2006 Archery Elk Hunt — Cramps and Near Hypothermia

DIY Archery Elk Hunting Adrenaline SX 2006
I set the camera on my day pack to take this photo. The photo was taken the morning after near hypothermia and I was rested up and back out looking for elk.

2006 proved to be a memorable archery elk hunting adventure for me. I changed hunting locations this year and other than using Google Earth and topo maps to learn the area it was my first time hunting the area. I had accompanied my father hunting this area as a young boy and I had a few childhood memories of the experience and area.

I planned a four to five day backpacking trip into the area. On the third day I moved my base camp in a couple of more miles and up a pretty substantial amount of vertical elevation. Shortly after dropping my pack, where I wanted to camp, it started to rain. The weather forecast before I left said that there might be a few sprinkles so I had not packed any full waterproof rain gear.

That evening I dropped down a beautiful canyon to look for elk while rain fell lightly all that evening. I had spotted a bull from above, way down in a steep dark canyon so I slowly worked my way through the timber cow calling every few minutes when all of the sudden I heard a stampede of hoof beats coming right at me from behind. I knew what it had to be so I quickly drew my bow and whirled around in one quick smooth motion. Just at I did, two rag horn bulls came sliding to a stop. They were about 15 yards from me but in heavy dead fall and under growth. I still remember one of the bulls lowering his head down near the ground to look through an opening at me, as I moved my sight pin from his nose to other small openings trying to find a way to slide an arrow through the timber. Then just a quickly as they came in they bolted out.

By the time I got back to my base camp I was totally soaked and physically drained. I setup a tent like bivy out of a couple of tarps, took off my wet clothing and crawled into my sleeping bag. It was at this time that my hamstrings in my legs went into full blown cramps that just hurt like no other. Now on top of that my body started to shake uncontrollably all the while I was desperately trying to get my legs straightened and the muscles to unlock from their horrific lock down cramping.

I distinctly remember thinking to myself, "so this is what it feels like as you are starting to get hypothermia." So I just kept trying to straighten my legs and stop shaking while I kept saying to myself  "stay calm, just stay calm." I was in my warm sleeping bag and out of the rain, so I just kept as calm as possible and after several minutes I was able to get the cramps and shaking to subside.

It was an eye opening experience for me and I have worked hard to be more prepared on my hunting adventures since that day by getting more technical clothing and other lightweight technical gear.


 Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement 120 capsule bottle of Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement
This is a sample packet and a 120 capsule bottle of Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement.

One product that I have started using since that hunt has been Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement. A friend who had been competing in triathlons suggested and offered me some trail packets of the Endurolytes. These pills have been amazing for me on my hunting adventures. Whenever I am about to make a serious hike I take one of the pills and if I am still hiking after three or so hours I'll take another pill. When using these pills my legs really feel like they have more strength and endurance. I also have never had any cramps in my legs when I have taken these pills during or after a prolonged hike.

I often take extended backpacking trips that require that I pump water while I am on the mountain. These Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement pills work perfect for my style of hunting. I don't have to mess with mixing powder into my water or carry additional weight with bars and jell and the like. I just carry a handful of these capsules in my pack and take one or more when needed for a hike.

Another product that I set my sights on getting because of this hunting experience was a set of Browning Dry-Lite camo lightweight hunting jacket and pants. They are basically just the waterproof, taped outside layer from the insulated XPO hunting clothing Browning offers. I like the Dry-Lite pant and jacket because they are not as noisy as your traditional rain gear and all together they only weigh about a pound. So I can hunt in my camo cotton or fleece pants, shirts and jackets. If it starts to rain I can pull out the Dry-Lite and I'm going to stay warm and dry.

2008 Mule Deer Hunt — Quest to Find The Large Typical Ghost Buck

Model 1885 Mule Deer Hunt 2008After seeing a couple of potential shooter bucks and one really nice buck in 2007. I was looking forward to go back into the area for 2008. Those thoughts quickly were all but dashed as the Winter of 2007/2008 just decimated the deer herd here in Northern Utah.

This was my third year in my current round of the Dedicated Hunter program. A program that allows you to hunt the archery, muzzleloader and rifle seasons. It does come with a limit of harvesting only two deer in three years and other requirements. I was hopeful that during one of the three seasons this year I would find the large buck from 2007 back in the area but, not too hopeful with the number of deer I saw lying dead in the spring.

Backpacking out during the mule deer muzzloader hunt in 2008Opening day of the archery season saw me working my way around the same basin from my successful 2007 mule deer hunt.  Where I had seen dozens of deer the year before I only found handfuls this year. It was a pretty disappointing day with one large exception. I worked my why around the basin and dropped around another when I spotted the shadow of something working it's way towards me in the pines. I worked my way into position to see what it was when all of the sudden it made a 90 degree turn broadside to me and walked through an opening at 56 yards and my jaw hit the ground. It was one of the largest typical four points I had ever seen on the hoof, both wide and tall. His only weakness was that his g3's were only in the 8 inch range. I quickly judged him to be a minimum of 180 inches. The direction he was now heading would put him on a game trail some 30 yards in front of me and slightly uphill. I was ready but, he didn't show up in the time I figured it should have taken him. After another minute or so I spotted him trotting out the opposite direction away from me. Blasted wind! All I could figure was that the wind had swirled enough for him to get a whiff up me.

The rest of the seasons I became obsessed with getting that buck. I went in a couple more times with my bow and was unsuccessful in locating him again. During the muzzleloader season I was back in the area with my brother. We backpacked in and setup a base camp the night before the season opener. On the way in we spotted a couple smaller bucks and a large two point. That two point ended up being the second largest buck I would see that entire year.


3 Point Mule Deer Bedded Muzzleloader Season 2008

Here is a 3 point bedded down during the muzzleloader season. This deer is about a hundred yards from me at the time. The picture is a little grainy. I need a better camera with a better optical zoom.

We spent the next four days trying to locate the large typical but were unsuccessful in finding him. However we bumped a deer that had to of been bedded before light. I took note of this thinking that it might have been the buck and made one last trip in with a muzzleloader before the season ended. This time I came into the basin from the opposite direction to get a better vantage point and watch the area where we had bumped the deer several days before.

I watched what I figured was the large two point way across the basin and a smaller 3 point but I didn't see anything work it's way into the area we had bumped the deer from. I decided I would swing downwind and try creeping my way through the area and see if I could lightly bump him if he was in there and hope if he was there he would offer a shot.  A tactic I was successful using muzzleloader hunting for muleys in my youth. While fully camouflaged I would work my way into the wind quietly. If I bumped a buck they would often bounce a couple bounces then stop at around 50 yards, turn broadside and look back to see what bumped them. I was going to see if the old tactic work for me today.

About 50 yards from were we had bumped the deer before I was working my way through the thick pockets of fallen timber and jack pines when not 10 yards directly in front of me I bumped a buck. In fact all I could see was a very quick look at a antler fork in the small pines. The buck made two bounces and everything went dead silent. Unfortunately, I was not any any position to see where he was. I crept around the direction I saw and heard him bound too but he was a ghost. He just disappeared, vanished! Ok, now I was mad. I'll be back in three weeks with my rifle and we'll see who wins next time.

Three weeks passed and my brother and I had hiked much of the night to swing way out and around the basin to slip in to a position where we had an excellent vantage point to cover a large area with a rifle. I decided not to pack either of my lighter weight 243 WSSM rifles due to the long distances across the canyon from the vantage point I had chosen. I packed in my long range Model 1885 in 270 WSM. I have ultra confidence in this rifle out to 600 yards.  And this rifle has proved it's self on the range and on cow elk at 555 yards and 608 yard shots.

As daylight broke we watched a few does and fawns and a small four point but we didn't see anything enter the bedding area just like we had in the past. Around noon my brother decided to sneak into the hidden deer lair while I watched to see what might come out.

Large two point mule deer taken by my brother during the 2008 rifle seasonHe made it across the canyon and into the lair and like two times before, a buck was in there and it came bailing out. My brother could tell it was an ok buck but wasn't able to positively identify how big he really was. He made a split second decision and shot the buck through a opening in the dark timber. There ended up being a lot of ground shrinkage compared to the buck we were after. He made the right call though, because if it had of been the large typical he would have been elated but when you only have a narrow window of time to make a shot you do what you have to do. Once we got to the downed buck we found that it was the large two point we had seen before. An inspection of the teeth and I'd say he was a three and a half year old two point, as the first molars had been in for a lengthy period of time and were heavily black stained. The rest of the day we boned out the deer and hauled him up and out of the basin.

I took one more trip back into the basin that season and I spent a very cold night and a good long day hunting another of my honey holes. I remember that trip well, because of family commitments I didn't get started hiking until 11 o'clock at night. At 2 am I pulled out my sleeping bag and a tarp and rolled up under some maple trees to get a few winks of sleep before I got up and started hunting further up the mountain at daylight. I found there was a few more deer in this area but I could only find does and small bucks.

I did learn a very valuable lesson that day regarding keeping my feet cool. The night before in my sleeping bag the temperature had dropped to the low teens so it was a might bit cool the next morning and I wore two pairs of socks. Big mistake! With all the hiking I got in that day, the friction generated way to much heat in my boots, which in turn gave me huge blisters on the balls of my feet. It felt like I had a rock in both of my boots as I hiked. Not fun at all.

Thanks to the winter kill most of the bucks I saw this year were two year old bucks with the usual 3 point antlers and around a 17 inch spread. It was obvious the winter before had wiped out all the fawns and many of the older bucks, thus leaving a handful of the yearling aged bucks that were now the two and a half year old variety for the fall.

Maybe I'll have better luck in 2009. Although, I'm a firm believer that you make your own luck, by spending time on the range and in the field. Sometimes luck does fall your way but, it sure isn't going too if you're sitting on the recliner watching TV or checking on your Facebook friends when you could be out hunting.

2008 Whitetail Deer Hunt — Dallen & His First Deer

Dallen in the Double Bull Blind
Dallen from inside the Primos Double Bull ground blind.
Dallen in the Double Bull Blind from the location he shot his first deer.
Dallen inside the Primos Double Bull ground blind where he shot his first deer.

My wife's family is from Oklahoma and this year we were going to be spending the week of Thanksgiving with them. What a coincidence that the rifle deer hunt is going on that week. I know where Dallen and I will be all week. Dallen was now 11 years old and Oklahoma doesn't have the age restrictions that Utah has so Dallen was very excited about the opportunity to shoot his first deer.

As the hunt approached Dallen really wanted to kill his first deer with his A-Bolt in 223 Rem. Oklahoma restricts bullets to weigh a minimum of 55g. I really wanted to use the 53g Triple Shock but that would not have met the requirement. I tried that 60g Nosler Partition and I could never get it to shoot very well. The 1 in 12 twist is just not tight enough to stabilize the longer bullets. I ended up using a 55g V-Max. Not my first choice for a bullet but Dallen and I discussed at length were he could and couldn't shoot on a deer with the fragile bullet he was using. The Barnes 53g bullet would have been a much better bullet for the job but rules are rules and so the 55g V-Max is what we went with.


One of the many poses for the camera after shooting his first deer.
One of Dallen's many poses for the camera after shooting his first deer.

I was going to be hunting with my A-Bolt Stainless Varmint Laminate in 243 WSSM shooting 85g Triple Shock bullets. The 243 WSSM handload I was using clocks in at 3440 fps from this 24" barreled rifle.

We used a Primos Double Bull ground blind to hunt from. It was my first time hunting from a ground blind and I really liked hunting from it, especially hunting together with Dallen. Lots of room and excellent protection from the wind and I'm sure rain if it had of rained. Dallen was not too excited with the wake-up calls at 5am. Every morning we would walk about 3/4 of a mile from the house through the pastures and down near the creek bottoms to hunt. Being in the blind a half hour before light is a lot different hunting style than a lot of the western hunts Dallen has been going with me on. Dallen was a trooper and was up early hunting every morning for six straight days.


Dallen and I inspect the entry wound on his first deer

With the help of a tripod and the timer on the camera, Dallen and I inspect the entry wound on his first deer. Hmm, some of these photos look a lot like some on browning.com. ;)

With Browning being located in Utah there isn't a lot of Whitetail looking country. I tried to take a few photos while we were hunting to take back for my day job.

We saw does from time to time but weren't finding any bucks. The day before Thanksgiving  we moved the blind into the timber near some persimmon trees that were dropping fruit. A spike almost climbed in the ground blind with us that morning and Dallen was on him for an easy quartering away 20 yard shot but he didn't want a spike and Dallen let him walk. I was impressed and surprised at the same time. There was no way I would have passed on a spike when I was 18, let alone at age 11.

That evening while walking in to get to the blind we spotted the spike again broadside at 150 yards and Dallen passed on him again. That was the only buck Dallen saw on the trip. Thanksgiving morning a little doe came by the blind at 80 yards and Dallen had both a doe and buck tag so I gave him the thumbs up to shoot her. He dropped the hammer on her low and behind the shoulder and she didn't go far. It was an exciting moment for both of us. He had taken his very first deer and I was just a proud father. What a special moment to share with my oldest son.


Notice the shirt camo compared to the pants

Notice how Dallen's shirt in Mossy Oak Brush blends in much better than the Break-Up pants.

For more thoughts on camo patterns check out my Camo Pattern Comparison entry.

I went out one evening by myself to scout around for a different location to move the blind for or last day to hunt. I found anther patch of persimmons that were loaded and found a few deer around this area. I was able to sneak in on a little 6 point within bow range but he wasn't what I was looking for to fill my tag with so I let him walk. To bad Dallen wasn't with me.

One of the things that I noticed while I was on this trip was camouflage. Mossy Oak Brush was just amazingly good at blending in with the predominate colors of the area. Mossy Oak Break-Up was just as pretty as it is on the shelf at the sporting goods store but it stuck out just as bad as it does in the open country of the west. It is hard for me to understand why the Brush pattern isn't a very hot selling pattern in Oklahoma and other mid west areas. The next time I take a hunting trip to Oklahoma I will be taking my Brush and Duck Blind camo clothing.

2007 Archery Elk Hunt — 5 Point Bull

I decided I would have another go at archery elk hunting the same area I went the previous year. This time I had my wife drop me off on the other end of this public property. As usual I was going in as light as I could. I had my water pump and five to six days of food, prepared to spend the next four or five days in the woods.

Small spring to pump water from
Here is a small spring that I pumped water from on my second day on the mountain.

The first night I was able to hike in far enough to be in elk country. That night I was in the bottom of a canyon in some really thick maples and oak brush as it got dark and so I pulled out the sleeping bag and slept in this thick cover. As I was crawling into my sleeping bag I skunk tried to join me but I quickly let him know he wasn't welcome.

Before light I was up and worked my way around one of the larger canyons. I was running low on water and I found a tiny little spring around mid-day. It took me a good two hours to fill several quarts of water from the little seeping spring.

By that evening I had worked my way around and up on a ridge line. I had found some elk sign along the way but nothing really fresh. As I started up this ridge line I heard a single deep sounding bugle across the canyon. I tried cow calling but never got an answer. With about a half hour of shooting light left I found some cows and young bulls working their way up to the ridge that I was on. With the wind and amount of light left I decide it best to back off. I would try for them in the morning.

Three small bull elk
Three young bulls giving me the slip this morning. One of them is most likely the bull I shot the evening after taking this photo.

Early the next morning there was no sign of them in the canyon they were in the night before so I decided to work my way around into the next canyon, cow calling as I went along. I crested one finger ridge and cow called and the canyon erupted with crashing timber and hoofs blazing out of the canyon. I guess I was a little to aggressive with the cow call, because four young bulls and a couple cows headed for the next canyon when I blew the cow call. I did get one of the bulls to come back to investigate to about 100 yards then he decided he didn't like something and he left.

I made note of where two small groups of elk went as they vacated the canyon. I figured that maybe at least one of the four small bulls in these groups would bed down on the shady side of the next ridge about a mile away.

The rest of the afternoon I worked my way with my main pack up to my favorite base camp location. I filled up my two water bottles and a couple of two liter bladders from a spring and pond about 600 yards below my base camp. I setup my tarp system with parachute cord. Basically  I make a tent/bivy like enclosure by running and chord between two trees then drape a tarp over the chord and tie down the sides and corners. I don't like taking any more weight than I have too so a tarp does me just fine. Although I'm itching to try Tyvek sometime soon and make a bivy.

That afternoon I made my plan. I was going to hike about a mile down the ridge with the wind at my back. Once I got towards the end of the ridge I would then swing around the ridge and drop into an opening in the bottom of the next canyon. Once in place I should be downwind of at least some of the elk that should be up in the dark timber above me.

After I was there for a while, I very and I mean very softly would cow call with a Primos Hyper Lip Single with the sound chamber on it. After about a half hour I could hear something moving out of the timber above. It slowly worked it's way down and then around on a trail that I hoped the elk would take to enter the meadow. As the hoof sounds made it around to the opening I could see that it was one of the young rag horn bulls. He cautiously walked out into the open area and stopped at 42 yards. Unfortunately he had spotted me but, wasn't sure what I was. I settled the 40 yard pin low behind his shoulder and let it fly. The arrow hit home but the bull made a serious turn towards me with an about-face turn as the arrow struck.

5 point Bull Elk Taken with Browning Adrenaline SX BowI waited a good half hour then started to sneak to where I last saw him run. I bumped him and decided it best, as it was getting dark, that I come back in the morning.

The next morning I headed back down the canyon to pick up the trail. I followed his tracks for about another 100 yards into some thick under growth. I started crawling around following the tracks, as the blood had since dried up... hmm, something smells like a barnyard....to late. I was less that 10 yards from him and he wasn't finished yet. He bolted and I bolted to keep up with him. I got pretty banged up in the face going through the thick under growth. He didn't go far and stopped in the pines. I slipped around him and threaded an arrow through some dead falls and he was done.

My first shot the night before had entered nice and low behind the heart but when he whirled the arrow bent back and though the intestines then out and back into his hind leg stopping against his femur. At times elk can be very tough animals to bring down.

Boned out 5 Point Elk hanging in my canvas meat bags
Boned out 5 Point Elk hanging in my big game canvas meat bags.

I spent the rest of the day boning him out and hiking the meat up to a trail. I was able to get cell reception and I made a few calls to get some horses in the next morning to help haul out the meat. It was at this time that it really sunk in  that I should work on a system that I could have with me to be able to haul an elk out by myself. I built that system the following year ... My Meat Cart — Elk and Deer Cart.

After I had the bull boned out and hung in the trees I worked my way back to my bases camp and then down to the spring to get more water as I was now completely out. A light rain storm ensued as I was pumping water and a young bull moose came out and walked past me at 20 yards. And then the same bugle I had heard two nights before rang out within 150 yards above me in the quaking aspens. I thought the bull might come in to water while I was there but he never showed. As I hiked back to base camp I found the elusive bull. He was feeding away from me at about 80 yards, the wind was perfect and ground was damp and quite. Everything was perfect for me to slip in on him and seal the deal except my tag was already filled. Oh, did I mention the bull was a 6x6, I'd guess in the 330+ range. Just a gorgeous bull. Some day I'll get my nice six point, some day.

 Some notes and equipment from the hunt:

  • Modified Browning Adrenaline SX BowBrowning Adrenaline SX bow modified with half inch longer limbs and custom strings I made to get the 32" of  draw length I require.
  • Gold Tip Series 22 carbon shafts. The original heavy Series 22 shaft not the ultra light version they now make. I really like the performance I get with this shaft. I wish Gold Tip would bring it back it's a wonderful fat carbon hunting shaft.
  • Rocket Stricknine broadheads. I learned quickly that 90 pounds of kinetic energy can handle a very large cutting diameter broadhead. If you have the energy you might as well use it and the Stricknine has taken three bulls for me in the past five years with great results.

2007 Mule Deer Hunt — My First 30 Inch Buck

Dallen at sunset while bow hunting for mule deer in 2007This year I had an archery elk tag and I was in the dedicated hunter program so I could hunt archery, muzzleloader and rifle season for a mule deer. I have always been pretty horrible at archery hunting for mule deer. I'm ok at the spotting but I'm a big guy that is pretty darn noisy trying to sneak within range. This downfall of mine may not work for deer but being able to sound like a heard of elk tromping around the mountain works pretty good for archery elk hunting. I generally focus on hunting elk with my bow and if a nice buck was to present itself that's an added bonus. Archery deer hunting when I have been in the dedicated hunter program has been more of scouting trips to learn where to find the bucks come muzzleloader season and rifle season. This year was no exception.

One of the last weeks in August I decided I wanted to try dropping into a high altitude basin I had seen elk in before. After Dallen was out of school for the day we took off for the mountain. We hiked in and spent the night under the stars inside a cluster of high altitude pines. It was a night Dallen and I will always remember. The temperature probably never dropped below 65 degrees so we were not comfortable sleeping in our sleeping bags. Now the big or should I say little problem. The mosquitoes! I has never in my life seen it like this. The mosquitoes were driving us crazy biting our faces, hands and anything that stuck out of your sleeping bags. And thus the balance between sweating to death and being eaten to death continued all through the night. Needless to say, we got very little sleep. Next time I plan on going in when the weather is that warm I'll be packing a Thermacell.

Sunrise while bowhunting for mule deer in 2007We were up before light and started working our way down the canyon. I made note of a couple of good sources to pump water from if I was to come back and spend longer amounts of time hunting here. As we rounded a little bend we bumped a couple bucks. They were within range albeit in the range towards the bottom of my sight pins. The one buck was a good 3x3 with a cheater on one side. The other buck we didn't get the best look at but I could see his left four point antler and we could also see that he was pretty darn wide. They never presented a shot but I took good note of how they worked their way around and out of the basin.

We explored around the basin the rest of the day and worked our way back to our base camp and out that night. Another great day with my oldest son.

The following week I made another trip in myself to see if I could get another shot at the wide buck. After watching the buck the previous week I decided on a plan to slip around in the dark and wait by a pinch point below some cliffs the buck had passed the week before. I had been in place for about a half hour into daylight when the mountain erupted with gun fire high above me around the top of the basin. The shooting was also coming from multiple locations. What in the world? At the time I was very upset but later I realized it might have been a blessing in disguise as I learned more about what was in the canyon that day.

Dallen while bow hunting for mule deer in 2007As the shooting started erupting the canyons emptied themselves of the deer and I mean emptied. I had four bucks come right by me at warp speed and I watched others come out of different areas and retreat to safety in the dense forest below. The buck I had watched the week before was one of the bucks that came right past me but this time he wasn't companions with the 3x3, he had an even older, heavier, taller buck with him. As they were coming I quickly drew my bow and hoped that they would stop or pause. They did, however they stopped inside the edge of some jack pines then dashed again through the open area I was hoping to get a shot from. I now had changed my plans. I wanted the tall, heavy, long tined buck.

After this day I had now counted five to six bucks that had four points or better and many other smaller bucks in that basin.

As I hiked out of the basin that day I ran into a couple of different groups of hunters with dogs and found out what all the shooting was about, the opening of grouse season. Who in the world decided to overlap these seasons I could have strangled that day.

A couple days later I headed up another mountain with my bow and my pack ready to spend the last four days of the archery season trying to tag an elk.  I was successful in tagging a little five point bull with my bow.

My first 30+ inch mule deer taken with a muzzleloaderWith the archery season over I turned my attention back the the high altitude bucks I had seen. The muzzleloader season was just two weeks away and I couldn't get the images of those bucks out of my head. I spent some time on the range with the muzzleloader and was itching to get back in there with something better than my bow.

Two days before the opener we had an early snow storm. From the looks of it the higher elevation mountains had a good foot or more. I really wanted to have my son with me to go after the buck again but, with the snow, I felt it best if he sat this one out. A good friend of mine Ryan also had a muzzleloader tag and I invited him to come along. We went up the night before and found we couldn't drive all the way to the trail head. We decide to sleep in the truck and get up extra early with the additional mile now needed to hike to get into the basin.

Hauling out my 30 inch mule deerI had hopes that if we could slip around into the funnel area we could have a good chance of tagging the two larger bucks. I figured that someone would be hunting up around the ridge and the deer might funnel out like they had during the grouse season. I also setup so I had a good vantage point of the funnel and where I could see into the jack pine where the bucks had pause the previous time.

Just like clockwork the wide buck made his escape and stopped in the jack pines at 45 yards, just like he had before. This time I sent a 45 caliber pistol bullet, from my 50 caliber CVA Firebolt his way. Unfortunately, his bigger brother wasn't with him but I was tickled to death with the wide buck my son had found with me during the archery season. The buck turned out to have a near whitetail like right antler. I'll look for his big brother next year.

Dallen showing off the the 30 inch rack of the buck he spotted with meAfter boning him out I carried the deer out so Ryan could be light enough to explore and hunt some of the pockets on the way out. We had seen a good four point and some smaller bucks slip up and over the one side of the basin as we slipped our way in that morning. We hoped that he could find this buck on our route out of the basin. But that just wasn't to be.

Come to find out the hunter that pushed the buck towards us was a brother to a good friend I work with. We met up with him at the truck and found that he had been scouting the area and the buck he was after happen to be the one with my tag on it or at least that was what he wanted us to believe. Hmm... I guess he hadn't seen the larger buck...or had he? I'll keep that a secret and try for him next year.

The buck measures 31" wide but lacks any antler length to score very well. Oh well, he's over 30 inches wide! I lost a lot of points with the wife when I told her we had to have him mounted. She just didn't understand it when I told her that if a mule deer gets to be 30 inches wide it's the rule that they have to be mounted. After all I didn't want this buck waiting at the pearly gates to thump my rear because he made it to 30 inches and I didn't show him the respect to have him mounted. I thought it was a good explanation, my wife didn't, we compromised. The buck is now mounted but, he is above my desk in my work office and not in my house.


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