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I have been writing a blog about my dad’s pretty unbelievable hunting career off and on for the last couple of years and will be adding more posts as time permits. I have been a guest on South Pond Waterfowl’s The Pursuit to the Plate Podcast, which you can find here.

 

The Greatest Mule Deer Hunter-Part 5

Matt anderson deer 12yoIn Montana, the legal hunting age is 12 years old and I can tell you that I looked forward to that day more than any other in my entire life to that point. Since I had gone hunting with my dad, Rick Anderson, from the time I was five years old, you can imagine how difficult this wait was to a kid that had very little patience to begin with. My dad just took this in his usual calm stride, teaching me that patience does pay off and that when the time was right I would be ready. My family had a Remington model 788 in 6mm Remington that was usually the rifle that people started hunting with. The 6mm was big enough to kill a deer but not so powerful that it was painful to shoot. For a starter rifle, this gun was a tack driver and I could always shoot with the best of them.

Mule Deer and Antelope Hunting

Matt-First- mule deer BuckDay 1 of my first hunting season started with antelope in the rough open country of Eastern Montana. It was the first part of October and on the very first morning that I was legally able to harvest a big game animal I was ready to take the first animal that we came across. As I have said, I had very little patience and was ready to get started with my hunting career. We drove up into a good antelope area and parked before daylight and took off on foot to a high point where we could glass and see if we could spot a herd to try to make a stalk on. The 6mm had a detachable magazine that held 3 shells and in my youthful exuberance, I didn’t bring any more with me than those three. This would come into play shortly. As the sky started to lighten and we could start to pick out objects, my dad spotted a doe and fawn antelope in a little basin about 500 yards away. We made a nice stalk an got to within about 200 yards of them and were waiting to see if any other antelope were going to show up. Finally, I had had enough and whispered to my dad that I was going to take the doe with my either sex tag. He chuckled and shook his head, knowing that I was just too excited and needed to get this first animal off my chest. I was laying down and had a nice solid rest and when I was ready I squeezed off a shot. Miss! I couldn’t believe it, I had so much confidence that I couldn’t believe than when the time came I would actually miss. I jacked another shell in the chamber and the doe and fawn were milling about not sure of what had just happened. I squeezed off another shot. Miss! Are you kidding me! All of a sudden, my dad points to the left and here comes a buck antelope running right up to the doe and fawn. I jacked another shell in the chamber and when the buck came to a stop, I touched it off. Hit! I hit him hard and he took off running, like antelope do. We saw him pile up a couple hundred yards from where I had shot him. I can’t tell you how excited I was and how excited my dad was for me! I was shaking and he hugged me and was pounding me on the back! We picked up the spent shell casing, as we always reloaded our own ammo, and went to get my buck. What a thrill, minutes into my first big game hunt I had a nice buck down! When we got over to the buck, he still alive and my dad told me to finish him off. I went to put another shell in the chamber and realized that I didn’t have any more with me. My dad gave me his .25-06 and I put him down for good. As we were field dressing the buck, I happened to look up and there not 150 yards away another bigger buck antelope was just standing there looking at us, wondering what was going on. My dad wiped his bloody hands off on his pants and grabbed his rifle from where it was propped up and nonchalantly shot that buck, literally right over my buck. His buck went down and my dad handed me his rifle and told me to go over and finish him off if need be and he would be right over as soon as he finished field dressing my buck. What a morning!

First Mule Deer Buck

Matt anderson 1994 Mule deer buck with familyMy first mule deer buck was also a pretty exceptional hunt. It was early November and a nice cold morning in Eastern Montana. We were hunting an area of block management, which is where a rancher will allow people to hunt his ranch in a very regulated way. You went to a sign up station the night before you wanted to hunt and waited in line and the ranch was divided up into areas and you were able to pick one area and your party were the only people allowed to hunt that area for the day. This was the first year that this ranch was open for block management and it was chock full of mule deer, antelope, and some whitetail deer as well along the creeks and river. My dad and I headed out and drove up into this area and parked near the very highest point. We would hunt over the top and down the other side to try to catch the deer coming up from the creek into their bedding areas in the hills. We started down this big ridge, slow hunting and glassing as we went. All of a sudden, my dad stopped and pointed and there across this big wide open draw there was a really nice buck standing there. He had no idea we were around and was just feeding his way up into the higher areas. When we first spotted him, he was probably a 1/2 mile away so my dad took a look at the country and came with a plan to make a stalk on him to get a better look at him. My blood was pumping and I was so excited. Finally here was my chance at a big mule deer buck and I was not going to waste it! We got behind a stand of trees and made our way down to a point that allowed us to drop off the ridge and cut into the distance to the buck. We crawled into the creek bed and down to the last stand of trees and this was as close as we could get to the buck without him knowing we were around. I had the 6mm and got a good solid rest and waited until the buck turned completely broadside to us and then squeezed off a shot. My dad jumped and didn’t know what had happened as we was not expecting me to shoot. The buck took about 7 steps and just fell over, stone dead. My dad was speechless! Later, after everything calmed down and we we making our way over to the buck he told me that he wasn’t sure if the buck was good enough to take and he was glassing him to see if he was big enough. I was under the impression that it was a done deal, we get close enough and I shoot the buck. We paced it off and we were 325 yards from the buck when I shot and I hit him right in the vitals and the buck didn’t even know what hit him. We went back to town and got my brother and brother-in-law and took a bunch of good pictures and then dragged him out to the truck. He was 23″ wide and a perfect 4×4, as symmetrical as you could ever hope for. A great first buck!

Hunting Montana’s Wise River

Montana-2009About five years ago, my dad was hunting with his buddy Mike from Wise River, Montana was down hunting, trying to get a big mule deer buck or an antelope buck. It was a really rainy, wet day and just not very nice. Eastern Montana is not pretty when the roads are wet. They turn into a muddy gumbo clay mess that is just terrible to get around in, walking or driving. The roads were too nasty to go anywhere off of the main gravel county roads and so they made a plan to park one vehicle and drive around to another area and hunt down to the first vehicle. This is a pretty common practice as it saves a lot of time and energy. Mike and my dad started walking and popped over a little ridge to glass and spotted a very skittish herd of antelope who took off running as soon as they saw the hunters. My dad spotted an old road that was closed to driving and they started following it as it was headed in the right direction and made for easier walking than through the sage brush. As they got closer to the bottom where the vehicle was parked my dad glanced up on the ridge and spotted a mule deer bedded down right in a juniper tree, backed in so he was tough to spot. They stood there glassing the buck and weren’t really sure how big the buck was but could tell from his chalk white face that he was an old mature buck with a big roman nose. My dad asked Mike if he wanted to take him, but as they couldn’t really tell how big he was, Mike declined. My Matt Anderson and family Mule deer mountsdad, being the opportunist that he is, decided to take him. At the first shot, the mule deer buck stood up and looked around, confused. The second shot missed him as well and then with the third shot, my dad double-lunged him and put him down. They got all excited and started to walk over to where the buck lay and they started seeing all sorts of extra points sticking up. The closer they got the better he looked! His head was down in the cedar tree and when my dad grabbed his antler to pull him out, they noticed the huge 10″ drop-tine, what a buck! He was just a touch over 30″ wide outside with huge cheater points on each side and that very awesome 10″ drop-tine. With 7 points on each side, this was a buck of a lifetime for most hunters. Mike was sick from passing up on the buck but very happy to be a part of this hunt with my dad. The biologist at the check station aged the buck at between 10 and 12 years old, he only had a couple broken teeth left and probably wouldn’t have made it through the winter. He weighed over 300 pounds dressed and took four old guys to load him in the pickup. As my dad always says, I’d rather be lucky than good! This is the only Mule Deer buck in 61 years of hunting that my dad has ever killed that had a drop-tine.

The Greatest Mule Deer Hunter-Part 4 

mule deer hunting with dad I feel very fortunate to grow up in a family where hunting was so central in everything that we did. We spent a lot of time outdoors, be it camping, hiking, fishing, and of course hunting. From the time I can remember, I would tag along with my dad when he went mule deer and antelope hunting. I was in kindergarten the first time I was able to go with him and I can still remember how excited I was to be part of something so awesome. My big brother, Mike, got me my own hunter’s orange jacket and off we went.

Mule Deer Hunting

One thing that separates my dad, Rick Anderson, from a lot of hunters is the sheer number of new people he has taken under his wing and taught the skills to be a successful hunter and outdoors person. There is nothing that makes him happier than introducing someone to what we do and how we do it. A lifetime of first time hunters can attest that they are who they are as a hunter because of his tutelage. In our family, there was always room for one more when we went hunting. One of my friends was always going along with us when they could because more often than not, we got results and a full freezer.

I will be the first to admit that I was a pain in the butt as a kid and always pushed everything to the limit and through it all, my dad would just pull from his seemingly endless supply of patience and keep trucking along. I don’t do really well with authority figures as I tend to think that I know more than they do, regardless of how stupid an assertion that is. I can only remember one time where my dad got really mad at me and I definitely more than deserved it. I don’t know how he put up with me all of these years but I am eternally thankful that he did.

My first season hunting with my dad when I was 5 years old, I had an old recurve bow with a couple of arrows that I would carry while we were out hunting and most times my dad would end up carrying it back to the truck at the end of the hunt. Not long after that I got my first BB gun, a Daisy, with the BB reservoir along the barrel and the loudest thing you could ever imagine to be packing around in the hills of Montana. My dad rigged up a little sling for it so I could be just like him and I would follow in his footsteps, mile after mile. We didn’t have a whole lot of luck when he and I hunted during that time, for obvious reasons, but I am sure he was just excited and happy to have me along with him, to pass on some of his wisdom. He gave me a true appreciation for the outdoors and hunting mule deer in particular.

One time we were hunting for a big mule deer buck and were just starting to cross this big open draw with some heavy rabbitbrush and we jumped these three big bucks that took off running right up the draw from us. The biggest of the bucks was pushing 30 inches wide, the magic number for mule deer hunters. In a split second my dad had his rifle off of his shoulder and at the ready and as they were not more than 50 yards from us, it was a pretty decent chance at a good buck. The rifle was a Remington model 700 in .25-06, that I got from his as a 13th birthday present, and as deadly a gun as any my family has owned. All in one motion the rifle came up, safety went off, and a tiny pause and then…CLICK. The loudest click ever. He didn’t have a round in the chamber and by the time he got a shell jacked in, the bucks were out of sight and not to be seen again. That’s the way it goes, even the best laid plans. My dad just kinda chuckled at himself, shook his head, and off we went.

The year was 1984 and I was two years old. I was not along for this hunt, as you can imagine. It was really late in the season and my dad still had his buck tag to fill. There was a lot of snow on the ground and it was really cold in Montana and a lot of people didn’t have the vehicle to get to some of the really good hunting areas that my family has hunted for forever. My dad had a 1975 Toyota Landcruiser, dark green, that you could pretty much drive anywhere anytime. He had chains on the front and the Toy was light enough that he could drive a lot of places big trucks couldn’t get to. My uncle, Joe Anderson’s step-son Randy was along with him as they made their way down to a good hunting spot. As they drove around a corner all of a sudden my dad spotted a herd of does with a huge buck in the middle with his mind on one thing only. They were standing right on the edge of some trees, about 300 yards away and all it would have taken was for them to step into the trees and my dad wouldn’t have had the opportunity that he did. Instead, the does started trotting out across this big open flat, offering a perfect broadside shot at this buck that you didn’t even have to more than glance at to know he was a shooter. The adrenaline took over and buck fever set in and my dad ended up shooting seven times total, hitting the buck three times and putting him down for good with the last shot. They both ran over to him and were blown away by this big mule deer buck. An almost perfectly symmetrical 6×6 with an inline cheater on both sides and huge eyeguards for a mule deer. The rack gross scores nearly 200 inches in the Boone and Crockett scoring system and is a touch over 25 inches wide. A buck of a lifetime for a lot of hunters. My dad and his nephew had to drag the buck about 250 yards to where the road was and somehow they got the big beast loaded into the back of the Landcruiser and went on their way. My dad always says he’d rather be lucky than good and this has certainly served him well over the years. This buck was on our wall from my earliest memories as a skull-cap mount on a shield plaque that didn’t do a whole lot to show off the buck to it’s fullest. I recently mounted the antlers on a reproduction skull and it is one of the more impressive mounts I have seen.

What makes a good hunter? Patience, willingness to go the extra mile, working hard for what you love. I think that all of these play a strong role in my dad’s hunting career. My dad has outstanding game spotting ability, cultivated over a lifetime of hunting. I have seen him spot a deer with the naked eye at over a mile in thick brush, bedded down, that even with binoculars is not easy to see. His eyes are constantly moving and he is more often than not, the first to spot any animals. When I was growing up and learning how to hunt we barely had enough money to get us out into the hills and never had any extra to have anything other than the essentials in terms of gear. For most of my life, we did not even have binoculars, instead using our rifle scopes to check out anything that needed checking out. What optics we did have were never new and never good quality to begin with and in spite of all this, we never failed to fill the freezer.

The Greatest Mule Deer Hunter-Part 3

Lee Dunning 1959 Mule Deer

This is the story of Rick Anderson, and if you have read parts 1 and 2 you already know a little about him. I want to start by saying that my dad is the most humble person you could ever imagine, especially when it comes to his mule deer hunting success. When you hear him tell some of these stories that sound so outlandish he tends to play it off as though it was nothing, no big deal. I think it comes from growing up in that time period and also the conditions in which he grew up in Montana. To his way of thinking, it wasn’t really any big deal, it was just something that you did. You hunted to feed your family and if you happened to get a big buck mule deer out of the deal, so much the better. Hunting was really about surviving. In this age of commercialism and globalism, we often get away from that. It is easy to go down to the store and buy your food because you don’t have the stress of knowing that if you don’t successfully hunt you family will go hungry. This is the point that I am making, hunting started as a way to keep the family fed and developed into a passion, bordering on obsession.

 

Mule Deer Hunter

 

When Rick was 11 years old his uncle, Bronson Moulton, had a 1936 Chevy Pickup with a flatbed and a four-speed transmission. This was long before four-wheel drive existed but that truck would go just about anywhere. Often, when they went out into the hills, my dad, his cousin Thomas, aunt Georgie, and his mom Edna, would all sit on the back of the pickup so that the wheels would have the most traction. One time they were out in the forest and my dad and his cousin Thomas decided that they would go on a hunt. This was before my dad could legally hunt, but he was carrying a rifle all the same. They were slow-hunting down a big ridge and jumped two big old mule deer bucks off the end of a point. Thomas shot one and killed it and my dadmissed the second one. They ended up dragging the buck about a half-mile back up the ridge to where the pickup was parked. As they were loading up the buck, this old rancher/outfitter came along the road and stopped and started yelling at them. He said that they were on his land and that they needed to get the hell out of there. What maps were available at the time weren’t really very accurate and nobody could say for sure so they didn’t argue and took off back to town. Looking back now, my dad knows that they were on National Forest land and the rancher was just trying to keep them out for his own interests.

 

Rick Anderson Montana baby mule deer

A few years later, my dad talked his uncle Bronson into driving him way up into the head of this big drainage and drop him off and my dad would hunt down to the bottom and get picked up. The hunt was not an easy one and was through some really rough country. The day before the hunt, my dad got in a bit of a scuffle at school in the gymnasium and ended up breaking his glasses. He knew that he would have to be very close to a deer in order to tell just what it was. His uncle Bronson dropped him off at the top of the big divide and my dad started hunting. He was slow hunting his way down through this area and about halfway down the divide he shot and killed a two-point mule deer buck, as it was close enough that he could tell it was a buck. He dragged the buck quite a ways by himself and then left it in a fairly accessible spot. He hiked down to the bottom and went to a nearby ranch and borrowed the phone to call his uncle to come pick him up. Bronson showed up and the drove up into the area where my dad left the buck and got him loaded up and went on into town.

 

To reiterate, my dad and his brothers and their friends were a pretty wild bunch. In their teens, it was not uncommon to drive a long way to go to a dance, as they were the big social entertainment events of the time period. They did a lot of crazy things in those days and generally had a great time doing them. My dad, Rick, and my mom’s brother Tom Miller were good friends from way back. My uncle Tom had a 1953 Chevy Pickup with a stock rack on it. One of the things that the boys liked to do was chase antelope with the pickup. One day they were hunting sharptailed grouse. My dad and another guy were in the back of the pickup and a couple guys were in the cab and they would drive along and scare up some grouse and the guys in the back would try to shoot them. This was a great game, and they were really going through the ammo. Tom was driving on this big wide open flat and they spotted a big old antelope buck in the distance. My dad yelled at Tom to go after the buck and the chase was on! They were driving flat out at about 40 miles per hour and got up alongside the buck and my dad stuck the shotgun out and when they were about 10 feet from the buck he pulled the trigger. He hit him right behind the shoulder and buck ran about 10 more feet and fell over dead. It was not exactly legal but not unheard of in the time and place. They loaded him up and headed back to town.

 

Rick Anderson Montana

The year was 1959 and my  dad was working for a rancher by the name of Sid Dunning. Sid’s son Lee was a rancher/outfitter and he and my dad a bet between them to see who could shoot the biggest buck. They had a huge, for that time, bet of $25 on the line. My dad was out one day with Sid checking cows and water and they came around a bend in the road and scared up a big buck mule deer. So my dad just stepped out and shot him. He was a really big old gnarly 4 point that was just a touch over 30 inches wide. He was pretty excited and felt sure that he would win the bet as hunting season was coming to a close. About the week later, just as the season was ending, Lee was hunting an area not on the ranch and ended up shooting an absolute monster of a mule deer buck. The buck scored 231 6/8″ and was one of the biggest mule deer killed in Montana. He had over 10 points on each side and was over 36 inches wide with huge cheater points. Needless to say, my dad lost the bet.

 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!

 

The Greatest Mule Deer Hunter-Part 2

Thank you everyone that read the first installment of this many part series on my dad, Rick Anderson. My purpose for writing this is two-fold; to chronicle the amazing hunting career of this everyman hunter, and to teach a little bit about western big game hunting. I am going to jump around a bit and touch on some things that I feel make my dad one of the greatest hunters to ever live. Thank you for reading and I hope you like what you have read so far.

 

Mule Deer Hunting

When my dad was young, his dad wasn’t around much at all and his mom worked as a switchboard operator in the very small town where they lived. There was not really any money for anything but the barest essentials and the boys had to take care of everything around the place including provide meat for the dinner table. He started hunting to keep the family fed and then turned that into a lifelong passion for hunting mule deer. There was never a point in my dad’s life where there was extra money to just go buy things and everything he had was at least second hand. In spite of this, he never failed to bring home a mule deer buck every season.

 

The vehicles that he had were pretty much always a patchwork of parts and would break down often in the worst places possible. At no point in his life has my dad used any sort of scent control products. He never had any camoflauge clothing until Wal-mart started selling it. His gear was always pieced together. His rifles were usually pretty nice but the optics were suspect at best. For most of his hunting career, my dad never even used binoculars, relying on his keen ability to spot deer at unreal distances. All of these things added up make what he has achieved even more unbelievable. He figured out how to hunt mule deer better than anyone else I know.

 

After high school, my dad joined the Air Force and eventually became a survival trainer. He was stationed in Reno, Nevada and didn’t even have a rifle of his own at that point. The year was 1961 and my dad borrowed a converted Springfield 03A3 .30-06 from a friend but he only had three shells to go with it. He didn’t really know where he was going but he drove north to Winnemucca and the turned onto a gravel road heading up into the national forest. He saw a likely spot and parked and started hiking up a big ridge. He was hiking along the ridge and jumped a big mule deer buck off the end of a point, some 300 yards away. He fired his first round, never having fired this gun before, and shot off one of the buck’s hind feet. The buck was hobbled up pretty good and my dad snuck around closer and put him down for good with a well placed shot to the neck. The buck was a nice, tall 5×5 mule deer with a cheater point on each side. This is pretty indicative of the success that he had over the years; a borrowed rifle that he didn’t have enough ammo to even sight in, an area he had never even been to before, a hunch that he would find a buck somewhere on ridge and then sealing the deal.

 

In 1965, my parents were living in Golden, Colorado. His brother Joe Anderson and my mom’s brother Jack Miller came down from Montana and my mom’s brother Tom Miller came out from San Diego to go on a big mule deer hunt. It was an early season rifle hunt, late August, and they headed up into the West Elk Wilderness just west of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The four of them were in my uncle Tom’s Datsun two-wheel drive pickup that could barely haul all of them, and it was rainy and muddy and they couldn’t get very far. They made it to the edge of the wilderness area and set up camp. The next morning they got up and started hunting from camp into the wilderness area. My three uncles went different directions from my dad and he was off by himself. He hiked up a trail and was up on top of a big rimrock area overlooking some huge drainages. He was slowly making his way along the edge of the rimrock and spotted this old mule deer buck laying 50 yards from him, but over 100 vertical feet below him. He got a rest and squeezed off a shot, the bullet going right down through the buck’s spine and into his vitals, killing him instantly. The rifle was an old Remington model 721 .30-06. Because of where the buck was located it took them a while to get him out, but it ended up being a huge old 3 point mule deer with eyeguards. That deer was the only deer that any of the group saw on the whole trip. The buck was still in velvet at the time, as it was an early hunt. This mule deer buck is one of the few of the big bucks from so long ago that we still have in the family and is one of the more impressive 3 points that you will see. I restored it a year or so ago and mounted the antlers on a reproduction skull and the buck is finally being displayed to his full potential.

 

 

 

The Greatest Mule Deer Hunter-Part 1

Mule deer

The mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) is a deer indigenous to western North America ; it is named for its ears, which are large like those

My name is Matt Anderson and I was lucky to have been born into a family of mule deer hunters in Montana. My dad, Rick Anderson, is one of the very best mule deer hunters in the world and this blog is my way of sharing some of his experiences with all of you. When my dad started hunting at age 12 in eastern Montana, deer populations were at an all-time high. Some of the stories that I will be relating seem far-fetched, especially by today’s standards, but I swear to you, they are completely true.

Mule Deer Hunting

My dad was the second oldest son of seven kids crammed into a tiny shack in a tiny dot of a town in the middle of nowhere Montana. There were six boys and only one girl. The boys pretty much ran wild for most of their early lives, especially my dad and his older brother, Joe. They became very accomplished hunters from an early age as, more often than not, the food that the family ate came from what the boys could kill. There is a large creek running through part of the town and much time was spent hunting rabbits, squirrels, and even pheasants with their .22s. He says he got pretty good at wing-shooting pheasants with his rifle.

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Back in the fall of 1952, when my dad first started hunting, he and his brother Joe had no vehicle to get out to the forest to hunt. They would walk from town several miles up into the National Forest and hunt. If they got a deer, they would have to drag it all the way back to town, as they had no way of getting it home otherwise. My dad said that they used to do odd jobs around town to get enough money to buy some ammo for their rifles and then they would head up into the hills after some deer. The deer population at this time and place was such that each of them was allowed two buck tags and several doe tags and they always managed to fill their tags. They would leave town with a box of shells in each front pocket of their jeans and quite often they would be out of shells when they got back home. Those boys were pretty wild by anyone’s standards. The rifles they used had no sights other than the iron sights and they missed a lot of the time. Buck fever also played a major role in their extreme shell usage as the sheer quantity of huge mule bucks in the area would cause them to lose their minds.

At age 13, my dad, his brother Joe, and two friends hiked from their home to Cook Mountain. It was a distance of about 7 miles. They popped over a big ridge and right below them jumped a big buck running straight away from them. My dad was shooting a .30-30 Winchester and nailed him right in the spine just above the hind quarters, which put him down. The buck was a 25” wide good solid four point (western count). They quartered the buck and carried him back to town on their backs. It was probably a 15 mile round trip on foot but they were young and tough. From a very early age, the desire to hunt was overwhelming.

Eastern Montana is a dry land for much of the year and so you hunt deer and antelope according to where the water source is. Most of the land that near the water is private land and most ranchers will not let you on to hunt. There is a lot of public land where my dad grew up hunting and where I myself learned to hunt but the limiting factor is water. Every day the deer will pretty much follow the same pattern: at night they come down to the streams and rivers, which are generally bordered by hayfields, and drink and feed, at dawn they will head back up into the rugged hills and find a place to bed down for the day, feeding as they go, in the evening they head back down toward the water and good feed. It is not uncommon for the deer to walk 6 miles one way to where they will bed down from the water source. A good method of hunting the deer, knowing this pattern, is to start on a high ridge and work your way down it, glassing as you go in the early part of the day. And then in the evening, do the opposite, starting low and working your way up, trying to catch the deer traveling to and from their bedding areas. This has served my family well over the years and plays a big part in the success that my dad has had over the years.

my image

My dad, Rick, has killed a buck in 61 consecutive seasons. All but three or four of those bucks have been mule deer. The whitetail population has been growing nicely in the area, but it has primarily been mule deer that my dad has spent a lifetime chasing. When you factor in the years where it was legal to take multiple bucks, Rick has killed upwards of 80 mule deer bucks and something like 120 does. He has to his credit around eight different bucks that are over 30″ wide, most have been lost to posterity but we do have a couple left. 30″ wide is the magic number for mule deer hunters and most people go a lifetime and never get one. All of my uncles on both sides of my family grew up in the same area at the same time and only one of them has killed a buck bigger than 30″ wide. He has only taken one buck that would make the record book, a perfectly symmetrical four-point (western count) that would have scored around 195″. Sadly, this rack was lost is a barn fire many years ago and before it could be entered. The biggest buck my dad has ever killed was taken in Colorado in the late 1960’s and is 34″ wide with 8 points on each side and bases well over six inches in diameter. He scores around 215 B&C and is a bit shy of making the record book. I will tell the story of a lot of individual hunts including this biggest buck in subsequent posts. I just wanted you to understand why I think my dad is the greatest mule deer hunter that has ever lived. I hope you have enjoyed this first post and come back for more!

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