November 8: Taylor Drury

Hunkered down on a barren mountain side void of cover struggling to get into a stable shooting position, Taylor moved quickly but discreetly, knowing the eyes of a mule deer doe were dissecting her every move from just 80 yards. 

This crescendo was the culmination of a previous trip to Utah with Mark, multiple close encounters, solid scouting from fiancé and Wild Country Outfitter guide Austin Land, and two days of chasing a mature mule deer nicknamed “Ghost.” He lived in incredibly steep terrain so the hunt wasn't going to be easy. 

Ghost was a seven-and-a-half-year-old buck that had been seen during the first week of Utah’s guide season, then went MIA until just before Taylor arrived. Tom Land, owner and Tay’s future father-in-law, invited her back out to Wild Country Adventures to finish what she started and finally notch her CWMU mule deer tag. Tom would guide and Austin would run the camera - A Land family affair. 

The rut was in full swing and though the trio saw Ghost on day one, the buck was always surrounded by a harem of does. All those eyeballs made it hard to get in close, though they did get within 170 yards of him once and had the gun up, but the does would not clear out enough for a clean shot. 

Day two was spent chasing Ghost and catching back up to him entering a narrow canyon later in the day. It was the same canyon he’d been going to on previous evenings. To get to him however, they would need to descend a steep slope with little cover, all the while buffeted by a stiff, chilly wind. At this point, they had encountered Ghost 4 different times but it never came together - He was challening to hunt even with a rifle. 

The final descent took over two hours and was done by scooting downhill in a seated position. The deer were directly below them. They kept tabs on their location by noting where the buck’s rack was. 

Finally within 100 yards, the crew watched as Ghost followed a doe up and onto the opposite slope, now just 80 yards away at the same elevation. With nothing to breakup their outline, their forms made the doe edgy. The buck, in full rut mode, paid no mind to them. 

Intent on making a good shot, Taylor fought back her nerves for what would be her first mule deer and worked to get her shooting stick in place. The doe caught the movement and quickly walked out to 150 yards, bringing the buck with her. 

As the deer were leaving, Taylor was on the scope, just waiting for a good broadside shot. Eventually the buck broke away from the doe at 200 yards and finally turned broadside. 

She squeezed through the trigger and felt the recoil from the gun as she watched the buck. It all felt good, the shot, the impact, his mule kick, but Ghost stood still for mintes while hunched over. As he slowly turned, Taylor could see the exit wound behind his opposing shoulder. It was text book, but he just stood there before eventually bedding down. His massive frame absorbed a hit that would have rolled most typically-sized mule deer. Wanting to make as quick a kill as possible, she and Austin hiked over to the other side of the canyon and she made a final secondary shot on the buck. Then it was time to celebrate because the happy tears/hugs were flowing! 

Taylor took her first mule deer, a 182 3/8-inch monster with her fiancé and future father-in-law in the mountains of Utah. The situation could not have been better. Couple that with the five-star accommodations, food, people, hunting, and service at Wild Country Adventures, and you’ve got a mule deer hunt for the ages… and Phase Six of THIRTEEN!  


Gear Used:

Nomad Apparel

Outdoor Edge Razor Blaze

Leupold Optics

Winchester XPR 6.5 Creedmoor

Tenzing Packs

Winchester Deer Season XP

LaCrosse Boots

Wild Country Outfitters