We spent a lot of time at the beginning of the season scouting out the area we were hunting. We patterned the movement of some whitetails in the area, and on the morning of Nov. 11th we set up an ambush on the way into one of their daytime bedding areas. I got two antlerless whitetails that morning - both within about ten seconds of each other (we can get a good amount of antlerless tags for certain areas - but you have to fill two before you can get an either sex muley tag).
I went and purchased my either sex tag on the afternoon of the 14th. The morning of the 15th, we were out in the field well before the sun made its way over the horizon.
The country we hunt is pretty rough - at least for Saskatchewan. The lake edge is riven by deep, wide coulees and clogged with thick brush - it's an odd mix of vegetation - some juniper bushes, poplar or aspen trees, and some less friendly greenery - small cacti and various thorny growths.
Jacob found out firsthand, early in the season, that the latter do not, in fact, make for comfortable seating. I'm still grateful he didn't ask me to perform cactus spine removal . . .
His wife must be a good woman.
The coulees themselves are studies in contrasts - one side of the coulee is often dry and mostly barren, while the other side will be relatively green with lots of brush and trees. The coulees drop down from the surrounding fields 300-400 feet - sometimes gradually, sometimes in plateau-steps, and sometimes in 75-100 foot near-vertical walls.
It was at the top of one of these vertical drops that Jacob (my hunting partner) and I set up to glass the area. The rising sun slid light into the brush and trees immediately below our position.
At about 8:15 AM, Jacob, who was set up about 50 feet away, motioned to me - putting his hand to his ear in an "antler" sign. Sometimes when I've gone without benefit of my morning coffee as I did that morning, I'm a little thick, so I looked back and gave him the palms up "what are going on about" sign. After a little bout of frantic but subdued back-and-forth gesturing, I realized that he was trying to tell me about a big muley buck headed into the area (he didn't have his either sex muley tag at that point).
The buck was walking rather unconcernedly into the area. I waited until it was nearly broadside, and . . . completely botched my first shot. I don't know how - the whole thing felt right - maybe it had something to do with shooting at an extreme downhill angle. The buck started to move a little quicker - at first, a lively trot, then the typical muley "bounce." I did some quick mental recalculations, led him a little, and put the next shot through his spine at about 130 yards. He dropped in his tracks.
I don't recall too many moments when I've been quite that excited.
We made our way down to the buck, and realized that he was quite a grand old fellow. I'm guessing his live body weight was about 250 lbs. I know for a fact that the ribcage and quarters, without skin, head, and innards, weighed 180 lbs. My guess is that he was somewhere around the 7 or 8 year old mark - he had almost nothing left for back teeth (about 1/8 of an inch). It was, to say the least, quite the jaunt to get him out of the coulee.
Jacob, after coming up empty most of the season, finally got 2 antlerless muleys on Nov. 30th. He was also able to get his either sex muley tag, and downed another old bruiser, in the middle of a snowstorm, on Dec 6th - the very last day of the season.
For those interested in numbers . . . After drying for a while, my buck scored somewhere around 152 4/8 B&C after deductions - Jacob's hasn't dried yet, but it seems like it will score about 154 B&C after deductions. I was shooting standard Federal Power-Shok rounds in a Remington 700 in .25-06, topped with a Elite Bushnell 3200 4-12X40. It performed beautifully on all four of the deer I shot this season - most of the energy from the shot was expended inside the animal.