Diggin' Down Deep

By Brian Barney
New Mexico, 2010, DIY, Public Land

Brian Barney - Diggin' Down DeepNovember/December 2011 EBJ (Issue 68) - Locating these bucks was an endeavor in itself - stalking these bucks seemed like mission impossible. I have stalked in every condition imaginable with my bow, and I must say these mule deer, in these conditions is a 10 on my difficulty scale. It seemed the crunchy snow gave away even the stealthiest approach. After each failed stalk, I tried to learn from my mistakes. I had to come up with a whole new set of rules because it was the only way I would have a chance at punching my late-season tag.

The first obstacle was the loud snow. The snow seemed to quiet down a little as the day wore on, especially where the sun melted the top layer of ice making it easier to sneak. I have always had to remind myself to slow down when ever I archery hunt mulies because patience will kill the buck.

The next rule I decided on was no bedded bucks. In the high country, for me there is nothing better than a bedded buck - but this was not the high country. The snow was noisy, and bedded deer are too focused on danger. Lastly, the more deer, the better the chance I would get picked off. I would have to wait until a buck separated from the does or was all by himself. I knew there would be very few chances to get everything right so the more days that went by, the more desire I had to earn "one more chance”.

Early on in my trip, I found a favorite spot and I kept at it day after day. I had seen three different shooters in there and even though I never spooked two of the three, I could not relocate any of these bucks. They seemed to be migrating one day and then miles away the next day. I had multiple glassing positions throughout the winter range, but one of the sage flats was really good. The only problem was it was only a mile from the closed gate so I had to check it on my way back to camp. I would pedal multiple miles and hills to get back to this close spot before last light. There were good bucks in it every day, but my secret was soon discovered by some Utah guys who were with the program. With guys hiding, stalking, and pushing the deer, I thought, "I can’t take this, I have to try a new area tomorrow.”

Brian Barney - Diggin' Down Deep

For a full account of Brian's adventure, go to page 40 in the November/December 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.