Editor’s Note: Fifty-year-old Kevin Hutchings, from Howell, Michigan, which is located close to Ann Arbor, has been hunting deer as long as he can remember. He was one of the original Mossy Oak Pro Staffers.
A few years ago, my friend, Mike Adams, and I went to Colorado to hunt mule deer. We really lucked into this hunt. Mike’s friend had land leased, and he guided in Colorado. Mike’s friend called him and said, “I've had a cancellation. Would you and a friend like to come out here and hunt? Y’all will have the camp to yourselves.” So, of course Mike said, “Sure.” Then, the guide told Mike, “Okay, we’ll see you here next week.”
This guide had 400 acres in Colorado. He had told us earlier that mule deer were all over the place. He had left his stands up for us to use. But when we arrived, we didn’t see many mule deer from the stands. So, I found a place with numbers of pines on the edge of a grass field. The woods were thick and there was a river about 100 yards on the other side of the field. I’d seen some deer walking down the edge of this field, but they were too far away for a shot. I decided to come out of my stand, move down to the pines on the edge of the field and pinpointed a perfect little pocket to sit in, so the deer couldn’t see me. A very steep mountain was directly behind me. The edge of this grass field was a natural place for deer to travel. I found this spot on the last day of the hunt. I wasn’t looking for horns as much as I was looking for meat to put in the freezer.
At that time, I never actually had shot a deer with my bow. Although I saw some does coming through the grass field, they were too far to take a shot. Finally, I saw this big doe coming down the grass field. If she stayed on the same line of travel, she would pass within 2 feet of me, but something spooked her, and she ran about 40 yards out into the field. When she turned broadside to me, I put my pin where I knew it needed to be, so that my arrow should land right behind her shoulder. When I shot, I got a heart shot. Because this was the first deer I ever had taken with my bow many years ago, I guess this was my most-memorable doe deer.
The biggest deer I've ever taken was a 9-year-old doe. She was bigger than any buck I'd ever taken. I'm not a trophy hunter. I like to have one or two deer in the freezer to eat during the winter months. Because we have so much hunting pressure here in Michigan, taking an older-age-class buck on public land is extremely difficult. I hunt the lower end of Michigan where we have a tremendous amount of hunting pressure. Usually, by the end of the first week, if there’s a big mature buck on the public land I hunt, he’ll be pushed off that property within the first day or two of deer season. Most of the really-big bucks taken in Michigan are harvested on private lands. Michigan does have some very-successful public land hunters who take big bucks, but most of the big bucks taken in Michigan are taken on private lands with agriculture. I love deer hunting. I enjoy hunting public lands, and I like to find places where I can see deer on public lands that most other hunters won’t see.
To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook and print book, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or Smartphone.
For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from http://johninthewild.com/free-books.