I knew the area I was mule deer hunting had potential to hold some great bucks. I have hunted here my entire life and knew where to start looking. I like to use my glass as much as possible to try and locate deer. I’ve found that to be more effective than hiking through all the good country first, where nine times out of 10 you end up blowing the good bucks without even knowing it.
After several days of covering the country I found a buck that got my heart going. That is the sign I am looking for—I know when my heart and mind start racing it is the buck I came here for.
It’s funny because I never really know what’s going to set me off from year to year, but I’ve learned to go with it… Seeing big deer and getting big deer are two different things.
Typically, they are there for a reason, which is exactly what this buck was doing. After several attempts to get in close he gave me the slip after being bumped by a group of elk hunters moving through the area.
Two mornings later I found him in almost the same spot I had last seen him. This time I had a better idea of how he would move back to his bedding area. My only hurdle now was trying to see through the fog and freezing rain that began to coat everything in the basin.
After a short stalk, creeping the last 100 yards in behind a small juniper bush, I found myself in position for the shot. Squeezing the trigger I knew the buck was mine until I realized the bullet had misfired! I hurried and jacked another shell in as the buck began to move out of where I could get a shot. As he made his way for the coulee, I put one in him and he went down immediately.
Persistence is always what makes me successful mule deer hunting in the end. Very rarely do I punch my tag in the opening days of any hunt and through that process I have learned that no hunt goes as planned or the way you saw it happening in your head. Sticking with it is how things happen.
Jason Matzinger is an award winning film & television producer and Host of the popular tv show, Into High Country on the Sportsman Channel featuring hunts from all over the western United States and Canada. Jason was born & raised in Montana and is a lifetime member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wild Sheep Foundation & the Mule Deer Foundation.