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  1. #376

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossbowguy View Post
    Sounds like you tired out your wife and sister! Great hunt and time with family!!!
    It was a lot of fun. I think my wife might have finally realized a practical reason to improve her cardio. My sister runs half marathons and marathons regularly, so she wasn't doing too bad. They both struggled with the uneven and rocky terrain. It's too bad that the hunting pressure was so bad. I know we could have killed one of those elk if they hadn't been bumped out of there by the other hunters, but that's just part of the game.
    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

  2. #377

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    "Flexibility is the key to air power." ~ Gen. Giulio Douhet (also every wing commander in the air force since the beginning of time)

    -------

    I have never really considered myself to be a normal person, and I do not aspire to live a normal life. Some of my co-workers use to call me "six-shooter" because I'm always shooting from the hip and almost always winging it, and somehow when the dust settles at the end I'm still standing and the job is done. They call it chaos, but I call it flexibility.

    Why am I ranting about this nonsense? Well, I'm currently tucked into my sleeping bag in the bed of my truck, parked in the middle of the Nevada desert, on my way to Arizona for a deer hunt that I planned out a few days ago. In actuality I had this hunt on my tentative calendar for a few months, but the odds of making it happen didn't look very good. Luckily for me, all of the pieces fell into place at the last minute and I got clearance from Kitchen6 (aka The Wife) to execute.

    If you remember the javelina hunt from last year's thread, I'll be hunting the same area with the same people. Except this year we're going to focus on finding some mule deer. Each of us have 2018 and 2019 OTC deer tags that we're trying to fill. Ryan, Steve, and Jeff have leftover javelina tags, but I don't since they were all sold out before I knew I could make it.

    Last year, we talked about trying our best to make it an annual, or at least regular, event, and I'm glad we could make it happen.

    Since all of my stuff is in storage and the family is temporarily living out of suitcases before we move to NM, I'm sure I forgot some important piece of gear. But whatever. It'll buff out. I have my bow, boots, pack, binos, and rangefinder. I can get by with that.

    The weather looks like it's going to be great, and word on the street is the bucks are chasing hard in the area we're hunting. Ryan was supposed to be there this morning, but he's stuck on the highway in NM thanks to the snowstorm that blew through yesterday. But if he makes it out of there, and we don't experience any more hiccups, we could be hunting tomorrow afternoon. I'll post updates as often as possible.
    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

  3. #378
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Newhartford Iowa
    Posts
    2,876

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    Good luck

  4. #379

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    Good luck out there!!

  5. #380

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    Sorry for the radio silence over the last few days. The cell service just wasn't reliable enough to deal with the frustrations of uploading photos and stories. I will edit the photos and my journal entries from the week and get them posted once I get done with this drive home.

    The trip was a success.

    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

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    Good job!Can't wait for pics.

  7. #382

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    Day Zero:

    I got into camp midday and took a 3hr long nap before going on a short hike.

    It was COLD with a steady 15-20mph wind out of the north. Not very enjoyable at all, but the javelina were out in full force. I saw 5 groups of them sunning themselves on the protected, south-facing slopes.





    I didn't see any deer until the very last light. It was a group of 4 does with a decent 120-130" 4x4. They were mixed in with a herd of cattle and halfway between me and camp. So I boogied over to them as fast as I could, but I couldn't get any closer than 180yds from them. And since they were mixed in with the cows I just couldn't get any closer without spooking everything out of there. Darkness came without an opportunity.

    Ryan and Jeff chased deer all day, but were never able to get closer than 150 yards from them.

    Pretty good first day.
    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

  8. #383

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    Day 1:

    The plan for this morning was to find the deer Ryan chased the day yesterday.

    We found the bigger buck almost immediately.





    He was pestering one doe pretty hard and pushed her away from the rest of the deer before bedding down.

    Ryan and I looped around to try to stalk them while Steve would spot for us. By the time we got there, the buck and doe grouped back up with the herd and were 500yds away from us.

    We moved to get in front of them but ran out of cover. The buck bedded 215 yards away from my last cover and 150 yards from Ryan.





    Ryan was able to get to 120yds, but the wind switched and the deer took off.

    After the deer ran off we went and checked out an area we'd seen deer the day before.



    There wasn't any cover, but we managed to get to 95 yards. Unfortunately no shots were presented and they weren't keen on being close to the creepy things crawling through the grass.
    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

  9. #384

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    Nice deer!

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    Terrain looks a lot better than last year.More rain better year.

  11. #386
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    1000 islands area
    Posts
    345

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    Congrats on the good fortune, now put that knife to work!

  12. #387

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPDSpappy View Post
    Nice deer!
    He was the biggest buck I've ever stalked with a tag in my pocket. Definitely got the blood pumping whenever I looked and him through the glass.

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtclod Az. View Post
    Terrain looks a lot better than last year.More rain better year.
    Last year was much different. We weren't prepared for how cold it was. Last year we were sweating in tshirts. This year I didn't have enough puffy gear to keep myself from freezing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Crossbowguy View Post
    Congrats on the good fortune, now put that knife to work!
    We'll get to that part. Lol. I've been stuck in bed or riding the toilet on account of the flu my kiddos shared with me when I got home. I just now have the ability to look at my phone without getting a migraine.
    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

  13. #388

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    Day 3 (last day of the season, beginning of my troubled electronics):

    Weather was moving in and we knew the deer would be out and about before it precipitated on us. So we went back to the mesa we chased the nice 4x4 the day prior. We didn't find the guy, but a new group of deer with 3 decent bucks moved in. The air was almost dead still, and about as consistent as today's politicians. With no good way to get close we decided to sit back, take some photos and wait for things to settle down. Unfortunately, my SD card was compromised and I lost all of the pics. (I think by now, we can all imagine what a group of rutting deer looks like, so please forgive me )

    After about an hour we finally had some consistent winds, and we started to make our move. The plan was to walk up the drainage in front of us, get to cover, and crawl up to where the deer were milling around.



    The wind was picking up quickly, and snow began to fall. Much to our surprise, the deer actually walked into the drainage we were trying to sneak through. At 300yds it was obvious the game was over. 12 sets of ears with 5 sets of antlers stared at us over the short scrub brush. The wind was still in our favor, but the lead doe gained some elevation and decided the 2 bipedal mammals were not friendly. She blew at us a few times before bounded over the hill with the rest of the herd.

    We spent the rest of the day searching for deer and slipping and sliding on the lovely Arizona peanut butter dirt. By midday the wind was howling and all we managed to turn up was a random herd of elk who were still refuge from the wind





    The snow finally stopped, but the wind never relented. We tried to turn up some deer in a nearby canyon, but were unsuccessful. We definitely didn't dress for success in this type of weather, so we called it a day and headed back to the warm camper early.



    It was a disappointing way to end the season, but luckily tomorrow is opening
    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

  14. #389

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    Day 4, Entering "The Pit":

    The wind shook the camper all though the night, and was still a nuisance after we woke.

    Day 4 was opening day for 2019 deer and javelina. We figured out best bet of finding any animals was going to be in what we refer to as "The Pit." The Pit is a series of paralleling ridges which feed into a larger perennial creek. Each drainage cliffs-out at the bottom, and there's no easy way to get out once you've found yourself in the belly of the pit. The challenging terrain lends itself well to being a consistent spot for finding animals.





    We were hoping to find some javelina, but none of them came out to sun themselves in the protected drainages. It was pretty cold for javelina to be out and about, but we did see some a few miles away on the neighboring private land. Not seeing javelina was definitely a surprised, especially after I saw over 50 of them just a few days earlier. We saw 3 bucks that morning, but since we were really after pigs, we decided to hold off.

    It must have been a rough year... Even the cows were munching on cactus.



    Just after noon we saw one of the bucks get out of his bed and stumble up a ridge to another bed. He struggled to cross a fence, but was able to muster up the strength to jump over it on the 3rd or 4th attempt. He was all alone, missing his left antler, and was obviously injured.

    The buck bedded in a very hunt-able spot, and the wind was good, so we made a stalk. Steve stayed back and glassed for Ryan and me. Both of us were easily able to get within range. I setup downhill in the event he busted that direction, while Ryan snuck in at the buck's level. I pulled my camera out to take pics when I discovered I had a card error... Perfect...

    I set it down and got ready as Ryan was closing the gap. He made it to 50 yes and I signaled to wait. He signaled that he wasn't in a good spot and moved a few yards to his left where he had better cover. In that cover was a cottontail rabbit who wanted nothing to do with Ryan. The rabbit busted out of there and barreled straight (and I mean straight) into the buck's bed and spooked him out of the country. Talk about tough luck.

    Being late and a few miles from the UTV, we decided to head back up and out of the pit (which was actually more of a down, then up, then down, then up, down and up again.)

    As we made it to the bottom of the first drainage, Steve radioed us. He spotted a large heard of pigs just below the ridge we spent almost the entire day. Ryan and I kicked it into gear and made it up there in a few minutes.

    We made a hasty stalk and had them within range, but they weren't able to connect.

    Up and out of the pit of misery we went.



    Not a bad opening day.
    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

  15. #390

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    Day 5, "Why won't the wind stop?":

    530 came quickly after a long night of laughs and a couple few drinks with good friends.

    The wind didn't stop. In fact it was blowing stronger than it did the day before.

    The plan was to drive to a completely new area and glass some steep, south-facing slopes we thought would be mostly out of the wind.





    The first 2 spots were dry holes, so we pressed on further into the canyon.

    While driving to the next vantage point, we spotted a deer from the road in a very deep and steep spot. The wind was good for a stalk, so Ryan and I grabbed our stuff and headed down the hill. Steve was going to. Drive around and pick us up at the bottom... 2 miles away.

    We watched the buck walk into a steep but shallow cut and he didn't come out. It was on like Donkey Kong. We raced down the hill to get into position.

    We slowed down when we were a few hundred yards away from the tree we thought the buck was under. As soon as we started walking again after a quick look with our binos, a decent 3x3 popped out of the cactus at 30 yards. He wasn't having any of it and bounded his way over the hill in front of us.

    We weren't sure if the other buck was still there, so we proceeded with caution. As we created the hill we spotted a set of horns staring right at us. He was 80 yards away and on full alert. We slowly lowered our level, waited a minute or two and tried to get a little closer. While we were waiting the buck climbed a few yards up the other side of drainage. We were busted.

    Both bucks took off in the same direction so I followed to see where they were headed. I made it about 20 yards when I looked back up the hill to see a different buck feeding a 3-400 yards away. Ryan went after him and I kept after the other deer.

    I didn't catch up to them, but I did see them go over the top of the hill, 2 ridges away.

    Apparently, while I was messing around, the buck Ryan was after started walking almost straight to him. I couldn't see where Ryan went so I radioed him about the deer I watched run away... No response...

    Hmmm, where'd he go?

    Then I herd the telltale sound of a mule deer bouncing away.... I blew it.

    The buck was 70 yards away from Ryan and about to walk broadside right in front of him. But the buck saw me and took off.

    Bad luck again. I felt terrible.
    ------

    We glassed a few other areas for the rest of the day, but turned up nothing.
    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

  16. #391

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    Day 6. "Slow start, but a sprint to the finish"

    Ryan's dad got back to camp on day six, so we were back at full strength.

    The plan was to check out our best pig spot. Ryan, Jeff and Steve carried longbows with pigs being the main goal for them. I carried my compound in case we found a buck.

    Our high hopes diminished when we found an unusual amount of vehicle tracks on the road we normally don't see anyone traveling. It was almost like they read our playbook. Despite the fact we knew the area had been hunted the day before, past history in this spot said anything could happen.

    A few hours of hard glassing and some hiking, all we saw was 3 does and 4 coyotes. Ryan and I walked the bottom of the drainages to check for sign, but all we found were bootprints... Another dry hole.

    We called it off around noon, and headed to another spot....

    Much to our dismay, there were trucks parked where we were planning to hunt. 2 of them were bird hunters, and the other truck was unknown.

    Back to The Pit...

    We grumbled about how other hunters are just a fact of life on public land. I wondered why I was always seeing more people this year in the spots I hunted in the past. I don't think there are anymore hunters than there was in the past, so it's interesting that I've been seeing more and more people in the field.

    We might have driven half a mile, when mid-grumbling, I spotted a pig crossing the road in front of us. "HOLY CRAP! THERE'S A PIG... right there."

    We egressed the UTV like it was an aircraft flaming to it's demise. Steve, Jeff, and Ryan had their bows in hand and were on there way before I got out of the the middle seat.

    The wind was perfect, and the pig didn't seem to be in any rush.

    I pulled out my phone and switched it to video mode.

    We scooted closer, on line with the direction the pig was walking. Surprisingly, the pig turned and walked straight toward Ryan, who was in the front of our formation. Steve was to the right in the middle, and Jeff had the rear. I was just a few years behind Jeff. The javelina popped out in front of Jeff and me at 30 yards. The pig, Jeff, and I stood frozen, misstep, while a brief staredown commenced.

    Jeff wisely passed on the shot since it was pretty far and the pig was walking straight to Ryan and Steve.

    The pig kept waking as if nothing was wrong, straight at Ryan.... And downwind from Jeff and me.

    The pig stopped 12-15 yards in front of Ryan and stared at him dead on. He didn't have a shot. Steve was at half draw the entire time. He wanted to let Ryan shoot the pig, but when it puffed up and looked alerted, Steve let the arrow fly.

    The shot found the middle of the middle and was surely lethal. We grouped up and gave a brief rundown to the camera.... When I hit the button to stop the video, my phone started recording. 🤦🏻 (Must have been amateur hour)

    We followed blood for about 70 yards when we heard the pig's last gasp. High fives all around. It was awesome.



    -----

    Since the day was still relatively young, and our spirits uplifted by the success, we decided to check out the pit before dark.

    We walked about a mile down the road when I spotted what looked like a deer on the opposite ridge. After a closer look, I realized it was definitely not a deer.



    It was a mountain lion, and he was on a mission. He disappeared into the drainage in front of us, so we walked a little further down the ridge in an attempt to get another look at the cat.

    A buck popped out around the next corner, and he was heading straight to where we last saw the cat. The deer was tired. His mouth was hanging open and his tongue was flapping in the wind. He didn't seem to notice we were standing just a few hundred yards from him. He probably had some does on his mind.

    As soon as he dissuaded into the pit, I made my mind up to chase him down and try to kill him. I tightened up my pack as Ryan and Jeff (thinking I was crazy) said, "good luck. Oh and don't get eaten by that lion."

    "Thanks... I'll try not to." Down the hill I went, trying to cut him off. As I got to the first pinch point I spotted him on the other side of the drainage. I was only 150 yards behind him.

    When he disappeared to the left, I sprinted to the top of the next ridge on my right. I was gassed by the time I got there, but I felt confident I was in front of him.

    I slowly walked in the shaded part of the ridgeline, opposite of where I'd last seen the buck. If he made it over, I had a really good chance of seeing him to my right.

    My hopes began to fade the further I walked. "There's no way he's gone. He's gotta be here somewhere."

    I quickly glanced to my left.... There he was... Bedded. Only 180 yards away. He was staring straight at me, but didn't seem too alert. I froze, and slowly lowered myself down when he looked back across the hill to where he saw me on the other ridge.

    Ryan and Jeff were chasing pigs and weren't on the radios, so I had to go after him alone. I looked over the terrain and thought I could get close enough if I walked on the backside of the ridge.

    I peaked over the hill where I thought I'd be close enough, but I was 110yds from him.



    Luckily, he was still staring intently in the wrong direction. I could tell he relaxed a little bit as he flicked his ears and lowered is head away from me.

    I worked my way around the back of the ridge again.

    The new perspective got my close enough to shoot, but there was too much brush in the way to get an accurate range on him. There was a short cat claw bush blocking my rangefinder at 10 and 40 yards. The ground behind him was 80. The bush next to him was 65. Since it was shot m such a strange shot angle, I really wanted to get a solid range. I moved a bit closer and to the left. Nothing.

    "Ok. I'll wait him out for 5-10 minutes before I throw a rock and him." I thought

    As soon as I decided to wait, the wind tickled the back of my neck. The buck swung his head around and I ranged him at 64, 66, and 68... 66 it is.

    But the buck bolted as soon as I clipped my release to the string.

    I ran around the ridge and he stopped at 50, but I could only see his rack and eyes. I couldn't make the shot. And he bounced his way over there hill and out of my life.

    "Ugh.... Just a quick 1 mile hike up a steep hill back to the UTV.... Totally. Worth. It..."

    My lungs were burning and caught a case of the coughs on the way back up. I almost pulled it off. I guess that's enough cardio for a while.

    ----

    We celebrated Steve's success and my birthday back at camp. We cherished the fact that the wind was gone, and relived the day and many previous stories over a few beverages. Day six sure did get exciting at the end.
    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

  17. Default

    Exciting hunting.Keep at it.dirtclod Az.Love the snow pics.

  18. #393
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Southern Indiana
    Posts
    2,449

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    Cool lion spot! Looks like a good hunt so far.

  19. #394
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Newhartford Iowa
    Posts
    2,876

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    Great stuff

  20. #395

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    Day 7, back to The Pit:

    We had a new guest and first time bowhunter, Greg, in camp on day 7, and we decided the most appropriate way to welcome him to the sport would be to drag him into the pit.

    The morning was completely uneventful. We only saw 2 does, a fawn, and the same group of javelina on private land. We glassed the hillsides all morning hoping to find anything we could hunt, but nothing showed up.

    As we were about to pack up and move, the herd of pigs on private land surprisingly decided to walk toward us and onto public land. They were still over half a mile and a few drainages away, but they were the only animals we could see. After a little bit of convincing, we were on our way over.



    When we got over to where we last saw the pigs, they seemingly disappeared. I went around the backside of the hill to see if the herd changed directions, but I didn't see anything. As I made my way back to the rest of the guys, Ryan waived his arms at me semi-frantically and signaled for me to stop. He saw a pig, and it was walking toward us.

    I was about 80 yards away from them, and as luck would have it, a pig walked out and stopped directly between us. They couldn't shoot...

    That pig scurried off, but luckily it didn't alarm the rest of the herd. They were all bedded down on the hillside right in front of us, but we couldn't see them due to the thick brush and cactus.

    We decided to have Ryan loop around and come at them on their level. Jeff and Greg would slowly walk straight at them. I stuck close to Greg to help him out and call out ranges.

    It didn't take long before we started seeing pigs moving around in the brush in front of us. They had no idea we were there. As the animals walked through clearings, I'd range them and Greg would adjust his sight. After a dozen or so glimpses, a pig finally stopped long enough for a shot. I ranged the pig and reminded Greg to set his feet properly. Greg set his feet, adjusted his pin, drew his bow, and shot.... Just barely over the pig's back.

    Dang.

    A few pigs took off, but most of them had no clue what was going on. (That's the best part about hunting javelina; multiple shot opportunities happen a lot) Another pig stepped out at the same distance and we went through the same process. Range, adjust feet, shoot.... Miss....

    WTH...

    In the chaos of ranging pigs at all sorts of distances prior to the first shot, Greg had his pin set 5 yards too far.

    Luckily, most of the pigs weren't too spooked, or at least they seemed to be confused or unaware what was going on. A dozen pigs trotted to the other side of the drainage about 150 yards away. A bunch of pigs were still scurrying around in the brush in front of us. There must have been 40 animals in the herd, because they seemed to be coming out of every nook and cranny.

    Two pigs walked out into the open and rubbed up on each other. I ranged them and Greg said he could make the shot. I asked if he dialed the prescribed ranged, he double checked, set his feet, drew back, settled the pin, and shot. This time the arrow found it's mark.

    Then the real pleasure of introducing a new hunter to the finer aspects of the hunt...





    The sun was low in the sky by the time we got the pig cleaned up and in our packs, and by the time we made the long hike out it was dark.

    The night was spent playing guitars, eating sushi, and sharing stories around a warm fire. It was awesome to be a part of someone's first kill, and watch it all happen. Seeing the excitement and hearing him tell the story and explaining everything from his point of view reminded me of my first experiences. That night was one of the most enjoyable nights I've ever spent at hunting camp.

    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

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    Great stuff!Cactus in your legs AND Sushi.

  22. #397

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    Day 8, down to the wire:

    The biggest advantage to these late season hunts is the late sunrises. It's especially nice after a week of hard hunting and late nights. We weren't it too much of a hurry to get things started on the last day, but we also knew we didn't have much time to get things done. Ryan and I both had long drives ahead of us, and we needed to be out of camp mid-afternoon I'm order to make it home on time.

    Our plan for the day was to go after a large herd of deer we spotted the day before. We spotted the herd on top of a mesa, 2.5 miles in the wrong direction from the pit. Ryan, Jeff and I would take the UTV to the spot Steve killed his javelina, and while we were hunting up and over the message, Steve and Greg would reposition the UTV to a road closer to where we saw the deer. We would've started closer to the animals, but the wind wasn't right to stalk from that side. Either way, the hike up and over the mesa wouldn't be too bad. But hiking up and back would most likely take too long.

    We carried our wheeled bows and all we needed to do was kill 2 javelina and 3 deer. Easy... Right?

    We didn't make it 300 yards before we spotted the first deer on the horizon.



    The wind was perfect and they were walking toward a spot we could get to that had plenty of terrain and vegetation for us to get close. We boogied over there as quickly as possible.

    Of course, everything looked different once we got over there, but we were able to find the herd before they found us. The herd had 4 bucks about the same size as the one in the photo above, a forky, and around a dozen does. One of the does must have been close to estrus because the bucks were constantly running all over the place and fighting each other hard. We thought they'd feed into the scrub brush and juniper, but every time a doe came our way, a buck would cut her off and chase her back into the open. It was chaotic; impossible to predict. All we could do was get to the edge of the cover and hope they would come a little closer.

    We almost made it to the edge, but a random buck spotted Ryan and stared him down. Ryan froze immediately. The buck was in range, but only Ryan could see him and his face was the only thing visible above the scrub oak. They stared at each other for almost an eternity (10ish minutes) while the rest of the herd seemed completely oblivious to the impending danger creeping through the brush.

    Jeff was sitting right next to Ryan and was also stuck. I was a few yards to Ryan's left and was able to crawl into a better position. I could see the deer out in the open, but I still had a large bush between me and the buck staring at Ryan. It was just a matter of time before I got a shot, or the buck blasted out of there. Since the wind was perfect, I liked our chances.

    The buck in the photo walked through a clearing in front of me several times and in range, but he never stopped long enough for me to get a shot. His nose was buried in a doe's backside, but she wasn't willing to stop and let him do anything about it. The herd was milling around just in the other side of a wall of scrub brush, and I couldn't get ranges on any deer. Not to mention the fact that the only deer standing still was the one giving Ryan the stink eye.

    Luckily, Ryan was able to stay still long enough for the buck to lose interest, or he forget what he was doing. The buck turned and walked straight into my shooting window and stopped...

    I knew the range for the yucca he was standing next to, so I dialed my sight and repositioned for the shot. He took a few steps so I ranged him again, re-adjusted my sight, drew back, settled my pin, and released the arrow.

    The shot was perfect, and the arrow zipped straight through him. He bucked his legs, sprinted, face-planted, and was legs up in less than 10 seconds.

    The rest of the herd had no idea what just happened, but did their usual thing. They grouped up, walked over to the dead buck, stared at it for a minute or two, and then the bucks went back to pestering the does.

    I told Ryan to get over to me and we switched spots. I peeked over the brush and called out the ranges to the buck standing right in front of him. Somehow he didn't hear me yell at him in incomprehensible sign language to, "stand up and shoot him, he's 50yards away!"

    Ryan looked at me like a hog staring at a wrist watch... So I said it out loud, "the buck is RIGHT there. Shoot him!"

    "I can't see him."

    "Stand up!"

    "I can't. They'll see me."

    "If you don't they're gone."

    The deer trotted a few yards away and stopped.

    "Dude, you gotta get up and look."

    He finally stood up and saw how close the deer were. They were more concerned about the dead buck than they were with us. I ranged the buck again, and Ryan dialed his sight. As he was attaching his release to his string... An old, crusty, buck with a beat up face, popped up out of nowhere. He was 90 degrees to our right and only 45 yards away. Staring straight at us. He had us pegged. I marveled at the scars on his face through my rangefinder. He was a decent 4x4 with short browtines, he was a tad wider than the ears, but wasn't very tall. He was a bruiser.

    All we could see was his face. No shot.

    Surprisingly, he trotted to our right, into the open, and stopped.... broadside... at 67yds.

    Now Ryan has 2 bucks in range and has to figure out which one to dial his sight to... It all happened pretty quick, but ultimately he wasn't able to decide, dial and get a shot off before the deer ran off. Soooo close!

    Since the herd never caught our scent, and the old crusty buck ran off in the other direction, the majority of the deer still didn't seem to be spooked much.

    We followed them and watched them start to bed down on the next ridge. There wasn't much cover. It was a low odds stalk, but Ryan and Jeff were going to try anyways. I sat back and glassed the group of deer.



    That little fork buck couldn't have bedded in a better spot for the security of the herd. He was in the open and relatively high. The rest of the herd bedded on the other side of the "hill" just out of sight. Every once in a while I'd see an ear flick in the grass, but that was it.

    Ryan and Jeff ran out of cover at 180 yards, and the little buck spotted them. He got up and stared at them for a few minutes before trotting 50-60 yards. In typical mule deer fashion, he stopped to look back. Only this time, he stopped 10 yards away from a bedded coyote. The buck forgot about us, puffed up, went stiff legged, and got aggressive toward the coyote. Jeff moved and got behind a line of cover while the deer and coyote did their dance off. He was able to close the distance to less than 100 yards, but the buck wasn't having it. He trotted off and took the rest of the herd with him.

    With to extra time on the clock, we decided to let them go, and walked back to finally check out my buck. I honestly had no idea what he looked like. So I was anxious to finally put my hands on him.

    I was very happy to see he was a great buck!







    As we were quartering the buck, it dawned on us how terrible our logistical plan was... We killed the buck less than half a mile from the road we parked by, but we 4 miles away from where the UTV was relocated to. We also didn't have enough time to drop packs, run to the UTV, drive it back, pack out the buck, and make it back to camp.



    Being young and dumb, Ryan and I decided to just hoof it back to camp, and we'd sort out the vehicle situation after we got back. So we did what we do best... we walked.

    We weren't more than 300 yards away from camp when a buck and a doe stormed out of the junipers and across the road in front of us. It was the same buck I saw day zero. We dropped our packs as quickly as possible.

    The doe tried to go over the ridge and away from us, but the buck pushed her back in our direction. He stopped at 130 yards, but never came closer. We followed them into the junipers, and got within range 3 times, but the buck never stopped in an opening long enough to get a shot off. So close, yet so far.

    I couldn't believe how many close encounters we had with deer on this trip. It was awesome.

    "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." ~ Vince Lombardi

  23. Default

    Good Job Guys!

  24. #399
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Southern Indiana
    Posts
    2,449

    Default

    Congrats on the hard-earned critters!

  25. #400
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Newhartford Iowa
    Posts
    2,876

    Default

    Another awsome hunt

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