The EBJ 09 hunt winner, Todd Smythe, slammed a heavy-beamed 7×7 as the bull walked across a high country meadow bugling all the way. The Eastmans’ video crew captured it all on film, and I was along to share the experience. For sure, a classic high country hunt for a herd bull that was hot into the first phase of the rut. On the third evening, the old boy came out of the black timber on the opposite side of a meadow to play in the mud. With some cow calling from us, he slowly made his way to where we had set up. Very exciting! It took over twenty minutes for him to make his way to our side of the meadow.
With a 7×7 bull walking straight for him and video cameras bearing down on his back, Todd handled it like a seasoned hunter. Cool and calm, he waited until the mudded up bull turned broadside then with his new Savage 7mm magnum rifle and 160 grain Nosler, he slammed the heavy beamed 7×7 timber bull right behind the shoulder. A perfect shoot even under pressure!
On the first day we found at least a dozen bulls running together. The bulls were bugling, however the rut wasn’t quite on yet. After seeing all those bulls on the first day, that night Todd was running on adrenaline making the first night sleepless. Later while packing the bull out, he told me his wife has picked out a special spot for the trophy bull. I was thinking yea right, in the garage next to the tires. No! Above the big screen TV in the living room. Now that’s an understanding wife! Watch it on Eastmans Hunting TV in 2010. Good stuff!
The old man connects with a Colorado velvet buck, a goal of mine for many years. This year I snagged a Colorado mule deer tag. This unit typically doesn’t have many deer. It’s mostly an elk unit. However over the years while hunting elk, I have seen a few 190-plus bucks hiding out in the steep canyon walls and timber ridges. That rugged area makes spotting and stocking a buck difficult. Well I was lucky! After a hard-hitting rain and hailstorm, I jumped an old timer on a timbered ridge. He was moving up thru the timber from the rugged canyon below. After the storm, the velvet buck was heading for the top to bed. I was slipping along checking out the timbered ridge and we met each other in the cover of timber. This smart old buck was moving through and using it for cover. Not much for a spot and stock hunt. More like a spot and shoot. With two of his front teeth worn down to the gums and looking at the back molars, I aged him at nine or ten.
In my book Hunting High Country Mule Deer I explain how to field judging a buck in five second. It took me less then that to determine it was a great trophy. He’s one of those bucks with no out standing features to his rack. Having tall backs, good fronts, four-inch eye guards and 24 inch plus main beams, he is truly a symmetrically typical mule deer.
The last time I harvested a velvet buck was in the seventies. I was able to save the velvet on his rack for the mount.
Did I mention I have a Late 12 A West Mule Deer Tag in Arizona? It took me eleven years of giving Arizona Game & Fish license money. I just about had given up on that draw. For me it’s shaping up to be an interesting fall of hunting. And just when I figured I was going to slow down! Next two weeks I’ll be hunting antelope in Wyoming and Southern Colorado. Will post when I get time. Mike Eastman.