MRCO#318 Get a College Education in Deer Hunting
Hunting Trophy Mule deer in the west is a mixture of open land whitetail, Elk in the timber, and the luckiest day of your life all mixed into one day. You have the generals, but what you will need is the Mule Deer specifics that come in a pill called Knowledge and experience.
You can hunt for years and years, and never get a 180 plus buck, or even see one for that matter. But you are adding to your knowledge and experience. Or you can get a cheap professor, to teach you the things that you don’t know, and throw in a big deer, all for the price of Tuition. The class doesn’t take a whole year like most, not even a semester, it’s usually about a week and they throw in a camping trip along with a open cafeteria pass, and free aerobic classes during that week.
With it comes a good dose of health requirement fresh air, early morning exercise, and if you pass the exams your even get some rifle shooting, but only if you listen well, and carry a B or better for the class. It is one you will want to excel in, believe me.
Because when you graduate you will be alone in the world, hunting only by what you have learned, and have one class to put on your hunting resume’.
What you have here is a good guide. Not one that take your body and put you on a rock, and says I will pick up after dark, but one that knows your level of experience but also is there to help you increase your academic knowledge of the Record Book Muley.
One such guide was Bruce Ayer, owner of Ponderosa Outfitting out of Greely Colorado. High reviews and a high hunter return rate makes it difficult to book with him, many of the students want to come back for another week of record class Muley class, and to be able again to take their diploma home and out it on the wall above the fireplace.
A client that had never hunted mule deer was put in a expedited class on mule deer behavior and how to take advantage of the big bucks behavior.
Tom was with Bruce hunting the thick cover after a snow fall around Walden Colorado. They were trying to catch the big bucks migrating during the November pre-rut. A quick snow storm had forced the deer to whole up during the storm. Bruce told Tom, “We want to be above them, and glass, and move, and glass, and move. From above you have the visibility, and brown on fresh white is easy to see for miles. If they get spooked they will go up, and from here we can be there as they get up to us.
Bruce’s knowledge and experience told him where the cedar and heavy timber ridge pockets that produces big bucks years after year. Bruce had a learning curve when he started 33 years ago, that is why he is a professor today, knowledge from 33 years of education. Tom needs to learn more what deer look for then where these individual pockets are so he can find them no matter where he hunts.
Bruce hunts with Tom all day and explains, “Deer travel by necessity, and sometimes that is not at only first and last light or night. The only time you won’t see them is when you not there, so make a practice to be out there all day, not just first & last light.
The snow has stopped, and the sun was breaking out, the bucks will leave the trees to get away from the falling limbs of snow and snow melt. This is moving, It is getting to be the time to check does, This is moving, After not being able to eat while in cover, this is moving. The weather was extremely cold, this causes moving.
Deer are more exposed and venerable when they are moving, moving for any reason, if you are out hunting you can take advantage if you are back in camp, you are at recess, and won’t see the movement.
By day three Tom had picked up this mule deer education quite well. He knew what to look for , where to look, what to look for and how.
He had one more required chapter to cover, that was shooting, on the third afternoon, Bruce and Tom had spotted 15 does and two big timber bucks working along the edge of the timber where the sun had been hitting and had melted the snow. Again, where to look is where deer find what they need, when they need it. They were checking the does but they still had a empty stomach to feed and were multitasking as they fed by a doe.
Both buck were 200 plus class bucks, and Tom, had passed the spotting chapters, and was now walking through the stalk chapter as Bruce, picked a route through the timber that would put this rouge scholar about on a high spot about 150 yards from the feeding bucks. The bucks could multitask but a third task would be too much. Bruce explained you don’t have to worry as much about the bucks spotting you as the one of the 15 does and sounding the alarm.
Completing the stalking chapter put Tom on a perch that he slid out slowly and quietly for a safe prone shot. Bruce told him, prone is the steadies position, the deer aren’t even aware you are there, slide out and pick the big one in back. Shoot after he steps, when he drops his head to graze. Your first shot is your best shot, so don’t rush it, and be certain to make it good. Don’t hurry it, if you have done everything correct, you won’t need a second shot.
About a minute of waiting for just the right shot Bruce saw Toms Rifle fire and heard the resounding thud of a 30 caliber bullet in the buck’s rib cage. Bruce was watching with his binoculars as the buck took off running flat like a whitetail, not like a bouncing mule deer as the others were doing. He head got lower and lower as the big rack finally slid in behind the sage brush edge that separated tree, from flats.
Tom stood up, as Bruce shook his hand and said, “Congratulations you have just graduated from my class with honors. Let’s go down and gut your diploma so you can hang it above your fireplace.”
In closing I must say this may be a play on words, but the bottom line is if you don’t have the knowledge of hunting any particular species, hire a good guide that will act as an instructor, so that next season you will be ready to go out and face the Muley world alone.