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He Is A Shooter

By Doug Mouch
CO, Mule Deer

Early in 2017, I was looking for a new elk hunting experience. A buddy referred me to Sean Zele of High Desert Hunting Company in Aguilar, Colorado. I had a great elk hunting experience, but I also saw some interesting mule deer. I asked Sean if I could draw a tag. He said it might take a few years but he would help me apply.

The 2018 draw was lucky for me, and I drew a tag for a mule deer in Sean’s unit. I booked a hunt with him for the second rifle season. Sean and his guides were optimistic as they knew there were some shooters. They had been seen during the elk archery season. I had never been a trophy hunter, so my expectations were that anything over 160" would be fine for me. Sean made no promises, but he thought we could do better than that.

On opening morning, we glassed the usual spots but found no deer. We spent the whole day going from spot to spot, seeing no deer movement. I jokingly asked Sean if he had paid up his mule deer bill. The second day brought the same results. At this point, Sean was getting a little concerned, but he resisted the temptation to push into the thick timber and risk bumping a buck he knew had to be around. I told him not to worry about me, hunting is hunting and every day is a new day with it only taking one buck to be successful.

The evening of the second day, we were watching an alfalfa field right at dark. We spotted a few bigger bodies emerging from the trees. They were too far away to tell exactly what they were, but we noted where they were and made a plan to be there in the morning. The next morning, nothing was there, so we started the same routine of going up the mountain. We came around a bend we had been around 10 times and spotted the same three does. As we were quietly laughing about it, Sean spotted something 200 yards back in the trees. It was a buck. Sean wasn’t sure it was a shooter, so he suggested we sneak around for a better look. We crawled over a knob and could only see the bases of his antlers through some really thick stuff he was standing in. Sean whispered, “He is a shooter. I’m not sure how big he is, but he is a 4x4 and is big.”

I set up my shooting sticks, picking a small window through all the trees and branches at 200 yards. It was a chest shot, which I normally would not like, but I had my deadly accurate .300 Ultra Mag and it was the only shot I was going to get as he was staring right at us. I touched it off, and he collapsed in his tracks. We high fived, not really knowing what we had. We walked the 200 yards and stopped dead at 20 yards. I was amazed at the size and mass of the buck’s antlers. Sean let out a whoop and said that this was much bigger than he had thought.

We got him back to camp, and the guides, who are mule deer crazy, put a tape on the buck and green scored him at 189 1/2". It was the buck-of-a-lifetime. I now know why people go crazy over Colorado mule deer hunting.

My thanks go to Sean Zele, Luke and Weston Robb, and a great group of young guides to hunt with.

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