Winner of our Best Mule Deer Buck Field Photo Contest!
Prize = Easton Outfitters Fullbore Hunting Pack!
Luck was with Matthew Tillotson this year. Odds of drawing the Idaho tag was only 3%, but he got it and made the most of the hunt. Enjoy the story.....
"This is truly an experience that will be treasured in my hunting memories as well as in my father's, who has been a mentor in my mule deer hunting since I was a little boy. I was lucky to draw one of the coveted late mule deer hunts in eastern Idaho this year. I am quite familiar to the area due to the fact that I grew up there. I had killed many 180-190 class bucks in that area in years passed, but this year I was looking for something special. Drawing the tag was a feat in itself in that the draw percentage was about 3%.
My hunt went from Oct 15th to Nov 31, so I had a lot of time to be patient and pass up bucks that most hunters would love to take. The area I hunted was composed of high mountain peaks and deep valleys as well as lower foothills where a lot of deer pull off and spend the winter in. Since I had just graduated college and had taken a new job, I wasn't allowed too many days vacation time to spend on this hunt, however since the season was so long I would focus my attention on weekends and holidays.
During the first few weekends of the season, I spent my time glassing from high mountain ridges and peaks. We saw quite a few decent bucks, but in the back of my mind was just to hold out for the rut and a big ole' smart buck would let his guard down and I could take him. I was blessed also to get a few good snowstorms during late October and early November which helped push more bucks out of the high country.
The morning before I killed this brute, I decided to go and walk a ridge that was known as a deer migration path. That same day, my father went out glassing another area that was known to have some good deer in it. It was frigid cold that morning and treading in knee deep snow for 8 miles without seeing only but 2 does caused my spirits to down. This did give me a good idea as to where the deer were though. They must had already moved across and down into the lower hills. I spent that evening glassing valleys and draws on the south side of the main drainage I was hunting and saw a lot of deer. I still just had not seen the buck that I wanted to take yet. As I came out of the main draw and into the lower valley my phone buzzed with a message that I will never forget. "I have a deer you need to see".
Now my Dad is an very experienced trophy mule deer hunter and has killed many giant mule deer, including a huge non-typical the year before and a typical the previous year that scored well over 200". I knew that he knows what a "buck I needed to see was". It was just getting dark as I called dad to get the details, so I knew that the next morning could be one of the best hunting days of my life.
After setting up a game plan I went home to try and get some sleep before I needed to get up at 4am.
The next day was just that. One of the best hunting days of my life. Our plan to take this huge Idaho mule deer worked and the rest is history. All I have to say is, Thank you Dad for inspiring me, and my wife for supporting me."