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Living a Dream

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Scott Faiman mule deer

Scott Faiman poses for a photo with his buck during his 2014 bow hunt.

Just prior to standing from his bed, the buck's head drooped, my bow came to full draw and the game was on. This is the moment all bowhunters live for, in real time it can feel as though it is a dream, it’s now or never. Are months of practice and fine tuning about to pay off, or is it about to become another opportunity gone bad?

Being highly superstitious, I refused to shoot at the range two weeks prior to the opener as my last practice session was as good as it can get. I wanted to leave that last practice round and that last nearly perfect arrow as the image my mind would recall at the next moment of truth.

I think my son Chris felt as though his dad must have flown the coop as I tagged along to the range giving him a helping hand, but refused to shoot my own bow. A little chemical imbalance may be to blame, but so be it. I feel if your mental state is not “spot on,” the weakness is going to show. Bowhunting is a mind game of the highest highs and the lowest lows; failure can come time and time again, leaving even the finest tuned hunters on the planet wondering how it all went wrong.

2014 began with a successful draw in my favorite area. I didn’t do much scouting as I have hunted and combed through the area I prefer to hunt for nearly 30 years. I enjoy hunting the same couple square miles year after year. You get to know the mountain, every bed, every escape route, every hiding place; you develop a bond with the “Spirit of the Mountain." Serenity oftentimes consumes you as walk the spine of the mountain moving from basin to basin. It’s not just hunting; it’s also about discovery, strategizing, and being a free spirit. With knowledge gained through time locating a quality deer can be the easy part; finishing the deal through physical exertion and a well-planned stalk becomes the challenge.

The first couple days of the season were looking positive with a few good bucks being found. Unfortunately, they were located in terrain not well suited for a 52-year-old with a noisy knee. I visited all my favorite nicknamed big buck hangouts such as “Moby Dick," “The Cave," “The Hell Hole” and “Mike’s Tree."

On day two I found a solid 175” buck taking a snooze under “Mike’s Tree." He had a little bit of everything -- good mass, good width, good length, deep forks, matching brows -- I was very excited. The next thing I knew, about 75 elk came feeding through the basin and decided they also liked “Mike’s Tree." I believe I could see the big buck roll his eyes as he went over the skyline looking for a more peaceful place to spend the day.

A slow long hike back to the truck left me wondering where to begin tomorrow. I needed to find a buck that wasn’t one or two miles off the backbone of the mountain as my total lack of physical toughness was raising heck with how far I could venture in a day. The old adage “hunt smarter not harder” was front and center in my mind.

On day three it looked as though my favorite spot had suddenly become the favorite of a few others as I was following an exodus of camo-clad folks up the mountain. With all others going up, it seemed logical to do a 180. The area beneath me had been proven to hold some excellent bucks in the past.

About 15 minutes on the scope revealed a solid lone buck browsing in a drainage with tons of cover. I thought, “If only he would browse into the barren basin to the south." He did. The basin had only one buck brush clump he could use for shade. I thought, “I hope he lies under that solitary bush." He did. The morning was dead calm and I thought, “If the wind would blow from the southeast today I’d have a great chance." It never does, but a couple hours later it did just that.

This was the buck I was hoping to find; it is so much easier to stalk one than several. With all conditions in my favor, it looked as though sneaking into bow range could be achieved. Upon closer scrutiny he appeared to be a great buck with excellent symmetry, good mass and decent width. I scored him in my head at 165 inches, far above the 145 inches needed for a Pope and Young record book entry.

I gave him a couple of hours to settle down and the stalk began. I was about one hour from the buck and was hoping I could get in position before the afternoon thunderstorms created swirling winds. I crawled my way to within 25 yards of the buck brush, way too close, but the only area near with good visibility. I found a comfortable spot with several shooting lanes and settled in. I removed my arrow-filled quiver as it was a little breezy, then glassed and dissected the bed for approximately two hours without seeing any sign of a deer.

I was about to call it a fail. Then, movement of an antler tip confirmed he was there; the game was still on! The wait was stressful but peaceful as there were not any bugs, it wasn’t too hot or too cold and I was able to take a sip of water every now and then.

As I patiently waited, I was taking note of a storm cloud building to the west, the wind began going bad and something was about to happen. The buck had become nervous, looking one way then the other. At about the three-hour mark, his head drooped as if he was ready to stand and I came to full draw. He stood broadside, stared right at me and offered an opportunity. Less than one second later, the flight of the arrow looked good and the buck went down with the hit.

The affirmative pinch on the cheek confirmed it wasn’t a dream. It will never cease to amaze me how each deer taken with archery tackle is just as exciting as the first. I guess when you’re truly passionate about something, the excitement never ends. The adrenaline rush experienced when you’re having a stare-down with a trophy muley at 25 yards can only be replicated by being there. What a great hunt and what a memorable day. It’s not all that often you get all the planets to align on a public land deer hunt.

As I walked to the fallen buck, my emotions started getting the best of me. The older I get, the softer I have become with simple things such as great memories of smiling faces from past hunts bringing tears to my eyes. Being a little high mileage for my age, every passing season becomes a little more difficult to navigate the terrain and you begin to wonder how many more hunts you have in you.

I pulled my knife and found I was reliving all the great hunts that my son and I had shared in the past; he sure knows how to deliver an arrow. I wished Christopher could have been at my side today, he would have thought his hard of hearing grumpy old man did alright; I love his one-in-a-million smile. He would have been whispering advice the whole time we were waiting and I would have said “what?” but he was on his own solo hunt today in a different unit. I said a quick prayer wishing him luck and safety.

Reflecting back on nearly 40 years of bowhunting, I’ve found that it really adds to quality of life as I look forward to every August trying to outwit stealthy “mountain monarchs." Most people dream of what they want to accomplish in their lifetime, but many don’t ever get the chance to fulfill it.

Living in northeast Nevada has allowed me to live my dreams day after day. I hear many say they can’t wait to retire and leave Elko as they feel the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. I’ve always felt it’s emerald green right here.

Life would have a terrible void if hunting was not a part of living. Having always been a simple man, I have never put a dollar value on success. I judge success on the health and well-being of my wife and children, how many memorable hunts I am able to be a part of in a season and how many snowmobile rides in the Rubies I can tally before the snow melts.

With a solid buck in the bag, it’s time to brush the cobwebs off the Polaris as snow will soon be falling in the high country. Good luck on your next bow hunt; with a little luck and persistence, tomorrow’s hunt may be the day it all comes together.

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