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October 2023
Story by Colten Platt
State: New Mexico
Species: Deer - Mule

The “highlight” of my year every year is when draw results come out. This year, I got lucky enough to draw a deer tag in unit 16. Even though this tag has a high draw percentage and may not be the best tag, I was still pumped about it. In the past few years, I have had deer tags, I just never tagged out.

With November coming closer, my dad and I began planning for the hunt. While looking at the calendar, we soon noticed that my dad had a hunt of his own with the same dates as mine. Determined to kill my first mule deer, I decided to go with my cousin, Brit Humpheries, and try to hunt without my dad for the first time.

Opening morning came, and we went to a spot I was fairly familiar with. After hours of hiking and glassing and only seeing one doe, we decided to head to a different spot for the evening hunt. The evening went the same, a couple does and that was it.

Sunday went the exact same way with very little luck. Frustrated, we decided that we would hunt Monday too before going back to school on Tuesday. We woke up extra early Monday morning to load the four-wheeler into the truck so we could get back into the spot we wanted to go. After driving very slowly, we finally got to where we planned on unloading the four-wheeler. We bundled up and headed on our way. Just as the sun came up, we already had eyes on deer. I glassed up one lone doe and a small group of four does. Just as we were about to move around the mountain, Brit spotted a deer topping over the mountain. I quickly got the spotter on him and saw horns. We made a game plan that Brit would get on a smaller mountain to guide me in as I climbed to the top where the buck was.

I stalked into 200 yards and realized the buck wasn’t as big as I had thought, so I passed him. I radioed Brit and told him I had passed on the buck and to head back to the quad. Just as I was about to head off the top of the mountain, Brit radioed in, saying, “There are two good bucks headed up the bald face you came up.”

I crept to the band of cliffs above the bald face and waited. After about 10 minutes the smaller buck popped up into view and right behind him was the bigger buck. I got all set up on the rocks, settled in, and squeezed the trigger. The buck stumbled but remained standing, so I shot a second round. This time, he dropped. We got up to the buck and just laughed. No one thought there was any way that we two teenage boys would get it done on our own, yet we did!

After a lot of laughs and pictures, I put all my experience of skinning and quartering to the test. We got him all broken down and began the steep hike down the mountain in the dark. We got to the quad, and as luck would have it, the tire was flat. We limped it all the way back to the truck, loaded up, and headed back to St. Johns for school. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, and I want to thank Brit for all his help.