A re-post from the old blog...
I met Ty in Valle at noon on the Thursday before the opening day in Arizona's famous and bleak Unit 10. He brought enough stuff to camp for a month. On Wednesday he called me to let me know when to meet him in Valle. During our call I was driving down an old two tracker in an area I don't scout much and I hit the brakes and said, "Hold on just a sec!" There was a buck 100 yards out my window standing there looking at me - this never happens on the Plateau. I could hear Ty yelling through the phone though it wasn't next to my ear, "What do you see? How big? You're killing me man..." After just a short peak I grabbed the phone and quickly rattled off, "I'm looking at the buck you're gonna kill. I gotta go," and I hung up the phone. The buck started trotting off. I grabbed my back up camera, a Panasonic FZ30, and put it up to my scope to try and get some evidence before the buck disappeared. My pictures weren't very good.
The buck cleared a ridge and I hiked after him. I spotted him at just over 200 yards and took some pics with my real camera, though it wasn't quite made for this distance. The buck had short prongs, but great bottom mass. I thought he was about 16 inches. And knowing what I know about top mass I figured his tops were pretty big as well. I guessed him at 86 to 88 inches.
The night before the hunt I sat down with Ty and we reviewed all my photos. I showed him several bucks over 84 inches and 3 serious candidates for us to chase opening morning. One was in Aubrey Valley and the other two were on the Plateau. Our camp was right near Tin House on the Plateau so I hoped we wouldn't have to go to Aubrey, but I didn't tell Ty where the bucks were as I didn't want that to influence his decision.
I told him all 3 bucks were 86 inches on the conservative side and just told him to pick the one he liked the best.
He chose the buck in Aubrey. Ugh. With the road going through Rose Well closed we would have to drive clear around and it could take several hours. Looks like we were going to be waking up EXTREMELY EARLY in the morning.
And we did. I had an energy drink to get going and Ty helped keep me awake during the drive with more elk hunting stories than I'd ever care to remember! :) Turns out that Ty knows Chipper Jones and had guided many of the same hunters we had.
We got to Aubrey at exactly the right time, which was a little surprising as we weren't sure exactly how long the drive was going to take. We plodded down the dirt road and stopped to glass a few times before we spotted him. He was within a few hundred yards of where I had seen him last. No hunters in sight which was unusual. We started hiking. Two miles out and the buck herded up with some others and rutted his way clear to the other side of our truck. We hiked back. When we got to the truck we were both dripping with sweat though the morning was still a bit chilly. We re-planned, but while we did the buck made tracks right back to where we just were! Gr...
We hiked on him again as there weren't any roads in this area. This time, when we got to where the buck was, he decided to move away from us another two miles. We kept after him. We also noticed several hunting trucks just beyond him and wondered if anyone was chasing him.
We knew the buck was just on the other side of the ridge about 600 yards from us. BLAM! A gunshot rang out and Ty exclaimed, "They shot him!" We didn't even know who "they" were at the moment, but we knew "they" were very close to us and most likely firing at the buck we were after. The herd bolted and appeared directly in front of us running full speed without the herd buck! We scanned, no buck, all does. Our hearts sank and then it happened - the buck appeared, unscathed, nearly 300 yards behind the does. The buck paused on the hillside just 311 yards away. Ty dropped him.
The other hunters walked over to us afterward and they were very cordial. I wish I could remember their names, but one of them was a guide for Diamond Outfitters. Both were genuinely happy for Ty's success. Definitely an exciting hunt!
Ty waited (like most people) well over 20 years to draw this tag! We had a blast hunting together and hopefully we'll get to do it again real soon.
Ty's buck officially scores 90 3/8 SCI. Not much length or prong with those coming in at 15 3/8 and 15 4/8 and 5 4/8 and 6 1/8, but HUGE mass with his bottoms measuring 6 5/8 and 6 7/8 and then 7 5/8 and 7 6/8 under the prong. His tops were unreal at 5 7/8 and 5 6/8 just above the prong and 3 5/8 and 3 6/8 on his last measurement.