The DIY Hunter

Backpacking during the 2003 Mule Deer HuntThis year I started the dedicated hunter program here in Utah. This allowed me to hunt all three deer seasons (rifle, muzzleloader, archery) with some service hours required and the limit of only two deer in three years. I was excited about the opportunity to be able to be in the field more. I really enjoy the experience of getting out and spending time on the mountain far more than the antlers on the wall. I had gotten very spoiled with opportunities to hunt while living in Oklahoma. In Oklahoma there are bag limits on deer and lengthy seasons. With the exception of the dedicated hunter program, in Utah there there is a trend for more restrictions to the amount of time you can spend in the field. Needless to say, I was excited to have the opportunity to get in the field more this year.

27 inch mule deer buck taken in 2003I went through the archery and muzzleloader seasons without finding any buck I felt was large enough to shoot. Going into the rifle season my brother and I planned a lengthy hike the night before the opener. We spent the night and hunted the next day as we worked our way across the mountain and down to where I had previously left my truck. We saw a dozen or so deer but only one small buck. We were able to explore some areas of the mountain that I had never been before. We also hiked through some pretty rough country that I'm pretty sure few people have ever set foot. I always enjoy exploring different areas of the mountains when I hunt. This hunt checked off one of the areas on my list to explore.


Me and my 2003 mule deer
2003 Mule Deer
2003 Mule Deer Jaw Bone

After the opening weekend I gave it a couple of days to settle down before I went out again. This time I was hunting by myself and had a good friend dropped me off in the early morning hours and I started hiking in the dark towards the area I wanted to hunt. As it got light I watched several groups of deer, mostly does, fawns and a few smaller bucks. I slowly worked my way around the mountain for a couple hours stopping to glass from different vantage points.

At one point I spotted some does running several hundred yards below me but they disappeared around a ridge line. I decided to go investigate what might be causing the does to be in such a rush. I had high hopes that a frisky buck might be the culprit.

I took a little time to traverse the steep terrain to get into a position to view below the ridge line. As I slowly worked my way around the ridge line and glassed below I spotted some deer coming around a cluster of jack pines. I quickly dropped into a shooting position pulled my rifle up and put a shell in the chamber. The deer were at 250 yards and on a steep downward angle from my position. I watched a couple of does come around the pines and through a 50 yard opening before they disappeared into some thick cover and into the next sub-canyon. Then, just after the does came though, a mature looking buck came out of the pines and started to head towards the thick cover. I took a second or two look at him, decided he was a shooter and dropped the hammer when the buck paused for a second. The buck took two bounds and tipped over. Yahoo!

Once I made it down to the buck I was very excited. It was the largest buck to date that I had ever taken. He lacked length in his G2s and G3s but he is 27 inches wide and has 5 inch bases. He had a huge pot belly and cool looking roman nose. One of his back molars is worn down almost to the gum line. Maybe a 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 year old buck.

  • For this hunt I used my Remington BDL in  25-06 Rem.
  • 100g Nosler Partition Handloads