On the front end of a western bowhunting trifecta, there was the mega muley from Nevada.
That buck, a massive velvet-antlered Nevada mule deer taken by Arizona archer Greg Krogh, fell on Aug. 8 and stunned the western bowhunting camp with an initial green net score of 206 0/8 inches.
On the backside of this amazing bowhunting run is the monster Colorado mule deer arrowed on Aug. 28 by Jeff Draper, a fuzzy-horned mega-
muley with an initial green net score of 205 6/8 inches.
While shrinkage issues, official 60-day scoring efforts, and future panel scoring measurements remain as hurdles for those two bucks to clear in the procession to bowhunting's velvet-antlered mule deer throne, the parade of massive bucks is far from over.
Sandwiched between those two harvests is a big Utah mule deer buck arrowed Aug. 21 by Gary Wilson. That buck, a 4x4 typical with one "cheater point," features a recently obtained official 60-day gross score of 197 3/8 inches and a net score of 187 2/8 inches.
"My wife keeps asking me, 'Are you going back to work?'" Wilson chuckled. "I can stare at the photos all day long. I'm not looking at someone else's buck; this one will be in the house some day soon."
As with the two other mega mule deer bucks arrowed in August, Wilson had spent considerable time this year observing the buck that he eventually arrowed through pre-season scouting efforts.
"My season began clear back in March, doing all of the prep work for that moment," Wilson said. "The scouting bug caught me in a bad way."
Wilson's preseason scouting trips often included taking two of his three young sons into the Utah high country to glass for bucks.
"I'm always looking for bucks," he said. "Sometimes I'll take them 'camping' in the car. They'll fall asleep and I can glass. Then they'll wake up and say ,'No dad, we don't want to find bucks.'"
Earlier in the year, the bowhunter had spotted the buck that he dubbed "Lefty" due to the four-inch "cheater point" on the mule deer's left side.
"I had actually videotaped him three times before, including the week prior to the season," Wilson said. "I really got some good video footage of him (then) at about 30 yards."
On the season's opening day, Wilson and a hunting buddy were in the mountains searching for a bachelor group of bucks that usually included "Lefty."
"We found the group about 11 o'clock that morning," Wilson said. "I thought, 'Hey, this is the group. Where's the big boy?'"
Later that day, as rain threatened to fall, Wilson was trying to help his hunting pal get a shot at one of the bucks in that bachelor group. As Wilson quietly worked his way over
the top of a ridge, the archer looked down and caught his breath.
"I looked down and at 60-yards, there was the buck ("Lefty") feeding with his head down on a 45-degree slope," Wilson said.
As Wilson quietly stalked over the top of the ridge and down into shooting position, the hunter's long hours of shooting practice and scouting endeavors readied to culminate in the bowhunting moment of a lifetime.
"I just stalked down and closed the distance to about 40 to 45 yards behind a tree," Wilson recalled. "Right as I was looking around, I thought there might be other eyes watching me and just then noticed a three-point (mule deer buck)."
"Fortunately, he hadn't noticed me yet and there was a good crosswind."
With both deer unaware of his presence, Wilson sucked his compound bow to full draw, settled the proper sight pin and touched the trigger on his release, sending a broadhead/arrow combination hurtling downrange.
After retreating to give the buck time to expire and to help his hunting buddy tag his own buck, Wilson experienced some anxious moments a bit later on the mountain side when the blood trail proved to be less than expected.
Apparently, while the shot was on the mark and drilled the buck through the lungs, some tissue plugged the exit hole on the opposite side leaving little in the way of a blood trail.
Still the archer's search for the monster muley ended successfully a short while later when he saw velvet covered antlers protruding from the alpine brush.
"(I thought) 'There he is, oh my gosh, there he is,'" Wilson recalled.
Upon reaching the fallen buck, the bowhunter sank to the ground, overwhelmed by what had just transpired on the side of a steep Utah mountain.
"Honestly, I paid my respects to the Creator for giving me the opportunity to share the beauty of this animal, to take his life, and for a wonderful moment that I would cherish forever," Wilson said.
"I tried to honor the buck as much as I could; he was a magnificent buck."
About the only negative aspect of the whole experience for Wilson was the discovery that the "cheater point" responsible for "Lefty's" nickname had folded over as the deer impacted the ground, leaving it broken and hanging by the velvet.
Even so, an ecstatic Wilson called his wife in short order to relay the good news.
"I said, 'Melissa, I got Lefty. I just shot Lefty,'" Wilson said. "She was so excited, although I think it might have been because it was the first day of the hunt and I was (already) done."
Don't you wish we were all so lucky?