April/May 2014 EHJ (Issue 142) - Growing up in the great state of Colorado and born into a family of hunters allowed me to see a lot of really big deer hit the ground. The garage was full of racks from big bucks taken back in the ‘50s, ‘60s and early ‘70s. I loved to go out to the garage and pull them out of the rafters and hear my great uncle’s stories about each one.
As I got older and could go to hunting camp, I was able to hear all those stories again, as well as help make a few of my own. Back in those days, most of the huge deer were taken on deer drives. The younger generation (me) got the privilege of walking the timber, oak brush and rocky bluffs with the wind at our backs in hopes of getting a glimpse of a monster. This was usually all the pushers got, but as the group filled their tags the younger generation would finally cycle around to their turn as the shooter. This tactic yielded me some decent bucks, but no giants and it wasn’t a style of hunting I really enjoyed. I knew it was time to learn skills that worked for me and polish them to perfection.
After hunting mule deer for over three decades with a good level of success, you start to feel like you are doing something right. That doesn’t mean I go home with a filled tag each and every year, just that I have better than average success on mature deer. I’ve purchased great optics and I live behind them for most of the season. This means 15-power binoculars as well as spotting scopes to complement the 10-power binos around my neck.
The next most important thing is to hunt where big deer live and learn what they do under all circumstances – early season, rut, full moon, hunting pressure and anything that will affect a big buck’s habits. Since I don’t have an unlimited hunting budget, I was forced to choose a unit which would allow me to a draw a tag every few years and buy reasonably priced landowner tags during the off-seasons when I didn’t draw.
There are lots of places that will fit this bill, but with Colorado being my original stomping grounds and just a short distance from my home in southern Utah it is an ideal choice for me. I can travel to the hunt area a few times during the summer and scout. This is when the bucks are extremely visible in the morning and evening and their red summer coats jump off of the mountain at you as they contrast against the green of summer. This is when I start making my list of possible bucks to go after.
For a full account of Mike's adventure, go to page 62 in the April/May 2014 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.