Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

"The Open Country Trophy"
Written by David E. Rickett Jr.

The Open Country Trophy
As you can see in the background, there isn't much cover in this country.
Opening day of archery season is a day that my hunting partner and I look forward to every year, and this year was no exception. We usually spend the first couple of weeks pursuing antelope, and we had a couple spotted that we felt would go into the books. Then we pursue the mule deer.

We got a late start on opening day, but it proved to be in our favor. As we got into the area we were going to hunt we saw a large mule deer buck skylined on a ridge about 2 miles from where we sat. We knew right away that this buck was worthy of a stalk.

The wind was in our favor as we began to move in on the unsuspecting buck. However, as we topped the final ridge, he had vanished. It took another hour before we located him again about two miles away. This time he was feeding in a deep draw. We also spotted a huge antelope while looking for the buck, so my partner decided to pursue the antelope and I went after the mule deer.

I quickly moved to within 200 yards and was in the same draw as the buck when I spotted him ahead of me. There wasn't much cover left between the buck and I to conceal my movement, so I had to wait for him to put his head down before I could move.

It took another hour before I was within 100 yards, and still needed to get much closer for a good, safe shot. By this time, the sun was out and it was beginning to get quite hot and I could tell that the buck was looking for a nice shady spot to bed down.
He began slowly walking up a small hill and there was a small ridge separating us. I knew that it might be my only chance to close the gap, so I belly crawled up the hill parallel to him but out of his sight. As I was getting close to the top of the hill I saw his antlers and the top of his back as he went over the ridge. I crawled quickly to a small piece of scrub brush and peered over the rim.

He was only about 20 yards below me, but I was still lying on my belly. There was very little cover to conceal my movement, so raising up would have surely drew his attention. So, I waited.
A couple minutes later he turned and feed directly away from me and I knew this would be my only chance.

I slowly sat up on my knees and drew my bow. As I drew my bow and shifted my knees to shoot, the crotch of my pants ripped. Oh no! I thought, as the buck took off.
I was surprised though when he ran only 20 yards and stopped again. I guess to look back and find out what made that strange noise?
I was at full draw, so I settled my 40 yard pin just behind his shoulder and let my Martin Phantom, launching ACC Carbons tipped with 125 grain Rocky Mountain Iron tips, go.
The hit was good and the buck vanished over the hill.

I moved to the ridge and began looking for the buck, but couldn't see him anywhere. I followed the blood trail and found my first full-velvet, 164 P&Y point buck only 60 yards from where I had shot him.

Our hunt took place on my father-in-laws ranch in eastern Montana. My father-in-law also outfits off his ranch and takes several bucks each year much like the one I did. His website is
We've taken some great antelope off the ranch too!

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

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