First Mule Deer - Northern AZ


Jun 7, 2021
I was able to harvest my first mule deer buck in northern AZ with my dad and grandpa on opening morning. My dad and I have hunted mule deer the past three years and we have come close each time, but never able to seal the deal. We were very prepared for this trip and the pre-season work finally paid off.

This year, when I found out I was drawn for the October rifle hunt, I started scouting early in mid-July. I glassed up a group of three decent bucks on a hillside that trip.

My dad and I spent Labor day weekend with an OTC archery tag in this unit as well. We hunted that same hillside all weekend (the one I had scouted in July and found the bucks). We had a very productive trip and chased a 3x4 and I got within 80yds of a nice 3x3.

Getting so close again was bittersweet. Each trip we have improved in so many different aspects, but we still hadn't secured a buck.

For my rifle hunt, my dad, grandpa and I arrived Thursday afternoon at camp. We were initially discouraged to see all of the campsites had already been taken up. We found a campsite still within 1-2 miles of the same hill we were planning to hunt. We went and glassed that hill before dark and immediately found two younger bucks tagging along with some does. I said out loud, "Both of those bucks are going to be dead very quickly hanging around the does like that". We went back to the trailer and prepared for opening morning.

My dad and I were at the hill by 5:45am, very worried about running into other hunters planning to hunt the same hill. We hiked up the hill and set up to glass the adjacent hillside we had seen the bucks. Surprisingly, there were no other hunters to be seen. My dad glassed up some does about 300yds below at the bottom of the hill. While I kept glassing, he spotted one of the same bucks from the evening before following the does again.

I quickly moved down the hill to get in position. I was shooting prone downhill and ranged about 200yds where I was planning the buck to pop out of the trees. The buck never showed, and instead headed back from the opposite direction he was coming up the adjacent hill. We decided to watch the buck hoping to see him bed. We watched for about 45 minutes and realized the buck was heading back the same direction to the group of does below us. I moved down the hill again and setup prone with my sights near a patch of trees the buck was feeding in. The buck stepped out quartered away, and then turned broadside. I made a 200yd shot and the buck took off in a full sprint around the bend of the hill. We moved slowly around the hill to see if we could spot the buck again. After waiting some time, we went and checked for blood. After searching with no sign of blood, my heart was beginning to sink. I decided to walk in the direction the buck took off, and less than 100yds away I saw a brown mound that I prayed was my buck. I called my dad over and we both celebrated my first ever mule deer!

I made a perfect shot to the vitals, the deer was stone dead. We gutted him out and carried him back to the side-by-side about 0.5 miles. We brought him to Casey's to be processed where I am also having 10lbs of spicy chorizo made!

Getting to share this experience with my dad and grandpa was the most special part to me. My grandpa has not been able to hike and hunt with us the past few years after recovering from prostate cancer, so having him be there with my dad and I was awesome. And my dad being my number one hunting partner, I was so excited our hard work had finally paid off and seeing the smiles on both of our faces after finding the deer=priceless.


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Well Known Rokslider
Jul 17, 2013
So. Cal.
Great story and pics. That's awesome you got your first muley! Enjoy every minute hunting with family and congrats to all.


Junior Member
Oct 18, 2021
that's a lucky draw back to back in Az. last mule deer hunt in Az for me was 5 years ago I think... great story and congrats


Well Known Rokslider
Jan 21, 2019
I used to live in Flag and still have some great friends that live there. Your pics are great makes me miss runnning around up there. Congrats on the deer, and awesome you got it done with your grandpa.


Junior Member
Aug 3, 2019
Prescott, AZ
Nice job. That's not an easy unit for sure. I was just there in September for a cow elk hunt and didn't see 1 mule deer buck.