Monster Muleys member, Randy Yates (aka yatran) shared a great adventure and photos in Mule Deer Forum recently. Here's what he shared.....
"High Hopes - Our 2019 Deer hunt started with high hopes. My son Spencer had scored on a great buck the previous year. It was the biggest buck we had ever seen on a public property, general deer tag. Hell, it was probably the biggest deer I had ever seen alive, period! Over the last few years we had been fortunate with some fairly good success in our area including last year’s big buck. And so, our hopes were sky high despite my wise advice that he would, “never shoot a deer that big on a general tag… on public property… ever again!” Our high hopes were soon dashed when we arrived Thursday at our “honey hole”. The whole area was a prescribed burn! You have got to be kidding me! By the time Saturday rolled around the fires were mostly out thanks to a few snow storms. With the hopes of seeing another bruiser in “our spot” we decided to stick to our original plan and hunt the honey hole despite the fires of the previous week and the lingering smoke that filled the forest like an Oregon coastal fog.
Opening morning we literally did not see a single deer! Not a doe! Not a fawn! We tried for a few days to find deer in other areas where we have had past success. No luck. We tried new areas but the smoke and fire were too much and we saw very few deer, and zero bucks.
We headed home Monday night dejected. Tuesday morning, we picked up my buddy Jake at the airport who flew in from Florida with his first Utah Mule Deer tag. We headed back up on the mountain, this time to a completely different part of our boundary, pioneering an area we had never hunted before.
Our first night in our new spot we take a little hike to a vantage point where we can glass miles of sagebrush to get a feel for our new hunting area. With in a few minutes Spencer picks up a deer running through the sage a mile away. I quickly put up my binos and I could tell even from our distance that he was an excellent buck, big body and extra wide! “Holy Crap! That’s a MONSTER” I tell Jake and Spencer. “We have to go RIGHT NOW!” We hustle back down from our vantage point to the truck and haul butt down the dirt road. We hike over two ridges as quickly and as quietly as we can and as we crawl over the top of the second ridge, we see the buck on the next ridge over, broadside looking right at us. It was one of the most beautiful pictures I have seen in my lifetime of hunting. The old wide buck stood broadside, as the twilight sky reflected off of the several inches of fresh white powder casting a silvery blue hue over the mountain. His antlers could be seen way out past his ears even at 400 yards without the aid of any optics. As the buck stood there, seemingly frozen in place, I was in awe of his muscular shoulders, thick neck and his round mature chest. Spectacular! I couldn’t believe what we were looking at! Spencer Set up quickly, I ranged him at just over 400 yards and Spencer squeezed the trigger. He dropped instantly! And then…. he got up! He moved quickly into some thick brush. Spencer was unable to get another shot at him. It was almost dark and we knew he was hit hard, we decided rather than push him deeper into thicker cover in the dark, we would let him lay down and die and we would recover him in the morning. We made a mental mark where we saw him enter the trees and headed back to camp. We speculated all night about what went wrong, talking about and replaying in our minds the shot and the hit and our surprise when he got back up again and ran off! To say the least…we were nervous!
The next morning, we headed back to the tress with high hopes again of finding our buck. High hopes dashed again! Turns out he was not hit as hard as we thought. We tracked him all day with very little blood. The day was warm and the snow was quickly melting and washing away what little blood he left. About 3:30 p.m. I call my hunting coach and mentor. You know him here as Zeke…I call him “The Duke”. I explain everything that happened….how he dropped instantly, the small amount of blood trail he had left, the distance we have tracked him (literally 3 miles). We discuss a few possibilities and I tell Duke that after 7 hours of tracking pin pricks of blood for 3 miles I’m mentally exhausted and ask him if we should give up. He did not hesitate… “Absolutely not! If that buck is as good as you say it is you owe it to that buck and to yourselves to finish the deal. You track and hunt that buck for the rest of the week!” Encouraged and invigorated by Duke’s pep talk we continue. Only a half hour later our persistence would pay off and we were very glad we followed Duke’s advice! As we are tracking the buck along the foothills, I decide to glass up on the mountain above us to make sure we haven’t kicked him out. Nothing! Then 40 yards away, almost as im dropping my binos from my eyes I see a deer under a cedar brush staring at me. I do a double take, It does not look real! It can’t be a deer, it’s too big! Looking through my binos I cannot see where his antlers end! I just see these massive main beams coming out from his head! I frenziedly wave to Spencer to get over here, the buck stands up. This is another picture I will not forget. This massive buck on the hoof at 40 yards. Wow! I get a really good look at how wide he is, how awesome he is and then…boom…he’s down. This time it’s final, he does not get up!
What a feeling to have hung with it and finished the deal! Lots of congratulatory hugs, high fives and back patting led to the realization of what was next… a 4 mile hike back to camp! Spencer and I were grateful Jake was with us! Fortunately, we found ourselves not too far from a road, so we took care of the animal, packed him off the mountain and stashed him under some brush not far off the road. Had a long but light victory walk back to camp where we got the truck, returned to the buck and finished the job.
Turns out I was wrong Spencer, you did it again! Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do!"