MonsterMuleys.com

"The Flatlander"

It was 1968 and my first time hunting Colorado Mule Deer. I was to hunt with my father - in - law, Bill, and two of his neighbors. Being the only "FLATLANDER" in the hunting party, they said they would take it easy on me. We headed out from our home base in Salida, Colorado to Bill's cabin in the mountains outside of Ohio City, Colorado. At about 7000 feet my flatlander lungs had to work twice as hard to keep me going in the rarefied, it felt like, air, compared to sea level in my home town of Houston, Texas.

Steve's Colorado Buck
We had an old W.W. II Willy's jeep to use, so off we went. The cabin was great with water and a great looking antique wood burning stove used for both cooking and heat. However, you haven't lived until you have to go to the outhouse at 5 a.m., when it's sixteen degrees outside. The cabin was situated about fifty yards up a slope overlooking a narrow dirt road lined with gold and silver mines, mostly abandoned. The best thing about it was the view from the front porch. A steep slope covered in thick evergreens and quaking aspens running down to a creek. The creek was broad, shallow, and full of swiftly rushing crystal clear water. The small rainbow and native cutthroat trout weren't very sophisticated, and you could catch one with almost every cast.

We spent two or three days climbing steep slopes and checking out sagebrush and aspen choked canyons and ravines. We saw quite a few deer, but no takers. Finally, Bill thought about a friend whose gate key gave access to a whole mountain of private land. We jeeped to the top of the mountain and dropped a hunter on ridges on both sides of a narrow valley. Bill's neighbor and I drove to the lower end of the valley, hoping to ambush anything the two drivers might push past us. As we waited, with our guns lying on the hood of the jeep, I had a sudden hunter's instinct hit me right between my shoulders. I grabbed my Remington Model 700, loaded with 180-grain soft point ammo, and top with a Weaver 3 - 9 scope. I whirled around and there he was, the biggest Muley buck you could believe, sneaking through the trees. I locked the crosshairs on him and shot, the deer stumbled, clearly a hit. However, before I could put in a finisher, he circled around the end of the ridge. I raced to the top of the ridge, while my companion followed in his tracks.

Of course halfway up the ridge my flatlander lungs gave out. I was lying on my back with my rifle across my chest, gasping for air. While trying to get my breath, I heard a shot from the opposite slope. Sitting up I saw my father-in-law shoot underneath a running doe. Still gasping for air, I decided to try for her. The first shot was behind her, as was the second. Number three was in front of her, but the fourth was true and she was down. My hunting companion found my buck only a few yards from where we lost sight of him. Final score, FLATLANDER 2, RESIDENT'S 0. It took all of us to load them into the jeep and get them off the mountain.

The buck scored 192 6/8 B&C points, which was a green score and would put it in the top 100 at the time. It was also prime table fare. But, during the 60 day drying period, before it could be officially scored, B&C had the unprecedented audacity to raise the minimum entry score by a full ten points. To my knowledge, such a large increase had never been done before. Alas!, this knocked my buck out of contention by 2 3/8 points, thanks to an extra point of that same length on the right side of his rack, not matched by the left.

Then in 1992, I read an article in a hunting magazine stating that the B&C committee had reviewed scoring entry records and found that their standards were unreasonable, and thus they lowered the minimum for Mule Deer. I contacted them to find out the procedure needed to follow. I was told I would need affidavits for the following. Either the original Colorado hunting license or a letter from Colorado game commission stating they didn't keep records of hunting licenses that far back. A letter from the original taxidermist stating he had originally scored the deer, or have it rescored and hope that 30 years of drying hadn't shrunk it out of contention. And finally, clear pictures showing all four sides of the antlers and a signed statement of fair chase.

So, through trials and tribulations of time, letters, and phone calls, my Muley buck qualified for the all time B & C record book as number 53. A great finish for a first time Mule Deer hunter and a great deer.

Written by Steve Mahurin