"D" stands for deer

By Tyler Donahue
Colorado, DIY, Public

Tyler Donahue - February/March 2014 EHJ (Issue 141) - From an early age my Dad exposed me to the outdoors and as a child I spent a lot of time daydreaming about hunting faraway places. I was in the fifth grade when this started to catch up with me and I was sent to my room after a particularly bad report card. I don’t remember exactly how bad, but I am told that my best grade was a D.

After a while my mother came up and asked me what my goal was in life. I was 10 and in the fifth grade, so I am not sure why she thought my life had been planned out by then, however, I’m sure it was coming from a good place and with good intentions.

"I want to hunt sheep.”

She was less than impressed and seemed to think I should want more out of life than hunting sheep. I am not sure why, as that seemed like a pretty noble goal at the time and I would argue that it still is even today. I suspect my Dad was very proud of that response, though subsequent conversations have never confirmed this assumption. Fast-forward a couple of decades and my love for hunting has only grown. Sheep still possess 75% of my waking thoughts and mule deer have also taken a special place in my heart.

Living eight hours from the nearest mule deer or sheep, my opportunities are limited to one or two trips a year, however Dad and I made the most of it and we hunted mule deer almost every year through high school and college. In 2010 and 2011 Dad and I lucked out on a couple of cancellation sheep hunts that burned through all my vacation time. It looked as if 2012 was going to be our year for a Colorado mule deer hunt; I could feel it, and as it turned out I drew a good tag.

Fate intervened when my Dad ended up with a mountain goat tag in Colorado as well. After two weeks at 13,000 feet we punched his tag on a nice billy. Once again, I had burned all my vacation time and the mule deer tag found its way into the mail back to the Colorado DOW to have my points reinstated. It had been three years since I had hunted mule deer and I was starting to question my life choices. Luckily, in 2013 a tag came through in Colorado and I was back on track.

We arrived a couple days early to scout and eventually settled on an area that had been burned off several years prior with good numbers of deer. The first four days of the hunt were the same: get up early; hike a mile in to the pass, get on top of the mesa and glass. Deer seemed to be everywhere and as the rut progressed, more bucks were showing up by the day.

On the afternoon of the fifth day we had seen a very heavy and mature 3x3 that would fit the bill. He was on public land but by the time we got down to him he had crossed onto the private ground. The next morning we stayed low, hoping he would come back up on the public ground. However, the 80 or so does that were bedding on the private ground seemed to be holding his interest. By the time we started hiking to the pass that morning the sun was already up over the ridge, which made glassing next to impossible. We jumped up a group of does with a very large buck in tow and they quickly ran over the ridge and out of sight. Not wanting to push them further, we left them alone, hoping they would stay in the area.

Tyler Donahue -

For a full account of Tyler's adventure, go to page 34 in the February/March 2014 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.