Mom's Mule Deer!

EOD Diver

Handloader
Dec 30, 2011
534
65
Well gents, I'm excited to report that after a whole lot of work, mama managed to score on a buck with her .257 Roberts! A word of thanks to my nephew who is a ranch manager and registered hunting guide here in NM and was able to help out a ton on the hunt. His knowledge of the area is incredible and to see the outdoorsman that he has become really makes us proud. That said, hunting deer in the pre-rut is tough! I did a ton of scouting before the start of the hunt and came up empty in finding a buck. Plenty of elk, some does, and three bears, but I was really scratching my head when it came to finding a buck.
When the hunt started we found ourselves in the high country in the middle of a herd of elk. Two bulls were screaming at each other and we were only about 40 yards from them in the timber. We went back in a couple days later after a snowfall and got back on the elk, finding ourselves in the middle of the herd again with the herd bull screaming at us from about 30 yards this time around. We combed the hills from the valley below for deer on the ridges and finally managed to see a fork horn hanging out with some does above. The wife said no forkies so we decided against a stalk and stopped for some hot tea and to warm up a bit.
\On the way out, we bumped into a bear in the scrub oak at about about 40 yards that was gorging on acorns and oblivious to our presence. The wind was right and in the three minutes we observed him, he didn't even bother to raise his head once. The wife had enough so we scooted out of there without him ever realizing. The moisture that we had received made a mess out of the dirt road we were supposed to be picked up on. After calling my nephew to give us a lift, he informed us that it was impassable and that we were on our own to walk home. Compounding things, the wife walked through a creek soaking her boots in the process attempting to clean them so she wouldn't track so much mud into my nephew's truck. The look on her face was priceless when I informed her that he wouldn't be coming for us and that we had another three miles to make it out of there. To add insult to injury, we spotted two guys walking out of the timber about click north of us with what looked like a load of meat. Upon arrival to the trailhead at the same time as them, we realized that it was a nice 4x4 mulie buck that he had taken just to the south of the lake we had just hunted. My wife's lip looked like it was dragging mud, but she was happy that it was some local boys that are friends of the family that scored on him.
That evening, I stayed home to do homework with our son while mama went out with our daughter and nephew to scout a different area. They spotted a 3x3, but didn't have enough light to put the stalk on him. The next morning found us glassing for the buck with his does in the same location. We were fortunate enough to find him close to where they had left him the night before. We left the truck, and used a ridge to cover our approach to him. At 450 yards, we bumped a doe who scampered off into the timber. I saw the buck stroll into some juniper on the opposite ridge and we made our way across a big wide park to catch up to him. When we arrived at his ridge, he was gone. We located his does and watched them feed into the timber, but the cagey ol' buck had given us the slip and was never again to be seen. Frustrated, we headed home for some lunch and to formulate an afternoon strategy.
We decided to leave that buck alone and attempt to hunt a new area. It was a nasty hike in with a lot of elevation gain up to a mesa to enable us to scan the country below. After a good long while, I managed to find a buck hanging out with some does below in the valley. With evening closing in fast, we descended into the valley and made our way through some of the nastiest thorns you could ever imagine. Known as capulin or choke cherry, they had grown so thick over the trail that we found ourselves on our hands and knees to get through some of the spots. The wind was swirling and we made a ton of noise on our approach, but I kept my fingers crossed that things might work out. We made it out of the thorns and into the scrub oak again in the location we had observed from above. Moving slowly, we bumped a doe who fixated on us. We managed to freeze without alarming her and she eventually went about her business feeding with her fawn.
With her feeding to the south, we attempted to parallel her about 50 yards to the west. As we descended a small ridge I saw the buck poke his head out from behind some oak brush. We quickly froze then sat down when he put his head down to feed. With his head down feeding, I was scared to make too much noise and movement by positioning the backpack in front of the wife to make her a shooting platform and decided to lay down belly first in front of her crosswise. I'm happy to say that after 21 years of marriage she can read my mind. She laid the rifle across my back and I put my fingers in my ears in anticipation of a shot. I must have been there for what seemed like a lifetime without hearing the shot go off. I finally pulled my fingers out of my ears to lift my head slowly and look at her to see what was going on. She whispered to me that she didn't have a broadside shot the entire time and was waiting for him to turn sideways. I plugged my ears again and attempted to become a rock once more when all of a sudden the report and slap of the rifle snapped me out of my trance. Looking to my left I saw the buck down in a pile and not moving. Her shot behind the shoulder midway up the deer at 80 yards had been perfect and the little factory 110 AccuBond trucking along at 2866 fps from her little Kimber 84M did the trick!
My nephew heard the shot and the slap when the bullet struct the deer and came to help us dress out the deer. After he dressed out the deer using the gutless method, except the part where he accidentally poked the rumen cutting out the tenderloins (wink), Mama shouldered the hero load while dear ol' dad packed out the meat. Having dressed two antelope a couple of days prior, I figured his back could use a rest. It was a smooth walk out in the dark and the rest is history! Mama says that she's had her fill of deer hunting for a while, but I'm hoping she'll change her mind after a few months pass and it's time to put in our draw applications again!
V/R,
Joe
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,744
2,754
What a great account of an excellent hunt. Good on your lady for persevering and tagging her buck. Sounds as if you were some game rich area, which always makes things interesting. Congratulations all around.
 

NYDAN

Handloader
Sep 17, 2013
1,401
497
Congratulations all around. What a wonderful write-up. Great photos also. Thanks for sharing your story. Dan
 

salmonchaser

Handloader
Dec 13, 2013
3,744
1,514
Outstanding report and results. What a great hunt, got to see elk, deer, bear, have a great adventure. Who could ask for a better trip.
 

EOD Diver

Handloader
Dec 30, 2011
534
65
Thank you guys! I really appreciate it! We were so blessed to draw this hunt, enjoy the outdoors together, and finally harvest a buck. Ironically, a snow the day after our hunt ended really got the deer moving and migrating to their winter range. Deer were coming out of the woodwork!
My daughter’s hunt will begin on Nov 19th. I have to return to work in VA, but will rejoin the family again shortly. In the meantime, I’m hopeful my nephew and daughter can load a few rounds while I’m gone and get some practice in. We just got some Lapua cases in that should be like peas and carrots with 90 grain Accubonds on top of a little RL 26. More to follow soon!
V/R,
Joe
 

Blkram

Handloader
Nov 25, 2013
2,064
724
Congrats!
Shared adventures afield that make fond memories and tasty meals.
The sore muscles from the exertions are soon forgotten and the desire to be afield again will rekindle hopes for new adventures.
 

PJGunner

Handloader
Dec 11, 2010
1,895
545
"Congrats!
Shared adventures afield that make fond memories and tasty meals.
The sore muscles from the exertions are soon forgotten and the desire to be afield again will rekindle hopes for new adventures."

I agree 100%.
Paul B.
 

SJB358

Ballistician
Dec 24, 2006
31,447
872
Holy smokes! What a hunt Joe! That’s awesome stuff!

Congrats to you and the family!
 

cloverleaf

Handloader
Sep 10, 2006
4,060
522
This is just excellent! Those memories will get sweeter as the years go by. Congrats and compliments to the lady for her perseverance and a good shot! CL
 
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