by Tyler Scott
Taking a P&Y mule deer has been alluding me for quite some time now. I have had my opportunities, but unfortunately have not been able to close the deal. Having received my either species archery tag for ND back in March, this hunt has been much anticipated.
My hunting partner, Mike Vipond, and I arrived to the scenic Badlands of ND last Friday in hopes of harvesting a few quality animals. Mission on hand for the week to come included each of us harvesting a P&Y Mule deer as well as scouting diligently for a quality bull elk as Mike was fortunate to draw the coveted once in a lifetime elk tag.
As many who have recently hunted in the Badlands would know that overall numbers of the Mule deer population have drastically fallen over the last few years which has made this hunt even more difficult. Glassing each morning and evening yielded few deer each sit which was not encouraging, but yet worth sticking out as a handful of these deer were quality animals.
Yesterday morning started out extremely slow which forced me to go mobile to make something happen. Having been on foot for a couple hours I posted up on the tip of a long stretching ridge that allowed me to glass over a vast area. I was able to spot a great-and I mean great buck lying on a bench under a Juniper tree. From a distance I could see this deer would be a possible once in a lifetime P&Y deer. Where they were located appeared to be very stalkable location with the wind in my favor. The “Stalk” was on following a small snack and a quick swig of water to fuel my pursuit.
About an hour later, I found myself posted up above what I thought to be a pair of bedded bucks only 30 yards away. Their position put me in a situation where I would need to wait them out to make their move as a large Juniper was in between them and I. As the sun began to burn the clouds off, the heat started to crank up and it would only be a matter of time before they would need to relocate themselves to the shady side of the butte.
Half hour later, the first buck stood to make his move, a very respectable 5×5. He stepped out to 40 yards standing broadside, I was able to draw without him knowing I was there. This is when the feeling of “Buck Fever” took over. My shot flew just over his back, but luckily he had no idea what happened-and neither did his running mate. As he walked off I was unable to get anther shot. Five minutes went by until the second 5×5 stood to take the same trail. I drew knowing this was the opportunity I needed to take advantage of. Settling my pin right behind the shoulder at a mere 34 yards my arrow flew true. As he bolted down the butte to the very bottom, I jumped to the edge to see his route. While he was making his final sprint, the Juniper tree below me blew up as the buck of my dreams was making his escape. Yes, beggars can’t be choosers, but I sure wonder what would have happened if I didn’t take aim at the deer I harvested. We all can wonder, but what I do know is I have harvested my first P&Y mule deer following a text book stalk. A day I will never forget and experience that taught me so much. A DIY successful hunt in the books.
Now onto Mike’s elk. Hopefully to give a successful report following the weekend. Good luck to everyone afield!