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No Better Sound

By Braden Osborne
ID, Mule Deer

I was full of excitement when I found out that I had drawn unit 54 for the 2018 hunting season. The last time that I had drawn the unit, I was 14 years old and I am now 28. I remember getting my deer when I was 14 years old and the quantity of deer that we saw that day. It seemed like we had pretty good options for a nice buck. For that hunt, we were looking for my first deer, and I was anxious to get one on the ground, of course. I ended up with a decent sized, symmetrical 4x4.

For my 2018 unit 54 tag, I had big expectations. I was really hoping for that shoulder mount worthy buck that everyone searches for. I had been out multiple times and was really having a hard time finding anything even worth a second look. Unit 54 is a large unit, and there are so many places to stop and glass and so many places for a deer to tuck itself away to never be seen. One evening, I decided to walk back into this really nice draw that had a lot of cover and a good-sized stream running through the bottom. There were patches of quakies, rock ledges, buck brush, and tall sagebrush. It seemed pretty perfect for a nice buck to be hanging out in. While I was glassing, I managed to pick out a few does and a couple of small bucks but nothing I was looking for. It was getting late, so I decided to sit there until the sun went down to see if anything decided to come out of the trees to feed or come down for water. I heard a giant crash through the water, and my heart sank. My first though was that there was a moose charging me. Although it wasn’t charging me, sure enough, walking up the other side of the draw was a bull moose. I have no idea how I never saw it or heard it before as I had been sitting there for some time. While I was focused on him, I happened to catch some movement up the draw about 700 yards or so. There was a group of deer with multiple bucks. It was pretty far to really pick them apart, but it looked like there was a buck in the group that would be worth taking a closer look at. Unfortunately, it was too late for that. I had to pack it up and hope they would be there the following weekend, the last weekend of the season.

I called my buddy, Juan Puente, to see if he wanted to come and help me out. The guy is a good luck charm when it comes to mule deer hunting. He is just all around good at finding them. We took off early in the morning and got up to the same draw I was in earlier right at first light. We didn’t even get out of the side-by-side before Juan spotted a nice buck on the skyline. I took one look at him and said, "That’s the same buck from the previous weekend."

We got loaded up and began the pretty much vertical hike up the hillside just out of view of the deer. The buck was hanging out with two smaller bucks and about eight does. The closest we could get to the group was 350 yards. Any closer and they would have picked us off. As we got to looking at the buck, we realized he was not the same one that I had seen from the previous weekend, but he was a great buck nonetheless. Juan and I crawled on our hands and knees up to a good vantage point and got set up for a shot. Juan got the spotting scope set up while I got my rifle loaded up and my bipod out. When I got the deer in my scope, I also got a pretty good view of the sun, even though I had a sunshade. I didn’t feel comfortable taking the shot with the massive glare in my scope, so we waited and watched the deer walk along the hillside. If they kept on the same path they were on, the distance would not grow and we wouldn’t have to worry about losing sight. Finally, they got out of the sun and stopped to feed a bit. The buck stopped perfectly broadside, and I took a deep breath and pulled the trigger.

When you hear that definite sound of a hit, there is no better sound in the world. That thud is enough to instantly spike your adrenaline, even more than what it was before you pulled the trigger. The deer ran about 50 yards and lay down. It took us some time to find him because where he went down was solid sagebrush. When we finally found him, he was still alive, so I put another shot in him. Just like that, my 2018 tag was filled.

Unit 54 was a struggle this year, but it made it just that much more rewarding when I got that nice buck on the ground. He wasn’t quite the big shoulder mounter I was searching for, but I could not have been happier with him. Tall, decent mass, dark horns, and symmetrical, I can’t complain about that.

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