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The Garden Muley


stephan-Day4-2Editor’s Note: Jim Stephan of Cody, Wyoming has been a member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff for the last 10 years. He moved to Cody, because of the tremendous hunting opportunities the area provides. According to Stephan, “The biggest advantage of living in Cody is that you can hunt some kind of critter there 12 months of the year. I hunt antelope in September. As winter comes on, I hunt elk, deer and bear. In the spring, I hunt ducks, turkeys and predators. So, if you love to hunt, find a job in Cody, Wyoming.”

The biggest mule deer I ever took scored 164-6/8-inches. I live on 160 acres of farm land. The farmers who farm our land allow us to harvest whatever animals we want to take. stephan-Day4-3Every year, my wife, Meghan, and I grow a garden. We still can our vegetables in the fall. This particular year, just as our sweet corn was just about ready to be picked, the deer got into our sweet corn and ate every bit of it. So, I made the decision. Instead of putting sweet corn in the freezer, I was going to put one of those bucks in my freezer. Some mule deer bow seasons out here open in October, but our gun season is usually in November and December. I knew that the deer eating our sweet corn were coming out of an alfalfa field before they moved to our garden. The deer had been coming out of a small clump of trees between the alfalfa field and our garden. So, l slipped down there one afternoon wearing my Mossy Oak camouflage, sat down next to a tree and waited on those corn-eating deer.

The rut wasn’t quite over yet, and this buck was still checking out a couple of does, when I spotted him. When he finally turned broadside at 200 yards, I introduced him to my .30-06. My wife heard the shot. I called her, and she said, “You need some help with that deer?” I said, “Yeah, bring the camera. Let’s get some pictures. Bring the 4-wheeler, because this is the biggest-bodied mule deer I’ve taken in my entire deer hunting career.” My wife and I were just barely able to drag him out of the field. The mule deer was well over 200 pounds and had a 29-3/4-inch neck. So, he was still in full rut.

stephan-Day4-4I have to be honest. This deer was the best-tasting mule deer I've ever eaten. I truly believe my sweet corn that he ate greatly improved his flavor. When I shot the buck, he was only 150 yards from my garden. I’m certain, if I hadn’t taken him, he would’ve finished off what little bit of sweet corn we had left. So, I felt like I unintentionally fattened that buck up on sweet corn, but sweet corn wasn’t all the buck was eating. He was also eating my pumpkins. I couldn’t believe that a deer would eat pumpkins, but this one did. I couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t eat my beans, my lettuce, or my broccoli. Apparently, sweet corn and pumpkins were their favorite foods.

To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oaks Pros Know Bucks and Bows” – go to . 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 elk and other big game animals to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from

Tomorrow: Mossy Oak Pro Jim Stephan’s Garden Muley

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