"Colorado Mule Deer Success"
Written by Jason McCarthy
My story begins in April of 2007...the day I submitted for a tag in my home state of Nevada. I haven't drawn a mule deer tag in three years and thought this may be the year. My good friend Adrian also talked me into submitting for a tag in Colorado's unit 65. I submitted for both states hoping I would at least get one of the two tags. As luck would have it, I drew tags in both states. The hunt in Nevada ran the first two weeks in October and the Colorado 2nd season ran through the third week of October. I started planning for the upcoming three week hunt. I had enough vacation time saved up at work, and was lucky because my supervisor was also a hunter. I also made arrangements with the local florist to have flowers delivered to my house for the entire third week of October. My five-year anniversary fell right in the middle of the Colorado hunt. (Some advice to married hunters, flowers do work!)
Before I knew it, the Nevada hunt was here and off we went. I was excited about this hunt because my 76 year-old grandfather was meeting us from Utah. My Grandfather was going to stay for the first three days of the six-day hunt. Besides me and my grandfather, our camp also consisted of my good friends Chris, Adrian, and my brother-in-law, Shane. Opening day of the hunt was good with snow on the ground and cold weather, but as the week went on the weather became warmer. All four of us finished the week harvesting some average bucks. We packed up and headed for Montrose, Colorado.
After arriving in Colorado, Adrain and myself scouted our hunting area for three days prior to opening day. We saw a lot of bucks, many more than we saw in Nevada. Opening day arrived and we were surrounded by elk hunters, and never saw any deer. We decided to hike to the high country the next day to avoid the hunting pressure. The second day was continuous snowfall and complete whiteout conditions, so we decided to road hunt. We spotted several deer bedded, but no bucks. I felt good about the third day of the hunt, because the snowstorm had blown through. The third morning we headed out of camp around 4 a.m. It took and hour to get to our hunting spot, and another hour of hiking in a foot of snow. The area we were hunting was rolling hills covered in sagebrush. At the highest point of the hill were small patches of aspens trees, which surrounded the thick forest on top. We decided to split up, with Adrian going to the edge of the forest, hunting below the aspens. The plan was to work from east to west. Off we went, Adrain started toward the high country and I started straight across the rolling hills along the bottom edge of the aspens. I found myself going down one raven and straight up another. It was tough walking in wet snow.
After two hours and three miles, I was winded, my feet felt frozen, and I couldn't stop for any length of time because my body would freeze from sweating so hard. As I stopped for a short break, I spotted a deer just outside of an aspen grove. The aspen grove was straight up above me about 800 yards away. I quickly glassed the deer and saw it was a doe. I didn't see any other deer, but I figured there may be a buck with the doe. I hurried and made my way into a ravine to conceal my approach, then started making my way up the hill toward the aspen grove. I stopped every couple of yards and glassed the grove, and made sure nothing had come out. As I got within 100 yards of where I first saw the doe, I spotted her again through some trees as she was walking into a ravine filled with aspens. My first thought was to get to the top of the aspen grove in case I spooked the deer. I figured the deer would run up hill and disappear into the thick timber. I slowly crept through the snow and made my way to the top. I glassed the trees and didn't see anything, so I began crawling toward the aspen grove. I made it to the edge of the grove and was shocked. I found myself within 60 yards of four nice bucks feeding right in the middle of the aspens. My heart felt like it was coming out of my chest and my arms wouldn't stop shaking. I felt busted, but quickly realized the deer had no idea I was there. I tried calming myself down so I could take a shot. Suddenly, I heard voices coming from the bottom of the valley. I turned and saw a truck pull up miles away, and several hunters getting out. One of the hunters slammed the door to his truck. I wasn't the only one who heard the ruckus! I looked back at the deer a saw the four bucks walking up through the aspens and into the thick forest. Just when I thought it was over another buck appeared. He walked up between the aspens and stood on the outside edge. When he turned his head, I felt like I was going to pass out. The rack was unbelievable! When I calmed myself down, I realized I was looking at a buck bigger than the other four. I knew my time was limited and set my .270 on the shooing sticks. I had the big buck in my cross hairs for what felt like a lifetime. He was standing in between two aspens and had his back towards me. I waited and waited to get a better shot. He started walking out of the aspens away from my position and I knew this was it. I slowly pulled the trigger and got a shot off. I saw the deer run off and knew he was hit. I collapsed into the snow and waited for 20 minutes. I didn't want to rush the deer.
I walked over to the area where I shot him and quickly picked up a blood trail. The trail went down hill for 50 yards and back into the aspens. Fresh snowfall the day before made tracking easy. As I was tracking, several thoughts ran through my head..."Did I make a good shot?" "I have to find this deer!", and "I cannot wait to tell my grandfather about this one!"
I followed the tracks back to the edge of the aspen grove. I was met there with a loud crashing sound. The big buck had been bedded down and now suddenly jumped up and was running into the bottom of the aspen grove. The buck stopped and looked right at me. I took a second shot and the buck was mine. I stood there at the edge of the groove for ten minutes. I felt like the luckiest man in the world.
I walked up to the buck and found he was a lot bigger than I thought. His right G1 was 2 inches thick and he had an extra point on the left side. He's a nice, heavy horned 4x5 with a 22-inch spread. This big buck was a true trophy buck for me.