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Thread: Epic Week Ahead

  1. #1
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    Default Epic Week Ahead

    Other than my antelope hunt with dad last year, I can't remember being this excited about a hunt in a long time. I'll be heading to my usual opening morning duck spot tomorrow and then out to eastern Montana to continuing chasing birds while looking for an antelope to go after Saturday morning. I can't imagine tomorrow morning coming close to what my dad and I experienced in the blind last year, but this hole has yet to fail me so I'm guessing it'll be another fun hunt. Outside of tomorrow, I don't have anything set in stone. Just gonna wander the prairie with the new pup for six days.

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    Last edited by mdunc8; 09-30-2017 at 11:04 AM.

  2. #2
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    Good luck. Small overlooked places like this are true treasures.
    My name is Randy Newberg and I approved this post. What is written is my opinion, and my opinion only.

    "Hunt when you can. You're gonna run outta health before you run outta money."

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdunc8 View Post
    Just gonna wander the prairie with the new pup for six days.

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    I'm jealous. Have fun and please post lots of photos.
    Fear the beard....

  4. #4

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    Looks awesome, I'm stuck at a hockey rink in the Chicago area all weekend and am living the dream through all you guys and gals. Keep posting those photos, at least I can get away mentally!

  5. #5

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    Have a great trip. Looks like beautiful country
    "All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream" ~Thomas K. Whipple~

  6. #6
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    I hit the road after Clemson locked up the game against my Hokies. Made it a little over an hour before I pulled over to sleep for a few hours before making the final push to the lake in morning.

    Got to the lake a little over an hour before first shooting light. After a night of rain and snow, it looked like things were breaking up nicely. I made the quick 20 minute paddle to the spot I’ve hunted the opener the last four or five years. I’ve never hunted the day after the opener so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Much like last year, I was treated to another beautiful sunrise this morning. I started things off with a quick double on a few mallards. Unfortunately, other than a few small groups of teal buzzing me just above the reeds it was a pretty slow morning. I suppose I’ll have to be a little more insistent that the in-laws head back East before the opener next year. Regardless, it’s hard to complain too much after a beautiful morning like I had. At least my confidence is high going into the trip out to the prairie with an unblemished shooting record this fall. I’m sure that’ll come to a quick end though.

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    Saw four moose (one nice bull) on the way out. And after the smoked-filled summer we had, it was nice to see the mountains around here still exist.

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    Heading back out to the lower Yellowstone with my new pup (she got left behind today because of the predawn kayaking) Tuesday to see if I can find my first wood duck and pheasant while looking for this guy’s brother.
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    I might wet a line while I’m at it. Setting the over/under on the number of species that find their way into the Orion at six. Who wants some action?
    Last edited by mdunc8; 10-01-2017 at 07:08 PM.

  7. #7

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    Man your living the dream right there I may take the yak out for some woodies in a few weeks when I get home. Was hoping for a better Hokie game.

  8. #8

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    Nice day out. I'm jealous of the waterfowl. I'm spending the first couple weekends of ducking chasing big game with Kids, which is high on the list of cool things in life, and I still think my favorite thing to chase is ducks. Have fun with the pup, and I'll take the under, for a cold beer if you ever make it to Boise.
    we owe it to our children to give them two things, roots, and wings

  9. #9

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    Jealous here... Well done.

  10. #10
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    I had a similar scene this past weekend in northwest Wisconsin. I managed a couple wood ducks, but unlike you my shooting record shall not be mentioned....

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  11. #11

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    Hope you have a great hunt

  12. #12
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    Deal, choc. Good luck with the kiddos. My oldest is going to tag along for the first time during rifle. He can’t quit talking about it (and I can’t quit thinking about it).

    Looks like you’ve got a sweet spot too, Northwoods. Do you have luck drawing wood ducks in? I’ve heard they don’t decoy well. I’ve never hunted them though.

    I’ll try and tie one to some sagebrush for you, JCS.

  13. #13
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    Looks like you are having fun. Good luck.

  14. #14
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    It’s a good thing I don’t have any friends...

  15. #15

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    But, you do. I can see him/her peeking out over the boots!

  16. #16
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    Aug 2015
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    mdunc8 looks like you are packed for some good times ahead.

    Yea, I have some luck getting the woodies to decoy early in the season. After the first few weeks they start to get educated pretty quick, then you have really got to be in a spot they want to land.

  17. #17
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    Wow. That's big country right there, full of big and numerous opportunities at a whole bunch of species. Count me among the jealous. I've always been curious to try waterfowl - I have a dozen dekes, a Benelli that shoots good and long and a GSP that loves to swim, but I keep chickening out. Post some of your good results to inspire me and have a great trip.
    My name is DDD... and I'm an Elkoholic.

  18. #18
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    Although I had a great trip, it was far from epic. Between the drought and the struggling antelope herds in Region 7, the hunting was tough. I also found out shortly after leaving that the battery on my camera is toast, so I was stuck using my POS cell phone for pictures and videos...I started the trip by checking out some new country that a friend had recommended for wood ducks and smallies. Since I hadn't been down there before (and since I had my buddy's house and cable tv all to myself), I took my time rolling off the couch the first morning. I had about an hour drive to where I was going to be hunting, but didn't hit the road until about a half hour before shooting light. As I'm making my way down the road, I take a look to my right and there are two six point bulls standing along side the road.

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    I admired them for a minute and then got back to driving. As I crest the next ridge, I spot a group of eight bulls crossing the road about a quarter mile away. I speed down to check them out and find a couple nice six points in the group. I spend about 20 minutes watching them make their way out of the alfalfa fields and into the timbered ridge above the road. Once they disappear my mind focuses back on the task at hand, finding some wood ducks. However, I don't make it another mile or two before I run into even more elk. This time there are three large groups spread out around a pivot. Each group as one or two really nice bulls. I pull over and roll down the window and spend the next hour listening to this...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU2Tz9hWyRo

    and this...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfdpAzhZKUI

    I've never seen anything like it outside of Yellowstone or the Flying D. That alone made the trip. I continued to mosey on down the road through more herds of elk

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    and more deer than you could ever count

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    After "wasting" most of the morning taking in the sights along the river, I finally made it to where I intended to fill the truck with woodies. I threw my waders, grabbed my gun, and hit the river. I managed my first bird just around the first bend -- my first blue wing.

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    Unfortunately, other than another teal about a mile up river, I didn't see any other birds. My buddy had supposedly seen quite a few woods ducks a few weeks earlier, but I'm wondering if the little bit of cold weather we've had already pushed them south. Oh well, there are definitely worse places to spend a morning.

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    With the apparent lack of birds, I decided to pick up shop and check out some sharpie country. I found a random BLM section that looked promising, so again, I grabbed the gun and this time, the dog. We made our way through a few draws without any luck. At the top of the last one, we kicked up a bedded coyote who didn't notice us coming until we were about 15-20 yards away. He quickly got to his feet and squared up to Lou. I thought for a second we were going to have issues, but he spun and headed down the backside of the hill. He stopped on the opposite ridge and spent about five minutes letting us know we weren't welcome...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUNFcsPMakY

    We made our way back to truck without moving any birds. We repeated that same process, minus the coyote, several times over the next day and half. Again, there are definitely worse places to spend a few days.

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    I spent the next two days wandering around even more new areas with the hopes of locating a few nice antelope for the opener. However, much like bird forays, I was having trouble turning up many antelope. I found a few small groups here and there, but most everything was within sight of the road (yes, I got out [occasionally] of the truck). I wasn't seeing any bucks that even remotely got me excited, which is surprising because I have exceptionally low standards when it comes to mammals. I stopped in to get permission for a BMA I hadn't hunted before and had a nice, long visit with the FWP tech. He was an avid bird hunter and mentioned that the hunting had been pretty rough this year. However, he pointed me to a few spots the usually held birds. So after grabbing a terrible lunch that I dearly paid for later that night, I stopped to stretch the legs at one of the recommend spots. The pup and I weren't out of the truck five minutes before we jumped up a nice covey of sharpies. Unfortunately, they flushed on the opposite side of the shelter belt and didn't offer a shot. However, I saw them land a few hundred yards away, so the dog and I quickly made our way over. We jumped them again and I managed to drop two.

    Lou's first grouse
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    Rather than shoot the last eight grouse in Montana, I decided to try to focus my attention on finding the last decent antelope buck in the state. Unfortunately, as many of you already know, my big, hairy mammal hunting skills are worse than my little, feathery bird hunting skills, I never did locate the big buck I was after. Although the antelope scouting was slow, I did have some interesting encounters. While checking out the area where I shot my buck last year, I stepped directly over (not near, not next to, not around) yes, directly over, this guy...

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    What? Can't see him? It's tough to see him until you're directly over him. I very much would have appreciated this posture prior to stepping over him...

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    After changing underwear, I headed back to the truck to grab some lunch when I noticed some movement down below. At first I thought I found a coyote den as there were three coyotes lounging around this freshly dug hole. However, after further inspection, I noticed that it was a badger doing the digging and three coyotes lying around watching -- one was probably no more than 10 yards away. None of them seemed to have a care in the word. It's hard to tell in the picture, but the badger is digging and one of the coyotes is apparently enjoying the afternoon sun.

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    With the antelope opener quickly approaching the next morning, I decided to check out a spot recommended by another friend. And just as he had predicted, I found a few goats. Again, there were a couple big groups that were easily accessible from the road. One had a pretty good buck in it, much bigger than anything I'd seen the past few days. However, I figured it would a sh!t show in the morning, so opted to keep looking for a buck that would require one to get outside of the ditch to shoot. I started to turn up a few bucks away from the road after a few short hikes. I figured they'd provide me with the best opportunity for an enjoyable morning, so I decided to head after them first thing in the morning. They seemed fairly content with life when I left them that evening, so I figured they'd be somewhere nearby in the morning. However, that wasn't the case. I spent much of the morning hiking a few BLM sections that surrounded the areas I'd seen the bucks the day before, but I just couldn't find them again. Not really sure what to do next, I decided to head to town for a quick lunch. As I'm approaching town, I see a group of antelope about a mile off the road across the field...

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    The mirage was pretty bad from the truck, so I couldn't exactly make out how big they were, but I could tell there were at least two bucks. I'm terrible at judging distances, but the subsequent three hours were the result of terrible judgement even for me. I figured I'd have a short belly crawl from the windmill that you can see in the picture to get to shooting range for me, which is about 350 yards for me. However, after spending a little bit with my face in the dirt of a dry, cut alfalfa field, I realized just how big of an idiot I am. I was getting ready to commit most of the afternoon to this stalk and I had no idea of there were any shooters in the group. Keep in mind I had to leave at lunch the following day and wouldn't be able to come back to fill the tag. Regardless, I decided to press on. I slowly maneuvered my way across the field undetected for the next two and half hours. With the antelope now split into two groups and bedded along the fenceline, I could finally start to make out the bucks. Neither were big. I probably wouldn't have even taken note of either in any other situation. However, after spending so much time and effort getting across that field, one of them was getting shot at. I focused my attention on the one out front, which was slightly taller than other buck to my left. However, he was now up and facing away at what I thought was close to 300 yards while the other buck was to my left, broadside, and only 150ish yards away (with only dying alfalfa for cover, I didn't dare pick my head up to range them). I spent the next 5-10 minutes debating whether to shoot the smaller one while I had a chance or hold out for the larger buck. Meanwhile, the larger of the two is slowly feeding away from me and probably getting close to the limits of my shooting ability. I decide to slide to the left and take the smaller one. And as you would expect, as I got positioned for the shot, the larger one turned broadside. So I slid back to my original position and extend the legs on the bipod. Once the buck settled in, I popped the legs down and quickly got setup. I held a little to the right to compensate for the crosswind and tried to watch the bullet hit. I got a good pull and he dropped like a rock. Definitely not the biggest buck, as can be seen by some of the great bucks others have already posted, but probably the hardest earned antelope I'll ever get.

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    After getting him loaded into the truck and grabbing a quick beer, I decide to visit my old stomping grounds on the Yellowstone for a quick evening duck hunt. Not much was moving, but I did manage to get my first Yellowstone animal before making my way back home.

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    Although the hunting wasn't spectacular and I failed to cover the over/under (looks like I'm paying Choc Dogs), it was great to spend five days on the prairie by myself and the pup.

  19. #19

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    I would call that an epic weekend anytime! That's more game than most see in a year. You killed pretty much everything you were after. It's not always about the size of the critter. Congrats.

  20. #20
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    Pretty cool trip, congrats.
    I work so I can hunt

  21. #21
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    Sounds like a grand adventure to me.

  22. #22
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    Sounds lijke an Epic Week to me!! Congrats!

  23. #23
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    Good stuff. Congrats and thanks for sharing!

  24. #24

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    Great weekend! Great post! Well done - I'm guessing you don't miss VA too much...
    Very jealous.

  25. #25

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    An epic weekend indeed. Ours consisted of relocating after herds of sheep, complete with whistling herders and barking dogs joined us for our elk hunt. No elk decided to join us for our winter meals. Oh well, a day in the mountains is always well spent.
    we owe it to our children to give them two things, roots, and wings

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