by Ron Spomer
There was no ground shrinkage when I walked up to this Montana mule deer. The antler’s grossed 201 inches. And they lay two steps from a barbed wire fence beyond which we could not go. Had that buck jumped that fence, it would have been in a private land sanctuary. Thanks goodness I had my portable shooting sticks.
One doesn’t usually recognize a couple of aluminum cross sticks as a critical component to hunting success, but they can be. Sure, the rifle and scope and ammo and even our boots are essential, but six ounces of aluminum tent poles can spell the difference between all that other gear working or… tag soup.
Here’s how my little hunt for my biggest mule deer went down. I was a guest of a Powder River Outfitters out of Broadus, Montana, an area famous for big mule deer and whitetails in the 1990s. I believe the principal operates now as Gardner Ranch Outfitters near Ashland. If their current crew is as dedicated, helpful, and friendly now as they were then, I recommend them.
I’ve forgotten the name of my guide, a competent, agreeable young man who had insights into big bucks of the region and the dedication to finding them. But we didn’t. Not until the 11th hour of the fifth day.
“There’s one spot yet we haven’t checked,” he said as we were literally departing the ranch at closing time. “We’ve got a half hour or so. Want to try?” We drove a short distance to a ridge and glassed a small creek bottom in an odd corner of the property much too close to the county road to hold an old buck. It held two of them. Bosom buddies bedded in a snowberry patch.
As we drooled at the span of antler, both deer rose, stretched, peed, and began sauntering south. “We’ve go to get them before they reach that fence. That neighbor won’t even let you enter to recover a wounded buck. We have to drop one on this side of the fence!” After both bucks dipped into a hollow, we bailed from the truck and started running.
There were cattle about, and our running startled them. At first I thought this thundering herd would spook the bucks, but instead it stopped them and created a diversion. The deer stood one leap from safety, watching the stampeding cattle. My guide and I were near the top of a small hill, peering through grass tips at both bucks, the cattle between us. We assumed the deer mistook our heads for cattle parts.
How Shooting Sticks Helped Get My Biggest Mule Deer — Ron Spomer Outdoors is written by Ron Spomer for www.ronspomeroutdoors.com