High Country Luck
By Matthew Garrison
NV, Mule Deer
My 2017 hunting season started off with really high hopes. I only drew one tag, a junior mule deer tag for Nevada, but I knew it was going to be the year I got to pull a toad off the mountain. The area that I drew is not the best area in a lot of people’s minds. In my opinion, I would choose it any day of the week. There are some monstrous bucks walking those hills. I guess you just have to know how to find them, which a lot of people don’t. Everyone drives the roads and glasses the canyons, so they don't see what’s beyond them. I guess that could be a little tricky for some.
This junior tag I drew allowed me to hunt all three seasons - archery, rifle, and muzzleloader. You can draw this tag up to five times or until you're 18. This was my fifth time drawing it, so I knew I had to make it a good one. Starting off in the early summer, I work on a cattle ranch and we move cattle out in that country every day where my tag was. When we aren’t riding, pushing cows, we are fixing those long, never-ending barbed wire fences. By the time the season comes around, I know every finger, every creek, and every canyon on that entire mountain, which is great because I’m working but I’m also scouting at the same time.
When archery season came along, I had a bit of a late start due to a family vacation that put me back a couple weeks. As soon as I got back, I loaded up the jeep and hit the mountain. By the time I was able to hunt, I had about a week to hunt, which I wasn’t worried about because I had two more seasons to hunt. Yeah, I was picky. I made a couple stalks on some good bucks with my bow but couldn’t connect.
The next season came along, which was muzzleloader. I was still being picky, and nothing really caught my eye. There was a lot of pressure from all the hunters driving around, so everything got pushed further and further away. I had a spot in the back of my mind that my buddies had hunted in archery season, and they both were successful and both shot two awesome bucks. However, I wanted to wait until rifle season to hit because I knew there were some awesome bucks in there. I just didn’t want to chance anything and blow everything out.
Rifle season came around. It had opened on a Wednesday, but due to school, I had to wait until Friday night to head out. I was planning on hunting alone, but when I was leaving town, I got a call from my buddies, G.W. Coleman and Cody Noyes, who really wanted to go, so we all got ready and headed out. We got to our spot where we wanted to camp right at dark. We ate some dinner, sat around the fire and told stories, and went to bed.
The next morning came with some heavy wind, but it didn’t stop us. I don’t think the deer liked it at all as we didn’t see a living thing all morning. I made the decision to go down to the spot where I had wanted to go since we weren’t having any luck. It took us about an hour to get over there, and we still did not see a darn thing. We glassed and glassed and glassed but nothing. By now, it was midday, so we had some lunch and hit it hard again. The wind calmed down, and we dropped down into a little bowl that had a road running down into it. Our plan was to take my jeep down to the bottom of the canyon, leave it, and take Cody’s truck back up and hike down it and glass as we walked. Before we could get to the bottom, I took a look off to my left and I saw a big body stand up 100 yards away. I saw antlers, a big set of them! I got all excited and grabbed my gun. G.W. had no idea what was happening, and I could barely talk because I was so excited. He looked through his binos and found the buck. I think he got more excited than I did. All I heard was, “Shoot him! Shoot him!” I still wanted a better look, so I put my gun down and looked through my binos. I saw a huge frame, and he was a 3-point. I have a soft side for a big 3-point! I think they are super cool looking. This deer had no clue what was happening, and by the time he thought about walking, I shot and he was dead. We were all in awe because who knew such a magnificent deer would just pop out of nowhere like that.
We got the packs on and took the small walk over to the buck. He had a huge body and an even bigger frame than I had thought. The pictures don’t do it justice. I was super excited about the whole deal, and I’m glad it turned out the way that it did. I’m glad I had some good buddies willing to help, and we all pulled out of there with some awesome memories to share forever. It was one hell of a season, and I can’t wait for more to come!