Contributors to this thread:
Jaq's prairie muley hunt - dedication
By now most of you know that my wife took ill and died just as I was leaving for my annual plains muley hunt. Obviously I was so distraught and consumed with the details that hunting was the last thing on my mind. However, after a couple weeks it came to me that she would want me to go out there and do what I love. She was my strongest supporter, and enjoyed my hunts vicariously. And I needed to get out of the house where everything in my life was "Gail, Gail, Gail". I needed the open spaces of the prairie for reflection and to come to terms with what happened, and how to live my life going-forward.
So I got the neighbors to agree to watch my doggies for a few days and left on Thanksgiving afternoon. I'll post this story over a couple days so don't get your panties in a wad if an update isn't immediately forthcoming. I'm home now. I hope you enjoy this - it was good for me to be out there.
I'm glad you got out Lou. I knew it'd help you heal. I'm also glad you're going to take us along :)
On the way out there I thought long and hard about whether I even wanted to shoot a deer and take a life. I know... But I knew Gail would want me to hunt and bring home some meat instead of just hiking and taking photos. So this hunt is dedicated to her, to everything she did to encourage me along the way, sharing in my ups and downs, to helping process the meat, and to positioning my big deer mounts so she would have the best view of them from her spot on the couch. I wanted to do it right for her, for her memory.
I arrived in time to drive around and glass the critters. I spotted some herds of does with no buck, then decided to take a short hike in to check out an old overgrown abandoned farmstead back in next to a bluff, with a stubble field above. It's a place they love to stage in, browse around. I immediately spotted this fairly nice buck with a few does so I took a couple photos and backed out.
Getting away from everyone is necessary to get centered at times. It’s good to know you were able to get away.
On the way out I found this cool shed from what the locals and old-timers call a "plains deer" - a whitetail/muley cross. They often have a bifurcated G2 with the remainder of the points coming off the main beam. This one broke off a couple of the points but still a find.
A friend showed me a photo of a 210+ inch "plains deer" killed during the early rifle season a couple miles from where I am hunting now. The rack looked like a 29" wide whitetail with a couple stickers. Sorta like the Rompola buck, except for sure real.
So I drive more and glassed more before it got too dark. Little fellers were roaming here and there. This is that stage of the rut where the last few does are coming into heat and everybody is on the prowl. Often when I find one buck I find four. I don't particularly like hunting right now because it's "now you see him, now you don't" with the mature bucks, but it's also a good time to decoy and call in the travel routes
Glad you made it out Lou. Even happier you are sharing the story with us. Hopefully there is a buck for Gail.
A couple miles further up I spotted a good-sized herd, which usually means a good buck or two at this stage. I broke out the zoom camera and got a little closer.
Yep, a good one. This bunch is in a very difficult place to hunt but I can slip into a good travel funnel a few hundred yards downstream and hope to catch him roaming to check a small doe bunch further downstream.
Man have I? missed this. One of my all time favorites on bowsite! Hope you found the peace and quiet you where looking for. Hunt
Glad you made it out Lou and appreciate you sharing this hunt with us.
I riding along on this journey. Take your sweet time Lou.
Needless to say, I was pretty stoked to have a buck like that in a section of country I know how to hunt. It's where I killed my 210 net muley buck before. I backed out without alerting anybody and drove around to visit my rancher friend, then headed to camp to enjoy a dinner of smoked barbecued baby back ribs and a couple cold beers before a restless night of sleep trying to figure out every variable in my setup the following morning.
Tomorrow I'll post day two. Stay tuned - this gets interesting!
I forgot to add that the first thing I wanted to do on my way back to camp was to call.... Then I remembered I can't call her to tell her about the big buck, and I had an overwhelming wave of sadness. Each day is getting a little better but this moment hit me hard.
Good to see you around. Thanks for sharing this one.
Beautiful buck Lou. Great to hear you're out there. Good Luck!
Lou, enjoying this. Thanks for bringing us along with you on this recap. I hope you found a little of what you needed out there. We are all in your corner and sending you our well wishes and positive energy.
Lou...no need to call....I'm sure she is there enjoying it first hand.....the fact your first thought was of her proves it as far as I am concerned. She can never leave you in spirit and treasured memories. I hope you are finding some peace and time to reflect.
Awesome thread- you got me hooked- and not just for the hunt.
Lou, here we go - bring it.
Can you please post a pic of your 210"? Thanks, Bob
Thanks for sharing this hunt with us Lou. Your Mule deer threads are always the best.
Bob, he's sort of a Bowsite regular whenever anybody wants to do a "big weenie" contest with mule deer. :) He's one of the biggest entered into P&Y with a longbow. Grossed 218 6/8, net 210 6/8.
Lou, I'm so happy you got out of the house. I feel seriously bad for people who don't/can't turn to the outdoors when they need some time for solitude and reflection in their life. Whether you kill a buck or not, I think this hunt will have a positive outcome for you!
...Thanks for bringing us along again. I really hope you take a nice one!
Lou, love this thread and thinking of ya..
Can't wait to read the rest Lou!
Big weenie contest. LOL!
I'm tuned in.
Great to see this thread. Really great. You've got a lot of people with you, Lou.
Good on you Lou, so glad see you getting out. I will wait in anticipation.
No need to call, Lou. She's there with you this time.
Glad to see this thread. Trip reports from Jaquomo and Paul@thefort in the same week. Awesome!!!
Glad you got out Lou. It's a tough time no matter what you're doing but I hope this helps you find some peace even if only for a few days.
Enjoying the story. Sorry for your loss.
Keep on keepin’ on Lou. Gail is all smiles right now!!
That's awesome, thanks for getting out and sharing your success with us!!!
Good for you Lou... sorry about losing your wife. I'm excited about this thread. Used to look forward to your hunt every year. Ed F
She’s got a front row seat Lou. Glad to see you out there. Good luck!
I agree 100% Lou, Gail is supporting you 100% in your decision for this hunt! Just getting out in Gods creations can soothe & heal the soul! Good luck!
I hope you have the best hunt ever Lou.
Good for body, mind and spirit. I don’t know how the hunt turned out, but I’d say you were successful in the most important aspects, regardless.
Glad to see you got the chance to do this hunt. Gail's looking down and smiling knowing your out doing what you love. Patiently waiting for your next post.
I’m so glad you decided to do this post hunt recap Lou. I know you and I had several conversations about doing it or not.
I’m sure everyone will enjoy it!
Lou, No one will ever replace your Gail, but the next time that you go on a hunt, and you see Mule Deer like that stud, feel free to call me!! Looking forward to this thread and hoping that it helps with the healing, too.
Glad to see you back in the hunt Lou, and I'm anticipating the pics of that stud on the ground. Hang in there !
Excellent! Looking forward to this my friend. So glad you got to get out.
Lou very sorry to hear. Hope the healing has started. Thank you for taking us with
Lou, this thread is always my favorite and I am really looking forward to following along. Again, my deepest condolences on your loss, you are certainly in my prayers and like Kota said, now she has a front row seat. All the best man...
Lou, I've been looking forward to this thread. Been thinking about you and how you were getting along. Looking forward to seeing the outcome. Cant imagine the highs and lows you went through and thank you for keeping it real and sharing it with us.
So glad you are starting to get back out and about Lou.
I cannot even imagine what your last month has been like.
Thanks for sharing Lou
Good luck, Robb
Good for you Lou on getting back out there!! Anxiously awaiting your update. My panties are scrunching up. lol
Lou bad things generally happen when Ned's panties get wadded up. Glad to see you are back at it. I am sure that Gail is with you at every step. So are we...
I hope that you find the clarity that you're looking for Lou. You are such a great writer that it feels like you've brought us all along on your hunts.
Good to read that you are able to get out and keep going even after such a terrible loss. As far as calling I remember picking up the phone to call my dad a couple months after he had passed although maybe not the same as your loss it sure hit me hard and it was the first time it really hit that he was gone.
Lou, I am so sorry for your loss, prayers sent. I hope this hunt brought you some peace.
Great to see you back out there. I am sure that Gail is smiling down on you now.
Can't wait to see the next installment!
I can't really say anything that hasn't been said above, all the comments above reflect the way I feel.
Continued prayers and support! God Bless,
A special hunt for sure brother. Looking forward to hearing it in person over a beer next week
Glad you are able to connect with a little solace. You've got a lot of support. Thanks for taking the time and sharing, even though it is certainly tough to do.
...this is some good stuff. I'm glad you got out to hunt; it's good for the soul.
Lou, this thread and the others you've done like it are my favorite threads on Bowsite by a long shot. I simply love to hunt mule deer more than any other critter and you have inspired me over the years to become a better and more dedicated mule deer hunter through these posts. Thank you so much for sharing your hunt with us again this year. I hope you are able to find a little bit of peace out on the plains along with your mule deer buck. God bless!
Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!! As others have said I am sure Gail was and is right there with you!!
Man this makes my day Lou! I'm sure this trip will be good for the soul during this difficult time.
Lou - Glad to see you out and doing what you love to do - hunt and tell the story as only you can. Looking forward to the rest of your recap.
Great thread time heals most things can't imagine if something happened to my wife good luck Lewis
The mystical healing powers of the great outdoors at work here.... God bless and good luck!
You're off to a great start, Lou. Good to see ya out there getting after them!
Best of Luck, Jeff
Keep it coming Lou.
Glad to know you are in circulation. Circulation is always necessary for a healing process to occur.
Guys, thanks for so much support. I know your collective vibes were surrounding me like a "Karma Ozonics" unit. :)
FRIDAY - November 24 I hiked behind a ridge to a saddle where I could drop into my planned travel funnel, waited until I could see, put on the doe hat, and slipped down to a big fallen cottonwood tree on the edge of a dry creek bottom. (All the creekbottoms are dry out here this time of year).
I figured my target buck and his does were up feeding in the yucca hills so I began rearranging some logs to make a little fort where I would be in the shadows but still able to shoot in both directions.
With my head on a swivel and continually glassing into the hills through the doghair cottonwood saplings, I made progress on the fort, when I spotted this guy coming to the movement with the doe hat. He was making a beeline for me.
He came in to 25 yards and circled curiously while I kept working. He finally trotted off. Then another little guy was coming from the opposite direction. The doe hat is golden sometimes.
I was nearly done and in a hurry since the deer were already obviously trickling out of the hills. A third buck came to me, this time passing by at 4 yards. He was so close at one point that I heard him burp. He did what they often do, came close and J-hooked without making eye contact. Muleys don't march in to decoys like whitetails. They seem shy, and instead just "show" themselves to the doe. I hadn't even had a chance to put out my Montana does yet and already had three bucks on top of me.
Awesome stuff, enjoying it!!! Keep the story coming
Nothing more happened for an hour, when I spotted the bigger herd filtering out of the hills and through the tight saplings a few hundred yards upstream. They like to stage in the little flat where I took the photo of the big buck. I waited until everyone got onto the flat and decided to try a stalk behind a Heads Up muley buck decoy. I'd watched him push a couple smaller bucks the night before and figured he would be a good candidate.
I was making good progress when suddenly the whole bunch ran up into the yucca hills where they typically bed, except this time they were running like their asses were on fire. I didn't think it was me, I had the wind right and was staying below the lip. I rose up to get a better view and spotted a human walking down the two track. It was my rancher friend's 74 year old girlfriend out for a morning walk through the river bottom. Arrrrrgh!!!
Figuring my morning hunt was over, I went over to intercept her and say hello. She's very nice and didn't know I would be hunting that area so I couldn't blame her for screwing it up. Should've told them where I would be hunting the night before.
She was very apologetic for walking where I was hunting, and told me she'd just seen a big herd of "antelope" run up into the hills and out of sight. Yep, she sure did.
So that was my morning hunt. I spent the rest of the morning fine-tuning the log blind, went back to camp, took a nap, and mulled over where I should hunt in the evening since those deer were spooked out of their routine and that's more of a morning ambush spot anyway.
Great story Lou with lots of positive action, that would help keep me jazzed eagerly awaiting my next round with them! Good stuff!
Hey ,hang in there buddy. I've never read one of your posts but I'm pretty stuck on this one. The post about calling her after the day really hit home ... I do the same thing . God bless take care and praying for you man!!
Despite the spooking incident I elected to go back to the log blind. Often they will filter back after a massive spooking incident. However, after sitting for an hour it just didn't feel right. I didn't glass any deer up and feeding anywhere except a couple does way downstream. I know if I'd have discussed this with Gail she would say something like, "You know best, but maybe you should go back where you saw that nice buck last night." She's pretty pragmatic like that.
So I pulled my Montana decoys and hiked out, drove a few miles to the other spot.
On the way in I passed by this really interesting buck. He will never be more than a big 2x4 and would be good to get out of the gene pool. He wasn't in a good spot to hunt then, but next time...
Thanks for sharing another hunt with us Lou. No matter how this one turns out it feels extra special. God bless and stay strong.
Leaving him behind I continued on toward the old abandoned farm. I wore the doe hat, a gray balaclava, and a "deer-colored" sweatshirt and used some terrain dips and tall grass to get as close as possible to glass before sneaking in for an ambush
Look at the body size on that guy!! That's a heck of a buck.....he's a 2x4 alright, a real stud (sorry, couldn't resist).
I watched for awhile and spotted a group of does feeding inside a corral made of old bridge timbers. A smallish 4x buck wasn't smart enough to figure out how to get in the open gate, and kept trying to find a way in through the timbers. he would attempt to stick his head through but it wouldn't fit. Then he measured it for a jump but couldn't get up the gumption. He tried circling it but never did find the gate. It was like watching a teenaged boy trying to sneak into a bar.
No sign of the decent buck from last night. A few minutes later some more does filtered out of the thicket and behind them was a real buck. Serious big boy I'd be thrilled with. I decided right then that I would bet my chips on that old farm and wait him out. Sooner or later I expected him to follow some does back in there in the morning or evening.
The rut is really tapering off but this spot is a place where bucks regularly visit, just in case. I've never killed one there but have passed up smaller bucks almost every time I hunt there.
"It was like watching a teenaged boy trying to sneak into a bar."
Just before sundown they headed up into a big draw and filtered over the lip into a big stubble field. When it was safe to move I slipped over and checked out my "blind", which is the old farm house. This place was abandoned in July of 1965 when a massive flood hit all of the northern Front Range of Colorado. Denver was underwater. In my town of Fort Collins a bunch of us paddled down the flowing streets on benches from the baseball fields near my house. The struggling family decided to pack up and move.
Lou... I just gotta know. Were you still wearing the doe hat when you spoke with the rancher's girlfriend????
My view out the door
My view out the door
The view out the side window
The view out the side window
The insulation has fallen out of the rotted ceiling and onto the floor so I have to walk gingerly to keep from kicking up deadly dust. I call it the "Asbestos Lodge". It's truly a Mesothelioma affliction waiting to happen. But big deer come there...
The inside has a bunch of old tractor tires stacked against the wall to break up my outline. I wear the same black coat and balaclava as with my Double Bull - but in this case it's the new Mossy Oak "Tractor Tire" pattern. :)
A few years ago I removed one of the boards from the side window at my eye level so I can see a little to the south and out the door to the west. I can't see to the north but have a big enough shooting gap out the front door that if something comes by I will have enough time. They usually stop to browse on the remnants of the green lawn that still exist among the weeds.
Ghostbird, I had it on my pack but they know all about it and think it's great. They think everything I do out there is sort of curious anyway. The whole bowhunting thing really intrigues them since most everybody else out there drives around and shoots rifles at stuff running away. The fact that I can kill big deer with a bow seems like some sort of mystical accomplishment to them.
I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for posting this, for a lot of reasons.
Day one was a good day. Passed up a couple shots, saw a couple shooters. Throughout the day I would reflect on Gail at times, but mostly it was peaceful reflection, not deep sadness.
Back at camp I had my two cold beers and a delicious Marie Callender's Sweet and Sour Chicken dinner, with cherry pie for dessert. It was a satisfying day despite my heavy heart.
It was good to be out on the great prairie, where the endless open terrain helped dilute the heartbreak and soothe the churning in my gut. I didn't eat solid food for the first week after her passing. Now I feel like eating most of the time. That's good progress.
What a classic abandoned prairie farmhouse!
Awesome set up you have there, Lou!
Those old farm houses and barns are amazing "natural" blinds! Have set up in old farm houses and barns several times in Kansas over the years. Seems like the deer really like those places for some reason. Get a little cautious of the Hanta virus in those places and have had some close calls with old rotten floors over basements, though.
People who don't understand prairie deer hunting are amazed that I seem to see a lot of deer, like I'm hunting in a zoo or something. In reality it's very difficult hunting. Some years there are a few good bucks, other years not so much. I drive many miles to places where I can see huge vistas and glass with Styrka 10x42s and Nikon EDII spotting scope. In nearly 30 years of hunting this area I've figured out where I can work my way in close, and where it's best to stay back and not bother them. Some days I drive 50 miles or more on county roads doing nothing but glassing.
On this trip I was pressed for time, so I concentrated on three smaller chunks within about a five mile section where one dry creek threads down the middle. I know how to hunt this area the best. There are yucca hills and bluffs on each side where the deer hang out, and in the mornings and evenings they sometimes go up into a couple big stubble fields. But usually there's no real "pattern" to their travels. Instead, they will use a certain saddle if they are in an area, maybe pass by some old rusting machinery, or in the case now, drift through this old farmstead. These are the ambush spots I've figured out through years of trial and (mostly) error, where I can call and decoy when conditions are right.
Sometimes it works, and the plan comes together.
Tavis, the one thing missing is the toilet. Somebody removed that decades ago. There are times when it would be really handy, although there's no way to flush. Instead I relieve myself down through some missing floor boards and the family of raccoons living under the house seems happy to receive the blessings delivered from above.
Jaq, better be careful those coons don’t decide to kill the goose that lays the “golden eggs”!!
You must know what you’re doing to have that many encounters. And it’s good you’re doing it still.
Lou, Glad to see and read your post. Get your hunt done and come down to Phoenix and chase some desert mulies and some cous when you're done. You're welcomed at the house, and I'll let you sleep in the guest bedroom, not in the garage with the dogs!! F&G have been extremely helpful pointing out areas and I'm seeing some good bucks, plus I was showed trail cam pics of a huge cous and told I could hunt him cause the guy can't hunt till January!! I'll be waiting for you...
"big weenie" contest....... LOL! Here I thought you'd just slap the xrays up on the counter......
This is already great medicine. Out doing what you live for, by yourself, getting life centered again. Did something similar when my folks passed away. Left the Grief Zone in the middle of everything and went to the mountains hunting. Some of the family was aghast. They were/are clueless. Caught myself saying the same words I must have said a thousand times as I headed out that same old door "I'm going hunting, see ya when I get back...." It was just what I needed. Were a lot of open jaws in the house that morning though....
Good for you, going on the hunt, getting away. Getting focused. And thanks much for deciding to share it here with us.
Now hopefully we get to see a dead deer soon....... =D
Jaq, comment on people and prairie deer is well stated. I was amazed when I hunted Alberta at the time spent driving co cover enough country to find shooter type bucks. This is my first year following threads. Very nice!
Glad you are out and about.
Thanks for sharing your hunt, the picture's and your heart felt therapy.
Lou, sorry to hear about your loss... stay strong as you are doing as you have people hear supporting you. And thanks for this thread as we all enjoy it emensely. Take care!
Lou I am laid up for possibly 2 months with a messed up shoulder, just operated on yesterday, and my problem will heal sooner than yours. As a older guy who has lost family and friends you are doing things right, out of the house, staying in touch with your friends (us), and doing what you love. Keep it up and time will heal us both. Good luck and prayers to you.
TD, don't make me post the infamous x-ray again. I suspect I was on the hairy edge of getting "TBM'ed" from the Bowsite over that deal......
Good to hear you getting out there Lou.
Sorry for you loss Lou, I had no idea. Always enjoy your threads and articles.
Glad you got out and about doing what you love
Glad you are out hunting! Enjoying the story as well!
I came across a nice quote the other day, Lou "This is where we are supposed to be. Surrounded by open space and perpetual silence. We are pursuing more than wild game in the field...." I lost my mother in 2007, still think of her everyday and smile. Keep on Keepin' On.
Hoping to see a farmhouse buck on the ground shortly !
So sorry for your loss Lou. As many others have said I always look forward to this thread. Keeping glued to my phone and computer for the balance of the story. Thanks for sharing with us again this year!
Lou, if your current house blind weathers and collapses, we can move this one in to take its place. Just let me know in advance so I can make arrangement with a mover.
"The fact that I can kill big deer with a bow seems like some sort of mystical accomplishment to them."
It just may be......... ;)
So glad your doing this thread again this year Lou! It’s already awesome! Can’t wait for the rest of it!
Paul, not sure that one is in any better shape! Looks like it’s in a great location for mule deer though! Or getting blown off to Oz in the next twister....
OMG.....against my better judgment.....googled Jaquomo and x-ray..........
Don't....just don't........I can't unsee it...........fork me...
Like others, I'm very glad you made it out. And you really do a fantastic job with these recaps. Since you've been getting bits and pieces of my mule deer hunt, these words really hit home. "The fact that I can kill big deer with a bow seems like some sort of mystical accomplishment to them." I haven't been so humbled in a LONG time. Chasing mulies on the plains with a bow and arrow has got to be about the most challenging hunts out there.
SATURDAY - November 25
I got up way early and hiked into the Mesothelioma Motel in the dark. There I sat, waiting. After it got light I read some from a Jim Harrison book, "Julip", one of the couple I haven't read yet. I discovered that even though the old house is pretty leak, it stays cold in there. Glad I dressed warmly.
Nothing showed up until around 9 a.m., which is not unusual since they feed way out in the wide open. This little guy came in and messed around for awhile, could've shot him a hundred times. Figures.
Loving the story Lou. Thinking of you here in Missouri. It took me a while to get back out after my loss. And it was hard too.
That was it for the morning. Pretty uneventful. didn't even glass a good buck, only a few does out in the tall grass. I found a couple decent bucks bedded out in the weeds and would've like to try a stalk with the Heads Up, but the wind was ripping so bad no decoy would work, and I wouldn't feel comfortable shooting.
Back for the evening, but nothing came near the farmhouse. I watched a very good buck I'd never seen before following a doe past those old corrals.
This is boring. Sometimes deer hunting is like that. I share the good with the bad. Stay with me - it gets way better and I'll finish up the thread tonight.
Good to see you out and getting after them. So sorry for your loss. I once had to come to an agreement with a pack rat in an old abandoned shack in Kansas that was in a great turkey spot. We worked out a schedule and I killed a jake.
SUNDAY - November 26th
Back in the Asbestos Lodge in the dark. Only does this morning. I started thinking this must be what it's like on those CT live hunts, except I know there are some whopper bucks around here. I did see two squirrels and heard the raccoons rummaging around below me.
I have one of the pop up blinds and it's been years since I set it up. I know what you mean by boring and if I can see something I just can't stay put. Better luck with the wind.
One positive in all this is that the house smells like Fuller's Bakery from the Nose Jammer I've been spraying around the door jamb. Sitting in there reading, relaxing, and smelling the fresh-baked raisin cinnamon rolls was sure a heck of a lot better than running a 90 pound jackhammer in an alley in 90 degree heat, which is one of the jobs I've had in a previous life.
On the way out I found a few of the neighborhood bucks in a field a mile and a half away. Must be a doe close to estrus in there since they were all posturing and strutting around.
Back to camp for the two cold beers and a dinner of Muley Fettucini Alfredo, fresh blueberries in yogurt, and more cherry pie. I had a nice evening visiting with the guy who lets me camp on his land, and he offered me a shot of Johnny Walker Red, which of course I accepted. A couple times. :)
My head and heart are doing better. Being out here is definitely cleansing. I still have the waves but they are becoming less frequent. But I am starting to second-guess my decision to gamble on this farmhouse. I vowed to give it one more day.
SUNDAY - November 26
More sitting the dark breathing lung-killing dust, smelling the cinnamon rolls, reading, squinting out into the grass for a glimpse of a deer. Nothing this morning but three does passing the old corrals, and a little three point wandering around in the tall grass.
I decided to give it the evening and make my decision then. I sat there until sunset, then beyond, and legal shooting light was drawing to a close. Then out of my peripheral vision I caught a glimpse of a buck passing through the side window, and all I could tell in that quick look was that his antlers were wider than his ears. At that point, it was good enough.
I clipped the release on the string and got ready to shoot. Now, I am muley hunting. There aren't any whitetails out here. I see one occasionally every five years or so, usually a small buck or a couple does. But between the CPW's whitetail eradication efforts and the local ranchers' eager participation in the same, whitetails have nearly been eradicated from this area.
So into the open doorway shooting window strolls a whitetail buck. He stops broadside, starts licking a branch, and pawing the ground. My closest pin for the plains is 25 yards and I had ranged this tree at about 18, so I settled it low in the crease and let 'er fly.
AND I MISSED! I FREAKING MISSED, just nicking his brisket at the edge of the front leg. I'm sure I dropped my bow arm. I'm still not real whippy with this compound thingy anyway. AAARRRRRGGGHHH!
But wait! He stopped at 25 yards and looked back at me. I had to stand up to lean over for a second shot out the edge of the door. He was quartering away slightly but bent around halfway, looking at me, so I settled the pin and torched the arrow off. It was very last legal shooting light and he was standing in the shadow, but I heard the "whump" and saw a hole appear at the crease in the millisecond before he shot out of there like a North Korean missile and blasted across the tall grass, heading south as fast as a whitetail buck can run. He wasn't flagging and he didn't hump up so I presumed I'd hit him well.
AT 175 yards he ran past the edge of a small clump of trees and disappeared. There is a slight dip there so I watched through the binocs for as long as I could see, but didn't see him again. I expected him to be lying dead there beside the tree clump.
A half hour later I decided to look for blood or a dead buck by the clump. No deer, not a drop of blood anywhere. I went back to the scene of the crime and looked all over for an arrow. Nada. Feeling that sickness we've all felt, I slipped out, back to the truck, and back to camp to endure the night.
MONDAY, November 27th.
Back at the clump of trees at first light. Not a speck of blood anywhere. I backtracked, forward tracked, looked again for the arrow in the daylight, looked for blood in the first 50 yards. I was beginning to believe I'd missed him totally. Maybe the "whump" was my arrow hitting a tree behind him. But I knew in my heart he was hit somewhere.
I started searching for a dead deer in the direction he ran. For two hours I looked behind every log pile, in depressions, across the creek bottom and up in the hills. No sign, no blood. That sinking feeling hit me. I decided to go back to the scene again and look for the arrow to give me a clue.
Sixty yards from the house, coming in from the opposite direction from where he ran, I smelled a dead deer. I looked over and saw a big antler sticking up and immediately thought, "Somebody on a nearby property must have shot a buck". But there are no other bowhunters anywhere in the region. My heart jumped when I approached. I didn't have my camera with me and forgot the obligatory "dead deer in the grass" shot. Sorry about that.
Further investigation indicated that he must have run in a huge circle before running out of gas. As near as I can tell, the arrow hit him right where I aimed, but either I misjudged his angle or he shifted at the shot (likely, since he was looking at me) because the arrow traversed his body lengthwise, taking out one lung and the liver before exiting in front of the ham.
There was no blood because the hide closed over the entrance hole and gut plugged the exit hole. I never found the arrow, but strangely, the red weedeater string I use to weight my arrows was lying under him in his death bed.
Well, you have me on the edge of my seat! (grin)
I was afflicted with a case of "Mulis Interruptis" but with only a few days to hunt and a phantom whitetail of this caliber, I wasn't about to pass him up. I haven't killed a whitetail out here for 17 years. He's my second biggest whitetail, with an outside spread of 22 1/2", good length and mass, long beams, and would be a '10 pointer" if not for breaking off the one G4. Really a great buck and I'm thrilled.
I hope nobody is disappointed that this hunt didn't end with a big muley. Pretend it's a CT live hunt, except with a big dead deer at the end!
But here is how weird this is - Gail loved my big whitetail mounts, and they were the only stuffed animals she named. She had a couple small whitetail sheds on her desk for paper weights. How strange is this that a big old whitetail buck shows up in a spot where there aren't supposed to be any whitetails, stands there to let me atone for my boneheaded miss, then for some reason, I was "led" back to the farmhouse by a different route than I'd originally planned to take.
I don't know, but I'll take it. This one's for Gail, my bride, my love. It's "her" whitetail.
Yup, shooter! Had a doe do that same thing to me in Nebraska one year! No blood, no arrow just dead. Congrats brotha!
Awesome story. Way to go! Great buck! Sounds like Gail had a big part in how this played out! Pretty wild story
Wow! Totally did not expect a whitetail out of this hunt! Great buck, Lou! Way cool! Congratulations!
Wonderful! Congratulations on an outcome we all expected but with a twist. It sounds to me like your sweetheart would have loved that twist. In fact I'm sure she does. Congrats Lou.
“...... Pretend it's a CT live hunt, except with a big dead deer at the end!“....
Thanks for taking the time to do the recap Lou. I’m sure you’re busy with everything else after a successful hunt.
Let’s get that beer this weekend
Fantastic story. Thank you very much for sharing.
Great story ... Gail's smiling down on that guy for sure. Chin up, and God bless
Great job Lou and Gails whitetail is a beauty! Congrats buddy!
That's a great deer. I'm really happy for you.
Absolutely awesome! GREAT looking buck for sure! Hell ya Gail would be proud! A bit big for paper weights though! (grin) Congrats on a great story & whitetail!
One beautiful story and so well told. I know your Gail would be proud of you. Congrats Lou !!
Keep the faith- wounds heal with time, even though they sometimes leave scars as reminders of the past.
Congrats man. He is a great deer. God Bless bro
Great thread, Lou! Congrats and condolences on your journey. I’ll bet Gail is smiling.
Congrats this and paul at the forts goose hunt is the 2 hunts Ilook forward to all year thanks for sharing once again
Congrats Lou ! A great story and a fitting end to it. Thanks for taking us along for the ride......
Great, great stuff. What a special ending to a wonderful story.
Congrats Lou. You did well.
" How strange is this that a big old whitetail buck shows up in a spot where there aren't supposed to be any whitetails, stands there to let me atone for my boneheaded miss, then for some reason, I was "led" back to the farmhouse by a different route than I'd originally planned to take. "
Serendipity, karma, divine intervention?
Anyone looking at that mount can ponder the question. My bet is against coincidence.
Great buck. Great recap.
Hugs from the kids.
Congrats on a great buck!
Congratulations Sir! Glad you got to find some peace and enjoyment in such a difficult time. Great buck for sure!
Other than the repeated CT bashing it was a good story. Come on out and we'll show you a real CT Live Hunt, boot pic optional!
Congrats on a fine buck, and a whitetail at that. Great story Lou, and of course Gail let you know that she was with you every step of the way. Keep on keeping on, and remember that you have brothers all over the place who would gladly share a camp, and a beer with you should you get an urge to travel a bit.
Thanks, guys. Like I said before, there was a WHOLE lotta positive energy pushing me along out there. I just felt I would end up with a good buck. Then it happened. Thanks to all of you who have supported me during this difficult journey.
Here's the obligatory prairie sunset photo, taken after the shot while waiting to start the tracking. I could apply all sorts of metaphors to this gorgeous ending to the day, but it can stand alone. The beauty says enough.
Congrats on a great buck and thanks for taking the time to post your story.
Congrats Lou! She is definitely still with you and watching over you everyday. That whitetail is proof.
Man, how awesome is that?!! Great hunt Lou!
What a story and what a great whitetail!! Congrats Lou..always love your threads:)
Wow, great whitetail, Lou! One for the books. I'm sure he'll occupy a great spot in your cabin.
good one. Good story. Well done.
Wow! What a great twist, totally unexpected.
Helluva buck, and a great story! Well done, Sir!
Best Wishes, Jeff
Great story Lou. Grats on your buck and thanks for taking the time to post it.
I'm certain there is a message in there from the good Lord, angels, or gail herself for you Lou.
As I mentioned my brother was killed in a super cub crash on Nov 3rd. I got my message when this guy showed up on my back deck in broad daylight. He hung around for the longest time, watching me watch him. I figure he found a new way to fly, hunt and that all is well, and right. It helped bring some comfort.
Congrats on a great buck, I feel your grief, hope you find some comfort in the message.
that's a very nice whitetail buck - congrats
what bow was you using? arrows, broadheads? Interesting you wrap them to add weight ..... I've used tubes in carbons, added front and rear weight as well ... never thread wrapped.
I remember seeing some gorgeous woods thread wrapped them sealed with lacquer once upon a time - you did yours like that ??
Congratulations on a great buck and phenomenal story Lou! Thanks for sharing your hunt and your healing with us.
That’s a great buck for a great guy. Glad you able to clear your mind and have some peace. Gail’s buck is a dam fine one . Hunt
Great buck, Lou and it was also great to meet up with you today. Hope you can come south in January although I know you have a tough schedule going forward. Best, David
Wild! Excellent story Lou, loved every word of it. So happy you got to cap off a great hunt with such an incredible buck, one you certainly didn't expect to even see and one you can attribute to Gail. Congrats and all the best.
Enjoyed every minute of this hunt, stay strong Lou and congrats on a great buck!
There just aren’t enough Mulie threads posted so thanks! Getting a great whitie is way cool. Thanks for posting. C
Thanks for sharing this special hunt. Congratulations on taking a great buck. I hope your healing continues.
I have a question on the hat. Do you ever use it earlier in the season? Before the horniness commences?
Excellent write up Lou,,,congrats on the Nice whitetail!!!
What a beautiful story with a good ending. Well done.
Great story, great hunt and great buck for Gail Lou. First thing I did this morning was look for this thread. Very happy for you!
Congrats on a fine deer and story. Sorry for your loss .
Good looking Buck!
Good luck, Robb
Thanks for sharing, great story.
Congrats!! Great story!! Thanks for sharing and glad that it helped to heal if even just a lil bit.
Great story and whitetail, Lou! Congrats!
Congrats on a great deer. Excellent story. Sorry for your loss.
A fitting ending in so many ways to your special hunt Lou. Glad it turned out like it did!
What a great hunt! I'm so glad you went and shared it with us. He is a great buck. They are all gifts from above but this one even more so. Well deserved. Take care brother!
Great buck Lou! Congrats!
So glad this hunt went well for you Lou. Congrats on a great whitetail!
Congratulations Lou... thanks for sharing the story, very emotional for sure. Great buck!
This was one for the ages! Congrats on a great buck and thanks so much for sharing the adventure with us.
Congratulations on a great buck Lou! Very well deserved. I'm quite certain you found more than you were hunting for out there, God bless! Thank you for sharing it with us!
Glad you were able to harvest on this trip as that mount will serve a great memory for you in the years to come. Well done and continued prayers for peace and healing. Thanks for sharing with us.
Congrats Lou on a great hunt and again, I am sorry for your loss.
Thanks so much for letting us follow your hunt. Congratulations on a great buck!
I can’t imagine the pain experienced from your loss. Sounds like Gail was with you during this hunt which finished with a perfect ending. Good luck as you continue to heal from your loss.
Thanks for sharing another great story and sorry for your loss. When my dad died last year I remember the priest, who was a good friend and fishing party of his, talking about many things but he provided advice at the funeral that really helped.
He said, “Even though Duke is no longer with us our relationship with him doesn’t have to end.”
Seems to me you’re following that excellent advice....
Congrats Lou!!! Sorry for your loss and I'm glad you were able to find some peace on your trip.
Your hunts and story telling are what make Bowsite a great place. We are thinking of you in this time of great sorrow. We never know how long we will be on the earth. Savor every moment the good Lord gives us. Thanks again for sharing Lou.
Thanks Lou, for taking us along on your adventure. Glad you decided to take some time for yourself.
Lou, I can't come up with anything different than what's been said. Truly happy that you were able to get out and find some peace and hopefully a little closure.
An excellent and fitting ending. One with far more meaning than if you’d just killed a very good muley like always.
That buck will alway hold special meaning and memories. A good start to the new journey that this fork in the road has brought you to. Godspeed.
Congrats on a great buck and a great story!
Wow......what an awesome buck and special story Lou!!! So happy and sad for you all at the same time! Thank you for sharing this and CONGRATS on that buck!!!
Congrats Jaq, great story from start to finish.
So many words but none do this story justice. Perfect my friend.
Lou, an awesome journey you took honoring Gail! She's smiling at you and your dedication hunt!
Thank you for taking us along!
Lou Thank you Sir for bringing us along on such a private affair. Gail's whitetail love it.
You have got to give that a buck a name.....
Nicely done Lou...thanks for bringing us along!
X2 on the name Jake.
Well done, thanks for bringing us along! Favorite thread in a long time.
Congrats Lou! Trophy of a lifetime there for a number of reasons.
I agree on the name. He was a battler and his right ear was shredded from a nasty recent fight. Still had some bloody scabs in the deep gashes. So I may name him "Evander", even though his ear wasn't bitten off.
Beautiful buck and story, congrats!
Lou, you know I am a tough guy right? But I do believe I have a few tears in my eyes after reading of your success. my best, and your friend. Paul
Congrats Lou! Good hunt and a great ending.
Great buck, congratulations!
Congrats Lou! Great buck and great story! Thanks for taking us along!
Great story & buck. Thanks for bringing us along with you. Congrats:-)
What a PERFECT ending to what will be one of the most memorable hunts of your life. Congrats Lou! No one deserves it more! Definitely Gail’s buck!
Terrific in every way. Thanks for sharing everything with us Lou.
"The fact that I can kill big deer with a bow seems like some sort of mystical accomplishment to them. "
Now that you've pulled a big ol' whitetail out of your...... hat.... they must think you're a Wizard now.... =D
Congrats on the buck! Sure puts a new twist into your hunt. Thanks again for sharing.
Quite the surprise ending! Congratulations on the buck and on finding some inner peace.
You are healing Lou, sorry for your loss,God bless you......even if you did ruin a good mulie hunt with a whitetail. :)
“When Lou is hunting Muleys and sees a Whitetail, it turns into a Whitetail hunt “. :)
Someone needs to dig up some of Lou’s previous hunt threads, I tried and failed
Another great story Lou. Thanks for taking us along. FM
Thanks for the story and my best wishes for you on your new journey.
That is a tremendous buck Lou. Great job, and I know what it means to get back in the woods after a loss. I am happy for you. You will continue to be in my prayers.
Grubby, it seems all but one of my live muley hunts have disappeared.. :( I tried the search function using the exact names but no luck. My favorite was "Jaquomo's Plains Muley Rut Hunt - Live" from 2012. It, too was a dedication to Gail's encouragement during a difficult and frustrating hunt.
Today is not a good day for me. I'm processing the meat from Evander and she would be right beside me trimming and vacuum sealing. And so it goes.
Not sure what happened to it, but it bums me out that it's gone..
I found this one - see link
That's the only one coming up in the Bowsite search. On the Google search I found the one I like best, but many of the photos aren't showing up, especially some of the best ones..
Great story Lou! Congrats on a dandy buck. She's smiling down on you everyday bud.
Great job on the name.
Would love to go through some of your previous mule deer hunts out in the prairie as well. May need to see if Pat has them hidden out somewhere...
Life is a true adventure, well done Lou !
Lou, PM sent. I am not sure that all of your hunts are gone. It is just a less effective search function that doesn't always retrieve the threads, even when key words that SHOULD locate it, don't. I just started a thread the other day discussing this.....("Regarding the search function") in hopes that we can figure out a way for Pat to justify the time/expense of re-instituting the "old" search function.
Great hunt. Glad you got to have a few days bow hunting.
AMAZING story Lou!! I am sure Gail was with you all the way!
So very well done lou. You are an inspiration to many in many ways.
Congrats, thanks for taking us along.
Great story, glad you decided to go and to share the story with us.
Oh my, that sunset sure as heck beats a pic of someones boots hanging off a tree stand.
That was courageous and a befitting end to the beginning of the next chapter in your life. (and I mean that in the most respectful way!!!)
A soulmate NEVER leaves her (his) heart connections.
God speed to you Lou
Simply congrats great Buck Thanks for letting me tag along Lewis
Congrats Lou! Awesome buck that will be one of the most important to you. Well done!
Awesome thread......well done...
The task, the buck and the man are credits to her memory.
Great story, she was definitely with you on that hunt. Very sorry for your loss.
A tale well told, I loved each post. Sorry for your loss.
As you said Lou, “ The beauty stands alone and says enough”.
Well done Sir.
Great write up. Always enjoy your posts. Been married 36 years. Part about better call her at dark really stuck with me.
Great story and hunt! By the way thats a nice little buck you shot there ! ;)
Thanks Lou. I'm so sorry to hear about Gail's passing and I hope that this experience helps with your closure.
Funny how things work out Jaq. Congrats on a great buck and a great story.
Thanks for taking us along on your journey, as you have done for so many years. This journey was much deeper than just the hunt for me. Congratulations on a great hunt but more than that, sharing it and your feeling with us in this painful time of your life. The trophy to me was your smile as you posed with a great buck. Thanks again Lou, prayers always to you and your family!!!
Somehow I missed this thread until today. I was so excited to see you putting one together once again. Your writing truly brings us with you and as you can tell we all adopt your mood. Wish you all the best this coming year. Congrats on a wonderful buck, I'm sure Gail is proud of you just as she always was.
Thanks, guys. Sharing this hunt with my Bowsite friends was cathartic. When I wrote it up it was through intermittent tears. Just like when I was out there on the prairie. I didn't share all the mini-breakdowns I had out there, and there were plenty. But it was good to help with the process. Every day was a little better until her obit came out in the paper yesterday. That was a bad day. I just have to move on, and have a couple of friends who recently lost their spouses unexpectedly and too soon, who are helping me deal with all this.
She was with me out there. It's hard to describe but I felt it all along the way. Still feel it now, here in the house. It is a vey strange sensation, maybe because we were so close.
As for the "smile", not sure where that brown tooth came from as I don't have a brown tooth. I look like a homeless guy, or at least somebody from Alabama..
Finally got the time to read through this in its entirety like I wanted. Great buck Lou! Very sorry for your loss. It was a pleasure to meet you and Gail at the KBA convention in February. I’m almost certain these threads are how I found Bowsite quite a few years back. They certainly helped spark my plains addiction, and there’s not a year that goes by I don’t try to pull up one or two in anticipation of the upcoming fall. Thanks for sharing.
Lou, thanks for sharing your story. I always look forward to reading about your muley adventures, but this time it was with a heavy heart. My deepest condolences.
Hey Lou, Great story!! Thanks for sharing.
Lou, amazing hunt and story...Awesome Buck!
Just saw this thread.....thinking about you friend....... thanks for the taking us with you
Lou, I learned something at one of the lectures at Wild Sheep Foundation a few weeks ago that I wanted to share with you. First off, Dan Adler from Best of the West is a great lecturer. If he is ever speaking at an event anyone is attending, go--you will learn something.
During his Coues lecture, he spoke about Coues crossbreeding with Mule Deer. As you've referenced on the Eastern Plains, the old timers called them "plains deer." The way people often try to determine is by looking at their antlers or tail. However, biologists have determined that the tarsal gland on a hybrid is 4" lower than it would be on a Mule or Whitetail Deer. Pretty interesting.
Lou you are a great story teller. Thanks for the read and congratulations on a fine buck!
Great info on the hybrid characteristics!
Thanks, bow assassin. Glad you enjoyed it. For those for whom it matters, "Gail's buck" officially grossed over 150 and netted 146. Respectable, considering how infrequently they occur there, and instead of cultivating trophy antlers and feeding them supplements they are officially under siege.
A trophy whitetail from eastern Colorado or western Kansas where the farmers and ranchers consider them vermin and shoot on sight is definitely worthy! Great buck, Lou!
I appreciate the opportunity to read the stories of your hunts. Treasure the tears and appreciate the memories.
So cool. Congrats Lou and sorry for your loss. That story was awesome!!