Mule Deer Hunting | Team Radical’s 2017 Hunt
By: Kyle Heuerman
Photos: Team Radical
Game: Mule Deer
Hunters: Kyle Heuerman & Jake Vancil
DeadMeat Broadheads 100Gr.
QAD Arrow Rest
Black Gold Ascent Verdict 5 pin sights
Carbon Express Blue Streak and Maxima Red Arrows
When a 19 hour drive to a hunting destination is in store, split between two drivers, you can rest assured that junk food and energy drinks are a must! In hindsight, I highly recommend not driving through the mountains in the dark morning hours, unless you simply have to! Between the animals trying to cross the road, steep grades, and sharp curves, it is simply not worth the trouble! Feeling the effects of that drive, we were exhausted when we finally reached camp. However, this feeling quickly faded as we realized we were officially mule deer hunting!
After unloading all of the gear at camp, we drove to a hump in the middle of a big cow pasture to watch for bucks moving to a food source near sunset. It didn’t take long for the mule deer to come out of the wood work. We watched over 30 bucks filter into the pasture. Thankfully we brought a good spotting scope as we looked over each buck approximately 600 yards away. We knew several bucks were shooters, and only one of the bucks had shed its velvet. That buck stuck out like a sore-thumb as his rack looked as if it were painted white. Something we both initially noticed is that all the deer congregated to a small area in the middle of the pasture. We were determined to find out why.
Sleeping in felt amazing and after breakfast we loaded our gear and headed for a place named Buck Ridge. The name Buck Ridge really needs no explanation. Almost all the deer we see out there are on this single ridge. The ridge is several miles long and we’ve had great success here in the past. Essentially, the ridge is a big cattle pasture that has a rough road through the middle of it used by ranchers to check their cattle. Along the left side of the road are aspen tree groves that provide the deer with shade during the midday hours. The right side consisted of scrub oaks. In the past, the scrub oaks were typically loaded with little acorns and the deer would feed from the left side of the road to the right side of the road. It didn’t take us long this year to realize that wouldn’t be happening. For whatever reason, the scrub oaks didn’t produce acorns this year. Given this information, we ruled out the possibility of that food source.
The game plan for Buck Ridge was to drive down the path during the middle of the day in hopes of catching a shooter buck lying in the shade. On the 1st day, we found a shooter doing just that. Jake was first up to bat. It took a 3-hour stalk before he was finally able to release an arrow on a great velvet buck. The shot was 65 yards and Jake made a perfect shot. We found the arrow 15 feet past the deer and was it soaked in good blood. The DeadMeat broadhead performed flawlessly. The buck sprinted 200 yards and piled up. Practicing all year at further ranges really helped in the shot scenario Jake was dealt. This, in addition to the Centergy, was the reason for the perfect shot on the great buck! We spent the remainder of that night taking care of the meat and packing it out.
On day 2 we slept in once again. We headed out on an evening set to narrow down exactly where the bucks were headed before sunset. It didn’t take long for us to pinpoint where we needed to be the following evening. On day 3 we went out to where we wanted to sit for the evening. Around lunch time we made a blind out of surrounding dead aspen logs and sage brush. There were two sets of aspen groves with a 45-yard gap between them. The bucks went through this gap the previous two nights, so our fingers were crossed. We were sitting in the aspens upwind of the gap.
About 45 minutes before sunset, two bucks walked straight into the aspen grove we were sitting. Neither of the bucks happened to be shooters, but they did have us sweating bullets as we feared they would catch our wind and bust. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but there was a 15 buck parade (several shooters included) headed straight towards the gap. This gap was well within eyesight of the buck parade, so we prayed the group of bucks would get to us quicker than the other two bucks would get downwind of us. Out of the 15 bucks in the parade, there was only one buck that wasn’t in velvet, and he was by far the biggest of them all! His rack looked bleach white, and without question, he was the king of the pack. Slowly but surely they made their way to us. The white racked buck was second in this parade. Once he turned broadside at 45 yards, I stood from the blind drawing my bow at the same time. At this point, not a single buck had made us out. Taking my time, I slowly squeezed off the shot. Initially, upon release, I thought it was a great shot. The shot was confirmed as I witnessed the DeadMeat broadhead blow through him like it was nothing. The buck ran 50 yards and laid down.
Now all the bucks were on full alert and within 20 yards of us, minus the buck I shot. It was one of the craziest things I’ve seen to date! The bucks would not leave until the buck I’d shot left. Without question, they knew we were there but still decided not to run. This continued for 45 minutes as they continued circling us until one of the bucks snorted. Just as the alarm went off, the buck I shot stood from his bed, miraculously turned, and started walking the opposite direction! I quickly stood up and walked towards him in hopes of getting another shot at him, but to no avail. What was even more surprising is that one of the bucks kept gouging the buck I shot! I assumed this was an attempt to get him to walk faster or to keep him from bedding again. Nonetheless, he made it another 100 yards and bedded down. At this point, it was almost dark and we knew we had to back out.
After watching the footage at camp, we noticed the exit hole came out by his guts which would explain the matter and color on the arrow. The entry hole looked great, but somehow the arrow came out further back than we would have liked. We saw exactly where the buck bedded again and had high hopes of finding him at sunrise. The temperature at night was 40 degrees so we knew the meat wouldn’t spoil leaving him overnight. We just hoped the coyotes or bears didn’t get to him first…
Sure enough, we found him at first light. He was laying in the same place we left him the night before, however, he had a coyote standing on top of him! The coyotes had completely demolished the deer. Honestly, I was sick to my stomach about it, but I’m not sure what else we could’ve done at that point. He is my best muley to date. It’s unfortunate the coyotes got to him, but I guess that’s why they call it hunting.
All in all, we had a great mule deer hunting trip. The weather was great, the deer were plentiful, and the memories made will last a lifetime. We cannot wait to share the episode with everyone coming soon! You can follow us on our YouTube channel here to watch the full show: