Mule deer season opened last weekend and we went out to see what we could find. We got to the blind about 1:30 Sunday and settled in.
Right away I saw a mule deer about 150 yards away in some fairly heavy brush. There are lots of elm trees in the area with limbs all the way to the ground and even if the trees are scattered 5 to 10 yards apart the lower limbs make a screen that is difficult to see through at a distance. I couldn't tell for sure if it was a spike buck or a doe because of the limbs in front of and behind the deer.
We watched turkey and squirrels play. Deer-X hung around, bedded down, got up, browsed, bedded down again, and generally had a lazy afternoon.
#3 sat still and quiet. My dad and I are both jealous of his ability to sit quietly. Youth has extra energy but it also has the ability to sit without getting cramps or pains.
About 4:00pm he finally started to get tired of waiting. He asked "When are we going back to Grandma's house?"
I told him that it was just getting to the time that the deer would really be moving and in any case we should stay until the end of legal shooting time. I also told him that if he didn't want to get a deer then I would use his rifle and take one if it showed up. He decided to stick it out.
A bunch of turkeys showed up and wondered all over the place making all kinds of noise. We somehow managed to convince #3 to not shoot one of them and to wait for a deer.
Reward time for #3 came about 4:30pm. A mule deer doe came up through a cut in the trees that a neighbor made with his bulldozer. About 20 yards behind the doe came a buck. He had a 1x2 rack but was fair sized. I got #3's rifle up and told him that they were close enough and he could shoot the buck when he had a shot that he liked. Mule deer season here is buck only unless you have a special managed land permit from the state, so taking does is not an option for us.
There was a little bit of a slope there and the doe kept getting in the way. The deer were also walking towards us while randomly changing directions to take a sample of this tree and that weed so the shot kept changing.
I was watching through binoculars so of course they seemed much closer than they were and with electronic ears on I could hear them tear leaves off the trees. I willed the buck to stand still and the doe to get out of the way.
Finally they both cooperated.
At the shot the buck's front end collapsed. His back end tried to turn and run and then followed the front end to the ground.
The doe stood and looked at us trying to figure out what the noise was all about. She must have wondered about the sonic boom of the bullet going by her as well. I was beside the little shooter so my viewing angle wasn't exactly the same as his but the bullet must have gone right over her back to reach him.
Meanwhile the turkeys were looking at us, too. They would have stood there and let him shoot one if the senior members of our party didn't start clapping and yelling and slapping the youngest member on the back. By the time I realized what we had done it was too late. The birds realized that they might just be next and departed. They weren't in full panic mode but they were walking fairly fast and the nearest were 30+ yards away so we decided that shooting at them would be a waste of ammo.
The laser rangefinder showed the shot was 104 yards. Not bad.
Here is the view from the blind.
Here is a pic of the young hunter.
Here he is with the meat. He is holding a turkey feather he picked up on the walk to the deer.
You can see the classic mule deer monobrow in this pic.
Here he is with his deer and the tool of his trade.
This is his third deer so he is an old hand at this sort of thing.
The rifle was a Marlin 336 with an Simmons ProHunter 2x pistol scope mounted on an XS Scout Mount using Leupold QRW quick release rings. The rifle also has XS ghost ring sights. A cheek rest from Fulton Armory raises the comb high enough for him to see through the scope properly. The wide eye relief range of the scope means the stock doesn't have to be chopped off for him to use it and the only adjustment I have to make to use the same rifle setup is to push the cheekrest off to the side a little so I can get my face down far enough that my eye lines up with the scope. Butler Creek flipup scope covers keep the lenses clean when the rifle is being transported
The ammo was Remington Managed Recoil .30-30. It has a 125gr. CoreLokt bullet at a nominal 2175fps. Over the years I've read many times in hunting magazines about a bullet breaking both shoulders and being recovered from under the skin on the far side of some animal but I had never actually seen that in person until this hunt. A part of the core was just under the skin under the far side.
Here he is showing the point of impact.
I had a little trouble with my scale and didn't get to weigh the buck on the hoof. I got the scale working later and the buck weighed 108 pounds field dressed.
On the way back to the truck I ran into the first mule deer we'd seen. He stuck his head out of the brush about 10 yards from me as I was walking by. Turns out it was a spike.
Here is a little wider shot. You can see the truck off to the right.
Not a bad days work. On the way out we stopped and chatted with a neighbor for about 30 minutes. As we were driving up the road towards the house I saw something on top of a rise on our place between the house and the road. Sure enough it was four big mule deer bucks. I checked the time and it was 8 minutes after the end of legal shooting. We should have quit talking with the neighbor after 10 minutes and I might have had a shot.
There is always next week.
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