On this episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Brian chats with Henry Ferguson about giant mule deer and 15 straight seasons of punching his deer tag!
Henry is a Colorado hunter and has a passion for big mule deer! Henry started as a competition target archer and eventually started applying those skills with his bow to deer hunting where he found some incredible success! Henry is currently on a 15-year streak of punching his deer tag in his home state, and has some amazing bucks on his wall! Brian and Henry talk about glassing and scouting strategies, spot-n-stalk tactics, and broadhead selection for mule deer! To check out some of the bucks mentioned, go to Henry’s Instagram page at the link below!
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[00:00:00] You're listening to the Western Rookie, a hunting podcast full of tips, tricks and strategies from season western hunters. There are plenty of opportunities out there. We just need to learn how to take on the challenges. Hunting is completely different up there. That person, 26, big game animals, you can fool their eyes, speak, can fold their nose, 300 yards back to the road, turned into three miles back the other way.
It's always cool seeing new hunters going harvest an animal. I don't know what to expect. If there's anybody I want in the woods with me, it'll be you.
Welcome back to another episode of the Western Rookie Podcast. I'm your host Brian Krebs, and today we are gonna be talking big meal. Dear I have Henry Ferguson on, you've maybe seen him as Big Chief Wacka Buck on Instagram, which is an, it's very interesting, unique name. But what struck me about Henry's page is all of the big, I say giant [00:01:00] meal deer.
You'll hear Henry be a little bit more humble than that. But how are you doing today, Henry? I'm good, Brian. How are you? I'm doing great. Like I said, I think Henry's got a wall behind him of what I would call giant meal deer. And when I said that earlier, he goes I've only, I haven't shot any big ones, but I did have a one 90 and I just, my jaw hit the floor.
It's funny, I think I'm a little skewed because I was listening to a podcast yesterday and this guy, yeah, I got 11 bucks over 200 inches. I'm like, unbelievable. I'm not sure I've seen 11 bucks over 200 inches in my life. But and that's, that includes driving around state parks and stuff.
But yeah, just it, the mule deer thing, it just got in my blood about 20 years ago and I just have no desire to get it outta my blood at this point. It's my passion. It's it just brings a ton of joy to my life, man. It's a challenge. It's a, something I get to do with my family now, and it's just, it's been a blast.
Yeah. [00:02:00] I see from your page, your son is starting to who knows when the pictures were taken, but he's a teenager getting close to, graduating high school if not already has graduated. And so that's gotta be fun. And you got a pack meal. That's true. So it's been funny to watch that evolution because he's 17 now.
He graduates next year, so he's, Literally just finishing up his junior year next week. But he is, he's just, he's as eaten up with it as his dad is. He loves it. So it's a lot of fun, man. It's been great to, to hunt with him and my wife Hunts as well. She's a heck of on herself. She's got a poping, young mule deer and then shot a few with a few real nice bucks.
All, both of 'em, bigger than that with a rifle, and and then she's got the biggest elk in the family too. Yeah it's a lot of fun being able to hunt with your family. And if there's something better than that, I haven't found it yet. Yeah, that's a big good one. We always hunt with our families.
My wife is getting [00:03:00] more and more into hunting. She comes from a hunting family, but she's been so busy with school and residency that she's finally finishing up and she started, she, first thing she wants to go out do out west is an antelope punt, and then she wants to do the meal deer thing. So I'm excited.
Very cool. To experience that, just like you said, hunting with the family. But what brought you, you mentioned 20 years ago you got hooked on mule deer. Is that, did you move out west 20 years ago or what kind of happened? I grew up out west and honestly, I went on it just, something just triggered in me.
I was a target archer for a long time and I, and I bow hunted a little bit, but it just wasn't really my passion. And so it was, I was a little later on that I really transitioned over to the hunting side and now you're hard pressed to find me at a single tournament. It's just, the hunting's gotten in my blood and I just, like I said, it's something that it's just consumed me.
Yeah. But it's easy to, I went [00:04:00] out on a, went out on a hunt, shot a dough, my first. First year I really took it seriously. I went out and shot a dough, and of course that was opening weekend and literally covered in bucks for the rest of the week. Just covered it. I couldn't go anywhere without seeing bucks.
So I promised myself, I'm like, all right, next year I'm gonna hold out and I'm gonna, I'm gonna get a good buck. And actually that wide buck right over the bookcase there is the one I got that year, that next year. But it was just funny. I, and so the next year I went out there and gave it my all shot.
That buck, my wife got a real nice buck. She got a poping young buck, like eight days after I shot mine. And it just triggered something man, and it was.
I think it went sausage and stuff. And then once the heads came back and being able to look at those on the wall and relive those memories I wanted more of that. I wanted more of being able to [00:05:00] relive those memories. And so we just went to work at it and it's been, each year it's own little special set of challenges and unique circumstances and, unique ways of screwing up Sure.
Thing, encounters, and, it's, but that's how I learn. I'm not somebody who can sit there and. I learned a lot from reading forums like Monster Mules and stuff like that, but truly, I'm a hands-on kinda learner. You can ask any of my teachers in high school. I don't learn well out of a book.
Yeah. But yeah, if you give me a hands-on way to, to apply it, then then it's gonna be very different. And that's how I've have learned the best is just getting out there, doing a lot of scouting spend as much time out during the summer as I can, looking at looking at bucks, cataloging bucks, seeing, who the up and comers are and what, who the target bucks will be for this year.
And and then, spending as much of the off-season as humanly possible, shooting my bow and [00:06:00] just making sure I'm prepared and ready to take on those challenges. Are you, so are you doing mostly bow hunting? I have shot, let's see, I've shot one. Of everything on the wall. My wife has two rifle bucks up here.
My son has two rifle bucks over here or three rifle bucks over there and I've got one rifle buck. Everything else is archery. I've got like 10 of 'em up here that are archery bucks, oh my, that's what I do. I've got, I've, so I've got a, I've got a 15 year streak going right now of getting a deer with my bow and I, it's that's my, the day I look forward to the most all year.
Don't tell my wife and son. Ah, tell 'em they know. Yeah, they'll be there with you. That does that have a sense of pressure associated with it? 15 straight years of punching a tag with your [00:07:00] bow. Bow hunting, whitetails is one thing. You can get food plots and tree stands and. Not too many people are hard pressed to get a shot opportunity at a deer, but spot in stock meal, deer with a Bowman, that's a next level to have 15 years of consistent success.
It's, each one's kind of come u under its own circumstance. This year my normal spots were just blown out. Man, there were way too many hunters in there. And in addition to that, I just wasn't seeing the bucks I wanted to see. So I actually went to an old spot. When I say an old spot, like a spot I hadn't hunted since 2007 and ended up finding the buck there.
As you get farther down that road, yeah, there was a lot of pressure early on. There was I won't lie, I, like year 10 through. 13. Yeah, there was a lot of pressure, but I just, I haven't felt it since then. I've I think, I won't say it's been, the pressure's been replaced by confidence, but I'm [00:08:00] more confident in my abilities now.
But that, that all is just part of the equation, you've gotta have, I'm confident in it because I put in the time, I know where the bucks live. I know if they bed in some certain spots, I've got high per higher percentage stock opportunities that than others. And that's the kind of stuff that over the years, you just get better at picking those out.
You just get better at identifying the higher odds propositions and you, you help avoid some of the dry runs as I used to call 'em, just coming back from a stock going. Just scratching your head, kicking rocks and going, I had no chance. I had zero chance, but I went anyway.
And like I said that's how I learn. But yeah, that's just how I've gone about it is just each year learning from it. And so now all that body of work has come into, I go into it a little more confident, but I'm, now I'm looking for [00:09:00] bigger and better bucks every year and it's getting hard.
It, that, that gets more difficult. And I've come to the realization that I'm just gonna hunt the biggest bucks I can find. How long does it take you to find a target buck? Do you start, June 1st, or do you start a couple weeks before season? I usually start around 4th of July.
I used to start in May and June when the antlers were just starting to pop back in. When they've just got like a nub coming outta their heads, everything looks like it's gonna be huge. By 4th of July, usually you can start to sort the zeroes from the heroes. Once they're split by then, they're out, out to that first split or second split rather.
And you can start to see, hey, that buck's really carrying that mass. Or that buck's gonna be real wide. So that's what I'm gonna keep an eye on. But I get out a few times a week. And it comes at pretty significant expense to a lot of other things, jobs other stuff like that.
But I get out a couple times a week to get out and scout, get out and get a look around, see [00:10:00] what's see what's moving, see what's growing. And that's how I, that's how I do it. When you're looking for bucks in the summer, are you using like a spotting scope on a tripod or are you just using vinyls from truck?
I shoulda have said that. Yeah, no, I it's hardly ever by nose from the truck. Most of the spots that I hunt, I we're hiking in a little bit to get there. Some were hiking a couple hundred yards, some were hiking a couple miles to get there. But yeah it's almost always going to be putting boots on the ground to get up to a glassing point.
And then sitting down behind my binos and try, on a, I've got my binos on a tripod and I've gotten spotting scopes in right next to me. So I'll glass, I'll always glass with my binos and then, find the deer and then get the better look with the tripod. And I've got a buddy who glasses with his tripod with the, or with the tripod, with spotting scope.
I've got a buddy who glasses with his spotting scope and it drives me insane because I don't know how he does it.[00:11:00] And doesn't have migraines like every single day cuz you're, you're squint an eye and you're looking like a pirate through, through one eye. And I don't know how that doesn't drive him crazy, but he does it.
He does it well, he does. He's very effective doing it. I might be the crazy one, but I'll use my right eye and I'll set my spotter at a certain elevation, right? I usually start at the top of the mountain and work down. I, I cover everything quick with pinos, but then once I'm like, all right, there's nothing within a hundred, 200 yards, like now it's time to set up and start griding with the glass.
I'll set my elevation and I'll work side to side and I'll go. I can hit it with my nose and keep pointing it more left. Yeah. And then I'll switch eyes and I'll bring the other eye back cuz I was worried about the same thing, like too much eye strain on one side and you start getting a headache cuz you're looking through one eye.
So I'll actually switch eyes and every time I do it, someone's what are you doing? You use your left eye at a spot. I'm like I don't wanna discuss one. So I'm left eye dominant, I'm left eye dominant. So I do look through the spotter with [00:12:00] my left eye, but I shoot right-handed, but I'm very left eye dominant, but I'm like the most right-handed person you've ever met.
So anyway I do, I mean my technique I glass through binos, I've got a pair of 12 by 50. I've got the loop pulled BX five sentiums, which I think great value in optics. And so I, I use those and I put those on a tripod and then I will literally sit there and like you said, I'll set the, a tension on that pan.
Pretty light so I can just move it with my face and I'll do that and I'll grid out a whole hillside, just panning to the right, just like you're reading a book, and then come back and pan to the right again and pan to the right. But I'll, I can spot stuff a couple miles away through those twelves pretty easily.
And so that's, like I said, I spot everything through those. It's a rare day that I spot something through the spotter. I think that's one of the major things [00:13:00] whitetail hunters from the Midwest will struggle with is how slow you should go with your glass to really spot, especially if you're looking for bedded game, especially bedded meal deer, cuz those things disappear in some scrub brush like nothing.
But I assume you're talking like we could spend hours looking at this one hillside where a Midwest hunter Oh yeah. Like when I started you'd show up with your binos and go like this a couple times and go the, nope, there's nothing there. Let's go to the next ridge. That's not unique to the Midwest.
Most people who glass in the west have the same technique. And glassings just not an effective tool in their tool belt. But really what I'll do is I'll sit down and I just, I wanna find a spot where I'm pretty comfortable. I'm not packing a chair or anything along with me.
I'm just, I'm gonna find somewhere ideally where I can kinda lean up against a blown down log or a tree or a stump or something, and then I'll just sit there and kinda wear in my butt groove in the ground and and [00:14:00] glass for hours there. But yeah I do, I spend again the majority of that time though, is spent looking through those twelves and glass and you talked about there's different phases and types of glassing, and that's important to, to distinguish.
So when you first get to a place, when I first get there and I sit my butt down, I will look, I'll do a quick visual with my eyes. If I see something, I'll look at that immediately through the binos. But I wanna make sure there's nothing real obvious that I'm overlooking. Then I'll sit down and do a quick scan, just hand holding the binos.
And again, I'm gonna spot animals both ways. Maybe not every time, but most of the time I'm going to spot animals both ways. But once you start doing that more fine tune fine glassing what I'm looking at is for kind of a speed check. If I'm not seeing birds flying around out there, then I'm going too fast.
If [00:15:00] I'm sitting there and, in the optics and, I see a bird fly around and, that's telling me that I'm going slow enough, that I'm catching the details and I'm seeing what's in my field view. That's a good way to put it. I've never heard that. Like looking for other signs of movement, even if it's not a deer to gauge whether or not you're moving too fast or too slow.
And a lot of times, that changes, right? If you're looking at a hillside 600 yards away, you're gonna be moving a little faster cuz there's not as much ground. But if you move that fast on a hillside a mile away, you're gonna be missing stuff. Oh yeah. And quite often you're not seeing the whole animal.
You're not looking over there and going, oh, hey, a deer. That's like a big broadside, silhouette of a deer. Those those are pretty easy. Typically I'm gonna, I'm gonna catch a butt, or that white butt that kind of sticks out, or the face of a deer even, on an older deer you'll see that white face.
And those are characteristics that I'm always looking for. And just color [00:16:00] contrast that I'm always on the lookout for. So when you find a buck in, let's say you find a good buck middle of July, and you tell yourself, this is someone I want to come back to this fall. I don't know how he's gonna finish out yet, good enough for me or whoever this is in the situation.
It's good enough. Is there a pretty darn good chance you're gonna find that deer again in the same, pocket come bow season? Dur if it's bow season yeah. There's a, there's an above average chance now. They won't stay there the whole season typically especially if you're hunting the real high country up, up around Timberline, those animals come and go outta there pretty quick, man.
That's, they follow the feed line down and when the, when their feed starts burning off, then they just, they literally just follow it down the mountain. And those alpine bucks will end up within the first week, usually two weeks during our old season structure. But under our new season structure, you've usually [00:17:00] got about a week before they start bailing off into the trees.
Once they get into the trees, man, that's a totally different hunt. It's a totally different hunt. You're. You're almost still hunting, walking through trees, slowly looking for movement and looking for animals. And whereas, you can, my, my preferred technique is to watch a buck all morning and watch 'em until he beds, and then find out if that's, you look around and look at kind of that sun coming over and figure out if that bed is going to provide him shade for, an hour, two hours, four hours all day.
And that's going to determine how long they're going to stay beded. But typically, the bucks of bed by 7 30, 8 o'clock at the latest. And I usually see 'em get back up a around between 11 and between anywhere from 11 to 11 to three. But if I had to be out there, if I had to pick like a window to be out [00:18:00] there to see deer get up to do that midday feed, it'll be 11 to one.
Okay. That's kinda been our most consistent spot. So you're saying if you see him bed before eight, if you can get at him and get a shot before 11, he's probably not gonna be I'm going. But if you can't do that, then do you just wait and watch him bed, watch him feed and bed again, then in the late afternoon?
Yep. Yep. And typically I've had pretty good luck shooting him in that first bed. My biggest buck came from, we were glassing mid-afternoon, it was like one o'clock we were out there and I spotted this bucket at one 30, I think. And I didn't get an narrow in him until a little bit after five o'clock.
So it was a, and he was only 500 yards away when we spotted him, but, it was a tough 500 yards. It was a tough 500 yards to cover. It was a crawl, it was a combination of crawling and belly crawling through a [00:19:00] lot of that. But yeah, that's that's just kinda how it goes.
Hey, it's a it can be an all day deal. It can be over by 10 o'clock. Yeah. So I gotta ask, when you're doing the belly crawl, have you ever belly crawled up on a snake? Thank goodness. No. I hate those little slithery bastards with a fiery passion. No. I have not. But trust me, this guy's always on the lookout for him.
That's one of the real nice things about hunting up in that alpine country is there's no snakes up there. But but I haven't shot a lot of 'em up there. I've shot a. Two bucks up real high. But that's it. I had a buddy on, so yeah, I'm always on lookout talking about archery antelope and they used to do a lot of of blinds in water tanks.
And he said, every now and then you'll see a snake like in the blind or something. And it's not the end of the world cuz you're just getting 'em out. You're on your feet, you're moving. But he said they lost their permission to that and then they [00:20:00] had to start doing more spot in stock, archery antelope.
And that was all crawling, and it's crawling down low in like Montana and Wyoming. Yeah. And he said one time he was crawling and all of a sudden he heard the, and he's nope, f it, this, there's not an antelope in the world worth it. And he just backed out and forgot complete. He didn't even see the snake ever.
He just heard it and he is not worth it. He just stood right up, blew the hunt, antelope bailed and he just walked away. See ya. He, you know what, in my estimation, he made the exact right call. I'll tell you, those things are I don't mess around with snakes, man. I just don't, I, I literally hate those things.
And when I hear that buzz, I'm not a small guy, but I can pick 'em up and put 'em down pretty quick when I hear that buzz. Yeah, that heart rate gets going and you start moving fast. I I was at a Mule Deer Foundation banquet a long time ago, and I went by myself. So I'm sitting at a table of eight PE guys that I've never [00:21:00] met, and the only thing we have in common is we're all hunters.
So that naturally we start talking about hunting, Hey, that's enough. And one of the guys starts telling this story, and he gets a call one day from his buddy and his buddy goes, Hey, I'm dropping you a pin to a buck. I just shot. I need you to come and take care of it. And he is what? No, I'm not, I'm working like, you're like, you can do it.
Like you've backed out all kinds of animals before in one trip. What are you talking about? He goes I was crawling up on this buck. I was 20 yards away. And I was waiting for him to stand up to shoot him, right? And I looked down and there's a rattlesnake right in front of me. And sure enough, it's, it hits my hand.
My left hand just whack. And so he goes either way I gotta go to the hospital. The only thing left is I can just stand up and see if I can shoot this deer. And so he stands up, draws the deer, looks at him, he shoots it, he watches it, run across the valley and tip over. And then he goes to the hospital.
He and so calls his buddy and I'm like, there's no way that [00:22:00] story's true. He pulled open his phone and there's a picture of the buck, the dead snake and his hand all wrapped up in the back of his truck. And I'm like, That is the wildest story I've ever heard in my life about a spot in stock hunt. My gosh.
That is like the very definition of the Western hunt. That's crazy. Yeah, that is absolutely crazy. I can see it. It's and this person lived out there, so he's used to rattlesnakes, so that's probably why he was like nothing to lose now. Might as well see if I can shoot the deer.
That's I applaud him. I think I probably in the, in, at the end of the day, I probably would've done the same thing. But man, that's cool. What a story. Yeah. What a story. He sh I hope he got that snake mounted alongside the deer, coiled up on a pedestal or something. Cuz that would be, yeah.
No kidding Story. Oh man. But I feel the same way about those danger noodles that you [00:23:00] do. And I don't want any part of one. It's not a fan. Yeah. Not a fan. So bringing it back more to the mule deer, so you got the mule deer, there's a great chance you're gonna find them again in the fall especially if it's early season.
So are you typically, you're typically then using that like first week or two before they start getting into the timber line to, to try to maximize your chance at finding them and getting in on them? Yeah, again, I'm not hunting those big, I'm not hunting the high country all that often. Like I said, I have in the past, but I hunt a more transition area that they just, it, you probably look at it as a transition area, but it's a year-round habitat.
And so I, our bucks don't necessarily. Migrate a lot of 'em do, but there's always some movement that happens and you just can't, they will follow the feed no matter what and even that feed will burn off. And but they'll be [00:24:00] there through, they'll be there typically through the most of the rifle season too.
When you say follow the feed, are you talking just green, like whatever's green they'll be there? Or are you talking like there's difference like different types of plants or pastures that weren't grazed so they have more like what's feed look like to you? So really, they're, this, the feed I'm looking at they're feeding on this bitter brush and the leaves will fall off of that.
And so wh and when they're at their most nutritious, they're, it's in that early September to, to October timeframe, but they'll feed on that stuff all through the summer. Like Yucca blooms, that stuff, those will go away fairly soon. But yeah, there's it's, and then up in the high country, when those willows start dropping their leaves and stuff, man, they, those bucks just, they get out of there quick.
And it's just, you can literally follow the elevation down because, those nights get colder up there and everything. Just, and I'm not a, I'm not a botanist by any means but [00:25:00] that's just how it seems to me is that, as they're, as that's, that they're following that they're following that down.
Okay, that makes sense. Where we hunt up in North Dakota where I've done all, most of my meal deer hunting, it's more grass and sage and cedars. Not as much willows. So that's always the big wild card is which summer pastures were grazed this year and which were, which of them were left alone for winter pastures, and so now they have all that grass.
Yeah. There's no agriculture where I'm hunting, so that's not that, there's just none of that. That's not even a factor for us. But yeah, that, that can definitely be a huge factor in some of that lower country though, for sure. That's gotta be helpful for just maintaining consistent spots year after year and not have to worry about like cattle rotations and stuff like that.
Yeah. I've taken a, we've got a couple spots that we've been real, real successful in that we've taken a few real nice bucks out of there over the years. Three or four of 'em now. But you gotta keep moving though [00:26:00] cuz people get on 'em and they're those honey holes can go away real fast and that's pretty frustrating, seeing seeing your absolute go-to money.
Can't miss spot showing up and there's two other trucks there and they're like, oh we'll see if we can work around it. And sometimes you can and sometimes you can't. It depends on how people hunt 'em. If people are just going out and this year, this last year, man, we had, we watched guys just charging across big open country, just charging across, hoping to run into something.
And meanwhile we're sitting up on, on these glassing points, just watching, 30, 40 deer go running in every direction that. They never, some of 'em they never even saw. Frustrating, and but everybody has their own style at the end of the day and everybody's, we're all in it for different reasons and out there for different reasons and we get different things out of it.
And, just cuz our style works for us doesn't mean it's [00:27:00] what Joe Blow is looking for, yeah. So for us, but once, once people start blowing through spots like that and scaring deer, I am out, I'll come back and hit it on a mid, on a midweek deal if I'm the only one there. But otherwise I have, I, I won't, I'll go check out my other spots.
Yeah. I don't know who said it, but it was a pretty good saying. I'd rather share the woods with a dozen good hunters than one bad hunter. Oh my gosh. So freaking true. I've never heard that before, but that's that might end up on my tombstone. Have you noticed any patterns for like, where you find good bucks for the area?
Because everyone knows, certain states have bigger bucks, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, the Southwest, they're gonna have a lot bigger deer on average than some of your high pressured over the counter northern states. But just like a the better quality bucks for whatever area you're going to is, do you think there's any patterns for where someone could find those [00:28:00] high, low remote, not remote, egg private for a guy that's gonna come out and he can't look at 'em all summer long.
He's got one week to hunt and he's like, where do you start? Yeah, honestly that's a fantastic question. And. A lot of the, a lot of the big bucks are coming outta places that you don't expect them. And it's not real desirable looking country. Maybe it's low deserts or eastern plains or, just something desolate like in those southwest areas you're talking about, a lot of those big bucks are coming outta really desolate, dry areas where the deer density's low, but the trophy quality can be really high.
So it, it's tough. And honestly you should start to look at, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has something that's pretty unique. They have something called a hunt planner, and you can call and talk to people before you apply. And you can call and talk to these [00:29:00] guys in the main office and say, Hey, here's what I'm looking for.
Here's what, have some, do a little bit of homework first. Go into it and say, Hey, here's what I want to get out of this hunt. I'm not necessarily looking for 195 inch mule deer, but I'm looking to find a decent, mature buck. If you're saying, Hey, I don't wanna see high hunter numbers, then start putting in for ta, start applying for points because that's what it's going to take to get you away from the big mass of people anymore.
And it's, there's a figure out, do you wanna hunt 'em high? Do you wanna hunt 'em low? Do you want to what's your idea of that real. Great hunt, and I, unfortunately they're too late to apply this year, but there's always going to be other opportunities.
There's, second tr second chance drawings, there's, they start putting tags that come up for sale on Tuesdays, and they give you the list on [00:30:00] Tuesdays and Wednesday at 11 they go on sale. And Wednesday at 1103, they're all gone. And honestly, I think 1103 is optimistic. I think they might actually be gone by 11 and 30 seconds in, in many cases.
But but yeah, it's, that's the game we all have to play anymore. But I would suggest doing and if you're not gonna if you wanna get a little bit more detailed information, join one of the services like Epic Outdoors or Hunt Fool and talk to some of their guys that they can guide you in and help you narrow that search down a little bit.
Yeah. We've talked about Go Hunt a lot. I'm a, I've been a Go Hunt subscriber for five, six years. Same here. It's the, I think it's one of the best ways out there to do your own research. I think some of the services you mentioned are more like, I'm gonna pay someone to do the research for me. Where Go Hunt is more like, here's everything you guys can find of your own unit with this information.
Yep, yep. And so I'll be honest, I'm heading [00:31:00] outta state this year. Let me rephrase that. My 13 preference points and the nine required to draw this point, this tag tell me I should be hunting in Utah this year. So I've got a really strong chance of drawing a pretty good elk tag in Utah this year, and I've done a lot of research on Go hunt for that.
And yeah, that's, I know that I know what I'm going to see over there. I know what to expect. I, it can give you, it can give you that range of animals you should be looking for. Hey, if I'm in an area that produces two 80 bulls and I'm holding out for a three 80 you know what, I'm probably gonna be pretty disappointed at the end of the hunt.
But It's it's a, that's a great tool. Go hunt. That's one that, like I said, I've used it for years. I'm a big fan. I was just gonna ask you, is there a dream tag in your mind if I, if you could give, if you could get any tag in the world, and if I just had a little book here, I could write you out a tag, [00:32:00] what would you pick?
I'll be hunting the Ponant this year for Mule deer archery. Mule deer. Then if you're just, and just write it down. Send me the tag. I'll send you my address afterwards. Yeah, that's I just want and I, we've got a pretty good selection of mule deer here on the wall, and people are like, how many is enough?
And I'm like, I don't know. Just one more. But I've been saying that for about a decade, so I think, I don't think people believe me anymore, but that's okay. Yeah, I just want to get, I just want to get another big mule, man. That's, So is it's the size of the animals in the ponant that brings you there or is it landscape or is it all of the above?
Kind of all of it. It's the whole thing. It, it's one of those mythical places, where everybody just, everybody's drawn to it. It's low country. There's a pretty good deer density there. And I feel like now that they've outlawed baiting there, that there's going to be bigger deer in Utah than there ever have been.[00:33:00]
And I, I just feel like that's going to lead to some really great opportunities over the next few years. But do you know how many points it takes to draw that tag? A freaking ton. It's like 25, 26 points for archery and I could pull up, go hunt and check for sure, but I can tell you I'm about halfway there and we'll likely never get there.
Truthfully what I'll end up doing, I'll end up hunting somewhere else before then and just working twice as hard and hoping to come out with a, 180 plus buck that, I know that I can look at. Again. It's, to me it's all about being able to look up on the wall and having those memories rushed back and all that, all that went into those hunts or I should be a little more accurate in saying that on the wall or I do have two on the floor there that have not found their way up onto the wall yet because we just, we don't have any room here.
My office upstairs and when I redo my [00:34:00] office though, I'm gonna put those up there. So yeah, you need to invent a product that's like a wall bracket with arms like skull hanger arms, or the skull hookers. For shoulder mounts. So you can put three on one spot and just angle 'em out like pedals of a flower so you can be perfect.
Stack more in there. It'd be perfect. And actually, I just found there is a company that makes that makes something like that. And I just, I literally just found these guys a couple weeks ago and I can't, it's like trophy display or something. Was it on a barrel, like a whiskey barrel? I'll have to figure it out.
No it's literally a metal bracket that goes on the wall and it has arms that come off so you can like angle deer mounts out from it and yeah, that'd be great. But yeah, you, it looks like you would've been an ideal candidate to be a taxidermist [00:35:00] on the side and you would've made your money back handover fist, just doing your own work.
I'm somebody who believes that you should support people who are really good at things. And I am not an artistic guy. My son would probably be phenomenal at taxidermy. I would be, I would have a bunch of deer up there that would end up on a bad taxidermy page. I've got a guy here in town that we've oh God, I think he's done 18 miles for us.
So he's we've been, I like to think we've funded a fair portion of his new boat purchase, it's just people we are, we like to help out others. Yeah. We're the same way. We pay people for what they're good at and just stick to what you're good at. And we exactly.
We've got a local taxidermist and he actually quit taking elk cuz I brought him an elk. I brought him the elk behind me here. You can't really see it too much, but oh, in the picture there? Yeah. I brought him that elk and it was just hard on his back. He has some back injuries from back in the day and he is I can't do these elk anymore.
They're too big. And so I'm [00:36:00] looking for a new guy for elk. But one year we shot 17 big game animals and everything that got taxidermy work goes to him. So we always joke that he's just on the family payroll. I've thought about trying to claim him as a dependent on my taxes, but my accountant says I can't.
You gotta start a t-shirt company or something about big meal deer. So then you can write off all these trips and write off all the mounts and the tags. I give away a lot of jerky every year, and a lot of jerky to so for my real job I sell furniture to furniture stores and I.
All these furniture stores know, and the buyers especially know that when I come in, I've typically got a bag or two, a jerky to leave there for the office. So it's funny, everybody, every time I walk in now, if I walk in with just like a binder, the look of disappointment on people's faces is like, you can almost hear the [00:37:00] look of disappointment.
That's how clear it is. Yeah. But if I walk in with a bag over my shoulder, they're like, Hey, what you got in there? So I do write off a fair amount of the processing because I give away, we give away a lot of jerky. A lot to dealers. And are you bringing most of your stuff into a butcher for processing or are you doing it yourself?
We do. Yeah. Yeah. My wife is totally understanding about me turning our front room into a museum. But the kitchen's her domain and she goes, no, we're not gonna be. Butcher and, having to clean blood up out of there on a regular basis or all falls. So I respect that. I have no problem with that at all.
And when we get it done, it's done professionally. It's all packaged nicely and when we go to give it away it's it's, it just goes a lot better. Yeah. You definitely don't want to be pushing your luck with how many animals you're fortunate enough to hang in your living room. I don't know if I'd have that same luck with my wife.[00:38:00]
I think I would be told to build a barn or a man shop and finish it off and put all my stuff out in the shop. Let's see, four of these are hers, so she has four in the front room here. But to give you, I can say that. Let me do the spin around here real quick. Let me plug that back in so that elk is hers that deers my son's.
The Velvet Bucks mine. The other one's my son's. Then those are my sons there, that big wide one's. His, he shot that when he was a stinking 15 year old punk kid. Not that I'm not better, don't worry. I'm not better. That one up in the corner there is mine. I was a velvet buck. I was a bill of a buck I shot in 2020.
He was big, heavy old deer. The wide one's. My wife's the, these two down below, there are both mine and this one, that one there is my best buck. That one's mine. That one's mine on the floor.[00:39:00] That one's, these are, those are all mine there. My, my one rifle buck is the heavy kind of non-typical there.
And these two are my wive's. And again, the elk is my wife's, elk, whatever. So if elk didn't taste so good, I'd never hunt 'em. They just they I really enjoy the techniques and tactics of mule deer hunting a lot more. And I have friends who think I'm absolutely insane and they're probably right, but cuz they just love hunt elk.
And I'll hunt elk, but usually just I'll hunt elk enough to fill the freezer and that's the extent of my time on elk. So this is gonna be a challenging year for me, having that special tag out in Utah to really buckle down and focus on elk. Yeah. I was just gonna say, it sounds like you hunt elk for the freezer and mule deer for the soul.
I, that's a great way of putting it. That's a great way of [00:40:00] putting it, because I love, and, I, I hunt, I typically hunt elk in the same place I same places and times I hunt deer. Just so I'll have a tag and can, take care of it right there. If I, if one like wants to commit suicide and run in front of me, then I'll take it.
But I usually don't hunt elk until I, I don't hunt, actively hunt elk until my deer tag is filled. So that's how I've got about it for the most part. And do you hunt mul deer with your bow exclusively now? Or would you use a rifle but you just tag out before rifle season? In Colorado our tags are weapon specific.
So if I get an archery tag, it's an archery tag. I cannot hunt with a rifle. So the only reason I have one with a rifle up there is because that was a year that I had I picked up a second tag and that was just a weird little fluky deal that [00:41:00] I picked up a private land only tag and shot a buck.
But I haven't been able to get one since. So not something you should really plan for. For sure. Yeah, that one's tough. I, I'm used to hunting states where you buy your tag and you can hunt. Your general season rifle, your general archery, you can't obviously do the limited entry stuff, but I'm used to being able to do that, especially back home in Minnesota.
It's, you buy your deer tag and you can hunt any season, just use the right equipment. Yeah. And that's, like I said, out west here they typically make us, sorry, my dog. There's a delivery driver pulling up out front and he's ready to go crazy and bark him to death. So I'm trying to calm him down here.
But yeah, out west, they typically make us choose our weapon. So some of the less populated states like Wyoming, not so much. And when I say less populated, human population. But but like Colorado, where we've got close to 6 million people here in the state, we just can't. You just can't have people out there [00:42:00] unlimited in all the seasons.
Yeah, that's very fair. That's a good way to put it. You gotta protect the resource, so it's always there for us. Yeah. And then one thing I've always been asked a lot, I, the, probably the number one question I get asked when people find out that I am an archery elk hunter, is they're always asking What kind of broadhead do I use?
And I've got my answer for elk. But I'm curious what your thoughts are on your meal deer archery setup, because they're obviously different animals, you're doing different things. So what kind of broadhead are you using and are you doing anything, special in terms of your archery setup, arrow weight, stuff like that?
So deer, elk, and antelope. I use the same arrow and broadhead combination for everything. And starting at the front, I'm using a grim reaper. I've got the grim reap. They're one and three eights inch head. I think it's the perfect combination of a small profile and flight while open, it's built outta all steel.
Chris, Hey Chris, [00:43:00] sorry. 35 pounds of Fury right there. He will lick you straight to death. Chris, shut up. Come on. Anyway, sorry about that. So that, again, that grim reaper one in three eight inch pro series up front, it's a straight mechanical. It's not a hybrid, it's a three blade cut. I'm a firm believer that three blades give you an infinitely better chance of catching something vital than a two blade.
And I've shot 'em both. I've killed stuff with both of them and I will, I'm a big three blade fan. That blade, that head's tough enough that I've passed through elk, I've passed through. A lot of deer, and I've passed through antelope, which passing through an antelope isn't saying a ton, but it's, still a, it's still a point of a data point if nothing else.
And then I u I've been using four mill shafts for the last several years. I used the gold tip pierces for a number of years [00:44:00] from like 2015 to 2021. And then last year I switched over to Easton's and shot the four mill axis. And that thing shot great arrow weight was right in the, this is actually the heaviest arrow I've ever hunted with, and it's 424 grains or something like that.
So it's, like I said, it's passed through a lot of stuff. And then on the back end I'm shooting the I've shot four fledge for a long time. Four pretty short veins. I shot the 2.3 inch vein tech super spines for man, like a decade and they're just getting harder and harder to find. So I bought some of the Q two I Griff X veins last year, which have a pretty similar profile.
They're a little bit stiffer and I shot those in the 1.8 inch last year, four of 'em, okay. What's your draw length and draw weight? I'm, I've got a [00:45:00] 29 inch draw length or 20 I shoot 28 and. 28 and 14 sixteenths. It's right, 1478. It's right there. I'm pretty detailed on that.
But and then I'm shooting like 71, 72 pounds, just depending on where that Bow Max is out. But I like holding weight. I like a little bit of extra holding weight. So if there's an 80 and an 85 spot, I'm always gonna take that 80 spot. And if there's a 75, I'll take that as well. Cause I, I just find that my shot works better with a little bit extra holding weight.
Okay. And so you're shooting 424 grains with a 29 70 essentially. So we're talking bow speeds. Your arrow's probably over 300 feet per second as you're hunting it, right? It, you know what it's usually I think on this particular setup, I'm shooting an RX seven Ultra. That white RX seven Ultra.
It's not a speed bow by any stretch of the imagination. It's 2 84 on that one. [00:46:00] But it's a, it is a very forgiving setup, very smooth to draw. I can draw that in all kinds of weird, funky angles. If I'm on my knees, I don't have to, I don't have to sky draw to get it back to full draw and get, cuz I I figure every single shot and I draw like this every, all year.
I'll stick that bow arm out and get it on the target and I'm drawing straight back. So every single shot I make throughout the year. I'm drawing it like I'm drawing on an animal so that it's just second nature. It's not something that I have to think consciously. Hey, draw smoothly so you don't get picked off.
I draw smoothly all year. So now this year I've got the I've got that V T M 34 and that thing's a screamer at my draw length. It's, I'm like in the wheelhouse of where they designed that cam for peak efficiency that 28 to 29 inch draw length. Those guys like us love that V T m because it's just a freaking screamer at that draw length.
And just [00:47:00] in comparison, that same arrow that I was shooting 2 84 is three, oh, I think it was 3 0 3 out of the vtm. It's a great bow. It's, I'm gonna have some hard decisions to make. Do I want to carry a little bit of extra weight and have a little bit of extra speed, or do I just want the smoothest, smoothest shooting bow I've ever owned.
And so it's, we'll see what I decide as we get closer to the season. So what, how many of your shots, because you're shooting what's most people would consider an arrow not built for penetration, A light arrow with a mechanical broadhead, you're, it's probably what a lot of people would say is a faster setup to you overcome some of an animal dropping.
But how many of your shots on a meal, deer do you get a complete pass through? Damn near everyone. It's almost all of them. I've had a couple that have the aero stayed in 'em, but it's pretty rare. And typically those shots are gonna be, More [00:48:00] angled quartered shots. Like this last year, the Buckeye shot, he was at 48 yards and he was facing straight on.
And as he started to angle a little bit, and I'm already a full draw and I'm like, if he angles, if that back end comes around just a little bit more, I'm gonna pound him in the right through that front shoulder. Cause I know I can skim, I can get through there, especially length-wise, broadside, that's that I will never aim intentionally at a shoulder.
But I shot him in that. I had about that much arrow sticking out of it. So I mean that, that got in and threw everything. And he went, he was like 125 yards I think. I think that one was. And honestly, that's been one of my longer recoveries over the last few years. Most of 'em have been, most of 'em.
I've literally watched them drop there. It's incredible to hear your story and to hear you talk about having [00:49:00] almost every one of your arrows as a pass through, especially in like today's age, where the hype is all pe heavy, arrow, a single blade, and that's what I'm shooting for.
Elk is a single blade or a single bevel, fixed tube blade for penetration. And obviously elk is at a little different animal than a meal deer. So when you say a two blade, or or you should like an iron will that has the bleeder blades in there as well. Last year I shot the grizzly stick samurais 1 75 with no bleeder blade.
This year I'm thinking about switching to the bleeders, so it would, I, I would strongly recommend the bleeders just because again that it just increases greatly your odds of cutting something vital on a shot that's maybe not perfect or a shot that you go right by a major artery and.
If you can hit that artery, man, your odds go up so much, yeah. I'm not too worried with my setup not getting a pass through on Deere no matter what I shoot. I just don't like different [00:50:00] arrow setups for elk and deer, cuz I'm hunting them in the same season. I don't want to have to get home from an elk hunt and have to switch up my whole site and tapes and everything.
No, I won't. But I'm shooting 72 pounds 30 inch and I think I'm thinking about switching to a 31 inch, two seconds. No worries. Yeah. Come on. Sorry. Had to get the guard dog settled down here. Yeah, no worries. But yeah, like I said, I'm thinking of switching to an 80 pound, 31 inch hoit. So I'm gonna punch through a deer. No matter Yeah. Bleeders or no bleeders, that arrow's going through it. But those bleeders like to, you'll be totally honest with you.
You're gonna punch through an elk if you hit 'em in the ribs. That's the goal. That's, with either of those setups, I've punched through 'em with my setup at 29 70, gosh, sorry. He is Chris. Seriously, our neighbor across the street runs a daycare and somebody's dropping off a two year old, and my dog feels like he needs to put that, put an end to [00:51:00] that.
So protect the house at all costs. Yeah. So I'll tell you this. My brother's shooting 28 62. And he was shooting a very light, like a 4 24 15 grain arrow with a Schwer four blade. He's, he is the heaviest arrow I've ever shot. Heaviest arrow I've ever shot. He's shot five bulls. He's never had a pass through.
He's killed every one of 'em. We've recovered him, but he's never had a pass through. And so he's I'm gonna switch something up. And that's why we decided to go to that. That single bevel fixed for that. But the bleeder blade really isn't unlike a bleeder blade on an iron wheel is not gonna make a difference on pass through.
And if you're not gonna get a pass through, how you make a difference on the pass through, but it's going to give you a bigger hole. Yeah. And that's at the end of the day, those two blades. So I shot, man, I lost a deer several years ago on a shot that I never should have lost this frigging deer.
And it was like back of the lungs, liver, but zipped right through. And that was with the early [00:52:00] gen German kinetics, which turned into the grizzly stick, if I'm not mistaken. But no bleeder blades, two blade head that hit put a surprisingly small amount of blood on the ground. And that's what I, that's when I switched.
I'd shot mechanicals and I'd shot fixed. And I just, I switched back to a mechanical after that and went to that three blade. I played around with some of the, I played around with two different, two blades. I've shot a couple deer with slackers and I've caught a shot a couple deer with Tecans, the old G five two blade.
But man, truthfully that third blade is everything for me, man, it just, there's your odds of cutting something vital. Just it's like this versus this going through there. And it just to illustrate it bluntly, that's what it, that's what. I will do anything to get that third or fourth blade in there.
Yeah, I hear what you're saying. If I only hunted [00:53:00] deer, I would use a drastically different arrow. I would, I was shooting four blade expandables, the giant n a p I can't remember what they were called, but it was those kill zones or whatever. Kill zone maxes. Yeah, with the two that were opened up over the top and then the two that were the rear deploy.
And if I shot deer, I'd shoot those forever because the pinpoint accuracy of flight and with my setup, I'm gonna punch through 'em. But when we did mostly elk, it's I'm gonna, I'm gonna build my arrow to recover elk, and I'm gonna bury my arrows in our food plot when I shoot a deer. And that's the trade off I'm gonna make because that exit hole on an elk is everything.
And I have built, I've built my setup for accuracy over everything. That's my motto when I'm setting up a bow, is accuracy over everything. That's why I hunt with a single pin site because I am more accurate with a single pin site. I hunt with that mechanical because I know it will shoot better.
And [00:54:00] especially if I make anything but a perfect shot, it will shoot tighter than any fixed head. I've tried and trust me, I've tried a lot of 'em. I've shot a lot of fixed heads over the years. And there's some great heads out there right now. That iron will that grim per Hades, those are phenomenal heads.
I just, I know I will shoot better, more accurately with the mechanical and that's why I shoot it, because if I can put that thing in the ribs, it's going, it, I'm gonna have two holes. That's just my experience has led me to, to that opinion. Yeah. Deer or deer, elk or antelope. Yeah that's exactly why I asked you the question cuz it's a top, it's a very popular topic right now.
I think a lot of people from the Midwest assume you need this big tank of an arrow with a fixed head to, to go out west and hunt and Yeah, sure. It's not gonna hurt you on an elk to get more penetration, but you, it obviously, all the deer on the wall are a [00:55:00] testament to the fact that you don't need it, especially for a meal.
Deer. And my first elk I shot a five point bull at like 32 yards and I was having really bad shoulder problems there for a few years. So I was shooting a Matthews LX and I think that bow maxed out. I think I had that one around 63, 64 pounds. And I was shooting that three blade fixed head, and I shot that with a 365 grain arrow and he was dead in a hundred yards.
And when I walked up to him, he l he picked his head up one last time and he goes, I can't believe you killed me with such a light arrow and then died. But no, it's, it accuracy again, it's accuracy over everything for me and that, that shot hit him well and he didn't go far. Incredible.
Incredible. Just like that man, Henry, we've already [00:56:00] racked up an hour. The time flies when you're talking giant meal deer. So I wanted to thank you for being here and sharing some of your experience and knowledge on the giant Bucks with us and give folks pleasure, a chance to follow along cuz you have a pretty active Instagram account.
I do so at Big Chief Wacka Buck is my personal page. And then my it started out with good intentions. My buddy and I were doing a my buddy and I were doing a bunch of archery instructional videos and we were doing that under a page called Not Fit to Hunt. And it was just a little joke back at the CrossFit thing that was taken over Western Hunting at the time.
And we just, so yeah, that's my two primary pages there. Awesome. Thank you. Thank you for giving folks a chance to follow along and learn a thing or two about Big Meal. Dear from Ya, Henry and I appreciate your time. My pleasure, Brian. Anytime. Thank you. Thanks for listening folks, and thanks for [00:57:00] being here, Henry.