KINGMAN - For many local archers, December and January are times they are in the field pursuing desert mule deer bucks.
For a pair of local hunters, 2010 ended on a high note, and one of them is already done deer hunting in 2011.
Shane Moline and Ryan Chan are good friends. They hunt together and fish together a lot. In December, Moline and Chan found a place that had quite a number of mule deer that were in the rut.
Moline was able to take one of the weirdest bucks I've seen, and Chan was able to fill his 2010 archery tag with a small forkie. Moline bagged his 5X4 buck with a 25-inch spread on Christmas Day. The buck's points are small but have some interesting character.
On New Year's Day, Chan was back in the field with his 2011 archery tag in pocket. It was about 9:30 a.m. when Chan, who was hunting in the same area that he and Moline had found their December bucks, found a couple of herds of deer, and with them were some mature rutting bucks.
Chan watched as the larger of the two bucks promptly beat up the smaller buck and took away his harem of does. Now this big buck had a harem of 17 does and Chan was determined to watch this buck until he had the opportunity to take a shot.
"I watched the herd for about four hours," Chan said. "They had bedded down, but finally they got up and started moving around."
The buck, not knowing that the archer was nearby, started working his way through the does and finally was within range.
At the shot, Chan wasn't sure he had made a good hit, and watched as the buck and does ran off. The buck ran down into a canyon but didn't come out the other side.
"I was determined to give him plenty of time to lie down and expire before I went after him, so I slowly backed out of the area and contacted Shane."
Three hours later, Chan and Moline were back in the area and slowly moved toward where the buck was last seen. It didn't take them long before they found the buck. He was down but not out.
"I couldn't believe it, he jumped up and took off running," Chan said.
They watched through binoculars as the buck ran off into some rough, rocky canyons.
It was getting late, so they decided they would come back the following morning with more help for what was going to be a long tracking job.
The next morning, the two were back in the area. With Chan and Moline this day were Ryan's dad, Jay, and Moline's girlfriend, Tina. The recent rain and snow made the ground soft as the team started off on the trail.
They followed the tracks and sign for over a mile when they found where the buck had bedded down. But he was gone, and Chan started to wonder if they would find him.
Then Moline located the buck. He was down the hill just a few yards away. The buck had expired during the night.
It had four well-formed points on each side of his rack and is the largest mule deer that Chan has taken with his bow.
Now Chan will have to wait until 2012 before he can hunt mule deer again. "I don't care," Chan said, "That is a buck I'd take anytime."
The archery season closes on Jan. 31.