1968 and my first time to Colorado to hunt Mule Deer. I was to hunt with
my father - in - law, Bill, and two of his neighbors. Being the only "
FLATLANDER" in the hunting party, they said they would take it easy on
me. We headed out from our home base in Salida Colorado to Bill's cabin
in the mountains outside of Ohio City, Colorado. At about 7000 feet my
flatlander lungs had to work twice as hard to keep me going in the rarefied,
it felt like, air, compared to sea level in my home town of Houston, Texas.
We had an old W.W.II Willy's jeep to use, so off we went. The cabin was
great with water and a great looking antique wood burning stove used for
both cooking and heat. But you haven't lived till you have to go to the
outhouse at 5 a.m. and sixteen degrees outside. The cabin was situated
about fifty yards up the slope on the side of a mountain overlooking a
narrow dirt road lined with gold and silver mines mostly abandoned, but
a couple working a few months of the year. But the best thing about it
was the view off the front porch. A steep slope covered in thick evergreens
and quaking aspens running down to a creek that was broad and shallow
and full of swiftly rushing crystal clear water, teeming with small rainbow
and native cutthroat trout. They weren't very sophisticated and you could
take one with almost every cast.
We spent two or three days climbing steep slopes and checking out sagebrush
and aspen choked canyons and ravines. We saw quite a few deer, but no
shooters. Finally Bill thought about a friend whose gate key gave access
to a whole mountain of private land surrounded by public land. We jeeped
to the top of the mountain and dropped off a hunter on ridges on either
side of a narrow valley. Bill's neighbor and I drove to the lower end
of the valley to try and ambush anything the two drivers might push past
us. As we waited, with our guns laying on the hood of the jeep, I had
a sudden hunter's instinct hit me right between my shoulders. I grabbed
my Remington Model 700, 30/06 loaded with Remington 180 grain soft point
ammo, and a Weaver 3 - 9 scope on it , whirled around and the biggest
Muley buck you could believe was sneaking past behind us. I locked the
crosshairs on it,shot and the deer stumbled, clearly a hit. But before
I could put in a finisher he circled around the end of the ridge. I decided
to race to the top of the ridge to cut him off while my companion followed
in his tracks.
Of course halfway up the ridge my flatlander lungs gave out. I was laying
on my back with my rifle across my chest, gasping for air. While trying
to get my breath I heard a shot from the opposite slope. Sitting up I
saw my father-in-law shoot underneath a running doe with his Sharps. I
decided to try for her. So still gasping for air I tried a shot. The first
one was behind her as was the second one. Number three was in front of
her but # 4 was true and she was down with the Remington, 180 grain bullet
through her heart. My hunting companion found my buck down a few yards
from where we lost sight of him. Final score, FLATLANDER 2, RESIDENT'S
0. It took all of us to load them into the jeep and get them off the mountain.
The buck scored 192 6/8 B&C points which was a green score and would put
it in the top 100 at the time. It was also prime table fare. But, during
the 60 day drying period before it could be scored officially B&C had
the unprecedented audacity to raise the minimum entry score by a full
ten points. To my knowledge, such a large increase had never been done
Alas!, this knocked my buck out of contention by 2 3/8 points, thanks
to an extra point of that same length on the right side of his rack not
matched on his left side. Every time I look at that mount on my wall it's
with pride and pleasant memories.
Then in 1992, I read an article in a hunting magazine stating that the
B&C committee had reviewed scoring entry records and found that their
standards were unreasonable and thus they lowered the minimums for entry
for Mule Deer. I contacted them to find out the procedure needed. I was
told I would need affidavits for the following. Either the original Colorado
hunting license or a letter from Colorado game commission stating they
didn't keep records of hunting licenses that far back. A letter from the
original taxidermist stating he had scored the deer originally or have
it rescored and hope that 30 years of drying out hadn't shrunk it to the
point that it still wouldn't qualify Clear pictures showing all four sides
of the antlers. a signed statement of fair chase.
So thru trials and tribulations of time, letters, and phone calls my Muley
buck qualified for the all time B & C record book as number 53. A great
finish for a first time Mule Deer hunter and a great deer.
Written by Steve Mahurin on October 4, 1997.