3 Years, 204 Yards, and 10,000 Feet

By Mark Ashworth

Mark AshworthMark Ashworth, as told by Wade Foglia
Nevada, 2008, DIY, Public Land

Three years. Three long years had passed since our last tag. I have drawn a mule deer tag every other year like clockwork since I was twelve and my father started taking me mule deer hunting. My father, my good friend, Mark Ashworth, and I put in together for the ’08 Nevada mule deer hunt. We were rejected in ’06, and my beautiful daughter was born in September ’07, so we put in for a bonus point that year. I knew we would be successful with two bonus points. June came around and sure enough, we all drew good mule deer tags!

Mark and I began the trip a month early to do a little scouting. There was a large forest fire only a couple of canyons over from our traditional hunting area. That didn’t stop us from tying up the boot leather and hiking for three days armed only with our packs, binoculars, and a spotting scope. It was hot, so we didn’t see many deer on our scouting trip. Most of the big bucks were nestled in their beds and hiding from the blistering sun.

October finally rolled around and it was time for the hunt. We left Friday after work, since it was an eight-hour haul from Las Vegas to our traditional camping spot. We set up camp Saturday and got ready for the following morning’s hunt. It was my first time drawing the early season hunt, so I was excited to hunt a little earlier than normal.

The first day was very unproductive. We saw eight does, two spikes, one small three-point, and 200 head of elk. The elk have been thriving and their sign was everywhere. I had purchased all new Swarovski optics over the past year and had convinced Mark to spend the whole next day glassing - and when I say glassing, I mean glassing. There was a great looking hunting area two mountains west from our traditional hunting area. I was eager to give it a shot. We woke up early the next morning, found a great glassing spot on the peak of a mountain and started seeing deer at daylight. As the morning progressed, I kept glassing the same areas over and over again. Finally, we started seeing deer; not just deer, but bucks - and big ones at that! There was one particular group of three bachelor bucks that we focused our attention on. They were at the very top of the highest mountain around. As the sun began to hit the mountainside, the optics did their job. We watched these three bucks for about an hour from a mile and a half away. I was able to count points and measure the spread pretty accurately from that far. The buck we were focusing on was at least 30 inches, and I felt confident from reading David Long’s book, Public Land Mulies, that these bucks would be in the exact same spot the next morning.

Mark Ashworth

For a full account of Mark's adventure, go to page 34 in the February/March 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.