My season opened on a Saturday, I had been so excited to finally get to hunt in New Mexico again. I was a little nervous about all the rain my area had been seeing. It was so muddy you could barley walk around without mud caking up on your boots. I was hunting on the edge of National Forrest with heavy wooded hillsides leading to beautiful sage brush flats. I wasn’t sure how the rain and previous hunts had affected the area. I had done some scouting early fall and found a few really nice mature bucks but there was one that I said then I wanted to lay hands on. I did what any good hunter does, I shot him with my camera. Of course I wanted to find him again but nice mature mule deer don’t get to be as big as they do without being smart and staying hidden. I really didn’t think I would see him again.

I had grown up hunting with my dad and uncle in Colorado. My first hunt took place when I was about 17. I had drawn my first deer tag! My dad couldn’t have been more proud. I was the oldest of 3 kids and the only girl and the only one who had ever shown any interest in hunting. So when I finally got this hunt I wasn’t going to waste it. It was my once in a lifetime. Opening morning was drizzling rain and had made morning activity minimal. I caught a small break, spot and stalked a very nice 4 point- he was a champ and was was working toward a pond to drink but was too far out of range for my 270.

I had to get closer. My husband and cousin made the long stalk with me to get in range but Mother Nature got the best of us with the wind. The next evening I decided to sit and spot. The weather had broke and the doe activity made it promising. As the afternoon wore on toward evening I was gradually losing hope that a mature buck might show himself. We were about to head in when two big mature bucks came strolling out of the trees heading to the sagebrush flats we were watching. My heart leapt into my throat when I realized I was watching the same big Muley from early fall.

I whispered he’s the one! I put my scope on him, just under 200 yards, and that buck stopped; I took my breath and pulled the trigger. My husband exclaims “he is running away!” With confidence, I replied “no he isn’t, mine is down where he stood.” My husband hadn’t seen both of those big boys. We waited for what seemed like an eternity and gradually made our way towards him.

I was over the moon! I couldn’t believe he was right there!!! The guys said we really need to get him loaded and back to the shop, we were in mountain lion country and we didn’t need to play in the open for too long. It took us sometime but we finally got him tagged and loaded.. Now the work began but I am so grateful to have had the chance to have taken such a beautiful mature New Mexico Mule Deer! ¬†This hunt was insanely cold but man-oh-man was it worth it! I had found my one! We took the rest of the duration of the hunt to help fellow hunters find theirs but sadly enough couldn’t make it happen for them. It was an incredible hunt for all and we were thankful for the time!

New Mexico hunting is by far the best! 

Samantha Reaves-Aztec, NM

Samantha shared her story with Beyond Rubicon at our request. Thanks for some mid-summer motivation!