The Bugler

Lessons from a Legend

Story and Photos by Jim Huntsman

This was a day I would never forget. It was a cold September morning in 2014, the kind in which you can taste the mountain fog. I was a good mile or so from the truck and knew of this small meadow’s existence only because I had stumbled upon it three days earlier. The hunt was a new kind for me: whitetail deer. The steep climb to get to it required me to rest a moment before setting up to hunt.

Every year, the excitement is the same. I had been launching arrows from my bow for months in preparation, but because of very little experience with whitetails, I felt a sense of uneasiness, questioning my ability to get the job done. I was a mule deer hunter, and had confidence with that animal, which I lacked with the whitetail. It was high time to change that.

My wife Nicole and I had moved back to northern Idaho after four years in Utah. I had recently reached the six-month mark here and could purchase a resident hunting license. We had missed Idaho. The crystal-clear rivers, perfectly blue lakes, and seemingly endless coniferous forests of the Panhandle were worth the risky career move. I was excited to be home, especially in time for deer season.

I set up in a thick copse of trees at the edge of the meadow. I had been told by an expert whitetail hunter that the animal was somewhat habitual, and it was best to sit in the early morning and watch. I propped my pack against one of the trees and sat down, giving myself a great field of view. Time passed, and the mountain began coming to life for the day. Suddenly, movement at the corner of my vision made my heart skip a beat.

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