TOOL: Scoped Rifle RANGE: 190 yards WIND: 10 mph, left to right

Glassing from on high, I watched this love-struck pair slip into a patch of black timber shortly after daylight, and they never came out. A wide, circuitous hike put the wind in my favor, and an hour of careful still-hunting brought me to a small clearing where I peek out—and there they are. I couldn’t ask for a much better situation, the doe notwithstanding. This is my game to lose.

A quick glimpse is all that’s needed to confirm he’s a shooter. At first glance it appears he’s staring directly at me, causing a surge of urgency. But wait—his one ear is cocked back, a relaxed body posture. He hasn’t seen me. It’s peak rut and his attention is riveted on the doe, which at present is unwittingly keeping him alive. All the same, I must remain motionless.

It’s a waiting game, and two things need to happen. If the doe moves out of the way, I’ll have a clear shot. But 190 yards is a poke, too long for an off-hand shot, especially for an Easterner like me. I need the buck to turn his gaze just long enough for me to take a steady rest against the nearest lodgepole. Then, even if the doe is still obscuring his chest, I’ve got a clear neck shot. If she clears his vitals, it’s money in the bank.

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