KINGMAN - By now, almost all sportsmen who hunt mule deer know that taking a trophy buck is by far the hardest thing to do in North America.
Today's story is about a local young man who on his very first mule deer hunt took a buck that for many veteran deer hunters will continue to be only a dream.
Ten-year-old Sid Jensen comes from a family of local sportsmen and women. His mom Corie grew up as part of the Steele family, and as anyone who knows about local families who hunt, these folks are serious when it comes to big-game hunting.
This year, Sid drew one of 20 muzzleloader juniors-only deer tags that were issued by the Arizona Game and Fish Department for units 15A, 15B, 15C and 15D. This was the first year this particular hunt was offered, but for the kids who drew them, it wasn't going to be easy.
These are for the most part desert areas, and the deer are scattered throughout several series of rugged mountain ranges.
Sid didn't even get to go hunting on the first day of the season. While he had just completed hunter education, he hadn't turned 10 yet, and under the rules, couldn't hunt big game until his 10th birthday.
Plans were for the young hunter, who is in fourth grade and attends the Kingman Academy of Learning, to go along on the first few days of his hunt with his cousin, Ernie Scaff, who also had a tag.
As things turned out, finding deer for the hunters was tough on the first weekend. The weather was bad, with lots of rain and high winds hampering the search, and even though a number of family and friends went out with the young hunters, they didn't see much.
Finally, young Jensen saw a legal buck.
"I saw one little spike but I didn't want to shoot him," Jensen said. "I wanted to give him a chance to grow up!"
It was later in the season that the kids saw their first mature buck, a 3 X 3 that Scaff pursued but no shot was taken.
Young Jensen and his dad even went out hunting on Thanksgiving Day, but once again, no bucks were seen.
Determined to keep on hunting, the day after the holiday proved to be the right time for the youngster to see his first mature buck.
With young Jensen that day was his father, Branden, and two family friends, Tanner and Brandon Vest.
They had seen a set of very large deer tracks in a wash in the morning and had stopped for a morning break when Brandon spotted the rack of a very large mule deer.
The hunter got set up and Sid took aim with the open-sighted .45 caliber muzzleloader that was on top of a set of shooting sticks. At the shot, the buck moved off but the young hunter pursued and was able to fire a second shot and the big buck went down.
When they reached the buck, they couldn't believe how big he was. The old desert warrior sported a rack that was 30-1/2 inches wide, and had six scorable points on each side. The buck even sported double eye guards on the right antler.
It had been six long days for the young hunter before he had a chance to take what no doubt will be his buck of a lifetime. A quick call to his Uncle Craig in Kingman and he was soon on scene with a video camera to record the event for the young hunter.
Corie, Sid's mom, called the animal "The Miracle Buck."
The young hunter noted that he had made a deal with his parents that if he got a buck that had a rack that was larger than theirs, that they would have a taxidermist mount it. Well, this buck is better, so they are having the buck mounted by a local taxidermist.
"It was cool," Sid said when asked about his first deer hunt.
Hunting with family and friends is part of the outdoor experience for a lot of local sportsmen. On the young hunter's six-day adventure, he had help from his uncles, Matt Wolsey and Craig Steele, his grandfather, Bob Steele, his father and family friends Tanner and Brandon Vest.
Together, they have made a memory for a young hunter that will stay with him for the rest of his life.