The Hunting Bucket List

Everyone has a bucket list; things they wish to see and do during their lifetime. Hunters have two bucket lists, one that is very similar to our frietnds and family and then the second bucket list of animals we wish to prusue and harvest during our lifetimes. I have a large bucket list of animals which I wish to have the opportunity to harvest, many of these may never come true due to location and cost of such a experience, but many yet are found here in North America and can be chased with proper money management and the luck of drawing a tag.
One such animal is the mule deer. A majestic animal with tall, wide antlers and a range of habitat that is breathtaking. In Missouri we can hunt the white-tailed deer, the monarch of the woods and open farm lands. But the mule deer, he rules all of the west. It has been an animal on my bucket list for many years now and in 2013 I decided to finally make a New Years Resolution to myself to put in for a Kansas Mule Deer tag. As luck would have it I was drawn for a rifle tag, as I had missed the deadline for archery. I was more than happy to be given the opportunity to hunt such a beautiful animal, regardless on what method I would be hunting and began the busy process of planning my hunt. The Kansas Dept. of Wildlife has a wonderful wildlife biologist who, after my contacting, provided me with a harvest data sheet of the state for mule deer. From there I was able to see the counties which provided the best opportunity to harvest an animal.
After selecting my county I was put into contact with a few land owners who were in need of a mule deer harvest due to crop damage. I was lucky enough to be given permission to hunt on one particular and very large piece of property. From there it was a waiting game, and the months drug slowly by. I harvested a white-tailed buck here in Missouri during rifle season, and though I hunted hard with my bow I would not harvest anything with that until I came back from Kanas. I had two full days to hunt and took advantage of the situation. Public land in Kansas is immense and all over the place in the western portion, and the first day I found myself walking along the rolling hills in search of a mule deer. I wanted to harvest a buck, but if the last day came and I was still with a unfilled tag I would harvest a doe. The first day came and went, I saw a single mule deer doe and many white-tailed deer of both sexes.
Sunday I found myself, once again, hunting public land when the landowner called. “I have a herd of mulies in my front yard, when can you get here?” My hunting companions and myself quickly rushed back to the truck and drove thirty miles in the snow storm we had been experiencing since the night before to the landowners ranch. We were greeted by the sight of a herd of 30 animals, all of which were laying about thrity feet from the back road we had taken in. After shaking hands and introducing friends to family we set out on how we would hunt. The mule deer had moved over the hill and out of sight and I wanted a fun stalk. Leaving the trucks behind we began a one and a half mile stalk through thigh deep snow to where the deer now were, bumping them twice more until I was in a good vantage point. “See that buck in the middle, just to the right of the group of five does and behind that little two by two?” With a hasty nod of my head he went on. “Thats your buck, take your time and he’ll be yours.”
With a shaky breath I brought my Savage .30-06 to my shoulder, my bipod firmly planted into the snow. A few does were watching us, but seemed to not care of our movements. I quickly brought up my rangefinder with my free hand, he was 200 yards. My crosshairs found his shoulder and I held it just a hair higher. The safety clicked off and my finger found the trigger. I tried to clear my head, my eyes focused on my target. I took a deep breath and before I would exhale my nerves got the best of me and I pulled the trigger. A cloud of snow exploded, a few deer ran over the ridge. I let out a sigh, “I missed him.” He smiled, “Just barely, he’s not going anywhere. You have all day with him. Take your time and breath.”
This time I made sure to exhale and inhale, exhale and inhale. As I felt the breath flow out of my lungs for a third time I gently sqeezed the trigger. My gun jumped with the power that a .30-06 can deliver and when I looked back through my scope it landed on a buck. “I missed again! Its sighted in, it was perfect in the range…I took my time…” I felt the tears wanting to come and the land owner was laughing. “Meagan, you hit your buck. How can you not see him?” I looked up from my gun to see my buck rolling backwards down the hill, his herd leaving him behind. A grin larger than Texas appeard on my face and thanks and a hug was exchanged. I could not wait to get my hands on him. He scored 165″ green and 160″ 5/8 dried. He was just big enough to put me down into the Kansas Record books for deer over 160″. He may not be a 200″ mule deer, but I know people hunt their entire lives for a mule deer as beautiful as he is. And all thanks to a landowner who was kind enough to allow me the opportunity to hunt on his land without a fee and ending up taking time out of his busy day to guide me without a fee. And to top it all off I have always wanted to harvest a deer in the snow!
I hope that you are all able to check animals off of your bucket list, even if it is only being able to pursue them and never harvest one. My next bucket list mammal is elk and in two years time I hope to make this dream come true as well. Until I wait for spring turkey season, passing my time looking for deer sheds here in Missouri. I pray that you all get outside and enjoy this beautiful world that we live in. Happy hunting!

 


Feb 03, 2015 | Category: Blog, Deer hunting, Queen Meagan | Comments: 1

 

One comment on “The Hunting Bucket List

  1. Brooke

    I have always wanted to hunt whitetail! We only have Mule deer where I hunt and it is a great hunt but I heard Whitetail is a lot of fun too! My uncle lives in Hawaii and also told me about Axis deer that I would love to try out!

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