My big year


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I don't know how exciting this thread will be but I figured I will keep yall informed. Through a bunch of chance I will be doing the most North American hunting in one fall than I have done in a long time. I have some of the best tags I have ever had. In two weeks I will be hunting Antelope in Mora County New Mexico. A lot of booners come out of this area. My wife gets to hunt with me. I will post results when I have them.

At the end of September I have a muzzleloader tag for muley in a limited area of Utah. For this hunt I am hiring a guide. The biggest challenge for me so far has been learning how to shoot a muzzleloader. I have been experimenting 2-3 times a week with loads and I am still not quite up to snuff. I give myself about a 40% chance on this hunt of killing a stomper.

The day after thanksgiving two of my brothers and I have tags for probably the best mule deer ranch in Texas. We can hunt all the way until December 7th on 290000 acres. We will not have guides and we can shoot a big whitetail instead if we decide. Should be very interesting.

As soon as my hunt in Texas ends I am driving to south east Colorado where I have a rut tag. This hunt is on a private property I have hunted for years and know very well. I will be self guided and a couple of my buddies said they might come help as spotters but I am not getting my hopes up. Only one person has hunted the rut on this place in the last ten years. 11 years ago I got to hunt the rut there and its an amazing thing to see. Huge bucks just boil out of the holes and come up on top of the mesas to chase doe. Many of these deer are not seen before or after and disappear for the rest of the year so I am very excited.

Best luck to everyone and I'll keep in touch.
Well I have been practicing with my muzzleloader and finally I have shot one good pattern. 250 grain Barnes with 100 grains 777 powder. I will keep practicing with this combination.

Had an unexpected treat when I went to the farm this weekend. I took my boy for a drive to look around and came across one of the biggest hogs I have seen in years. All I had was my old .243 but I wasn't going to let him just walk off without at least making him think twice about being born. Twice as we closed distance on him my son stopped me and argued that it was a calf. At 80 yards when I could get no closer he could tell that this was like no other hog he had seen. I tried to shoot him in the ear but I missed and struck him in the neck. I immediately put in another round and shot again striking him in the back. He was still running fast when I took my third shot. That was a clean miss. With one round left and him exiting quickly I pulled the trigger. This round struck him in the ball of the hip and nocked him down but he was immediately was back on his feet running. I was out of ammo and had to walk 800 yards back to the truck before I could follow up. Never follow 350 lbs of mad shot pig with no bullets. I got loaded up and started tracking. I couldn't find any blood anywhere but after thirty minutes I found him dead. I have no pics of the corpse but I whacked his head off and hauled him out of the bottom.


So after everybody else had killed me and my wife headed out to a little different area to see if we could find her first antelope and hopefully a good one for me too. Scouting around I came across this exceptional guy. (other side of the fence)

The next day we saw quite a few nice bucks and then found a loner with a nice tall hook on him. Kari was nervous but we closed from 500 meters down to 250 and then the dang thang walked another 130 meters closer to us. She went ahead and took the frontal shot off of sticks and drilled him. Buck took the ten step side shuffle and tipped over. Upon gutting it was discovered that his heart had been pulverized.


After cleaning and cutting up her critter and washing the cape I thought I would go have a look for myself. I found a group of four bucks with two really nice ones in it. I moved around a big hill, put the sun behind me, and began climbing. Once I came over the hill I realized the bucks were moving south so I just kind of side hilled and shadowed them. I happened across a big rattler while doing this. Luckily he was of the noisy sort and my boot didn't rest on him. Once he moved on I decided to start a belly-crawl towards the antelope sing a solitary bush to keep between me and the buck I wanted. When I made it to the bush I knew I would get no further. I ranged him at 327 meters. I would like to say that I shot as true as my wife but that would be a lie. In truth I shot over him the first round. I quickly cycled a round and shot again catching both lungs. He walked about thirty yards, and gently laid down and died. Here's my best antelope so far.

Well I got to load up and head to New Mexico to help some friends find their pronghorns and then me and my wife would look for one each for ourselves. Rains were good this year for the northeast portion of the state so horn growth should be good. We found some real good ones with great mass. Here is a pic of my favorite one I saw this year. His mass is exceptional.

Well it really is turning out to be a big year. I had a muzzleloader tag for a unit in Utah this year. I purchased a muzzleloader about five months before the hunt and began practicing. It was extremely challenging and I know I have a lot more to learn about the machine. Thankyou to some of the other members on the Muzzleloader Forums for the help they gave me. Three days before I was to leave I ran into a nightmare. I went to test shoot my weapon and I couldn't even hit paper. It ended up the insides of the holographic sight had rattled loose and no pattern could be achieved with it. I rushed to a gun store here in town and purchased a military grade holographic site and spent the next two days re-patterning the rifle.

The day before season I flew into Salt Lake and rented a vehicle to drive to the hunting area. My guide Bowdy Steele met me and we drove to the hunting area together. Bowdy is a Young tall man that I learned has some of the sharpest eyes of any hunter I have ever met. He is exceptionally driven to kill trophy mule deer. While gassing up he explained that there was a specific buck we would be trying to kill. Apparently he and his brother had located this buck in the archery season and had spent the entire season trying to get an archery client to poke him but the deer's luck had just been too good.

I booked this hunt with the goal of killing at least a 180 inch deer. In fact up until this hunt, I had never seen a 180 inch class deer with a tag in my pocket. I was very hopeful that the next week would change that.

After unloading the gear Bowdy asked if I wanted to go do some scouting and we headed to the mountain. Bowdy told me since the deer had shed his velvet he had kind of changed his pattern and gotten a little more cagey and he had not been seen in a couple of days. Just before dark Bowdy picked him up in the glass on a far mountain side almost two thousand yards away. It was a heck of a spot. It was almost dark and I really couldn't make out much but I could tell I was staring at a deer with a whole lot of head gear.

That night Bowdy's brother, Gunner, joined us along with a friend of his named Jason. Gunner shares the same passion as Bowdy does for giant mule deer and Jason was going to be able to lend a hand for the next day and a half.

Opening morning dawned and we set up gassing a large valley in the area the deer was known to frequent. We glassed for hours and saw close to a dozen different bucks but no sign of the giant. I think that night we all went to bed a little bewildered.

The next morning we were right back in the same area with the same plan. Right at day break Jason spotted our buck with a few smaller friends on a quick march towards a bedding spot. Me and Bowdy took off to try and head them off. We covered a lot of ground really quick. I was glad I had been doing a lot of working out before I came. We approached the area where we thought they would be and could not see any deer. It was a tight little mount cut choked with junipers. We slowly walked the east side of the ridge looking over into the shadowed west side. Suddenly Bowdy crouched down and I did the same. He had spotted the bucks. Problem was they were looking at us. I looked through my binos down the hill and saw the biggest buck I had ever seen looking right back at me. Bowdy ranged him at 250 yards. I put the muzzy on him. I knew the shot was too far for my capabilities I told Bowdy I wasn't going to shoot. I could sence the frustration in Bowdy. He knew we had stepped on this buck and he was scared the buck would leave the area never to be seen again. I had to respect my capabilities and we watched the group of four bucks slowly walk away through the bottom and up over the next ridge. We tried hooking in front of them but they were traveling way faster in that terrain than we could. We put our heads together and decided we could set an ambush in a close by draw that we figured had the best chance of being their evening path back towards a feeding area.

For nine hours we sat in that draw waiting. It was long and boring. Right before dark a giant buck came walking down the draw just as we had hoped. Unfortunately it was not the buck we were after. It was a gorgeous nine point. Heavy and wide with huge front forks. I was tempted. Here was a hellavu typical within my comfort range with a muzzleloader, but one thing kept ringing in my ears. "If you want to kill a giant deer you have to be willing to pass great deer". I could tell Bowdy was wondering about my mental state when I told him lets let this big guy go.

That night over some chili I told all three guys it had been the best day of deer hunting I had ever had. I had laid eyes on two buck most men dream of in the same day. Who cares if the trigger got pulled. This trip was shaping up to be better than I imagined it could be.

Jason had to go back to work so Friday morning it was just Me Bowdy and Gunner on a hill top glassing for the giant. We glassed all morning and finally found one of the smaller friends that had been hanging out with the big deer. We tore that nob apart with our glasses trying to see if the big deer was laying there hidden but it seems the little guy was all alone. We decided to go rest our bodies and eyes and get some lunch.


This is Bowdy and Gunner. I think they were just flat whooped by this time. They were working really hard.

That afternoon we formulated a plan to come in a little farther to the south of where our focus had been. We climbed a hill to glass more of the cedar hills in the area we had spotted the little buck that morning. I had only been glassing for maybe two minutes when I realized Bowdy hissing at me. I looked and realized he was flat out on the ground. I knew some deer was close. I crawled to him and he stated the group of buck including the big one were 550 yards away two hill over and could probably see us. We belly crawled back over the hill and circled north and out of their sight. We climbed the hill that was between us and the bucks and side hilled around to see them. They were a little higher than us so we stayed laid down behind a rock ledge. Bowdy ranged the big guy at 180 yards. We figured he would stand in about an hour and walk downhill closer to us to go to a feeding area. While we were waiting suddenly two doe popped up feet from us. They both walked within eight feet of us as we tried to melt into the dirt and rocks. A little while later the bucks stood up.

They started walking right where the doe had been! Right at us. I waited with the muzzy pointed right at a little lip they would have to cross. Soon one of the small bucks popped over the lip and froze. He stood there for 3 or 4 minutes staring at a situation he could tell didn't seem safe. My elbows ached resting on the jagged rocks but I did not even twitch. After a while he began to move towards us and soon the other three buck walked over the lip. The big guy just kept feeding right to me. I kept expecting him to turn but he never did. Finally I had to do something. The first little guy was dang near in my pocket and I knew at any moment we were going to get busted. I settled the dot on the big fellas shoulder blades and squeezed. He crumbled face first at the shot. It was mortally devastating. I got the shakes something fierce. Bowdy was hooping and hollering. I don't think either of us could believe what had happened. We spent a lot of time taking some good pics. Then I gutted him and we hauled him off the hill. That night as I was cutting up the deer Bowdy and Gunner taped the horns. They said he will go 227 inches. Several people including Wade Lemon drove out to see it. News kind of travels fast in these digital times. I went to bed that night exhausted but very happy. I felt very blessed. It was definitely a hunt God was part of. Again I would also like to thank Bowdy, Gunner and all the guys at Wade Lemon Hunting that made this possible.





We'll see later how my other deer hunts go. Best luck to all of you out there.
This last weekend I was very fortunate to get to go guide a couple of friends on their first antelope hunts in a new area for me. These are Texas antelope and I was very pleased with the size and numbers on the ranch. I think my friends were very pleased also. One of the bucks has an extremely long prong. The other one is a kick butt mutant that only had one testicle and one of the coolest horns I have ever seen on a pronghorn.



Hope everyone else is chasing game too.
Well I know it has been a while since I updated but here we go. The general statewide rifle season for white-tailed deer opened this past Saturday. It just so happened that it fell on the exact same day as my son's birthday. Since it was his birthday weekend I gave him the choice of whether to go Trick or treating or go deer hunting. Without hesitation he picked deer hunting. He isn't quite old enough to shoot a deer yet but he sits with me and is learning the feel of things. I saw a few really good bucks but I didn't need any meat and I already have deer from two years back I still haven't mounted. So I let them walk. My son is having a really hard time understanding that. He wants to see a buck die more than anything.

So while driving around the farm I came across a group of hogs. They are pests and to give you an idea on this one day alone I saw probably about eighty. That isn't counting piglets. So as normal I exited the vehicle with a weapon to sort out a few of the pigs. My son followed as I made my approach. We were using a clump of oaks as cover between us and the pigs and I was able to close to about 100 yards. It finally dawned on me why not let the boy take a crack at one of them. I had worked with him the week before on shooting a .243 from a bench and he did good. Anyway I handed him the rifle told him to use the tree as a rest, told him to whack one. He was shook up pretty bad. I could see the barrel of the gun waving all around as he shook. I told him he needed to calm down and breath. He told me there was something wrong with his knees. :D Finally he got calmed down and he shot. One of the pigs dropped right where he stood.

Here is his first big game animal. Killed on his birthday.

Quick update. Yesterday was my wife Kari's birthday. I was able to pull off finishing her antelope mount and I delivered it to her office. I think it has a real pretty look and a I think she is looking forward to hunting antelope with me again in the near future.


I have back to back muley hunts in Texas and Colorado in two weeks. I hope to have good news and pics to share.
Well I went and did a two week two state muley massacre marathon. The first leg was in the Texas panhandle. I was hunting a ranch which I had not hunted mule deer for but guided some pronghorn hunts on earlier in the year. While guiding pronghorn I actually found a good muley buck. The first two days of hunting me and my two brothers and a friend searched for that buck. When we found him he was definitely a nice deer but after a lot of deliberation we determined he was only four years old. We determined in two to three years he was going to be one hellavu buck and we passed him over. We immediately moved to a different area on the ranch and started hunting for other unknown bucks. We found several nice deer and could tell the rut was definitely in full swing. In the middle of the day we stopped our truck on a high vantage point that we could glass a lot of country. In short time I found the heads of two doe poking over some yucca at the back of a little cut. They were about 1000 yards away and we really spent our time eyeballing the cut to see if we could spy any antlers in there with them. We couldn't see a buck with them but determined since the rut was on and we couldn't make out every bit of real estate back in the area they were we should go in closer and try to look at it from a different angle.

We closed the distance down to just a few hundred yards and actually got the girls out of their bed. We continued to look for the man of the house but we soon determined they were alone and decided to pull out. We started walking back to the truck when just fifty yards away out of a tiny hole to the south of us two bucks and four doe exploded. The big guy in the rear was wide and heavy and with just the quick look we had seemed to be mature and have all of his forks. The wind was horrible as we gave chase and the more we went at them the farther away they got. Soon we crested a small hill overlooking a pretty creek bottom with tall cottonwoods. To the right a small mesquite patch fingered its way down to the creek. On the next hill we saw two of the doe and the small buck run out of the mesquites, over the hill, and out of site. My friend Greg said he had seen a deer still in the mesquite and so we held tight where we were. The wind was still pushing straight towards the deer but I believe they felt safe in the thicket. After a couple of minutes we began to get nervous they had used a low spot to get into the creek bed and sneak out. We decided to move our position and see if we could relocate the deer. We hadn't taken two steps when both my brother and friend said they could see a deer in the mesquites. I picked up my binos and could see the form of a doe starring through the limbs at me. Slowly we all started to make out the form of a big buck sniffing her backside. I got on my shooting sticks and pulled out my range finder. Amazingly with all the limbs I still got an accurate reading. I found both deer in my scope. The doe was on high alert but the buck was only interested in one thing. Slowly she stepped between trees through a perfect shooting window with him behind her. She stepped clear and right and I had a very nice open line quartering forward to his vitals. The old rifle bucked and I watched the buck take two staggering steps back and left. I chambered another round as he regained his footing and walked back towards where his girlfriend had run. There was a split second where I could see him again so I shot a second time. I knew the second shot had missed but was optimistic the first shot was good.

The three of us sat on the little hill and decided we would wait fifteen minutes before we went in the thicket to see if we could find him. We saw the two doe leave the thicket and go south over the hill and no buck followed. I was a little nervous that I had shot two quickly without properly trying to age the buck. Greg said the deer looked plenty mature and my brother agreed. When the fifteen minutes were up we slowly moved into the thicket from the side so now the wind would be a little better in our favor. It didn't take long to locate him and he was stone dead. What a buck. Big and wide with all of his forks and two nice non-typical points to go with it. Was he mature? You bet he was. Solid as a rock with a fat butt and a neck like a Gert bull. This was by far my best Texas muley.

Back at camp we had to weigh the deer for the ranch records. Guts out he was 238 pounds. That's one hellavu big deer. I spent the next few days looking at other big deer and going on a coyote massacre.
I apologize for not having more Eye candy on my previous Texas hunt update. My little brother had a bunch of pictures that I was waiting for him to send me. So I am adding to this report so there is more than just a kill shot.

First, we have a giant 3 point that we passed on. What a pretty Buck!


Next we have this youngster napping right next to the road. When that rut is going some of the bucks just get beyond stupid. Wish I could find a big 180 doing this.


Here's a big deer we almost shot. We later determined he was still only 4 years old. If he lives he will be world class in another couple of years.


Ran into a buffalo herd one day. I don't know if this is a big one but he sure looked impressive to me.


The only good ones. I got this one trained. :D


Moon Rise while killing yotes.


Texas Sunrise.
Well after having a great time in Texas I bid my friends and family farewell and headed north to Colorado. The rut should be going full blast where I was headed and I was extremely excited to get there.

I quickly unloaded my gear and headed out for an evening hunt. It was not what I expected. I have hunted this ranch for close to ten years. I couldn't find a deer anywhere on it. The ranch is exceptionally difficult to hunt but this was really strange. However right before dark I did run into this handsome stranger and he even let me snap a few pics.

At night in the hunting cabin the mice rained supreme. I barely slept because of all the racket. The ranch foreman hooked me up with two mouse traps and in just 36 hours I killed 11 mice. Here's a trophy pic.

After 2 days of hunting I had only been able to kick up 1 little buck and a handful of doe. On the third day I found a disturbing site. There next to a small water tank was two handfuls of mule deer hair. No carcass, just the hair. I kept scouting around and about 300 yards away I found a lion scrape close to some rim rock. I think I knew what had happened. One or more lions had moved in and the mule deer had completely changed their patterns and hiding places.

The next day the landowner's son came in and helped me look for deer and glass. He agreed that the deer did seem really hidden and harder than normal to find. None the less we still found another little buck and a handful of a few deer that I had not seen before.

The next day was more of the same. A lot of driving and a lot of time behind the glass. We found a little buck and a couple of doe but no big guys. Right before dark the landowner's son said he had to go check on some horses and left. He quickly returned claiming right after he had left me he ran into a big buck. By the time we made it over there, there wasn't much light, but we found him with a big group of girls. For some reason he didn't look that big to me. We watched him for a while but finally let him walk into the darkness. That night over dinner we discussed the size and maturity of the buck. C.E. though he was really big while I still thought he wasn't. We finally decided we would go back in the morning and have a second look at him.

We got up the next morning and hiked into the area we thought he would be. It took us a while to locate him but when we did WHOA! Man how did I misjudge this deer. He was really big framed. Heavy tall and wide. He wasn't going to score very well but what a dandy of a buck. Was he mature? No doubt about it. I told C.E. we were killing this buck. I laid down chambered a round ranged him and squeezed. The buck staggered and began walking downhill. He gently laid down and died. As we walked to the deer the wind was blowing gently towards us. At 100 yards I could smell the deer. Good gosh he stank horribly. When we got to him he was really fantastic. A well earned buck on a difficult hunt. He wasn't going to re-write any books but he will sure look good in my office.

I spent the rest of the day sight seeing and cutting up deer. The next morning I awoke and told my friends there goodbye. I looked down on the porch where I had set the deer's head the night before after caping. Only a bloodspot was there. I asked the guys if they had set it in my trailer and they just looked confused. Believe it or not in the night a coyote climbed the stairs to the porch and stole my buck. I couldn't believe it! All that work and part of my reward gone. I started laughing. We all split up and started looking. Keith hollered he found it. The coyote had made it to a fence but the horns were too big to get through. Eventually he gave up and left it there after eating the meat off the cheeks. Luckily it all just ended up being a funny end to a good hunt.

I loaded my gear and hauled butt for Texas. It had been to long away from home and I was glad to return.
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