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Dorn's Mule Deer

Women & Youth Muzzleloaders

Sunday started out my 4th season hunting mule deer. In the previous seasons I had only seen one young 2x2 buck, but had to pass the shot because my husband and his friend were tracking an elk in the woods behind the deer and I didn't want to risk hurting them.

I had to pass on hunting all together when Steve was in Korea so I was really chomping at the bit to get out this year. It started all wrong too. Because of unforseen circumstances I was unable to go out with the muzzleloader and my 30-06 to practice the long shots as much as I wanted.

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At 100 yards with the flinter I wasn't even hitting paper. The decision was to leave the rifle home until I could practice more so I only packed the 30-06 the first morning. We almost hit a couple of cow elk on our way out, they were nice sized, but I wanted to hold off on my elk until it was cooler since I would have to hang the meat in my garage. That would also give me the practice time I'd need with the flinter which is what I want to hunt the elk with.

We find our ridge about 200 yards across a yucca field, just off the road. Easy, we just sit up top and wait for something to come by. Nope, too easy! We saw them, 6 bucks, but they were in a valley way over on the other side, across about 4 ravines. No problem! And off we go.

The brush and scrub oak was so thick it was grabbing at me and I half expected them to start chucking apples at me (circa The Wizard of Oz). Steve scared a little rattler and left it shaking its tail at ME! It really didn't want any trouble, other wise it would have bit Steve on the butt as he stepped over... so I just walked around it. I'd never heard one rattle before, I thought it was a grasshopper in the brush and would have stepped right on through if Steve hadn't stopped me.

Steve slipped once onto some cactus and I had to yank the spines out of his butt...I sure hope nobody was watching us cos it sure looked bad! The ridges and fingers were getting really trecherous now, and I began to wonder if we were tracking deer or mountain goats! We finally made it to the saddleback to the right of where we last saw the deer. Steve was hissing orders...look left, look ahead, be quiet, stop, go! I lost my footing on the loose shale and almost slid down the side... the wrong side! The only thing that saved me was my determination NOT to have to climb back up that stupid ridgeface! We figure the deer will be in one of two places. Steve peeks around the rock then motions for me to drop. I do, automatically lowering the bipod. I raise my head and there he is, looking right at me... a nice husky buck! I'm on a narrow 'goattrail' and am squatting, its real uncomfortable but I get the crosshairs where I want them and shoot. STUPID! The shot when high as my body fought the un-natural position. Steve is hissing for me to reload. The buck moved a little ways, then stopped and stared. But I was going to take my time this time. I sat down and scooted around. Steve was telling me to hurry, but I was mad at myself for taking that first shot and was going to do it right this time. I settled in, took a deep breath, and squeesed the trigger. And he went a few yards before dropping...and rolling into a ravine! Agh! NO! NOT ANOTHER RAVINE!


We knew as soon as the shot hit that the deer was dead. Steve was beaming bigger than me. We were laughing and hugging when he says 'Holy Cow!', I look where he's looking, and 3 more big bucks are watching us carrying on. We look below the ridge, and two more are sitting down watching. They had bedded down right where Steve thought they would, and didn't budge until the buck I had shot had fallen!

My buck had been the 2nd largest, there was a massive 5x5 bout near across at the shoulders as a truck! He casually got up as if to say..'Its okay guys, they got Bob.. if they had another tag they would have shot Billy by now, its safe to come out!'

These bucks trotted about 50 yards away, then stood on the hill and watched us for about 20 minutes before finally moving away. They would come back later, while I was gutting the buck, and they watched for a few minutes on the back ridge. I told them to leave, that they didn't want to see what I was doing... and they melted into the trees. I really think they came back for their friend.

Thanks to modern technology we were able to call some friends over to help get the buck out of one ravine, across the meadow, down and up another ravine, and then into the truck. I had the honors of skinning it in the garage, and there was so much fat on this deer, it filled a 5 gallon bucket! But the meat smells real good.

Steve offered to get a head mount for me, but I just want a European mount, and the hide will be Indian Tanned (white) for my outfit. Already got a bunch of elk ivories to go on it! Hopefully I'll have another set by next month!