Hunting Colorado Mulies (Pics Added)
My rifle season opened up on Saturday for Plains Mule Deer in Colorado. I was totally looking forward to this hunt, since my Elk hunt was a total bust this year. The only down side was that I only had two days to hunt, but I still had a good feeling because we had some deer back. The drought had moved most of the deer out of my old stomping grounds for the last few years, but we got rain this year and had some good crops to bring them back.
Dad generally will leave me some small strips of hay for the deer to hide in so I have some place to hunt. These strips at most only cover about 5-10 acres, this year because of a hail storm the deer had over 300 aces of uncut hay to hide in plus 200 acres of Milo. This had made my hunting extremely difficult, trying to stalk deer in 4 foot tall grass is tough when it is dry and brittle and you can't step anywhere without something crunching. We also had a blizzard two days prior to opening day and the snow had crusted over so if it wasn't the plants crunching it was the snow in the rows.
To make matters worse like I said the drought of the previous three years had caused most of the deer to move out of the area. We used to have a herd of 20-40 deer within about 3 miles in any direction from dad's ranch, this year we had 6(3 bucks, 1 Doe, and 2 Fawns). Two of the bucks were young and I didn't want to shoot them and there was the one decent old buck that I was going after.
Anyway that should be enough background so on with the hunt. I got up Saturday morning and drove out to the field that I would be hunting. I drove down the trail road looking up the Milo rows hoping to catch a glimpse of a deer. I spotted the deer in the hay field a couple hundred yards from the Milo strip and parked my pickup about 500 yards from the deer. I knew that the deer were aware that I was there so I patiently waited for legal light and for them to get used to the truck. I had to wait about 20 minuets for legal light but waited an hour before I got out of my truck. By that time the deer were ignoring me and had moved to about 700 yards away.
I slipped out of my truck and proceeded to stalk the deer looking for my big buck. I was able to get to within about 200 yards of the deer but I never had a clear shot at the buck I wanted. After about an hour of duck walking and crawling through the field the wind decided to come up and I was in the wrong place. The doe must have winded me because even though I was sitting still she looked right at me and stomped her feet and snorted and then she took off with the rest of the deer in tow. I knew I was busted so I got up and as the deer circled around me and I tried to cut them off for a shot at my buck. Unfortunately for me the circled me to the east and the sun was too bright and I couldn't make the deer out in my scope. They slipped into the neighbors corn field and disappeared on me, I thought about going after them but decided to let them settle down and to see if they would come back into my dad's field that night.
I made it back to dad's house about 9:30 in the morning disgusted that I had missed that opportunity at my deer. I wound up helping my dad until about noon when my brother-in-law showed up. We went around the rest of the afternoon scouting for deer in places that we knew had some around but with all the glassing we did we never spotted another buck. All we managed to find was a lot of does but both of us had buck tags. It wasn't a total bust while driving around and glassing we spotted a few coyotes and even managed to call a couple in, and we both got one so that eased our frustration a bit.
I went back about 5 p.m. to see if my deer were on the move and spotted the doe and fawns and a small 2 point buck on the move back to dad's field. I was a little disappointed that I didn't see my buck, and even considered a shot on the 2 point but decided to pass even though he crossed over into dad's field 25 yards from where I was sitting. Dad asked me why I didn't shoot when I told him about the small buck, I just said that I had another day.
The next morning went pretty much the same as my first only this time I got to shoot. I got busted again on my stalk and my big buck was no where to be seen anyway. I did take a shot on a 3 point that was with the group, but he was moving and I missed. When I fired the big deer stood up a strip to the north of where I was hunting and I thought "O S**T, I really blew it." I followed the deer trying to cut them off again and I had a pretty good shot at the 3 point but since I had spotted the old buck I let them go. I walked the mile length of the field trying to find that old buck only to come out on the road to spot him about another mile off in the neighbors pasture.
I packed it in again, disgusted that I hadn't taken a shot on the 3 point again when I had the chance. I walked the mile back to my truck and then drove 5 miles to the back side of the neighbors pasture and used my spotting scope to glass for the buck, all I found was 2 more coyotes. I was sure I had blew my chance at this buck and that he was where I couldn't hunt. Again I was pretty pi$$ed at myself and went back to the house to help dad fix a belt for his round baler.
We got the belt spliced back together and were getting ready to drive to the field to put it back in the baler. I threw my orange in the pickup as an after thought as well as my .270. I had pretty much given up on the deer hunt but made sure I had my .223 and my coyote call. I figured if I wasn't going to get a deer this year I was going to take my frustrations out on some coyotes or prairie dogs. My dad left in his field pickup and I was to follow in my truck so that he could stay at the field and bale. I no more than got a quarter of a mile down the road and I spotted my buck about a half mile out in the neighbors CRP field walking along a hill.
I couldn't believe this here was the buck that I didn't think I would see again. I drove my truck off into the ditch and put on my orange as fast as I could grabbing my rifle and shooting sticks. I tried using a small hill for cover to get close to the buck but it was too small and I'm sure he spotted me so I stopped moving. I couldn't crawl through the grass because it had been mowed down by the same hail that got dad's crops, and all the time I was thinking that this buck is going to get away again. The buck knew I was there and started moving again slowly heading north to another hay field about 200 yards away from him. I remember thinking I was going to loose this buck again as soon as he got to the field and that there was no way to close the gap between us without being busted.
I don't approve of or recommend taking long distance shots but I had to do something or I was going to loose this deer. Since he was just walking I decided to take the shot, I aimed high putting the cross hairs on the base of his antlers while I was tracking him since he was walking broad side to me and squeezed off a round. I missed, and didn't see where the bullet hit but figured it was low. The good thing was the buck stopped and and gave me time to shoot again. This time I put the horizontal cross hair even with the top of his antlers and the vertical behind his shoulder and squeezed off another round.
I heard the bang and saw the deer jump and kick, then heard the thump of the round striking the deer. I was praying that I didn't wound this buck because he had a long head start if I did, cussing myself for taking this stupid shot. I watched as the deer went about 15 feet and disappeared behind a clump of sage brush, I thought great he got to the back side of the hill and is still going. I ran the 150 yards back to the pickup because it was much closer than where I had shot the deer. I drove about a quarter of a mile to the gate and started down the trail keeping an eye on the clump of sage where the deer had disappeared, half way to the clump I saw the deer laying about 10 yards behind it, he was already dead. I breathed one great big sigh of relief thanking who ever was listening that I had made this lucky shot and that this deer was down.
While I was driving I called my dad and told him that I wasn't going to make it to the field because I had shot my deer. I had the belt for his baler so he had to come back and get it, luckily he had only made it about three miles down the road and stopped to talk to his neighbor. I got up on this buck and he had a massive body, and I was thinking "Oh great, how am I going to get this thing loaded in my truck." I tried to drag him into the bed of my truck but couldn't do it, I bet he weighed over 350 pounds. My dad and his neighbor showed up and with their help we got the deer loaded.
I got the deer dressed, caped, and hanging in the cooler and then I went back to where I shot him. I parked the pickup where I had shot from and walked to where I shot the buck, I used my range finder to shoot the distance back to the pickup to confirm the yardage. I'll repeat that I don't like taking long range shots and that I feel that the animal I hunt deserves better than a low percentage shot with a high probability of wounding. I was still upset at myself for loosing control and letting buck fever take control. My range-finder gave me the yardage in blazing red it was 560 yards back to my pickup, 583 from where the buck dropped. I was lucky enough to hit the buck 3 inches behind the shoulder and about 5 inches up from the bottom of his chest a broadside shot. I hope I'm smart enough to never take that shot again, I got lucky this time.
Last edited by taylorce1; October 30, 2006 at 01:07 PM.