EP 100: Lessons From Mule Deer Hunting. In this episode of the Epic Outdoors Podcast John and Chris Petersen talk about some of the challenges of hunting public land. Sometimes the grind is tough when we aren’t having success but the reward of overcoming challenges is worth the pain. We share some stories of times we learned lessons from Mule Deer.
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Speaker 1: What is it about hunting that I love to torture myself. It’s almost like he was hiding under a bush, our glass in, and there is a giant typical right there was the best hunt we’d ever been on, you know,
Speaker 2: Anything to do with Western big games.
Speaker 3: Welcome
Speaker 1: To the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour. Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Epic Outdoors Podcast. Today, it’s gonna be myself, Chris Peterson, along with my brother John, and we’re gonna get rolling. But first we’d like to thank Under Armour, who is our title sponsor. We’d like to thank Under Armour for all they do for us and the support that they give us. If you get a chance, go check out their products and give them some [email protected]. We’re right in the middle of hunting season, so if you’re like, where the heck is everybody? Yeah, everybody must be in the field. Except for Chris and John, that’s pretty correct. We’re we’re here working on the, the next magazine Cranking Away, but everybody’s else is gone. So we’ve got, it’s the time of year when a lot of our members and, and our listeners have had some success throughout this year.
And so as, as everybody knows, we publish a magazine and a good portion of our content comes from successful stories and photos from our members. And so we thought we’d cut, first of all, real quick, how to send those pho photos and stories into us. There’s a couple ways to submit. Probably the easiest one would be our website. So you just go to epic outdoors.com and on the menu, top menu you’ll see submissions. You click that there’s a dropdown, and one of those selections is story and photo submissions. You just click that and it’ll take you through submitting your story. You can upload your photos if you want, if you don’t want to write a full story, but you do want to do what, what we call a snapshot. Then there’s about 10 questions you answer and it’s really easy, and you can upload your photos that way. And if you just want to send us a photo only, you can do that as well. The, the other way you can do that is if you just want to email me and, and you don’t want to go through the website, just email the photos and stories to [email protected]. And John is j o h [email protected]. And I thought we’d cover a little bit if, if you’ve still got a hunt left on a little bit about taking photos.
You know, with, with our magazine, a big portion of, of what makes the magazine as far as stories go are the photo quality and the pictures that are taken. It’s not always about size. Yes, size does go into it, but it’s not the only factor. You got photo quality and story quality as as well. Yeah, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of animals that we see that aren’t the biggest animal out there, but there’s great scenery, photos, and the story is, is worth reading. And so those stories are great too. If you, if you didn’t kill the biggest animal in the world, don’t worry about it. We’d still love to see the story. Yeah, and I think as well, sometimes writing a story is intimidating for people. If you’re not a writer, the, my biggest advice would be don’t let it stress out. And if you’re not, you know, a poet or whatever, just put the story down on paper and just get, you know, get it out there.
Don’t try to be fancy. Just start with the beginning and end with the end. Some of the things that I would, I would kind of tips, I guess, on what to include would be anything that you think might teach somebody something. So things that you learned, let’s say you went on a mule deer hunt and there were several things that you learned that you didn’t know before, either about animal behavior or about things that that made you successful on that hunt. Those are the type of things that, you know, other members are gonna read your story and get something out of it and learn something, maybe be able to apply it on one of their hunts. So anything like that I would include. Yeah, I had a, I had a guy even today and he was a little bit worried about it ’cause he wrote a story and, and he’s like, ah, I’m terrible at grammar, but it’s not something you need to worry about.
Do the best you can do. Edit these, and so you’re not gonna look like you don’t know anything. Yeah, we’ve got at, at least three to five people read each one and go through it. And so we, you know, we’ll, we’ll fix the grammar stuff for you that, don’t even worry about that. Around 1500 words is, is a good length on a story. Depends on how many good photos you have too. Let’s, let’s say you go your, your camera dies and all, you got your cell phone and you take two pictures. Well, I can’t really, you know, do a really long story with two pictures, otherwise it just looks like all texts and, and no photos. So if, if you’ve got that, you can still do a story, but you’re probably around 500 words. And let’s say you, you did a decent job and you were able to get a couple of scenery photos, maybe a photo of, of you glassen or some of your buddies in camp and things like that.
And then you got, you know, four or five good kill photos, then I would say you’d ride in that 1500 word range. You know, if you’ve, if you’ve got good supporting photos. Yeah. One of the thing things that I’ve learned over the years is take as many photos as you can. ’cause you never get that time back. Like these hunts, they happen once, a lot of times we go and we overlook taking pictures. And especially once you get that animal down, a lot of times we, we rush it and we think, oh, I gotta, I gotta get outta here and get home. Enjoy that moment. Take the time, take 10 extra photos. A lot of times that happens, and I’ve been there so many times and we did all this work. We put in scouting days and hunted for a week, and finally we get this animal on the ground and it’s three minutes for photos and we’re outta there.
I just suggest stop for a minute and take some pictures and enjoy the moment and really take it all in. Okay, great advice, Chris. All right, so if you’ve got any questions too about submitting your photos or your story or anything of that nature, you can always call us at (435) 263-0777 and we will answer your questions. So we just barely got done with the Utah general Hunts, and it’s always entertaining to get out there and hunt public land, especially here in, oh, wait, wait, wait. Before we get there, what do you got? Our pumpkin carving contest. Okay. Pumpkin car. Speaking of the pumpkin patch, we had a pumpkin covering contest last we did last week, and that was mainly on Instagram. And so if you want to go on there and see the entries, the, the, the entry, the entrance had to tag hashtag eo pumpkin.
Yeah. So if you wanna go look on there, the winner was Colby Batty and his pumpkin was out of this world. I’ve never seen a more impressive pumpkin No, I, I’ve definitely never heard of someone putting a camo pattern into a pumpkin. Yeah. So he got, he got the Baron, the UA Baron Camo Pattern in the background of the, of the pumpkin. He has the Epic Outdoors logo in the middle. He’s got the, the UA logo on there. I mean, it’s, it’s pretty epic. So Kobe went above and beyond, and he will be winning. Well, he won our Under Armour boots. All the entries are gonna receive the Epic custom knife from Outdoor Edge. So we appreciate everybody that participated and it was a lot of fun, and I think we’ll probably make a, make a thing of it. Yeah, that was pretty cool. Yeah.
Yeah, maybe do it good next year. All right, so now we’re, we’re past that. Let’s get to the Utah channel. So yeah, we just barely finished up with our Utah hunts and last week I was able to go out with John on this public land and, and I talked about the pumpkin patch a little bit. And it’s always interesting when you go out and there and there’s just orange everywhere and people everywhere. But I’ve never had so many crazy experiences hunting in my life than when I go with John. And I quite a few in the office had some success. Adam had some, some some success. Jason had some success in their kids, but Chris got to go with me and, and we just have crazy adventures. And if nothing else, it’s, it’s a good story sometimes. Yeah. I’ll let you, I’ll let you tell the story.
So, last year, some of you may have heard, we had, you know, guys that we’d, we’d hiked up onto this knob and I had, we were there in our, we looked like pumpkins on top of the knob and, you know, set up with my kids and had a guy hike in underneath us and sit like, I don’t know, 50 yards underneath us, like just right below us, in front of, in front of where we were pointing the gun. Yeah. There’s, there’s nothing wrong with, with hiking in and sitting by someone or to the side of someone, but they hiked in and sat in front of them. Well, and there’s a clearly a clearing Yeah. That we’re hoping a deer, you know, comes through for these kids and we’re gonna shoot in that clearing. Yeah, well, you shoot, you sit in between us and the clearing and anyway, it, and they’re close enough to, to know that you’re there.
Oh, yeah. Close enough. We were coughing and, you know, and trying to say, Hey, we’re sitting here flashing our lights and all that. And anyway, a little nuts. But anyway, this year, this year we were stalked by you. Dude, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. So Chris just happened to come with us. Chris had found a deer and a little bit smaller than he wanted, but we were, we were hunting for my daughter. And so we went to that area and there’s a big, big clearing, and it was, it was mourning, and we spotted some deer and all of a sudden Chris is like, there’s a dude in the trees watching us. And I was like, are you serious? So I, I pulled up my bin, noses looked, and sure enough there’s a dude with no orange. Yeah. That was the thing that was weird about it, was there was a guy, and he clearly was glassing, he was glassing us, but he was not wearing a speck of orange, and he was just standing in the tree line and, you know, it just seemed weird.
So Chris is like, he’s watching us. I glanced him up sure enough, no orange, and he’s just watching us, so like, huh, that’s odd. He’s probably not hunting. I don’t know what he’s doing. Just watching us. So we kept moving along and, and looking down in this, in this clearing, and we spotted some d and, and kind of kept going. Nothing, nothing big or any, nothing, no big deal. Saw a little two point saw, a little two point and Kate. Anyway, she, she would not shoot it even though I wanted her to. So we move a little bit, a little bit farther along, and Chris was like, he’s still watching us. He’s not even watching for deer. He’s just watching us. So anyway, then all of a sudden I, I spot a good deer and it’s moving up, up through the metal. And where we were at, there were trees kind of in between the deer and us and, and thick, a little bit of thick trees, but I, I just barely saw it over top.
And so I thought, oh, we gotta get around these trees so we can possibly find an opening and get a shot. So I’m like, Kate, come on. Come on. And so we start moving and, and I’m, I’m pointing, you know, hey, there’s a deer, there’s a deer. All of a sudden we hear shots. It wasn’t, it wasn’t 10 seconds after. No, he spotted the deer as soon as we started making some physical movements to try to get into a good, good area or a good position to make a shot. Boom. And then the shot thud and the thud was really close to us. Yeah. And I’m like, ah, either there’s a deer close to us or he’s shooting. No. So, but then the second one happened again, and it’s the same noise. Yeah. And it sounds like a bullet hitting the dirt. Yep. And we’re like, that is odd.
So first we thought, well, maybe he’s just not wearing orange and he’s hunting. And so we stop glass him up and he just goes back into the trees. Yeah. He, he just turned around, walked into the trees. He didn’t, didn’t go check for the deer, didn’t go look for blood. So we started thinking, well, he probably wasn’t even shooting at the deer. Yeah. Just shooting to scare it away or something like that. Trying to scare. He saw that we were onto the deer, and so he decided to end that plan. And so he fired two shots into the dirt and Yeah. Which it worked. There goes the deer. The deer left. Yeah. So anyway, we thought, well, maybe a weird coincidence, but odd. So then the story gets even more strange. Yeah. So you tell this part, this is funny. Well, we just, we decided to come back to the same spot.
We’d seen a good buck in there, so you gotta try again. And we went and we set up, and we’re sitting there glassing and I glass down and I saw this, a little guy, a guy’s head sticking up out of the brush, and I’m like, oh, geez. Yeah, it was like a sniper, like sitting there. Yeah, exactly. All you could see was his, his head. And once again, he’s not wearing hunter orange, and it’s the same guy, and he’s down in the same general area where he was in the morning, but this time he’s got a spotting scope and it is just drilled on us. Yeah. And he’s more hidden. It’s like, you know, on, on the movies you see guys in a Gilly suit and they cut their sniper stuff just like that. It was just like this. You could barely see him. Yeah.
So I, of course, I’m like, this is, you can’t make this up. So I got out my spotting scope and I put it on him, set up on him, put, put my phone scope on there and started filming. And I’m like, I just wanted to see what this guy was gonna do. See, because his scope was definitely directly on us. And so I was like, all right, John, let’s mess with this guy a little bit. And so I said, John, act like you see a deer. And so I do, I’m like, alright, Kate, get ready. I’m going to, you know, make a big scene like I’ve seen a deer and get you ready to shoot. And meanwhile, Chris is filming on his phone scope on the dude. And so there’s a little plug for phone scope. Yeah, we might as well, I mean, I, I’ve said it before, these phone scopes are awesome because you can capture whatever you’re doing, like whatever you’re looking at through your scope, usually it’s probably not gonna be some other guy that’s watching you trying to prevent you from killing a deer.
But that being said, it’s a great tool and everybody ought to have one. So check out phone scope.com, P h o n e ss k o p e.com. Another another plug just for everybody. Just don’t do stupid stuff. Yes. Don’t do stupid stuff. Try to represent hunters well, don’t do stupid stuff. Yeah. So I go, alright, Kate. And I point over, you know, totally in the, in the opposite direction. And I’m like, Kate, there’s a deer, there’s a deer. So she whips her, you know, whips her gun around, gets behind it, gets, gets in position, and Chris is just laughing. Well, so as soon as John had her put her gun up, the second that gun came up, I’m sitting there just watching him and he gets this real surprise look on his face. And then he picks up his head from the spotting scope and looks at us with his bare eyes.
And then he sees that, that you’re looking at some, and so then he pulls up his binoculars and he starts glassing trying to find what you’re looking at frantically, glassing frantically. And the funny part is, as soon as he realized that there was no deer, he, he turned his hat around. So we, he was less visible because the backside of his hat was a little bit brighter than the front. He turns his hat around to the dark side, ducked down, and he crawled back behind this group of bushes. I I’m thinking, John, how does this stuff always happen with you? Oh, I don’t know. So anyway, we were like, huh, I we’re pretty sure he was just messing, you know, either, either there was a deer there that he didn’t want anybody to shoot or, or something. I don’t know why else he would stalk us like that, but, well, at first I thought he was maybe a animal rights guy and he had a deer in his backyard.
He didn’t want somebody to kill and he was just gonna protect it with everything he had. But from the video, this guy, he was a hunter. Yeah, he was a hunter. He was a hunter. Yeah. I don’t know why it’s easy to tell a hunter, but Well, he was, he got a hat with a little deer logo on it or something, you know, he was a hunter. It’s a hunter. So, which is a little bit crazy. I was telling Chris about this a little bit in France. My, my in-laws live in France and, and they’re into hunting there. It’s a little bit different. They’re, they’re into, they actually hunt deer with dogs and it’s, it’s more of like a kind of a team sport type of deal. And, and, and they go every Saturday. And anyway, there’s what they call the, you know, the team and they’ve got the group of dogs that runs that forest and they, they’ll, they’ll hunt these deer with dogs.
It’s pretty cool. But now they’re getting these vegans that are just crazy militant vegans in France. They’re having huge problems within, they’re starting to be violent with like butcher shops and stuff like that. Just, you know, they’re totally against, you know, anything to do with, with people eating meat. And they’re starting to make huge problems. So they’re starting to get in the way of people, you know, and on these hunts, they’re starting to block roads. They’re start starting to kick, you know, horses and cars and all kinds of stuff. So who knows if that’s, you know, coming here or not, but just nuts. And, and they’re all filming, they’re filming everything they do, and they’re just hoping that they screw up so they can make, you know, a publicity Yeah. Stunt out of it. So, so let me, do they carry gun? I’m guessing they don’t hunt with guns at all?
Well, there are some gun hunts in France, but these are not Okay. And they actually kill, kill the deer with a spear. Wow. And it’s, it’s, it’s really a traditional hunt, which they used to do with, you know, the royalty and they’ve got the french horns and they bugle and, and they do all that stuff. It’s, it’s really cool. Yeah. So they’ve got the people on horses who, you know, are the ones that pay to hunt, and they don’t even actually kill the deer. Wow. But they’re, you know, they pay a lot of money to go and be the ones on the horses and chase the deer. And then the dogs, the dogs are amazing. There’s like 50 dogs that, that hunt at a time, and they just, you know, they’re on cue and they do exactly. You know, what, what the guy says to do that’s, that’s managing the dog’s really amazing.
But yeah, the other, the, the, the vegans are just trying to get people to screw up, trying to get, you know, images that, that are bad for Cause the controversy. Yeah. And it’s, it’s really, you know, messing up, you know, what they can do. Yeah. And carrying a spirit’s probably not as scary for them. Yeah, no, no. There’s, there aren’t any guns on that hunt. So yeah, it’s not, when you’re out there, we can’t control the actions of other people, but we can control what we do and how we act. Let’s just try to remember what we do or flex on all hunters. So as hunters, we need to act responsibly and, and be respectful of other people as much as we can. But you had an experience in Colorado that was kind of similar to that, didn’t you? Yeah, I mean, obviously it was, I’ll just tell the story.
So we had a deer that we wanted to hunt, and we’d actually found the deer in the morning, and the deer had bedded up on this hill and just wasn’t in a good spot for us to stalk it. And so we just were gonna sit and wait, wait it out till it stood up and came out in the open when we could get a good shot. And so I think we were probably 500 yards just far enough away that we could keep an eye on the deer, keep tabs on it without getting in too close. So we’re sitting there just watching the deer on the spotting scope, and all of a sudden I start hearing this noise and I cannot figure out what it is. And it’s like this, this clinking noise, and it’s getting louder and louder and louder. And pretty soon I look off to the left and I see this lady in the brightest clothes you can ever imagine.
And she was carrying a bell in her hand, and she was ringing this bell, like she’s at a hockey game. Yeah. I’ve never been to a hockey game really? Where they ring bells, but I guess I’m missing out. You’re, oh my gosh. Maybe she was a hockey fan. I don’t know. They ring cow bells, like, like mad. Okay. Well, it must’ve been a hockey fan, vegan, hippie lady. And so she walks in between us and the deer ringing this bell trying to scare the deer away to save its life. And I’m just like, how dumb can these people be sometimes? I mean, I wouldn’t do it. No, not a chance. It’s just, it’s kind of sad that, that people are doing things like that. But it happens and it’s just, it’s public land hunting. Even in that situation though, you’ve gotta, you have to keep calm and keep under control, because once again, what we do reflects on all hunters.
So we just sat there and watched. And luckily she didn’t know exactly where the deer was. She basically just saw us and decided to walk in front of us. Yeah. And the deer just held tight, and we ended up killing that deer that night. She did not save a life. No, she didn’t. So it worked out. But I mean, it’s just one of those things with public land and hunting, and it’s challenging all the time. I, I guess that leads me into the next little segment of this year. I hunted the early rifle hunt here in Utah, and I found this area that I wanted to get into, and it was about a two and a half, three hour hike to get there. And so I st I’d start hiking about 4:00 AM and just took my time trying to get up into position before it got light.
I was hiking through oak brush, and you’re getting up at three 30 in the morning to start to, to get going. Of course, hiking steep country, you start sweating. And so I get up there to my spot, and then you freeze to death. And as I’m sitting there watching the sun come up, I’m like, what am I doing? It’s a lot of work. I don’t even know if there’s a deer here. And so I sat there and sun comes up, and of course there’s the orange army around, and yeah, everybody’s out there working hard, which is great, but it makes you wonder sometimes, like, man, this is a lot of effort. I saw one deer that day, and it was, it was a pretty nice buck. And it was, but it was running at 1200 yards away. When I picked it up, it was running.
And I, I got my spotting scope up and I saw it crest this ridge, and it stopped just not just long enough for me to tell, it was a nice, nice four point. It just went over the hill and it was gone. And I mean, to get to that spot where it was, it would’ve been another three hour hike. Anyway, I hiked back, back down and do the same thing the next day. And, and there’s boot tracks everywhere I went. And you just really get to thinking like, why, why do I do this? Like, what is it about hunting that I love to torture myself? Well, and that always seems to come about three, four days in. Yeah. At least for me. Yeah. And I hit and I’m like, holy crap, it’s never gonna come together. Yeah. The first day I went up, I was fine.
I’m like, ah, whatever. It’s just hunting. But after, you know, three or four days of hiking your guts out, I’m, I mean, I clocked it one day and it was 12 miles round trip. And I’m like, wow. Like that sucked. Why, why am I doing this again? No one gives you a medal at the end of the 12 minute. No, you don’t. I mean, I didn’t get anything. Didn’t get a deer is a nice medal sometimes. Yeah. But I didn’t, didn’t even see a deer on that sec that toward the, the later days in the hunt, like the deer were just gone with all the pressure. And so I started thinking about it and, and I guess I came to the conclusion that a lot of the reason that I like to hunt is the challenge because there’s, there have been a few times when I’ve worked my guts out and I thought I was gonna fail, and I kept going, kept trying, and all of a sudden I had some success and I ended up getting that animal and all that.
It’s just all worth it at the end. And I don’t know what it is, but it’s some satisfaction that you did it, that you overcame, that you, you kept going Yeah. Yeah. My, our own mental weakness. But I was just wondering, do you, do you have any, any times that you went out and you were just grinding and it sucked and, and then maybe because you were persistent, you had success? I have a lot of times that I just went out and we grinded and it sucked. And then there was no reward. There was no, I’m just kidding. I’ve had a lot of those too. I’ve had a lot of those too. But no, I have one hunt that in Colorado, hunt in unit 63 with my buddy Kurt Conley. And I had hunted that unit a couple years before and done really well. And there were deer everywhere.
It was great. And you know, I’m like, Kurt, let’s go back to 63. It’ll be awesome, you know? Well, we got there and it sucked. It sucked so bad. In fact, we didn’t see anything bigger than a two point the entire week. And we were there the whole time, you know, just hiking our guts out, glassing like crazy. There were a bunch of deer in private on private land, but that’s kind of how that 63 is. The deer just stack up in the private and stuff. But it was different than, than the years past, you know? And, and I knew how it could be. Well, Kurt was like, dude, this unit sucks, you know, Hey, I’m like, I’m like, Hey, it, it can, you know, it can happen. It can happen. And so we just kept gut it out. I know you guys at least had good food.
We did have good food. That’s, that’s guaranteed you and Kurt go together. I know you have at least some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or something. We do. We, we gained some weight on those. But yeah, we hiked and hiked and hiked, and then after not seeing a four point the whole time, all of a sudden we’re hiking this drainage in the middle of the day because, you know, we were just like, oh crap, nothing’s happening morning and night. We’re not glassing anything up. And Kurt spots a deer that’s, it’s almost like he was hiding under a bush. He probably was. It was, it was like a sage brush, but a large one, you know what I mean? And had a little bit of space in it. The deer had its head underneath it looking at us. And he just happened to catch it. It’s one of those that usually you just wouldn’t see, you know?
And Kurt’s like, I think that’s a deer. Wow. You know, just odd. Anyway, so we kept glassing it and Kurt’s like, it is a deer. It is. So he got into a position, I went down the, down the ridge a little bit, and, and Kurt shot that deer. And it ended up being one of just a beautiful mid one nineties buck. It’s huge. Straight four by four. Huge typical, huge typical, beautiful. All of a sudden the suckiest hunt we’d ever been on was the best hunt we’d ever been on, you know, and, and and, and we were riding high and it was awesome. So we just, you know, kept cutting it out. And then you, you come out of it and then go home. And what you remember really is that was awesome. Yeah. Remember when we killed that band? Remember, ah, we ate so good and, you know, and we laughed and we had fun and, and had a lot of great time together and we killed this giant buck.
You know, it just, it was fun. Yeah. It’s, it’s those moments that make it all worth it. What what’s funny to me is that Big Buck was there and there were probably other big bucks there. Those things are smart. Yeah. I just put its head on the ground. You guys were gonna walk right by. Right. And, and, and we were close too. Yeah. And it was just amazing. How close were you when you walked by it? I think we were within 150 yards. A hundred yards, you know, and it, but it was, it was just hiding one of those purposefully hiding its head was under the bush pretty much. Yeah. Yeah. I had a, speaking of big typicals, one that still haunts my dreams, got to the unit and I was stoked and, and ready to go. And first day out there I climb up this ridge and start glassing and there’s a giant typical right there.
I bet it was, it was probably only 400 yards away, maybe 500. And I don’t know what, what got into me that day, but I just, it was the first day and I was like, man, if it’s this good today, what am I gonna find tomorrow? What am I gonna find tomorrow? And it, it was that deer was just lip curling and, and trailing these doughs and just super ruddy. You were like, game on. Yeah. I’m like, this is gonna be the most incredible hunt of my life. I have this thing for weird deer with points in funny places like cheaters. Yes, you do. Yeah. Just, I like non-typical deer. I like the, the odd ducks. And this was a beautiful typical and probably 30 inches wide and solid, solid buck. And I filmed him and sat there and watched him for probably 30 minutes.
I just decided, you know, I’m just, I’m gonna hold off ’cause this hunt’s gonna be amazing. Well, I went back to camp that night and started looking at the footage and I realized I’d made a huge mistake. That’s when you screenshotted us pictures of dinner. Yeah, I, I sent pictures to everybody of the, of the buck. And they’re like, you’re an idiot. You’re an idiot. You should have shot that deer. And I’m like, oh yeah, I probably should have. And so from then on, all I was trying to do was go back and kill the deer, find that dude that I could’ve killed in the first place. And man, I hunted my guts out. I knew right where that buck was and he stayed there, but I just could not get on him. And I would see him every morning. But I was by myself and I’d see this buck clear up at the top of the mountain, and I’d have to hike up there.
And it was 30, 40 minutes to hike up there. And by the time I got there, I couldn’t find the buck. Yeah. And it, it, ’cause I was on, on his level and he had gone into a fold or gone over their next ridge and I could never find the buck. And I was just hunting like crazy. And it got down to where I had, it was the second to last day of the hunt. And morning I, I’d hiked up and I decided instead of glassing for the buck from, for the buck from the bottom, I would hike to the top and just see if I could catch the buck on the top of this mountain. I sat up there and watched for a while, and pretty soon I see the buck. Same thing. He’s trailing some doughs and they’re at like 450 yards. And so I’m like, all right, I’m gonna shoot this deer right now.
And so I, I had this rifle that, that was the, the cursed rifle. Yeah. This is a whole different story that I could talk about for 20 minutes. But I had this rifle and a few weeks earlier, it may have been a month or two earlier, but I took it to get a muzzle. It kicked like crazy. It was terrible to shoot. And so I took it to have a muzzle break put on it to reduce a little bit of that recoil so I could be a little bit more accurate. And of course I was dead broke at the time I was going, I was in college, had no money. And so I had a buddy that was like, oh, I had, I had this guy put a muzzle break on my gun and he was really cheap. And I’m like, okay. At the time you’re like, cheap is good.
Yeah, yeah. Like I, I can afford it. And so I took it to this guy. He supposedly fixed my rifle. Well he put a muzzle brake on it and ized it and I get the gun back. I took it to the range and I shot it and seemed to work great. And so, back to the moment when I am sitting there getting ready to shoot this buck, and I go to put a shell in and it double feeds and jams. And I’m like, oh crap. So I frantically trying to get the shells outta this gun and it’s just a mess. And I had this small window of time when the buck was walking through this opening. I mean, it was probably a hundred yard opening. Yeah. But by the time I got a bullet back in the gun and closed the bolt this fog had set in, and I could not see a thing.
Just all the worst luck. Yeah. I couldn’t see anything. And I’m, I’m just like, really? I, I could’ve, if I had a gun gun that I was confident in, I could’ve easily made that shot. Yeah. And, but instead I tried to save some money and I went with this half rate quote gunsmith gunsmith. And it, it screwed me up. Well, there’s more of that story to come, but I’m gonna put in a plug right now for Red Rock Precision. If you want a good rifle that you can be confident in, I would recommend Red Rock Precision. Even if you have a gun right now that you just want somebody to set up for you. They do a great job. I actually had had them do that with the rifle that I’m using right now. They set it up for me, put a scope on it and figured out the load.
Got it all dialed in. And it’s a great gun. If you have a cursed rifle, sell it. If you have a cursed rifle, sell it. Even if you’re not to the point where it’s cursed. Yet, mine got to the point of cursed. And for some reason I just kept it until it was past cursed. And I’m like, I have to get rid of this thing. I felt bad selling it, but I made sure, and I had it repaired by a legit legitimate gunsmith before you sold it. Gunsmith before I sold it, because I didn’t feel right about selling it before that. But I just, I just felt not good with that gun anyway. Sometimes the gun’s got some bad mojo. Yeah. You just, just, it’s better to get ahead of it. Yeah. Confidence is a huge thing when with, with a rifle, if you’re confident in that gun, it, it’s a, makes a big difference.
Anyway, so it fogged in and that deer was gone for the day and, and I’m thinking, okay, I have tonight and I have tomorrow, and that’s it. And this hunt is over. And I had spent every single day of the hunt looking for the deer that I’d passed on the first day. So I called up John that, I think it was that afternoon, I called him and I’m like, Hey, I need help. I’ve got this deer and I’m seeing it consistently, but I cannot get it killed just because it’s such a big country. And by the time I get to the deer it’s gone. And so I, I’ll let you tell. So what are we, you’re part of the story eight hours away from there, I think nine, like 9, 8, 9 hours. Yeah. Yeah. So Chris called me and he’s like, I need help. I need help.
So the second part of that was there was a huge storm that was rolling in and we were eight hours away. And I got in the car and figured I would get there at 3:00 AM and just thought if I drive the whole way there, I can get there at 3:00 AM be there for the morning hunt. And it started to snow and it snowed and it snowed and it snowed. And I’m driving. And at one point it was freaky. I I was going 70 and it was snowing and I hit some ice and I was going sideways on the freeway and I thought, I’m dead, you know? Oh. And, and somehow miraculously, I, I turned out of it and corrected and, and kept going. Anyway, it got so slow that I was going, you know, 20 to 30 miles an hour on portions. And it was snowing so hard.
And I think when I got there, it was light just after, after daylight. Yeah. ’cause I, I remember, I, I had my alarm set and I got up and it was still dark outside and I, I think it was probably five in the morning and John still wasn’t there. And so I’m like, oh crap, this is not good. And I started worrying about it a little bit and, but I was like, well, I, I, I’m, I’m gonna get ready and I’m gonna head to head to the spot where the deer is. And hopefully I hear from him before I get there. So I go out and I had plenty of time. I got up plenty early and I decided I have to chain up because there’s literally like eight to 10 inches of new snow in the valley. And I’m trying to go up this mountain.
And so I had some chains and I tried to throw ’em on. Well, I was on my last chain on the front. And of course my hands are freezing ’cause I’m trying to hook up these chains. I hate chains by the way. I mean, I love them once they’re on, but putting them on is like, sucks. I wish I could hire somebody to do it for me every time I have to do that. So that’s what a girlfriend’s for. You’d have to have a real good girlfriend to do that for you. Oh. Anyway, so one of these links, the last link that I’m trying to do up on the last tire, it jams and I can’t get it to close and I can’t get it to open. Oh. So I can’t get the chain off and I cannot close it can’t get on or off.
I know if I start driving with that chain not fully secured, it’s gonna pop off and tear my fender off. And so I sat there for probably 30 minutes trying to get this chain to release. Finally, I got it off and rehook up and, but I’d burned probably 30 minutes, which was a big deal. I get on the road and start going up this mountain. And if I hadn’t had the chains, there’s no way I would’ve made it. It was just insane. There was up to a foot of snow in a lot of the places and it was pretty steep. But I got in there, set up and it was just, it was getting light, but I was definitely late. You know, you want to be there just as it’s getting light. You can spot the deer, make a move. Well, I get there just at that point when it’s starting to get light enough that the deer are thinking about going to bed and moving.
And so I set up, I look up the hill and I see the buck and I’m like, all right, I’m gonna go. So I start heading up the hill and I’m moving fast. And this is kind of a random side note, but as I’m going up, there’s a buck standing right in front of me at like 50 yards staring at me. And it’s one of the weirdest bucks I’d ever seen in my life. He had one, one side on his, on his head, I think it was his left side was just messed up, like looked like this white tail frame with some weird points coming off. But he was, he wasn’t real big. The one side looked really small. And then he had a nice four point on the other side. And I was like, huh, that’s a weird deer, but I’m chasing this giant typical.
So I just kept pushing on and that deer runs off and that’ll come up later. So I get up to the top of the mountain and of course the deer are gone. And I’m like, well, I can track ’em. And so I start tracking ’em, and I get up and on the other side of the mountain where they had gone and there are tracks everywhere and they’re in the thick trees. And there’s, I I walked in circles for probably an hour and a half, two hours, just hoping that I could stumble onto the steer trying to do that persistence thing. And it didn’t work. The, the deer was not gonna be found. I, I bumped some do, and maybe he was with him, but I never saw the buck at that point. John was there waiting at the bottom of the hill at my truck.
And so I hiked down, met up with John, and I’m, I’m just like, I don’t know what to do. Like we can give it one last shot tonight and see what happens. So that night we come back to the same spot start glassing, and the deer’s not there. Nowhere to be found. But there was another buck that had been there for two previous years. And he was just the coolest three point ever. If I was ever gonna shoot a three point, this would be the buck I wanted. And I’d had plenty of shots at him and I just didn’t, didn’t take it. ’cause I had a giant typical right. He was probably 30 inches wide, had baseball bats coming up the bat. You were talking the best, looking like the coolest three point I’ve ever seen. So of course I haven’t seen the big typical.
And so I’m like, dude, you gotta shoot that deer. It’s the last day. So, yeah. Well, and it, it was an awesome buck. And I, to this day, he is one of the bucks that I wish the most that I had. Yeah. And it was a three point, but he was every bit of 30 inches wide. A good friend of mine actually picked up one of his sheds and it was insane. Like just the size of that, the G two on that thing was, it was like a baseball bat, just a giant deer. And so it’s the last evening and I’m like, I would be super happy with that deer. And so I’m like, all right John, I want to get on that deer. So John’s, John’s, I sent John up above to glass down on this deer. So he got up there and I started making my move into this deer.
And I got set up, it was probably 300 yards. I’m like, chip shop, the, the deer was beded right there. And I get all set up perfect. I have a, some shooting sticks that I’m on and I click my safety off. And the gun fires, I thought, game over. He’s done. Yeah. No, it’s just more of the cursed gun. And so the gun fires, the butt gets up and he’s just standing there for a minute. And so I’m like, okay, I’m gonna get a shot. And so I throw a shell in, but my, my free hand is sitting underneath the trigger rest. And that’ll come into play here in a minute when you realize what the problem is. So I jack in another, shell get up on the deer and I’m, I got the deer in the crosshairs, pull the trigger and nothing happens. And I’m just dying.
So I jacked the shell out and I moved my, moved my free hand up to the stock, jacked another shell in the, I was a little frantic at that point. And so I took another shot and of course I missed because I was so flustered and frustrated. And the deer runs over the hill. And so I cannot figure out what the deal is with this gun it shot when I took it off. Safety didn’t shoot when I put a shell in. And then it shot fine the time after that. Yeah. And I am just, I don’t know what’s going on. And so i’s like, well, I’m gonna go over there and try to get the deer on the other side of the hill. So I go over there, climb the hill, and in the meantime I jacked in another shell. I get to the top of the hill and the deer is staring at me. I bet he’s only 40 yards from me staring at me. I pull the rifle up, pull the trigger, nothing happens. It’s the worst luck ever. And of course, same thing. I move my hand freehand up to the stock jack in another, shell pull up to shoot. And I’m frustrated once again. And I’m just standing freehanding by now. The buck’s hit like 200 yards, pull the trigger. And I miss, of course.
And so that was the last night of my hunt. I was done, done. And I, I had hunted my guts out, didn’t kill the big typical, didn’t kill the big three point. And John had risked his life and drove all night to try to help me out and failure. It was terrible. It was one of the, yeah, it was the low of lows. One of the worst feelings ever. Yeah. I could’ve killed that deer on the first day. Well, looking back, maybe I couldn’t have, ’cause my gun probably would’ve screwed up. Come to find out, like, this is kind of the side note. Come to find out, I took my gun into a, a legit gunsmith after that. And he, he told me that there was a screw that had not been put back in inside the action. And so when I, anytime I had any pressure on the bolt release behind the trigger guard with my free hand, it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t caulk.
It wouldn’t engage. Right. And so if I had my hand on the stock, yeah, it would, it worked. So the times that it shot my hand was up on the stock. The times that it didn’t shoot my hand was on trigger guard. A more behind. And you were on the shooting sticks on the hand grip. Yeah. So when I would get frustrated and stand up, that’s when would, it would shoot. Oh man. Anyway, lesson learned. But one, one of the things I learned, well, I didn’t learn. I, I learned that don’t pass on deer that or awesome on the first day. I learned that. But that’s one of those times, you know, your hard work doesn’t pay off sometimes. And this is kind of a long story, but there’s, there’s a second half to this story where if you’re persistent and you keep going, sometimes it does pay off.
But, so the next year, I had a full year and all I thought about was that buck that I had passed, that giant four point. And I am, every night I’d go to bed and that deer would just flash in my mind. And I’m like, oh geez, why did I do that? Didn’t help that you printed out a picture and put it next to your desk. That’s true. Well, I wanted, I was focused on killing that deer. And I had a picture printed out. It was my screensaver on my computer. I saw that deer every day for the next year. I was determined to go back and kill that deer. And I went at least a week early to the unit and scouted my guts out. And I knew exactly where the deer was, but I never could see him. Hunt comes along and I had some friends that also had tags.
And so they came, I’d been there for a week already. They came and like two days in, one of, I took ’em up into the same spot. And one of my really, he’s a real good friend of mine, and we always make fun of him ’cause he gets really excited and we’ll have to say, you know, hold off. You can do better. You can do better. And he’s just like, no, I’m killing it. Well, and I love that ’cause he just loves hunting. He loves being there and, but usually we don’t let him hunt by himself. And for some reason, this one afternoon he decided to go for a walk. And so we’re sitting there and we hear this gunshot and we’re like, oh crap, we’re gonna have to pack out a two point or something. So we go over there and, and my giant typical’s laying on the ground.
I was super happy for him, but I was sick to my stomach because I had put so much effort into that deer for, and, and it was all I had thought about for a year. And it sure enough it was right where I had said it was gonna be, but he was just down lower. Yeah. And you had to walk in there and basically bump him to to to see him. Yeah. See him and get a shot. And so my buck was gone. And then you’re like, oh crap. Now what? Yeah. And this is, this is was the third season. So this was a nine, nine day season. And my other friend ended up killing a really nice deer and they went home.
So I’d been there for like a week and a half at least. And now I’m there by myself again. I don’t really have a bug to shoot or to even chase at this point, except one buck. And funny story, it turns out this was the buck that I had bumped on the morning that I was hiking up that ridge. That was the year before, the year before he had just this one side that was just funky. But this year he turned into something really cool and he was, he was my third buck on the list. But anyway, he was in this flat. And I would hike up the mountain every day and I could glass down into this flat. He would stand up about noon. That’s the only way I’d find him. Yeah. His deer would stand up at noon and I’d see where he was at.
And then he’d go Reed somewhere that I couldn’t get to. And this, this went on for like five more days and I couldn’t ever get a shot. Couldn’t get close the morning before the last evening. So this is the last morning there was this really nice five point buck down feeding. And, but he wasn’t, he wasn’t what I was after. And I sat there and watched him and watched him, watched him. And I’m like, I have worked so hard, I could shoot this deer and go home. And I just thought, you know what, I’m not, I’m not doing it. I’m going after that other buck. I passed it that night, comes along and I sat there. It’s that time when it starts, starts to get to where you’re like, I only have a half hour left. Yeah. And I’m thinking, I’m done. I should’ve probably should’ve shut that five point this morning, but all of a sudden I look down below me and this buck is standing.
And so I watched him go over this little hill and I went down kind of where he was and started looking over this hill for him. And he was bedded below me at like 150 yards. And so I pulled up and I of course had a different gun on this hunt and ended up shooting him in his bed. And it was just the most surreal feeling like I, I had worked harder than I’ve ever worked for before for a deer. And it didn’t work out and it didn’t work out and it didn’t work out over two years, finally I had this buck on the ground and it was like one of the coolest things ever. And I, to this day, like that’s one of my favorite bucks. I love that buck. He ended up being like 190 inch deer. Just Yeah. And looks half mule deer, half white tail.
Just, just a crazy looking deer. Yeah. I called him lefty ’cause he had just this messed up side side. Yeah. Yeah. It goes back to that quote, you never really fell until you quit trying. Yeah. That was the last evening of the last day of the hunt. I spent 18 days in the field and finally on the very last night, I shot that buck and it was, it was pretty awesome. And that’s definitely one of the, one of my memories that I’ll always treasure. So what that comes down to for me is, is on these hunts, you just gotta keep a positive attitude and try to remember why we’re out there. It’s, man, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t kill a giant, giant mule deer or elk or whatever. But you just gotta try to enjoy every day and keep pushing through and working hard and keep, keep a positive attitude.
I think we’ve got quite a few listeners that are new to hunting and yeah, I think, you know, especially for, for those of you who don’t have a lot of experience, just keep that in mind. You know, it, it’s those times when it, you just question, you know, this is the wrong sport for me. You know that, that it, you know, it, it’s so rewarding when it does come together. One of those things I, it’s hard to explain unless you are a hunter and you’ve experienced it before, that reward is just so awesome when you, when you finally overcome all those challenges and you find some success. But no, it’s, it’s the truth though, really. Well that’s what happens. You don’t give up, you just keep crying and Yeah, eventually you know, it, it does happen. Yeah. I mean, I believe fully that we give out mentally before we do physically.
Don’t get me wrong, I, it helps so much to be physically fit and in shape and that helps mentally. But the mental part of it, to me, every time trumps the physical part of it. Yeah, it’s huge. It’s huge. And all except for one Hunt, I can think of Jason Escalante, desert Sheep Hunt, where Yes. Physically it was just, it was so brutal. And, but I’d still say the mental part was, was as big as the, as the physical part. Yeah. I remember the first trip on that. The first trip we went to Scout, there was a point where I literally had to tell myself in my mind, like, just take one more step. And like, it’s, it’s hard to sit here and explain that, but like, your body is in so much physical pain. You have cramps in your thighs and your calves and your tendons hurt and you literally ticking one step is, is all you can do.
And so I just, I literally focused on taking one step and I would take one step and take one more step and yeah, I made it, but it was, but it was tough. Yeah, it was tough. And it was mental. It was physical too. But anyway, so never give up, stay positive. And that’s what makes stories, that’s what makes these hunting stories that we all enjoy and, and we can share with other people. Well, I think that, does that about wrap it up for today? I believe it does. All right. I’ve sit here and rattled off stories and if you’ve had some success this year, don’t forget to send us your stories and photos. I love to see ’em. So share ’em with us. Makes the magazine awesome. And if you’ve got any questions, gimme a call 4 3 5 2 6 3 0 7 7 7. Ask for John and I’ll, I’ll help you.
You know, even if you’re not computer literate, we will, we’ll figure out how to get ’em, get ’em to us even if you gotta text me the photos or something like that. So otherwise, you go to our website and at the, at the top there’s a submissions button and then you click on stories and photo submission and send ’em to me or [email protected] and you can just email ’em to me if you want. Otherwise, I think we ought to just give a shout out to all of our sponsors. We really appreciate them supporting Epic Outdoors supporting the podcast. That’s the only, only way that we get to bring it to you for free. And you know, it’s, it’s thanks to them. So if you’ve got a choice on what you’re gonna buy, then check out our sponsors. I think to give a shout out to Kings Camel and kings camel.com. One of our sponsors. Also Ken Trek, Ken trek.com. Awesome boots. And so give them a, give them a visit. Yeah, if you have any podcast ideas or things that you’d like to hear about from us, send ’em over to Chris at Epic Outdoors. If you have any guests that you’d like to have on that you’d like to hear from, send those over as well. We’d appreciate it. And thanks for listening over and out.