Alex Dolan's first deer hunt in the Nevada wilderness became the kind of experience seasoned hunters dream about.
The 14-year-old Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School ninth-grader downed a four-point-by-four-point buck on opening day with a single shot from 200 yards.
"It was my first time deer hunting," he said Tuesday. "It was my first time doing everything."
On Oct. 4, Alex headed north to Denio, near the Oregon border, with family friends Allan and Karen York, who reside in Ruhenstroth. Miles from the small ranching town, the group camped out in the elements, with horses in tow, and all the gear necessary for a cross-country hunt.
The season opened the following day.
"I woke up at 4:45 a.m., and we were off by 5:30 a.m.," Alex said.
The hunting party was on horseback searching for trophy bucks in the dawn light.
"There were pretty much does," Alex said. "We came across some bucks, but they were small, fork-horn bucks."
He wanted to keep going. By late morning, the party had come to a canyon lined with juniper and brush. Alex spotted some deer on the far side against the trees.
"We got down and proned, and they trotted away," he said. "Then they turned around and stopped."
Among the herd was the towering buck.
"We waited 20 minutes," Alex said. "I tried to get a shot, I put my scope on him, but does kept getting in front or behind, and I couldn't take a shot."
He waited. Finally the buck was in the open. He squeezed the trigger of his .243-caliber rifle.
"I hit him in the lung," Alex recalled. "He flinched, traveled a few yards, then fell over."
Watching his experienced guide, Allan York, the freshman learned how to dress and quarter a deer.
"He had to cut between the fourth and fifth ribs to get it on the horse," he said.
Ninety-five pounds of venison eventually made its way to the Dolans' home in Gardnerville, where it will be stored for the winter.
But imagine the surprise of mother Dana and father Mike Dolan, who both had tags this season, when they arrived to the same camp a day later and discovered their son had already bagged the perfect deer.
"We were so excited for him," Dana Dolan said Tuesday. "Isn't this what it's all about - passing Nevada hunting down to the next generation?"