Well the 2018 General season was primarily over however December brought a coveted tag for myself that I had been waiting 10 years to draw. The weather was perfect, cold....well freezing! and a fresh blanket of snow which made the mule deer stand out on the vast open mountains.
The tag dates for this hunt run in December. The deer are primarily focused on feeding and resting after a strenuous migration and rut. The deer I decided to target were in a range that they reside in year round. This range is extremely steep and peaks out at 8,300 feet with limited vegetation.
During scouting I was able to turn up two bucks that i wanted. One was a nice 160-170 inch main fraim 4x4 and the other was a super wide heavy old buck. I am not a trophy hunter but I knew I wanted a older age class deer.
The muzzleloader I was using was a Remington Model 700 with williamson sights. I was shooting a 250 grain bullet and was consistently hitting a gallon milk jug at 200 yards.
Opening day found myself and my fields looking for the typical 4x4. The icy fog rolled in and we had zero viability for about 5 hours. We decided to stick it out and started a small warming fire with some mountain mahogany. Once the clouds cleared we started to spot bucks. We saw over 20 bucks and over 100 deer, however no big mature bucks. We headed back to camp and readied ourselves for the next day. The next day we decided to look at some new country and found numerous bucks including one nice 4x4 however I just wants ready to pull the trigger. I wanted to see if we could find the heavy old buck.
That evening we decided to glassed a basin where we had seen him a few weeks earlier. After about 2 hours he emerged with 4 other bucks. We put him to bed and made our plan for the next morning.
Day 3 took us to the same glassing point from the evening before. We found all of the bucks he was with but he was no where to be found. While two of my friends stayed back glassing myself, Emily and good friend John went up the mountain to see if we could find him from the top. After a good mile into the hike we started spotting deer. Numerous bucks but the wide old buck was missing. We went a few more ridges and found a group of 25 deer and there we was right in the middle of them. I took off to a rock pinnacle and got set up. The buck was exactly 200 yards. I steadied the sights and let smoke fly. The shot was back in the liver causing the buck to hunch up and go down. After a finishing shot, I made my way down to him.
He was an incredible animal, nearly 200lbs, white face with a scarred roman nose and sported a heavy 32 5/8 inch outside spread. He was an old warrior and I couldn't have asked for a better buck. He would probably barely score 140 but still a true one of a kind trophy.
It took us about 3 hours to cut him up and make the brutal 3 mile hike back to the truck. Even though it was only 3 miles its was straight up and covered in a wet layer of slick snow.
Back at camp we celebrated and shared the story. It seems like a common theme on my hunts but I truley have a great network of friend that love the outdoors and are willing to take time off to help me out. I am a lucky man!