Colorado Mule Deer Hunting Record

Local hunter Drew Rouse with one of the largest mule deer bucks ever taken with a bow, in Colorado. Photo Ben Koelker | Mountain Weekly News

EAGLE COUNTY, CO – On Sunday, August 28th, Drew Rouse and I headed out early to see what we could find with our bows. I have an either sex elk archery tag and Drew has (had…) an either sex elk and either sex mule deer archery tag.

We do most of our hunting in Eagle County, CO, and on this day were in one of our favorite spots. The morning started out great when after a 30 minute walk from the truck we got into the elk just as the sun was rising over the Gore Range. Drew set up to do some calling for me down in the woods, and through his cow calls and stomping around in the forest to make it more appealing and realistic to the bulls, I had a nice 5X5 bull present itself across a meadow at just over 50 yards.

Being the unlucky hunter that I am, the only time this bull stopped his trot across the meadow was right behind a large bush that I couldn’t shoot through. He exited stage right after deciding that Drew was not the herd of cows he thought he had heard, and our hunt continued.

We walked a long ways before Drew’s knee, continually hurting due to numerous ski injuries, forced us to turn back. We split up and took different routes back to the truck, Drew looking for a buck to shoot and me looking for an elk to take down. I had a nice, relaxing walk through the woods, seeing nothing to sling an arrow at. Drew’s luck, however, was better.

As he stepped from the woods into an opening, a buck was eating on a hillside opposite of Drew. So he began to work his way back into the woods where he could get a little closer to the buck, still nonchalantly grazing across the meadow. As Drew worked his way back to the edge of the opening, he found himself standing about 50 yards from the buck, and knew his time had come.

At the same time, I was walking down the ridge above where Drew was and received a phone call from my ecstatic friend telling me I needed to “…get down here real quick”, cause he had arrowed a big one. So I moved down to where he was hanging out, waiting to go look for the buck, which had run away.

Typical hunting protocol says that if your animal runs after being shot, to give it nearly an hour before beginning the search, so as not to push it any further away and make it suffer. So we waited for about 50 minutes before Drew’s A.D.D. was driving in full force, and went up on the hillside where the buck had been to find a blood trail. We found the trail pretty quickly and were able to follow it for several hundred yards through the forest before running out of luck as the trail faded and disappeared into the tall grass.

After an emotional couple of hours searching near and far for the next sign of the deer our friend Rob came riding by on a mountain bike trail that the deer had crossed. We told him what was going on and that we were looking for a buck, a BIG buck, and if he saw anything to give us a call. He rode off and Drew and I were feeling pretty down about not finding the deer when from a long way off down the hill we heard shouting.

“I FOUND YOUR BUCK!!!”, Rob just kept yelling, and we were finally pumped up again, several hours after the initial excitement had begun to wear off. We headed down the trail and found Rob in a meadow pointing to where the buck had run off to. After a couple of minutes, he was on the ground.

Drew and I were so happy after several hours of riding the roller coaster of emotions while looking for a deer that has been shot in the woods. Turns out Drew had arrowed a big one. A possible record as a matter of fact. Our friend Chris Hood did an initial, unofficial measurement of the antlers, coming up with a gross score of 227 inches on this non-typical buck, still in velvet. It will probably end up being one of the largest mule deer bucks ever taken with a bow, in Colorado or the entire world, after an official measurement is taken by the folks at Pope and Young.

Related Articles:

  1. Best Hunting Knives
  2. Best Cold Weather Hunting Gear
  3. Best Bird Hunting Gear

3 Comments on "Colorado Mule Deer Hunting Record"

  1. If it’s not too much trouble, I have a question I was hoping you might help me with. Do you think it’s better for a new hunter to get started with a longbow or a crossbow. I really like the idea of learning to hunt with a long bow. I’ve heard though that a crossbow is much more powerful. Thanks in advance for your answer.

    • Mike Hardaker | April 3, 2020 at 1:43 PM | Reply


      If you want to practice shooting and learn about bows and bow makers and primitive hunting and stone arrows and connect with your primal- get a recurve or long/ traditional bow. No sights, just fingers and arrows and string and piece of wood. Real simple. Effective kill range (if you shoot 1000s of arrows that year and your ready to kill) 25 yards deer, maybe 30 elk in prime situation.

      Crossbows are just guns with arrows instead of bullets. Target shooting similar as well. Effective kill range 60+ yards. Easy to hunt with, but awkward and cumbersome to carry around all day. And you risk taking long ass shots because you think you can which can lead to wounded/lost game.

      Compound bows are middle ground. Still has wheels and mechanical advantage of cams or what have you, but you have to pull it back in the moment, no walking around cocked like a gun bow. These have sights and you use a mechanical release to hold onto and release the string. The bow also lets off much of the draw weight once you reach full draw you may only be holding 30 lbs instead of 70 lbs when you are drawing back. This allows for precision aiming and smooth release, making the effective kill range about 40-50 yards.

      I would recommend a compound to start- I got one at 15 and shot for 15 more years. The newer one I have now will hunt another 15 years, you can always upgrade the arrow rest and sights and quiver and get a new string and more silencers and dampeners and stabilizers and blah blah.

      I practiced for 2 years before I flung an arrow with the recurve at a deer, but it was amazing to accomplish that and the thrill of getting close keeps me coming back to the trad bow, but every hunting season I tend to break out the compound and trust my killing range a bit further out.

  2. Kenneth Pickens | November 29, 2016 at 7:51 PM | Reply

    I grew up on a large ranch in Colorado and we prohibited both bow and rifle hunting of Deer on our property. When hunting season started they congregated by the thousands on our land around a lake and the day it was over they dispersed. There was not an over population of Deer then, they did not destroy crops or meadow land, ocasionally one poor Deer would get tangled up in our barbed wire fence and die but they were beautiful animals. Not once did they SHOOT AT US, kill livestock, take excessive hay and in fact they were simply a joy that we chose to feed in brutal winters. They are not bright animals and unless you are like we were they have a heathy fear of humans. It is hard for me to believe there is any joy in the diligent stalking and death of a glorious trophy animal that has survived mankind and this many brutal winters, arid hot high altitude summers, fires, lightening storms, disease, breeding seasons only to suffer the fate of a silient death he had no chance to conquer or avoid. KWP

Leave a comment