Scouting pays off…. Any Mule Deer hunter can tell you its not easy to wrap your punched tag on a mature buck. This one was no different except I thought it would take a little longer. early in the season we turned up a few good bucks but nothing to write home about. It started shaping up to be a hot, dry year with scattered deer after the light winter. The anticipation of great horn growth quickly digressed into an average year with the lack of moisture in the spring months. It was time to do what we do best and get boots on the ground, grind out some miles, and put in the hard work of trying to build a game plan. July came and went with a few more good bucks, better than the June prospects but still lacking the WOW factor. We turned up a big 3 point buck from a few years prior. We had named “Tinks” at the time. He was a stud as a 3x3 and would have been high on our list in 2017 had we ever seen him again. It appeared he had digressed from the tine length once had as a 3 point in 2017 but carried the same frame and more mass. He was now a solid 4x5. Giving us something to look forward to in a very familiar huntable area we were away from the pressures of humans and was looking more positive. This was the first hitter of what 2018 might bring and we were excited to see him. Even scoring significantly less than other bucks we were trying to work into the game plan he was still my number one. There is just something about having a history with specific deer, size is second when it comes to chasing a buck we have history with. The month of August was a cat and mouse game. All appeared to be in his favor, he would disappear for a week and then magically appear as if he never was gone, keeping the same social status in the herd and maintaining dominance over the other bucks. As the anticipation built and opener drew near I picked a few areas to target because of the volume of deer movement. We setup a ground blind on the most frequently used trail though a very familiar saddle and brushed it in. The stage was set now each party just needed to keep our respective ends of the deal.
While moving to my stand in the early afternoon I crossed paths with a small 4x4 I knew to be traveling with “Tinks” frequently. I stalked to within 50 yards of the smaller buck, eventually realizing both bucks were there feeding in the shade. I couldn't believe they were on their feet this early. I worked to get a shot by staying downwind closing the distance but was picked off by the smaller buck around 40 yards, seeing his alarm “Tinks” exited quickly and retreated towards the stand area. I circled further around than normal not wanting any scent to cross paths with them. An hour later I slipped silently as possible into my stand and got setup. It was dead quiet, no wind, no squirrels, nothing. As the woods slowly came back to life a few hot long hours had passed with no sign of the bucks. An hour before sunset I noticed some deer moving in my direction, methodically moving down the trail, like ghosts they slipped through the shadows and hugged brush for cover. 2 young bucks appeared with ears, eyes, and noses working overtime to seek out threats ahead. It took a better part of 30 minutes for them to work past me, through my shooting window and out of my life. I thought about how cool it was to be within 30 yards and have everything work perfectly. They never knew I was there, the next 30 mins before it would be past shooting light and my hunt would be over for the evening was game time. As I scanned for movement a large solo buck moving quicker than the others came down the same trail. He actively searched for threats much like the others but didn't move with any fear, he was moving confidently and purposefully. Stopping every 8-10 yards to listen, then continuing on his path. I quickly decided he was a shooter, seeing his frame through the brush I surmised this was probably “tinks” or one of the other good bucks we had seen. As I brought my bow up I decided he would be worthy of my tag and pre-season efforts. As the buck cleared the brush and came into view it became obvious it was "Tinks", he had no idea I was just 30 yards downwind, my Bowtech Reign 7 was already at full draw and my pins were anchored on his vitals. I could smell him as he passed broadside and paused to listen. My 100 grain Muzzy Trocar zipped behind his shoulder. The buck jumped and kicked into the air, totally caught by surprise he hit the ground sprinting froward, smashing through everything in front of him. 50 yards later, just out of sight I heard him pause, and fall to the ground. He was dead. The rush of adrenaline hit me like a freight train. I sat there shaking uncontrollably, soaking it all in. Today I couldn't have written a better script. This morning I got to see and hear my unborn child’s heart beat for the first time with my wife, late this evening I had stopped the heart of a mature buck which I had pursued for the last 2 years. It was a incredible and surreal feeling alone in the woods breaking that old warrior down and taking the long heavy walk back to my truck. I thought at more than one time, how can someone be more lucky than this.