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ND Public Land Muley

Jamen

Active member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
409
Location
North Dakota
This may be a semi lengthy post and i will try my best to tell the story. This is my 2nd ND mule deer buck tag in 14 years. Took 8 years the first time to draw and this time we got it in 6. Last go around i shot a small 4x5. This time i wanted to shoot a mature animal. My parents lived out in the western part of the state in the 80's so we know a few people in the area. The last time we had access to some private which was a huge help. Being 6 years later that ranch has recently sold. My dad has a hard time going to places he doesn't know from anxiety. So news of the ranch selling had crushed his plan for the hunt. I had tracked down the number to the owner a few weeks before the season to see about access. He was very nice told him our situation and that we mainly wanted to use this old trail they have on private to gain access to the public behind their private. He said him and his boys had tags but contact him before the season so we do not overlap and we can work something out. Long story short i had called several times with no luck the week of opener. I had left my name and number with the ranch hands wife and she said he would give me a call. No luck on either front. so i could tell my dad was a bit uneasy going into opener being we would be in uncharted territory for him. There were some other areas we were going to try to come find out local ranchers have gated off the roads and deemed them "private". not wanting to cause issues knowing the roads are public we decided to look elsewhere.

We had found this big chunk of private that looked relatively forgiving for the old man to trek in. We set up shop there Thursday night. After glassing for awhile i had spotted a doe and a small fork who was chasing her. There was about an hour or so of light left and my father wanted to head back to the truck. I had told him i am going to wait til dark. After he had left i had begun thinking of some ways for this hunt to be enjoyable for him since all previous plans had failed. Knowing he wasnt comfortable in that spot i started looking at OnX. i kept glassing and i had noticed with my naked eye on a ridge 400 yards away a herd of white butts. Thinking they were mule deer i grabbed the Swaro and got the tripod extended to where i could stand and see them. Nope not muleys but a herd of big horn sheep. The lead sheep was HUGE, now i am not a sheep expert but he looked to be past full curl. His horns did the traditional curl but then they started going outward. So i went to get the phoneskope and take pictures, come to find out i had forgot the eyepiece in the truck. Really bummed i tried my best to get pictures but the quality is not there.

After they had walked off i kept glassing i had noticed a bachelor group of bucks about a mile away. Felling good and confident i headed back to the truck with a plan for tomorrow.
 

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Jamen

Active member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
409
Location
North Dakota
Day 2

Our rifle season opens at noon on a Friday. Told my dad lets try the spot we did the previous night and see if we can locate that bachelor group of bucks. We woke up and it was raining. We got to the gate at the trailhead to come to find another hunter there. We had talked to him and come to find out he is good friends with one of my old middle school teachers. He said he was going to go to a new area and he left. Once the rain had stopped we headed out it was about 9:30. We glassed i found 4 more big horns and a couple does. We waited til about 1 PM and decided to go have lunch at the truck. I asked my dad what he wanted to do. We decided to stay there and glass for the evening. My dad elected to stay near the truck about a couple hundred yards away and i walked in to my glassing spot. Not seeing much of any activity because the wind was blowing bad. I had noticed 2 coyotes, i should have let them eat some lead but didn't want to spook any deer if there was any. Night came and no deer were found.

We got back to the truck to find people had driven into the national grasslands and left the gate wide open. There is a sign that says no motorized vehicles. We drive back to the cabin to get a game plan for the next day. MY dad wanted to try that spot again, he had begun getting familiar with it. So the next morning we did just that. He chose this small wooded draw that was near the truck and i had hiked in to my glassing spot. Not seeing anything as the sun came up I had noticed another truck driving in here. I glassed it and took some pictures of him. 5 minutes later another truck... I am upset now not seeing deer topped with people driving in an area i thought no one could. I texted my father and said i am going to the truck to call the warden.

I had contacted the warden and told him where i was at and the situation. He had told me they have alot of problems with people driving in the grasslands. He did inform me that it is legal if they are on an established trail. That was news to me. We had decided to go to a different piece of public for the evening. My dad decided to stay in the truck that night as ai walked in. As soon as i got there i noticed a small fork he bedded down 200 yards from me. I texted my dad and sent him some pictures. He didnt think he could get to me in time. I noticed 2 other forks a long ways off that night. i also found a shed that evening while glassing. it was right out in the open.
 

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Jamen

Active member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
409
Location
North Dakota
Day 3

Saturday night i had talked with my dad on what he wanted to do. Knowing we could take that trail in 2 miles or so he thought that would be a good idea. That's not my style of hunting but its what he wanted to do so we went with it. We were the second people there that morning. The first group took on on bikes in the opposite direction. As we drove in looking for a place to glass i told my dad to be looking back in the tops of these wooded draws. Sure enough the next draw stood his 3x3. Bam it was all over just like that. He didn't run too far, 60 yards into the trees and he was done. We dragged him out and gutted him. We went back to where i had thought would be a good place to glass. My father decided to handing his buck up and clean him. 40 minutes later and he had his buck all broken down and boned out.

I went to a knob and started glassing. I had noticed 2 forks and a spike 400 yards off just walking around. Then a doe and twins. I hiked back to the truck to see if my dad needed help with his deer. he had it all done. We decided to go back to the cabin and cut him into small chuncks for the grinder and get him vac sealed and i the freezer since it was mid morning.

Once he was all packaged we made the plan for the evening. The reality of the hunt is beginning to set in. Not seeing any quality bucks id be happy with, my father not comfortable going to these new places is limiting a lot of things. Now dont get me wrong he said it was my hunt and i could do as i pleased but i wanted to find a happy medium where he was semi comfortable and i could find a deer. That night we took that trail to the end of the line that being the National park. I found a knob that had a great vantage point it over looked the little Missouri river. I glassed up a doe and a fawn. Then on the top i had noticed this guy sitting in a thicket. Finally a quality deer that i have been looking for. 700 yards away way too far to even think about shooting. I pull up onX and try to see if there is a path i can get to before dark. Glad i did that and not started hiking, come to find out he is 200 yards into the park. Bummed but happy i finally saw a quality deer i kept glassing. Off to his right i had spotted his buddy. He never gave me a chance at a good picture. Night came and i headed back to the truck.

My dad doesn't like being posted online so i only got the one picture of his deer.
 

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Jamen

Active member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
409
Location
North Dakota
Day 4

That night i was excited i had seen two good deer but also discouraged in the same respect. We had driven some roads to look for more public and the amount of hunters was crazy every approach had at least one truck in there and people parked in the ditches. I don't like being by anyone for the most part in general let alone hunting. So that night i decided i would go back to that spot where i had seen those two the previous night. We got back into there and i glassed up a does and twins and a big fork. i debated going after the fork but he was on the edge of the park so i elected to go look from a few other butte tops to see what i could see.

Nothing else moving that morning. We got to mid morning and decided to go look for a few turkeys. We didnt find any on the public land. We decided to go back to the cabin and look at the map and make a plan. I laid the forest service map on the table along with my phone with OnX. We had found some roads that take us deep into the badlands in new territory. knowing this would be one of the only options i had to cover more ground and also have my dad with it was our best option. After planning a driving route i told my dad i want one last night to the spot i had spotted that fork 200 yards away that bedded down.

On my walk out there about a mile in of rolling hills until i get to the canyon to glass. I had crossed the fence and sent out a snapchat to some friends who were following along. The message was basically, mentally defeated i hope tonight is the night. I had made up my mind if i get a good shot at any buck i was going to take it. I was mentally drained from this hunt, normally i dont let things bother me but this hunt was different. This was a Monday we were leaving Thursday morning. Once i crossed the fence and saw the knob i had sat on two nights ago i decided to go north to the knob next to it.

The wind is blowing left to right a steady 10-15mph south wind i am headed west. For some dumb reason i look out over to the north off to my right and i see 2 bucks trotting on the top. They winded me but never looked over and saw me. They were about 250 yards away. I pull up the 30-06 and but the heavy breathing i elect to not take the shot since they never looked at me i thought maybe i got a chance they will stop in the draw they were headed for.

Once they went over the hill i started to move swiftly as i could. About .5-.75 of a mile later i get to the draw i think they went into. Nothing... the little thought in my mind why didnt you shoot when you had a shot. Still thinking i made the right choice not shooting i went down the hill and back up to the next draw. there they were at the bottom one was bedded down the other standing and he bedded down facing me...

I lay flat on the ground take my pack off take the swaro out of my vest, unclip the tripod for the spotter. I almost didnt pack the spotter or the tripod that night. I left the big fram pack in the truck and brought my extra large fanny pack. i wanted to pack light. The only thing from me and the two bucks seeing me is a tiny bush. I crawl up to this bush and glass. Both bucks both look nice. I grab the range finder 216 yards away, bingo the old 30-06 is zeroed for 200. Still breathing heavy i get the tripod to where i can kneel on one leg and shoot. I sneak out from the bush look at the deer flip the safety off, nope i am moving around too much. I put it back on safety. Back and forth 4 times i decide i will lower the tripod and sit down.

Now the gig is up the smaller buck was facing me the whole time and he sees me move he stands up. His buddy does the same thing, i pop out from the bush and rushed my shot boom.... clean miss.... i dont miss often that was my 3rd miss since hunting with a rifle.

Damn it Jamen take your time i told my self as i chambered another shell. They didnt know what was going on but the buck i wanted started walking away and a couple more steps he would have been in the trees. IT not being a broadside shot i would normally never take it, but knowing my ability with that rifle and it only being 216 yards away i settle the crosshairs right at the bottom of his neck above the shoulders exhale and squeeze the trigger.
 

Jamen

Active member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
409
Location
North Dakota
I hear that unmistakable sound when lead hits an animal and down he went in his tracks. Now i took one deep breathe of relief that its done. I call my dad and told him buck down. it was 2:48 in the afternoon. Mind you this all happened in a matter of less than a half hour after i left the truck. I called my mom told her i had gotten my deer. She wanted to see it so i set up the spotter on my tripod and video chatted and she saw it laying down on the bottom.

I kind of lost it emotionally at that point all the set backs all the plans that changed the years for waiting for the tag finally the weight lifted as it was done. I pack up my gear and head back to meet my father who is bringing the sled and game carrier in. He being 58 a hernia the size of a tennis ball in his belly button, bunions on his feet and arthritis he started the trek out. I was 1.5 miles away from the truck at this point. I make it in over a mile back and i meet up with him. i dump my gear in the sled and i start pulling it. We finally get back to where i shot him and he was laying on the bottom where i had shot him.
 

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Jamen

Active member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
409
Location
North Dakota
The walk up there was the excitement set in. My dad took his time getting to the bottom but i had to leave him so i could see the animal up close. Said my thank you to the deer as i got up to him. My dad got down to the bottom handshakes and congratulations all around. We took pictures and started breaking him down. Luckily we are really quick with that we process deer in the fall for people and doing over 150 last year we can do it in our sleep. He was quartered and tied to the game cart in no time. i put the gear in the sled and my dad took that and i took the cart with the deer. The 1.5 mile hike back out was what i wanted. The real public land experience. I can never thank my dad enough for making that trek out there i know it put him way past his comfort zone but he did it with no hesitation.
 

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Jamen

Active member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
409
Location
North Dakota
He was shot at 2:48 and we got back to the truck at 6 PM. He may not have been the biggest we saw but he was the biggest we saw on public land and he is my deer. I am beyond grateful for the experience it was very humbling to say the least. Had my grandpa's old hunting shirt on the entire trip. Knowing he was watching over me the entire way and guided me to that deer. I will be back out there to do it again!

Thank you you following along the story got lengthy but I'd rather tell the whole story than one paragraph and a picture.
 

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OntarioHunter

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Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
2,825
Long winded is better than leaving us hanging with no details. Enjoyed it. Thanks!
 

WNC2500

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Joined
May 28, 2018
Messages
386
Location
North Carolina
@Jamen I loved the way you put it all together and walked us through it. We were there with you rooting you and your dad on. Enjoy those hunts with your dad. My dad is 73 and we continue to hunt together, but his zest and ability to do it has changed drastically since I started hunting with him. All i am trying to tell you is to not take those awesome times with your dad for granted. I know you don't, but realize every one of them is a blessing, and a memory that will stay with you. Again, congrats on your ND Muley!
 

EYJONAS!

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Joined
Mar 17, 2017
Messages
4,277
Very cool hunt with your dad congrats. It's pretty special to get out there with him.
 
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