Jared Knighton is an experienced western hunter, who has an obsession with chasing high country mule deer. Wisdom is gained from every opportunity (missed or not), and Jared has plenty of opportunities that have led to his experience in the mountains. The below write-up is from Jared's recent mule deer hunt that resulted in a successful velvet mule deer hunt.
In Jared's words:
After seven days in the backcountry and multiple missed opportunities, it finally came together on the last day of my hunt. Every year I set a goal to take a mature buck with my bow in the high country. My goals were set high this year to try and take my biggest buck. Much like every other hunt, things are always harder once you step foot in the mountains with a bow in hand. With every day that passed, it felt more and more unlikely that I would notch my tag.
Midway through the hunt, I regretfully passed on a really great buck, in hopes to shoot the bigger buck that was running with him, only to end up with a missed opportunity. By the time the last day rolled around I was ready to take whatever the mountain gave me. When I peaked down into the basin, I spotted a mature buck bedded in a good spot for a stalk. I then used the terrain to my advantage and got on top of a cliff that would put me within bow range above the buck. When I got to the edge, the buck was bedded at eighty yards. I waited for several hours and the buck finally gave me a shot opportunity at thirty-five yards broadside (fifty yards line of sight). Not sure how, but I missed the first shot... The buck took a couple of steps and I ranged him at 45 yards, but now he was quartering away. I dialed my Arxos sight and let it fly. Due to the steep downhill trajectory I aimed just off the top of his back on his last rib. To my horror, I watched my arrow sail low and further right than I was aiming, striking the buck just in front of his hind quarter. I could see blood pouring out of the buck which gave me hope that I hit something good. I watched the buck head into some jack pines and bed down. After a grueling three hours, I stalked down to find the buck dead in his bed.
I always strive to make as ethical of a shot as possible, but there are many variables that can cause a bad shot to occur. Nonetheless, I’m grateful that I was able to recover the buck, despite my bad shot. Now my freezer is full of deer meat and I can reflect on the mistakes that I made that will make me a better bowhunter for the future.
Written by Jared Knighton