Biggest Velvet Mule Deer To Date!!
“Well 2014 was bound to be different than the past two years; it just had to be. There was no way I could continue the amazing luck streak I was having!…”
As the suns glowing rays crept up over the distant mountains I realized we had been beat. The bachelor herd of bucks had walked around us and were already headed to their beading area. They had walked close to a mile before stopping to take a drink at a spring. This was opening day of achery, 2012, and it was my dad’s turn to let an arrow fly first because I had first shot the year before and had taken a nice buck. As soon as those bucks stopped at that spring I looked at my dad and said that’s where we sit tomorrow. Well the plan worked perfectly and my dad had a twenty five yard shot at the biggest buck in the herd… However, he had a gear malfunction and ended up shooting right between the giant bucks legs! After a long chase trough out that day we ended up catching up with him and I took one of my nicest bucks to date!
So, 2013 season finally approaches and I had found another dandy buck durring the preseason scouting. Well due to 2012’s adventure it was still dad’s turn to shoot first and hopefully connect this year with his own trophy mule deer. Well my opening day ambush plan worked perfectly! However, the buck only came within 100 yards before a doe ended up getting down wind of us and blowing the great opportunity up in smoke. We hunted hard for that buck for the next few days. We were able to locate him and try a couple low percentage stalks. But the element of surprise was no longer in our favor and he was just too smart to let us get into bow range. The hunt was still a success though. One morning while hunting this buck my dad and I split up and tried to surround him. While I was trying to flank the buck and get down the ridge and get in front of him, I bumped into a BEAR! I had never shot a bear so I closed the gap and was able to get a shot. At 55 yards the arrow did its job and dropped the bear in his tracks! Back to back years I had taken trophy animals and did so while trying help my dad get a buck!
Well 2014 was bound to be different than the past two years; it just had to be. There was no way I could continue the amazing luck streak I was having! My dad and I did our usual summer work out routines and trained hard for the upcoming hunting season; we wanted to be as ready as we could possibly be. After being outsmarted the year before by an old mule deer you could say we had a little more drive then summers prior. My annual August scouting trip turned up yet another stud buck. In fact I had seen this buck the year before in 2013, but only in August. Once hunting season opened he was gone; typical big buck behavior if you ask me. Looking at him through the spotting scope the buck looked to have added about 10-15 inches of horn growth since the previous year. He was a fairly narrow buck for being so mature but two things caught my eye right away, his extremely deep forks and his 5+ inch eye guards! I couldn’t wait to get home and show my dad the phone scope pictures I had snapped. After showing him the pictures and reminiscing about the adventures of the previous years, sleep was going be non-existent for the next two weeks leading up to opening day!
My dad and I felt extremely prepared for the opener. I had scouted the two days before season and had re-located the buck and was double-checking his patterns. Everything was perfect, except due to the lay of the land from the spot I watched the deer I could never actually see where the bucks bedded. Therefore I was going to have to switch hunting tactics a little. Normally for opening day of bow season I am an ambush hunter. Meaning I will find a way to be in front of the deer and let them walk by me. The ambush method works best for me on opening day because of the number of deer. There always seems to be bachelor herds of bucks that bed up together making it hard to close the gap with 20+ eyeballs looking for danger.
But this opening day was different. On this opening day I would have to sneak in down the canyon the deer were in and find a better vantage point and watch the bucks bed down. Then hopefully be able to make a move on them. I am not saying this is a new tactic by any means, in fact a lot of hunters prefer it, its just not what normally works for me on opening day. But I think in being a good bow hunter you just have to take what is given to you and be able to make the most of it.
After sneaking in before daylight we found a better vantage point and watched the bucks. They fed down into the canyon like I expected. However, what I didn’t expect was the two biggest bucks in the herd to split off and go bed by themselves!! Luck continues! This was a perfect scenario, the bucks bedded at the base of a few trees right below a couple 60-foot cliffs. As my dad and i watched it unfold we were in disbelief.
“That’s unbelievable” my dad whispered, “I cant believe they did that. Well, if the wind is right when we get over there, we will have a pretty good chance!” I nodded in agreement and the stalk was on!
It was turning into a textbook hunt. The wind was absolutely perfect! We closed the gap to the top of the cliff and were 42 yards directly above them. We spotted one of the buck’s horn tips just in time for the wind to swirl. The bucks jumped up and took a few bounds to our left, then stopped to look around. I quickly ranged the buck and whispered to my dad who was already at full draw… “41….42..42yards” whack! The arrow center-punched him! The buck ran about 50 yards into the bottom and laid down to expire.
As we approached the buck we were almost speechless. Like a lot of hunters know there is so much emotion that runs trough your body at that moment. For starters, we were both in disbelief. We would have never guessed that the hunt was going to go like that and turn out like a textbook bow hunt. After that we were just super excited that it all came together and my dad finally was able to arrow an amazing deer. Then there is a time of just analyzing the buck. looking over his velvet antlers and battle scars from over the years and admiring him for the true monarch he was. My dad and I love hunting big muleys in the velvet and it’s bucks like this that will keep us working harder every year to keep chasing them! This was my dads biggest velvet buck to date scoring 194, and I can’t wait to let the taxidermist preserve him for us to admire for the years to come.