Little late sharing, but still wanted to share my 2014 Colorado mule deer hunt. The area that I hunt takes 2-3 points to draw the late rifle tag, so it is always exciting when those years roll around. This summer, I was a little nervous because we weren't seeing as many deer as usual, and definitely fewer bucks. However, a month or so before season, my dad started seeing more bucks, and even saw a couple big boys.
Once the season rolled around, I wasn't able to get out for the first week of season due to work and then a small family vacation (I didn't get to chose when we did the vacation). That meant I only had 2 days during the final weekend of the season to get the job done. On my first day out hunting, I spot the biggest mule deer I have seen in my unit in season while carrying a license. However, it was while I was driving, and I was only able to watch as he bounded from property I could hunt to neighboring property that was off limits. I saw 3 more young bucks and several does the rest of the day, but nothing that made me want to finish my hunt that day.
The next day, I was sitting in my pickup before first light with my brother hoping to glass the property where I saw the big buck the day before from a distance. Unfortunately, before first light, we watched two vehicles circle that property. Once we had enough light, we checked it out only to see deer tracks leaving the field and no big buck anywhere in sight.
We had planned out our next hike, and just after getting started, I got a call from one of my older brothers. His father-in-law had got a call from a game warden who had wounded a deer near some of their property, but had been unable to recover it. My brother didn't know if we could find the wounded buck or how good of a buck he was, but they wanted to find someone with a tag to fill it if necessary (I guess the game warden had filled his tag the next day).
We met up with my brother and some of his in-laws to go to the property where the warden had last seen the deer. It was the biggest audience I have ever had for a hunting experience (there were now 5 people along to help spot the deer and/or guide?) We spot a couple groups of deer near the property with some bucks, but all of the bucks seemed to be un-injured. Once we get to the spot where they think this wounded deer is hiding out, I get out of the pickup with only one guide, and luckily, everybody else stays with the pickups. The area is a dry creek bed with tall grass and some trees, so plenty of places for this deer to hide, if he is still around. As we work our way through the area, we spook up some does and see another group of deer about half a mile off. Again, the bucks with those does seemed to be moving fine. Eventually, a group of does stand up in the tall grass about 150 yards off, and start bounding directly towards us. We are well concealed in the grass next to a fence, so I get ready for a shot in case the buck is with these does. Sure enough, a decent 4 point buck stands up and starts following the does. Immediately it is obvious that this guy is injured and is not moving well. Pretty soon, he stands broadside just a little over a hundred yards, and I do my part. I was nervous since we were still within sight of the road and the rest of my audience, but I did my part.
We were able to call for the pickup, and, on the plus side, we had plenty of help to drag him a little ways and load him into the pickup. Once back out on the road, we were visiting next to the pickups when another pickup pulls up. It was the game warden who had wounded the deer. He fully checked us out, but I had done everything by the book. We visited for a little bit, and before he left, he told me, "Thanks, I owe you one!" I brushed it off at the time, but I kinda wished I would have pushed the issue a little bit. You never know when it might be useful for a game warden to owe you a favor!