We’ve all heard the phrase “Go West Young Man,” words written back in 1861 by John B.L. Soule. The phrase came to symbolize the idea that agriculture could solve many of the nation’s problems of poverty and unemployment characteristic of the big cities of the East.
But for Jules Fruhwirth of Emmaus and eight of his buddies, the phrase means heading to Nebraska for big white-tailed deer and huge mule deer. The latter duo are predominately a plains pursuit that differs immensely from hunting in Pennsylvania.
Fruhwirth’s nine-day hunt was guided by Broken Arrow Outfitters, who offer hunting guide service in Nebraska, Kansas and Texas, on public and private lands. They also exhibit yearly at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg and have a number of local clientele.
While four of Fruhwirth’s buddies drove to Nebraska with truck and trailer and their gear, Fruhwirth, who took a local 8-pointer with bow during the archery season, flew as he runs Fruhwirth Plumbing in Allentown and couldn’t expend the extra time needed to drive to the Corn Husker’s state.
According to Fruhwirth, plains hunts boil down to two mediums: Driving vast amounts of land, and doing a considerable amount of scanning the terrain with binoculars and spotting scopes in hopes of spotting big muleys and deer. And for him, shooting video footage of the hunt. In fact, one of his buddies kiddingly suggested he put down the video camera and pick up his rifle sometime and do some hunting.
Since Nebraska affords getting a whitetail and mule deer license, Fruhwirth had both, but concentrated on a big muley as this was his third trip there. A muley tag costs $225 if you’re lucky to draw a tag. And after purchasing the regular Nebraska hunting license, there’s also a required $20 habitat stamp.
Hunting the North Platte area, which is in the southwestern part of the state, Fruhwirth said the area required considerable trekking of sage, sand-hill and river bottom terrain.
“For deer, it’s mainly a river bottom hunt where the outfitters place you on productive stands but mandate taking a minimum 120 size deer that is generally an 8-pointer or 130 size, 10-pointer. And I saw hundreds of deer and some really big ones if you have a spotting scope,” Fruhwirth recounted.
His hunt consisted of driving over sand hills, stopping at the crest of the hills then sitting atop them and glassing the terrain. “If we’d see a muley, I’d put up the spotting scope to get a better look, then we proceeded to get closer from there.”
His hunt began on a Wednesday after arriving on Tuesday in late November. In Nebraska, he pointed out, Sunday hunting is permissible.
“On Friday afternoon, with all conditions against us and as we crossed coulee’s and cuts, we spotted ears then antlers. We then sat on a hillside until this buck came around in j-hook fashion. I wanted a symmetrical rack outside the ears and a 180 or better and this one looked right. He then came out at 150 yards although I had been practicing for a typical 300-400 yard shot.”
Using an old old, hand-me-down 30.06 caliber Winchester model 70 on a bipod, Fruhwirth lined up the crosshairs of his scope on this 4x4 buck that subsequently weighed around 200 pounds. Shooting a 150 grain Nosler ballistic tipped bullet, his first muley ever, went down.
“At the sound of my shot, a huge 180 size, 10-point whitetail broke out from the same area and high-tailed it at lightning speed. The outfitter said he never saw one that big out there. And after a 10-minute hike to my muley, we could still see this same buck, now about a mile away, running at full speed towards a cornfield and river bottom.”
The following two days Fruhwirth experienced bad weather but says he still saw at least 27 big bucks, but couldn’t get a shot at a sizable deer.
Of his group of eight, six muleys were taken, one a 10-pointer, while others managed one or two whitetails a piece, some of which were 10-pointers. “One of these was shot at 20 feet from a ground blind with a Ravin crossbow,” he added.
So if you want to see and score on big deer and mule deer, go West young man.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.