My boss (and friend) offered me a spot on his annual management mule deer hunt at Vermejo Park Ranch, NM this year and of course I jumped all over it. Now I have been bow hunting for a very long time but….in Texas only meaning I hunt specifically out of tri-pods, tree stands or pop up blinds. Spot and stalk and for that matter shooting while standing up had been limited to a few times I stumbled up on pigs while going into or out of a set. Anyway as soon as I found out I was going on this hunt I started shooting while standing during all of my practice sessions which was a very easy transition and I’ve always shot practice sessions out to 60 yards so…Hunt of a lifetime…Mountains…Mule Deer …Let’s do this!
Now for the crazy stuff. Three hours into the opening morning hunt I end up 40 yards from a perfectly broadside 170” management buck but was derailed by a peep sight that somehow fell out in the truck resulting in no shot taken thus leading to me being known as “That Guy” around camp. I don’t think my bow (or myself) was prepared for the constant driving and bouncing around from sun up to sundown on ranch/oil lease roads. Anyway the servings had slid a little and the peep popped. Luckily one of the guys in camp had a portable press and later that day we got the peep back in place and everything was good again except for me beating myself up and all the ribbing I took from the other hunters in the group. BTW most of the guys in camp were Texans (always a good thing) and most were associated with Cinnamon Creek. Every one of them was an absolute blast to hang out with and especially over adult libations in the evening. To say the BS became thick is an understatement.
The old saying “Things happen for a reason” actually turned out to be true on this hunt even though you would have had a hard time convincing me of it right after that little episode. Two days later I filled my tag on a great character buck after an absolutely classic cat and mouse, spot and stalk that for a flat lander was the most exciting hunt ever. Nothing more satisfying than to see the arrow bury up in the arm pit, the thump of the Grim Reaper opening an immediate crimson hole resulting in a 60 yard in sight recovery. Sweetest words I heard that entire trip was the guide saying “You effing drilled him dude! He’s down right there!” It was a completely different way of hunting vs. sitting at a feeder and waiting on deer to come to you and the country was absolutely incredible. I had never even seen a mule deer much less released an arrow at one!
Great stuff but somehow I think I’m forever going to be “That Guy”
"Call 'em up close and shoot 'em in the face"
I wouldn't beat yourself up too much about the popped out peep. Could happen to anyone. Congrats on the tall narrow velvet rack - looks great. Have a pic of the 170" mgmt or any other bucks killed? Want to hunt Vermejo every time we drive by on the way to Colorado or New Mexico vacation spots, so you're lucky in my book.
DR – I do not have pics of the 170 but one of the other hunters who was hunting a “trophy” buck did get pictures of him and I did not get his number. The 170 was running with a trophy buck that was very wary. The second day we got on them twice but could never get a good stalk on him as they were always 300-400 yards away and the trophy buck would always bugger pretty quickly. Never saw them again.
Here is a pic of my friend Lee and the management buck he arrowed on the next to last day of the hunt.
Now the guy with the “trophy” buck ranch permit that got the pics of the 170 scored in a major way. He arrowed what I believe is the largest archery buck ever killed at Vermejo. He made an absolutely perfect shot at 71 yards on the buck leading to a short track and recovery….and yes he is a Texan These are horrible “In the bed of the truck pictures” but we were headed back out when they came in so it was all I got. After the wildlife manager of the ranch measured the buck several times I think the final net score on this bad boy was 214. The pictures do not do this buck justice. He is a beast.
You are absolutely correct that I am very lucky! It would have been a bucket list hunt whether I had gotten a buck or not so having the stories and comrade in camp as well as putting one on the ground is icing on the cake. Such different terrain and beautiful country I really don’t know how to describe it to folks who have never seen it. Absolutely never knew what you were going to see around the next bend in the road… Elk, mule deer, Merriam Turkeys, bear, wild horses and even buffalo. I had never seen a mule deer or elk in the wild and on this trip I saw so many 300+ inch elk that I lost count. 600,000 Acres of hunting heaven!
"Call 'em up close and shoot 'em in the face"