Despite nearly taking a bullet to his head courtesy of a December rifle hunter (see previous post: Close Call Coues Caper), the husband unit returned to Mt Graham to archery hunt in 2011. 99% of the time, he does not see another hunter in the woods.
Now in January he had a glimpse of a Coues deer with a large antler rack. Quite thrilling to see and an accomplishment to harvest. But as the saying goes: “you can’t eat antlers.”
So when a spike buck came walking straight at him last Friday, while he was eating lunch, there was no hesitation. He put his plate in his lap, lifted his bow, and when the deer turned to present a perfect broadside view, he killed it with one arrow at 32 yards (29 meters.) Needless to say, he has never killed a deer with a plate of food in his lap. Very bizarre.
He phoned me and I zipped up to his location in about 15 minutes. We spoke words of thanksgiving for the food the deer will provide us. I helped with the field dressing. Then I took pictures. This young animal was living at about the 6000 foot (1828 meter) elevation in the oak-juniper woodland. His fatal mistake was thinking the hunting season was finished, as well as recklessly strolling near highway 366 late on a sunny morning within range of old dead-eye!
That night I prepared the heart for dinner as the organ meats are the fastest to spoil. And I love venison heart. It was excellent.
Over the following days I wrapped and froze the rest of the animal. And every night since we ate more venison, until tonight. I finally wearied of it and grilled chicken instead.
Archery hunter success rates in Unit 31 are in the single digit percentile. My husband hasn’t taken a buck here since 2005. Mt Graham is extraordinarily rough hunting. Everything is either straight up or straight down. The air is thin. He was hunting in a “low” elevation at 6000 feet (1828 m) and under. But if a person is willing to test their mettle, Mt Graham will reward. Maybe not with meat every year, but with beauty and freedom.