By STEPHANIE BUNKER
Moapa Valley Progress
It was her very first hunt, and she put in the hours with a great reward!
Erika Taylor drew the prized area 24 tag after 7 years putting in for the draw. Taylor harvested a 4 point buck that makes her the envy of many hunters with a score of 188 inches and 27 inches wide.
It was opening weekend, October 5, of the rifle hunt. Erika, her husband and brother in-law got up early that Friday morning and did a lot of hiking and searching for a buck.
Husband Travis Taylor had scouted the area and seen some nice deer, but nothing was showing up. Later in the day the group did see a nice buck about 600 yards away, but it spooked before they could get close.
“We hiked after it the rest of the evening but we never saw it again,” said Erika.
Saturday they did more hiking all day without much success of seeing anything. By that time the Taylors were getting discouraged.
During their evening hunt they spotted a 3 point buck and Erika decided she’d better just fill her tag. But they couldn’t get close to it before legal shooting time ended.
“I was frustrated and luck wasn’t going our way,” said Taylor.
By the next morning Erika’s nephew Logan Lee arrived for the hunt with another brother in-law Jason Taylor. They went to one mountain while Erika and Travis searched another.
“We heard a few shots, then Jason came over the radio and said that Logan had got a nice 3×4,” Erika said. “We kept glassing and thought about taking a smaller deer to fill the tag when Jason called on the radio again telling us to get over there; they have a nice buck for me.”
The couple hustled over and she tried looking in the spotting scope for it but couldn’t see the buck while it was bedded down. It was decided Erika and Travis would hike closer and get within shooting range while the others kept an eye on it from a distance.
The couple tiptoed their way over the rocky terrain. They reached 400 yards away from the buck but they still couldn’t see it. So they decided to get a little closer.
There was more shale rock that slid and made more noise than they wanted. The buck heard them and stood up, but couldn’t see them. So he bedded down again. Taylor said that happened a few times and finally the couple got set up 200 yards away. But they still could not see the deer. After an hour of searching they finally spotted his head and antlers.
“I was in shock when I saw him, this thing is huge!” exclaimed Erika.
They waited another hour for the buck to stand up. “We had waited there for 2 hours, and we had made some noise,” she said. “The buck knew he was safe right there bedded down.”
Eventually Travis got up and moved to a different location where he could see it better. Erika stood and could see the back of the buck so she decided to try and shoot him lying down.
“I shot and I missed,” she said. “He stood and looked at us and I shot and missed again. Travis was telling me where I hit. I put another bullet in the gun and the buck trotted up the hill then slowed at the top and I dropped him.”
The whole party was so excited about the hit. “Jason and Logan were cheering behind us,” Erika said. “Then the deer got up again and ran down the hill. But he was hurting and tumbling. He was running back toward us and I finished him off.”
The Taylors were excited about their productive morning, and even though the tags were filled, their luck held. Erika recalled that they got the buck packed down to the Ranger and were headed out when Travis stopped and called out “Dead Head!” He got out and picked up the head of a buck that had died that was comparable to the bucks they had just shot that morning!
The Taylors hunting trip started out rough, but in the end they came home with more than what they bargained for.