The next weekend found me and a friend I met in grad school on a hunt I've been trying to draw for a few years. It's a unit where I don't see many deer in but when I do they are usually mature bucks. I knew it would be a tough hunt, the areas I'd been in offer virtually no glassing opportunities and is all still hunting thick stuff. We hunted the first two days without seeing a single deer, a decent number of tracks but not an abundance of obvious buck sign and it's hard hunting. Steep, heavily wooded canyons with lots of crunchy pine needles and oak leaves to step on. I like to walk old logging roads because they are quieter. We were able to sneak up on a few elk and coyotes, but no deer. On day 3 we got up early for some new country on a recommendation from a friend. I misjudged how long it took to get there so it got light on us and going 60mph down the highway I saw some deer. I flipped around and we got out and glassed them and there were 5 deer. I could see 4 of their heads and they were all yearling bucks. My friend was looking and said "the first two are spikes. Oh, there's a bigger one." I hear his safety click off and I'm trying to see the last deer's head to see if it was a bigger one when he shot. 4 deer ran off and one lay dead. The one he shot is a fork horn, looks to be delicious. We hung and skinned it and broke down camp. Took it to the house and let it cool in the fridge awhile, then he left for the valley. He clarified later, by bigger he meant "not a spike." I'm no trophy guide (obviously) but I am happy to say I have now put this guy on his first bull elk, his first coyote and his first buck and he's clobbered every one of them. The next morning my little brother met me and we headed out to the new spot to check it out. We had never been out to that area so as the sun came up we would pull over and take short hikes and glass and check out the terrain and look for sign. Didn't see much deer sign but lots of elk sign and saw a few small bulls. Around 930am we were in between spots, looking for an old road to walk because we'd found some thick/steep canyons when I saw a deer standing in the trees. I thought I glimpsed antler tips but wasn't sure and my brother stopped with an tree branch blocking my view. He gets on the binoculars and says "it's a buck, get out and shoot it." As I got out I asked him how big it was. He could only see one side and said "it's a 3 point." I still couldn't clearly see his antlers, it was facing me and peering under a branch. I could just see his body and antler stumps on his head thru the scope. I centered it on his chest, fired, and he went down. After he crumpled, my brother said "dude, you just shot a BIG buck." We got over there and I couldn't believe what I had. Coues deer antlers aren't that big compared to muleys so when I couldn't see antlers sticking over the tree branch I assumed it was a small buck. I did notice while aiming that he looked pretty stout and his face looked older than what I'm used to shooting at but I wanted to get hime so i didn't pay it any mind. I'm a meat hunter and generally shoot the first little buck I come across. Anyway, I got over there and was met with this: I really shouldn't complain but I so much wish I would have glassed this buck up and pulled a sneak, or jumped him in a canyon, or caught him feeding along while still hunting a thick canyon, or even made a good shot on him at 500 yards. I hate that I got him driving between spots, in an area I've never been, and I had no idea how big he was until I got to him. BUT, I have put my time in on foot over the years and only once seen an animal of this class during deer season and I did not get that buck. I've seen them before a hunt only to have them disappear or get shot by someone else, but it was finally my turn. This is my 18th year of hunting big game and I've been dreaming of a buck this nice for longer than that. I sure hope it doesn't take me another 18 years to shoot another one but it was worth the wait. I've never needed to drag a tape out on a buck before but I did my first attempt tonight. I got 101 1/8 gross, 90 1/2 net Boone and Crockett. It doesn't even matter though what he scores, he's the first big set of horns I'll get to hang on the wall. I got to share it with my little brother who I never get to see and I realize now we didn't get a picture of the two of us. Guess we'll have to fix that when I get him back from the taxidermy man.