Taylor’s Muzzleloader Muley
On the cold morning of December 10th, I planned on going south of Fort Pierre for just a few hours and being back home by 11:00 or noon. On my way out of town I swung by my dad’s house to pick him up, so he could ride along that morning.
When we arrived at the property that I was hunting I looked at the thermometer on my pickup and it read 5 degrees. We slowly made it to the north edge of the pasture and glassed over the ridges and the draws, trying to see anything moving. We didn’t see a thing at all. As we were heading back to the south edge of the pasture my dad just happened to look behind us and saw some deer in the bottom of a draw. By the time I got the spotting scope on them, I could only see 5 doe’s and they were going around the bottom of a ridge towards another deep draw.
We made our way over to the next ridge in hopes of seeing if there were any other deer with the doe’s. When we arrived on the next ridge over, I was able to spot the deer feeding about ¼ mile away, working away from us, towards a small drainage on the back side of a finger ridge. As soon as I got the spotting scope on them I right away saw that there was a big mature buck in the group. So as soon as they went around the bottom of the finger ridge I took off after them. I got down to where I last saw the deer and found their tracks. As I followed their tracks around the corner of the small drainage, I couldn’t believe my eyes, they were gone. I went back to where I last saw their tracks and followed them. They went back up, over the top of the small finger ridge. As I peeked over the top, I spotted the buck. I ranged him at 80 yards. He was feeding angling away from me. So I pulled back the hammer on my muzzleloader, put the sight behind his shoulder, and pulled the trigger.
After the smoke cleared. I saw the buck running down towards the main drainage. So as quick as I could, I reloaded my shaking muzzleloader. The buck stopped at about 125 yards broadside. I pulled up my muzzleloader put the front sight on him and pulled the trigger and missed. The buck spooked and ran across the draw and stood on a flat at 175 yards. Once again, while shaking, I started to reload my muzzleloader. At that time I realized that I was now on my last load. I happened to look at my watch and it was about 9 am. Since the buck was by himself and just standing at 175 yards. I decided to lay low in the snow and keep an eye on him. After about 30 minutes of watching him standing and not moving an inch, he finally turned the opposite direction and I was able to see where I hit him.
My bullet connected in the worst spot possible. I hit him just in front of his right hind quarter.
He finally laid down so I continued to lay there in the snow and watch him. By now about 1 ½ hours went by since my first shot. Knowing that the only load that I had left was in my gun. I slowly crawled back up the ridge so I could get on the backside, so I could get back to the pickup and get more loads. After I got up and over the top of the ridge. I was able to stand up and walk down to where the little drainage that I was now in met up with the main drainage. As I got to where they met, I looked up the main drainage and there was my buck bedded down. I didn’t realize that he would be able to look up and down the drainage from where he was bedded till I got to where the two drainages met. So I now had to try to belly crawl for about 50 yards in order to get into the bottom of the creek so I was out of sight. I finally made it out of sight and was able to get back to my pickup and stock back up on ammo for my muzzleloader.
When I got back to my pickup, told my dad the whole story of what happened up to that point and where the buck was bedded down. I figured that I would sit in the pickup for a while and leave my buck alone. I didn’t want to jump him and have him get away.
After waiting for about another 1 ½ hours and restocking my pockets with 4 more loads, I decided to sneak up to the cut bank where my buck was bedded down. I figured that when I popped up over the bank, he would be about 45 yards away. As I got to the cut bank, sure enough there he was bedded down 50 yards away. As I saw him, he saw me and immediately stood up. I pulled the hammer back on my muzzleloader put the front sight behind his shoulder, pulled the trigger and all I heard was a “click”, and he ran off and bedded down about 150 yards away from me.
I couldn’t figure out what had happened.
So I hiked back to the pickup, opened up the gun so I could see the primer and it had an indention in it from the firing pin. Then it hit me. When I first got back to the pickup, I put my gun inside with me and as it warmed up, moisture built up in the powder and in the primer!
I had to take my breach plug out, dump the powder out, and do a quick cleaning of the gun. After I got that done and got it reloaded, I went back to where I last saw the buck lay down. As I got there, I noticed that he was gone. So I slowly started to work my way up the side of the ridge and the drainage looking for him. As I got about 30 yards past where he was last bedded I looked up in front of me and saw him bedded down at about 70 yards facing straight away from me.
I once again pulled the hammer back put the front sight on the middle of his body, pulled the trigger and I saw snow fly up in the air right beside him. As he jumped up, I quickly dropped to the ground, using two yucca plants as cover, and started to reload my gun again. As soon as I had it loaded I looked up and there he was still standing broadside. I got up put the front sight behind his shoulder and pulled the trigger and down he went. As I walked up to him, he just kept getting bigger and bigger. I realized that I had just shot my biggest mule deer. I looked at my watch and it was now 1:30 pm.
After enjoying my buck for a few minutes, I went to the top of the ridge and waved my hands in the air for my dad to come over and help me with the hard work of dragging him up a snow covered steep hill side - but it was well worth it! It wasn’t till we got him loaded and started to talk about what had happened, that I had realized how lucky I was to get him and how much work that I had went through.
Jason Taylor's Muzzleloader Mule Deer was officially scored at 182 4/8 on February 18th.