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Both Jon and I have Nikon’s BDC riflescopes atop our rifles, but that’s where our similarities end. I’m shooting Remington’s new R-25 semi-auto rifle in .308. Jon is shooting a Remington 700 in .300 Rem. Ultra Mag.

Jon has told me I’m shooting first, which can be both a blessing and a curse. On the pro side, I have the chance to shoot a whopper buck out from under Jon and since Jon isn’t in a big hurry to fill his tag I can be selective. On the other hand, I don’t want to wait too long and ice Jon out of his buck. And I’m haunted by my BC experience, when I passed on a good bull the first day and later regretted my selectivity.

The morning started with a bang, when I spotted a mature mountain lion padding down a ridge just 400 yards away. Then we worked in on a couple of good bucks, but passed on them. We were headed to a remote pasture when we spotted a buck bedded against sagebrush about a quarter mile down the slope.

Angie and I worked in to 250 yards for a closer look and I fell under the spell of its high, deep rack. A single shot from the R-25 pinned the buck in his bed, and then it was Jon’s turn.

JLBuck We hunted the rest of the day, but didn’t spot any mature deer. Finally, an hour before sunset, we spied a huge buck napping in a bed of juniper and sage. We stalked a quarter mile, and Jon and Angie crawled to within 150 yards of the buck. Jon made a tough shot and his first mule deer lunged and then hit the dirt. It was a dandy, 27 inches wide and heavy. Our consensus is that this first deer has spoiled him for the remainder of his deer-hunting career.

We’re heading after antelope tomorrow. A winter storm is forecast to hit the high country where we’ll be hunting, but we’re hoping for another one-two punch tomorrow. I’m going to insist that Jon gets first crack.

_ - Andrew McKean_