New Mexico, 2009, DIY, Public Land
As our 2008 hunt ended, my father, Joe, my brother, Krandell, and hunting buddy, George, all agreed that a change was in order. What was once a productive area where we might see as many as five bucks pushing or exceeding 30 inches had slowly changed into an area void of mature bucks and replaced with tons of elk sign. That year had by far been the worst.
In the past, when luck and weather cooperated, we had seen bucks that pushed the 200-inch mark. In 2004, Krandell and I took two good bucks - a 25-inch 5x7 with 8-inch bases taken by me and a 5x7 with an outside spread of over 30 inches taken by Krandell. With such a quality drop since then, we were determined to change tactics for 2009.
After months of research and planning, we applied for a new unit and crossed our fingers. When July rolled around, we were happy to find out that we had drawn our first choice mule deer unit!
One week before the hunt, Krandell met me in California and from there we drove 1200 miles to New Mexico. George and hunting partner, Ron, were heading out from Alabama to meet us and would arrive the next day. Also, a good friend, Kevin, would join us as an extra pair of eyes. We would have two full days of scouting.
On our first evening of scouting, Krandell and I saw close to 100 deer in the span of two hours. The migration had certainly begun! As we headed out of a canyon and back to camp, we encountered a good 25-inch buck. While the buck was busy curling his lip, testing the air and sniffing his does, we were able to see him at 30 feet for almost a full minute! He certainly was not the type of monster buck we were looking for, but a good solid mature buck. After watching him, we had high hopes that the rut was in full swing.
On the second day of scouting, we checked different locations that offered us good vantage points for glassing as well as covering new territory. Unfortunately, by the end of the day, it had produced nothing but immature bucks and lots of does. That afternoon George and Ron made it safely to camp.
After a hearty dinner, we sat around the campfire and hammered out a plan for opening day. George and Ron decided to head out ten miles to the north and hike into an area that looked promising. Kevin, Krandell, and I would travel to a different area known for producing good bucks. Satisfied with our plans, we prepped our gear for opening day and then called it a night.
After downing some strong coffee and instant oatmeal at 4 a.m., we were off. As we reached our designated starting point, we could see sunlight breaking through to our east. We quickly got our gear and started our hike in.
We began glassing and immediately picked up deer. As soon as there was enough light, the spotting scope was set up and we confirmed they were all does, so we continued through a washout and climbed partway up a hillside. We continued to spot several herds of deer, but none contained any bucks.
For a full account of Sedley's adventure, go to page 32 in the August/September 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.