Member's Hunt: The Mag Seven

posted on November 5, 2022
MH The Magnificent Seven Lead

What happens when seven men from Pennsylvania head out for a planned hunting trip in Montana for mule deer and pronghorn antelope? It was an epic trip with abounding memories. As one of those men, I know we all shared the excitement and anxiousness of the travel, the hunt and the camaraderie.

We are a bunch of confident Pennsylvania hunters and have hunted together for more than 40 years. Though our experience of Pennsylvania hunting is vast—hunting everything from deer, bear, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, groundhog, pheasant, grouse and more—we would learn that hunting big game in the Big Sky state, challenged our tendency to hunt the Pennsylvania way. While we were on a mission to hunt mule deer and pronghorn, we also had the option to hunt whitetail with the combination licenses we held, but who would want to hunt whitetail in Montana when there are whitetail in our backyards? Well, considering the miles and miles of fertile grazing lands, the whitetail of Montana can develop significant mass and be enticing to hunt no matter where you are from or what is already hanging on your wall.

Our ride out to the hunting leases was filled with open fields and beautiful sage-covered mountains. Like clockwork, at the break of dawn, we spotted a whitetail at just over 400 yards. It was early morning on day one of our hunt, and even though the 10-point was a beauty, we decided to pass on it. Later in the day, I was able to take a beautiful pronghorn. That evening, back at camp, we celebrated three tags filled: two mule deer and one pronghorn. All the animals were impressive, especially the 12-point mule deer that a fellow hunter, Zimmy, took.

Two-and-a-half days later, my brother, Dalton, still hadn’t taken a pronghorn. During those first days, the whitetail we had passed on day one taunted us relentlessly. My brother had a change of mind and, to the elation of our guide, accepted the challenge and decided to focus on the elusive whitetail. The following morning, after more celebrations of game taken by those in our group, we headed out and placed my brother in a blind we’d hoped would be in range of the deer. It was the coldest day of the hunt, about 8 degrees with no shortage of wind.

Not long after, the guide and I spotted a very nice mule deer and got into position for a shot. There were a number of does watching us on full alert, and my shot was hurried. A complete miss. Thinking we may have just spoiled the hunt for my brother, who was sitting in his blind not far from us, we decided to take our hunt to a neighboring ranch. We were glassing mule deer in the distance when the guide received a text from my brother that he had taken a shot!

By the time we arrived a snowstorm had covered all traces of blood and tracks. We headed back to camp with plans to relaunch the search the next morning. With everyone else having tagged out by now, our group of Pennsylvania hunters joined forces to head out and find the deer.

Once at the blind and after a quick briefing from my brother, we spread out and took a two-plus-hour walk through the woods looking for any sign we could find. We made a full circle without any sign of the deer. My brother asked the guides if we could just do one more quick search, and the guides said they would fill our five-day hunt any way we asked.

We lined up and headed into the woods, and in less than two minutes Zimmy yelled, “I got it here! Over here!” We found the deer lying no more than 75 yards from the blind. It was a massive symmetrical 10-point! Moods changed from depressed and focused to jubilant and crazy! Dalton was jumping and yelling showing off his energetic youth. We were all caught up in the exhilaration! Day four was a success, but my brother and I had two more animals yet to kill in order to tag out.

The next day, one of guides spotted a nice, tall pronghorn with ivory tips right at dawn. My brother made a perfect shot, and in short order we field dressed the pronghorn and set out for our last animal.

We found a nice mule deer and, after sneaking as close as we could, I took a shot at about 123 yards. Again, I missed. Had my scope moved? We had a decision to make: Go back to camp and waste precious time sighting in my gun on paper or stay put and make “dew.” We decided to check my sight by setting up a Mountain Dew can at 100 yards. My shot was 6 to 7 feet over the target! My scope had indeed moved. Making a quick decision, I took my brother’s gun to resume the hunt.

We soon spotted another muley and stealthily worked to within 125 yards of the big buck. I was panting like a racehorse, my heart pounding, the deer posed against the clear sky on the steep edge of the mountain before us. I took the shot. The deer walked a couple yards then fell and slid down the steep side of the mountain. It was the perfect ending to a perfect trip for the Mag Seven!

Do you have an exciting, unusual or humorous hunting experience to share? 
Send your story (800 words or less) to [email protected] or to American Hunter, Dept. MH, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA, 22030-9400. Please include your NRA ID number. Good quality photos are welcome. Make sure you have permission to use the material. Authors will not be paid, and manuscripts and photos will not be returned. All material becomes the property of NRA.


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