I used to tease my wife telling her she had killed more deer in Utah than I have (she hit a doe with her car a couple winters ago). I burned up some bonus points and hunted deer for the first time in 8 years. I drew a limited area and was delighted my younger brother came down from Idaho to join me for a few days. The unit I hunted is known to hold some larger bucks but we did not see any. The unit only had 110 tags but the area looked like the old general hunt when you would have tons of hunters!
We were still hunting in the afternoon in a new canyon and as I carefully rounded a hill I located a group of seven does feeding up a hill at around 800 yards. My brother was above me and behind me about 150 yards. As I continued to round the hill and gain a better view of the pocket to my right I heard a strange noise. My brother was trying to get my attention trying not to alert the deer and he had just put in a large chew! The weird sound he made did the job and when I looked back at him he gave me the buck/horn signal. I looked over the group of does that was 7 and now was 9 but could not see a buck. I thought maybe since he was above me the buck was alone below the does out of my sight. I carefully edged up the hill to gain a better look but still only saw the does. I looked back at him and gave him hand signals asking "Where"? He pointed up at the does again and looked either disgusted or amused at my inability to locate the buck.
I looked over the does again and sure enough when one turned, faced me and raised it head I saw the larger body, white face and antlers. The big body and long G2 showed me enough to decide I would take the deer. I pulled out my rangefinder (Bushnell Elite 1500) and could not get any reading near the buck. I figured he was about 600 yards. The wind was blowing pretty hard and light rain was starting to fall. I noticed a deep ravine to my left that lead up the the does and the lone buck. I sneaked into it and slowly worked my way up the ravine. I would stop about every 10 yards to check the deer. Only one doe was watching me and she was not alarmed. The little herd continued to feed up the hill. I made it to a location that offered a good rest on a rock and set my daypack over the rock. I again attempted to range the buck. Again I could not get a reading. I was able to range a Juniper at 392 and figured the buck was another 75-100 yards above the tree. I settled into the rifle (Colt Light Rifle - replica of the ultra light arms) and when the does had cleared I set the ballstic plex where I thought it should go. I touched one off and missed just high. I think I did not account for the steep incline. The buck was looking for where the shot had come from and did not bolt. I quickly jacked in another 139 grain handloaded SST and held slightly lower. The buck was almost perfectly broadside now just slightly quatering to the left. At the shot the buck hunched up and I heard a satisfying thump. The buck staggered and took a few steps down the hill and turned left. I could see it was a good hit and that the SST had passed through and exited the far lung. I jacked another round in and found the does but not the buck. Scanning left I saw him with all fours pointing up! It took me 15 minutes to climb the 480 yards to the buck because the terrain was so steep.
As I arrived at the deer I was delighted to see no meat damaged and that he was a decent 3x4. He has a couple small points for brow tines and was really fat and healthy. We aged the buck at 3.5 years and figured his weight at 225lbs. After a few pictures the fun stopped and the work began.
I was very greatful to have my younger brother with me to share in the hunt and experience. He even gutted the buck and broke it down into quarters while I went for the 4 Wheeler. We lost our Dad 18 months ago and I felt his presence during the harvest and I know he was delighted to see his boys spending time together on the hunt.
I am ususally not a fan of Mule Deer meat. I have enjoyed two nights of excellent backstrap that has no game taste at all! Tonight one tenderloin goes into the crockpot for a stew, along with some carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and celery that should make an excellent Sunday dinner.