A college football player and his dad share a hunt and take two of the biggest bucks of their lives.

Optics are an open-country mule deer bowhunter’s best friend. The trick to using them is learning to look for ants instead of elephants. Searching for large, grey bodies seldom yields results. More often than not, bucks are given away by small details that look a little out of place, like a white spot that turns out to be a rump or throat patch. The buck we were watching was given away by glare off an antler as he disappeared into a tangle. It had been a quick, distant glance, but I saw enough to know I wanted another look.

I was hunting the Eastern Plains of Colorado with my son, Lane, and for an hour or so we waited patiently, but only a couple of does emerged from the tangle. We knew the buck was still in there, but Lane didn’t have much time to hunt, so we needed to try to find one elsewhere.

The good news was it was the peak of the mule deer rut, when anything can happen! Two days prior, Lane had spotted a buck he was anxious to relocate. It was a narrow-framed buck with tremendous tine length. I wasn’t as impressed with him as Lane was, but he was convinced I’d misjudged him. Like most bowhunters, my dreams are haunted by stereotypically wide-framed muleys. That can lead to a tendency to underestimate bucks that lack spread. It really didn’t matter, though. The buck was just off the property we had permission to hunt, and now he was nowhere to be found. I didn’t mind. I was just happy to be hunting with my son.

I’m proud to say Lane is one of four young bowhunters I’ve raised, but without a doubt, he’s the one most smitten with it. When a kid insists on including his Hoyt bow in his senior pictures, you know he’s got it bad. The problem is, bowhunting isn’t his only true love. He has two — bowhunting and football — and those two passions don’t easily mix.

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