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  • Tanner Kemp

New Ground: Idaho Mule Deer

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

In August of 2016 my wife, who serves in the US Air Force, was given orders to transfer from Phoenix, Arizona to Mountain Home, Idaho. The small military town is about 30 miles outside of Boise. I expected Idaho to be a town filled with mountains, streams of water, and lush green trees… I was completely surprised that Mountain Home (and it’s surrounding area) was nothing like I envisioned! It was in the middle of nowhere and barren.

Mountain Home doesn’t have mountains or running streams. From a game aspect, I was surprised by the antelope and deer that seem to appear out of thin air. In early October my wife deployed out of the country. This left me with ample time to explore my new home state. I hit the field with an empty freezer and no advanced of scouting the area prior to opening day. I was prepared to shoot at any legal buck that would appear. I chose to explore a spot that I found on my maps. I sat down on the lifeless slope and started to glass. I glassed miles and miles of sage flats and farm fields. As the sun began to sink down in the West I spotted several does entering the field below me. I was exhilarated at the sight! I caught some movement coming up the draw. A large 4x4 entered the field. The final remaining rays of light bounced off the buck’s body. I quickly realized the buck was not hunt able due to private property. Landlocked bucks diminished my hope of harvesting a deer that night. With my new pup, Remington, a blue-eyed Chesapeake Bay Retriever by my side I decided to make the trek back home to cyber scout for the remainder of the evening. After many hours and late into the night I found a couple areas that looked promising. I set my alarm for early the next morning

I was out the door before the sun and made my way out to the first spot I studied the previous evening. I looked for an area to pull off and park but there were trucks parked at every possible spot. The farther back I drove the less trucks I found. I finally found a spot to park my old Chevy and was off to glass. As I climbed up the hill I noticed lots of signs of deer. The higher I climbed, the fresher it got. I caught movement on the top of the hill. I hit the deck and pulled up my Vortex 15s and saw does feeding above me. I looked hard trying to find some bone atop of one of their heads. I could not quite find the exact spot on the deer I was looking for. I saw a deer making it’s way up the side of the hill directly across for me. I moved my binoculars gently to the left and saw that it was a spike. I made the decision to move quickly and try to get in range. The image of my barren freezer, lacking fresh organic meat was emblazoned in my mind and on my palate. I set off trying to cut down the yards. Suddenly out of nowhere a deer popped up in front of the one I was stalking. It was visibly bigger. I pulled up my .308 and settled my sight. It was a two point. I… ever… so… slightly applied pressure to the trigger. BANG! The gun went off! The deer took off down the embankment. I racked another round in the chamber. I pulled up my rifle and saw the most amazing sight; the deer was flipping over and came to an abrupt stop. My heart was pounding out of my chest. This couldn’t be real!

I was so elated and out of breathe! I pulled my phone out to call my little brother. The phone began ringing on the other end and it hit me at what I had just accomplished. I had gone into a new area that I was unfamiliar with and left successful. I found game, got in, and executed a good shot. My full freezer is a sweet reminder of how grateful I am to the bounty of the new land that I now call home.


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