Campfire Talk Part 18 with Larry Weishuhn

03 December 2012

“Wind should be in our favor.  But with it blowing 35 to 40 miles per hour, that probably will slow deer movement!  Yet, I think we need to try!” said Brian Cline in the New Mexico pre-dawn while pouring a cup of coffee as we discussed our best approach that morning.  Brian is the General Manager of the fabulous High Desert Mule Deer Ranch owned by Steve Foutz and family.  “Our tail cameras show the non-typical is generally  coming out of the big opening after feeding there all night.  I’d really like to see us have try for him a couple more days.  He’s a prize worth chasing.”  With that Brian headed to the gun room to retrieve my .375 Ruger. As he did so, I headed back to my room to grab a bit heavier jacket.  Not that the temperature was all that cold, but 35 degrees temps with 35 mile per hour winds would make it feel a lot colder than it actually would be. “Larry, where we've seen the non-typical is where you hunted that big 3 by 3 the last couple of years.  Who knows we might even see him.  Although we’ve not seen him so far this year.  But I strongly suspect he’s still around. And there are some  other really good bucks that we've seen in the same area.”  The opening Brian was referring to, was about a 100 to 150 acre previously cleared area, which was now pretty well grown up with (to shoulder high) oak brush, cedar and pinon.  In the center of the “opening” was a water hole.  The ranch’s mule deer tended to congregate in this and other relatively open areas during the night to feed and water.  Then with first light they drifted out of these areas into the dense bedding areas.  Our hope was to catch the buck Brian described as “the non-typical” as he slipped back into his bedding area. After parking and walking about a half mile to the edge of the “opening” we set up on the edge and glassed.  In years previous in so doing we had often seen 20 or more deer in the area, with about half of those being bucks. This time we saw three does, three fawns and two young bucks. “Let’s try the next one,” said Brian.  I nodded.  Derek Harris, my cameraman/field producer for my new “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” television show and I followed. We eased though the juniper and pinon toward the next sizable opening about a mile away.  Normally when Brian had done this in past year we saw a lot of deer, both does and bucks.  This time we didn’t see a single deer!  With that we made a wide circle headed back toward the pickup. As we walked I spotted what from a distance looked like a shed antler, as I got closer there was no doubt what buck it had come from...the big 3 point I had hunted the past 2 years.  After picking it up I marveled at it’s size.  No doubt the brow tine was nearly 3 inches, the back point had to be 17, 18 or more.  The front tine was undoubtedly about 14 inches and the mean had to be 25 or more inches.  And he was massive.  I “glommed” on that shed like my fingers stuck to it.    Brian and I talked about the shed as we started heading back toward the vehicle.  Suddenly Brian stopped and pointed...I followed the direction of his finger.  There lay the other side of the big 3 point’s cast antlers.  It was every bit as impressive as the one I had picked up.  We were amazed by the overall size of the cast antlers and guessed what the shed with say a 21 inch inside spread might score.  Both Brian and I felt assured the sheds with that sort of spread would easily in the 170’s.  Late that night Steve and Brian scored the shed at 178 and some change, mighty impressive for a 3 x 3 desert mule deer.   We hunted hard in the wind, warm temperatures and full moon nights days.  Trail camera photos confirmed what we suspected.  Big mature bucks and most all the other classes of deer were moving between the hours of mid-night to about four am, in total darkness!  Well that’s not exactly true, because with the full moon shining all nights long it was plenty bright during “darkness”. The hunt was starting to wear down.  And we still had not found any of the older aged bucks we knew were on the ranch (It’s high fenced, all 3,200 or so acres).  Normally I had hunted a week or two later when the rut was just beginning.  I laid the lack of seeing bucks on party that, partly the weather and wind and full moon.  But I also knew the ranch had a high percentage of big bucks.  It was only a matter of time before one of the bucks made a mistake and showed himself during filming/shooting light. It came down to the last day of my hunt.  That morning we saw one mediocre buck and three does.  We walked and glassed a bunch that morning.  When it seemed everything was laying down, we headed into camp to get something to eat.  Then quickly decided to get back into the trees and brush and stat hunting once again. I won’t tell you all the details because you’ll have to watch to see exactly how the hunt turned out.  During the late afternoon we got “busted” by numerous does which snorted at us like whitetails.  With precious light remaining we almost ran to a long opening, there in the center of there was a waterhole.  Around the area were several very small bucks and about 10 does and fawns. There was virtually no time left to roam.  Just sit tight and play out the evening. It was almost dark when I spotted a deer with tall antlers to my far right about 250 yards away.  A quick look through my Zeiss Conquest HD binocular quickly told me the buck was mature and he looked really good.  I waited for Brian to give me his evaluation. “Shoot him, if you can!” I heard Brian say as I got prone... I hate to do this to you, but to see how we did that afternoon you’re going to have to watch “Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” when it airs on Sportsman Channel in late 2013! The night this blog is being written I am about to embark on a hunt deep in South Texas with various “personnel” from Nature Blinds.  Should be a most interesting hunt.  Once that hunt has been done, I’ll head to Sonora, Mexico for desert bighorn sheep (a hunt I've been dreaming of doing most all my life), desert mule deer and Coues whitetail.  I can hardly wait.  If I happen to take a desert bighorn, I won’t leave anyone in suspense.  I might not give you many details, but I’ll tell you whether or not I actually shoot one. So, stay tuned. In the meantime have fun, hunt safely, and enjoy our Great Outdoors. - Larry