Big whitetails aren’t the only game that can be nudged into bow range, as evidenced by a record mule deer taken by archer Jeff Draper last year in Mesa County, Colo. Draper and brother-in-law Brad Bricky had scouted the buck prior to the season. Even so, the hunters didn’t see the buck on the first day of their hunt until late in the afternoon, when Draper spotted the muley about 1,000 yards out from where he and Bricker were glassing.
Rather than wait for the morning, Draper and Bricky got aggressive, employing a stalk-and-nudge tactic the two had used successfully during the past eight seasons. Draper had spotted the buck first, so he got to choose his approach.
“The way we do it after locating a buck, one hunter stalks the deer, getting as close to it as possible–hopefully getting a shot–while the other hunter gets in position along an escape route,” Draper says. “More often than not, it’s the one on the escape route who gets the shot.”
Draper chose to circle far ahead of the buck and set up along its likely travel corridor. Bricky then crept to within 40 yards of the muley, which spooked and slipped off in Draper’s direction. Draper first spotted the buck 70 yards away. The deer slowed, looking back to see what had disturbed it. Bricky was nowhere in sight, however.
Part of the pair’s hunting strategy calls for the hunter making the stalk to hang back after a buck has been jumped. The goal is to give a deer time to settle down and move slowly past the waiting hunter. The strategy worked. When the muley got to within 20 yards of Draper, the archer made a perfect broadside shot.
The 4 by 4, whose rack was still in velvet, green-scored 210 4/8. The rack has a 30-inch spread and each G-2 is just shy of 20 inches long. Its final score was 201 6/8, making the buck the largest typical mule deer taken in 2004 and the third largest Pope and Young typical ever scored. –Jim Ferguson and Doug Howlett