2013 monster Mule Deer

March 25, 2014 by  
Filed under the PURSUIT

2013 Montser Idaho Mule Deer

Idaho mule deer hunting at its best

It pays off more often than not!


In the last issue, I talked about doing the right thing.  Doing the right thing when people were looking and when they weren’t.  I’m not necessarily talking just about hunting, but life in general.  I wrote about a buck that seemed to be the smartest I’ve ever had the chance to pursue.  I also spoke about one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make by walking away from him and letting him return to his normal routine just four days prior to season. So, did it all pay off; the sleepless nights, the second guessing myself wondering if I was doing the right thing? Would I ever see this elusive buck again with my weapon of choice in hand?


With a 34 inch frame and 35 1/2 inch outside spread, this is the my widest buck to date!


The pursuit of this buck started on October 11, just four days prior to the season opener.  I jumped him while looking for the droptine buck I had been watching for the last three seasons. I, finally, had the droptine buck figured out and he was the number one on my hit list or so I thought. That all changed with the brief encounter I had with what I thought was the smartest buck I had seen to date.  When I jumped this wide buck, he never looked back, never slowed to walk, and didn’t stop running for two miles.  This never happens and I would have never known this about him if he wasn’t so darn big.  I couldn’t walk away from a buck of this width.  I had to see him again and try to get video of this monarch.  That’s when I decided to track him until I could find him and get a better look, which is when I realized he didn’t stop running for two miles.   Tracking was easy on the sandy desert floor as his tracks where huge, heavy, deep, and kicked up cupfuls of sand.  For two miles, I tracked a running, sometimes stotting, buck until he found a safe haven in a little draw tucked away out of the wind. Two and half hours later, I peeked over the edge of the canyon to see the widest typical set of antlers swivel and look in my direction.  I dropped back down out of sight to grab my camera, peeked back over the edge to set it up, and that was more than he could handle.  He was up and gone in a flash.  This time I decided my best option was to just leave the area and hope he would return by opening morning. I usually like to watch a buck and learn everything I can about them before I hunt him, but this buck never gave me that option.  This buck was different and smarter than any other mule deer I ever had the opportunity to hunt. I had to back out and hope he would return.  I couldn’t take the chance to bump him one more time and push him out of the country completely.


Tagged out at 8 am opening morning. Sometimes it works to your advantage.


Opening morning found me perched on a high point a little over a mile from where I had seen him the first time four days earlier. As the sun started to lighten up the surrounding area, I put the 15s to work.  The first deer I spotted was the same deer I had lost so much sleep over.  My hunting buddy had the chance to shoot or pass because he won the coin toss. We quickly determined it was the same buck from a few days earlier.  We quickly field judged him and Rick decided to pass as he was looking for a buck that reached that 200 inch mark.  This buck wasn’t going to stretch the tape that far, as we were guessing he would score in the low 190s.  That’s one good thing about having a hunting partner who is stuck on that 200 inch mark, he passes on many bucks I am more than happy to shoot, this being one of those times. My mind had been made up for four days and I was not going to let this buck get away again.  In a matter of seconds, I had my pack on and gun out.  Rick looked at me and said “You’re  going to shoot him?”  Without any hesitation I replied, “See you in a few. I’m out a here”.


The sun wasn’t even up over the hills and I was making my final stalk on the widest typical framed buck I have ever had the opportunity to lay my eyes on.  He was making his way to his bed for the day.  If he reached it, I would have to back out and wait for another opportunity.  I had no choice but to cut him off on his way there.  Lucky for me, on the way to his bed, he found a lady friend he wanted to check before continuing on his way.  This allowed me to get within three hundred yards, but not close enough. I like to get close and I’m good at it. I circled around the rim, popped over and had him at 140 yards.  This was going to work as the doe was leading him straight to me.


What? The smiles says it all……..


I crawled across the rocks trying to reach my final shooting area.  I paused for 15 seconds to take off my bino pack because it was catching on the rocks and slowing me down from reaching the edge.  When I looked back up they were gone.  Had he seen my movement and left the country?  I frantically searched the canyon and saw no buck or doe.  My eyes caught movement to my left. I turned and looked and there stood two coyotes.  Maybe it wasn’t me; maybe it was the dogs.  That would have been the best scenario as the buck might not leave the country if that is the case. I glassed up to where Rick was standing to see if he could help in my search.  When I got Rick in the glass, he was pointing down.  I continued glassing the canyon, and saw nothing with antlers, however I couldn’t see the bottom of the canyon because of the roll in the hill.  Panic was starting to set in when off to my right, standing broadside at 120 yards, was my quarry. He was standing there looking down canyon at the coyotes, which allowed me to swing around to the right to set up for the shot.  Fifteen seconds later, my sites were settled on his vitals.   With the pull of the trigger, he humped up and ran ten steps where he fell over dead. All the stress over the last four days was over by 8:00 am opening morning.  The stress had turned into jubilation in less than 30 minutes. I waited for Rick to join me before I made my way to the downed buck.

The site of this Idaho mule deer will never get old.

The site of this Idaho mule deer will never get old.


As Rick made his way over it all starting to settle in, the accomplishment of what had just taken place.  The smile on my face was growing with Rick’s every approaching step. Knowing the decision I had made four days earlier might have been the hardest I have made, but standing there now it made it all feel so easy.  The buck was everything I had dreamed.  He has a 35 inch frame and is just shy of 36 inches outside.  With a gross score of 192 inches and mass all the way up, this buck has all the wall appeal I had expected.  Everything went absolutely perfectly and it all just fell into place, which never seems to happen.  From finding him, walking away, finding him again on season opener, Rick passing on him, the perfect stalk and shot, all before the sun broke over the canyon wall was incredible.  My hunts have never happened like this before.  I have harvested most of my bucks on opening morning, but none of them bucks I knew so little about. It made this one all that more special. It taught me that sometimes the right decision might be the hardest to make and sometimes playing out of your comfort zone can be the right thing to do.

I love it when I can include my dad on the hunt.

I love it when I can include my dad on the hunt.


Thanks for everyones help getting this deer on the ground.  Rick, Matt, JJ, James, Travis and my Dad, these memories will last forever and you helped make them become a reality.  I owe everyone of you! JJ thanks for letting me know this buck was there, and I owe you some tile work. It looks like jogging pays off for more than just your health. You see, JJ told me she ran into a very large buck with the fuzzy stuff on its antlers, the first of September, while out jogging with her dog. On October 11th, I ran into that buck while out looking for the droptine buck.  It was only 800 yards from where she said she had run into it.   It was buck she had described and I must say she described it to a tee, from the shape to every point on its head. I will never doubt you again as you described it better than most deer hunters I know. I knew as soon as I saw it, that it was the buck you told me about, there was no mistaking the shape and size of his headgear. Thank you all.



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