September 14th 2014 found myself, father and brother in the Greenhorn Mountains near Walsenburg Colorado. The day previous we had spent the day riding around on the ATV's and just spent the day learning the area all over again as it has been 4 years since we last hunted there.
The unit has never produced a lot of animals. When you see an elk or a deer, its normally the one you do NOT have a tag for! This probably works the same way for most hunters though.
Hitting a "new" area, we found a lower foot hill hunting spot with big open fields but a huge river drainage area with deep wash area's that provide shade and cover for animals, all of this lined with ponderosa pines for additional protection to make the deer feel safe.
While scouting, we noticed deer tracks all over the place. It was so thick that it would have been impossible to NOT to want to hunt the spot regardless of the 45 minute ATV ride over rough trails.
On the ride back towards camp I spotted a really nice doe which was a big plus and pretty much told us to get up early and back to the spot come morning.
Up at 5:30 AM we packed all our bags, loaded the muzzle loaders onto the ATV's and headed out to the area.
The deer are smart, they know to stay away from the main roads due to the road hunters in the area.
Our strategy of course was to use those same access roads but at every point where there was a small hill to climb over, we did so and looked down into the little bowls where its typically nothing but grass and smaller trees that provide shade and wind cover.
This plan worked out PERFECTLY on the second spot where we just casually took our time getting ready for the hike into the hiding area deer may use. With our packs on, we headed up slow and quiet, topped the hill and just searched out the area for sign of any deer. Nothing!
Turning back to the ATV's, I caught just a glimpse of something out of the blue, standing under a small ponderosa pine. I took a hard look, squinting my eyes due to the poor lighting and finally made out the big ears and black nose of a young mule deer doe!
I was the only one to see it as both my father and brother were already headed down. Stay cool and calm! That's all I could tell myself. Stay calm, don't let the deer figure you out and just get out of there and back to the ATV for the Muzzle loader.
Half way down the hill, I just break out into a run now that I am at a safe distance from the deer and well out of view. My dad see's me, eyes pop out and he to takes off as he knew something was up. All I could say was, Get your friggin rifle! There's a friggin deer down there! It's young but still good size!
We both got our muzzle loaders off the ATV and start back up the hill towards the bowl that the deer is using for cover.
I readied my range finder as I had plenty of time to think this through and how we would stalk closer.
Once more, we got to the top and I positioned us behind some trees in a way that you could lean over to the left and peak around to see where the deer was at any given time.
We were within 150 yards to begin with but with a younger doe, they are small in open sights!
After patient stalking through the grass and trees, I got us within 61 yards! 61 yards?!! I couldn't even believe it either and shot a few tree's near the deer to make sure I was getting the correct reading. I was indeed receiving the correct yardage.
On the walk up I had told my dad to take the shot, he said, no no, you take it!
So while I am getting my Hawken set up, I get my breathing under control and my finger touches to the set trigger, I start to squeeze back to set it and BOOM! My dad's CVA Optima .50cal goes up in a big cloud of Blackhorn209 smoke! I look at the deer and think, You missed!
61 yards and its a miss!
You can only imagine the thoughts that were running through my head! 61 yards man! Second day into the hunt, 61 yards and NOTHING!
While he reloaded I took to the high ground and made a large circle of the area in hopes of cutting the deer off. There ended up being Three deer spread out through that bowl that had four different " fingers" leading through the mountain we were on.
I ran into them! I was getting ready to drop down into one of those fingers that runs between the mountain when I looked to my left and spotted a big eared muley doe to the my left at 35 yards. I cocked the hammer, set the hair trigger, took a couple deep breathes and then took aim and squeezed the trigger and that .58cal Hawken belched a beautiful cloud of white Goex smoke into the early morning breeze! <span style="font-style: italic"><span style="font-weight: bold">See Traditional Muzzleloading for this story!
Literally Three seconds later and close by, BOOM! My dad ran into a nice big doe at a close distance of 30 yards! We had by some miracle surrounded all three deer without knowing it and dropped two muley doe!
As it turns out, my dad hasn't shot a deer or any big game since 2003 due to either poor hunting area's or just flat out never drawing a tag. When we saw the deer doe and he shot at it, he got so excited he pulled the trigger before even aligning the sights!
He got his cool under control and took this fine muley with his CVA Optima .50cal shooting 100 grains Blackhorn209, CCI 209 Magnum primer and the 300 grain Powerbelt Aerolite at 30 yards.
The deer he thinks traveled maybe 15 to 20 yards after the double lung shot.
As you will see in the picture, the bullet did a complete exit and pulled lung out of the cavity! There was not one exit hole but THREE exit holes! No bullet recovery this time out.
Three exit holes show
The next 4 days of the hunt were spent up in the higher mountains hunting Dusky Grouse with the shotguns! 16 were taken, making this the best hunting trip we've ever been on!