Colorado Muley Huntin’
Category: 7mm Rem Mag
Shooter: Jeff Graves
Posted: Oct 12, 2010
This hunt actually began in the Scandinavian Kingdom of Norway. While stationed there on a prolonged work assignment, I had no access to my “Huntin’ Fool” statistics, and the Colorado application deadline was rapidly approaching. I emailed Jason Carter explaining my predicament and requested his suggestions based upon my hunting interests and accrued points. Jason promptly responded with the appropriate information and advised me to “get ready to go hunting.”
After 5 days of thorough scouting I had found several areas that held deer but had yet to see a buck of the quality that I knew existed there. I did have a favorite spot where I had on more than one occasion witnessed a couple of 170 class bucks feeding with does, and this is where opening day found me. As I glassed a group of deer just after first light, which included a decent buck, a group of elk hunters moved into the area and pushed the deer into cover. Roaming the surrounding countryside for the remainder of the day, I decided to give the favored spot a rest while seeking less pressured ground.
With only two days of the hunt remaining, I was drawn back to the general area I had chosen for opening day. Spending the day rambling from one glassing location to the next, I settled into my original favorite spot for the days end. I considered this area to be a transition zone, and having consistently seen does present, I anticipated the possibility of a better than average buck eventually showing up there. I immediately began to spot deer as they fed on the sage covered slopes, but no mature buck appeared. As I viewed the feeding deer from a half mile away, something unknown to me spooked them into the cover afforded by the adjacent timber. When nothing interesting showed up in the next half hour, I decided to hunt my way back to the ATV during last light. Only a few hundred yards later, I abruptly came face to face with the buck and now found myself under intense pressure to cut off his escape.
Having hurriedly reached the lip of the canyon the deer had fled towards, I paused to peer over into the draw they had chosen as their escape route. Fortunately for me, they had stopped to check their back trail, but their body language suggested this brief pause would be followed by a full retreat into the formidable canyon. The two does danced nervously as I struggled to maintain my footing on the steep, shale covered slope. I concentrated to center the bucks’ shoulder in the Leupold as he quartered hard away at 100 yards. As I began my trigger squeeze, three things happened very quickly. The does bailed over the ridge, the buck turned to follow, and my Remington roared as it pushed against my shoulder. Optimistic that the Hornady from my 7 Mag had found its mark, I rushed over the rise to see down into the draw…. I was greeted by the wonderful sight of large antlers sticking up from the ground as the setting sun disappeared behind the mountains.
Although not the giant I had set my sights on, the 7 ½ year old bucks’ 29 inch wide 5x 5 rack scored over 180 inches. Most important to me was the fact that I had succeeded in taking the best buck I had seen in two weeks of serious searching during less than ideal conditions. As a Mississippi native on only my second Mule Deer hunt, I was indeed thankful for the challenges presented by the hunting of this intriguing beast in the awesome country he calls home. I left Colorado a better Mule Deer hunter even more deeply addicted to the pursuit of this majestic creature.