28 November 2008

Matt's Mulie Buck

Matt Hamon taught with me several years in Butte, Montana, before moving on to a position with Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He's an interesting guy (former Olympic cyclist, great cross country skier, superb mixed media photographer/artist) who has kept some ties to Butte, so I was happy to hear he would visit over Thanksgiving and had a mule deer tag. I offered to join the hunt for Matt's good companionship and to get a day's break from elk hunting.

Early morning found us on a ridge near Dave's Deer Mine:

Sadly, the place seems to be over-hunted these days, with mule deer (especially bucks) getting a little scarce. This is what happens when a few people tell others about a good hunting spot, and then those few find success and tell a few more... It is a chain reaction of "kiss & tell." There are also the deer wounded & lost, and found & eaten by coyotes--a lesson for all of us to shoot more carefully:

After chasing a few mulies from one end of the ridge to the other, we hiked back to the truck and headed to a "secret" spot in the lower Big Hole. It's a place that Dave Carter and I have camped & hiked though I never hunted mule deer there. But there was always a herd or two hanging around, especially up on a remote little Butte ringed by a rocky ridge.

Sure enough, we hiked & glassed the area and eventually spotted a few does. We kept glassing and more deer appeared out their cryptic camouflage in the sagebrush. Matt spotted a fat forkhorn from a half-mile away and made a long stalk around the back side of the ridge to get close enough for a shot. I was getting cold and hiked back to the truck for my jacket. Just as I was returning, I heard the crack of a rifle and saw Matt walk down the ridge to a fine mule deer buck:

Mule deer hunting is not heaven, but you can see it from there. Walking the hills with a friend, locating deer in habitat that at first glance seems like a vast empty wasteland, and tasty venison for the table. Life is good. Praise be to mule deer.

1 comment:

Matt Hamon said...

Pat as patiently and generously guided me to every Mulie I've harvested. He doesn't mention it here, but when I was ready to throw in the towel, Pat was still optimistic that I'd be able to get this buck... Another testament to his patience, as I had missed a few times earlier in the day. I feel lucky to call Pat a friend. Thank you!