"One Great Monster Muley Day"
Written by Marty Killion
The area has a history of holding good bucks, mostly due to the early season archery hunters pushing them out of the timber and into the high open country, secluded from most hunters' eyes. Opening morning started with us getting up at 5:00am and eating a small breakfast, filling a water jug and re-checking my pack to make sure nothing was forgotten. After a short drive from camp, we were at the base of the mountain I intended to hunt.
The long hike began and I was pleasantly surprised to find fresh deer sign covering the country. Looked like the early season hunters had done what I had hoped. I also knew that there was really only one escape route used by bucks if they detected a hunter. This I learned from seeing several great bucks use the escape route over the years.
My goal was to start at the escape knoll. It was an easy hike to get there, but to avoid spooking any deer, I had to go in from the backside of the mountain. This would not only conceal me, but also keep the wind in my favor and hopefully I would approach well above any deer that might be out feeding.
By the time I got to the knoll, the morning sun was high in the air and it was starting to warm up. I pulled out all my scent blocker clothing from my pack, suited up, and began my hunt.
Working my way to the crest of a ridge, I found a small group of trees near the peak. I crawled through, careful not to skyline myself, and began working the Swarovski binoculars across the hillside ahead.
After several minutes of glassing, I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice 5x5 buck feeding near the bottom of the ridge. Through the binoculars, he looked like he would score in the low 170's. The buck also had a couple of small 3 points with him. I thought to myself, this might turn out to be a good day.
I carefully began closing the distance. I knew I had to work my way down the mountain several hundred yards to get to a vantage point where I could study the deer better and be able to see the whole ridge that the deer were feeding on. The wind was in my favor and I worked my way to a ridge just above the buck, if this buck looked like a shooter I would be about 125 yards from him.
Once in place, I broke out the Swarovski's and took a better look at the buck. He looked like he was probably 26" wide, heavy 4x4 frame with an extra point coming off the back. I stuck to my earlier estimate---mid to low 170's. A dandy buck by any hunters standards.
The buck had his head down and was feeding. Knowing he was going to be there awhile, I decided to start glassing the other ridge directly across from me to see if anything else was there. The ridge I was looking at could not be seen from my initial vantage point, due to rock outcropping and a small cluster of trees.
I immediately spotted a small buck working his way up the ridge. This is the point I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. I initially thought I had seen two raghorn bulls feeding just over the ridge. All I could see was the back of their antlers. They had their heads down feeding and I could see the back tines, slightly resembling raghorn antlers. I thought to myself, "Elk? They shouldn't be here right now". Then, one of the tremendous bucks picked up his head and then the other. Oh my god, it was big bucks!
Fighting a case of buck fever, I quickly estimated them both 30" or better and both in the 190's. Knowing where the bucks were, I had very little time to get to them before they would disappear into the trees. I was off on a quick run to try to get to an open ridge above the deer.
I made it to where I thought I would have a chance at one of these great deer, and then crawled to the peak of the hill to see if they were still there. I used my backpack as a shield hoping that neither of them would recognize me as a hunter. Slowly, I got to where I could see one of the bucks only 200 yards away. But, I couldn't find the other buck, and assumed he must have feed into the trees.
The buck I could see presented no shot, he had his head down straight away and the only view I had was his backside. Once he lifted his head, I knew I was looking at a special deer, over 30" and mid 190's for sure. I caught movement in the trees about 10 yards from the buck and out came his twin brother.
He looked to also be about 30 inches wide and a 190 class buck. Either buck would be the buck of a lifetime. I was just going to harvest a 170 class buck and now I was staring at two 190 class monster muleys.
The next few minutes just about did my heart in, as I could feel it pounding against by binoculars. Slowly and steadily the slightly smaller of the two bucks worked himself broadside with his head down. My Ruger #1 in .338 caliber was resting on its bipod in front of me. I settled in for my 200 yard shot on this monster typical buck.
Looking through the scope, I found myself looking at antlers. I had to tell myself, "Don't look at them, you will miss your shot".
Once the rifle sang out the buck disappeared. Sitting up, I could see the other buck high-tailing into cover. I could see my buck lying right where he was shot, he hadn't taken a step.
I made my way to my trophy and could not believe my eyes, a typical 4x4 buck stretching the metal tape to 30" exactly. What a buck! A special buck by anyone's standard. Especially special due to my hunting partner, Chad Vitley, was killed in March and this being my 1st mule deer hunt without him beside me. Although I believe, he was there in spirit watching over me, and WE got a dandy of a buck!
The body size was amazing, gigantic, with a huge rack resting on the rocks beside him. I am used to taking a deer out whole by just putting it over my shoulders and walking out, but that didn't happen with this hawg, I could hardly move him!
Thanks to my friend, Paul, for his excellent insight into the area and sound advice. This magnificent deer officially scores 186-7/8 and had only 3-3/8 total deductions. I can't wait for next year! Maybe, just maybe, I can bring these two great bucks back together again---on my wall!
Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos
Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos
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