September/October 2013 EBJ (Issue 79) - My first timberline mule deer hunt was shaping up to be just as difficult as I had expected. With four miles and almost 4,000 feet gained in elevation, I finally made it to my glassing location. Unfortunately, the archery season opener was just a day away and I had yet to find a buck that met my goal of 170 inches.
Over the past several months I had been methodically picking apart the pages of Mike Eastman’s Hunting High County Mule Deer and David Long’s Public Land Mulies , trying to learn as much as possible to increase my chances of tagging a trophy velvet mulie. All of my weekends were spent glassing and hiking miles on end in hopes of finding as many shooter deer as I could before the season began.
With dreams of finding basins filled with 30-40 bucks at a time, I was disappointed with my preseason scouting results. Deer numbers seemed extremely low compared to the numbers reported in past years and it was proving to be quite difficult just to find a mature buck.
My plan was to hike in a day before the archery opener and set up camp on a knife ridge, allowing me to glass two drainages that I had yet to scout. If I was unsuccessful in locating a good buck, I would pull up camp and head in the direction of deer I had previously scouted.
The hike in was long and grueling. The warm, late August weather sure didn’t make it any better. I was able to reach timberline and get camp set, leaving just enough time for a short glassing session before dark. I grabbed my binos and spotter and made the short climb up to my vantage point.
I was amazed at how fast I burned up the hill without having to lug the weight of the pack I’d carried all day. A quick scan with my binos revealed half a dozen deer down in the willows. With a closer look through the spotter, I found two more bucks feeding in an avalanche chute. I glassed until it got too dark to see and then headed back to camp for some much needed sleep.
Daybreak found me atop my perch. As the sun slowly rose and the shade line retracted, I noticed deer popping up sporadically across the mountain face. I spent all morning switching back and forth from binos to spotter, picking apart the countryside. By late morning, I had located two bucks that needed a closer look. Although they were a couple miles away, I could tell they were good bucks by their tall, boxy frames. I decided to break camp and spend the rest of the day relocating within striking distance of these deer.
For a full account of Travis's adventure, go to page 48 in the September/October 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.