I thought I would break down my recent Mule deer hunt for you. The entire hunt took place in the mountains of south eastern Utah on public land, at over 8000 ft. of elevation. ……….
Day one (Sep 4th)
, we arrived in camp about 4pm, with just enough time to change our clothes and head out for an evening hunt. We headed into a deep canyon to the north of camp, where we were hoping to find some bucks that had been pushed off the ridges to seek refuge from other hunters.
The Utah mountains at 8,000 feet just keep on going.
Stopping frequently to glass the quaking aspens and pines on the opposite side of the canyon, we saw a couple small bucks, but nothing worth making the trek through the canyon. We were also fortunate enough to see a group of Elk with a couple small bulls and one mature six point bull. As we ran out of daylight, we made our way back to camp, and got the tent and supplies set up.
Day two, we decided to try the same tactic in another area. Jarret had run cattle with his grandfather in this area since he was a young boy, and had always been one to pick his grandfathers brain for useful hunting information. He knows the area very well, and has a good idea of where the deer may be headed. We split up and went into two different canyons, hoping to catch some deer on the move. As the sun came up I spotted a good buck across the canyon, I quickly made my game plan. I shadowed the buck down into the canyon as he fed, hoping to cut him off at some point and get a shot.
My plan was working well until one of the four doe’s with him, spotted my movement while he was busy feeding, and snorted at me. Needless to say that three hour investment of hiking and spotting had come to an end like it all too often does.
Jarret also found himself into bucks in a canyon we loving refer to as the ‘Hell Hole.’ It’s a steep canyon with a lot of cover and animals. Jarret had a similar morning to mine. He spent it chasing a group of bucks, all the way into the bottom of the canyon only too be foiled by the swirling wind.
After regrouping with a nap and some lunch, we made a game plan for the afternoon. We hiked to another long deep canyon that Jarret knew was a good afternoon spot. Not long after we settled in and started glassing, we spotted a buck on the ridge below us using a common route for crossing over the ridge.
I quickly made my move and positioned myself on the trail where he was headed on the back side of the ridge. After waiting for over an hour while he fed in my direction, he was finally within 100 yards and closing. I readied my arrow, and prepared myself for the shot. He was now within 60 yards, suddenly he knew something wasn’t right.
He stopped in his tracks. I didn’t move a muscle. After what seemed like an eternity, he snorted and bolted out of the area. This brought our second day to an end.
Day 3, After what we had seen the afternoon before we decided to head back into the same canyon. Jarret and I again spit up and went to different passes where we hoped to cut off some bucks. We agreed to turn on our radios every hour to check in with one another, so after an hour I turned on my radio and instantly Jarret answered back with an enthusiastic,
“I shot one!”
I immediately made my way over to him, and found him standing over a great blood trail! He explained that he had set up above a trail with the wind in his face, and waited for the deer to start moving. Shortly after the deer started moving on the trail below him. He watched several young bucks walk by along with a few does. Finally bringing up the rear was a nice young four point buck, knowing how few and far between these opportunities come along, Jarret steadied his 50 yard pin just behind the front shoulder and let it fly!
He watched his arrow disappear right where he was aiming, he then waited for me to meet up with him, and we followed the short blood trail to his buck!
Jarret and his Utah mule deer buck.
We took care of business, and made our way back up the mountain to camp where we got the meat on ice, and grabbed a quick bite to eat and a short nap.
Jarret packs out the rack of his buck.
Feeling confident in the area, we headed back down for an evening hunt. We again split up to cover more country and increase our chances of finding another shooter buck.
Again we were only spit up for a short time and Jarret radioed me that there was a wide buck with what appeared to be an arrow sticking out of his head, bedded down just off the ridge that I was on! I couldn’t see the buck from where I was, so I moved to another location to get a look at him.
Sure enough there was a big bodied, wide buck, sporting an arrow sticking out of the poor guys forehead. I quickly made my game plan, and with the wind in my face and a few landmarks in mind I made my way to the opposite side of the ridge he was on, so I could cover the majority of the ground undetected.
When I knew I was close I scurried over the top of the ridge, and hit the trail I knew he was bedded on. Knowing I was close, I moved slowly, glassing with every step, hoping to catch a glimpse of him before he spotted me.
I caught the movement of antlers just above the grass!
Immediately, I hit my knees and cleared weeds from possible shooting lanes and ranged all the escape routes I could see. I didn’t dare get any closer with the wind becoming increasingly unpredictable, so as I sat there waiting I went through the motions in my mind, over and over, of shooting my bow, to prepare myself for a shot.
Finally I could tell he was getting restless and would be getting up for a stretch or to move on, so I quickly drew my bow and readied myself for the shot.
When he stood I went into auto pilot — steadied my pin and let the 60 yard shot fly! I watched my arrow bury into him as he gave the famous heart shot kick! I turned around and sat down to give him time to expire.
Jarret watched the whole thing from across the canyon and called me on the radio. He said the buck was hit good and he would keep an eye on him. After 45 minutes or so, I went to the last place Jarret had see him, and sure enough there laid my unusual buck. A 28″ wide two point with an arrow sticking out of his forehead! The poor guy had packed an arrow around in his forehead for a day or two from a poorly placed shot that didn’t get any penetration. I was glad that I could harvest this great buck.