Coming off a rifle elk hunt for my boys where we didn't see any elk, we were hoping to have some success chasing the mule deer with rifles.
This year I actually had a rifle deer tag and was excited to get out and hunt with Landen and Kaden. Unfortunately for Kaden is still eleven for a couple more months so he couldn’t hunt deer but he does have a cow elk tag that coming up when he turns twelve in December.
Landen, Kaden and I were thinking of packing in the night before the opener but it was raining and we didn’t care to be hiking in the rain, mud and in the dark so we got up extra early the morning of the opener to hike in.
We were going to be hunting some great public ground but unfortunately some very heavily hunted public ground. I wanted to hunt the same area Dallen took his muzzleloader buck earlier this fall. Knowing where the deer were tending to hang around and the sea of orange that would be in the area I picked out a couple draws I wanted to focus on that were away from where I felt the bulk of orange was going to be located.
It was around 2 1/2 miles in and my young boys did great hiking in really early in the dark to get to where I wanted to get to just at shooting light. I let them set the pace and they pushed it pretty hard knowing how many vehicles were already packed in the parking lot and they didn’t want to get beat to the deer. I had to slow them down a bit so we didn’t puke as they were going a little too fast for the shape we were all in. LOL. They were excited and it was fun.
Right at first light, we were in the right spot to see deer but the ten or so deer in the draw we were watching were all does. We sat there for a while then decided to move around to the next ridgeline to glass from. As we got near the ridgeline there was a lot of shooting in the next draw we were about to look over into. As we looked over into the draw the shooting had stopped and we could see a couple hunters across the draw. They made some hand signals and when I finally looked through the binos and figured out where they were pointing we bailed back over the ridge and looked down the next draw. Sure enough, there were two bucks moving down in the draw.
Landen dropped to the ground and got all set up on shooting sticks all by himself as I pulled out the rangefinder and ranges 238 yards. Perfect, on the 270 WSM X-Bolt Landen was hunting with I keep the Vortex HS LR scope dialed up one MOA so that the max point blank range on a 7-inch target is out to around 300 yards with the 150 SST hand loads I have for this rifle.
In the process of getting out my rangefinder the larger of the two bucks bailed into the bottom of the draw and out of sight. Landen quickly got set up and I mean quickly. I was proud of how composed and quick he set up on his own. Anyhow, within seconds I had the buck ranged and told him to shot knowing we had very little time before it followed the other buck out of sight. Landen quickly fired and we were greeted with a whopping sound. Nice! The buck ran about a 100 yards and tipped over. Way to go Landen!
Landen had two goals for the buck he wanted this year. One was to be larger than Dallen’s buck and the second was that it was larger than the buck he got he got the year before. (see: 2016 Utah Rifle Deer Season — Landen's First Buck ) He accomplished both with a nice two-year-old 2x3 buck. We were all so excited.
Shortly after we shot the buck Ryan the other hunter that had been hand signaling us met up with us and we talked for a bit. Thank you, Ryan, for pointing out where the bucks were at.
After some photos and of course an Instagram post by proud dad, we worked on boning out the deer for the pack out.
Now that Landen had his deer tag filled it was time for me to get a little deeper into the backcountry to try and find a shooter for myself.