Public Land Mule Deer Success


Dec 5, 2020
Thought I'd share my 3rd season Mule deer success story. Started the season by arriving to option 1 on the mountain late on Friday night, quickly realized mule deer tags in otc elk units play a little differently than those in limited draw. *read this but hadn't experienced it first hand. That night, settled into a quick tent setup around 8pm at 10k elevation and was glad i had brought 4 sets of chains for the truck as i knew we would need them the next day if we decided to move. Opening morning we purposely started a little late as we wanted to get a lay of the land and understand hunter pressure, ended up attempting to hunt 4 different ridges but backed out of each as hunters were at just about every place that could be glassed. *(Which was not expected since snow was well above our knees and made the 4 miles we covered feel more like 10). Due to pressure and the realization that those with UTV's and ATV's could get much closer to the hunting areas we decided to move on, *We did see a few mule deer and two large bull moose. We indeed needed all 4 chains to exit the mountain and spent the afternoon driving the online scouting options looking at hunting pressure and coming up with plan for morning 2. With a much lower elevation camping location, we hit our 2 day location early and was on the ridge we wanted 30 minutes before daylight, which 3rd season rifle isnt much fun. It paid off, as right as light filled the valley, we quickly noticed deer around us. While glassing across a valley, we heard some running close and I peered onto a saddle 100 yards behind where we were sitting and noticed 3 bucks following a doe. Quickly they noticed us and ran into some aspen 150 yards out, I didn't need binoculars to notice 1 was mature and within a few seconds had him in the cross hairs and a solid prone rest, pulled the trigger and click, First i thought a round must not have chambered correctly so i cycled another round in. By then the mule deer had taken a few steps and was behind a tree, I knew he would step out so i waited for around 15 minutes, finally he steps out and again, click. After this, I wasn't sure what was wrong with the rifle and the deer knew something wasnt right and trotted over the neighboring ridge. Day pretty much ended without much action as we decided to get high and bed a buck for the next morning, which we did, about 1 mile from where we parked to access the hunting area. With game plan set for the next morning, we backed off the mountain in time to make certain the gun would fire . *still not sure what the issue was but switched to some different bullets i had and gun worked.
Next morning found us hitting the trailhead a little later than normal and right was we were about to start the walk out, a couple of Hunters from Utah drove up to our truck. Super nice guys, asked what our game plan was and it happened to be the same as theirs (they hadnt glassed the buck but knew the area was good) we agreed we would go ahead as we were first on trial and had a game plan for a buck, and they would hunt a little closer into the trail head.
My buddy and I arrived at our setup position right at sunrise and quickly noticed the deer had moved from where they were, maybe 600 yards up the mountain. It didnt take long before we found a mature buck *different than the one we had bedded), The deer had been very skittish due to the amount of pressure so I decided to take a conservative route to get closer to the buck, i backed down and dropped into a drainage that would take me within 500 yards of the bucks location, putting me a the base of the ridge, shooting up to the top where he was located. Although it only took 30 minutes to get to the location, i was surprised the group had covered so much ground while feeding. I happened fast as i came up the creekbed, I saw the buck, dropped my pack as a rest and ranged them at 450, I quickly realized the angle of the shot wasn't optimal but also knew i didnt have much time as another few steps and the buck would be outside of where he would be visible. As I pulled the trigger i knew it was good hit, the buck jumped, took a few steps and fell. My buddy stayed back and watched the entire thing play out from our original location, which ended up being a blessing, as my shot was a little to the right and hit the bone in the front shoulder, the Terminal Ascent 155gran 7 mag only penetrated 6 or so inches and while it shattered the leg etc, the buck had jumped up while I wlked up the mountain. He ran maybe 200 yards down the side of the ridge and without my buddy letting me know which enabled me to backoff and finish him with another shot, I most likely wouldn't have found the buck. There was no blood at the site where i shot him or on the trial to where he ended up laying down. *I followed it in the fresh snow.

Anyway, apologize for what i felt would be an abbreviated account of my 3rd season trip that ended up being rather wordy.


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Jan 22, 2022
Congrats. First semi-negative report on the terminal ascent I have seen.