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"Hard Hunting = Big Buck Success"
Photo provided by: sb2017

Monster Muleys member, sb2017 held out for an even bigger buck, but decided late in the hunt that this one was big enough. He shared this story in the forum.....

"Muley Success - This was a hunt that I have been looking forward to for years and years. I finally drew this year and put a lot of work in and was able to get this guy on 2nd to last day.

I went into the season with high hopes due to the early snow and cold temperatures... but a switch flipped 2 days into the season and temperatures soared. Hot, sunny days seemed to push the deer back up high, and the near full moon didn't help much either. In my first 3 days of the hunt, I was looking over 5-10 bucks every morning. As the season progressed, I started feeling lucky to glass up 1 or 2 bucks in my morning and evening glassing.

One of the particularly discouraging days, I watched two mature bucks head into the trees and disappear to bed down literally 15 minutes after daylight. I found them at first light and they were gone 15 minutes later. That same day, I was in a new area and couldn't find great glassing so I hunted my way back to my truck and decided to drive the road down with enough light to glass along the way. I glassed up a decent buck bedded down in some oak brush at the edge of a quakie patch. I honest to god watched that buck stay in his bed until it was too dark to see through my spotter.

I had seen this buck several different times in my search throughout the week. I think he is absolutely beautiful, but when the season was still young I was trying to stay patient and hold out, because generally the hunting gets better and better throughout the season. I felt pretty confident that the big boys would start appearing later in the week.

I turned out to be wrong, and the hunting continued to get tougher and tougher. I had taken a pretty big gamble by passing this buck up because obviously there is no guarantee that a buck will stick around in one area or not get shot, but the evening before the 2nd to last day, I decided to spend my morning checking to see if he was still hanging out in the area I had seen him. I had no other leads on a nicer buck anywhere, so I decided to fully commit and snuck into the area at daylight. My dad tagged along with me to help with the pack out if things went well, because we had decided before the morning even started that if I found the buck and got a shot, it was a done deal. I held out for a long time as the season progressed, and based off of what I was seeing (or not seeing) around the unit in the days leading up to the end of season, I decided that this buck was well worth the tag, and much much better than not filling at all.

It was a slow start for the deer that morning, we had been set up in there for about an hour after daylight before we saw our first doe. Sure enough, the 2nd deer we saw that morning was this guy. He followed the doe out. At this point they were still over 1000 yards away from us, so I took my best guess at how they would work their way down the hill and got to a spot where I could shoot if they did what I thought they'd do. As luck would have it, they did exactly that.

This is the funniest/worst/best part of the story, and a part that I'm hesitant to even tell because people are going to think I'm BSing or exaggerating. All I can say is I'm truly, honestly not. I was watching the buck work his way down the hill and was in the spot I planned on shooting from. My dad had stayed back when I dropped in to get closer to shoot. I didn't have my rifle up quite yet because I didn't want to start getting muscle fatigued too early since he was still a ways away. I watched him walk into a patch of oak brush and thought that I could see any angle he might emerge from.... wrong!

Somehow, the buck escaped that oak brush patch without me seeing him. It was bizarre, I have no idea how I didn't see him come out on the other side, but I sat there staring at the oak brush for a good minute or two, wondering what he was up to in there. After he didn't pop back out I took a quick scan around and sure enough, that buck had been standing broadside to me at 250 yards, literally exactly where I had hoped he would go to for me to shoot. My dad was too far up the hill to holler at me without spooking the deer, so he just watched in agony as I was oblivious to this buck standing EXACTLY where we had hoped he would go, giving me a perfect broadside shot. My dad later told me that he assumed I had seen the buck in the scope and decided he wasn't worth shooting. Right as I looked and saw him, I got behind my rifle and found him in my scope. Of course, right as I readied for the shot he started walking again. I was worried about losing sight of him, so I kind of rushed the shot. It was a very ugly shot that I'm pretty ashamed of, safe to say I missed. After that first shot, I started to feel a little panicked thinking I was going to let him get away. I fell victim to a classic case of getting worked up, which did not help me shoot any better. I sent two more bullets flying and missed both shots as he was trotting. I had one bullet left in my magazine, and he had moved far enough that sagebrush was blocking my view from where I was resting my rifle to shoot. In a last ditch effort, hail mary type fashion, I stood up, pulled my rifle up, and sent a shot at him off hand. I could not believe my ears when I heard the shot connect and saw antler tips in the sagebrush, about 300 yards away. I'm not necessarily proud of my poor shooting before that shot, but I can't help but chuckle about it now and just thank my lucky stars. I wish I could say I have practiced and prepared for a shot like that, but I haven't. Luck was on my side that day. I wish I had made a nice good killshot on my first go, but this makes for a pretty good story.

This is the first buck I have killed since I was 15 years old. I had my grandpa, who has since passed on, by my side for that buck and I had my dad by my side for this one. I will never hear the end of it from him about my shooting, and I'm okay with that. We will be chuckling about this story for many nights around the campfire to come, and that's what hunting is all about."

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