High Expectations-2013 General Utah Mule Deer Hunt
By Wacey Sweat
It was the middle of the Utah muzzleloader mule deer hunt when my brother’s buddy, Kirby, had asked him if he had a tag for the unit he had seen a big buck in while hunting Utah Limited Entry Elk. My brother, Ryker, wasn’t as fortunate as me and didn’t have a tag for that unit, but I did! I had HIGH Expectations because this was my first year in the Utah dedicated hunter program, therefore I was planning on not harvesting a mule deer, unless it would be my biggest. After seeing the pictures of the buck, I knew that he would exceed my expectations. I talked it over with Kirby and he said he would take me out on the opening morning of the Utah general rifle hunt.
As opening morning came, I doubted we would find the buck Kirby had seen since there would be lots of hunters in the same drainage, but it was worth the shot. As we pulled up to the trail head at 6:00 our plans weren’t looking so well. Five four-wheelers had already beaten us there. Disappointed, I headed out anyways, while Kirby and Ryker drove to the other side of the canyon to spot for me. They would have the ability to see a lot more area and hopefully locate the buck . As I got half way in, I started running into hunters as I knew I would, but I hadn’t expected this many! After passing eight hunters, the sun was starting to rise and I had no idea if I was close to where I was supposed to be.
I finally reached the end of the trail, then headed to a point off to my right so I could see into the draw better. Everything looked a lot different than it did on Google Earth, so I decided to get confirmation. Like usual, I couldn’t get Kirby or Ryker on the radio. Hoping I had service I pulled my phone out to try it instead. As luck would have it, I had service so I called Ryker and he didn’t answer. At this point, I could see across the draw good enough to glass. Before I got my binoculars up, I saw two white butts going away from me. I got them in my binos and could tell that they were smaller bucks. I scanned to my left and spotted more deer feeding out into the sage flat on the backbone across from me. I knew I was going to be on this point for a while so I decided to pull the spotting scope .
The first deer I put in the scope looked decent… A few seconds later he picked up his head and I could see what I was looking for, “Cheaters EVERYWHERE!” He was feeding away and was soon to go out of sight so I knew I had to act fast or he would be gone. I ranged the hill, but wasn’t getting an accurate reading . I finally got a range that I thought was correct at 589 yards. By the time I got him in the scope he had stopped just before he disappeared over the hill. He was slightly quartering away, but I knew it was a great angle so I settled my third crosshair on his back and squeezed the trigger off. The deer spun and ran back toward me about 20 yards and stopped perfectly broadside. I chambered another round and put my third crosshair on his back again and shot. He didn’t move but I could tell that I had hit him so I shot again and dropped him in his tracks.
Ryker had called me during all of the excitement so I called him back. He answered the phone and I said,”I found him and shot him!” He couldn’t believe it since he had just got to his vantage point to glass. I got off the phone and started to pick up my stuff that had been scattered during all of the excitement. I decided to look through my spotter one last time and to my surprise, he was STANDING UP! I couldn’t believe it! I started to scramble to get a bullet out of my pocket, because the gun was empty. I got the gun loaded and found him in my scope hunched up. I put my third crosshair on him holding a little lower this time. I squeezed the trigger off and couldn’t tell where I had hit. After the shot he ran over the hill and disappeared.
I hurried and threw everything in my pack and took off running to get around to the other side of the canyon where he was. It didn’t take me long to get there with my adrenalin pumping! I got to the top of the ridge he was on and could see him laying 200 yards away in the sage with my bare eyes. He was done and had no shrinkage at all!
I called Ryker back to tell him I had found him and he was worried I had shot the wrong deer. He asked, “does he have a cheater on both sides?” I replied, “yeah, he has six cheaters on his right side and six cheaters on his left!” He was pumped and they headed over to check him out!
My hunt ended earlier than expected but it was a hunt I’ll never forget! I would like to thank Kirby, because I couldn’t have done it without him!