Rain or Shine...or Both


The first three days of the Utah muzzleloader deer hunt was full of shine. But the next three days was a complete rain out. Unfortunately for my kids, the weekend of rain was the only opportunity they would have to hunt. And due to the forecast that predicted local flooding and colder than normal temperatures, the boys decided to take a pass and wait for the rifle hunt.


muzzleloader deer hunt, autumn leaves
                                          Vivid autumn colors along with perfect weather


As for me, I was fortunate to have planned my work vacation such that it lined up with opening day of the mid-week muzzleloader hunt. At first light I was peering across the mountain side and noticed several feeding bucks in the distance. Three of the deer were decent 3 points, along with a nice 4x4 buck. And since my goal for this hunt was to shoot nothing less than a 4 point, I couldn't have been more excited about the opportunity 300 yards to the east. I began my stalk.


The slight morning breeze was crisp yet pleasant and reminiscent of previous fall hunts. And this being my first muzzleloader hunt would most definitely be a hunt to remember, but not for the reasons I could have predicted. 100 yards later I slowed my pace as I neared the ridge line. Glassing across the small valley I spotted one of the 3 point bucks. The buck was still feeding, but no other deer were in sight. Slowly I continued forward. A few steps later I noticed movement to my right. I snapped my head to look over my shoulder and there on full alert stood a 4 point buck at 152 yards, busted. Quickly I attempted to position myself for a shot but before I could get a bead on him, the buck bounded away. And at that same moment all of the other deer I had been stalking spooked and ran off, leaving me standing there in disbelief.


muzzleloader deer hunt
                           Winding road that will prove useful soon


The remainder of the day did provide shot opportunities at several small bucks, including another 3 point, but I was adamant about sticking to my goal of shooting nothing less than a 4 point.

It was the next afternoon when another shot opportunity presented itself. While following a ridgeline down the mountain I came upon two 4 point bucks! Within the blink of an eye, my shooting sticks were in place and my sights were leveled on the broadside 4 point. The hammer dropped, a puff of smoke ensued, but there stood the buck. Dumbfounded I starred at the buck until he trotted off. 20 yards later the buck stopped and looked back in my direction. As he stood there I scoured every inch of that deer with my binoculars...not a hair on his hide was out of place. Unbelievable, a clean miss. In disbelief I ranged the original location of the buck, only to realize that I had just missed a golden opportunity at 122 yards.


muzzleloader hunt, sabot  muzzleloader deer hunt, sabot mushroom

       Perfect performance from the Barnes Spit-fire TMZ                    Actual bullet recovered from my deer


I reloaded my muzzleloader and was off in hot pursuit of the bucks which had barely disappeared over a small hill 250 yards way. Luckily for me the breeze was in my favor and I reached the top of the ridge undetected, or at least it seemed. I peered over the ridge and there stood both bucks at 150 yards. They must have sensed imminent danger because both were looking right at me. Again I aligned my shooting sticks and aimed my gun just as both deer turned and started heading straight up hill away from me. The buck furthest back presented a decent shot opportunity, so I took it. Again the hammer dropped, a puff of smoke momentarily obscured my vision, at almost the same instant I saw a puff of dust fly up just above the buck. Are you kidding me, another clean miss. I glassed the bucks as they bounced along the mountainside until they disappeared 1/2 mile away.


muzzleloader deer hunt
                             First deer taken with my T/C Triumph



muzzleloader deer hunt
                       It's all down hill from here...


I was disappointed to say the least. Had it not been so late in the day, I would have gone back to camp to sight in my gun. Believe me, I seriously considered that option. However I continued to hunt. 30 minutes later I came upon two 3 point bucks feeding across an open sidehill. What to do...I can't seem to hit the broad side of a barn, but then again neither deer are 4 point bucks...what the heck, I'm going to give it a try. I settled my sights on the closest buck and aimed a little lower this time. Boom...the buck dropped!


muzzleloader deer hunt, winching deer
                             ...Except for this part...winching the last little bit before heading home


Luckily the pack out was all down hill. And since I was alone, I couldn't have been happier to see dirt road winding its way up the bottom of the canyon. With a little help from my 4 wheeler winch, I easily managed the buck onto the road, loaded up the deer into my truck and headed home.


muzzleloader deer hunt, storm sunset
                                 Calm before the storm...getting out just in time