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  1. #51
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    Aug 2017
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    Formerly SW ID, now UT
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    Saturday 9/22: (late to the party)

    We arrived back at my in-laws Friday evening.

    I headed back up to area #2 first thing Saturday morning. I planned to hunt lower on the main ridge system I'd hunted the Sunday/Monday prior. This portion of the ridge is fairly open on the top and south face with large brush-fields diving off the north and east faces. It was the last area I had not spent any time in yet, and its hard to hunt with the elk having great escape cover on the north/east face.

    I arrive well before daylight and park on the same brushed in road I had used on Sunday when I ran into the bull nosing the cow around. I head in and notice at least one set of atv/utv tracks on the road that were not there earlier in the week. Oh well, in we go and this time I need to go in quite a bit further than I had on Monday to get below the open portion of the ridge.

    Once I get below the open portion of the ridge I started a stiff 700 ft climb to the top. Along the way up I hit quite a bit of fresh deer sign and have one deer snort at me (they heard me, but never saw or winded me) and some older elk sign.

    It took a while to climb up and I spend a bit of time glassing some adjacent country:



    Eventually I make the top of the ridge and ease my way through the edge of the brush patches headed back up the main ridge toward the areas I had hunted earlier in the week.

    Quickly I start finding a lot more old elk-sign, guessing it to be ~2 weeks old. The further I worked up the ridge, the more old elk sign I found.



    Eventually I start hitting really torn up portions of the ridge. There are multiple places where brush has been just thrashed:





    And all of it at least 2 weeks old...

    At this point I could tell my guess about the rut not taking off yet was very incorrect. Clearly a herd had already been in the area and using it hard, but much earlier in the season. And so goes trying to time the rut... Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes not so much.

    I worked up the ridge further, but the only fresh sign I found was a couple sets of bear tracks.

    I eventually decided to head back to the first water-hole/wallow I had checked on the Sunday afternoon. This time with the plan to sit it as long as I could stand it.

    My reasoning was simple, with little rut activity going on, no fresh sign, and glassing not being the most effective in the area mid-day, sitting water had to be more productive than randomly wandering through the brush trying not to bump something.

    On the way into the water I cross another set of bear tracks and a set of boot tracks that were a couple days old. Its rare that I seem human sign that area, so that didn't bode well and easily could explain the lack of fresh elk sign.

    I arrived a bit past noon and set up where I had a good view of the area around the water:



    I gave myself the goal of staying until at least 3PM (which was going to be a stretch for my patience).

    At 2:30ish I just about convinced myself to call it good, but with a last effort of self control I decided to give it another 15 minutes. Not shortly after I heard movement from my right and here comes a little spike into the water!

    In Idaho, a spike counts as antlerless if his spikes are less than 6" long, and from 100 yards out he looked close to legal. He was moving fairly quickly to the water but I got a good enough look at him through the binos to see that both spikes were a bit too long. One maybe 9" and the other 11" or so...

    Bummer, but at least I was seeing an elk! He watered quickly and eventually moved out of the area. Now I had some motivation and continued the sit until 4PM. Nothing else showed itself and at that point I really had enough sitting and started the hike back to the road and truck.

    On the way hiking up the road a UTV caught up to me (and that's who made the tracks!). The guy was on his way out after hunting a bear bait all day. He offered me a ride back to my truck and we chatted for a while. He had been in the area a bit working his bear baits and he confirmed the elk had been heavily using the open portion of the ridge 3 weeks before. He also confirmed that there were quite a few people hunting the area, way more than usual, with camp up on the main ridge road that had been there since the beginning of September (I had seen the camp earlier that week).

    We finished our chat and I packed up the truck to head back down to my in-laws for the night.

    The bear hunter had given me the last bit of info I needed to close the chapter on area #2 this year. There was too much human presence, the elk seemingly relocated/dispersed and the likely the rut activity cooled off that I needed a new plan. Even though that was disappointing (I really didn't have much for a plan C/D yet) it was still a great day in the woods, I hunted hard and felt good about a change of scenery.

  2. #52
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    Aug 2017
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    Formerly SW ID, now UT
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    Sunday 9/23: (plan C/D/E/F??)

    With scratch area #2 off the list, and deciding to not return to spot #1 either, I needed a new location.

    I had a few other spots I could try to hunt, but all of them had some draw-backs.

    The first being I have never hunted any of them for elk in early season before!

    Beyond that some of them were harder to access (2000+ ft climbs in from the bottom, or 1500 ft+ dropping in) or had been very dry in the past and were likely to be far worse this year.

    I did have the little area near area #1 that I had hunted last Sunday where I spooked the lone cow out of her bed. I wanted to save that for my last-ditch effort on Monday morning before we headed back down to Utah (that and I passed out before I could call and get the OK to head back in on Sunday).

    Eventually Sunday morning I decided on a long-shot: it was an area adjacent to a spot I had deer hunted at least 8 years ago. I had never been in the area to hunt elk, but it offered a good combination of moderately limited access (maybe very limited) and a good mix of vegetation and water. There was also a couple creeks that had blown out the road a few years back that may have permanently blocked access to the area, which would only help if other people couldn't get into the area. The only real disadvantage was that the spot was a solid 2 1/2 hrs away from my in-laws.

    Oh, I did have some pictures from Sunday but my phone hard-reset Monday morning and it looks like I lost them, just a wall of text for this day!

    I headed out. As I drove into the area, the first thing I noticed was that it had burned since I had been there last. I vaguely recalled that happening when I thought really hard about it, but it didn't occur to me when I looked the spot over on Google Earth that morning. It looked fairly well recovered so far, so that was good.

    Both creeks that I saw were blown out had been repaired and I was able to drive directly into the area I wanted to hunt (and so could other folks).

    I headed down a spur road and on the way I passed a couple different trucks parked along the road but they were a ways from the area I wanted to hunt.

    The spur road showed signs that it had been worked on (downed trees removed, etc) sometime earlier that year, so I was able to get all the way in to the bottom of the ridge I wanted to hunt. The road then took a turn and continued back up and around the one side of the basin, my plan was to hunt the other side of that basin.

    I parked and started the hike. I planned to hike for the morning/mid day, looking for sign and listening for any bugles, then loop back down to the truck later that afternoon.

    The ridge, after the burn, was now very open compared to what it looked like on Google earth. Not that big of a deal, but it made for a hot climb in spots.

    Working up the ridge I found a fair amount of fresh deer sign and some fairly old elk sign. As I worked higher up the ridge I also spotted a camp set-up a couple ridges back over near where the two other trucks were parked. Clearly more than a few folks were in the general area too.

    It took a couple hours to climb up the ridge, and eventually I hit the spur road again. The clearing work on the road continued past that point well in to the head of the next drainage, at least 3 more miles distant. There wasn't a lot of fresh vehicle tracks on the road at least.

    I hiked a bit further up the road occasionally bugling and glassing the burn a little bit. Eventually the heat of the day and the long drive back to my in-laws pushed me to head back down the road not having cut a fresh track or heard anything.

    On the way out I bumped into a guy on an atv out scouting for deer. He apparently hunted that country regularly and has had good success in the October/November deer/elk seasons. Clearly the animals were in there later in the year, but I wasn't turning them up that day if they were there now.

    We went our separate ways and I got back to the truck and got back to my in-laws that evening.

    While I didn't get into animals, and I can't say I loved that long drive, it was nice to try out new country.
    Last edited by helsyeah; 09-25-2018 at 09:36 PM.

  3. #53
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    Aug 2017
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    Formerly SW ID, now UT
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    Sunday Morning 9/24: (last chance!)

    Sunday night I got permission and made plans to head back into the small section of state land where I have access through private near area #1.

    The area where I had spooked the cow out last Sunday had a small open ridge adjacent to it just barely close enough for a shot. I planned to hike up in the dark and sit on that adjacent ridge hoping to catch the cow later that morning.

    I arrived and headed up the ridge at 5:30AM. It was finally cold that morning, down in the high 20's. I tried to pace myself climbing the ridges but I still sweated a bit too much. I hit the spot on the adjacent ridge to the bedding area and settle in.

    And got colder, and colder. I had a couple spare layers and eventually threw everything on, but man, that was chilly just sitting there.

    I was in a position where I could watch some other open ridges on the other side of the little ridge I posted up on. As it got light enough to see I saw a small muley buck a couple sub ridges over accompanied by a fawn (I assume there was another doe in there too but never saw her). I also saw 3 more does a sub ridge closer working their way up into the timber too.

    Sunrise came and I warmed up eventually.

    The more I looked at the bedding area ridge I thought I would be unlikely to see the cow if she showed up. The majority of the bedding area was just over the ridge in the timber from my vantage point:



    I decided I needed to give the bedding area some time, and maybe sneak back to that ridge and try calling later in the morning. I headed out and worked my way up the main ridge for a bit. I eventually eased my way back across the main ridge to over look the back-side. This is the side of the main ridge that dives down the creek below and is generally a steep brushy mess (and where most of the deer bed in the day I assume).

    Staying fairly high on the back-side of the ridge I worked my way back down toward the subridge with the bedding area. Looking at my map I noticed there was a ridge on the OTHER side of the bedding area, on the backside of the main ridge, that MAY give a better view into the bedding area. It looked better than where I had been earlier that morning at least, but I wasn't sure how close I could get for a possible shot.

    I worked down the back ridge and could see the timber with the bedding area just fine. Unfortunately the ridge I was on was almost completely open. Once I broke over the crest of the ridge I picked out a sage brush to set up near and started glassing.

    Literally not more than 2 minutes after sitting down a (the?) cow steps out in the open!





    I ranged her: 167 yards... That is 40 more yards that I REALLY wanted, and 27 more yards than my max practice distance. My bullet REALLY starts to drop at 125+ and I just wasn't prepared to take that kind of shot.

    Being stuck out in the open I tried a couple quiet cow calls, trying to project the sound into the head of the little draw the separated us. My hope was to draw her within the range I was a bit more comfortable with.

    Unfortunately that didn't work and the cow spent the next 20 minutes burning holes into the portion of the ridge I was on.

    Eventually she went back to feeding and dropped behind some brush. I hustle down the hill (and managed to forget my bugle tube up on the ridge).

    I snuck down to within 60 or so yards near where I saw her last, but just slightly around the corner of the ridge. I called a bit hoping to get her curious enough to come back up and give me a nice easy 50 yard shot.

    I couldn't hear any movement and feeling like the clock was ticking a bit, I started to ease forward. And then I saw the state property boundary sign, crap....

    The cow was well on to that section of private now, and also apparenly headed into the steep nasty brush on top of that. Now I sorta had a "we have permission so you have permission" thing on that section of private, but I just couldn't push it.

    So, knowing that my season was pretty well done, I hiked back up, grabbed my bugle tube, took one last look over the area:



    and headed out, packed up the family and got home last night.

    Ending any season without filling a tag is always a touch disappointing. But I hunted hard (for me at least) for 7 (ish) days, got into elk and had some awesome encounters. I have to say I end my cow season satisfied.

    It was also good to get a solid dose of reality in preparation for my November buck hunt for a couple reasons; I hope I'll be a bit more mentally prepared for that hunt so I navigate the emotional highs/lows better and not having a cow in the freezer will make me a bit less choosy when looking for a buck.

    For October, among other things, I'll be out spending some time with my rifles making sure I'm very comfortable past 300 yards (I'm not really a long-range hunter, so 400+ is a poke for me) and making plans for November.

    I'll post up any thing relevant that comes up!

  4. #54

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    Good recount. Thanks for sharing.

  5. #55

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    Great read so far, hunting with a muzzleloader in ID can be a blast and drive you nuts at the same time. Best of luck on your Nov deer hunt!

  6. #56
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    Aug 2017
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    Formerly SW ID, now UT
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    Pre Buck Hunt Update

    My buck season is closing in and I thought I'd throw an update out there for you all.

    First I've been burning some powder in my Tikka 270 attempting to get comfortable past 300 yards. I have to say, the gun is doing great!





    The loose nut behind the trigger, well, lets just say he is usually in WAY too much of a hurry to get shots off and accuracy suffers for it, especially at 300+.

    Right now I plan to hold my max range to 300-350 yards in field conditions with the 270. I have another shooting round coming up and we'll see if I can re-cement in my mechanics and extend that out to 400 yards, but with only one session I'm not super convinced that'll happen.

    I'm also prepping my Winchester M70 30-06 as a backup. With my current loads, the 270 has the better accuracy out of the two guns, but (right now at least) I can generally shoot the 30-06 better in most conditions. I'm not planning to use the 06 as my primary gun because the scope is fairly limited for work past 300 yards (compared to the one on the 270) and its not really an all-weather gun where the 270 is. I like to have both ready though, so we'll see how it pans out during the hunt.

    It does occur to me that there could be some irony with the focus I'm putting on extending my range; I won't be the least bit surprised that I end up taking a deer at 100 yards of less, just because that's how it seems to work out...

    Moving along, for the hunt I'll be heading up for 4 1/2 days at the start of November, with an option to head back up the week of Thanksgiving hit the tail end of the season if I don't get something that first trip.

    Based on what I've heard from a few folks it sounds like I'll have some good opportunities to look over a few bucks on this hunt. BUT with no elk in the freezer I keep repeating "don't pass on the first day that which you would shoot on the last" in my head, we'll see if it sticks though . In all honesty, I've settled my expectations around taking a nice mature buck and having a good time looking for one. It doesn't need to have perfect scoring potential, etc to qualify. Now, with that said, I may or may not have 4 pictures of 200+" live bucks set up in the house where I do my dry firing practice (it pays to be prepared right??).

    For the first hunt my dad and uncle will be joining me coming all the way down from north Idaho, which I'm really excited about. They are coming along to check out cool country (neither have spent any time in the unit I'm hunting), look for some chuckars (or any other legal game birds) and provide moral support (AKA giving me considerable grief for any good sized deer I'm foolish enough to pass on!) There's also a good chance a buddy or three from the Boise area might come down for a day and either chase birds or follow me around looking for a buck. I also expect them to partake in the moral support .

    For now, while I'm not as amped up (yet) as I was going into elk season, I'm looking forward to what I hope is a really fun hunt.
    Last edited by helsyeah; 10-22-2018 at 12:39 AM.

  7. #57
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    1000 islands area
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    329

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    Good Shooting!

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    I am enjoying your thread. Looking forward to more. Keep up the good work.

  9. #59

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    Thank you for keeping this up. I'm enjoying reading your posts.
    Do more with what you've been given.

  10. #60

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    Best of luck on your deer hunt, should be fun!

  11. #61
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    Aug 2017
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    Formerly SW ID, now UT
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    Thanks guys, I really appreciate the encouragement!

    I genuinely enjoy writing and putting these experiences out for you all.

    Everyone that hunts and fishes loves to tell stories, and loves to hear/read/see them told. I'd wager that sharing our stories (and hearing others shared) is actually a FAR more satisfying part of the outdoor experience than most give it credit for.

  12. #62
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    Aug 2017
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    And so the recount of my deer adventure begins!

    Wednesday 10-31 Travel Day

    I throw the last cooler of food in my truck and take off to meet up with my Dad and uncle in Boise. They were traveling south from north Idaho. We meet up mid-afternoon, grab some last minute groceries and head down to my unit to locate a spot to camp.

    Our biggest concern was to find a spot that would be sheltered from wind as we were setting up a tent camp and there was significant wind forcasted later in the week. The first couple spots didn't have much in the way of wind-breaks, and we decided to bypass any other spots and head deeper into the unit. Eventually we locate a spot near where I had scouted in August that had topography to provide great wind relief and a bit cover if any significant rain came in with the bonus of not being TOO far off the main road so we could crawl out in the event that rain turned the spur road into soup. This location was also right at my plan A location to hunt.

    We set camp, got settled and worked out plans for the next day. Dad and my uncle plan to cover some of the ground I scouted in August looking for birds (and coyotes) and I would head a slightly different direction based on some local intel I received in the summer.

  13. #63
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    Thursday 11-1: Plan A (I'm deer hunting I promise!)


    We got a little bit of rain Wednesday night, and it was gently "misting" when I got up and headed out in the morning (the other two were in no hurry get moving ).

    From camp I hike over to a small set of gentle valleys that had decent feed for first light. All I manage to turn up are some moo-cows in said decent feed, some elk sign and one set of deer tracks.

    Shortly after sunrise I heard a distant bugle quite a ways above me. It was a touch odd, but I had heard a bugle the night before too when fine tuning our camp location. The bugle came from a series of stair-step ridges that might offer some decent glassing, so I started wandering in its general direction.



    As I worked my way up a couple ridges toward the bugle I glassed over some good looking country. Unfortunately I did not turning anything up (nor finding ANYTHING in the way of fresh deer sign). After a while I got close enough to the bugle that it sounded like he was somewhere on a ridge directly above me.

    Not seeing anything in the way of deer sign I decided to fully put deer hunting on the back burner for a bit and go see this elk. I worked my way up to the next ridge using some juniper for cover as I crested the lip of the next ridge. I could hear some cow calls too, so there were more than one elk, but could not see them at all. It sounded like they might be just over a little basalt ridge 300 yards further.

    I headed to that basalt ridge, snuck up over the edge of that and was presented with a series of rolling basalt+juniper+sage ridges/rises that gently rose up in front of me for at least 1/2 mile.. I could hear the bull much clearer now, but still couldn't pick him out of the juniper. Glassing eventually turned up a hand full of cows about 500 yards out on another basalt rise.

    I also started hearing something that sounded like an elk bark. I had the wind but thought maybe I had been busted. I hung tight for a bit, and after a good 20 minutes it was clear the elk were just talking amongst themselves, and were not in any way alarmed. In that time I picked out more cows, a couple rag-horn 4 & 5-points, but not the bull that was bugling.

    With the elk still not aware I was there, I used the topography to cut another 200 yards off. I eased up on the next basalt rise and was able to pick out quite a few more elk. All told I saw at least 12 cows/calves, 4-5 rag-horns and two smallish 6x6's. It was one of the two 6x6's that was bugling. I'm not sure if there was a calf or a cow that was coming into estrus on a 2nd or 3rd cycle, but something had that bull riled up. He and the other 6x6 would occasionally spar pretty aggressively (not a full fight though) so that was cool to watch.

    After 20 minutes of watching elk antics I switched gears back into deer hunting mode and eased my way out of the area. On the way out I jumped ANOTHER small 6x6 only about 300 yards from where the other elk were congregating at.

  14. #64
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    I planned to drop off the ridges I was on, cross a couple drainages and go glass a grassy flat that might draw some deer in. Now the drainages I had to cross required some very careful planning and map work to make sure I could actually cross them without the need for a parachute, hang glider and/or ladder:





    I also needed to be careful as it had continued to rain a little bit all day which could make footing a bit touch and go. Eventually I did make it across, and while I was working the last bit of the main climb I stumbled upon an elk shed!



    The shed was only 50 yards from a trail but was perfectly located such that it could not be seen from said trail. I was just at the right place to see it when I crested a ridge. I left the shed with plans to get it later in the trip, and headed up to the near-by flat.

    I hung tight, and watched the flat for a bit, but didn't turn anything up. I eventually picked my way along the edge of the flat looking for deer sign, but didn't find anything in the way of deer sign.

    It was late afternoon at this point and I had a solid 4 miles back to camp. I was also wearing my old boots and with the little bit of rain we had throughout the day I was thoroughly soaked in the feet department. Even a change of socks didn't help much.

    I made the call and started back down to camp, eventually following the trail where I left the elk shed and grabbed it on the way. My dad end up coming up the trail with the 4-wheeler and met me at a mile out from camp. With at least 12 miles of boot leather down I was sure glad to see him!

    We got back to camp and I started refueling:



    After comparing notes with my Dad and uncle, we had collectively seen very little in the way of deer sign, and no live deer. For their part they didn't run into any birds or coyotes either.

    I decided to go to a new spot, one that would require either a 35 mile drive, with 15 of that over a really nasty/rocky 2-track (it took me 1 1/2 hrs to drive it in August) or a 60-70 mile drive around the long way, but on much better roads. I decided to go the long way since travel time would be about the same, I could stop and gas up on that route, and not risk taking a tire out (or two) on the 2-track.

    My dad and uncle, having been inspired by my elk shed find decided to switch gears from birds and coyotes over to shed hunting and planned to hit the general area I found the shed hard the next day.
    Last edited by helsyeah; 11-06-2018 at 12:11 AM.

  15. #65
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    Friday 11-2: Plan B

    I was got a bit of a late start on my 1.5hr+ drive to my plan B spot(s). Along the way I did manage to spot a small band of does right off the road. I parked and snuck in closer to look them over. There wasn't any bucks around, but hey at least I saw some deer!

    I continue on my way and actually decided to hit a different spot that was on my way to my main destination for the day. I park and take a little 2 mile hike to look over some drainages but didn't turn any sign or anything while glassing.



    The wind was really starting to rip that morning too, so I have to assume that had pushed most deer to bed already.

    After the little side trip I drove into my main location. On the way in I jumped another 3 does that were bedded down in a juniper covered draw/flat, but again no bucks around.

    This next spot was mostly a small easy drainage that meandered down into a much larger canyon over a couple miles. It was mostly open sage compared to the juniper country I had been in the day before.



    I worked the area pretty slowly, hopping up on one side of the drainage to glass the small feeder drainages on the other side looking for anything bedded in the sage out of the wind. I didn't turn up anything and a pretty dedicated little rain squall passed over so I found some cover and stayed put for a bit. After the majority of the rain passed over I continued to wander the ridge for a mile or more glassing as I went. Eventually not turning anything up and the howling wind started to get to me and I had to fight through an obnoxious wave of self-doubt. Eventually kicking myself into gear I dropped into the drainage and working up it for another mile or so.

    It was creeping up to late afternoon and I did finally have enough of the wind. I hopped up on the opposite side of the drainage and headed back to the truck (straight into the wind now, yay!). About a mile from the truck I had another rain squall cruise over and this time I had completely run out of cover so I rain-geared up and pushed through a nice pelting rain for the last 1/4 mile to the truck.

    I headed out, gassed up and got back to camp, not having even seen any actual deer or fresh sign in either of the two spots I hiked in (but at least saw the does from the road!)

    My Dad and uncle had not turned up any more elk sheds, but did do a little driving around exploring the area more and had seen 5 does near some private property 10 or so miles from camp. They were in some typical juniper flats and it seemed like it would be a pretty hard area to hunt.

    Given the lack of sign and sightings between plans A and B and not convince that the few does we saw were in good areas to hunt, we decided it was time to gain some elevation. The hope was that maybe deer would be easier to locate where we could glass larger areas, and that the deer might be higher up as it was still fairly warm for the start of November.

    So we set plans for all three of us to go up near the very first area I had scouted in August where we had seen all of the elk. The specific area I planned to check out was a couple good sized drainages with access that would let us glass a ton of country pretty easily. The only catch was it would be another 65+ mile one-way trip, but hey, thats what they make gas for right!

  16. #66
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    Saturday 11-3: Plan C

    We all woke fairly early, had enough time to make a nice breakfast and get on the road with plenty of time. We managed to make it our plan C location right at legal shooting light.

    As an aside, for whatever reason, this day I finally felt like I didn't really care if we found animals or not, where the previous two days not finding anything definitely was getting to me. It wasn't a defeated kind of attitude by any means, but more of accepting (again!) that hunting can be hard, but that doesn't mean its not fun even not seeing anything. Going into this hunt, that very attitude of not enjoying a hunt when not having success was something I experienced during my cow hunt, and that I was very consciously trying to change for this hunt. Obviously that didn't happen until day 3, and to be honest I have NO idea what was different from Friday to Saturday that caused the change but I was sure glad for it. Anyway, back to it!

    We had about a mile hike over a flat plateau like ridge before we broke out and had some country to glass:





    We managed to turn up some moo-cows on a distant ridge, but nothing else. There were a couple large benches below the main ridge that would let us see further into the drainage and so we worked our way down glassing as we went.

    We worked over to a bit of a rocky knife ridge that gave us a great vantage point down the drainage:



    And back up toward the main plateau ridge we eventually needed to head back up to:



    It was amazing country, the weather was fairly calm, but we just could not turn up any critters...

    After lunch we started working our way back up to the main ridge, but at least a mile or so further south than where we had come down from. This meant we now had some two sets of rocky bluffs to negotiate between each of the benches we needed to climb up. Not a big deal but it did force us to wander around a bit.

    My dad found a good gentle spot where we could get up past the first band. Right at the top of that little climb was a lone bleached out elk rib... I personally didn't think much of it, having tried finding carcasses in the past based on a few bones and rarely finding the rest.

    We had about 2-300 yards of bench before our the next and final bluff we needed to get over, and a decent batch of brush (aspen, bitter brush and juniper) to work through to get there. We all wandered in, each taking a slightly different line. I headed left compared to my Dad and uncle and not 10 steps into the brush I notice a pile of elk bones and then a REALLY nice set of antlers! "Dead Head!!" I called out (they were only 15 yards away...).

    Now, the irony of this was just two nights before (after I found the elk shed) when were discussing my dad and uncles plans to go look for sheds my uncle was saying he'd just really like to find a decent dead head.

    My uncle and Dad walk over and my uncle is laughing, (and slightly disgusted in a good way) saying "and WHY didn't I go left and YOU go right!?" He wasn't at all mad at me obviously, to be clear. So, now, not having seen any animals, but a nice elk rack to haul out, we had a new plan, lets get back to the truck (and back to camp where we had steak dinner plans)! My uncle offered to carry the dead head and Dad and I would find clear paths for him to get through.





    I have to say I was slightly bummed that my uncle wasn't the one to actually find the dead head, especially given our conversation from two nights before. On the other hand, at the same time I was super jacked. I've only found one or two really old elk dead-heads that were not worth hauling out of the woods. While this one was bleached out, it was in great shape otherwise.

    As we were strapping up the dead head my dad says, "Now you're not going to shoot a deer while we're down off the ridge are you??"

  17. #67
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Formerly SW ID, now UT
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    My dad and I lead out in front of my uncle (with me going a bit too fast at times since I was still amped up a bit).

    We worked him through the brush and found a little drainage and ridge that let us climb up over the bluffs and on top of the main platuea ridge.

    I was out in front again and rounded a set of brush/juniper, glanced to my left and there's a buck standing not 50 yards away!

    I hiss out "DEER!!!" and my uncle, who was only 20 yards behind me gets down as do I. I look at the deer, and he's not big in any way shape or form. But at this point, he's within range, I don't care that he's not big as I can fill my tag and freezer right now (we just used up our last package of elk burger and were down to a few stew meat packages at home the week before).

    I get my rifle set, stand back up and take aim. The buck is standing there hard quartering to me I hold on the lead shoulder and pull the trigger. The buck humps up hard at the shot and starts a death run down through some juniper and bitter brush disappearing from sight and a bunch of does break cover and start bounding off. My dad, who took a little different line over the ridge and just hitting the ridge when I called out says "you didn't just shoot a deer did you!!??". My response, "YEP!!".

    My uncle and I go down roughly where I thought I saw the deer disappear and my dad goes to the other side of the juniper/bitter brush and starts looking in where he thought he heard some thrashing after the shot.

    My uncle and I don't see him right away, head back up to where he was standing to follow the tracks. We make it to two tracks when my dad calls out "found him" and then starts laughing...

    See, the same night were were discussing dead heads I made mention that at the very least I would like to get a buck that wasn't legal in the general 2 point only season for that area. That mean no 2-points....

    I call out asking whats so funny, dad answers "you shot a 2 point!" and I'm laughing too. I didn't (and don't) care that he was "only" a 2 point in a "trophy" unit. I was super happy to get him, and both my dad and uncle didn't care in the slightest and were super happy too.

    We grabbed a few pictures:







    This one for fun to send to those who expected me to shoot a monster:



    My dad offered to work on the deer while my uncle and I headed back to the truck to drop the dead head off and grab a couple pack frames since I had the GPS on my phone and both my uncle and I move a bit quicker when need calls.

    We hoof it the 3/4's of a mile back to the truck (way closer than I thought we were at first) re-arrange gear and head back to my dad and the deer.

    Dad had hung and was just about finished skinning the buck when we got back to him. I look over the damage from the shot, I hit the bone just below the forward shoulder joint and it complete grenaded the 130gr Accubond out of my 270 at that close distance. There was literally NO portion of the bullet that exited the chest cavity. I had a similar experince with the accubond when I shot the buck in 2015 as I hit him high shoulder which also it spine and very little of THAT bullet made it through that deer too. I had already planned on re-working my bullet selection for the 270 and this just cemented that for me...

    Anyway, my dad and I quarter the deer, I load the two hind quarters on my Metcalf (I wanted to see how it did with a decent load of meat), with my dad and uncle splitting the shoulders and boned out meat between them.



    We had a pretty easy pack back to the truck and made it back by 5:00PM (I shot the deer around 2:30). Here we have it all loaded up ready for the 65+ mile drive back to camp:



    We swing into the nearest town to gas up again, where I get a little bit of grief from a local about shooting a 2 point with a "big buck" tag that he's been trying to draw for so many years. Guess you can't please everyone!

    We head back to camp a bit late and spend the night chatting away and enjoying what ended up as a great trip and hunt.

  18. #68
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
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    Formerly SW ID, now UT
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    Edit: Sunday 11-4 The return home...
    My dad and I had talked before this trip and I officially inherited the hunt camp after this trip. So we packed up the camp Sunday morning, loaded up the rigs, now mine with the camp too, and headed down our respective roads.

    I returned home mid afternoon yesterday we started cutting meat today and should finish having the rest of the deer in the freezer tomorrow. Looks like tenderloin will be on the menu tomorrow night or maybe the next .


    Couple musing over the season of 2018

    This has been a bit of a different season than prior years. Having to travel 5+ hours for any hunt (and in generally new country to me) was different experience. I have to say its hard to do, especially when mostly hunting solo. I can't honestly say I've mastered the ability to stay confident and motivated when away from my family for more than 3 or so days at a stint. I recognize that very much impacts how successful I may be on a given hunt, but I have no idea how to work through that, other than working to hunt closer to home where I can hunt more often for for shorter periods of time, and eventually when I can take my family along on those adventures.

    Now, for the deer hunt, I'm perfectly happy with how it turned out, even though going in I absolutely had dreams of shooting another slammer buck in that unit. The reality of it though is I didn't know the unit well, didn't know where and how to find the deer well and had limited time to hunt. Its easy to sit at a computer desk and have all the confidence in the world and lay what seem like fool-proof plans. All of that goes out the window when the boots hit the ground and none of the plans and expectations are coming together. Again, I'm very content with the result of that hunt. For those, like the guy at the gas station, who don't understand why anyone would do what I did with that tag, it was my tag to use, and I did get to use it and had a hell of a good time taking home the deer I did. I hope they get a chance at a tag like that someday and it goes exactly as they plan...
    Last edited by helsyeah; 11-06-2018 at 12:03 AM.

  19. #69
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Newhartford Iowa
    Posts
    2,773

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    Great hunt

  20. #70
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    1000 islands area
    Posts
    329

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    Those were some great finds and what an incredible hunt with family!!!! Awesome story!!!

  21. Default

    Great story. Thanks for sharing.

  22. #72
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Utah, after 30+yrs in MT
    Posts
    691

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    Glad it all worked out. Sounds like you worked pretty hard at it.

  23. #73
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Formerly SW ID, now UT
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    80

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    Quote Originally Posted by bowhuntmontana View Post
    Glad it all worked out. Sounds like you worked pretty hard at it.
    It sure felt like it!

    From chatting with a few folks, I get the impression we may have had better luck finding deer by just hopping on the 4-wheeler and cruising 2-tracks instead of burning boot leather. That's just NOT our style though, as all 3 of us prefer to get out and put some miles on.

  24. #74

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    Congrats on a memorable hunt! Those units are far from a sure thing, even in November.

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