Editor’s Note: Rick and Julie Kreuter are the hosts of “Beyond the Hunt” that appears on the Outdoor Channel Mondays at 8:30 am EST and Thursdays at 3:30 and 8:00 pm EST. Rick and Julie have been married for 14 years, have hunted together for 15 years and have worn Mossy Oak for 8 years.
I was hunting in Utah with the R&K Hunting Company, and Doby Batt was my guide (see Day 3). My cameraman was Ian Mavjac. We were bowhunting big mule deer above the treeline, at over 10,000 feet. I was using my PSE EVO. That morning, we spotted what I believed to be a world-class mule deer about 2-miles from us, but we didn’t reach the buck until midday. We spotted this big buck with two other bucks going into a small stand of pines. We could see the other bucks, but we assumed the big buck had bedded-down, since we couldn’t see him. We stalked-down into the same stand of pines where we had seen the buck, and I got in close. I had one of the bedded bucks at about 30 yards, but I couldn’t locate the big shooter buck. As the day progressed, the bucks got-up to find another shady spot, however, I still never saw the big buck. Late in the afternoon, the two smaller bucks came out of a pocket of trees to go feed. We finally spotted the big buck walking straightaway from us, but he never presented a shot. I felt totally defeated, because I was within bow range of this huge trophy mule-deer buck and couldn’t get a shot. We went back to camp, regrouped and went out again to a different pocket. We spotted another mule deer with a non-typical rack that would score 200 inches. We hunted that buck for 2 days, but barely could get close enough to take a shot with a bow. I was running out of time for this hunt. Gun season had arrived in Utah you can switch weapons. So, I put the bow down and picked up a Thompson/Center .270 rifle.
I knew there was a front coming in, and we were scheduled to get a lot of snow in the high country. We actually got caught on the mountain and had 6 inches of snow dumped on us. We built a shelter and a little fire and weathered the storm. When the weather broke 3-hours later, we started hunting again. I saw a big mule deer coming off of a south-facing slope about 400-yards away. Some hunters could take that shot, but I’m not a long-range shooter. Basically, I’m a bowhunter. I like to take close shots and don’t practice long-range shooting, so I didn’t feel comfortable taking that shot. We went back to camp.
The following morning, Doby had two more hunters coming to camp. The two hunters were gracious enough to let me go back-up the mountain with my cameraman to try and take this big buck we had spotted. We had been glassing one part of the mountain, but there was another area with a lot of oak brush where we hadn’t hunted. I thought this was where this big buck might be staying. We went where we could look into this oak brush, and a storm arrived and first brought rain and then snow. Finally I saw a buck working his way out of the oak brush toward the top of the mountain, studied him carefully with my binoculars and could tell he was the buck I was hunting. He was walking side-hill along a game trail that went up to the top of the mountain. He got within 160 yards, across the canyon and quartering-away from me, headed to another patch of oak brush where I wouldn’t be able to see him. A fog bank was moving toward us.
I quickly put my pack on a downed log and got in the prone position. When I looked through my scope, I couldn’t see anything, because the scope was full of snow. I cleaned my scope as quickly as I could, then got back down and got ready for the shot. Through my riflescope, I aimed between the deer’s hindquarter and his last rib. I hoped the bullet would pass through his vital organs and come out on his offside shoulder. When I squeezed the trigger, the buck jumped and immediately ran downhill. I tried to get down into the bottom of the canyon where he was headed, but when I reached the bottom of the canyon, I couldn’t see the deer. I went about 150-yards up the mountain and found where he had fallen right near another patch of oak brush. The buck had those big dark antlers and scored 208.