2018 Nebraska Mule Deer

JGJohnson

New member
Joined
Dec 4, 2018
Messages
5
Location
Western Nebraska
Rifle season in Nebraska was a several weeks back, but I am just now getting around to writing my hunt. I had spent the first day and a half of the season hoofing it through the local sandhills and canyon country checking likely spots with no luck. I had only seen one group of does that came out to feed the evening of opening day on ground I couldn't hunt.

After a mid-day meal back at the house on day two, I headed to a large valley with ample glassing opportunity. About 45 minutes and one move into my glassing session, I noticed a doe standing in a brushy bottom about 600 yards away. I had glassed that area numerous times already, but they blend in very well! She had stood up to mill around and then I watched her bed back down and disappear. With very close observation using my 10x binoculars, I was able to find the white of her face and one ear. I need a spotting scope I guess.

I watched that area intently and caught another doe when she flicked her ear. I glassed very intently for more individuals but couldn't find any. Now I'm thinking, 2 does during the rut…there has to be a buck with them. From me to where the does were bedded was very open, just a few yucca and sage brush plants. But there was a small rise directly to the west of them. If I could get behind that rise, I would be able to get within range and have the wind and sun in my favor.

I backed out and made a 3/4 mile loop behind the cover of a large hill to get behind the small rise. At the base of the rise, I dropped my pack, chambered a round in my rifle, and began my crawl up the rise. No belly crawl in this country would be complete without sticking a chunk of prickly pear in your knee which I did. I silently winced, plucked it out, and kept going.

As I topped out on the rise, I was able to stay concealed in some Gramma grass that was about a foot tall. I was right at 200 yards from the brush in the bottom. Perfect, I had practiced out to 300 yards this summer and fall. Pulling up my binoculars, I relocated the first and second doe I had seen from the hill above. They seemed none the wiser. I continued to glass trying to find the buck I knew was with them. Suddenly there he was, materializing out of the grass! As quick as he stood up, he laid back down. Now that I knew where he was, I could make out one antler.

We are located right on the eastern edge of the mountain time zone. This means it starts getting dark about 4:30 this time of the year. It was now about 3 pm so I figured I wouldn't have long to wait for them to all stand to start feeding in the nearby meadow. Sure enough, about 3:30, the first doe stood and started to feed. No long after, the 2nd doe and a 3rd I hadn't seen stood and began to feed as well. The buck followed shortly after.

When he first stood and started to feed, he was quartering strongly away. They didn't know I was there, and I had the wind and sun in my favor. I decided to wait for a better shot. I got looped into my sling, turned the scope up to 6x (I always keep it as low as it goes (3x) in case I jump something) and waited. He fed in a semi-circle around a cedar, and stopped quartering slightly towards me, not quite broadside. I took two deep breaths, ensuring my natural point of aim was falling on his shoulder. I took one more breath, let it out, and squeezed the trigger.

As the rifle recoiled, I saw the buck jump straight up. As I was recovering from recoil, I found myself working the bolt without even thinking. I guess all that practice this summer and fall paid off! The buck had run behind a cedar, but never came out the other side. The three does ran about 30 yards and began to mill around. One walked back and watched very intently behind the cedar tree for a few minutes. She then walked back to the other does. They had no clue what had happened or where the shot came from because they actually bedded back down. I waited about ten minutes and then sat up on the hill so the does would move off. They looked at me with a "where in the world did you come from" look and stotted off.

I retrieved my pack and made my way to the bottom. I found him not 5 yards from where I shot him, stone dead. It was now 3:45. I called my wife and let her know I would be a while. I quickly photographed him and began the real work. I got him quartered and into my game bags right as last light was disappearing. My shot had broken the right humerus, took out the front half of the heart, caught both lungs, and exited the far shoulder. Perfect! When loading my pack, I decided to try it in one trip. I got the bag pulled away from the frame, loaded the quarters in, and cinched it all down. The head went on top.

With head lamp leading the way, I made the 3/4 mile trip back to the pickup. Within a quarter mile, I was regretting the decision to do it in one trip. But I was committed and decided to finish. The road seemed to be getting farther away! Finally, after an eternity, I made it. I got everything loaded and made the trip back home. We were to have cool days for the time being and I was out of ambition to butcher until the wee hours of the morning, so we decided to hang him for a day or two until I had some time to butcher. As I got him hanging, I weighed everything. Right at 115#. No wonder it was heavy! I have no idea how those guys haul 120# moose quarters out miles in Alaska. Need more training I guess. All in all, it was a great time and I can't wait until next year!

Rifle: Winchester Model 70 Super Grade 30-06
Scope: Leupold VX2 3x-9x
Binoculars: Leupold BX2 10X42
Knife: Bark River Classic Drop Point Hunter in 3v steel
Pack: Mystery Ranch Pintler
Game Bags: Caribou Gear

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