Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

"My First Non-Typical"
Written by Kelly Silbernagel
Featured in the Spring, 2006 issue of Trophy Hunter Magazine

My First Non-Typical
As the 2005 archery season approached in southern Saskatchewan I was hoping and praying that it was going to be a successful one. I had been doing a lot of pre-season scouting and had seen quite a few good bucks in velvet that I would have given anything to harvest. But it always seems a lot easier to spot good deer through a scope at a few hundred yards than it is to crawl on your belly over cactus and rocks, and then sit for a few hours waiting for a deer to fall asleep or get up for a stretch at the perfect angle for an ethical shot.

Another reason I was hoping for a successful 2005 season was that the only thing I could have put in my freezer from the previous year's hunt was the tag which I still had sitting at home. It never makes for a good fall when you end up eating the tags rather than good tenderloin from a mule deer.

I spent the first three hunting days walking and crawling around, without much luck. But one Saturday I was out with friends and it was extremely foggy and drizzling rain. It was so thick that two of the guys got lost and were heading directly away from the truck when they were supposed to be heading back for dinner. But the heavy fog and drizzle made the dry grass a lot quieter. In case I forgot to mention this, our hunts are all spot and stalk. No tree stands (or trees, for that matter) in this part of the country. We walked for a couple of hours before the guy I was with peeked over a steep bank and saw two nice mule deer lying right out in the open, dead asleep. I could not see the deer very well due to the fact that my Bushnell binoculars do not have lens covers, and the rain and fog made them virtually useless. My hunting buddy had Swarovski's with lens caps and he could tell that one was a nice typical and the other was a non-typical that he guessed to be 190" or so. I took his word for it because his dad has been a Pope & Young, Henry Kelsey and Boone & Crockett measurer for years and his kids are great hunters and know the scoring system in detail.

We decide we had to pursue them at this point and used the wind to work our way around to see how close we could get. After fifteen to twenty minutes, the deer knew something was wrong because we had not seen the six does across the coulee due to the fog (and lack of attention on our part) and when they stood up, snorted, and took off running the two bucks were alarmed. The bucks stood up and were looking around while I got to my knees. I drew back my Mountaineer bow nocked with one of my aluminum arrows that have 125-grain Thunder Head broadheads threaded into them. Then I let it fly. But after the first ten to twenty yards the fletching came off and the arrow continued to drive itself into the dirt short of the deer. The two bucks heard the sound of the arrow and bolted out of the area. Needless to say, I was disgusted and disappointed with my arrows since I had just gotten them from the bow shop about three weeks prior and I'd had new fletchings put on them. I hung my head and walked back to the truck with vivid flashes in my mind of the disappointing 2004 season when I did not get to tag anything. Once we got back to the truck it really started to pour buckets of rain and we headed home.

The next weekend I headed out from work early on Friday to try and get the last few hours of daylight in. I knew exactly where I was going, to find the non-typical muley I'd missed. Once I got to the place where I wanted to leave my truck I began to walk to the coulee where the buck had been. As I approached I began to walk softly, then hunched down and started to belly crawl just as I peeked over the ridge. I glassed the area and saw nothing. I got up and started to walk up to the next ridge when I caught glimpse of the non-typical antlers. I dropped down and began to crawl through the grass to where he was lying. There he was, in a low spot on the side of a hill that had some brush in it. I couldn't believe my luck.

As I ranged the deer I found him to be 34 yards away from me. The problem was that he had his hind end facing me and if he got up and walked away I would have no shot. So I lay there for close to an hour, and sunset was coming quickly. I got a good look at the brute and saw that he had eleven points on one side and nine on the other. I made sure to stay calm and was ready for a good shot.

Knowing that I had to do something to make him get up, I tried a grunt call which made him lift his head and look around. I was not sure what I could do without spooking him and causing him to run, so I continued to grunt and even whistled, but to no avail. Just then a smaller buck came walking along the fenceline and caused the buck to stand up. He was straight away with his hindquarters to me, so I used my last chance call which was a loud yell of "HEY". This caused him to turn about 45 degrees and I stuck my arrow high in his hip angling down into the paunch.

I did not want to push him that night because he might've had enough in him to break for it. So I left him for the night and came back about 7:00 a.m. the next day. I was always told that wounded mule deer will never try to cross a fence, so I started my search by walking along the fences and found him 80 yards from where I had arrowed him, lying up against the fence. His horns were through the wire, which kind of hurts the theory I was told that deer won't try to cross fences when hurt. I went and got a friend to take pictures because I have always dreamed and talked about getting a non-typical.

Later I took him down to be scored by the official Boone & Crockett measurer I talked about earlier and found him to be 203-5/8". It doesn't matter what his net score is because he is still a lot bigger than the 173" typical mule deer I already have.

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

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

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