Washington Opening Morning Muley

Jul 29, 2012
Ok, so first thing Saturday morning we get to the gate at about 5am. We secured permission to hunt public property only accessible from private easement. We are the first ones there. We knew there were two other groups with permission and they showed up at around 6am. We set off into the gate first. My plan had been to get to a certain drainage just after first light. I had seen some bucks in there during the summer, and thought it was as good a plan as any. To be honest, with the weird weather, I had no idea what the deer were going to be doing, so I was flying by the seat of my pants.

I had been expecting rain, but all I had all day were clouds, which was fine by me.

As we push up the hill, we jump a Spike and a 3 point Bull elk. As my partner and I continue on towards the drainage he splits off to push up over a hill to the drainage and I continue on the road. We were hoping to pull a pincher move and keep the deer from bailing over the hill which is what I've seen them do in the past.

I get to the drainage and start glassing. I don't see any deer, but at the bottom of the drainage I do see bright orange. Someone had access from a different point and had come in on the lower road.

I cursed to myself as I saw them continue down the road towards where I had planned on continuing my hunt. So now what? I pick up my trail camera which I had set in the drainage...69 pictures...all right! Not bad for a two week soak! Of course I will come to find out later that I needed to format my SD card prior to placing it in the trail cam...lost all my pictures.

But back to the hunt!

So instead of following it around where I wanted to go, I cut cross country through a ravine and then back up on to the top of the ridge. After following a road below the ridge for about a mile and a half, hunting the thinned timber and old clear cuts, I decide to cut up onto the ridge where I can see whats down the other side. I make my way down a VERY old logging road overgrown with weeds and get up onto a landing overlooking a valley. I'm glassing the hillsides when I hear CRASH CRASH....CRASH......CRASH CRASH, down below me. I start to sneak down over the edge, I don't get three steps though when a doe pops out at forty yards and continues down the old logging road. She never saw me.

I continue down the ridge heading west. Every finger I come to I am glassing. I spot a deer bedded down, looks like it COULD be a spike, but probably a doe. I range it at 457 yards for giggles. I want to get a better look at the area so I head down the ridge a little further, glassing...walking a few steps...glassing again. Glassing. Then glassing. Then walking, then glassing. Finally I don't think I'm going to find a better spot to see the hillside then where I was, I take a few more steps and I have a ten yard wide viewpoint down into the cut. I throw my bino's up out of habit and I see a deer bedded down on a log against a dirt hillside. Then I see antlers. BUCK! Ok, but he's looking right at me, and the light and the hillside made it really hard to tell if he was legal. He didn't seem to worried about anything, so I took my back off and laid prone, throwing my rifle up to try and get a better look at it. I could see he forked, but couldn't see the back, and I was PRETTY sure he forked in the front, but I just couldn't be sure. So I waited...and waited. Ten minutes goes by and I still haven't been able to tell. Again I was pretty sure he forked in the front, but he never would dip his head down far enough for me to be a 100% sure. And I refuse to be "mostly" sure before I pull the trigger. So I hit my radio and ask my buddy where he's at, and tell him the situation. He tells me he's on a landing overlooking the valley on the other side. BINGO. He was behind me on the landing where I had seen that doe. I tell him to follow the ridge for about a mile and he will see bright orange laying prone.

Sure enough 20 minutes later, I'm still unable to tell if he's legal. My eyes are getting tired from looking through my scope and binoculars. I let them rest for a second, but don't want to take my eyes off him in case he gives me the head turn I've been waiting for. I hear some brush behind me and my buddy is wandering down the hill, amazed that he found me.

I show him the buck, and it takes him a second to find it and he asks, "How in the hell did you spot THAT?"

Now, a thought crosses my mind that he had forgot the video camera or we could have gotten this all on video. Bummer.

My buddy lays prone next to me and right when he does Mr. Buck leans down to lick his belly. The rear fork is very apparent.

"Legal" I say.

"Shoot it," says my buddy.

357 yards.

BOOM, The .270 Weatherby barks. I don't see it, but my buddy is pretty sure he was hit hard, he thought he saw a flash of him down the hill, but he also said he saw blood right behind the shoulder.

We make our way down to the spot where he was laying and set our packs down next to a big bush. We start heading up the hill about 50 yards to the spot where I shot him and we pick up the blood trail immediately. There is blood everywhere. So we follow it back down the hill and there he was. 10 feet from our packs on the other side of the bush. Made us laugh.

When he had leaned back to lick his belly, I shot. I hit him right through the lower jaw and then right into the heart. Perfect shot. Done by 10am opening morning, but then I had a nine mile pack out, that was a lot of fun :)

Jul 29, 2012
3 Point or better...I know it doesn't seem like identifying it as legal should be an issue, but the light, backdrop, was just causing me all sorts of problems...