This week’s Challenge of the Hunt Video blog series comes from Intrepid Outdoors Lead Video Editor Wade McMillin, who looks closer at Mule Deer in Northeast Wyoming and one hunter’s quest for his Muley trophy.
The Solitude Ranch near Devils Tower, Wyoming is mainly known for its robust Whitetail Deer heard. Owner and Intrepid Outdoors Executive Producer Mike Schmid, along with ranch managers, have prided themselves on an excellent Whitetail Deer management program. Having such an attractive property, which raises some of the largest Whitetail in the state, creates for some great Whitetail episodes of Intrepid Outdoors.
What you may not know, though, is that the Solitude also has its fair share of Mule Deer. The heard on the grounds of the Solitude is estimated at about 220 Mule Deer and gives hunters the opportunity to harvest a Muley when they pick up an “any deer” tag for the private land.
There are only four to five Mule Deer taken each year on the ranch, because most hunters have their eyes set on mature Whitetails when they travel to the Solitude. Although not many Muleys are harvested, the bucks that are taken turn out to be magnificent trophies. Kurt Fell, co-owner of Blind Turtle Hard Shell Hunting Blinds, was one hunter looking solely for a Mule Deer when he visited Northeast Wyoming with his father and fellow co-owner Ed Fell in the Fall of 2012. Little did Kurt know that his time at the Solitude wouldn’t be long lasting.
Kurt set up in a Blind Turtle on an attractive waterhole deemed “Lott Pond.” He and Intrepid Outdoors Producer Bob Lott, who the set is named after, entered the blind a little before 6:30 a.m., well before camera light. As the deer are known to do at “Lott Pond,” does and fawns began funneling down for a morning drink. And at about 6:45, to both cameraman and hunter’s surprise, a Mule deer followed the Whitetail does and fawns to satisfy his thirst.
Kurt simply couldn’t wait for another chance, although it was just 15 minutes into day one of his hunt. His trophy was just a stone’s throw away and he opted to execute despite the less than perfect camera light and the bad timing. Kurt drew back his bow, positioned himself in the back of the Blind Turtle and released. He quickly knew the flight of his arrow was true as the Lumenock lit up its surroundings and stuck in the mature Muley.
The animal ran about 35 yards and dropped. Kurt couldn’t believe what he had just accomplished, how it all came together and what the Solitude has to offer when it comes to Mule Deer.
“It’s hard to come up with the words right now about how excited I am about this,” he said. “I mean this thing’s a tank. Look at the body on him (and a) great rack. Fifteen minute hunt; are you kidding me? He’s significantly better than I thought he was.”
When hunters come to the Solitude it seems like that is their general reaction: the hunting is better than they thought it would be. Most of these hunters are chasing Whitetails, but it also rings true when it comes to mature Muleys.
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