Utah General Season Mule Deer Buck Hunt Story

Ryan Gasser

Razor sharp pine needles stabbed into my feet. Why did clean wool socks elude me today, forcing me to wear the thin cotton type? But the pain did not deter my quest to take down the majestic nontypical that had been haunting my dreams for more than a year. He was feeding less than 300 yards away. Soon I would be within lethal range of my Thompson Center Omega muzzleloader.

I had my first encounter with this buck fourteen months earlier while my three sons and I were out scouting for the Utah general archery hunt. We returned to the area often, but a few days before the archery hunt he disappeared. I frequented the area during the archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts but never could turn him up.
This year found us back in the same area. We were fortunate to locate him on our very first trip in June. We struggled to pattern him in preparation for the archery hunt. He never seemed to do the same thing twice. I had a few failed stalk attempts during the archery hunt, but never a good shot opportunity. The buck become increasingly sporadic and the archery season passed without any shots fired.

With the muzzleloader hunt just a day away, I was able to locate him again. I admired his newly polished antlers and was anxious to close the deal. He was in the same location both morning and evening before the hunt, but opening morning he was nowhere to be found. I searched for three days without encountering a single deer. On the morning of day six, after glassing for almost an hour, I finally spotted the buck. I quickly put a plan in place to cut the distance from six hundred yards to under two hundred. When I arrived at my predetermined location and crept to the edge of the trees, he had vanished. I was quite sure I had missed my only opportunity as the hunt ended in 3 days and this had been my first sighting. My heart sank as I searched fruitlessly for the rest of the day. Little did I know my luck was about to change.
Day seven found me back at a good vantage point. As the gray light brightened the horizon I immediately located the buck. He was four hundred yards away and feeding to my right. I decided to get ahead of him, but after closing the distance to 250 yards I looked up to see him staring right at me. A bit out of my comfort range and with no way to get closer I made the decision to back out and try to get back in on him from behind.
There was a small hill which I figured was less than 200 yards behind him. I dropped into a ravine that took me behind the hill. I removed my shoes in an effort to silent my stalk. That’s when I realized my ill-timed choice of socks. I painfully inched to the top of the hill. Frantically searching for the buck, I was disheartened as again he had disappeared. As discouragement began to take hold of me, I caught movement to my right. I hurriedly ranged him at 230 yards, just beyond what I’m comfortable shooting. With nothing but sharp rocks and prickly pear cactus between us I decided to crawl forward as far as possible and hope he didn’t notice the movement. At 215 yards I couldn’t get any closer and decided it was now or never. Full prone position combined with a Harris bipod allowed me to hold very steady. As the buck turned broadside I gently squeezed the trigger.

When the smoke cleared there was no movement. I was confident the buck had gone down and I immediately wanted to share the experience. I decided to go back and retrieve my 7 year old son so he could help me find the buck. As we walked up to the fallen monarch I stared in amazement. He had a cheater on his right G2, a tripod on left back, plus a couple other extras. He is by far my best scoring muley, not to mention my first nontypical. The experience was made even sweeter as I was able to share much of it with my young sons. This is one we will talk about for many years to come.

Ryan Gasser Editor


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