Jordan Mecham (aka Machado) recently shared the fun mule deer hunting adventures he had in 2018. Here's what was shared in the forum.....
"6x5 General Season Early Rifle Utah Buck - This year was a pretty special year. Not because we killed the biggest bucks but because of all the time spent with family in the mountains chasing deer and creating new memories.
I knew it was going to be a good year when my cousin drew a LE muzzy tag (only 3.7% chance) close to home. It was also my 3rd year of dedicated hunter and we had been chasing some really nice deer the year before and had learned a lot more about them. So this year looked promising.
My cousin fights fires and we knew that he was going to be gone a lot during the summer, but we didn't know how much. With him being called on so many fires this season, I spent most of my time close to home scouting for his hunt! Scouting a LE unit close to home was awesome, but didn't leave me much time to scout for my general season tag, so my expectations were lower and I just wanted a nice mature mule deer. My goal was to find a 170-190 range or a big wide old buck.
During my scouting trips for my general season tags I had found some nice deer. One 28-30 inch wide 180-190 typical, 175-180 typical and another neat 165-170 class 6x6 and a bunch of smaller bucks. Some of the bucks we had seen the previous year and they had lost a few inches.
Fast forward a few months and we were in September and I hadn't made it back to any cameras or done any more scouting. My cousin was able to tag out on a sweet typical buck on the third day of his muzzy hunt (bottom pic). He made an amazing stalk up some shell rock and connected from 90 yards about 15 minutes before dark.
After his hunt, I didn't have much time to scout before the opener of the early rifle and I wasn't able to make it down the day of the opener. I arrived late Wednesday night to camp. It had been raining all day and it was still raining when I arrived at camp. After making a game plan with my uncle and cousin, they were going to go hit some of the lower country and I was going to hike into an area that I had hunted on last years rifle hunt. I was hoping that with this hunt being a few weeks earlier that the deer would still be in the area before they started their migration for the year.
The early morning hike would take me 3.5 solid hours of hiking before I would make it to the spot I wanted to glass at first light. I arrived at the trail head at 3:30 am and started the long steep hike. Luckily the rain had stopped in the morning, but the oak was so wet that it made for a rough go. My rain gear did a pretty good job keeping me dry but made my legs feel pretty heavy with each step. After arriving a little late to the ridge top, I saw 6 does but no bucks. I glassed for a solid 2 hours with no luck. I kept moving up the canyon in hopes of glassing some bigger bowls and other canyons that I figured held deer. But the higher I moved up the mountain the thicker the fog became.
I decided to wait out the weather in hopes that it would clear up in the afternoon. I got out the jet boil and made me lunch and prepared to wait for as long as I could possibly wait. I had hiked that far and I wasn't headed back down the trail til dark. It rained off and on for the next two hours. The sun finally broke through and I started to see deer. Two small bucks and 5 more does. The good weather lasted about 45 minutes until the rain and fog set it again. After another long wait the weather broke again. I glassed the tops of the ridges as quick as I could. I wasn't able to locate any deer on the ridges within shooting distance so I started looking at the tops of the ridges a mile or so away. This is where my luck turned around. I found a buck as he stood up out of his bed and fed for all of 5 minutes and then re-bedded. I was able to see that he had cheaters on both sides and with the lack of scouting I had done I knew that I would be more than happy with this buck this year.
I grabbed all my stuff as fast as I could and took one last look of where the buck was bedded and headed his way. Half way through the hike towards the bedded buck the rain came down harder than it had all day. (During the break in the weather I took off my rain pants) I had so much adrenaline pumping that I didn't care that I was soaked from head to toe. I had dropped down a steep ridge and hiked close to a mile though thick scrub oak. I had to climb seven to eight hundred yards to get to a small saddle that I thought I would be able see him. I had planned on a 6-700 yard shot. I had finally reached the saddle two hours later after I had seen the buck bed down. I was hoping that I was going to have some time to catch my breath before the deer stood up out of his bed, but that is not how it played out.
I came over the ridge in-between to large boulders. As I brought up my glasses, I saw the buck standing broadside looking my way. I quickly ranged him at 675. I tried to catch my breath and hold as still as I could. The rain was coming down pretty heavy. I missed the first few shots. The deer moved up to 715 yards. I took a min or two to catch my breath and regain my composure. The next shot I hit him and he staggered back a little and was still standing there. I shot two more times and I could not see him. I was in disbelief at everything that just happened. With all the rain coming down I figured that it was going to wash away any blood or tracks, but I knew that I had hit him and needed to make the long hike up and around to see if I could find him.
As I was sending a text to my family about what just happened, I heard some rocks slide down the steep mountain up where the buck had disappeared. I immediately looked up and saw the buck roll end over end 200 yards down the mountain. He landed on his back against a giant rock. I thought for sure he was dead, but to my surprise he got up and started walking across the hillside towards me. I reloaded my gun and ranged him again. The next two shots missed just low, but the buck kept working down the ridge and my way. I could tell he was hit hard. He dropped down into some oak and pines. I had lost him for 10 minutes until I saw him standing below a tall pine. I quickly ranged him at 419 yards and waited for him to step out from behind the tree. There was so much thick cover below him that I knew this was going to be my last chance at seeing him on this hillside. I took a deep breath trying to calm my nerves. It felt like forever before he stepped out from behind the tree. I gently squeezed the trigger. I immediately saw blood come out from behind his front shoulder. He stumbled for 15 yards and tipped over.
I was so excited and still in disbelief. I grabbed my stuff and my pack and headed over as fast as I could. I had only two shells left. I had shot more bullets at this deer than I had in the past 10 years of deer hunting combined. When I finally reached the buck, I was relieved, excited, and felt deep respect for this buck that lived in this deep nasty country. Before lifting his antlers out of the scrub oak I took a moment to think about how my nerves and the physical toll of the day had got the best of me. This wasn't my best showing but luck was on my side that day. He isn't the biggest but I worked my butt off and was so pumped to kill a buck with such neat character. The taxidermist said that he thought this buck was between 11-13 years old which makes him even sweeter."