First Tag Filled – Arizona Public Land Mule Deer

It’s hard to believe y’ all… but, it finally happened. I finally filled my first tag and harvested a velvet spike muley. It’s still hard to believe, but I couldn’t be more grateful or excited. Y’all can have your giant bucks and bulls. As far as I’m considered, this little guy is the biggest trophy in the world. Now on to the story!

After two weeks of hard hunting, countless setbacks and putting in an incredible amount of work on both Mason’s antelope and my muley, we were both exhausted and on the verge of giving up. To top it all, the Polaris we were using was in pretty rough shape. The muffler had cracked and was hanging by a thread. In fact, it was so loud that we couldn’t hear each other talking over the noise, and eventually had to stuff our ears with toilet paper. Our plans for any further hunting went straight out the window.

However, after getting back to the trailer, we managed to connect with one of Mason’s buddies who offered to weld the muffler back together. Feeling somewhat energized and renewed after a positive turn of events, we decided to give it hell one last time and went on one final evening trip to see if we could scare up anything with antlers. After a couple hours of scouting, we finally came across a small bachelor herd of bucks getting ready to bed down. However, they were in a place that would’ve required a long and challenging stalk on my part, and sunset was rapidly approaching. I would’ve never made it over to them in time. So, we marked their location on the chance I’d be able to make it out the next morning before leaving.

As the sun moved closer to the horizon, we began to lose our enthusiasm and hope that a tag would be filled that evening. But, on our way out, about forty-five minutes before losing shooting light, Mason spotted some bodies on a face to our right. We glassed ’em up to see that they were two does and a spike. As the light began to fade further, I grabbed my gear and made an aggressive stalk into 50 yards on the buck, which was broadside with his head turned towards me. As I drew back my bow, he started getting a bit twitchy and shifted slightly, quartering away. I hit the release and let my arrow fly. Jumping the string and beginning to run, the buck turned further into a hard quarter, causing my arrow to hit further back than intended. He kept running, and I began to worry, but then noticed a hitch in his step. He hopped, stumbled then dropped, in full view, 50 yards away from where my arrow had struck him. The arrow had gone in towards the right-rear hip, passed up through the body cavity and exited straight through the vitals.

After paying our respects and grabbing some photos, with light running low, we hurried to get him field dressed and back to the Polaris. With him gutted, I hefted him over my shoulders in true Cam Hanes fashion and carried him off the face and out of the draw we were in. Back home, we skinned and started prepping the meat and getting it packed into my cooler for processing.

I can’t say thank you enough to all the guys from Hunt 3A, Mason, Josh, Jeremy, RJ. Y’all have taken me in, shared everything, taught me so much, and given me the most unforgettable two weeks of my life. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for all of you and this experience. I can’t wait for the next trip.

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