Hunting Big Game Hunting Deer Hunting Trophy Deer

Record Quest: Taking a Record-Book Mule Deer in Colorado

John B. Snow Avatar

I shot this record-book mule deer down in Colorado, north of Granby at the C Lazy U ranch during the state's fourth rifle season, which takes place during the peak of the rut. The buck is unusual not only for his massive rack, but because he was wearing a radio collar as part of a study being conducted by Colorado wildlife biologists on big-buck mortality.
The hunt was classic western spot-and-stalk. We'd hike up various mountains and overlooks to be in position at first light to glass for deer. Optics can make or break a hunt like this. The timber in the bottom of this valley was a prime bedding area for dozens of mule deer. We spotted some good animals that morning, but nothing we wanted to go after.
Another hunter in camp took a nice 3×4 buck. Because this gentleman had a difficult time walking in the mountains–a very common issue with hunters who aren't physically up to the challenge of hunting in steep terrain at altitude–his opportunity for a bigger buck was limited.
Paul Klees, who manages the C Lazy U, helped us retrieve my buck from the sage covered mountain top where I shot it. I took the deer at last light on the second-to-last day of the deer season.
Cody Arnold is removing the radio collar that was on my buck. The collar is used to determine the location of the buck during flyover surveys that wildlife officials conduct twice a year. If the collar doesn't move for 15 hours, it sends out a "dead" signal, alerting biologists, a game warden told me.
The game warden who checked my deer took not only the radio collar, which he said is worth more than $1,000, but also pried a tooth loose from the lower jaw of the deer as part of the study.
According to the warden, the tooth will be sectioned by biologists to determine the buck's precise age, which can be ascertained buy counting the age rings in the tooth, the same way you would do with a tree.
Another look at the deer, which will easily make the Boone and Crockett all-time record book. He's got everything: deep forks, good symmetry, height, mass and width, plus a nice assortment of non-typical junk that adds to his character. I might never shoot a better one.

Shooting Editor John B. Snow took this massive mule deer while hunting Colorado last month. See the details of his hunt here.