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July 2018
Story by Thomas Hooper
Hunters: Thomas Hooper and Shawn Shoepawk
State: Arizona
Species: Deer - Mule

This year started like so many years before, with unsuccessful draw results. After traveling softball was over, Shawn and I got things ready for the Arizona archery deer hunts. We had two bucks located for the opening day in August.

The first morning, we were able to locate one of the two bucks, but we were unable to get things done. We took the whole next week of work off to try and harvest one of our target bucks. On the seventh day, Shawn was able to slip in on the herd, and after he busted the big buck, he allowed the deer, which we had named “Pretty Boy,” time to calm down for him to try again. As Keith and I watched the entire process happen, we saw the deer take his last breath and we knew that Shawn had just successfully harvested his biggest buck to date.

We chased our number one target buck until the end of the early season, but we were unable to close the deal. Late archery season started up in December and the weather was very dry, so we decided our best choice would be to hunt over water. I did not have any luck on my first day on the water. On day two, I had a 3-point buck and four cow elk come to the water I was sitting on. As I put my rangefinder up to ready myself for a shot, the magnet made a loud noise and spooked the deer. After this unfortunate event, I decided to cut the magnet out of my bino case.

On day three, I sat in the ground blind for 30 minutes and heard something jump the fence behind me. I was uncertain what it was, so I had to wait it out to see. After 30 minutes of waiting, a nice 4x4 was at the water about 20 yards in front of me. I drew my bow and let the arrow fly. I could tell the buck was hit, but the shot was too far back.

I waited a while before I called my hunting buddies, Keith, Shawn, and Jeff, and we all started looking where we had been the night before. After tracking for an hour, I was finally able to retrieve my awesome over-the-counter mule deer.

I would like to thank my buddies, Keith, Shawn, and Jeff, for helping me track down this buck. I would also like to thank my wife and children for dealing with the obsession I have with hunting.