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Hunting the Book Cliffs of SE Utah pt 1

The Book Cliffs of Southeastern Utah is amongst my most favorite places in all of creation.  The mixture of the high mountain pines and aspens combined with the majesty of the layered “book formation” cliffs, covered in cedars and sagebrush lay out a scene similar to what I picture Heaven to be like.   Having lived in the great state of Utah my entire life I’m a little ashamed to admit that I had never been to the Book Cliffs area prior to 2011.

One of the most popular lookouts on the Books


Over 1 million acres of the Book Cliffs management area can be considered an outdoorsman’s paradise. Its home to thriving elk and deer herds, it is also home to a good population of black bears, pronghorn and a recently introduced group of American Bison. For those interested in hunting this little piece of paradise you can likely count on one thing as almost a certainty—it’s going to take time to draw the tag! Most Utah residents can count on the average waiting period of 12-15 years of bonus points to draw an elk tag, 8-13 years to draw a mule deer permit and 8+ years to draw a bear permit. Non-residents can normally count on a little bit longer wait times for each of these due to the lower-permit numbers available to non-resident hunters. With that being said there are always a few who beat the odds and draw permits with less than average points and sometimes even zero points. This can be both the beauty and the vice of the Utah draw system.

Mid-level view of the Book Cliffs

This is where my first experience with “The Books” begins.  Shortly after my amazing wife and I were married, she became very interested in my extreme (understatement) interest and passion for the outdoors. She wanted to learn more about the outdoors and even start hunting deer, elk, and other critters.  So being a good husband I complied and bought her first 2 rifles, and we started putting her in for limited entry drawings in Utah as well.  As luck would have it, she beat the odds by drawing a Limited Entry any legal weapon mule deer tag for the Book Cliffs unit with only 6 bonus points.  She was ecstatic upon receiving the notification of drawing the permit; I would dare say she was almost half as excited as I was!  We immediately started the planning process and began putting a little money away here and there to help off-set fuel, food, etc.  A month or so after receiving the notification of my wife’s drawing success, we received even better news that we were expecting our first child. This led to much discussion as to whether or not she should turn the tag back in or keep it due to beating the odds on the draw and see what we could do.

She was determined to keep the tag, and make the best out of the hunt even while being 6 months pregnant. The Books are very remote and are a good 2+ hours away from the nearest hospital, this meant taking it somewhat easy and not really overdoing it.  These two concepts are a little difficult for my wife. On the third day of the hunt we located a real gagger of a buck; conservatively scoring I would put it in the 180-190 inch range.  She worked very hard trying to close the deal on the toad, but things didn’t work out just right and she can blame the failure on her two guides, (my younger brother and I). While putting forth the effort she did for the big buck, she really exhausted herself. We returned back to the camp that night to rest up and realized it was probably a good idea to finish the hunt up and head back home.  As luck would have it we found this nice 4pt in a very accessible area the next morning and she let her favorite Remington 700 CDL chambered in 257 WBY scream.  The 100gr Barnes TTSX flying a bit over 3500 fp/s anchored the buck at just over 200 yards, a perfect, and ethical one shot kill.

My wife’s buck


“Team Scream”

This hunt will always be one of the most memorable, and accomplishing hunts all three of us had ever been on.  These are memories that will forever be told to future generations and held dearly. It was also the beginning of my love of the Books, and the next part of this story.  Fast forward us to three months later, my wife and I welcome into our family our first child, a sweet, healthy, little baby girl and two days later we welcomed into the family my younger brother’s (see poor guide reference above), new bride.

Coincidentally, my baby brother’s new wife also found interest in the family passion and decided to start putting in for limited entry hunts herself.  As luck would have it she completely blew the odds out of the water and drew the exact same tag my wife drew the year earlier, with zero bonus points!

To be continued………………..

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