Archive for September, 2007

The Experience of a Lifetime!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

I just got back from my early season mule deer hunt. It was a huge success. I was able to harvest not the biggest deer that I have ever shot, but a deer that I am the most proud of! He is a very nice deer – but what really made it one of the best hunting experiences that I have ever had was the way in which I was able to take this animal. My hunt had it all.

  • Physically demanding,
  • Beautiful scenery,
  • Raging bull elk,
  • and last but not least … I found great deer.

It was by far the most physical hunting experience that I have ever had. If you have never done a back pack hunt, I highly suggest that you give it a shot.

Here’s how it went.

  • I started my hunting trip at 8:00 am Friday morning. By 2:00 I had reached my campsite.
  • After another thirty minutes I had camp set up and I was ready to settle in.
  • After a short nap and some great food, it was time to grab the binoculars and go do some glassing to figure out where I wanted to be opening morning. I was unable to locate any deer that evening, but I  knew that they were there because I had seen them on previous scouting trips.  I did spot several good bull elk and had a good time watching them practice for the upcoming rutting rituals.
  • So after working up my opening morning strategy, I headed back to camp to get ready for an early night. It got pretty chilly that night, in fact it snowed on me. However, I had plenty of company because the neighbors – the elk – were quite vocal for most of the evening.
  • The next morning found me glassing the shady side of a bowl that I had scouted the day before. Although it looked like a great area I didn’t see any deer.
  • As the sun got higher and it started to illuminate the area, I took a cue from the elk and started to retreat and follow the shadows. As I skirted the top of the ridge that I was on, the washes below me were still shadowed by the peak to the south of me.
  • As I continued glassing I spotted two bucks making there way to wash that was closest to me. I tried ranging the animals with my range finder, but they were still out of range. So I started skirting the ridge above them to try and close the distance. Just about the time I had run out of ridge, the deer decided to head down one of the drainages to try and get into the dark timber before it started getting warm. I figured it was now or never. The deer were still below me and they had absolutely no idea that there was anybody even close.
  • So, I took off my backpack and assumed the prone position using my pack as a good solid rest for my rifle.
  • It took me about 10 minutes of glassing to decide which deer I wanted to take.
  • I ranged him one more time. He was 510yds away. Now I know most people do not believe in shooting at an animal that far away and I would have to agree with most people. However, in target practice, I normally shoot up to 600yds on a regular basis. So I knew exactly what I was capable of as well as what my rifle could do. Luckily there wasn’t any wind whipping across the canyon, so I held 23” above the heart/lung area of the deer and squeezed the trigger.
  • I was unable to hear the slap of the bullet impacting on the deer, but I didn’t need to. The 180gr bullet entered high on the front shoulder and exited just behind the shoulder on the opposite side. The buck dropped in his tracks. The only problem was, was that he was standing on about a 60 degree grade, so after about 150yds of rolling down the chute, he came to a rest.

To say that I was ecstatic would be an understatement!

The next challenge would be to figure out how to get to him!

It was 7:30 opening morning and I had been lucky enough to have already gotten my deer.
The only problem was that he was well over 500yds away across some pretty rough terrain. So I decided to go back and pack up camp.
After packing up camp, I started making my way over to where the deer had fallen.
The only problem was, is that as I got closer the landmarks that I had used to pinpoint his location, they no longer looked the same!  So I spent a while glassing the rock slide until I was able to find him and make my way over to him.
Wow, was I pleased when I got up to him!
He may not have been the biggest deer in the forest, but I was sure happy to have him.
After taking some pictures, the real work began. I gutted him, quartered and then deboning the meat. I was 8 miles in and wanted to save weight anyway that I could!
So after that was complete, I put the meat into plastic bags and put it into my backpack.
Let me tell you, the first time that I picked that pack up and put it on my back, I told myself “YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND!” I didn’t h
ave a scale but later on after I had taken the meat to the butcher, I figured that I had about 130lbs on my back and I still had a long way to go to get back to the truck.
Five hours, three gallons of water and god knows how many rest stops along the way I found myself back at the trailhead and my truck. I was exhausted, dehydrated, and basically felt like I had been kicked around by a mule, but there was no way to wipe the grin off of my face!
I had completed one of the most difficult hunts that I had ever been on and I was so excited that I almost wrecked my truck getting down the mountain so that I could get into cell phone range and call someone.
Hopefully one of these days I will be able to draw another tag and have the same great experience that I was able to have this time. If you ever get a chance to go on a hunt like this I would highly encourage you to.
Let me warn you though, it will definitely test your metal.
Good luck.