I counted the points; he was a 9x10. I was still in shock. I finally called my wife and told her I had just killed a buck of a lifetime. I think the first thing out of her mouth was, “See what staying persistent and positive will do for you?” Next I called Steven and told him, broken foot or not, I needed his help capping and packing him out. I sent him a picture and he about died. He called me back and said he would be there as soon as possible.
While waiting I sent a picture to another good friend of mine, Ron Elmer, who also hunted the extended archery. He told me later that he got my picture while driving and when he realized what buck I had killed he almost crashed. He called me back and told me I had just killed the legendary buck they call Blackjack. I learned that this buck has been hunted for years and he even sent me a picture of him in the velvet.
When Steven finally arrived he confirmed that it was indeed Blackjack. Steven also brought with him his father in law and his uncle to help with the capping and pack out. I want to thank all three of them because I couldn’t have done it without them. I would also like to thank my wife, who also bowhunts, for putting up with my hunting addiction and for always believing in me (even when I was doubtful). On the way home I met up with Ron Elmer (GameGear.com and BonedOut Production) and Kelly Cox (ivideowildlife.com) who graciously helped score Blackjack. Green score 210 ¾ now I just have to wait the 60 days to have him officially scored. BLACKJACK is a buck of a lifetime and I will be on cloud nine for quite awhile.