Having grown up in Southern Utah, I have always had a passion for the outdoors, hunting and fishing in this beautiful state. So when I moved to Nevada a few years ago, I still put in for the Utah draws each year. I figured there was no point in putting in for the Nevada draw because Southern Utah was my stomping grounds. However, after talking with all of my hunting buddies in Mesquite and seeing the bucks that they had killed just outside of town, I decided to give the Nevada tags a try. After a few years of unsuccessful draws, I finally drew a deer tag for the mountains around Mesquite. The locals had all described the hunt as simply going to Nays Ranch where the deer feed in the orchard and shooting one within minutes. This sounded easy enough! What I encountered was anything but easy.
Before the hunt started, I took my brother and son out to Nays Ranch to start scouting. As we came over the mountaintop, I couldn’t believe what I saw. An orchard? No! It was more like I had just pulled into Modena. I could only spot about 15 trees, three trailers, and more rusty, broken down cars than all the dealerships on the boulevard could handle. That’s not what I would call an orchard. On my first day of scouting the area, I only saw three deer. Needless to say I was a little deflated.
On opening day my brother Eric and I went to the backside of the ranch and hiked up a large canyon. We had seen a buck going up this way and we hiked for miles to find him. As we approached the end of the trail with no deer, we decided to regroup and wrap around to the front side of the mountain where my friend had shot his deer the year before. This area looked a lot more promising but still no deer. It was the first time in my hunting life that I had searched all day and had not gotten close to a single deer!
It was day two and I decided to start on the front side of the mountain. As we came around the corner of the main trail, it looked like the circus had rolled in. There were about 15 RZRs, a few rangers, and an assortment of kids and dogs. I had no choice but to walk right through all of it. As I got closer to the slew of people, I realized that I knew them! It was the Woods Family. They are a wonderful hunting family that has been hunting these mountains for years. They were very knowledgeable of the area and full of helpful advice. I helped them fix their broken down RZR and then we hunted together most of the morning. It’s great to hunt locally and run into people you know that are willing to help. By the end of the day we had seen eight does but still no bucks.
By the third day I was ready to try a new spot. I ran out to the mountains north of town with my Dad. We hunted hard and again saw no deer. I was beginning to wonder where the deer were hanging out. Having hunted Utah Hill and seeing deer in every canyon I ever walked in or glassed, I was pretty discouraged.
Day four came on a Sunday. While at church, my friend Chad and I got talking about hunting in the area and decided to leave Sunday school and head for the mountains. We hiked up a large peak and glassed until the sun was setting. We had seen nothing. As we descended the mountain, we saw two big bucks standing right in front of our side-by-side. We couldn’t believe it! Unfortunately I was not fast enough to get a shot on the bigger buck and I decided to let the smaller one pass.
On Day five my brother Eric and I headed out to the area that Chad had shown me. We came in from a different angle this time and spotted a buck first thing. This was my buck. We came up with a plan and started to head his direction. While on our way to find the big guy, I saw him out of the corner of my eye. We backed up a little and there he was. A really nice mature 3 Point tending to some does. We looked him over in shock. I had been hunting and scouting so much without seeing anything and I was not prepared. So as I slowly got ready to take the shot, my hands were shaking. I could not get steady. I had the worst buck fever I have ever experienced. The funny thing is this was going to be the biggest buck I had ever attempted to shoot. Eric could see that I was trembling and he tried to calm me down. I finally steadied myself and began to move around to get a better angle on him. He was up a narrow canyon about 200 yards away. Eric whispered, “Shoot him in the neck!” It was the best shot I had so I let the 270 Winchester Short Mag go and the buck disappeared! I didn't know what was going on because the does did not even flinch. Eric said, “You nailed him!” We hiked up to where we had shot the buck, still not believing that the does that were only about 20 yards away from us didn’t make a move.
Finally after days of seeing next to nothing I got my chance with the Nevada tag. I was so happy that I got my hands on a nice, mature, local buck and that the local people were able to help me find him. I can’t wait to draw this tag again!
BY DAVE HEATH