2023 UT Muzzleloader Buck

jbseamus83

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It was one of the best 1 day hunts I've had. My wife is 8 months pregnant, so she was pretty worried about me being gone for to long. I had plans to hunt through the weekend if needed, but if an opportunity at a quality buck presented itself, I was not going to hesitate.

The morning started surrounded by bugling elk. I watched bulls pushing cows all over the hills. Even had one pretty nice 5x5 with 2 cows at 75 yards from me for a while. I spotted deer about 3/4 mile away, but couldn't go straight at them. It was about 1.5 miles to get there and a 3 mile loop all the way back around. On my way around, I found a doe, fawn, and forkie that I stayed about 30 yards from watching and looking for others. I waited for 20 minutes and finally decided to just push through and bump them because I wasn't shooting any of them and didn't see any other deer. The doe saw me, wheezed and the woods exploded with probably 20 deer running in all directions. Oh well.

I found another deer later that looked like a buck. It had a bigger body than anything else I had seen and a very wide head. Unfortunately, he was standing in a ton of low scrub oak and his head was right in the branches. I couldn't verify any headgear, so I waited. As he turned and bounced away, he was one I would have shot. Again, oh well.

I saw upwards of 70-80 deer throughout the morning and early afternoon, mostly does and fawns. I went back out and glassed from a hillside on the other side of the timber for the late afternoon. 2.5 hours of sitting and only 4 does/fawns had shown themselves. I decided around 5:30 to start working through the timber again. I got pinned down by a doe and fawn for almost 10 minutes, but I had learned my lesson that morning and wasn't moving until they were gone. This turned out to be a very good decision.

They finally moved off and I caught movement from my right eye. I knew instantly it was a buck. It rounded around the trees and I knew it was a shooter buck for me. It was facing directly toward me at only 30 yards. I waited and he turned a little and gave me a quartering too shot. The 300 grain SST smacked him at 28 yards. He ran about 45 yards and went down. I was able to get my truck on the forest service road and get within range to drag him after gutting him so that I could hang him in camp and didn't have to quarter him in the field and pack him out.

It's my best Mule deer to date and I was able to get it on a great day in the woods and get back home the following day. I love the character this deer has with the trident looking back fork on the left side.
 

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Congrats on the buck and your successful navigation of my personal hell, oak brush tunnels! I found a shed like that a couple years ago, definitely a cool feature.
 
Congrats on the buck and your successful navigation of my personal hell, oak brush tunnels! I found a shed like that a couple years ago, definitely a cool feature.
Growing up in the central TX area, you learn how to navigate the oak to some extent. However, the scrub oak like this presents a ton of tough stalking/still hunting conditions. I'd be lying if I said I was proficient at it. I bumped way more deer than I actually successfully stalked or located prior to bumping them. But, I tried to learn from my mistakes and stay with it. With the number of deer that were in that area, I knew it was a matter of time before I had another opportunity.
 
Cool characteristics on that buck! That is more deer than I see in 10 years hunting the Oregon Coast, pretty cool. Hoping to use my Utah points soon!
 
Cool characteristics on that buck! That is more deer than I see in 10 years hunting the Oregon Coast, pretty cool. Hoping to use my Utah points soon!
It was a good buck, especially for a general season tag. I've always thought hunting those dark timber deer out there would be awesome.
 
Gastro Gnome - Eat Better Wherever

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