That is nuts…..the Rut is on!
First off, it’s nice to be back hunting and filming. After being sidelined for 2 weeks with Poison Ivy and a feline allergy after the Deertour, just being outdoors was a blessing.
When you hunt public land, you automatically have a certain expectation level of what to expect. After all, the land is open to an infinite amount of hunters. Animals can be more skittish. More scarce. The chances of shooting an animal decreased.
But, the thrill of hunting public land is that you can roam and explore anytime. On your terms. That is an important part of the hunting experience. One that I love.
As challenging as it may be, not knowing what’s out there is exhilarating. The thrill of the hunt so to speak is what drives me.
So my friend Dave and I drive out east into the grasslands of Colorado for an afternoon coyote hunt. I emailed Dave and said that I was feeling better after battling Poison Ivy for so long, actually, I’m still fighting it, and said,”I want to go and shoot a yote.” He was down. He’s actually always ready to go and hunt. A hard core hunter and outdoorsman he is. One you’d all get along with.
On the way to a spot that Dave had scouted in the past, we came across an large coyote to our right on some private land. It was fun to watch him run like heck.
As we got to our spot, I asked Dave if i should take my camera and tripod to film. I asked because I wasn’t really sure I wanted to. I wanted to squeeze the trigger instead.
He said, “Dude. leave it. After spending so much time filming other hunters for a month, it’s your turn to squeeze the trigger.” I concurred So I left it in the truck. Got all my other gear in place like my calls, binoculars, Stoney Point shooting sticks .45, and Browning .270. Yes, a .270. It may be overkill for coyotes but I didn’t have time to sight in my .223.
The land we’re hunting is mostly grasslands and desert like conditions. We walked a couple hundred yards and came across some pine trees and scrub pines that surrounded a deep gully, cliff and caves. We snuck to the edge and peaked over to see if anything was there but could not see anything.
As we walked up to the trees, Dave noticed some patches of white on them. It was a bag full of poison. WTH? Poison? Yep. Verbenone. It’s used to help control pine beetles. Great I told Dave, “Out of all the public land out here, we are hunting one that has poison pouches on each tree. Like I haven’t had enough poison to deal with.”
We laughed and avoided the trees.
As we sat on the edge of the cliff, we started calling coyotes. Dave used his rabbit in distress call while I let out a number of coyote yelps and barks. We scanned what seemed like miles of country side with our binoculars and did not see a thing.
After a couple of minutes of glassing. Dave says, “Deer!” It was a large dark bodied deer almost 800 plus yards away. We got a good look and could not tell if it was a buck or doe but the body was huge and dark.
We decided to go and get closer. Especially since nothing was moving around us. It’s just part of the adventure to make things happen, as my friend Michael would say.
As we scaled our way down the cliff and got to the bottom, there was deer sign everywhere. It was like being in the middle of a superhighway. They were using this bottom that resembled a Midwest or east coast drainage area than a desert.
So we hucked our way closer to the deer. We gained about 500 yards when we stopped and glassed him again. He was at the peak of the hill. Now we could tell it was a buck.
His rack was silhouetted in the skyline. It was a pretty decent mule deer. A 4×4 type looking typical mule deer buck.
As we started to walk even closer, I notice Dave, who was walking in front of me get down and start fumbling with his rifle. I said,”What’s up?” He loudly whispered, “Coyote!”
I looked up and there he was. A large coyote hi-tailing it along side the hill where the buck was.
Dave gets on him with his 22-250. He finds him in his scope. Pulls the trigger. Nada. Nothing. He forgot to slide a round into the pipe. Arggghhh!
As he’s cycling his bolt, I get out my shooting sticks, lay my rifle on it and zero in on the moving coyote. I’m on him!
I ask Dave if he’s on him as I want him to shoot as he spotted the dog first. He said, “No! Are you on him?” I said yes. He said, “Shoot!”
So I did.
I bumped up my Trijicon 3×9 Accupoint scope up to 9 power. Got on him behind his shoulder. Squeezed the trigger. And Boom! The dynamite went off!
A huge plume of dust, dirt, and rocks exploded under the coyote. He jumped up a few feet in the air. Then ran like he was on fire.
As I watched. I waited for him to slow down so I could get a follow up shot. He didn’t stop. And disappeared into the scrub pine brush.
Dave and I asked each other if I hit him. We couldn’t tell but we were thinking that I didn’t. That 130 grain Barnes Triple Shock X copper bullet would have knocked him upside down if I had hit him broadside.
Dave ranged the spot where the coyote stood. It was 245 yards. Dang it. I guestimated 200 yards in the heat of the moment. I guess I shot under him or grazed him.
So we decide to run up an adjacent hill to intercept him and hopefully get off another shot. Man, that proved how out of shape I was. I was huffing and puffing like you couldn’t believe it.
We get up to the top. Scan and glass. Nothing.
So we decide to go to the spot where I shot at him to see if we could see any sign.
As we get there, I look down to where we were when I shot. That helped us locate the spot better.
I look down there again and see something that wasn’t there a second ago. I say Dave, “What’s that?” He says, ” Dude, that’s a deer!”
We get our binoculars on him and WOW!
He’s a monster Mule Deer. No I mean a real monster. That word gets used a lot when talking about deer but in this case, it was a true giant.
He was 340 yards away. A bit farther than we were standing when I shot but on the same trail we walked on!
He was at least 30 inches wide. Wayyyyy outside his ears. Wider than his body. High and wide rack. A Non-Typical! Junk all over. Kickers, drop tine on the right. UNREAL.
I reach for my shooting sticks to see what he looked like through the scope rather than the binoculars and couldn’t find my sticks. I LOST them!
So we decide to circle back to see if we could find them which was perfect because it was along the way to the buck and would help us stay out of view from him.
So we stalk and look for my sticks. Didn’t find them.
As we get closer to the bottom where the buck was, we see that he’s NOT there!
A second later, Dave spots him where we just came from!
We both switched places. Unreal. He was now 200 yards away. I got on him and was shaking like crazy. I don’t know why however. Because I did NOT have a deer tag for this location. YES, you read that right. No deer tag. That’s why we were hunting coyotes.
It’s almost impossible to draw here. Dave has been putting in for years and nada.
We stallked the buck because it was fun.
It helped us put into perspective how we would react if we could hunt him. Man, you notice lots of things.
Immediate impulses to shoot are frequent. But because we couldn’t, it helped me with buck fever. It allowed us to study and appreciate the deer.
A majestic deer.
As the deer made his way to the top of the hill, the sun was setting behind him. It was last light. But I wanted to keep watching him.
So I asked Dave to use his rabbit in distress call to call him in. Silly eh?
Not so. IT WORKED.
I was watching through my Steiner 8×30 Night hunters and when he let loose. The giant buck stopped like he was about to run a red light. Turned around. Looked dead our way. He stared rubbing and raking a small tree and brush.
Dave called again. He became alert and started making his way back towards us.
Say what? He totally changed his mind and was looking for that hot rabbit, I mean doe. THE RUT WAS ON! Big time.
We did this for like 20 minutes. I could have shot him on many occasions if I had a tag. But, I was content.
I had never in my life seen such a huge deer in the wild while hunting. And we were calling him in w/ a rabbit in distress call. Amazing.
All without getting it on camera. Imagine that. I could have had all of this for you guys to see if I had brought my Canon DSLR instead of my rifle.
But you know what, I wouldn’t change a thing. We have the memory engrained in our minds. Forever.
The buck we watched was way larger than the one above that was shot by Dave’s friend last week. The deer we saw was close to if not over 200 inches. A main frame 7×7 or 7×6. I’m not into the size of deer typically, more of a meat hunter myself. But in this case, I had to respect the magnitude of such a desert giant.
Maybe next year we’ll draw a tag.
Until then, we’ll be back with my camera hunting big coyotes under the Colorado sky.
For that, we are thankful.
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John F. Kennedy
Thanks to all the Huntographers I had the pleasure of meeting both online and offline over the last year. You’re all amazing people.
I am thankful.
Copyright © 2010 - 2013 Huntography: Whitetail Deer & Elk Hunting Documentaries. Filming America's Hunters. One at a Time - Made in the USA. Edited in Fort Collins, Colorado