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A Nice, Mature Buck

December 2018
Story by Kris Kohlhoff
State: Colorado
Species: Deer - Mule

I’ve known Scott Limmer for several years. Over the years, I have seen many nice mule deer taken by his hunters. A few years ago, I sent him a deposit and soon my tag was drawn and I was on my way to hunt northeastern Colorado for mule deer with at least a chance at a mature mule deer buck.


I arrived in Wray, Colorado the night before our hunt, checked into our hotel, and met my roommate and hunting partner, Kurt Duxbury of Wisconsin. We walked together to an apartment for the pre-hunt meeting with the guides. It was also where we ate breakfast and dinner and prepared lunches for the day. Scott, Kurt, and I would hunt unit 101. James and Ernie would hunt with guide Mike Williams in unit 102. The corn harvest was about three weeks behind schedule, which would make finding the bucks a little tough.


Every day before dawn, we were overlooking an alfalfa, sunflower, or corn field to check out the does and the visiting bucks before they would disappear into the standing corn or up into the sagebrush hills. In the afternoons, we would make a short hike to a good glassing point in the hills to watch their return into the open. We saw a few good bucks, but when we dismounted and tried to close the distance on foot, we were amazed how they could easily elude us.


On the third afternoon, we saw a couple of good bucks with some does and decided to make a move off a glassing point and see if we could get within rifle range. Scott put us on a great stalk and we peaked over a ridge to see one of the bucks on the next ridge. Scott said 200 yards while Kurt and I got ready to shoot. I was thinking that there was no way that deer as that deer looked huge and was more like 100 yards. Kurt's gun went "Boom!" and the deer dropped. It turned out that 200 yards was right. Scott had to walk back to the truck and drive several miles around to get as close to the deer as he could. Kurt and I took photos and waited until Scott found us with headlamps on. Kurt and Scott pulled an antler each, and I carried our gear to the truck in the dark. It was really nice that we were able to take our deer to a local farmer’s shop to hang it for skinning, cooling, and portioning to fit in an ice chest. That night at dinner, Ernie shared that he had taken a unique deer. Ernie and James are both big time fishermen, with James being an ice fishing guide. They both had some funny stories to share.


The next morning after stopping at a few glassing points, we found a pretty buck following does around the edge of a cornfield. Kurt watched from the truck as Scott and I bounded down a pivot and got within 200 yards. After a couple of shots, the buck disappeared. Scott and I walked to where we had last seen him but couldn’t find him or any blood with the tall corn and waist-high weeds. Kurt yelled from the truck and directed us through the weeds to where the buck lay down. Without Kurt, we might never have found him. We took pictures, and Mike, Ernie, and James showed up from their unit after they heard the shots.


That afternoon, our team glassed locations in 102 for James. It was some interesting country to see and explore. We saw loads of pheasants, and coyotes were everywhere. We reduced the coyote population by one with the truck. Scott also picked up a beautiful Kit fox that we found dead on the road one morning. I discovered Scott had been in Germany in the early 80s with the 3rd Armored Division while I was there with 32 Army Air Defense Command. Kurt enjoyed us reliving Cold War memories.


I drove back to Montana the next day up the north Platte, past Scott's Bluff, through Nebraska to Wyoming, and past Camp Guernsey where I had spent some time 14 years ago working with the Wyoming National Guard. As usual, I found myself racing a snowstorm home. About a week later, the deer thawed enough to get it processed and in the freezer. The corn-fed mule deer was excellent. It wasn’t the 200 incher I was hoping for, but it was a nice, mature five to six-year-old buck. I have a lot of deer points in Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming to plan my next chance.