Second Target: Colorado Mule Deer
9/22/08 - 9/28/08 First ever deer camp. Briefing:
Long before we settled on the hog hunt location, we knew what we were going after here in our home state. There is just nothing quite like a western Mule Deer. Mule Deer have large ears that move constantly and independently. This is why they have their name, "Mule" or "Burro Deer." They do not run as other deer do. They use a peculiar and distinctive bounding leap, covering distances up to 8 yards, with all 4 feet coming down together. Because of this, they can reach speeds of 45 m.p.h. for short periods of time.
This stocky deer with sturdy legs is 4 to 6-1/2 feet in length and 3 to 3-1/2 feet high at the shoulder. During the summer, the coat on its upper body is yellow- or reddish-brown, while in winter colors give way to grayer tones. The throat patch, rump patch, inside ears and inside legs are white with lower portions running from cream to tan. A dark V-shaped mark, extending from a point between the eyes upward and laterally, is a characteristic shared by all Mule Deer, but is more conspicuous in males.
Males are larger than females. The bucks' antlers, which start to grow in the spring, are shed around December each year. They run high and branch forward, forking equally into 2 tines with a spread up to 4 feet.
The Mule Deer is slower and less colorful than the White-tailed Deer, but its pastel, gray-buff color provides a physical adaptation to the desert environment which disguises it from predators like the Cougar, Coyote, and the Eagle who will swoop down on a fawn.
Mule Deer have no canine teeth and, like the cow, have a multi-part stomach. The first two chambers act as temporary storage bins. Food stored there can be digested later when the deer chews its cud.
Another physical adaptation, its larger feet, allow the Mule Deer to claw out water as much as two feet deep, which it detects with its keen sense of smell.
The mating season for Mule Deer reaches its peak in November and December, as antlered stags round up females and fight for their possession. Antlers are shed after the breeding season, from mid-January to about mid-April. Most mature bucks in good condition have lost theirs by the end of February; immature bucks generally lose them a little later. Males and females mix freely while traveling together in groups during winter months, often down to the desert floor.
Dominance is largely a function of size. The largest males, who possess the largest antlers, garner most of the success. A buck will find a suitable doe and they will often play chase games at breakneck speeds before mating. They will remain together for several days.
When antlers start growing again in the spring, the group breaks up. The females go off by themselves and eventually give birth and nurse their young; the males wander in friendly twosomes or small bands throughout the summer months as antlers grow.
From April through June, after about a 200-day gestation period, the doe delivers 1 to 4 young (normally 2). Fawns are born in late May or early June. A doe will usually produce a single fawn the first year she gives birth and then produce twins in following years. The fawn, colored reddish with white spots, weighs about 6 pounds at birth. It must nurse within the first hour and stand within the first 12 hours. During early weeks of life, the fawn sees its mother only at mealtimes for feeding. Spots begin to fade by the end of the first month. They are further protected by having little or no scent. Fawns usually stay with the doe for the first full year.
Their life span in the wild is generally 10 years, but Mule Deer have lived up to 25 years in captivity .
All federal, state, and provincial land and wildlife management agencies recognize the fundamental need to maintain Mule Deer ranges and keep them habitable. To counter the trend of agricultural development, rangeland conversion, mining, road and highway construction, and the development of housing tracts, many states and provinces have purchased critical areas, especially winter ranges, to maintain the various habitats of Mule Deer. But, due to political opposition to government acquisition of privately owned lands, plus a scarcity of funds for this purpose, only a small fraction of Mule Deer ranges has been acquired by the government.
I hope to keep a running, daily journal here. Similar in disposition to our Hog Hunt, but more timely. Ultimately, I would like to compile all of these writings into one big story, and get it bound and in print for Cheri and the kids to look back on and remember the good times we have now. Sadly... at 37 my body is giving out on me; 10 years before it was supposed to I'm afraid.
I want every one who takes to the time to read this to feel free to comment. I want your words to be included in the book too, to serve as a reminder to them of how the hunting community took us in and held us as one of their own. I want them to look upon the people in our lives now, and those to come in the future, as the finest, most noble and honest example of our sport they could ever associate themselves with. I want them to continue the traditions we've all been gifted with for generation after generation. Most of all, I want them to see that because of the type of people in our community, they were able to experience both the thrill and excitement before, during, after the hunt; but now also carry the responsibility each and every one of us takes on regarding conservation, management, and responsibility to not only the animals, but the land they live in.
now, if you are actually crazy enought to put this in anything, will have to wonder about your sanity. you get anything in the mail yet?
I've been hunting them for 8 years and still haven't got one with a bow,I've had my chances with little spikers and does but said my first mully I take was going to be a good one.I really find hunting bears easier then deer with a bow.
rotflmao...sissy boy!! HA!!!! That's great!!!!!!!
Rick, we are blessed to have you and your family join us. This forum, and hunting community, is truly lucky to have people like you!
I absolutely, 100%, enjoyed reading your post on the hog hunt, and I really really really look forward to reading posts on your future hunts.
Cool Rick! I love to watch the mule deer run...I equate it to the "Serta Sleep Sheep" (remember the commercial???) boing....boing....boing.... Yep, mule deer are cool!
Gotta like it when TLC Drops the hammer on ya!
1 week to go!
Today, I woke up more bleary-eyed than usual. I'm not sure if I can attribute this to the short weekend, the multiple bottles of wine at Cheri's parent's house last night, or the incessant dreams of Mule Deer keeping my heart pumping double-duty all night. Probably all of the above.
I struggled to get untangled from the covers and lumbered my way to the shower. As the water rained down on my head, a sobering realization hit me: One week until we head out to Grand Mesa.
Suddenly the haze of sleep lifted from my eyes. My movements quickened as if fueled by a greater purpose. A smile actually creased my lips. Yes... a smile first thing in the morning. I'm not sure that has ever happened before! I am not... nor will I ever be... a morning person. Oh I'll get up early to go fishing, or hunting, don't get me wrong. But to say I do so with a smile... well that's just crazy-talk.
My "joy" continued all throughout my usual morning practices. I smiled at the electric razor. I happily hung up my towel. I grabbed my shirt and pants and actually hung the hangers back up! What a GREAT day! I was able to slip my feet into my shoes without fighting the laces! AWESOME!!! We had a bit of a chilly night, and at 6:45 am I pulled my leather coat from the closet and it felt like it fit better than the last time I wore it. There was Cheri and the kids, bright-eyed and all, lined up with their gear at the garage door. How nice. No fights this morning. Everyone must be in as good a mood as I am! Mark this date on the calendar.
"Becca, do you have your heavy coat to take to your dad's just in case?" I asked. She looked at me, much like some of you may be looking at this post right now. I'll explain:
Cale and Becca spend one week with us at our house, then the next week with their dad. Back and forth they go week after week. It's about as stable as we can make the situation for them. Their father still lives in the school district they've grown up in, and we didn't feel like ripping them out of it. We take Cale to his school because it starts earlier, then drop Becca off at her dad's place to wait an hour and a half for her bus, then we go off to work.
This last week, they were with us, so this week... yep... off to their dad's. The following week, Cheri and I are on the western slope on the deer hunt, so they will be with their dad that week. Finally, when we get back, the normal schedule would have them back at their dad's. Rather than screw that up, and we lose Christmas with them, they will stay at their dad's 3 weeks in a row. Everybody with me so far? (Context is everything with me)
So I ask Becca if she has her heavy coat at her dad's because the weather in Colorado is like a schizophrenic off medication, and I sure don't want her stuck out in the weather with her light-weight Minnie Mouse coat. She had either forgotten the arrangements regarding her housing over the next three weeks, or simply has not learned in her 10 years of living here how volatile the weather can be, but either way, she had no clue.
Being the good, "in-tune" step-father I am, I quickly put two and two together, and followed my question up with, "You'll be at your dad's for the next three weeks so you might need it, babe."
I think we all should be equipped with external sound devices. Those devices would make moments like the one I am describing more enjoyable for us. Had Becca been in posession of such a thing, I am pretty sure that the sound of crickets chirping would have filled the confines of our kitchen area while she processed this statement.
I screw with Becca's head every chance I can. I caught her one morning years ago looking at her bare bottom in the mirror. I choked back the laughter as much as I could and asked what exactly she was looking for. She said with a rather matter-of-fact tone, "I'm looking for my stamp." For weeks, I had been teasing her that she was not "concieved" as her brother was, but she was "assembled" from spare parts at an orphanage. Her Barbie dolls had a stamp on their butt's, so she concluded that she must also bare the same mark, and she wanted to see if she had this mark to prove once and for all that I was messing with her.
I'm sure she must have thought that I was at it again, but her mom and brother confirmed for her that I was not. Her good mood suddenly shifted to what I can only assume was an empty, desolate feeling. Her face lost its glow and her shoulders dropped a visible inch. "Oh." was all she said, and she turned to the calendar hanging to her left as the final proof she was after.
She remained silent through the 10 minute trip from our house to Cale's school. We arrived and Cale and I did our usual fist-bump, followed by my usual "Be good or else" comment, and off to their dad's we went.
Becca is 10. I don't know if this true of all 10 year old girls, but when she is silent for more that 20 seconds she is either sick or plotting something. Anyone care to guess which one best fit her on this occasion. Yep... you got it. The wheels were SMOKIN! All she could come up with was, "Does dad know we'll be there for three weeks?" Hehe... God love her for trying!
It was weak, and she knew it going in. "A" for effort hun! As I was reaching for the hammer to drive in the final nail, Cheri stole my thunder. "Yep we talked it over and he is very excited to have you that long." That was the end of that. Check mate.
We dropped her off, and she moved with head hung low to her dad's apartment. All I could do was giggle. Not a mean spirited giggle as I'm sure I am portaying here, but more of a "Look at you... you're trying hard as you can. Good try."
I give out this information not to illustrate how much I enjoy getting on Becca's nerves. Admittedly, I get a huge kick out of that sometimes. I want to show the immense desire this little girl has to experience hunting. See, nothing of her ploy has anything to do with feelings of abandonment, or difficulties coping with three weeks at her father's home, or our little game of "I trumped you, haha". She truly, with every fiber of her being, wants to go on a hunt. She doesn't even care if its a field mouse or an elephant. She just wants to get out there and do it. Experience it. Feel it, if you will.
She understands what she needs to do to get there:
1) Keep her grades up
2) Complete her tasks around the house.
3) Complete her Hunter's Safety Course.
So far, the only thing missing is #3. Every time we bring it up, her brother tells her how easy it was, and that he had a good time doing it. I tell her about the "hot bonde" her brother fell in love with, Cale punches me in the arm and I laugh... she says ok I'll do it. But when push comes to shove, she just doesn't follow through and give us the date she wants to take the class. She's 10, and some would argue that we should set the date for her and make her go. I say she's 10 and setting her own date will make her commit and buckle down. Its more important that she follows through, takes the class, passes the class all on her own. Then that little orange card will mean the world to her, and her reward will be a lifetime of hunting. Until she commits, she stays behind. Its that simple, and its all up to her.
Anyway... this has nothing to do with the hunt... I just thought I'd share!
Great Post Rick!
You need to give that little gal a break though! You big meanie! :D :rolleyes: :D
The Tension mounts...
I didn't sleep.
I tried to sleep, but the heat in our bedroom was suffocating. The sheets were rough. The pillows were hard as rocks. The audio book we listen to every night droned on and on and on. I could hear my hair growing.
You notice the craziest things when you are trying to take your thoughts to something other than the coming hunt. It wasn't hot, the sheets we have are soft as silk, the pillows, the hair, and the book are just fine. But I swear no matter what I manufactured between midnight last night and whenever it was I did manage to fall asleep only served to fuel my fire.
We had that problem in Texas too. Not so much in Amarillo, when we stayed with my sister, but in Mexia it seemed as if I could have built 4D all over again in that night.
I sat the sidelines all of last year. I read many posts and threads regarding people setting this and that up. They were checking cameras. Planting this here, but that there. I watched as the first successful trips started to trickle in, then more and more stories surfaced. Those hunters whose seasons start earlier allowed others to live vicariously through their exploits, churn the juices, and prime the pump so to speak. Then as the seasons wound down, the victories of the latter seasons rekindled the memories of the early birds. On and on the wheel turns.
I read many posts that recounted everything about the hunt down to the smallest of details. Some were summed up in photos, or a few short sentences. Every victory was celebrated. I wanted to be a part of that.
Now I am. I've purchased all that can be purchased. I've studied all that can be absorbed by one who's played too much football without a helmet. I shot my bow with such frequency that in under a year I've needed to replace the string and cable. I shot from standing, sitting, kneeling postions. I've even toyed with the idea of a prone attempt. I've watched multiple videos, movies, and clips on the subject of Mule Deer and their ways. All that is left is to sit and watch the clock drag on.
Work is work. The callers change, but the theme remains constant. The market climbs and falls. I thank God with every point change that my income does not soley depend on a positive move, but on the other hand, I might welcome the distraction presented by bounding gains and "rock in a well" losses. Ultimately, I fear the digits would only serve to drive my attention back to the number of days until we head out.
All that is really left for us to do, aside from examining the pivotal role of the corn flake in 17th century art, is pack the van. Considering that endeavor would realistically only eliminate 25 minutes at best from our self-imposed sentence, I can hardly justify the notion. Still, I will have to find a way to stem the tide of my obsession with something...
Maybe I'll try for a coyote...
You can always wash and fold your clothes a couple of times! lol Um...pick out the pebbles from between the van's seats. Vacuum out the van. Wash the van. Paint the van in a nice Real Tree camo. Shoot...you can even call me at 6 this evening...EST of course. ;) We can yak about your plan of action and what a great hunt I'll miss. :) lol
The angst can be a royal pain, can't it? lol :D
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