Well, I drew out for my Book Cliffs muzzle loader hunt this year and was elated. I headed out there on the 21'st not having anytime to do any preseason scouting but I know the area and knew where I wanted to be.
The first night we took a ride down Mc Cook Ridge and only saw small 2 points with nothing to brag about but then we were just riding in the truck. The next morning we headed down the Divide Road seeing deer all the way along it, but again they were 2pts, 3pts, and 3x4pt bucks.
We also saw a few duskey grouse (blues to us old folks) and bagged them for the upcoming Sunday dinner.
Opening morning found me in familiar territory that I hadn't hunted since they closed the unit back in 1996. I had small bucks all around me all morning but nothing to even think about popping a cap on. I headed back to camp for lunch and then went out afterwards to see what I could scare up. I hadn't see a thing and I believe it was because it was in the 80's I headed back to camp. When I got there my partner told me of a couple of huge bucks that were feeding on a gas platform that we could see from camp. I figured that I could just walk down the road and get me one of them. The only problem was that when I got to the platform I had to walk up a short hill to be able to see the bucks, I went anyway. Just as I started up the hill they busted me. I only had a head shot on the smaller one, a beautiful 5x5 with long eye guards. He wasn't wide but very tall and heavy. The bigger buck a even larger 4x4 with long eye guards and very, very wide and heavy was standing behind the first one. Now this was at 20-30 yards, I just couldn't shoot. Then they were off down the hill away from me and my dreams. Both of these bucks would go well over 200 inches in the inch game, they were two of the larges bucks that I have ever seen out there and I will have nightmares for the rest of my life but I personally believe that I did the right thing.
For the next 3 days I hunted these two bucks with never seeing them again. I believe that I know where they went but I wasn't going there, that is a very young mans hunting country. I know since I had hunted it years ago. After I gave up on those two bucks I headed into new territory. I spotted a couple of nice bucks just going into the timber down on the ridge above Dicks Canyon but when I went in to the area the next day they were no where to be found either, I did however find a trail camera attached to a tree. So if you read this and it is your camera let me know, I would like to see the pictures on it.
As the hunt was coming to a closure I figured that I was going to take home some meat and that some of the larger 2pts would be OK to take home. The on the next to the last day at 6:45pm a real nice 3x3 walks out into the open. My season was finished in a heart beat. The shot at 70 yards with a 300 grain Thor/Barnes bulled hit him in the boiler room and he only made it 10 yards before he was down. He wasn't the one that I wanted but he is a very nice buck.
So to those with a Book Cliff general season tag the big bucks are still out there, you just need to find them. I am sure that the two that I saw headed down into a canyon that I have hunted many times but these old bones just won't take the abuse that hiking into and out of it puts on them. A friend asked if I was done putting in for the Books and I just looked at him and smiled. In two years when I am able to put in for them again I will look up the hunt number and put it onto my application and cross my fingers.
The Book Cliffs is just a magical place to me.