Was your first deer a whitetail or muley? Share your comments below!
Like many of you, the first deer I ever killed was a whitetail. The reason is simple: Most of us live in whitetail country. Mule deer dominate the landscape in my current home state of Wyoming. Whitetails abound as well, but you have to hunt in the specific zones they inhabit to find success. That’s why, for the past several years, my son, Cole, has proudly tagged only mule deer. He changed that recently when I joined him briefly for a hunt during one of Wyoming’s November whitetail seasons.
We only had a few hours to hunt. Cole directed me to a creek-bottom where he had been bowhunting. At daylight he started pointing out bucks that he had been routinely seeing from his treestand, but one buck in the dim dawn light stood out. He hadn’t seen that one, and he looked a bit bigger than the local crowd.
At sunrise we watched the mature buck herd a hot doe into a nearby sagebrush draw, and we soon took up pursuit. Still-hunting slowly, we moved inch by inch over the top of a hill to peer into the open coulee. First, we spotted one of the younger bucks and it soon spotted us. It left in a nervous trot. We started to assume that was the only buck at home, and that the larger buck slipped out a backdoor. I still had a hunch that the younger buck was camped on the larger buck courting the hot doe. That’s what young bucks do—pester the suitors. Edging closer, suddenly I froze. Below me in a brushy bed was the buck we hoped to find. Apparently he had a hot doe bedded with him, but all I could see was him at the moment.
I motioned Cole forward and whispered to him the buck’s location. He zeroed his riflescope on the buck, and seconds later the whitetail finished his nap—permanently. Hornady Superformance ammunition fueled Cole’s .30 T/C for his first whitetail. It definitely was a special moment in his hunting career, and one I wouldn’t have missed for the world.
Now I have the opposite problem on my hands: My daughter’s first deer was a whitetail, so next year I think a Wyoming muley is in order!
Here are a couple of quick lessons we learned from this hunt that could help you:
1. Always be on the lookout for new bucks showing up in your favorite hunting location late in the rut. Bucks go beyond their boundaries this time of year looking for the last hot doe to breed.
2. If you spot a bedded buck with a hot doe, you might have a few extra seconds to position yourself for a solid shot. This is especially true even if the buck sees you and the doe doesn’t; he generally won’t leave her and will hold tight.
3. Shoot enough gun with a proven bullet. Cole only had a quartering-to shot, but his 165-grain bullet walloped the buck hard enough that it never got out of its bed.