Opening Day: One And Done
By Wyatt Quick
CO, Mule Deer
When we first crossed the Colorado border, I could not believe how beautiful it was. There were red rock cliffs, fall colors revealed in the aspen trees, and clear river water flowing. I was excited to discover Colorado and spot a mule deer.
We met up with my dad’s friend, Curt, and his son, Josh, to discuss where we would hike in the first morning to scout. Curt and Josh spent many days scouting the area and finding the best spots for success. We were ready the next morning to scout the area. We went up to a peak and looked around. There was a lot of country and a lot of deer, does and small bucks but nothing too special. After we glassed for a while, we went back to set up camp. When we were done, we had something to eat and went back out to look around and test shoot the guns. I took a few shots at 200 yards and 550 yards with my ER Shaw .243 rifle mounted with a Huskemaw scope. Bulls eye shots made me excited to place it on a buck. After that, we hiked around and got to a different point to glass for a bit. We spotted a total of five bucks, one of which Dad thought might be a shooter. We hiked further in, but it started getting dark, so we headed back to camp. When we got back, Curt was there with a fire going. We sat down and got something to eat while Curt explained a bit more of where we should go the next morning.
Opening morning, we met up with Curt and headed to the spot. As we got to the place where we were going to hike in, there was another truck parked. We parked, got our stuff together, and started hiking in. When we got up to the top of the hill and looked around, we saw other hunters who must have been the guys that went with the parked truck. This is a typical situation when hunting on public land, so we went the other way. We started hiking down the mountain and stopped on a ridge in the middle of a big burn. We started glassing, and right away, Dad and I saw a couple bucks. We couldn’t tell how big one of the bucks was, but it had real chocolaty horns, so we kept looking back there. I spotted two deer, a small buck with a doe, on the ridge across from us.
As we continued to glass, at about 412 yards in front of us, I saw a group of bucks start walking uphill.
Dad said, “Get the gun.”
As I got my gun and sights on the big one, Curt said, “Hold on. Let’s wait for a bit. I really want to see that other deer again.”
Just as he was finishing his sentence, the bucks walked over the ridge and disappeared. We glassed for a while longer, and then they popped up on the ridge across from us where I had spotted the small buck and doe about 900 yards out. We really wanted to see the chocolate-horned buck again, but we didn’t.
As Dad looked back over at the bucks on the ridge, he questioned, “Is that an extra point?” The buck moved out of the sunlight and into the shade. As he moved back into the sunlight, Curt put the spotting scope on him and said that he could clearly see an extra point. I decided that I should shoot that buck. We hiked down the ridge we were on and up the hill toward them. The wind was blowing towards us, which was good, so we kept going. We got to the top of the hill, l dropped my pack, and we started toward them again. When we got in sight of them, we couldn’t find him at first. Then my dad saw him and I got the gun on him. He was bedded down. I couldn’t get steady. As I was trying to adjust the shooting sticks, the buck stood up and went broadside. I thought I had a moment of steadiness, so I shot but missed. He turned around and started walking away. Curt and Dad both said, “Shoot again!” Steady now, I put a bullet right in his spine. He fell down, and I put one more in him to end it. As we walked over to him, I thought, Oh man, he’s big! Yep, he had an extra point. We set him up to take some photos.
Dad and I began the gutless method of field dressing the buck. Curt went ahead of us to find his son to ask if he would be able to help pack out the meat. My dad and I put what we could take in our packs and hung the remainder in a tree. We started the pack out, the altitude making it difficult on us since we came from sea level. Nearly two hours later, we were near the top of the mountain. As we sat and took a break, we heard voices. We thought it was the other hunters we had seen earlier that morning. As they walked past us about 200 yards away, I noticed three men, not two. Thinking nothing of it, we moved on. As we finally made it back to the truck, we saw Curt, his son, and his friend with the remainder of my buck. It was them that had walked past us, making double time on their pack out. What a relief!
I thank Curt for taking me to this spot and sharing this experience with us in Colorado. I am extremely thankful for his help and support in taking this amazing mule deer.