Whitetail Hunt: November 2014

Any true passionate hunter cherishes not only the rewards that may come from spending time afield, but also the memories made. As hunters and conservationists, the experiences we encounter and the lessons we learn in the field have a lasting impact. We carry these experiences, knowledge and memories with us throughout our everyday lives, and it shapes us into the people we are. The experience of hunting whitetail in the plains of Eastern Colorado alongside my father for the first time is a memory I will forever cherish and share proudly.

Three of the last four years, I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to hunt the elusive whitetail in the Eastern Colorado plains. Being from Houston, TX and having limited exposure to hunting the giant mid-western whitetails, it’s been an incredible change of pace. I am absolutely hooked on the spot and stalk method of pursuit that the plains provide, and the unrivaled quality of deer presents an addicting feeling of the unknown on what could present itself. The guides are not only unmatched, but are experts on hunting in the open country. I’m grateful for the hunts I’ve shared and friendships I’ve made with all of them. In October of 2013, a year prior to this hunt, I was fortunate to have harvested my biggest whitetail to-date with a muzzleloader.

With all the countless hours of sharing my stories of hunting Eastern Colorado with my Dad, he had enough of it and decided that it was time for him to experience the thrill. With that said, my Dad and I booked a 5-day “father & son” 2×1 hunt together during the October rifle season. Although I was dead-set on using a bow, I was able to acquire a rifle tag so that we were able to hunt side-by-side.

After a 14-hour drive from Houston, we arrived at the ranch house the day before the rifle opener to get settled in, sighted in and acclimated. This was my Dad’s first guided Whitetail hunt of any significance, so it was amusing and pleasurable to see him in such a trance. We set out that afternoon to do some scouting with our guide and cameraman. To say the least, we were excited about the coming days as we spotted a lot of deer, including one potential shooter buck. The truck was loaded with confidence as we headed back to the ranch house that evening, ready to start the season.

The first morning we strategically positioned ourselves on a hill-side to overlook miles of creek bottom on a particular ranch that has been known to produce giant Whitetails over the previous years. With a bow in hand, I requested that my Dad have the first crack at a shooter buck we find. Not because of the higher likelihood of successfully harvesting a buck with the rifle, but because it would have meant a lot to me to make him priority and witness such a special moment. We saw numerous bucks the first day, including a few solid bucks. It was about a week out from the peak of the rut, so bucks were cruising and marking their territories. We even heard fighting within the salt cedars along the creek bottom. The beauty that the prairie farm lands produce and mystery of what lies within was so overwhelming that minutes felt like seconds during the hunt.

It was only the second morning of hunting this ranch when we made our first move on a buck. Sitting in the same spot upon a hillside, around 8:30am, our guide excitedly whispered repeatedly as he looked through his spotting scope, “That’s a typical 12!” Within a minute of spotting this buck, we quickly headed down the hillside towards the creek bottom in pursuit to hopefully intercept him before he got downwind of our position. Within an instant, you go from calm, collected and still, to excited and almost running. It’s the ultimate rush in Whitetail hunting that my Dad and I rarely get to experience due to Texas-style hunting. It’s what hunting in Eastern Colorado is all about. As we were making our way through the creek bottom, we would stop and glass often to see exactly where the buck was. At some point, we lost sight of him. We were questioning if the wind swirled and he got our scent, or perhaps if we spooked a doe in the process. Regardless, it was exciting and now we knew exactly what we were after.

After that hunt, I made it very clear that I wanted my Dad to harvest that buck. I was willing to dedicate the rest of our trip to see that he got a crack at him. I would sacrifice and do whatever I needed to help him along the way. The fourth morning of the hunt is a memory that I thankfully get to carry with me forever. Not long after sun up as we all sat glassing the creek bottom and the crops that outline the west, our guide spotted the typical 12 heading our direction with a few other bucks. We knew this was the morning, and still far off, we were granted enough time to devise a plan of attack and let the nerves settle a bit. Observing through the spotting scope, it was the first time I was able to get a good look at the buck, and the last thing I was going to do was tell my Dad just how big he really was.

Our guide asked if I would stay back on the hillside and take watch through the spotting scope as they made a move on the buck. Just in case he spooks or something goes wrong, I’d be able to watch him to see where he goes. Without any hesitation, I agreed and wished my Dad luck as he quickly gathered his composure and followed closely behind our guide and cameraman down the hillside. Shaking intensely from the cold and excitement, I would watch the buck through the spotting scope and also keep track of their progression towards him. As the buck made his way down a fence line, rubbing every single post along the way, I lost sight of my Dad, our guide and cameraman somewhere within the salt cedars in the creek bottom. What seemed like an eternity and anxiously waiting for a rifle discharge, the buck moved in front of some trees and out of my line of vision. As I became uneasy, it wasn’t two minutes later I heard the sound of my Dad’s rifle and no sight of the buck.

I noticed all the other deer in the field running away, so I was certain he made a successful shot. Without being able to see anything, I excitedly called my older brother, Jayme, to tell him what had just happened. Jayme had hunted with me in Eastern Colorado the previous two years, and holds such moments as I was witnessing close to his heart, as well.

 

After getting off the phone and minutes of waiting, I could faintly hear their voices as they celebrated with the buck. Not long after, I noticed our guide and cameraman making their way back to me as they left my Dad with his trophy. After some fist pumps, high fives and hugs, we gathered up all of the gear and started making our way towards the truck to go pick up my Dad and the buck. As we were walking, our guide asked if I’d like to go meet my Dad with his deer, and they would take the rest of the stuff to the truck. Without hesitation, I began a swift walk towards my Dad as I could see his blaze orange vest. The anticipation of seeing him, his excitement and his largest buck of his life was overwhelming. As I was walking towards him, I was shedding tears of joy and excitement. We had worked so hard all week for that buck, and I was so grateful he capitalized on the opportunity.

When I finally made it to him, he was smiling ear to ear and brought me in for a hug before I had the opportunity to look at the buck up close. The time spent admiring the buck with my Dad while waiting for our guide and cameraman to arrive is one of the best moments I’ve ever spent with him. It was truly remarkable.

Thankfully, not only were there impactful memories made, but a reward with this buck as well. My Dad’s buck was a mainframe typical 12 point with three abnormals, giving him 15 scorable points that total to 152 2/8” B&C. The buck had a 19” inside spread and 34 6/8” of mass. Truly a hunt to remember.

 

Trey Sperring

 

 

“I do not hunt for the joy of killing but for the joy of living, and the inexpressible pleasure of mingling my life however briefly, with that of a wild creature that I respect, admire and value.” ~ John Madson