One of the things I enjoy about being an outdoors writer is that I get to meet a lot of folks who have had some very successful hunting trips.
Case in point is the Carley and Whittington families of Kingman. This year these families brought home not only a lot good eating venison but a lot of big racks from mule deer they bagged on their 2008 hunts.
The Carley's hunting party consisted of Don, his wife, Lisa, and their 17-year-old son, Derreck. Don's father, Greg, would also go along to assist as a spotter.
The Whittington party included the husband/wife duo of Dell and Kara.
On opening weekend, it was Lisa who started off the string of successful hunts by bagging her first buck, a 2-by-1 that she took with her 25/06 rifle with one shot at 208 yards. Needless to say, Lisa was happy and proud of her accomplishment in taking her buck with just one shot.
The next day, Kara bagged her buck, a 3-by-3 at 100 yards with her 270 rifle.
With the ladies deer tags filled, and Derreck headed back to school, Don and Dell decided they would stay in the field and look for some of the bigger bucks that they had seen in the area.
On the third day of the hunt, Greg spotted a group of four mature bucks on a hillside.
Don got set up and took a fine 25-½ inch 4-by-4 with one shot at 308 yards with his 30-06 rifle.
Bagging big deer isn't a fluke with Don Carley. Last year, he bagged a huge buck that sported a rack that was almost 29-inches wide in the same area. Besides being a heck of a deer hunter, Carley also owns and operates Mountain Arts Taxidermy; (928) 753-1573.
The next day it was Dell who spotted a small herd of bucks, and with one shot, he bagged a 5-by-5 buck whose rack has great mass and huge eyeguards.
Now the only one left with an unfilled deer tag was Derreck, who is a senior at Kingman High School. School always comes first, so it wouldn't be until the weekend until the young hunter could get back in the field.
Don, Dell and Derreck went back out early on Saturday, and it wasn't long before Don spotted a herd of four bucks on a ridge. One of them was a huge 5-by-5 buck that sported a 10-inch drop tine off of his right antler. This huge buck would truly be a buck of a lifetime if the young man could bag him.
The problem was the herd was about 600 yards from the anxious hunter and his helpers.
It was decided that Whittington would accompany the young hunter on the stalk while Derreck' s father kept an eye on the bucks.
The bucks were on an open hillside and bedded down, enjoying the warmth of the morning sun.
Derreck and Whittington were able to use the terrain and trees to move to within 40 yards of the unsuspecting deer.
But then the big buck sensed something was wrong and stood up.
When he did, Derreck fired a shot from his 30-06 rifle and the buck literally dropped in his tracks.
The young man had bagged the monster-sized mule deer!
The buck's antlers were just over 29 inches wide, very tall with tremendous mass.
Young Carley was ecstatic at taking such a huge deer, especially since his father had entered him into a couple of big buck contests in Seligman.
The buck turned out to be the largest one checked in the juniors division and earned the young hunter a brand new Savage 17 HMR rifle, a backpack and a compass.
While some might think that the success these families enjoyed this year was pure luck, filling five deer tags in a unit that normally has a hunt success that averages around 10 percent isn't just luck.
It is a result of some serious pre-season scouting and knowing the areas they hunt very well.
Nope, these Kingman folks are more than lucky: They are very adept at hunting desert mule deer.