Caribou Gear

ND mule deer hunt

Jamen

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
346
Location
North Dakota
After waiting 8 years, my father and I finally drew our ND mule deer tags. Being out there before 8 years prior when my sister and cousin had their youth hunt we were unsure of what has changed due to the oil boom. I left two weeks before the season started with a classmate of mine for a scouting trip. Once we got out there, we met with a rancher and his wife dropped off some sweet corn and a big sack of potatoes we grew and talked with them. We started to see some deer and a few decent bucks. I seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when they were around. My friend had been the one who spotted them and by the time, I got to where he was, they would be gone.

We started to get a pattern down on these deer at dusk. They would come out of a draw, head towards a cow well in a pasture, and get a drink. There were two nice whitetail bucks with two smaller whitetail bucks and some doe. We saw a decent 4x4 muley with a small fork and a few does. We went to new areas and seen a few smaller bucks but nothing we thought worth shooting. About 700 yards from the well, it drops off into the badlands with some deep draws and a stream that was flowing. We sat on an edge most nights watching various bucks come in and out. The last full day we went to the other side of this draw to see if we could come in from the south and look north. We hiked in well over a mile on the tops and came up over this knob to what looked like a logging crew has done some serious work in these draws. Once we got closer, it was indeed a group of loggers but of the furry kind. The beavers have completely destroyed these draws and built a damn about 30-40 ft. across and at least 15ft high. They had completely drained the draw of trees and they were traveling over 400 yards to another wood source. We sat there looking at all their different paths they had. After realizing we were not beaver hunting we got back to business.
One of the mornings, I went out to the ridge alone before sunrise. I sat there thinking about the last time I was out there and helping my cousin drag his buck out 8 years ago on his youth hunt. I had thought about all that has happened in those 8 years and the events leading up to that point. Wishing that he was still here and could have come with me on a hunt I got a little emotional sitting there. As the sun came out over the ridge and I could feel it on my face I placed the bracelet I wore on my wrist since his passing and dug a little hole and placed it on the ridge where I had sat every day. Sometimes it is not the animals we kill or see that makes the hunt but it is the memories we have while on the hunt. I told him to keep my old man safe and me in two weeks and bless us with a deer or two.
In addition, we found out we were a deep deep canyon and half mile away of where we wanted to be. With day light being limited with only a few hours we left and went back to our “spot” and sat and watched. At the end of the scouting trip, we had a good game plan to go back and tell my dad of what we should do.
Two weeks later Thursday morning, we headed out. We arrived at our cabins, which were a little slice of heaven. Rustic in every way but still with the comforts of home and placed smack dap in the middle of the badlands. As afternoon faded away, we went to the “spot on the ridge” we set up our spots and started glassing. Five minutes went by, I looked over to the ridge, and 140 yards away was a small 4x4 laying in the sun. I told my dad and us both looked at him. I decided to go back and get my bow and put the sneak on. So I hurried off the ridge back to the truck stripped down of all my bulky clothes and grabbed my bow and a couple arrows. Wind not in my favor I tried making it the best I could. I got to the hill and got on all fours crawling to the summit. Now he winded me and was standing up. I ranged him at 55 yds. and thought this would be the best I could get. Therefore, I drew back and something was not right. My string was a half-inch too long and my dumb mistake I got it re strung before the trip and I pulled it back a few times but never shot. So now, I am flustered because I could not find my sweet spot. Let the arrow fly and I was a foot high. Grabbed the second arrow and stood up he walked off and I started walking towards him got to 45 yds. I thought that maybe it was my nerves so I placed the pin on him again and still a foot high. I only grabbed two arrows from the truck since I was in a hurry. He bounced off and stood at 40 yards for over 5 minutes while I looked for my arrows.
Fast forward to opening day and we woke up to a snowstorm. Got to the “spot” and could not see across. We drove around since we have to wait til 12 to shoot anyway. Saw some deer in places we cannot hunt and we went back to the ranch we can hunt. We went to the spot on the ridge and glassed that evening. We saw a few deer a distance off down in the canyon. We decided to go set up by the well. We sat there waiting the turkeys came in and roosted. I think that was the safety light the deer needed once they roosted deer started to come out. I looked to my left and there were two muley bucks the one 4x4 from the scouting trip and his friend the fork. I told my dad there was a nice deer he was the back one. Leaving the walking sticks in the truck I quick took off the spotting scope and he used the tripod as a rest. He shot with the infamous slap you hear on the deer I yell hit! It being last light we go after him since he walked over a little hill and did not want to lose him. He got up and ran down a draw and back up. After hitting him, two more times we laid down in some trees. I told my dad to go get the truck I will cross the draw and look for him. Since I am younger, I thought I could cover the ground faster. I came up to the top and saw him he started to get up and I put one behind his cheek before he had a chance to get up and go down in the draw.
Saturday came and it was a frosty morning, driving out to the “spot again I looked over and was like holy shit there is a big buck right there 200 yards away. Not having much time to react I flew out of the truck and laid the crosshairs right on him. Boom and heard the slap we all love to hear. He went down in to some trees. We walked out there to find a giant fork with at least 15-inch tines. Not my deer I said. The one I shot at was a good deal wider than his ears and his horns were a dark mahogany color. The fork was at 60 yards not caring. We looked and looked and looked no blood no trail. As if this buck had never been there. We found his bed, which was still warm but could not find any blood and no trail in the frost. After over two hours and feeling very disgusted with myself, I called off the search. Not much was said that afternoon I felt horrible for shooting and almost positive hitting an animal that I could not find.
That night we went back to the ridge and I spotted a big buck a mile away. I was not fast enough to get a picture through the spotting scope. Fast forward to Sunday and seeing bucks in that draw again nothing in range or worth shooting. In addition, the only one worth shooting was at 500 yards chasing does and would not stop.
Monday morning came I told my dad I would climb down to a point off the ridge that got me 130 yards closer to where the bucks cross on the other side. I sat there and watched a nice whitetail on the other side but no muley. I looked over to my left and saw a muley running across this draw. I quickly adjusted nearly kicking the spotting scope down the canyon using my pack as a rest and laying on my stomach, he was not stopping to give me a decent shot. Right before he dipped down I squeezed the trigger at 200 yards. Slap I hit and down he went, he got up, came towards my way 5 feet, and tipped over with the death tip. Texted my dad buck down meet me on the ridge.
I gathered my items still shaking from the excitement of shooting my first ever muley even though I knew he was not a monster I was looking for. We came up to the ridge and I saw him lying there dead as can be. I had bought 500 ft. of strap from Cabela’s and I started walking down tied it on and dragged him up with the pick-up. He was a smaller 5x4 but had a good body on him. The shot went through his liver took out a lung and ended up breaking his spine is his neck so no meat wasted. Still feeling disappointed in the events of Saturday we looked again for over another hour for the one on Saturday for closure. No sign of anything maybe I hit him maybe I did not we put forth an effort in finding him with no signs.
To finish off the trip the old man got his turkey on Monday morning with dense fog. A 20lb bird with a nine and ¾-inch beard. Overall, it was an awesome hunt and the real trophy was spending it with my father. We worked hard and got meat in the freezer. We saw a good number of deer and a nice heard of speed goats with some real nice bucks.
Sorry, that the story was long winded but sometimes I just type away.
 

Jamen

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
346
Location
North Dakota
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