By Joella Bates
Greg Smith skipped his routine Canadian hunt in order to take his wife where she wanted to go. Although he was successful in Mexico, Myra upstaged him by collecting what may be the largest typical desert muley ever taken by a woman. Photo Courtesy of: Myra Smith
In 2004, Myra and Greg Smith of Mt. Airy, Md., were watching a mule deer hunt from Rancho Grande in Sonora, Mexico, on Bass Pro Shops' "Outdoor Adventures." The ranch accommodations (pool, game room and home cooking) attracted Myra's attention.
Greg hunts in Canada each year, and he always wants Myra to accompany him. Laughing, she told him, "I'll go to Rancho Grande." Before she knew it, he had booked them a six-day deer hunt for January 2005.
By the end of the second day of their 2005 hunt, both Greg and Myra had harvested great bucks. Greg took a 199-inch 5x7 mule deer in the morning, and Myra dropped her muley that afternoon, a 179-inch 4x4 with a kicker and an outside spread of 29 inches. Before they left camp, Greg and Myra paid their deposit for 2006.
In 2006, Jesus Fimbres welcomed the Smiths back to Rancho Grande. This time, Myra hoped for a 190 or better with a 30-inch spread.
Roberto Nunez would again guide Myra. They had discussed her desires for a true monster muley, so the bar was set. Despite seeing deer that Roberto considered shooters, Myra held out for her dream buck.
Myra Smith shows off every mule deer hunter's dream buck. As if the deep forks and long tines aren't impressive enough, the inside spread is knocking on 40 inches! Photo Courtesy of: Myra Smith
On day three, Greg shot a very respectable 5x5 that grossed 178 inches. Myra, being a fierce competitor, would wait for a buck larger than Greg's.
On the fifth day, Greg hunted Coues' deer while Roberto and Myra continued her quest for the muy grande mule deer. Before daybreak, they climbed to a high peak and waited for sunup. After 45 minutes of glassing, Roberto spotted the potential shooter, but it was way too far for Myra and Roberto to determine its size.
"We came off the mountain and worked our way in the direction that we thought the buck would come," Myra says. "It is amazing how the mule deer blend in with the desert. We finally spotted it 300 yards away beneath some trees. The rack was extremely wide and tall with good back forks. Roberto kept telling me to shoot it, but I wanted to see the front forks before squeezing the trigger."
Roberto said, "Trust me."
A determined Myra thinks, "This is my hunt."
"I wanted to see my deer," she continued.
Already having taken a good deer from Mexico, Myra knew what she wanted and was willing to wait or go home without one, if it wasn't the right buck. Myra says, "It took off running before I could see the front forks."
Upon returning that evening, Myra told Greg her story.
"He was not overly concerned with my hunting woes," Myra said. "He had not taken a Coues' deer, but he carried an air of excitement. Eventually, he pulled me to the side and told me about a 40-inch buck he and guide Fernando Flores had seen. Greg was so animated he could barely speak. What he did say can't be printed. Greg assured me that the buck was tall and wide with deep front and back forks ... What more could a girl want!"
Jesus, Roberto and Fernando planned the hunt. Myra spent a sleepless night tossing and thinking about the buck. "Buck Fever was getting the best of me," she exclaimed.
On the cold final day of the hunt, Myra insisted that they sit in the truck until it was good light. She was not willing to chance spooking the buck or it not being light enough for her to pull the trigger as soon she saw the deer.
With the sun up by 7:15 a.m., they spent a good 21⁄2 hours glassing from at least three different vantage points, hoping to get a glimpse of the buck. Myra found herself shaking, not certain if it was the temperature or the adrenaline or a combination. The morning was cold and silent with not a thing moving in the area. Eventually, small bucks became active, but not the big one. Her enthusiasm was waning.
After 9:00 approached with no sightings, Myra's nervousness passed and was replaced with a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. She knew that "today was the day" because she had to get home to her two boys.
Still focused and determined to make the best of the situation, Myra prayed that the buck would show. "Lord, if it is meant for me to get that deer, please Lord, don't make me wait until this afternoon."
At 9:40, suddenly, Roberto saw a doe.
Myra said, "I looked in that direction and immediately saw a huge buck take two big jumps then disappear in the thick brush."
"Muy grande," I told Roberto. "I did not know if it was the one spotted by Greg and Fernando, but it was a shooter, no doubt the one for me!"Myra put down the binoculars. She was ready.
With glistening eyes, Myra recalls, "We eased into the low thick area where I had seen the buck disappear. I knew it would either travel the length of the low area or go up the other side. We eased along very slowly looking for it. I spotted it standing under the shade of a tree, looking straight at us.
"Without any hesitation and without saying a word, I put my crosshairs on its neck and squeezed the trigger," said Myra.
Roberto said, "High."
As quickly as the words left his mouth, Myra had already chambered another round and fired the deadly shot. "I put the crosshairs back in the same place and squeezed again," she said.
At 9:42, Roberto yelled, "It's down."
"The buck dropped in its tracks," Myra bubbled.
She was reloaded and ready in case it rose. Years of unsolicited coaching and counseling had Myra on alert, just in case the giant attempted to regain its footing. Roberto glassed the downed buck and saw its open eyes. Until then, Myra was ready for a follow-up shot.
With the buck down for good, Roberto ranged it at 267 yards.
Roberto might have been certain, but Myra was not taking any chances.
"It had happened so quickly that I was not even nervous," she said. "But after the shot I started shaking like a leaf."
Roberto helped steady Myra as she regained her legs. He insisted that she unload the gun. But she compromised with him, leaving one in the chamber with an open bolt.
"When we got within 30 yards, I finally could see my deer," Myra said. "Instead of ground shrinkage, it grew larger as we approached ... I had gotten the big one ... With every passing step, it got bigger!"
Roberto radioed Fernando to give them the good news.
Greg was with a guide, hunting for Coues' deer, when he got word via radio that Myra had done it.
"Myra, muy grande," said Greg's Mexican guide, Fernando.
Greg hurried back to camp.
Back at the ranch, Greg was beaming with pride for his wife. The ever talkative Myra was speechless as her once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment dawned on her. Jesus flew back (by truck) from the airport. Myra said, "I think he had buck fever, too!"
Myra's buck weighed 255 pounds - the heaviest ever taken at Rancho Grande. It netted 2102⁄8 - with an outside spread of 39 inches. It's no doubt the largest typical mule deer ever taken by a woman.
That afternoon, Greg went back out and got his first Coues' deer, a 108-incher with a broken P-2. But Greg didn't get the attention he deserved, because Myra had stolen the show.
To top off the hunting trip of a lifetime, Myra got to share her muley story with one of her favorite television personalities, Jim Shockey. They even took some photos with Jim posing with the rack.
Since January, Myra has been busy recruiting women into the hunting sorority. All it took was sharing her photos, the ones of Myra and Jim Shockey, for the ladies at her hair salon to decide that they wanted to take up hunting.
Editor's Note: To book your mule deer hunting adventure with Rancho Grande Hunting Lodge, call Jesus Fimbres at (011) 52 62 14 2340, or check out their website at: www.ranchograndehunting.com.
-- Reprinted from the October 2006 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine