Subscribers who read my original article on some sleeper mule deer hunts in northern Utah will recall that outfitter Jeff Sessions had just acquired all hunting rights on the Park Valley Hereford Association property near the town of Park Valley and on the 16,000-acre Muddy Ranch about another 15 miles west, and was in the process of implementing a new management plan to reduce hunter pressure and improve trophy quality on these properties. I have recently returned from a bowhunt and fact-finding trip to Sessions' operation and found things moving according to plan. This was my third trip to the area, but my first personal contact with Sessions, who appeared to be sincere, dedicated and capable.
During my bowhunt, which was done with a longbow, not a compound, I missed a couple of shots which I probably could have made had I been using modern equipment. I did not see the numbers of deer that I had seen at higher elevations during my 1998 bowhunt in the same locale, but I did see several bucks of trophy quality. This is in marked contrast to my 1998 hunt, during which many small-to-medium size bucks were in evidence. So it appears that the genetics are there. Whether this redistribution of deer from the mountain tops to the lower slopes is due to lion predation or to a change in food availability is anyone's guess. It doesn't really matter, however, as on these properties a client may hunt high or low. The high rimrock portions, which are up to the 10,000-foot mark, can be physically demanding and cold. The lower elevations are much easier.
With regard to these lower areas, Sessions drove me to look at still a third property on which he now holds hunting rights. It was easy-to-hunt, rolling country. It seems that Sessions is on his way to his eventual goal of controlling a vast hunting concession in the area. He is a man on the move and is certainly one of the key players in mule deer........(continued)