Solo Montana Archery Mule Deer

Montana- Tyler Turco

I transferred to the University of Montana on a rodeo scholarship and the thought of being able to have access to some of the best fly fishing and big game hunting the West has to offer. As a nonresident student here in Montana, I can purchase a student discounted general deer tag that is good for both whitetail and mule deer across most of Montana. As good as it sounds, I still had a bit of constraint this year though. In late July I had a bucking horse fall over on me and fracture my right leg. I thought my hunting season was going to be a joke, but I am tenacious and knew I could find a way. So I purchased an IWalk crutch that serves as a peg leg and allowed me the freedom of my hands which is important when you’re hunting archery mule deer. I had attempted an archery antelope hunt using this crutch and was not successful, but I was a little stronger now and determined to get it done on a mule deer.

It was early September and most of my buddies and other hunters were busy chasing elk but being a muley freak myself, I wanted to go for mule deer before October when they become harder to locate. I took off going solo and planned on camping out of my truck. After a long drive to an area I had hunted a year prior in rifle season, I was in camp. This area is wide open with big coulees and perfect mule deer habitat, but I knew it would be challenging with my leg in a brace.

The first morning out I found a number of does and fawns. I hobbled over to the next draw and spotted a younger four-point buck. I knew the chances of me getting in range of any mule deer buck was pretty slim being crippled but I still opted to pass on this buck after crawling within 40 yards. The rest of the day I slowly covered country, trying to glass as much country as I could and let the glass do most of the walking. I spotted another smaller four-point buck that was traveling in a larger group of deer but was also on private land. I decided to head back to the truck and check out some other country. I later spotted a young three-point and more does on my way back to camp. The day ended with some elk steak and a missing screw to my IWalk crutch.

The second day I worked back into the area I hunted the day before. I glassed up few groups of deer and found a nice whitetail buck that had disappeared into one of the coulees. I decided to stay on the glass and finally found what I was looking for. Two big mature mule deer bucks working their way towards me from 1,500 yards out. Both bucks had big frames and I knew they would be shooter bucks if I could get closer. This would require me to hike 2.5 miles through the coulees which was quite a task with a peg leg. The bucks disappeared into a coulee, so I headed out in hopes of glassing them bedded down.

As I made my way towards the bigger bucks, I had glassed the edges of the coulees knowing I could jump a buck out of the brush that might be bedded. I had got about halfway to where I saw the bigger bucks disappear when I did exactly that. I heard the brush move and saw antlers coming out of the brush within 20 yards of me. I quickly knocked an arrow and prepared to range. It was a decent 4x4 buck that had a cool look to him. I ranged him at 50 yards and drew back. I sent the arrow but as I did the buck took another step and the arrow hit back. I knew the shot looked bad but from that angle I knew it would be a fatal hit. I slowly crept over the next ridge where I had seen him go and could see the buck bedded. I dropped my pack and was about to make another stalk when I looked up and the buck was gone. I figured I would give the deer some time, so I gathered up my gear and waited.

After an hour or two I started making my way to the blood trail. There was good blood in the bed where I had seen him laying but it petered out to nothing much. I spent the next three hours grid searching the whole area trying to find blood. Finally, I was making my way up the bottom of the coulee when I looked up and saw a big blood spot on the side of a dirt cliff. When I got up there, I found a huge pile of blood in a nook where this buck must have bedded but would have been incredibly hard to see. I looked down and to my surprise spotted an antler! The buck had fallen off the dirt cliff right into a four-foot-deep drainage that was covered in tall grass.

Pulling this deer out of the hole and quartering the meat turned out I be a tough challenge with one good leg. It took me two trips and most of the night to pack the deer out which ended up being 2.5 miles in. I want to give a shout out to IWalk for giving me a way to still get out there for this hunt. I learned after this pack out that I probably should take some buddies with me next time. I feel super blessed to get it done solo with archery equipment and a bum leg. There is also a video of this hunt on my YouTube channel that you can check out with the link below!

Gear List

Bow: Prime Defy

Sight: Apex Slider

Release: Spot Hogg

Bow Accessories: Quivalizer

Arrows: Gold Tip Pierce

Broadhead: Bloodsport Gravedigger

Optics: Vortex 12x50 Binos, Vortex Razor Spotter

Camo/Clothing: Kings Camo


Additional Gear: IWalk Crutch

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