In old Mississippi there is legendary critters I have recently learned about, they are called old Blue Jon’s. Blue Jon’s are the huge split toed bucks that are only seldom seen, once in a while in car headlights and never down a hunters barrel. There are rare occasion’s where a patch of briars is pushed by a pack of beagles chasing rabbits and old Blue Jon is jumped by accident. Now if you take into context what Old Blue Jon stands for you can apply him to almost any big game animal! Blue Jon is the giant one that got away! Hunters that live across the country all have our names, but for Scott Jones and Brian Hollis from down home Mississippi, it’s Blue Jon. Scott and Brian were joining Niel Graham “NIGE” and I in Sonora Mexico on good friend Roberto Noriega’s Noche Buena ranch. We were to be hunting Desert sheep and mule deer with Scott and straight deer for Brian. Nige and I are strong believers in the old saying “some people talk about the big ones that get away and other people shoot them”. We like to be at the receiving end of this saying. So when Brian dropped the bomb on us that no one gets Old Blue Jon we were up to proving that one wrong!!!
Hunting started out with Brian hitting the high rack and Nige and I sticking with Scott, Roberto and his sheep guide’s. Having been to Noche Buena ranch in the past we quickly fell into the routine, up before daylight, eat breakfast, grab lots of bottled water, jump into the pickup and reach the edge of the mountains right at the edge of daylight. Walk anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour, climb up on a little knob and put the fifteen power binoculars mounted on a tripod to work. Always within a few minutes the first sheep of the day will be spotted then some here and there for the remainder. Roberto’s ranch is quietly preserved and I always view the land in awe! The retreat is a privilege! Mornings of red gleaming cacti to evenings of perfect balanced glassing light, with… no people around!
Day three had us set up on a big Desert ram in a band of four. We patiently watched from the bottom amongst the red morning light for the rams to designate their plans of movement. Roberto set the plan that his guide Juan Jaime, Scott and I would move up around on the high soon to be bedded rams and he, Nige and 2nd guide Lupe Floren would post watch on their movements. I was toting my video camera and would also act as English location and identification caller on which ram was the Blue Jon! In other words Quan and Scott would both have my ass if we shot the wrong sheep!
Well of coarse by the time we reached the top and between signal periods the rams moved some and we found ourselves right on top of four white rump’s dodging across a mountainside of rough terrain amongst a forest of Cacti. Camera is on, packs are dropping, Scott is getting a rest, Quan is Spanish “signvocal languaging” at me “yes I said it right” to make sure I told Scot the right ram because being the old Blue Jon veteran that he was Quan wanted this ram. No mistaking that point with all the flailing of his hands and his lingo. Lucky for us the big fellow took lead position amongst the four and once they broke out of a little draw and came side hill he stopped momentarily at 250 yards. Scott echoed the valley once then twice. Three rams bolted left and right, one lay without a move. Quan reverberating in my ear “ya ya ya ya ya” pretty much summed up the point that we had ourselves an Old Blue Jon! And I loved to see that kind of excitement from a veteran sheep guide in his sixties. Gives me hope for the future!
The gathering of friends and hunting companions was a great one and a bunch of great photos were captured. Nige and I celebrated our first Desert sheep hunt as a tangent and Scott Jones had his slam ram in the form of a 171+ Blue Jon. Now the stories of the big Desert bucks Brian was telling us about seeing were looking pretty exciting. Oh by the way Roberto did make it to the top for pictures but he was the last. He might shake his head at me for writing this but I have to be honest. Roberto did claim he hurt his ankle playing baseball! Come on Roberto, who are you trying to fool?
The next morning Nige wanted to hit the high rack to go and video Brian so Roberto and his cousin Pepe with Scott and I would hunt a near by water whole. Nine deer with three of them being bucks, we spotted off our short climb knoll in no time. I wanted to tell Roberto this was pretty good deer hunting, except he was down bellow limping along an old road. Roberto didn’t like to admit it but he was sore from the day before and was trying to work out his kinks! I was laughing and could hardly wait to write this story because Roberto is always joking and picking on me so now it is my turn to shine! When we descended to the truck Roberto reported finding four mature buck tracks, “which I didn’t doubt”, but he couldn’t hide the smile when I stated that he was to sore to climb the knoll because of yesterdays sheep hunt! Roberto came back at me with the point that he still played old timers baseball, “ the PRIDE league”. The league he said where you cannot, run anymore, can’t throw and can’t hit but you still have your PRIDE! I had to laugh at that!!!
Returning to the ranch for an afternoon siesta Nige and Brian reported on a big buck they almost got a crack at and planned to return and give him a go. The buck was a big 4 by, not Quite a Blue Jon calibre Brian figured so he held hope they would get him. “Let me tell ya these boys took the southern Blue Jon curse to heart and were starting to make Nige and I nervous”.
Our hunting hours turned to night and soon had us into the next morning and one big old buck standing 450 yards away from an advantage knob we were on. With high winds and a skittish doe our buck was soon deep into the Cacti forest of quick glimpses and loss of hope.
The evening hunt put us back on our water tank knob and not without reward. Soon three does and a fawn were spotted along a dry creek bed feeding, with the rut well into swing we figured a buck couldn’t be far. Pepe soon started waving his finger just to the right of the does maybe one hundred yards and eight hundred yards out from us. In moments I had my bino’s on the beggar but he needed to clear the bush for a good view. Oh boy what a view it was! Stepping out was the biggest typical mule deer I have ever seen alive in my 32 years of life. In five seconds I made a young and bold call of 200+ 4 by 4, yep a true Blue Jon if there ever was one! The video camera was quickly rolling capturing Blue in case things went bad. No way in my mind was this one getting away!
To our dismay the giant buck turns and starts walking our way, 700 yards- 600yards… we quickly find our way lower down our knob on a small out cropping. Old Blue Jon keeps swaggering our way. Yes swagger is what he did, rocking that old 30 plus rack back and forth. I was chomping at the bit! This was it! And of coarse the buck makes a right and starts heading towards the mountains but is still angling closer. Blue Jon clears the brush momentarily at 280 yards, “Scott’s trigger finger tightens but not quite enough time”. The buck doesn’t slow his walk and we are loosing light. Again at 40 yards Scott squeezes, “almost”. 381 yards walking a small window of opportunity, “bang” just behind, and again… THE CURSE OF BLUUE JON!
We tell our story to Nige and Brian, sad and elated! We saw a Blue Jon of the Cacti. Ah we will find another one Roberto says! Scott states that he already has one Old Blue Jon, two might be asking for too much. Point accepted!
The next morning proved a success in harvesting a Desert Muley. Not for our truck but while we were turning back through the ranch headquarters gate Brian and Nige were showing off with their guides an very impressive 29 inch buck. High fives and down right solid hand shakes plus watching great video footage of the hunt was all part of the celebration! An extra day of chasing big frame bucks and one more morning had Scott a tall 27-inch deer to join the celebration! What a fun seven days out in the Cacti forests of Noche Buena Ranch.
And now I can say this, “Blue Jon where art thou”?
Some people talk about the Blue Jon that got away and others get him. Old boy we are 50-50 and Nige and I are coming back!!!