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40-Inch Wide Monster Mule Deer: Nevada Archery Hunt

Posted on June 03 2016

40-Inch Wide Monster Mule Deer: Nevada Archery Hunt

Logan Zeiszler Mule Deer

Three Years of Patience for the Mule Deer of a Lifetime

By: Logan Zeiszler

A sharp whistle broke my concentration. Hours of carefully sneaking into the perfect and only position, I placed myself sixty yards from the ultimate challenge. Three years in the making and he lived up to his potential. It was time to seal our fates together. I slowly drew back my bow as I rose to my feet to clear the dense manzanita between us revealing his massive velvety frame. As he stood there feeding, I knew I had no time to take in his beauty, but instead had to focus on the thirty yard shot he was presenting me. I shuffled a few steps forward at full draw and lined up that bright red pin that glistened off his muscular shoulder blade. I caught his head shifting toward me and knew it was my last chance as I exhaled and gently squeezed the trigger of my release. Time seemed to stop as the arrow cut through the air, I focused in on the matted tuff of hair my sight was on seconds before as I listened for impact.

Three years earlier...

After what seemed to be the most frustrating week of hunting we had experienced, my hunting partner/best friend Brendan and I had finally given up for the morning and decided to go back to camp and grab a bite to eat. My best friend’s stepdad, Roger, returned to camp for lunch after an equally disappointing morning and began to tell us about a group of bucks he had been glassing, almost daily. The kicker was that these bucks were well off the beaten path and it would take more patience and determination than we had in us. This, however, sparked some hope into us and we decided that we would give it a shot, because after all we really had nothing to lose. So, we started our way off towards the most rugged mountain face we ever attempted to conquer. After hours of traversing this face that felt like hell itself, we made it into the bowl the bucks had been staying in. After a few minutes of glassing we spotted two of the three bucks Roger told us about bedded under three large trees right in the center of the draw. These bucks were enormous! Weight instantly lifted off our shoulders and our slump came to an end. We immediately began to study these bucks carefully. One of the bucks instantly stood out from the others - cheaters, massive eye guards, deep forks, everything you could want in a mature mule deer. As we drooled over his unique tines and towering frame I caught movement at the very top of the bowl. Unfortunately, all I caught was a frame twice the size of the thirty-inch monster we were in awe over. I knew we had to get a closer look at this buck, however light was fading and we were a long, long ways away from the nearest road so we decided to leave and come back the next weekend.

A few months later, the season was finally upon us and the anticipation wasn't fading. It kept me up at night thinking about the scenarios and possibilities this season could present me. Opening day was here and after a rather sleepless night I was still amped and ready for the day. I was anxious to get up to where we saw this buck and to my disappointment we were heading in the opposite direction. Brendan reassured me that we needed to be patient and give the buck time to pull back into the drainage we had been seeing him in. After all, we didn't want to push him out and lose our chances of harvesting him. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do knowing he could be there today, but never again. So many negative thoughts crossed my mind, but I trusted that patience would pay off. As we sat miles away atop an entirely different mountain I sulked as only little bucks crowded the canyons. Finally, we spotted a buck down in a service berry patch that looked like he had potential. We studied this buck that turned out to be a gorgeous five point. He was about thirty inches wide with plenty of mass and fork depth. Brendan finally convinced me to try a stalk just to get one out of the way. He assured me that the worst case scenario would be building some confidence and seeing a beautiful buck, had I decided not to pull the trigger on him. So I started my descent down onto this buck. I was so much louder than I had remembered, every single step sounded like big foot trudging across bubble wrap. I kept pushing myself. My goal was to get within shooting range and then I would decide on whether or not to try and take the shot. After an hour or so, I made it within twenty yards of where the buck bedded. Being in the area was so much different than staring at it from across the canyon. I felt lost and as if I were in an entirely different area until I caught movement below me. I quickly scrambled for my range finder as I crouched behind a large sage brush. To my surprise, my range finder didn't pick up the distance so I knew he had to be within ten yards, but through the towering service berry I couldn't make anything but a body out. As I picked apart the bush in front of me,I felt a slight breeze hit the back of my neck and before I had time to do anything the buck exploded out of his bed and disappeared into the drainage. Despite my failure, I couldn't have felt better! I was closer than ever to a mature deer on my first stalk of the year and I knew I could do it again.

The next day came fast and we had battled the elements all night at camp. To little surprise we were running about an hour late after struggling to get our gear dry and supplies gathered, we started on our death march toward the drainage we had been watching the bucks in over the past few years. After what seemed like the longest and hottest hike of our lives we reached our favorite glassing spot. We sat down and began tearing up the countryside with anxious eyes. This day was unusually hot, so we decided to move to a different spot that offered shade to get out of the almost unbearable heat. Another thirty minutes went by and our hopes began to dwindle as we didn't spot a single deer. Just as we were getting ready to get up and move on, Brendan and I simultaneously saw a red blur move from behind a bush about three quarters down the drainage. We ripped our binoculars out of our covers and focused in on what had just stood up. It was a forked horn, but knowing they hardly ever go anywhere alone we began to pick apart the area around him searching for anyother signs of life. Two minutes in, we once again simultaneously spotted our bucks massive rack looming above some brush. I can’t even begin to explain the emotion and feeling that began coursing through my veins. My heart began to race, my hands and feet began to tremble, and full buck fever set in. At the same time, a huge knot began to form in my stomach after realizing this buck was in what seemed to be an impossible spot to make a successful stalk. We began plotting on the best paths, which way the wind would be blowing, and searching for a sliver of open path towards him. We were coming up with all possible solutions while watching this beautiful buck feed without care. I had to remember to be patient, as Brendan kept reminding me that patience would mean success for us. I began going through all of the steps to make the perfect shot - breathe, don’t grip my bow, pick a spot on him, squeeze the trigger, and follow through. Anything to keep my mind from losing control and risking my golden opportunity. Brendan and I began going through signals we could use to get me close enough for a shot. We decided hand signals and whistling would be the most effective way without startling the bucks. One long whistle would mean the buck was up and two whistles would mean the bucks had blown out.

Three hours later, we had finally picked a line that would favor us, the wind would be good and the manzanita wasn't growing there. The buck finally found a spot that he wanted to bed down about twenty yards above the little buck and what we guessed to be about fifty yards from where I needed to get. I began my long stalk reminding myself that I had all day to get there. I could feel Brendan’s anxious gaze watching me as I started down the mountainside. I kept running the process of the shot through my mind as I crept closer and closer toward the biggest deer I had ever seen. I reached a point about one hundred yards away from the point I set for myself when I encountered a major set back. I ran out of cover and every inch of the path ahead of me was loose rock. I sat down and took the time to once again coordinate in the best path down. As I was sitting there I felt a quick swirl of the wind hit the back of my neck and my stomach tightened. I had come too far to turn back and worked too hard to let this be the end. I patiently sat there waiting and praying the wind wouldn’tchange on me and it would return to hitting my face steadily. It had seemed like I sat there all day when to my surprise the wind picked back up and I had a strong steady wind cooling my front. My hopes had been revived and the time I waited gave me plenty of insight on my path ahead. There was one problem spot where I had to fit through a narrow channel between two large rock walls. I maneuvered slowly taking time and putting little pressure into each aching step. As I reached the end of the rock I came to the front of what seemed to be a wall. I immediately retrieved my range finder from my pocket and began to range points in the vicinity of where my buck had bedded. I figured he would come out into one of two places and he would be about fifty yards away at the farthest point. I needed to relax and take time to calm my nerves so I quietly sat down after knocking an arrow and resting my bow beside me. I drifted into a daydream and the next thing I knew a sharp whistle had broke me from my concentration.

I slid my bow into my hand and drew back as I slowly rose to my feet. I instantly spotted his frame but shifted my eyes off of them to his body. To my surprise the buck had actually been up for a while and moved within thirty yards of me. I had no view of his body so still at full draw I shuffled to my right a few steps and set my glistening red pin just behind his front shoulder. His head instantly shift towards me in all of the commotion and before he had a chance to react I touched one off. I followed through and waited to hear my arrow connect, but it sounded as if it hit brush. My heart sank in disappointment as I struggled to knock another arrow as the buck was bounding down the hill. He stopped about sixty yards away and as I drew back he stumbled. I instantly had a change of heart as I watched him thrash and kick his last breaths of life. I couldn’t believe my eyes and it seemed almost unreal to me until I heard a “ Wooooo!” echo through the canyon. I shuffled around trying to pull my phone out of my pocket as Brendan and I began to play phone tag. After a few minutes we got ahold of each other and he told me to wait as he ran down the mountain towards me. Once he reached me we jumped up and high-fived. We wanted to see what we had just accomplished after three years of patiently waiting for this moment. I made a quick comment about my arrow, but Brendan instantly shot it down saying, “Forget the arrow its too thick, let’s see your hog you just smoked.” I laughed and continued on towards the spot where he laid. Brendan shoved me ahead as he pressed that I should be the first one to touch those antlers. As my hand slid across the soft velvet for the first time I couldn't fathom the fact it was the buck we had been working so hard for. We had to wait for help to reach us so we decided to spend that time to look for the arrow we doubted we would find. As soon as Brendan and I found the first blood he looked down and began to laugh as he picked up my arrow still intact. We joked that two miracles had occurred that day. Finally Roger and Todd reached us and we all celebrated and took in the beauty of this incredible animal. The work had just began as we started to discuss Brendan’s muzzleloader hunt and anticipate my future with these amazing bucks for next year.


The next weekend, we made the long trek back into the deep, dark canyon. To our surprise we caught the bucks bedded under the same set of trees. We studied these bucks for hours and took in all that they were and to our surprise we came to the conclusion that these were younger bucks. After an extremely difficult decision and hours of thought, I decided I wanted to hold out for these bucks to mature and reach their maximum potential.

After a few years of watching, learning, and admiring these magnificent animals the time had come. They had all matured into true giants and I was ready to put my knowledge of them to the test. It was early June the first time we took a scouting trip. With the incredible amount of rain we had been getting I knew it was a great year for growth, and the deer would be putting on some inches. We were sitting in one of our favorite glassing spots when Brendan taps me on the shoulder and has us move off the skyline into cover. My heart was racing and I could feel the excitement rushing through my veins knowing he had spotted them. As I glanced through the glass and he came into view, my jaw dropped. This buck put on some serious growth and reached his full maturity level. I couldn't believe the giant cheaters coming off his monstrous frame like tree branches. With every turn of his head I was drawn in more and before I knew it, I was pushed out of the way so I couldn't hog the scope any longer. Brendan had to see this buck after all of my short comments and looming stare. It instantly became a battle for the scope as we both could not believe the sheer size and beauty of this truly amazing animal. What seemed like minutes actually was hours and before we knew it dusk had come upon us and we had to leave. We decided to leave the area alone until season in hopes of not bumping this buck. We scouted other areas in the mean time keeping our options open, but I knew that I just had to have that absolute giant, he was everything I had ever dreamed about and I couldn't pass up a chance at this once in a lifetime buck.


The next day came fast and we had battled the elements all night at camp. To little surprise we were running about an hour late after struggling to get our gear dry and supplies gathered, we started on our death march toward the drainage we had been watching the bucks in over the past few years. After what seemed like the longest and hottest hike of our lives we reached our favorite glassing spot. We sat down and began tearing up the countryside with anxious eyes. This day was unusually hot, so we decided to move to a different spot that offered shade to get out of the almost unbearable heat. Another thirty minutes went by and our hopes began to dwindle as we didn't spot a single deer. Just as we were getting ready to get up and move on, Brendan and I simultaneously saw a red blur move from behind a bush about three quarters down the drainage. We ripped our binoculars out of our covers and focused in on what had just stood up. It was a forked horn, but knowing they hardly ever go anywhere alone we began to pick apart the area around him searching for any other signs of life. Two minutes in, we once again simultaneously spotted our bucks massive rack looming above some brush. I can’t even begin to explain the emotion and feeling that began coursing through my veins. My heart began to race, my hands and feet began to tremble, and full buck fever set in. At the same time, a huge knot began to form in my stomach after realizing this buck was in what seemed to be an impossible spot to make a successful stalk. We began plotting on the best paths, which way the wind would be blowing, and searching for a sliver of open path towards him. We were coming up with all possible solutions while watching this beautiful buck feed without care. I had to remember to be patient, as Brendan kep

t reminding me that patience would mean success for us. I began going through all of the steps to make the perfect shot - breathe, don’t grip my bow, pick a spot on him, squeeze the trigger, and follow through. Anything to keep my mind from losing control and risking my golden opportunity. Brendan and I began going through signals we could use to get me close enough for a shot. We decided hand signals and whistling would be the most effective way without startling the bucks. One long whistle would mean the buck was up and two whistles would mean the bucks had blown out.Three hours later, we had finally picked a line that would favor us, the wind would be good and the manzanita wasn't growing there. The buck finally found a spot that he wanted to bed down about twenty yards above the little buck and what we guessed to be about fifty yards from where I needed to get. I began my long stalk reminding myself that I had all day to get there. I could feel Brendan’s anxious gaze watching me as I started down the mountainside. I kept running the process of the shot through my mind as I crept closer and closer toward the biggest deer I had ever seen. I reached a point about one hundred yards away from the point I set for myself when I encountered a major set back. I ran out of cover and every inch of the path ahead of me was loose rock. I sat down and took the time to once again coordinate in the best path down. As I was sitting there I felt a quick swirl of the wind hit the back of my neck and my stomach tightened. I had come too far to turn back and worked too hard to let this be the end. I patiently sat there waiting and praying the wind wouldn’t change on me and it would return to hitting my face steadily. It had seemed like I sat there all day when to my surprise the wind picked back up and I had a strong steady wind cooling my front. My hopes had been revived and the time I waited gave me plenty of insight on my path ahead. There was one problem spot where I had to fit through a narrow channel between two large rock walls. I maneuvered slowly taking time and putting little pressure into each aching step. As I reached the end of the rock I came to the front of what seemed to be a wall. I immediately retrieved my range finder from my pocket and began to range points in the vicinity of where my buck had bedded. I figured he would come out into one of two places and he would be about fifty yards away at the farthest point. I needed to relax and take time to calm my nerves so I quietly sat down after knocking an arrow and resting my bow beside me. I drifted into a daydream and the next thing I knew a sharp whistle had broke me from my concentration.


I slid my bow into my hand and drew back as I slowly rose to my feet. I instantly spotted his frame but shifted my eyes off of them to his body. To my surprise the buck had actually been up for a while and moved within thirty yards of me. I had no view of his body so still at full draw I shuffled to my right a few steps and set my glistening red pin just behind his front shoulder. His head instantly shift towards me in all of the commotion and before he had a chance to react I touched one off. I followed through and waited to hear my arrow connect, but it sounded as if it hit brush. My heart sank in disappointment as I struggled to knock another arrow as the buck was bounding down the hill. He stopped about sixty yards away and as I drew back he stumbled. I instantly had a change of heart as I watched him thrash and kick his last breaths of life. I couldn’t believe my eyes and it seemed almost unreal to me until I heard a “ Wooooo!” echo through the canyon. I shuffled around trying to pull my phone out of my pocket as Brendan and I began to play phone tag. After a few minutes we got ahold of each other and he told me to wait as he ran down the mountain towards me. Once he reached me we jumped up and high-fived. We wanted to see what we had just accomplished after three years of patiently waiting for this moment. I made a quick comment about my arrow, but Brendan instantly shot it down saying, “Forget the arrow its too thick, let’s see your hog you just smoked.” I laughed and continued on towards the spot where he laid. Brendan shoved me ahead as he pressed that I should be the first one to touch those antlers. As my hand slid across the soft velvet for the first time I couldn't fathom the fact it was the buck we had been working so hard for. We had to wait for help to reach us so we decided to spend that time to look for the arrow we doubted we would find. As soon as Brendan and I found the first blood he looked down and began to laugh as he picked up my arrow still intact. We joked that two miracles had occurred that day. Finally Roger and Todd reached us and we all celebrated and took in the beauty of this incredible animal. The work had just began as we started to discuss Brendan’s muzzleloader hunt and anticipate my future with these amazing bucks for next year.

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