by Steve Schulz
My first morning out this year found myself on a vantage point Id been to many times in the past, picking apart the sagebrush and rocks in an attempt to find the greatest western iconic trophy, the mule deer.
It was not long before I started to find a few decent bucks that needed a closer evaluation. I slowly crawled to the edge of a draw glassing a nice 5×5 that was fairly wide with modest weight and good brow tines but lacking in height. Id file him away as a maybe if things did not appear to look any better later on in the season, it was simply too early to try a shot at him after all it was my first morning out, besides there was the possibility of a better buck tucked away in spots Id yet to check.
After a few days of pouring over the countryside and hours logged behind either binos or my spotting scope, I began to wonder if I was going to find a better deer, after all the western states were again in a drought year. I eventually found myself pushing into areas Id either failed to hunt or simply refused because of the terrain. I was slowly moving down a very deep draw and had kicked up a couple small bucks when I stopped taking a break. The thoughts of not finding a good deer were rolling around in my mind when out of nowhere in the middle of the draw there was one of the biggest bucks Id ever seen while hunting just simply feeding.
Slowly I backed up trying to get out of his line of sight. Peering through the brush I could tell this deer was very tall and wide, with great mass and better than average forks, it appeared that he had a cheater on his right antler off of his G-2. As I watched him it was evident he must have caught my movement and was staring in my direction. I ranged him at 50 yards. I chose not to take the shot because he was sharply quartering away from me. I started to cut some distance and better my odds and of course as luck would have it he took off.
I now had a goal and was going to hunt for him and only him or not shoot a deer this year. I made it back four days later finding him in the same drainage and well of course my best friend bad luck was along for the ride. I blew the stalk and he was gone again. I did find him again a few days later this time he was with seven other bucks, I could not get close enough for a shot without getting busted by one of his pals eventually the whole bunch ended up heading out for the next county. I felt like giving up for the rest of the season, but decided to check an area Id skimmed over earlier in the season.
As I glassed the draws early in the morning in my new spot I fond a very tall 3×4 with great weight and gave chase. Blowing that stalk as well, but not to worry during the stalk Id seen a good 5×5 on the skyline feeding. As I crept through the sagebrush on the edge of the saddle he had just disappeared into I was caught looking in the opposite direction from where he was, now looking at me. I slowly dropped to the ground hoping he would simply pass me off and continue feeding. This is were things got a little exciting, I heard a kinda grunting and growling sound directly in front of me through the sagebrush. While lying on my stomach I peered through the brush, peering back and growling was a badger. I rolled to my side pulling an arrow from my quiver hoping I was not going to need it to fend off an attack, still not wanting to scare off the deer. As I shuffled backwards the badger advanced, every direction I moved he moved. By now I really didnt care about the deer, which by the way I could still see as he feed through the sagebrush. Finally the badger waddled of grunting and growling as he departed. Yes the deer was gone by the time this little property dispute was over.
As I hiked back to the truck I spotted a small herd of deer on a side hill in the shade feeding. I stripped off my pack getting my spotting scope. I knew I didnt have long because of the wind at my back blowing in their direction. I caught a glimpse of a buck that at first I though must still be in velvet, (this was the 26th of September) it must have been at that moment that they got my scent. Once they started to move I could plainly see he was sporting some serious mass and at least one cheater on the right side. I ran out and around in an attempt to ambush the bunch as they ran out, I did cut off part of the herd the part he wasnt with. I had no idea where he might have gone, so I started back for the truck to work other areas. I ended up finding the big 3×4 and tried another stalk on him which ended up the same as the first with him running like a mad man across the prairie.
Later in the afternoon around 1:30, I spotted a few deer bed up in some thick sage and could not quite make out the antlers of a buck in the bottom. I think the distance and the mirage were a little much. I could plainly see two small 2 point bucks on the side hill and a few does that were up feeding but not the buck in the real thick stuff. After about an hour of watching them, I ended up knocking over my spotting scope, apparently the sound was a little to much for a coyote that was in the brush close to me and he bolted running in the direction of the deer. As he blazed passed them the ones that were bed down got up and I got a chance to see the one in the thick brush. It was the heavy one with the cheater.
I watched as they all feed over a saddle and made my move. As I got to where I thought he should be I eased over the edge finding a doe and fawn. I sat watching them as the feed back over from where they came. I eased over again spotting one of the 2 points with his head down feeding and just below him the back of another deer.
I waited for the 2 point to feed down a bit so I could get a look at the other deer. Once he did I edge forward seeing his thick antlers. I started shaking a bit as I pulled an arrow from my quiver ranging him at 42 yards and slightly down hill, still shaking a little I hit my anchor settling the 40 yard pin behind his left shoulder and touched off the release. In a flash the vanes of my arrow vanished against his side. The buck ran about 10 yards swaying side to side before going down in a patch of thick sagebrush.
The closer I got the bigger he kept getting, not only did he carry his weight there were two cheaters on the right antler, making him a 7×5, grossing over 170 P&Y. He was not the monster Id cashed earlier but a great trophy mulie none the less.
- Bow- PSE X-Force
- Arrows- Black hawk Vapor
- Broadhead- G5 Montec
- Sight- Cobra sure lock
- Rest- Rip cord
- Scott release
- Binos- Brunton 15×51
- Camo- Predator
- Pack- Timber hawk
- Boots- Cabelas full draw