2006 Mule Deer Hunt — Two Good DIY Public Land Bucks

Spotting for deer with my 243 WSSM A-Bolt Stainless Varmint Laminate with fluted barrel.
Spotting for deer with my 243 WSSM A-Bolt Stainless Varmint Laminate with fluted barrel.

After taking the past year off from mule deer hunting I was itching to go back after them again. I was also excited to be sporting a "new" knee. With being ineligible to hunt mule deer last year, because of the dedicated hunter program, I finally had my ACL fixed again. It took two surgeries during the summer of 2005, one to get the old screws, faulty ACL removed and cadaver bone added. A second surgery to remove a tendon and thread it through my knee. My knee and leg wasn't near 100 percent this year going into this hunting season but it was more stable.

I entered the dedicated hunter program again this year so I could hunt all the seasons. During the archery and muzzleloader seasons I was unable to locate anything of interest to chase after with a rifle. For the rifle season I decided to spend a couple of days with my brother and friends back in one of our favorite deer locations.

This rifle season I was looking forward to hunting with my 243 WSSM A-Bolt Stainless Varmint Laminate with 85g Barnes Triple Shock bullets. During the past summer I had the barrel fluted. I wish that I had weighed the barrel before and after to know for sure the reduction in weight. I figure that it is close to a pound in weight reduction. One thing for sure is that the rifle feels a lot more balanced and not nearly as top heavy as it was. Another thing the fluting really did was make the rifle really cool looking.

We backpacked in and I spent the night rolled up in a tarp. My friend Clint had a homemade bivy made from Tyvek. What a cool inexpensive lightweight bivy system. I'm definitely going to have to make one of these.

We woke up the first morning to a light snow storm. Perfect! We setup on a point to glass out over a couple of canyons. Snow squalls would move in and reduce our visibility to nothing off and on most of the day. In between squalls my brother Weston spotted a pretty nice buck across the main canyon. Weston and Clint went after him and I stayed back to glass, however in between snow squalls the buck and his does disappeared. I eventually spotted a few deer bedded in the oak brush and my brother and Clint were now in position on a finger ridge about 300 yards away from the bedded deer. I tried picking apart the brush with my spotting scope but I was unable to find the buck.

After waiting him out for a good hour, some other hunters had showed up behind me. I was afraid they might mess things up so I blew a coyote howl to get my brother's attention so I could hand signal and point out the extra company we were going to have. A funny thing happened, the coyote howl must have made the buck uneasy or something because he magically appeared. Just as I got the buck in my spotting scope I saw the buck go down. Then a second or two afterward I heard the report from the rifle. Hmm... I'll have to throw a coyote howl into my bag of tricks for future hunts. My brother was using a 270 WSM A-Bolt Stainless Stalker with a 130g Nosler Partition handload of his to take this buck.

 

Weston's 2006 mule deer taken with a 270 WSM A-Bolt Clint's 2006 mule deer taken with a 243 Win. A-Bolt
Weston's 2006 mule deer taken with a 270 WSM A-Bolt Stainless Stalker Clint's 2006 mule deer taken with a 243 Win. A-Bolt Stainless Stalker

While waiting out this buck Clint had spotted another good buck back across the canyon on the opposite side. After Weston's buck was on the ground they moved their way down the ridge and got as close as they could before they would not be able to see the buck because of the thick oak brush. Clint made a picture perfect 569 yard shot with his 243 Win. A-Bolt Stainless Stalker to bag his second mule deer to date. I believe he was using a 95g Ballistic Tip Winchester factory load. The bullet struck home for a double lung shot with the bullet mushroomed nicely against the opposite shoulder's hide.

I stuck out this year but, for me the experience is far more rewarding than the antlers on the wall. I enjoy spending as much time in the field as I can. If I find a deer that I'd like to shoot that's a bonus.

Additional information