This last weekend started out as an antelope hunt and ended with a mule deer on the ground when this buck made his way into 35 yards…
After not seeing many deer in the area all archery season, I had basically given up on filling that tag and was focused on redeeming myself from several missed shots on big pronghorns. That all changed as I hiked over the hill and dropped down into a valley with an old homestead and a water hole with an unchecked game camera.
About a foot of snow had fallen the night before and it took all I had to get within 2 miles of the homestead. Normally the road goes right down to it, but this time there were three foot drifts all the way down and no way I would ever find help if I got stuck. I had driven over 3 miles off of an un-plowed highway and through private property that I had permission to hunt.
|plows clearing one lane of traffic ahead of me|
|I made it through this drift but eventually got to a steep downhill where I parked and hiked in|
I had seen a small group of younger mulie bucks during the archery season, with one wide, tall 2 point and had thought several times that I would take him if the opportunity presented itself.
Now, a month later, I made my way down to check my trail camera and spotted several mule deer does feeding about 100 yards out from the water hole. Just in case there were any bucks bedded nearby, I crawled into the wind mill trying not to spook the does. Wearing some make shift white camo, and with a 40-50 mph cross wind, I was able to sneak in undetected as I started to untie the camera.
From about 200 yards to my left, a small fork horn buck came running over to the does. Thinking that the small buck probably wasn’t alone, I decided to wait until dark and see if any other bucks decided to show themselves. With about an hour left of daylight and the temperature hovering near the single digits, I was starting to shiver and wondered if I could handle the wait.
With about 30 minutes left of daylight, the does again looked back in the direction the small buck had come from where two more bucks had just stood up and were making their way straight for me. The larger of the two was the big “two point” from earlier in the season. In the time since I had last seen him, he had grown four on his right and 3 on the left. Not a giant buck, but definitely a shooter this late in the season.
|Taken by the camera I was retrieving earlier in the season|
It was getting really close to dark now and the bucks had stopped for a little light sparring. I knocked an arrow and ranged the other side of the water hole at 35 yards. With the fence post to my left and between me and the bucks, I tried not to shiver and clinched my teeth hoping they would make their way in.
At the very last moment of light, and the larger buck in front, they made their way up to the water hole and across the back side. When the big buck glanced away from me, I drew my bow and held my breath trying to stop shaking.
Since the buck was silhouetted against the sunset, I didn’t see my arrow hit but knew from the sound that it was a good shot. The buck lunged and ran about 80 yards before collapsing.
What started as an afternoon of scouting for antelope, ended with a late, cold night of dressing out a mule deer and a long hike back to the truck. Even though I spent the whole next day packing the buck out (and spooking several nice pronghorns in the process) I couln’t have been more grateful to have filled my deer tag and to be putting a little more meat in the freezer.
There is still one more weekend left in the antelope rifle season. I will probably still try with a bow for a couple days before busting out the ol’ smoke pole.