Bachelor Party Mule Deer Hunt

JT88

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Montana
As promised, here we go.

I proposed to my fiance in the Tetons in August and we're getting married here in a couple weeks. I couldn't be more blessed by her.

My friends asked what I wanted to do for a bachelor party and without hesitation I said let's go hunt mule deer! Finally, after what felt like years of anticipation, it was finally here.

We took Friday off and drove 5 hours after work Thursday to set up camp in the middle of nowhere. Got the wall tent and heater set up and crashed. Woke up at 4 to the sound of 2 more buddies arriving early (they worked late but decided since they couldn't sleep in anticipation anyway to just drive overnight 😁). So we got up 2 hours later to get out and glass

1st buck

We split up into 2 groups of 3. Within minutes of 1st shooting light I told my buddies Dan and Sam I'd spotted a good buck and we needed to go after him. I wanted to try to help Dan get his 1st deer since he's a bird hunter and has always wanted someone to teach him how to get after big game. We were trying to put a plan together when I noticed a doe bedded exactly where we needed to shoot from. Finally we decided it was do or die, she'd either blow out and spook the buck or hopefully go another direction out of sight from the buck and his 6 does. We started down the ridge, she eventually blew out the direction we had hoped for but we couldn't see the other herd yet. Finally I crawled up the ridge and saw the does with the buck sniffing them and ranged them at 198 yards. I motioned Dan up to where I was, laid out my pack and told him the range. He got settled and we watched the buck checking the does, waiting for a clear shot. Finally he cleared the does and... Boom, Dan hit him with his Grandpa's old 30-06, he stumbled, ran 20 yards and crashed. We were beyond stoked. An hour in and Dan had shot his first mule deer buck
 

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JT88

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2nd buck

So we get up to the buck, we're hooting and high fiving, having a celebration. I'm getting ready to help Dan clean him and Sam goes shhhhh there's another buck down the canyon. We hunker down, I grab my rangefinder and tell Sam he's at 236 yards. Sam settles in for the shot.... boom. The deer runs into some trees and we glass for a bit to make sure he doesn't come out the other side. Sam decides to go after him while Dan and I take care of his buck. A few minutes later we hear another shot and see Sam give us the thumbs up from the next ridge. He was hit a little low in the brisket and required another round. So Dan and I finish cleaning his buck and hike over to Sam. We can't believe what just happened. Obviously we underestimated the rut activity, as these bucks were lovestruck (or dumbstruck) and we were right in the middle of a breeding frenzy.
 

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JT88

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3rd buck

So we drag Sam's buck down a nasty cliff to the nearest road, which was pretty brutal, and I spot a small buck chasing a doe on the other side of the ridge. Sam agrees to walk back & get the truck while Dan and I watch the small buck to make sure there isn't another mature buck nearby. Sam returns, the deer bed down without us seeing anymore deer and we decide to return to camp to get help retrieving Dan's buck. We get back to camp and the other 3 guys had just arrived, they're eating sandwiches and drinking beer. We share the awesome story of the two bucks and they tell us they spotted and stalked a buck but blew him out without a shot. I ask Allen if he wants to shoot a 3x3 for his first buck and he says "definitely". So we split up again, walking down to where we'd seen the 3x3 and doe bedded. I notice him and 2 does, still in the same area. We drop off the road into a deep nasty cut. The deer are watching us but we had no other choice but to give it a go. We work down the draw towards a little shelf in hopes of getting a good vantage point. We get to 250, I tell Allen to be ready because I think they're going to stand up and when they do we'll try to get a shot. We make it to 225, I see the buck stand up. I drop my pack, and stack Allen's pack on top of it to make a solid rest. I tell him he's 225.... boom. He rears up like a horse

Allen is elated with his first ever buck
 

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JT88

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So we now had three bucks down on our first morning. We decided we'd better get back to camp for a while and gather some firewood etc. and go out for an evening hunt. We got pretty cold on the first night because we didn't stoke the stove in time and the fire burned out. Nobody felt like getting up and starting it again before the morning hunt.

We found a good glassing spot and set up but didn't turn up any shooters in the evening. 3 of the 4 left with tags (including me) were holding out for a mature buck.

So on day two, the weather absolutely turned ROUGH. 35 mph winds with gusts up to 60, severe weather warning. We tried to get out early, did a little hike and decided the deer weren't moving in the storm. We went to check out a deep hole (my honey hole) but the road was drifted in and impassable. Finally in the afternoon the weather started to ease up a bit and the sun came out. It was still blowing pretty hard but we decided to still hunt some timbered ridges knowing the deer were hunkered down.

We found 4 does bedded and snuck within about 65 yards of them. Finally one of the does blew out, then another and another. We thought there was something wrong with the 4th doe because she was laying awkwardly with her head down and didn't wake up when her friends took off. I snuck crazy close to her before she finally woke up. We had a good laugh, sort of poking fun at the sleepyhead doe that was oblivious to the world.

We headed back towards camp and cut a set of very fresh tracks. I asked if anyone wanted to go with me and Mark said he'd go. So we split up, this time in 2 groups of 2 (last 4 tag holders).

Mark and I could tell it was a buck right away. He was running a scrape line, dragging his feet, and every time he crossed a meadow he would trot thru it since he didn't like being out in the open. We found where he picked up a hot doe and started chasing her. The game was on. We followed him for another mile or so and spotted a small buck who thought he was going to follow the hot doe also. We watched him for a while and then finally he took off the other way. We continued tracking the buck and hot doe but realized he was headed for a small section of private land. We skirted the quarter section of private and kept glassing in the direction they were headed, trying to pick them off. We went about another mile and spotted 5 does bedded on the last bit of the private chunk. We continued in the direction he was headed and I spotted 2 does about 200 yards ahead of us. We didn't see a buck with them but there were tracks everywhere. The wind kind of screwed us over, it was starting to blow in the direction we thought the buck and hot doe had gone and we were running out of daylight. We watched another group of 8 does and finally had to head back to camp to call it a night. We had steak fajitas and a good b.s. session
 

JT88

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Last day

We decided to split up into groups of 2 on the last day. I hadn't really had a chance to hunt with Dylan yet so we decided to go out at first light and glass and then if we didn't turn anything up we picked a good nasty spot with some nice ridge tops in hopes of the deer being more active during the day again following the storm. We were on our way out to "buck knob" and we spotted a decent buck bedded. He had seen us before we spotted him and was looking at us from his bed suspiciously. I ranged him at 330 and asked Dylan if he felt comfortable taking that shot. He decided not to take it. The deer eventually got up and wandered off just when we were getting ready to make a stalk and try to get closer. We pushed up the knob and a saw a group of does at about 470 yards. We watched them work their way around a ridge and saw a couple of smaller bucks with them but nothing good. Then I spotted a monster on a ridge about a 1 1/2 miles from where we were. He was on a big chunk of private watching his herd of about 10 does closely. Dangit. We decided to go to plan b.

We got back to the truck, drove to the other spot and proceeded to drop into a NASTY spot. We still hunted down a steep ridge and sure enough, as it started to open up Dylan glassed up 2 bedded does on the ridge. Thinking there had to be a buck in there we put a plan together to each sneak out the ridge on either side and hope that we'd spot them before they saw us or if they tried to climb out of the cliffs. The plan almost worked. I had the longer side of the ridge so I tried to time is so that we both came out to the point at roughly the same time. It was difficult because we couldn't see eachother and Dylan caught a brief glimpse of two deer making their escape just ahead of him. I found their fresh beds at the end of the point. I was thinking it had to be a decent buck because of how wily he was acting, even with his hot doe. We started tracking them slowly, paying attention to where he stopped and looked back, and just his overall behavior. We followed them up and over the next ridge into another nasty canyon. I turned to Dylan and said he's probably watching us right now. Sure enough, as we're standing there glassing, I see a deer sneaking out of the top of the draw about 250 yards away. I got a brief glimpse of him from the side and he looked like a good buck. By this time we were supposed to be heading back to pack up camp and get everyone home. We worked our way a little further and I spotted a fork buck bedded on a thick ridge. We watched for more deer but nothing came out. Then Dylan realized he'd lost his cell phone. It was hard not to laugh at the situation. We were so caught up in the excitement and the hunt that he had no idea where he'd last used it. We were planning on doing a big loop but instead Dylan decided to retrace our steps back (ouch) and hike out the disaster area we'd dropped into in hopes of somehow finding his phone.

So we split up, I snuck within about 80 yards of a lone doe and proceeded out to the truck the way I'd planned. When I got back to camp I heard that Mark had helped Rick get little 4x4. Rick hasn't hunted since he was a kid with his dad and it was awesome seeing the flame rekindled. Amazingly, Dylan found his phone laying on top of about 2' of fresh snow. We filled 4 out of 7 of our tags. All in all, we had an amazing time and I'm just really thankful to have such amazing friends. They surprised me with a Henry Big Boy in .45 LC. 😲 During such a weird year, it was so refreshing to get out and forget about work and all the b.s. going on right now... I was reminded of how it's just as much fun helping others fill their tags as it is filling them for yourself. We still have a few weeks left in the season and I was blessed to fill my elk tag with a 5 point bull so I'm just very glad I got to help some of my buddies fill theirs.
 

ZMT588

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Oct 1, 2019
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Mt
Congrats to those successful. Looks like it was an awesome time!
 

Art Vandeley

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Dec 12, 2011
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Del Boca Vista, MT
Congratulations on the hunt and party. I just got back from my bachelors party which was also a camping/deer hunt. We spent a lot of time in the local tavern and not much time in the field, the animals were definitely safe from us.
 
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