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Colorado "Timberline Buck"


Thinking back over the many times I have been to Colorado to hunt deer and elk, I remember so very little of it except for the times I have had the pleasure to see or do something special. Those times seem to stand out in my mind and are the ones that I can write about. I should have started to make notes, of each hunt, with the very first one out there, in 1976. I only started doing that in the last few years.

In 1981, our gang of four, were camped just off Sawmill Road, a little east of Freeman's Reservoir and west of Creig. We were hunting elk and deer north of camp, in the dark timber and seeing some game but no luck. On the last day we would be hunting, before tearing down camp and heading home, I decided to make a move that nobody in their right mind would attemp, but I was getting desperate. As we would walk to the dark timber we would skirt around to the left side of a high, steep and rugged part of the mountian that looked to be to steep and rocky to climb. But, those moss horns had to be somewhere and I decided to climb up and have a look-see.

When we first started hunting in Colorado, in the seventies, the elk and deer seasons were seperate. One year elk would come in first with deer following. The next year it would switch with deer coming in first. However sometime in the eighties it was changed with both coming in together. Either way, both spicies of licenses had to be purchased.

The first part of the climb was hard enough but as I got higher it was brutally steep. The incline was so steep my hand could touch the ground, with bent elbow, while standing straight up. It was snowing, blowing, sleeting and the fog was so thick I could see only about fifteen feet at times. I would dig a boot into whatever was available, at the place I was standing, to try to get a foothold for the next foot lift upward while holding onto whatever may be handy to get a hold onto, whether it be branch, twig growing out of the rocks or just a rock. One step at a time, trying to be as silent as possible, I raised myself upward farther and farther onto the mountian. The wind blew the fog away for a moment and I saw above me, maybe fifty feet, a bench that had grown large ponderosa pines around it's edge. When I say above me I mean straight above me. I can't emphasize enough just how steep it was. If I were to step straight out from where I was, I would step into space and fall fifty feet before I touched ground and by that time had enough momentum to fall to the bottom of the mountain before stopping. I said I wasn't in my right mind. Looking up from the bottom I saw what appeared to be a game trail, between two trees, where the dirt had been eroded away, and I decided that would be the best place for me to get onto that bench. The fog had returned thicker then ever as I got to that point, but very carefully and as silently as I could I wanted to have a look and see what may be up there. There wasn't anything to hold onto, with my left hand, because I was angling to the right as I climbed, which made it more difficult and dangerous. But I wasn't about to stop now and carefully and slowly inched upward.

Have you ever been surprised when in a situation like this? Have you been a situation where you were consentrating very earnestly on something and someone comes up behind you and says something. Well , I dug my boot into the ground one more time, very quietly and slow, and raised myself up one more step. To my surprise, not more than three feet in front of my nose, was an animal lying behind the tree that I now was holding onto. It's butt was the same coloration and size as an appaloosa horse and that is all I saw at first. At the next instant it knew something was there for it quickly turned and saw me looking at him. It's head was deer shaped but very large and had handlebar anthers that were almost four feet wide with small G.2's & 3's and no brow tines, that I could see. The anthers were the same color as the handles on John Wayne's six guns. (pale, sandy ivory) He, very quickly was out of there. Instead of going straight on around the bench, he jumped out into mid air at a 90% angle to my right. I'm talking airborne flight where he would land seventy-five feet down the mountian, if I could see where he went.

Now I'm leaning against the mountian, trying to keep from falling, standing mostly on my left foot, holding my 270 Rem. 7600, in my right hand. Bad deal because I had lost the sight in my right eye that may, 28th, in an acident in my own garage. With the same natural instinct as before, I raised the gun to my right shoulder and for an instant I couldn't see anything through the scope. Realizing that I couldn't see with my right eye anymore, I made the switch to the left shoulder, while maintaining balance and not falling off that mountion in the process. This caused me to loose precious time that I didn't have. I managed to get off a shot, at whatever that was, as he went by a tree. I tracked it down the mountian, about a half mile, but didn't find any blood, I guessed that I shot at a horse with horns, But it didn' t have a horse head.

It was then I heard the horn blowing. I wondered who could be doing that. It was coming from camp and it kept blowing so, I headed in that direction. When I got there the rest of the gang had decided to break camp and had the tent down and were rounding up everything, and I didn even have my traveling clothes on , much less have time to go back, with them, to hunt for that thing I shot at. When I tried to explain about it they thought I was pulling their leg, or something, and didn't pay much attention to me. Only thing I could do was to get in the rig and go with them.

It was several months later, in my power saw shop, that an elk hunter came in, that I knew, and I was telling him about this thing I saw back on that mountain in Colorado. He said: Don't you know what that was? And I said: No-oh ! He said: If you had got that thing on the ground, you wouldn't have to work any more the rest of your life. Sports magazines would be knocking you door down for that story and the pictures because nobody, that I've heard of, in this century, has ever seen one. This made me stand tall and take notice. He said: You just described, to a tee, a real timberline buck. That was the original "Timberline Buck". I've never seen one in real life but I've read about them. They were a breed all their own, to the chagrin of some nobel persons of renoun educated and outdoor scholars, said Mr. Dale Trumpower, whom I was talking too.

I always thought like most other western hunters out there, including sports writers and those that would write stories for sporting magazines, that I have read. I have read stories a plenty of mule deer killed at the timberline on the mountians of the west and they considered the deer that lived at the timberline as timberline bucks. Big mule deer and whitetails alike. But not so, said Mr. Trumpower, and now that I saw with my own eyes this special non- regular deer, I had to think different and consider this new evidence before me. Sure, the mule deer up at timberline are considered as, "timbeline bucks'. But this new evidence tells me there once was a special breed, not mule deer, called "Timberline Bucks". And to think I saw one still in existance, according to Mr. Trumpower. It didn't have the resemblance of regular mule deer color and it's size was double the size, at least, of any big mule deer out there but it did have the deer head features and when it jumped off that mountian it had the familiar features of a deer jumping. It's size was enormous and I'd guess it to be around 600 lbs. That was what I had said back then.

If anybody has any information on the real timberline bucks as I have described, please respond. The reason I have not written anything about this is because it seemed to unreal and I didn't want anybody to criticize me. Somebody may have an old article on this subject or know of such.


Drawing of him jumping off mountian. Click here