Few of us will ever be capable of hunt Vermejo Park Ranch. The sprawling, full-service visitor ranch owned by media mogul Ted Turner is most undoubtedly a high-dollar vacation spot. However when you’re going to drop the dough to chase mule deer at one of many largest and most luxurious recreation preserves within the West, you may as properly additionally drop the largest buck in ranch historical past.
No less than that’s what Austin Musacchio did earlier this month, when he traveled from Dallas-Fort Price to northern New Mexico for a 5-day guided hunt at Vermejo. On the third day of his hunt, he shot an absolute monster of a buck.
The nontypical 12×14 had a large 2×3 mainframe with an explosion of antlers coming off it—together with about 6 drop tines that had been as much as 6 inches lengthy. Vermejo’s resident wildlife biologist Lance Bernal gave the buck a gross rating of 225 and three/8 inches. In accordance with information James Reedy and hunt supervisor Kyle Jackson, who retains information of each animal killed on the ranch, it was the largest mule deer buck taken off the property because it was bought by Ted Turner in 1996.
The Hunt for a Ranch Document
Totaling round 560,000 acres, Vermejo Park Ranch is extra like a privately-owned nationwide park than your typical dude ranch. (Truly, it’s extra like two privately-owned parks, because the property is sort of the scale of Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain Nationwide Parks mixed.) It’s residence to a number of high-end lodges—the biggest of which is a turn-of-the-century mansion often called “Casa Grande”—and a staggering abundance of wildlife, together with massive herds of elk, bison, deer, and antelope. It’s free-range looking (not excessive fenced) however the expansive privately owned and thoroughly managed panorama permits critters to develop previous and large.
Musacchio has made a handful of journeys as much as the sportsman’s paradise alongside together with his household, who’ve their very own connection to Vermejo because the homeowners of Cinnamon Creek Ranch. One of many largest wild recreation processing amenities within the nation, it’s the final word vacation spot of many of the big-game animals which might be harvested at Vermejo.
“The previous three years I’ve hunted for mule deer up there,” Musacchio says. “I did a administration hunt the final two years with out killing one, however I noticed trophies throughout each of these hunts. So I figured, man, I’d as properly save up and are available again so I can attempt to shoot a trophy.”
After attending to Vermejo on Monday, Sept. 5, Musacchio was paired up with long-time information James Reedy. They cut up their time between mountain climbing and driving by way of their assigned zone over the subsequent couple days, and so they noticed loads of good deer however no shooters.
“Thursday morning got here round and we determined to go as much as the north ridge in Spring Canyon,” Musacchio says. “Reedy had killed loads of good bucks on this ridge, so we drove up there from the lodge.”
Musacchio explains that since Vermejo has greater than 900 pure fuel wells, there’s a system of properly roads on the ranch which might be sufficiently big for full-sized vehicles. This allowed them to cowl far more floor than they’d on foot, and it meant that Musacchio may deliver his fiancé alongside within the automobile.
Driving within the early morning gentle, it wasn’t lengthy earlier than Reedy stopped and pointed at a set of antlers that had been skylined up on the ridge.
“We get our binoculars out and James goes, ‘that’s him,’” Musacchio says. “I had by no means seen something prefer it earlier than in my life. He was tremendous tall, good and huge, with kickers and a loopy quantity of drop tines. I used to be like holy shit.”
After taking a minute to compose himself, Musacchio requested Reedy if they need to get out and stalk the buck. However his information had a greater thought.
“[Reedy] instructed me in the event that they see us on foot, they’re gonna bolt. However as a result of they see so many vehicles working these properly roads, it simply may give us a bonus.”
So, they crept up the street and saved their eyes on the buck. He was in chest-high grass with just a few different deer, and as they bought nearer to the group, Reedy instructed Musacchio to seize his bow and sneak out the passenger-side door. Scurrying alongside the truck, he stayed shielded from the deer as Reedy drove nearer.
“I walked with him for some time—it felt like without end,” Musacchio says, “after which I bought down to drag my bow again. The deer had been standing 46 yards away within the brush, and when Reedy drove away that they had their eyes on the truck and never me. The buck begins strolling, takes two steps, and I’m at full draw simply side-shuffling so I may get some type of angle on him.”
When the buck bought to about 50-60 yards and was quartering away, Musacchio put his pin proper above the center and squeezed off the shot. He heard his arrow zip by way of the grass, after which he heard the tell-tale thump of the broadhead hitting muscle. The arrow hit excessive on the again of the deer’s neck and got here out the entrance, severing its carotid artery. After ready a full 45 minutes, they discovered the buck piled up in some bushes roughly 80 yards away.
“It was the happiest I’ve ever been,” says Musacchio, who was unable to cover his pleasure. “My fiancé was there with us too. We had only in the near past gotten engaged, and he or she walked up and stated, ‘You’re extra enthusiastic about this deer than you might be about being engaged.’
“And I stated, ‘Sure, sure I’m. However I do love ya.’”