Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Canada

2018 Mule Buck

I had very limited days to hunt in 2018 due to my hectic work travel. Just after completing another great opening week deer camp, I was on a plane. The first day I was able to get back out and hunt was September 27th. With my whitetail tag filled, I switched my focus to filling my mule deer tag on another prairie mule buck. It was raining, windy and cold but my tag wasn’t going to fill itself, so off I went!

My 2018 Whitetail – My First Deer in Velvet!

J was kind enough to take a day off of work to come out and help me spot and chase some mulies. The familiarity we have with our go to spot paid off. We were into deer right from the get go. It is still hard for us to resist the urge to see deer and hump it over as quick as we can. However, we are getting so much better at taking our time and developing a plan. 

I attempted a few stalks in the morning and failed, it seemed luck was not going to be on my side that day. On two separate occasions I peered over the coulee to see the bottom, only to see a mule buck on his way up and out. This is normal behaviour, however the bucks would have crested the coulee a mere 20-30 yards from where we had chosen to glass. That bit of movement of leaning over the edge fouled each of these would be easy chances before they could happen.

Each time a stalk was blown, or a deer saw us first we crept a little further along the coulees edge looking for our next opportunity. At the very end of the coulee, we could see a large bodied buck bedded just below the field edge. He was over 1 km away from where we were and a lot of draws separated us. The mule buck was facing the coulee, with the wind at his back. I was not confident that stalk would work, so I tabled that deer and continued looking. 

As the mid-morning turned into midday the rain began falling. Unsure of when I would be able to hunt again, I pressed on. At this point we had closed about half the distance to the heavy bodied deer. J and I took a moment to re-asses his position. As we were watching him a few does spooked and ran up the coulee in his direction. This was huge!, the mule buck we had been watching got up and re positioned himself in a small draw. This gave me cover as it blocked his line of sight to my approach direction, over 600 yards out!

I began slowly making my way in his direction, keeping low in the draws and then if need be using trees and bushes to shade my movements. J stayed back to watch through his binoculars. 200 yards and closing!

My cover started running out. I was taken back to the failed shot attempt in opening week. The stalk situation was very similar with one big difference, I was only up against one set of eyes, not three. I began crawling along, sliding through the wet grass. I was able to catch just a small glimpse of the tops of the bucks antlers, confirming his location. 120 yards and counting. 

Knowing that the mule buck had already moved into a second bed, he was unlikely to move again. SO DON’T SPOOK HIM! – I thought to myself. Taking my time I continued to crawl, now on all fours. Making sure to pick my bow up and gently set it down, not dragging it through the grass making it as quiet as possible. 

As I closed in on the draw, I had a decision to make, stay low and hope I had a hillside to peek over to get my shot. Or cut left out into the field and try to come from the side. I couldn’t be sure the field presented a closer shot opportunity and with all the rain the field was also incredibly muddy and had been harvested, leaving lots of loud, short remnants of the canola. I had to take my chances on the hill approach. 

Moving along I finally got to the hillside, peering over, the mule buck was still bedded! I ranged him a t57 yards. I have made this shot already this season so I slowly pulled an arrow with a Rage hypodermic broadhead and nocked it. The positioning of the buck required that I slide perpendicularly down the hill side before peeking over to get a more favourable shot angle. 

Now, patience had to win over, if I would have stood and drawn my bow that buck would have seen my movement and bolted. The only chance I had was for the buck to stand on his own allowing me to get a shot while kneeling. The buck standing on his own would also give me a window to make some movement as he stood. In my head I was playing out the scenario, how long is he going to lay there? Will he stand still when he does? 

Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long, it took only 15 minutes before the buck started to stand. I kneeled tall, came to full draw, and sent the arrow. J who was still back watching this happen saw me draw through the binoculars. From his vantage he had lost sight of the deer, but saw the deer run up and out of the draw with blood down his side. 

After sending the first arrow, confident in a good hit I moved forward. I had to see what direction the deer was headed. As I neared the top of the draw I saw the mule buck standing facing away from me. Standing hunched up, I knew I made a solid shot. I crept forward, loaded up another arrow and snuck around to get a quartering away shot, 30 yards. After I got that second arrow into the bucks vitals he ran in a loop and expired 30 yards further along.  A good clean harvest.

Clearly the weather was not still on our side! As I butchered the mule buck, it began to hail. It continued to rain off and on the entire processing time and for our trudge of a hike out through the sloppy fields. The poor weather couldn’t muffle our moods, another pack out for the season and the experience of hunting together won out!

I learned another valuable lesson in 2018, with sufficient pre-season scouting, learning an area and having gear properly set up, you can make the most out of very narrow windows. We all live busy lives, have work and family commitments, so we may only have a few days of field time during hunting season. Be ready to capitalize on those few days!

With both of my deer tags filled, I turned my attention to grouse hunting!

Thanks again for following along on my journey, I hope it motivates you to continue or start yours!


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