USA: Archery Mule Deer 2019

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports USA & Canada' started by Firebird, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    Awhile ago there was a post titled "tag draw" or something similar. I was one of the lucky few that had drawn a tag in my home state of Utah. I posted some pix on that post of deer on the unit from the past and promised a report after the hunt. It was in fact a very good tag, a tag that let me hunt all three seasons; archery in August, muzzleloader late in September and rifle in late October. I could only harvest one buck but that gave me lots of time and options. This was good, since I was not expecting the tag I had not planned ahead and secured time off. And then there is always a money shortage and the 2001 single cab two wheel drive truck I drive isn't exactly the vehicle to use for a seven hour drive to the happy hunting grounds, the last two on dirt, often rough mountain roads.
    Then the week I planned to go scout the area, lightning struck-lots of times actually which caused multiple forest fires. This caused road closures and other restrictions and wouldn't you know the heart of the fire was right in the ponderosa forest I wanted to start in. . .
    I have hunted this area before and harvested a grand old bull elk with my bow and have dreamt of going back for one of the big muley bucks I saw during that hunt.
    My brother came to my rescue-he offered to take some days to assist me and to drive his truck. He was with me when I killed my big bull elk and I was in turn with him two years ago when he killed his 203 inch mule deer buck in Wyoming-I was a crucial part of that hunt. So I was both nostalgic and grateful to have my brother along on what we both hoped would be another epic hunt.

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  2. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    The drive down to the southeast corner of the state was uneventful and we had lots to catch up on. We were doing well until we got to the division of wildlife resources officer's truck, with lights on parked on the roadside. We stopped in to talk and he gave us lots of good news. For instance-"don't camp on that road, there's still alot of active burning in there." But he told us where he had seen bucks recently and told us that the restrictions were all lifted for camping and travel, just use good sense and some extra caution. The fire had in fact been burning on the exact area I wanted to start in, but flexible is my middle name-just ask my wife! Lots of firefighters in yellow coats and green pants camped in the area and heavier vehicle presence than we wanted but on the way in we saw several bucks right on the road, also turkeys and blue grouse. It was as if the wildlife was ignoring the slow burning wildfire and it was business as usual.

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  3. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    Couldn't camp in my usual spot so we found a flat spot in the other direction opposite the fire. Actual fire wasn't the issue as much as the smolder creating smoke. The firefighters had burned circular patterns around every tall ponderosa pine tree so the stumps and logs and brush that burned actively couldn't really spread anywhere-effectively burning off future problems in that area. It had been a wet spring so there was lots of green growth still, a major blessing here (everywhere.)
    Couple new things to me that worked out well-We had stopped at Wal-Mart for a couple good camp chairs. While there I bought a "bug proof" shade tent. This was wonderful as the weather was hot during the day and only dropped into the 50's F at night. So I ended up sleeping in the bug proof tent with its magical mesh walls. We ate and cooked in there as well-I'll say 95% bug free! IMG_5775.JPG IMG_E5814.JPG DSC_0370.JPG IMG_5777.JPG It allowed breezes to drift through and was really a must have for future summer trips. I also finally bought myself a cot. Never used one before but I just turned 47 and like most guys I have some sore spots and need to get out of the rocks and dirt to sleep well. Also bought some inflatable solar charging lanterns. These worked great, charge during the day, provide good light at night, I'll buy more for my next trip. I also bought an expensive cooler which was worth its weight in cold. Really kept ice longer which kept the diet mtn dew, gatorade and water bottles cold and wonderful. These pix are a log a black bear had been opening up and eating the bugs out of-his tracks still evident in the dust. Also a firefighter phone booth. Not much service up here but there are spots where phones might get service better than others-this one was well marked. We never needed to build a fire and just fyi, no one was there to make us grand dinners or do laundry every night. (Sigh) I miss Africa!
     

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  4. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    Cold cut sandwiches and chips for dinner, swallowed a tylenol pm and we talked about a return trip to South Africa before turning in. I think I can swing one more trip and my brother is eager to get back. I was surprised to hear him say he really wanted to hunt a cape buffalo. We talked different PH's and where we would go and what would be on our wish lists. My list is always handicapped by money but we determined to go back in 2021 and use the same ph we hunted with last time. I'm in charge of booking the trip and we plan to schedule it in January-gotta get my wife and four kids through Christmas. Like many of you I just finished paying college tuition for my oldest daughter. Got another in competition soccer (competition is just a word they use to justify charging you extra to play in more tournaments) and of course she wants to drive next year. Speaking of driving, did I mention my old truck needs replaced. . .Finally the benadryl in the pm pill kicks in and we both drift off. Up too early for a chocolate protein drink and a bagel and then we hit the road. We decided to road hunt the morning and spend the afternoon hiking into my old water holes to see what we could find. We found deer in bachelor herds all around us. Three bucks here, one bunch of perhaps nine. Stalked a monster buck but in the pine duff and dead branches he busted me at 100 yards-I'm easy to bust at over six feet and 23o pounds. . . big feet etc etc. Probably stinky too. My brother says that a waterbuck is the African animal that best represents me, I've never argued that theory. Stalked another nice four point, kind of an average buck with a cheater off his left side that would put him at 30 inches. Had him at fifty yards. He knew I was there but was tolerating my bumbling pretty well and I hoped to close ten more yards. I got right to 45 and bucks started standing up all around me. Mostly small by comparison and surely younger bucks. I think they all had enough and by the time they buggered off I had counted a dozen total. One borderline three by three bedded in the ashes under a big pine on the side of the road on our drive out of the area. It was hard to walk away from him-probably 27 wide and deep forks-a shooter anywhere else.
    Spent the afternoon hiking into areas I had marked in years past on my gps. I don't even remember how I found some of them but was powerful grateful to have them in my gps. Trail cams on every one of them. Could recognize two sets of tracks we saw at every water we went to-probably an outfitter. One set were jeep tire tracks, the other like a set of fat mtn bike tires. Some older and some newer. On the pond where I killed my big elk, there were five cameras and a couple brushy blinds built. There wasn't a trail to that pond when I found it, now there is a two track road. We went to another old road and it had been closed, blocked off by fallen aspens and a forest service sign that claimed the "road closed." The bike tracks were here and this is where we found multiple logs pulled apart by hungry bears. Also jumped a hen blue grouse and her well grown brood. Near the end of the two track I saw antlers and we dove into the grass, oak brush and wild rose on the roadside. It turned out to be a 320 class 6x6 bull elk leaving the wallow. He came up the road toward us to 30 yards then he caught a tendril of stinky boys and he slipped off in to the thick. Its amazing how an animal as big as a bull elk can disappear without snapping a twig!

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  5. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Enjoying your hunt. Looking forward to more.
    Bruce
     

  6. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    Lunchtime is hot and we aren't really hungry. We drive over to the firefighters camp to say hello. I recognize some of the trucks around but the only guy in camp in the medic. He talks about snakes and wasps and heat problems and he confirms there are deer all around this area.
    Toward evening the temps drop and we start out on the road again. I really want to sit a pond but the plentitude of trail cams is disconcerting and we are seeing lots of bucks from the road-tomorrow can be pond day. For now we are enjoying driving with the windows down and seeing lots of deer. There are the typical two points and little guys and every so often one of us will excitedly whisper "buck, BIG buck!" Thats the key to slowing or stopping and the binoculars come up and we start checking the wind and picking apart the terrain and maybe a stalk. My brother has purchased a pair of rangefinding leicas, something he determined invaluable when we were in Africa. I notice that the later it gets the easier the deer are to stalk. I pass a giant 3x4 with a splayed out rack-definite shooter but I don't love the shape and my brother can tell I'm not excited to shoot him. At thirty yards he feeds contentedly and I turn and walk away. Another small 4x4 lets me take pix and stares from 12 yards.
    At dinner we discuss the fact that school starts for my kids on Monday and my brother should be at work that morning. I've never missed a first day of school and I'm the guy who drops my kids at school and picks them up most days so my strings are being pulled to get back. But I also will never have another tag this good and my wife is being strangely supportive so I'm also feeling no rush to get back. Grammy is dying to deal with my kids and if we leave there is no telling when we will get back up here. My wireless beats and a couple tv shows watched on my i pad put my mind at ease and my body to rest.
    I wake up around 2am with the headphones still on my head-biggest full moon I can remember and stars beyond number. Can't smell smoke so the breeze is in our favor and I don't need my headlamp to make it to the pee tree. I drift back to sleep thinking how much has changed since the first time I hunted here.

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  7. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    Slept to an appropriate time this morning and we talk about the days plan over instant oatmeal and bagels. Can't remember being this thirsty for water. Even my brother notices that my usual soda regimen has turned pretty watery. He asks what exactly I am hoping to find and I can't exactly explain it. I just want something that is so special that my heart gets stuck in my throat every time I see him--on my wall, for decades to come. One that reminds me of the excitement I felt when I first saw him in the wild. Or maybe something that is a permanent fixture in a record book. This is a divergence for me. Normally inches aren't a consideration but when I hunt mule deer, it is only for inches. I don't love the meat, so in a decade I've had tags every year but haven't killed one. My kids yes and I've helped lots of others kill theirs, but I just want to hunt them and given the chance, to kill a very special buck or none at all. I do love whitetail and make an out of state hunt for one or two of them every year with friends. I also like elk and most years can tag a cow with my bow. I share it at work and enjoy it at home and my kids think jerky is the best snack ever-I agree!
    My brother also loves the meat. He wants me to kill a buck so he can have the inevitable cooler full of well cared for and already packaged meat he knows I will bring him. He also knows I can't do this hunt without his help and he is being good about not pushing me to kill a "lesser buck."
    Our patience will be sorely tempted this day. . .
     
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  8. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    Right out of camp we encountered the first bucks. Small four point and a couple younger bucks. We left them be and kept driving. Decided to hunt a new part we hadn't seen yet. On the way there we spotted a better than average 3x4 feeding toward the road. I had packed my camera and when I finally got it out the buck was walking in front of the truck in the road. "sd card full" on the camera so did some impromptu switcho chango and got the new one in. The buck feeding straight away and unconcerned at 50 yards. I got out and stalked up to 30 yards. Drew my bow, sighted in, let down and backed out. Definitely would have been a good choice but I wasn't ready to quit looking yet. New area had cattle in it and was less interesting. On the way out we had two little three points bedded in the oak brush. I got out, drew at 20 and let down-definitely not shooters but would've been easy venison. Went down a ridge by the main firefighters camp. Some ravens were making a show-similar to Vultures, ravens will work on a kill when they find one. So I got out and hiked up the hill to see what they were all about. Calf elk dead and mostly eaten. While we were searching around for the tracks of the predator, my brother found another recent elk calf in the same condition. I was calling it coyotes, my brother called it bears. We never found any tracks tho. Farther down the road my brother spotted a bedded buck. Could only see the side profile but he looked awesome. Then he turned his head to look at us and his antlers went 6-8 outside his ears putting him well over 30 inches wide. I called him 34 and my brother said bigger. I tried to stalk but it was foolish, mid day on a buck that had seen us from the road. He looked like a monster 3x4 and we finally decided to come back nearer dark and look for him again.
    At this point we decided to drive to town and call home. My brother needed to use a day off from work and I needed to tell my wife and kids that I wouldn't be home to see them off to the first day of school. It was 11 am and getting hot. Driving along with dust weary eyes and heavy eyelids on the main dirt road. This road had been heavily used by firefighters and recreation and now hunters. We were going slow tho, looking for animals (I got really excited about a couple red cattle in the trees) and a truck passed us. We let the dust die back down and kept rolling. Thats when I spotted a couple bucks in a stand of ponderosa pines. "big bucks" I screeched in a whisper. And then maybe 30 yards off road I saw a buck facing us. Plenty wide, heavy with grass seed heads sticking out both sides of his mouth. Couldn't count the tines and figured he was a monster two point. Mike rolled behind a clump of oak brush and I bailed out while the truck was moving, spilling my camera, and other assorted gear onto the side of the road. I was at 65 yards and sneaking around the oak clump. Closed the distance to 30 yards or a step under and drew my bow. Of course this is when a couple kindly older gentlemen came down the road and slammed on the brakes to look at the bucks. There were two others inside bow range, both looked like four points but the giant 2 was my target, he was visibly larger. So I drew with the old guy audience to make me nervous--let fly. File0009.JPG File0015.JPG File0085.JPG File0108.JPG
     
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  9. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    "You hit 'im" the crowd yelled out and I went to the binoculars to confirm a hit. The buck doubled the distance between us and stopped quartering away on a hill. "please drive away" was my response and I verified blood right in the middle of his body. Please be in the liver, please be in the liver. . . arrow passed throw but not much blood. He was acting sick and I was desperate to get another arrow through him. I clumsily got to 40 yards and tried again, this one perfectly in the crease of the shoulder. He kicked his rear legs and ran about 30 yards to where a terrace in the landscape hit him from my eyes.
    I walked back to the truck and proclaimed him well hit and probably dead just down the hill. We put down some water and cliff bars and I was ready to go look-at 9 minutes. My brother stalled and held me off till 15 and then we were off.
    I went to where I had hit him the second time and found blood immediately. My brother had gone to where I thought the deer would be. He yelled for me to stay up on the hill so I could see down into the tall brush and see if I could spot him. But the buck was too big to hide and I saw it behind my brother. He had piled up as soon as he had left my sight without any drama.
    Clean him up, pose him, take 100 pix so that maybe my bad smile will look good in two or three of them. Even remembered to remove the hat in a couple. I was extremely pleased that he was actually a three by three and knew he was big. But when I looked at the pictures on the camera, I could see him compared to me and then I knew he was a monster!
    Where are my friends from Game4Africa to carry him whole to the truck for me!?
    We cut him in half and dragged the back end out after I gutted him. My favorite part was while we were examining the damage the broadhead did to the liver and my brother Mike dropped his glasses into the gut pile-priceless!
    The antlers and front half were a different story. I tied the front legs together and put them up on my shoulder like a sling and carried the head in front of me, it was heavy but no damage done to the velvet on those antlers. Just as I got to the truck another hunter showed up. He had been hunting elk down the canyon and due to all our commotion had come to investigate. He insisted on measuring and for once, I wanted to put a tape on an animal. My brother sets tile on his off days and found a tape measure in his truck. 31 inches wide!
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  10. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    My bow is an older Hoyt carbon element. I use carbon express Maxima 450 arrows and 100 gr 1 1/4" Slick Trick broadheads that bring the arrow weight to 484 grains-I added some inserts for weight in the front end-no idea how fast they shoot, faster than my eyes can follow. I use an old Scott release that I've had for 20 years anyway. My dad bought it for me when I drew my first cougar tag. I remember that Jake-of Jake's archery rung it up that day and said it was overpriced or marked up too much or something and gave it to us for half price. I think he could see and appreciate something in my young eyes.
    Both arrows passed through and both broadheads were pulled out of the dirt in great shape.

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  11. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    Congrats on a great buck!!!!
     

  12. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    (y)
     

  13. Ragman

    Ragman AH Elite

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    Wow, that's an awesome buck! I'll never forget my first archery mule deer. Still one of my top hunting memories and trophies. Congrats!
     

  14. ThomasBeaham

    ThomasBeaham AH Enthusiast

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    Thoroughly enjoyed your report.
    Especially the photography.
    Happy for you and your brother that you found "the one" and managed to arrow it.
    Congrats!
    Archery deer season opens here in AZ tomorrow morning. Hoping a little of your luck has rubbed off on me. :)
     

  15. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    The picture with the mountain and the smoke is best known as "the Bears Ears" the two humps-currently famous for political grandstanding and monetary bickering cloaked in vague motives. (Used my nice words) Here are some of the roadside treasures worth seeing on the desert part-There was a tour in rsa to see some of this rock art that I wish we had set aside time for-next trip!

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  16. firehuntfish

    firehuntfish AH Fanatic

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    Congrats on a great velvet muley! I am jealous...!
     

  17. Firebird

    Firebird AH Enthusiast

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    I had him scored a bit ago-he nets 160, outside width was 31 and those longest tines are 18.5 and 19. I decided not to have him placed in the book when I found out that velvet trophies only stay in for one year. Database forever but book only that year so I backed off. Now he is at the taxidermist, I’ll post a pic when he is finished
     

  18. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Legend

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    That's an awesome buck! Congratulations!!
     

  19. Bullthrower338

    Bullthrower338 AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    The wall is much better than any damn book!
     

  20. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Elite

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    Firebird..............That is a very fine buck. That is also a very fine report, thanks for posting. And I was surprised to learn that we a kindred spirits. I also drive a 2001 two wheel drive pickup. And I also apply for deer tags in Utah...(22 times). But I have never hunted there. I will always be the old guy in the truck that screws up your shot. Anyway.............congrats and well done!................FWB
     

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