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Mikey Gets His Red Stag

When Mikey Jones of Vermont and I entered the Easton View Outfitters woods last Saturday, it was 5:45 a.m., and the young man asked me, “Are you going to get me a big elk?”

With my fingers crossed, I looked at that smiling face.

“You bet.”

It was hot as we made our way up the long hill to the edge of the woods. Mikey, who is having some medical problems, had hunted with me several years ago, and he wanted me to guide him again on this hunt.

Slowly and quietly, we entered the woods and hadn’t gone too far when Mikey whispered, “There they are,” and pointed to two elk about 50 yards away standing in some fallen trees. We waited for an opening, I got him in position and he shouldered his .270 rifle. It was a tough shot — close, but no hit.

As they ran off, I could see the disappointment in Mikey’s eyes, but I told him we would get one.

Our second encounter was about a quarter of a mile along the wood’s edge and they were, I believe, the same elk. We were again able to get a bit in front of him and waited for him to come to us. But after 20 minutes or so, he didn’t show, and we decided to sneak and peek our way into the woods. When we found him, there was another elk with him, moving through some heavy brush and downed trees — but we did find an opening in the brush and trees for a shot. It wasn’t a good shot, but Mikey took the shot and off they went.

Several hours later, now using a Kubota, we caught up with some elk and deer that I believed we could get down. Quickly, we made our way around and were able to back the Kubota into the heavy foliage and trees and wait about 50 yards from where I expected them to come out. Shortly thereafter, I was in the right spot, but unfortunately facing in the wrong direction. There the two of them stood less than 20 yards behind us. And, before Mikey could shoulder his gun, they disappeared.

We decided “no lunch,” and continued to hunt. There were several other almost-encounters that afternoon, and at about 4 p.m. John Bushee, of Vermont, and friend of the Jones family joined the hunt. He was a big help. Also joining us was Easton View Outfitters owner, Dave Vanderzee. It was about 4:30 p.m. when Dave called me and said he had seen the elk/red stags enter the swamp. So, Mikey, John and I headed down to the swamp.

Walking through this sinking mud made things difficult and not very quiet. It wasn’t too long after that Dave called and told us one was heading our way. John saw him first and pointed him out, and he and Mikey moved in quietly. From where I was, I could see him and Mikey shoot — and he hit him.

He went down and then up, heading out of the swamp. For the next several hours, we were all looking for the deer, and at 6:15 p.m. there was a shot followed by a phone call from Dave: “I got him.”

That long face on my buddy Mikey turned into one smiling and happy young man. As for the red stag, it was a large 14-pointer — definitely a trophy.

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