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Desert Mule Deer

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Johnm1, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this desert mule deer hunting. I have hunted this area for over 10 years but it was only two years ago I harvested my first buck. The key is water. Duh.

    29C37C3A-3605-4201-80EB-E1250910BA91.jpeg


    Range - 36 yards. Here is the spot. Four came in from the left to drink on the small beach. The first problem was they lined up at the water in such a way that I couldn’t shoot any one of them without hitting at least one other. I had to wait for one on the far side to peel off on his own. The best of the four was in the middle.

    A70A3537-79F4-4F1B-A6FC-AB6749E333F7.jpeg

    At such short distance I aimed for the heart.

    08403929-76AD-4581-ACF8-60CB7811F400.jpeg

    This was another 3 point plus eye guards. An 8 point using eastern count. I examined the heart and it was a grazing shot to the heart that took out the far side lung. And of course it started to run. Now I’m getting older and really didn’t want to track in the middle of this scrub desert. So as he turned and started to run I led him correctly and I put another in his left shoulder that exited the right shoulder breaking both shoulders. Despite that it ran another 25 yards.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  2. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    Congrats and very good photos btw.


    These might actually be dessert whitetails

    il_fullxfull.669095000_6l42.jpg
    sorry, couldn't resist :evil:
     
  3. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I always have the fear of using the wrong spelling of that and a couple of other words.

    Here is a shot of the landscape adjacent to the water. Miles of creosote flats. And that is where they are this time of year. You can spot and stalk. But there is precious little cover. The water is just to the right of where this photo is taken.


    56BC8D00-536D-4D30-8E01-8E1539F4EDD6.jpeg
     
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  4. George P

    George P Member

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    When I lived in NV, if you camped out at a water source - pond, creek, seep or whatever, the game wardens were going to make your life hell.
     
  5. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    That isn’t the case in Arizona. You can’t camp within a 1/4 mile, but you can hunt the water.
     
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  6. stillquietvoice

    stillquietvoice Member

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    Nice looking buck congrats on your 4x4.
     
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  7. <*(((><
    • Contributing Member

    <*(((>< Luke

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    Problem with this thread is there is very limited view of that nice Krag
     
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  8. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I’m Pretty proud of that carbine. Manufactured in 1903 it is 115 years old and I have complete confidence in it within its range.

    I bought the carbine 5 or so years ago already sporterized. The no drill Redfield peep alone was worth it. I tried to make the factory ammunition work but Commercial 180 grain requires the peep sight to bottom out interfering with bolt operation. Last year I put together some original 220 grain loads to match what the military used. 2100 FPS from a 30” barrel calculates to 1865 FPS from the 20” carbine. Using a 150 yard zero it is plus or minus 3” to 180 yards and I am in tune with that trajectory. Beyond 200 it drops like a rock.

    I’ll fire up the laptop and post some pictures of the Krag. It is uncut and not drilled. I could conceivably put a rear sight on it, replace the peep with a magazine cut off and drop it into a military stock and compete in service rifle.

    A5B9424B-A916-4728-9349-C54A4CD32A63.png
     
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  9. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I struggle with photographs at times. Here are some pictures from a few years ago. General consensus was this was a gunsmith school project. I really don’t care what it was. I love the thing. I didn’t get a deer last year but it did get a bobcat at 90 yards.

    1DD4EFBB-A9CF-4DAF-A407-30E80B59A0B2.jpeg

    44D44CCF-54A4-497A-A9D2-4F98B48B52F7.jpeg 99573BC0-CD4C-418D-A2EF-420F21548B28.jpeg
     
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  10. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    The peep sight inserts in the slot for the magazine cut off.


    345F9DBF-DFFF-4C69-B664-3032E172C781.jpeg 36CAFE9C-5DE4-441A-85B1-83EFA92E8181.jpeg CB59DFA9-29BC-4C61-B030-5B73DC099C3C.jpeg
     
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  11. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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  12. Peakbagger46

    Peakbagger46 Member

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    Great post and pictures! I’ve got to know one thing, how do those desert mule deer taste?
     
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  13. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    yes..., I am wondering the same thing too. ;)

    LD
     
  14. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    They taste great. I suspect just like a Whitetail. Though I don’t have a lot to compare to. As harsh as the environment is down there, there is a lot to eat. His stomach was full from a night of feeding. The key is to get it field dressed and the skin off as soon as possible. Although it froze the night before daytime temperatures were in the 60’s. It was shot right at sunrise on opening day. I got it to the processor and in a cold room in 5 hours. I was 21 miles off of the paved road and I was alone. Heck, getting it into the back of the truck was a chore. Plus I had to hike the 1/2 mile to my truck. Fortunately I was able to drive my truck up to where it dropped. That was one of the reasons for the second shot. I lost some meat with that second shot but it kept me from having to drag it from a distance.
     
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  15. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I used a 220 grain round nosed soft point at mv of 1865 and was happy with the performance. Good expansion for the soft tissue hit and an exit wound on the double shoulder hit. I wonder what would have happened if I had used a standard 30-06 or 270 at such short range? I have heard of poor bullet performance at very close range.
     
  16. dh1633pm

    dh1633pm Member

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    Excellent shooting. I was in NM a year ago up in the northern part of the state. At 8000 feet on a hiking trail, came around a corner and came nose to nose with a doe mule deer. She looked at me and I at her. I slowly backed away from her and watched as she walked away. Must have been used to seeing people. I wasn't used to seeing her.
     
  17. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    As far as me waiting for the best deer to present a shot, I'm not that patient. Deer are hard to find in this desert. When an opportunity arises it is best to take the best shot available as long as it is ethical. These deer wouldn't hang around the water for very long. We know of at least 3 lions that are in the area and I bet they do the same thing I did. Wait at the water.

    As an example, the first year I hunted the area the rancher told me there were three bucks hanging out in a flat area between two mountains/hills. Went out opening afternoon and sat down in some cover. I noticed all of the cows that walked past a certain spot just in front of me stopped and looked left. Could have been anything. Right at sunset a nice buck stands up at 70 yards and starts leaving the area. First at a walk and then a trot. By the time I confirmed antlers he was 180 yards away and in a trot. I wasn't prepared for a moving shot so decided not to shoot. It was only the first day of the season. It was seven years before I had another deer in my sights. Lesson learned: Be prepared.
     
  18. George P

    George P Member

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    Like any other animal, a mulie tastes like what it eats. When I hunted in Northen NV, the mulies who had access to the alfalfa fields tasted better than the ones eating bitterbrush or similar
     
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  19. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I have to agree with George, though my experience is still somewhat limited. We do have high country mule deer here that are much bigger and have a totally different diet. Up in the northern part of the state there is much more water and what they feed on is different than down in the SE corner of the state. See this new thread on Az Deer Hunt that show pictures of a much bigger deer that the hunters were somewhat disappointed in. I don't think they grow that big down in the desert. At least I have never seen one that big.

    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/az-deer-hunt-2019-great-times-with-great-guys.858566/
     
  20. George P

    George P Member

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    That's a nice spread on that 3 point and nice long tines.
     
  21. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I'd have been ecstatic had I seen one like that down south. All four that came in to the water were about the same size and rack as the one I took. The 3x4 I got two years ago was about that size as well. Both estimated at 130 lbs field dressed. So maybe 140/150 on the hoof. The processor I took my deer to noted it was the largest of the 100 or so that came into his business in the previous week. So I'm pretty sure they just grow them bigger in the northern part of the state.
     
  22. wankerjake

    wankerjake Member

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    We weren't disappointed John, I'm just mad at myself for misjudging him. He's still a good deer and we got him in a fun way and had a great hunt.

    The deer up there are definitely bigger on average than the rest of the state. Body and antlers. That's a good desert buck you got there, with a sweet rifle:)
     
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  23. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    A poor choice of words on my part.

    I hunted unit #7 the first year I deer hunted in Arizona before trying my luck in the Southeast part of the state. Although success rates are really low in the Southeast part of the state (north of I-10), so is the hunter pressure. I've had years where I only saw one other hunter and most often I see no other hunters after the Sunday hunt. Of course I've had years where I didn't see a single deer too. It all depends on the rain and the lions.
     
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  24. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    Here is the level of confidence I have in the Krag Carbine. The below is the lone confirming shot the previous weekend at the range. Because I use the peep sight and the big black area becomes difficult to find the actual center, I use a 6 O'clock hold (where my finger is) as I can get pretty precise with my aim. This shot was from 100 yards on sand bags but held loosely. The trigger is still the military two stage and pretty nice. At 100 yards, the trajectory puts the point of impact 2.94" above point of aim. That impact is about 1" high and an inch and a half or so right of where it should have hit. That's about as good as I can shoot on any given shot. I was pretty confident that nothing had changed since I sighted the carbine in a year and a half ago, so I put the carbine away after this one shot.

    Confirm 30-40.JPG

    Heck, it took two shots to confirm my modern back up rifle with a scope as I jerked that first shot high and left. It has a terrible trigger.
     
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  25. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    The load I settled on was a 220 grain round nose with a ballistic coeof 0.30. 36.1 grains of 4350 for a muzzle velocity of 1863 out of a 22" barrel. That is what produced the trajectory chart above. I incorrectly identified the barrel as 20" in a previous post.
     
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