Logan Bishop had hunted elk at the timberline in Colorado for several years so he knows just how hard it can be to hunt the Rockies.
Having put in four years for a mule deer tag, the Tyler hunter also understood the difficulty of that as well.
What he might not have anticipated was the actual hunt for a muley being as difficult as the getting drawn or chasing an elk.
Bishop, who manages Outdoor Connection, an archery shop in Jacksonville, was selected this year for Colorado’s third rifle season from Nov. 2-10. He immediately elicited his friend and former Tyler resident Ty Faber to help on the Western Slope hunt in the San Juan National Forest.
Faber, who now lives in Pagosa Springs, and Bishop have hunted elk together through the years, and Faber took a week off from work to help this time.
The first four days Bishop stayed true to his roots and attempted to hunt with his bow. Finding the mule deer wasn’t the problem. Getting a shot in a crowd was.
“It just wasn’t happening. We would see a hundred every time we hunted. Trying to sneak in on one with 100 looking is difficult,” Bishop said.
The hunter said that coming late in the season the deer weren’t as predictable as they would have been earlier in their summer mountain range. The rut was just starting and the deer were starting to move.
Bishop was also being particular. After waiting so long for the coveted tag he wasn’t interested in taking just any buck. He had designs on something big, but that was proving difficult hunting areas that had been trampled by other hunters for weeks.
“Ty said a good average is between 140 and 150, which is still a great deer, but I didn’t wait four years to kill a deer that size,” he said.
On the fifth day Bishop changed tactics and took out his rifle. On the sixth day he and Faber decided to pull out all the stops and get away from the crowd.
“We probably had averaged two to three miles a day, but this morning we decided to strike out and find some deer that had not been hunted. We left about 3 in the morning and walked six miles into the mountains,” said Bishop.
Knowing Faber’s aggressive nature when it comes to hunting, Bishop had wisely spent time the prior six months in the gym training for the hunt at 8,500 feet elevation, 2,000 feet below timberline, but still hard for some not use to to the mountains.
The two had scouted the country and knew where they wanted to go. As the crow flies it wouldn’t have been as long a walk, but that would have carried them across Southern Ute Indian land and they didn’t have permission to go there. Instead they took a long horseshoe route that kept them in the national forest.
With the temperatures in the teens the two started a five-hour-plus walk into the mountains where they found a better buck estimated in the mid-150s.
“It was late in the hunt and I said I would shoot it,” said Bishop, who only had two days left before heading back to Texas.
The hunters rushed to a draw where they expected the deer to move. Using his pack as a rest, Bishop was set up for a 200-yard shot, but he didn’t pull the trigger.
“I looked up and there was a deer about 350 yards away. It was not the same deer. I had a split second to take the shot, but at that distance I didn’t feel comfortable,” he recalled.
Bishop and Faber watched as the new buck, a much larger deer, and the 150-class muley climbed the opposite ridge and bedded down.
Unsure of what the bucks would do next, Faber suggested a bold move. While Bishop stayed in position for the shot, Faber circled the ridge and eased down from above the bucks, hoping to chase them back toward Bishop.
“With all the bad luck we had had all week I thought it wouldn’t work, but it did. The buck ran to within 100 yards of me and stopped,” Bishop said.
And with the famed Chimney Rock Monument as the backdrop, Bishop dropped the buck.
The big 5X5 was green scored at 182 5/8, easily the biggest mule deer seen around Pagosa Springs that week.
“I run a bow shop, but if I had to take this deer with a bazooka I was going to do it,” he said.
Bishop said the key was being willing to go where others wouldn’t. The reason they wouldn’t was clear when after shooting the deer at 9:15 and having it quartered at 11, Bishop and Faber didn’t arrive back at their truck until 5:30.
“You basically have to outwalk the people in front of you. We even outwalked some people on horses. I knew Ty was like that,” Bishop said.
Looking back at the experience from back in the flatlands of East Texas, Bishop declared, “This hunt was the most memorable hunt I have ever been on.”
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