Contributors to this thread:
Deerslayers EPIC 2014 season recap
I’ve been procrastinating posting this thread due to the time and length involved in posting it. I also couldn’t decide what format to do it in, whether I should post the stories separately or just do one whole season thread and post the individual stories as I go. I have opted for the latter, but I tend to be long winded (as in novel length) so bear with me. I am going to space it out incrementally so whoever wants to read it gets a chance, plus I like to keep you in suspense! (and I’m still editing together some of the footage from the elk hunt)
Quick disclosure: This post is my entire hunting (and some non-hunting) year including a few non bow hunts. I killed a total of 11 animals including 2 gun kills, so if you feel that classifies me as not a true bow hunter then you might want to quit reading now. Also I tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth and I tell my stories as they happened. If you have a negative opinion about something with regards to my hunts, then I ask you to remember that this is a debate free thread, and my goal is to share my success with all of you who choose to read it.
Now enough of that…….
Here goes, I hope you enjoy!
In 2012 I had my best season, and thought I wouldn’t be topping it for a long time. Boy, was I wrong. 2013 was a good season in many ways as well, but nothing like what 2014 would bring. I don’t know how many of you are like me, but I remember the years of my life in hunting seasons! Not that a bad season necessarily makes a year bad or vice versa, but that is generally how my hunting obsessed brain classifies the years of my life. Based on that logic 2014 was the best year yet!
In the beginning of 2014 we decided to sell our house and move closer to my work. The Lord blessed our plan, and we didn’t even have to list our house. Some acquaintances of ours were looking to move into our town, and after a few conversations they decided to buy it! We made out well, and were able to buy 6 acres on the edge of the town we were moving to. We had high hopes and plans to build a house there. In the meantime we needed a place to live, and we were able to buy a house less than a 100 yards down the block from the property. While that was all great, to say the house we bought was a fixer upper would be a major understatement! It had been vacant for 4 years, and had not been touched or remodeled since the late 60’s. There wasn’t/isn’t one thing interior, exterior, upstairs or downstairs that wouldn’t need replaced, remodeled, or refinished. Between that, and three kids ages 1, 2, and 4 I was definitely feeling over whelmed. I wasn’t sure how it was going to affect my hunting season, but I also knew I had to get out and hunt just to keep my sanity!
(Perfect time of year for this part;)
April turkey season found me in my old haunt. The amount of turkeys in this area is unreal, but due to the ease of hunting them there, my desire to hunt turkeys had significantly diminished over the past few years. That said, I still had to at least get out after them once or twice. My hunt lasted about a total of 5 minutes. I pulled up, got out, heard him gobble, put the sneak on, and shot him! I had a backside shot, but thought I only grazed him, as he didn’t act hit and just walked away with his buddy. I ran around the hill to try and intercept him, and as I crept forward I heard wings flapping. Sure enough he was down. When I checked him out it looked like his beard had shrank! I had blown through him facing away from me, and when my broad head exited out his chest it shaved part of his beard off. Oh well, bird down and lesson learned……
I'm dialed in. Bring on the stories.
One down 12 to go. Keep them coming. Congratulations on a great year.
Next up was bear season. I had worked hard in 2013 but never connected, so I approached the spring of 2014 even more determined. )If you’re interested the link posted has the story of the hunt so I’ll spare you the details). Suffice it to say, I had a blast and connected on this hard earned bear. He was the only bear I saw on stand in 5 days of hunting, and I was more than happy to take him.
Link posted has the video of the hunt
Gotta run, I'll be back at it tomorrow!
So far so good!
Good luck, Robb
I have a feeling this is going to be good! Cant wait for the rest.
After bear season it was time for some summer fun. I often tell people that if I had a choice to live anywhere in the world there isn't anywhere I would rather choose than Montana from May to October.
Summertime is amazing here, and one of my favorite activities during that time is spin rod fishing for monster rainbows.
Always a good thing when the net sags
The best part of the summer was taking my four year old with me. She normally just keeps me company and chats my ear off, but on this trip she said she wanted to fish too. I only had adult spin rods, so I would cast for her, then tell her to start reeling. Every time she reeled in the lure she would tell me that she had a fish, so I wasn't paying to much attention when she told me she had one for the tenth time. All of the sudden I looked down, and sure enough she did have one! Her very first fish. I think the smallest fish in the whole lake was caught by the smallest person who ever fished the lake.
As she pulled in her fish I was still reeling in my line when a fish struck and we were able to double. Good times for sure!
As summer wore down I began to gear up for season. With all my house and stuff still in upheaval from the move it seemed like I was more behind than usual in my hunting preparation. The one good thing was that with the 6 acre property was at the end of the street, and I was able to set up a range with the ability to practice out to 80 yards consistently. (This little detail becomes important later on in the story) Antelope season had now opened although my approach to antelope is much similar to my approach to turkeys. It’s something to do outside of deer and elk season, and while I enjoy it, it’s not a major priority, but I still like to get out a little bit. Opening day I headed to my spot and got a good tip from my buddy/landowner. I located a group of bucks, and after a 3 hour hands-and-knees stalk through the wheat I had made it to within 42 yards of the biggest buck. All 6 had their head down, but I was being picky with my shot selection. A breeze alerted them to my presence, and they ran out to 50 yds. I came to full draw, but when they all turned to face me, I couldn’t pick out the one I wanted, and the jig was up. I was bummed, but proud of myself for getting that close, and knowing I could have killed him had I not been so picky with the shot.
I only got out one more time for antelope, but that was all I needed. Goat down…. (You can read the details/thread of that hunt and see more pics at the link)
Now it was deer time. My busy schedule had kept me from running trail cams and scouting in the summer, so I was somewhat in the dark about what was roaming the area. My approach to filling my deer tag is to hit it hard in early September and try to tag out on my buck so I’ll be freed up for elk, and also have time to fill the rest of my tags. Plus I like to try and help my wife fill her tags as well.
At this point I had 1 buck tag, a whitetail doe tag, a muley doe tag, a bull tag, a cow tag, and a special draw buck tag that I save to hunt until the rut hits.
My first trip out for deer I was able to lip squeak this coyote to my tree and hammered him at 15 yds. Things were off to a great start!
(You can watch the video at the posted link at the “13:21“ min mark)
Two days after killing my antelope I made my second trip for deer, which resulted in this buck. I knew I could have held out for something bigger, but I also knew there was a lot of killin’ left to do and I wanted to get an early start! ;)
You can watch the video of the hunt at the posted link.
1.5" mech - 10 yds - 80 lbs - does a number to shoulders. This is one of the reasons I like 80 lbs.....
I am interested in reading MORE! love them big trout by the way, nice diversion from the hunting
Coming soon.........The elk hunt
"When best-laid plans have fallen to waste and frustration abounds in their former place, when failure looms with doubts and fears we must endeavor to persevere!"
I suppose I should have separated in this thread into two parts, but to properly setup my 2014 adventure I need to recap my 2013 hunt. So basically you’re going to get 2 seasons of elk hunting in one thread! I have to show the bitterness of 2013 to make the success of 2014 all the more sweet....
In 2013 my best friend Brian (Bernie1) and I had an unreal hunt in which culminated with him shooting his first bull, a 350” class monster! (Check out the thread “Monster bull in Mt part 2”) It was the best hunt and the worst hunt of my life. The best because I have never seen so many elk in my life including some true monsters, and I had 3 different opportunities at 6 point bulls including one absolute giant in the 350” plus range.
It was the worst because I managed to blow all 3 of those shots. For some reason I just fell apart at the moment of truth, and I believe most of it was due to rushing the opportunity thinking I had less time than I did.
The first bull (a nice satellite 6) I had called in out of the herd from about 150 yards away. He was being kept at bay by a 300” class herd bull with a broken 3rd, and wouldn’t let that satellite anywhere near the cows. I told Brian that the smaller bull was most likely susceptible to cow calls. He was all by himself and couldn’t get close to the herd without getting ran off by the bigger bull. I dropped below the rocky ridge line, and began to move back and forth, sounding like a whiny cow. Brian was peering over the edge and soon informed me the bull was heading our way. Brian decided to go farther down the ridge to put the sneak on another herd that we had seen. (We all know the rest of that great story)
The bull kept coming so I crept over the rocks and positioned myself against a huge boulder. The bull came up the hill on a string and I stopped him at 40. The only problem was that I shot him for 30. The fletching smacked his belly and he trotted off down the hill. The main herd never spooked and soon the bull started to graze for the next 10 minutes like nothing had happened. He eventually ambled over the hill and out of sight.
The broken 3rd bull kept his cows bunched together like a herd of sheep. Around a half hour later an absolute monarch crested the hill and began to angle up towards the ridge I was at. As soon as the second bull crested the hill, the broken 3rd bull walked out towards him a hundred yards, and began to rake the ground with his rack, throwing grass and dirt in the air.
Pic is of the broken 3rd
Now the broken 3rd bull was very nice, but this second bull (no pic) was in a whole other class. As the 2 walked towards each other I was sure I was about to watch some serious heavyweights go at it. It was a sight to behold.
The broken 3rd with his cows
As the bigger bull got close he suddenly didn't want anything to do with that broken 3rd, and completely side stepped him. He then started making his way at an angle up the ridge where I was sitting watching it all unfold. I quickly realized that he was going come up farther down, and I had a very good idea where he was going to crest the ridge at.
I dropped below the ridge line and ran ahead of him trying to cut him off. I got to where I was sure he was going to come through at, and began to tuck into a bush thinking I had a minute or two before he showed up. Wrong! I happened to glance up and there he was at 40 yards walking quartering away from me with no clue.
This just keeps getting better!
Good luck, Robb
Thanks for the pic of the broken 3rd bull Justin. I never got a photo of him, that bull was one mean dude!
Enjoying the follow, great year !
I pulled, aimed behind the shoulder, and shot. I also totally failed to play the angle, not to mention a 20 mph crosswind coming from right to left. I watched in horror as my arrow hit him way forward and high, almost where the neck and shoulder meet. I only got about 2-3 inches of penetration.
Unbeknownst to me Brian was in the process of killing his bull about 400 yds down the ridge. After recovering his bull, and giving mine time, we tracked him for a half mile before running out of blood. It was a typical muscle hit with decent blood at first, then dwindling down to nothing. To this day I am fully convinced that bull lived to tell the tale.
A few days later I managed to dog a herd of about 50 including one really great bull. After playing cat and mouse I was able to sneak in above them to about 25-30 yds. I was high up in some rocks, and it felt for a moment like I was hunting sheep as I drew and peered down at the whole herd directly below me. I settled on the big boy, and as I started to squeeze he walked right into the middle of a bunch of cows.
Not wanting to pass through and likely hit a cow, I held off. At the same time the second biggest bull in the group, a 260-70” 6 pt, broke off to the left. It was late in the game and I figured it was one in the hand. I had no sooner begun to squeeze on him when he made a right turn and was now at an hard quartering away angle. Do you think I learned my lesson on the last bull? Nope. Default setting, pin goes behind the shoulder and I release……
The arrow again impacts too far forward, but this time it looks like I get a decent level of penetration. The herd spooks and runs down the hill to the right disappearing as they go around. I immediately take off at a run at the top of the ridge hoping to get a visual on my bull. Keep in mind it is very rocky, and as I’m running I’m thinking to myself “This could be a bad idea” I had no sooner thought that when my right ankle rolled off a rock, and I could audibly hear it pop! I’ve played sports my whole life and have had my share of rolled ankles but this was pain on a whole new level. It took my breath away and just about brought tears to my eyes. I wanted to scream something fierce, but even through the pain I was still hoping to catch the herd. I gritted my teeth and tried to moan as softly as possible. Only later when I had it x-rayed did I learn that the tendon had torn actually torn off a piece of my ankle bone also known as an “ankle avulsion fracture”.
I then limped down the hill and, lo and behold, there is the entire herd about a 100 yds away milling around in the timber clueless to my presence. I very slowly hobbled my way towards them hoping to see my bull. Unbeknownst to me another member of our hunting group had been at the bottom of the hill, and had seen my bull separate from the herd, and head back the opposite direction. Not knowing this I continued to sneak into the herd ending up 35 yds from the big herd bull standing broadside to me for 2 minutes! I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried…...
Eventually they all ambled away down the hill out of sight. By now it was close to dark, and I began to make my way back to my horse, and catching a stick in the eye in the process. I finally show up to where my horse had been tied to find an empty halter and no horse. As I said I couldn't make this stuff up. Fortunately for me my hunting friend was at the bottom of the hill, and graciously allowed me to ride his horse while he walked. He is a very successful traditional bow hunter, and said in his opinion he felt the bull was hurt bad and probably on his way to bed up and die. We made a plan that him, Brian, and myself would head out first thing and try and recover my bull.
Imagine my delight when I woke up at 2 am to hear rain hitting my tent. That rain quickly turned into a mountain blizzard and we got around 6” by the time daylight arrived. We all bundled up and rode out with it still snowing heavily. We got to the spot where my friend had seen the bull enter the timber. We fanned out in search of the bull with me hobbling along as best I could. Hours and hours of searching came up fruitless. The only bright side was that Brian had located my rogue horse in the process. I have no way of knowing for sure if this bull made it or not and would consider it a 50/50 toss up.
The following day we had to pack up camp and head out. As you can imagine my confidence was at an all-time low and my frustration at an all-time high. I shoot hundreds if not thousands of arrows a year and am a very proficient shot, but somehow I had managed to blow not one but 3 opportunities at great bulls including one giant. I was disappointed and disgusted with myself. Most of us have been there. Constantly replaying in my mind what I could or should have done differently. Times like that makes a guy reassess his game and thoughts of hanging it up for the year run through the brain.
Fortunately my season ended on a better note when I connected on a great Montana whitetail in November. But from the end of that trip until September 2014 all I could think about were my blown chances, and getting a rematch with the elk.......
Which brings us back to our current story. In the lead up to the trip I had spent a ridiculous amount of time at my new range on our property tuning and shooting. Between all my prep and the success I had already had so far in the 2014 season, I was feeling much more confident heading into my elk hunt.
We got loaded up and headed out, excited to finally be headed to the September mountains. Our excitement was quickly cut short about half way as the truck inexplicably went from 75 mph to 20! We pulled over and couldn’t figure out what in the world was wrong. After about an hour we started up the truck and found that if we kept it at 60 we were fine. After wasting the entire day (literally) waiting to be seen by the mechanic he informed us that he thought it was an electrical fluke, and that we should be fine. Yeah right….
After playing Alan Jackson’s mechanic song blues we begin to have trouble again. We were able to limp into camp, but with cheeks clenched tight the whole way. (Only later did I learn it needed a new injector)
Now running late we quickly loaded the horses and headed out. We got into camp late and got set up. I'm going to skip the particulars, as it's not conducive to this thread, but I will say things got a little western with some non-resident hunters who felt this spot was their own. To say tensions were running high would be a major understatement. Definitely not how you want to start out a trip in the back country that you look forward to for the last 12 months.
The first day of hunting we were able to bugle up a bull, but we moved in to aggressively and he picked me off. Darn! It was great to hear bugles again though and be back in the magic of September.
The weather had turned very hot and things were extremely slow throughout most of the first week. Finally a front came in and the weather got cold and rainy. That morning Brian and I were riding in the darkness and heard the nastiest growl of a bugle we have ever heard. We quickly made a plan, and as it got light it appeared that the bull was at the base of a huge 1000 ft hill. We tied off and wasted no time heading that way. All of the sudden another mature sounding bull sounds off above us! Caught betwixt and between, what a great problem to have. We decided to stick with the original bull and made our way towards him. The whole time he is bugling his head off.
As we closed the last 200 yds we peeked over a knoll expecting to see him but he was nowhere in sight. He bugled again and we are at a loss for where he is. Then we happen to look up and there he is, a 1000 ft up at the top of the hill! For some reason the acoustics made it sound as though he was right there. He was a great bull, and had a handful of cows with him.
We knew it was a lost cause but I figured nothing ventured nothing gained. So I decided to throw some whiny cow calls at him. Of course he could care less, but then I see 2 smaller bulls about halfway down the hill that we hadn’t noticed before. One of them is coming in like a teenager on prom night. I tell Brian he is headed our way and we get ready.
If I could interject on our 1st day traveling down there, Justin made things sound good compared to reality. My frustration level was through the roof! Sitting on the side of the road all day, getting to our camp at 10PM and coming very very close to getting in a fight with a bunch of idiots.... what a start to this hunt. It was bad for me, I imagine it was much worse for Justin, with last year’s problems, extra prep during the summer, huge out of pocket costs, etc.
'Don't let the sun set on your non-resident a**'
As he comes in I can tell he is a young 5x5 bull. After seeing the monster on the hill, knowing the potential of this spot, and realizing that I still have another 6 days I can’t decide if I should drop the string on him or not. He comes into 30 yards, and after looking for 3 minutes he has enough. As he trots back up the hill, I am left hoping I didn’t just make a mistake in letting him go.
We decided to head around the other side of the hill towards the direction the big guy went hoping to get on him in the evening. About this time the rain really starts pouring so we set up my Big Agnes tent to wait it out. Only problem is we did not bring our pads that morning. So two 6’-3” guys got to huddle for the next 7 hours in the tent on the cold hard ground. Ahhhh the lengths we’ll go to get an elk! The rain finally lets up around prime time and we quickly make our way over to where we figured the bull went. Sure enough there he is about 200 yds past the private land fence. I can see his ivory tipped horns through the fog as he stares our direction. Brian does his best to pull him over to us, but to no avail.
We spent the next very rainy, wet, and foggy day and half trying to coax that bull back across the fence. We can hear his signature growl, but no dice.
A day or two later we decided to try a different spot, and rode up in the dark. We weren't sure exactly where we wanted to park the horses. After arguing for a minute we decided on a spot and unsaddled our gear. It was about 10 minutes before daylight, and I decided to let out a locator so we could start making a move.
Within 5 seconds of ending my locator, a big sounding bull rips off a bugle right back at me, not 75 yards below where we're standing. My adrenalin goes through the roof, and I immediately begin to shuck off my pack. Brian is just standing there so I hiss at him "What are you doing!?" He replies "Was that you or a bull?" ..... I practically scream at him in a whisper "It's a bull!" About this time the bull rips out another one. We had unknowingly stumbled right into a bull's comfort zone in the dark, we still have 10 mins till light, and he is ticked and looking for us. We scramble back the way we had come trying to buy some time. Light finally arrives and no bull. Brian sees him about a quarter/half mile out making his way away from us. Bummer! So close!
For the most part things had went dead silent, and elk were few and far between. Regardless, I kept throwing out bugles hoping for a response. One morning I was finally rewarded with an answer and off we went. I had seen a spike in the distance, but knew the bugle I had heard did not belong to him. As we neared where I had last seen the spike, I could hear hooves in the rocks right below the crest of the hill. I motioned to Brian and we ran up, just as the bull (big 6) took his cows down the hill. We’re pretty sure we didn’t spook them, but failure is failure.
The bull, his cows, and a small spike made their way down a ridiculously steep hill in a matter of a half a minute what would have taken us a half hour to get down. He then breaks off from his cows and runs into a small island of trees. Now I am thinking to myself “What in the world is he doing?” All of the sudden about 30 cows and a small half racked 5 pt come busting out the other side. That big bull lowered his rack at the raghorn who then turned tail and ran up the hill. The big 6 promptly rounded up the cows, assimilated them into his current harem, and moved them up the hill toward the bedding area. It was the coolest thing to watch, and hilarious to see that poor raghorn skulk off the other direction. Guess that’s what happens when the big boys show up! It was also amazing to see how far elk can move in a short amount of time, and how effortlessly they climbed a mountain side with dead falls that would have taken us hours to climb.
The following days resulted in fewer bugles and sightings. Even though the weather had cooled off the elk had just vanished. We were logging some serious hours in the saddle trying in vain to locate a bull. Brain still had a deer tag in his pocket, and I was feeling that I was burning through valuable vacation time trying to force something that just wasn’t happening. That night at camp I got to enjoy the experience of getting kicked in the leg by my horse. I was extremely lucky to walk away from the incident as he had caught me square right below the knee. Although it definitely woke me up, I was very fortunate and thankful it was only a little sore and not broke. We had 3 days left, so we talked it over at camp that evening. We decided that we would give it the next morning and make a decision based on what we saw. We had given it our all and left nothing on the field, but a man’s got to know his limitations. We had approached each day with the mindset that things were going to break loose any second, but every day we were met with less and less action.
The next morning we rode out hoping against hope our decision to stay would be an easy one.....
still listening...... Take your time, I figure at this rate, we'll have it all by labor day? :)
Still going strong and that is great.
Good luck, Robb
Nicely done! Keep it coming!
I guess the hunt happened one day at a time, so the story should come one day at a time. :) Great story, keep it coming.
Gotta keep the people interested! Plus I'm still trying to get the video edited by the end of the story....
The next morning we rode out hoping against hope our decision to stay would be an easy one. We got up on a ridge and soon spotted a spike feeding our way. He was soon joined by about a dozen cows Our view where they were coming from was obscured, and as they passed I commented to Brian that there had to be a good bull bringing up the rear. At this point they were only 150 yards. My anticipation was quickly cut short. The “herd bull” was a giant,........
Giant spike with browtines.
As they filtered past and out of sight I told Brian “When the devil bull 3 pt is running a harem of cows in the peak of the rut, it’s time to call it quits”. We waffled back and forth for the next hour and a half, eventually coming to the conclusion that we would be better off pulling the plug. As bad as we wanted to stay we both knew that the elk weren’t co-operating. I still had some leave accrued, and didn’t want to burn it chasing my tail. I figured if things went according to plan I would go to work for a week and then come back once things have started to heat up. I also knew it was a huge gamble in that I may not be able get approved for the time off from work. I decided it was worth the risk, and Brian still wanted to try and fill his deer tag.
We got back home, getting the truck fixed along the way, and Brian finished out his trip hunting muleys. He put in a great effort, but unfortunately couldn’t connect. I put in a call to one of my bosses who just so happens to be a bowhunter as well as a good friend. To my elation the time frame I was hoping to take off was available! I was to go back to work for a week and then have another 9 days off! My gamble seemed like it was starting to pay off.
I spent the next week re-strategizing including finding a partner to go with. Although solo is cool, this is not the kind of area that I want to go solo. I settled on a good friend who is a farmer/rancher. I figured he would be a good choice as he is young, strong, eager, and has a level of comfortableness around horses. He also has been in the backcountry before, and has dabbled in bowhunting. With everything lined up I just need to get through a week of work.
Welcome back! Great write up so far...
Time to go couldn’t arrive fast enough, and a week later found me heading back into camp with high hopes that things had finally heated up. Little did I know.......
First morning back we rode out in the the darkness with the moon shining. As we made our way along the trail my horse started acting weird and stopped for no apparent reason clearly staring at something. I soon found out why and heard hooves running on the ground. I could smell them and could make out around 30 elk running away from us at about 50 yards. We circled up to the top of the ridge and started making our way the direction they had went as daylight arrived.
We got to the area I knew they had headed, and soon busted out a small 6 pt bull that I hadn’t seen yet. He was by himself, and soon we spotted the herd about 250 yards below us. We watched them filter through the timber for about 20 minutes seeing all cows and calves with no bulls in the herd. I might have been worried except that I could hear bulls screaming throughout the valley. We could make out about 3-4 other herds in the distance with a couple of real good sounding bulls.
Man, you gotta love the breaks!!!! There seemed to be elk everywhere, and things had definitely changed in the last week.
I made a plan for that evening to head over to the area where we had seen the bulk of the elk. I jokingly said something about having a good feeling about something was going to go down that night.
Great thread Keep it coming
We took a nice long nap and finally rustled up and began our ride over.
Around 5 pm we got to the top of a ridge where I let out a few locator bugles. We quickly got an answer back. It sounded like a good bull, but also seemed far enough away that I didn’t know if it was on the neighboring private land, or if we would have the time to get over there before dark. I decided to go for it anyway. We saddled up and began our descent into the deep draw. About a 100 yds down the hill I let out another locator just to keep tabs on the bull. Immediately I got a response, only this time it was about 150 yds back up the hill to our left. I aggressively motioned to my buddy and we made for the closest trees, unsaddling and tying off.
He answered me again and I began to creep forward. He then started chuckling at me, but I knew he was hung up as he had the high ground, and he was on the edge of the timber where he could see. I decided to push into him and get him mad. I got a little too aggressive and saw him just as he turned around and bolted back up the hill and out of sight. Darn!!!!
At this point we had about an hour left of daylight. We decided to press on towards the original bull. As we continued down the hill I was questing my decision. I was really convinced this bull was either on private land or heading the other direction as his bugles sounded to get farther away each time. I figured at the least it might be good info to get a peek at the bull and maybe come up with a good plan for the morning. One of the best hunting decisions I have made.
Bare with me.......
Hoping to finish this up this coming week. Got a full work schedule for the first part of the week (Two 16 hour shifts Tues/Weds), so it may be later mid-week.
Also hoping to have the video completely finished and edited by the end of the elk story. There's more to come after this hunt is finished....
We finally got near the bottom of the draw, tied off, and began to hike up the opposite steep hill. We were side hilling up, and as we neared the top multiple bugles and cow mews chorused all over the top of the hill. I quickly realized that we had just walked into a giant herd with a lot more than one bull running the show. Things now became very serious for me and I went from casually interested to full on red alert.
As I neared the top it sounded like a freight train of elephants coming through the brush. There was a small draw in front of me, and I stopped and got ready thinking they were going to pop out at any second. Then I could hear the sound of them walking through the grass just above me at the top of the hill not more than 50 yards. I couldn’t see them because of the crest of the hill. My heart was absolutely pounding out of my chest at this point, and I had to stop and talk myself down. I knew something was going to happen, and what I did in the next minute would be a make or break situation.
I knew they were coming from the left, and as I crept to the top I heard a bugle to my right which meant a bull had already got by me. At this point I realized that if I didn’t clear the top soon, I would probably miss my chance. If I moved too quickly I would screw the whole thing up. I finally got to the top and still couldn’t see them as the top was a saddle and they were dropping into it before they got to where I was standing. Then I saw a cow standing still at 25 yards and my heart sank thinking she had seen me. I quickly realized she wasn’t looking at me and she dropped down and kept going. I breathed a sigh of relief, and decided I need to start moving to my right so in order to try and get more in line with the herd. I took about 5 steps to my right and looked up just in time to see an elk standing no more than 20 yards away staring at me move up the hill.
I actually thought it was a cow. He was standing in front of a big pine, and his antlers blended in with the tree. It was legal light, but at the tail end which made it tough to see his antlers with the shadow of the pine. For some dumb reason I lifted my binos to instead of my rangefinder. I will never forget the image burned into my mind. He had me pegged and was watching me come up the hill. To this day it amazes me he didn’t blow out of there. I really didn’t get a good look at his antlers, just enough to know it was something I wanted to shoot. He started doing the stiff legged walk away from me clearly confused, but not planning on sticking around. I think part of the reason he didn’t bolt was that this was a herd of a 100 with about 40 cows with him that I couldn’t see, but they also hadn’t seen me either. I believe the cows must have kept him calmer than normal. Plus I hadn’t made a peep coming up the hill and the wind was perfect. Right time, right place, right plan. I didn’t have time to range at this point. He was now quartering away just like the previous year’s bulls. This time I remembered and held mid body. My only trouble was both my 30 and 40 were floating on him and I didn’t pick one. I figured he was probably around 35 yds at this point, but he was actually more like 25. I cow called stopping him just before he disappeared down the hill. I let it go, not seeing my arrow, but confident I had heard it hit.
(Pic is a video still at full draw right before I shot. Buddy accidentally left the camera running and then turned off the record when he hit the button. Doughhh!)
As he ran down into the saddle and out of sight, I sprinted 20 yards up to the top of the ridge to try and get a look at where my arrow had hit him. When I got to the top I saw him stop in the middle of the saddle with his 40 cows and turn broadside to look at me now standing where he had just been. When I raised my binoculars I thought I saw the entrance wound on his shoulder. I immediately knew that from the quartering away angle that my entrance hole was way too far forward. My heart absolutely sank as I had nightmare flashbacks to last year.
At first I figured he was way too far for a follow up shot, but decided for some reason to range him anyway. The rangefinder read 86.5 yards. All the long range practice from the year was about to be put to the test. I am a firm believer that it is not unethical to take a follow up shot at an animal that has already been wounded. With that in mind, I wasted no time in knocking another arrow, drawing my bow, and settling my 80 yard pin at the top of the bull’s back. My autoautopilot took over, and with my pin right where it should be I squeezed off. A second or two after my release I heard what I was sure was another arrow impacting the bull. He visibly lurched forward and along with his cows, ran 40 yards up the far side of the saddle, stopping once more to look at me, his cows mimicking his every move. At this point I was sure I was in for a long night, and now I began to realize what I initially thought was an average bull was a truly great bull. My mind was racing and my stomach was in my throat. After staring at each other for 5-10 seconds, he took some steps to run over the hill with his cows in tow. Again, I’ll never forget this sight. He only took a step or two and caught himself. His huge rack began to bob and weave as he began to wobble back and forth. I’ve killed enough animals to know what was about to happen. His powerful legs that had no doubt helped him escape and removed him far from many a hunter began to lose control as he stumbled for a few more seconds before finally tipping over.
(Far end of pic is where he was standing at the first shot, and I was downhill. Second shot was to the right of the pic in the little valley by the closest point of trees. The bull fell where the picture was taken from)
The multitude of feelings I felt at the moment are hard to put into words….. It was insane adrenalin, pure joy and happiness, but most of all an overwhelming flood of relief that I had finally accomplished my goal, and in the process gave the monkey a giant boot in the backside. For those of you who know how tough elk can be to put down at times, and how devastating not finding one is, I’m sure you can relate. I didn’t even watch him kick out. I threw my bow down and went running back to my friend TJ. As I gave him a huge hug, that I’m pretty sure picked him off his feet, I noticed another 50 or so elk that had been cutting through saddle behind us looking very confused. They trotted into the timber as multiple bulls continued to scream trying to round up their wayward cows. I had literally sneaked in and cut the herd in half when I shot my bull. TJ, who is a beginner bow hunter, later told me he was wondering why I was acting so crazy when we still had blood trailing to do. He had stayed down the hill (thankfully) and had not realized the bull was lying dead 100 yards away
What a complete and total privilege it was to see his antlers sticking up out of the grass as we walked up to him. I began to autopsy looking for my first quartering away shot. I then discovered that what I actually thought was a hole in his shoulder after my first shot was really a scar in his fur. Only after skinning, quartering, and performing a thorough autopsy did I realize that I had actually completely missed my first shot! I had only connected on the second shot! This was verified in that there was only one arrow hole in the animal which was rib for rib perfectly broadside. That placement would have been impossible on my first shot due to him being severely quartering away. In contrast he was standing perfectly broadside for the “follow up shot”.
To this day it his hard for me to believe how it all went down with me missing a slam dunk shot and then 12 ringing him at 87 yards. When it’s meant to be it’s meant to be. Say what you will, but I certainly would have never, ever loosed my second arrow had I known my first shot missed. Either way I felt very blessed and grateful to be able to quickly put him down. The time elapsed between the killing shot and him hitting the ground was no more that 10-15 seconds.
Thankfulness hardly describes my emotions at this moment. I don't believe God is a micro manager that sends every animal to us, but I firmly believe He allows His blessings to flow on us. I am so grateful for His many blessings in my life, especially that night!
The autopsy pics - 125 gr vipertrick
545 grain arrow at 278 fps
We spent the next few hours breaking him down and hanging him in a tree planning on coming back in the morning with the panniers and packing him out. It was dark and the moon was bright. In spite of all our activity, bulls continued to scream all around us for the next hour and a half. It was a magical world. The kind of thing that you know in that moment is a rare treasure. I couldn't stop grinning as my bloody hands continued to break down the bull.
We got back in the next day and had him loaded on the horses in no time. The horse that had the incident with the hitching post, I decided to load light and only put the shoulders and neck meat on him. We loaded the hinds, back straps, and head on the other. What a great feeling as we led them out.
Things couldn’t have been going more smoothly as we ran into a Game Warden. He checked the tag, verified that everything was legit, and told us to be safe. As we walked away I thought to myself “Be safe? What’s that supposed to mean?” I was about to find out……
Great story and pics! Thanks for posting. I'll be looking forward to checking out the video and your links to the details of your other hunts.
Congratulations on a great hunt and a great season!
Awesome. Abso-frickin'-lutely awesome.
This gets better and better
Great bull! Congrats again and thanks for taking the time to post. Hope 2016 is even better
Congrats and thanks for sharing. Now I'm wondering what happens next??
I gotta make sure I drink my Ovaltine so I can find out what happens next!
What a bull! Thanks for taking the time to take us along. Good stuff for beginning of April. I leave for Colorado in less than 5 months and am counting the days.
What a great year and great adventures! Looking forward to the rest of the story!!!
The trail we needed to be on meant that we had to backtrack a quarter mile from where we were. There was a draw that separated us from the trail. It wasn’t too bad at the mouth of it, but the farther to the right you went it got a lot steeper with deadfalls throughout. I had told my friend to stay behind me with his horse. I wanted him to keep an eye on the antlers on my horse, and I also didn’t want the other horse, who was a little jumpy, to be out front. I don't know if it was due to the excitement of the moment or just the desire to get going, he didn’t stay behind me for long, and I didn’t harp on it. Word of advice, don’t ever get in too big of a hurry that you overlook important details that you know are critical. That is especially true when it involves horses. Slow and steady wins the race.
When we got to the draw I started picking my way to the left where it was less steep, and I carefully navigated the dead falls. My friend went to the right and I think he was hurrying his horse too much. I couldn’t see what happened where I was at, but I really wish I would have insisted he follow me. I was trying to be polite and to not be bossy, but I now realize that sometimes you have to call the shots especially when it’s your animals. I could hear a commotion coming from him and could see his horse had gotten away from him. I was up on the trail in no time with no trouble whatsoever.
I heard TJ yelling and the horse taking off like a saddle bronc horse thru the dead falls, up and down, complete blowup rodeo. I got up to the trail with no problem, and by then TJ had caught up to the horse at the bottom of the ravine. He tells me I need to get down there asap.
In the process of the blow up the horse had thrown the saddle panniers and meat resulting in the saddle rolling under him. That really escalated the situation, and by the time he made it to the bottom his rear right leg had been snapped in half. It made me cringe to look at it. We tried and tried to see if we could get him to the trail hoping to limp him back to camp, but it quickly became obvious that he was done. We were able to contact the warden we had just spoke to, and he made it back to us. He agreed that there was nothing that could be done, and I made the hard decision to put him down.
It was amazing to me how the death of one animal the night before could bring me such happiness, but the next animal such sadness. It was a pretty rough deal to put a gun to a horse’s head that had taken you all over the back country and pull the trigger. What had been just moments before a celebration quickly turned into a pretty depressing ordeal. Thankfully we were able to get help from some other hunters and get packed out.
Never had to shoot a horse before, and I hope like crazy I never have to again. Good horse overall too. Had quickly went from the super high of shooting my bull to a super low of shooting the horse.
As bad as it was I eventually determined not to let it completely spoil the enjoyment of my success. Tough deal, but wrecks do happen. Unfortunately it cost that horse his life, and me a bunch of money. In the end I have decided to learn from it, and not let it ruin an otherwise awesome adventure. I obviously wish things would have turned out differently, but that’s life. You know what they say about hindsight.
It’s easy at times to get bummed out when I think back on it, but from a glass half full perspective things truly could have been much worse. I could have gotten my knee snapped on the first trip when that same horse kicked me. Either me, or Brian, or TJ could have been seriously injured or worse. As bad as it is I would much rather put down a horse than one of us get badly hurt.
Not to be callous, but horses are replaceable, people are not. Not at all holding it against my buddy, but I learned a hard lesson thru it. I will forever make sure from now on that things are done my way when it comes to the horses. Period.
Not to trivialize a very serious situation, (if I don't laugh I'll cry....) but on the first trip that was the same horse that had kicked me in the leg. The next morning neither of us were feeling the love, and he started pulling some other shenanigans. At this point I was getting fed up with his antics, and told Brian (Bernie1) "I'm going to kill that stupid horse!!!" When I got out of the back country after the second trip I called Brian up, and told him "Well I told you I was going to kill that horse"... I also had a chat with the other horse and told him that he better behave, as he saw what happened to the last guy! ;)
Terribly sorry that you lost a friend....cherish the memories as they're amazing.
Holy crap .... that really sucks .... sorry for your loss.
Great attitude tho.
God must have gotten one down, way back in, and needed some assistance.
Wow...that sucks. not sure what you do for a living, but most of the people that would handle the situation like you did are cops. Kudos to you.
Talk about highs and lows on a hunt. Very sorry about your loss!!!
I appreciate it guys.
hunt'n addict, that's funny I actually am in law enforcement.... Good guess!
The horse was actually a lease animal so no sentimental attachment, but it did stink to have to put him down. Plus I got to pay out $2k per the contract for the loss of the horse. Like my wife said "I don't know whether to cry for the horse or the two-thousand dollars".....
Anyhow, don't want to dwell on the negative....
After getting back home I felt that if the season had ended right there I would have considered myself very successful. But season was far from over. I spent the rest of my time off trying to close the deal on a herd of mule deer does near my house. My wife also had a mule doe tag. Although she likes to bow hunt, the little people in our lives have made it difficult for her to get out with bow. Gun season was now upon us and I knew the muley does were going to be in trouble.
Opening morning found us stalking the herd with her carrying my AR-15. She absolutely loves that gun and is very proficient with it. When we got to the spot there were already some vehicles there. One older guy was getting out, and I recognized him from the previous year’s opener. We quickly gathered our gear and made off towards the hill. There were 3 different groups with the biggest on having about 30 deer in it. We were carefully making our way with no problems when the deer all started to spook. I couldn’t figure out why until my wife told me to look behind me and not 50 yards behind us this joker is tailing us, walking in the open like there isn’t a deer for miles. It was the old guy from the truck. He was literally just following us for no apparent reason. About 200 yards below us a group of 5 popped out. I tell my wife to get ready and she pops out her bipod. I turn around to look and here is this turd right behind us acting like he doesn’t see us! He was either blind or just plain rude. At this point I am waving my arms like a mad man trying to get his attention to stop! Finally he kneels down and I tell my wife to screw it, and take one of those does. I don't know what his plan was, shoot over our backs if he saw one??? Man, this is one of the reasons I hate gun season! She picks out the biggest one and drills her at 300 yds. The doe runs farther up the hill and I tell her to hold high and let r’ rip. She holds high, and drills the doe through the heart at 360 yds! She runs 10 yds and falls over. I wanted to turn around and let our shadow know how I felt, but decided against it. I also figured if he didn’t care about our hunt than what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. So we got up and made our way over to her doe spooking all the other deer in the process. Whatever....
Proud of my wife for her great shooting, doe down, more meat in the freezer. (Video link to the hunt)
I see right through you man! You were aching to kill that horses since he kicked you. I think you even premeditated it after your proclamation of murder on the ridge top! You just needed to add another species to your trail of death in 2014......HAHA!!!!!
Just kidding of course! Roy was a good horse although jumpy.
Awesome bull and pics, again sorry about the horse.
Dang, I didn't see that coming about the the horse. Too bad! Congrats to the wife.
My wife also had an antelope doe tag. A few days later it was Halloween and we were going over a friend’s house with the kids to hang out for the evening. This is also the same friend who owns the farm where I antelope hunt. At this point I figured the chance of finding goats would be slim to none as antelope gun season had been open for 3 weeks. I made a call to my buddy to see if he knew of any hanging around. He told me where he had seen some and soon we found them. We made a quick stalk, but yet again someone else showed up and spooked them. We weren’t sure where they went, so we hopped back in the truck. The sun was setting so my wife decided to snap some phone pics of the horizon. I was about to tell her to stop messing around and look for goats, but knew that wouldn’t go over to well. No sooner had I decided to keep my mouth shut that I see the whole group not 50 yards away off the gravel 2 track! My wife snapped this pic inadvertently as we were driving. Now I didn’t keep my mouth shut and told her to get in gear!
We drove well past them so as not to spook them, then got out and snuck into position. It worked perfectly and they walked right into our laps at around 35-40 yds. Sure wish she had her bow, but the AR made short work of one of the lead does. Another tag filled!
Now it was time to fill my cow tag. My permit was for an area very close to home. I headed out one afternoon with the horse more looking to fill my muley doe tag with my bow, but brought my gun as well. I was positive that I wasn’t going to see any elk! You know how that goes. I only had time to make it in a little ways and hunt the foothills where I was sure muleys would be my only option. I parked the horse on a fence line and made a couple unsuccessful stalks on some does. It was getting near the end of time so I began to head back to the horse. I decided to glass back the way I had come to be sure I hadn’t missed something. Imagine my surprise when I see a herd of over a dozen elk standing along the same fence line as my horse! Truly elk are where you find them.
They were about 1000 yards out, so I dropped into a draw and ran as fast as I could with my pack, gun, and bow to close the gap. I popped out near my horse and dropped everything but my rifle. I ran around the hill and eased up near where I had seen them. Sure enough there they were. It was last light now, so I figured I would risk it and began to crawl towards them in somewhat plain sight. I was gassed from my run over and didn’t want to risk a long shot. I got to about 230 yds and by now they were looking at me, but I don’t think they could quite figure out what I was. I decided I was close enough. I could see 2 lead cows, a yearling cow, a calf, and a spike. I decided we were pretty good on meat, and that I didn’t feel like breaking down a big cow by myself, so I leveled on the yearling. The grass was high, and when I put the bipod down all I could see was grass in the scope. Not wanting to take an offhand shot, I sat down, put my legs out in front of me, and place one of the bipod legs on my boot to get enough elevation to see. It was still a little shaky, but better than my other option.
The gun went off (.300 winmag) and all I saw was a flash. I had stupidly cranked the scope to 16x and couldn’t find them in the scope after the shot. I jumped up just in time to see one elk run into a draw to the right. I ran over to where they were and couldn’t find any sighn of a hit. I went and retrieved my pack, bow, and horse and came back. I spent the next hour and a half scrutinizing the area for blood, but no dice. The snow we did have had mostly melted, but on the back side of the hill the elk had been standing on it was timbered, and the snow had not yet melted. I was able to find tracks in the snow that appeared to be elk running. I had to be at work the next day for the 4 o’ clock shift, but I decided I wanted to come back before work and give it more time to look further. I made a plan to be back at first light and rode back out to the truck. As I made the hour home I waffled back and forth on whether or not I had hit her. I was really leaning towards a miss, but then I remembered I was definitely on fur when the gun went off, and the shot had surprised me, both positive things.
The next morning I drove the 60 miles back over and rode in to the scene of the crime. I wasn’t even sure where the elk had ran, but decided to follow the tracks in the snow. I figured if I did hit her, the snow would show it. There were multiple tracks, so I carefully worked each set. At this point I was really starting to thinking it was a swing and a miss. Then after about an hour of looking, and around 150 yds down the hill, I found a drop of blood! Was about the size of the tip of my finger. Now I was thinking I had only grazed her, but then I thought back to all the muscle hits I’ve seen over the years. Typically grazing wounds bleed heavily at first and then quickly peter out. Now I was thinking guts. I was able to find a couple more drops, but that was it. There was one set of tracks that turned sharply downhill and went off by themselves. I figured this was the elk I had hit and began to follow them. I took them all the way to the bottom without finding any blood. The other sets of tracks had kept side hilling when I had broke off to go down hill. This was a really steep grade, so rather than backtrack uphill I decided to circle around and pick up the other tracks farther down the draw.
I hadn’t gone more than 75 yds when I heard a magpie. I can’t tell you how good that sound is when you’re searching for an animal. I immediately assumed that there had to be a dead animal nearby. I carefully made my way towards the little scavenger bird trying to get a visual and not spook it. Not 50 yds up the hill I spotted a 2 foot circle of blood in the snow. I immediately said out loud “That’s a dead elk”. It was spotty blood, but I knew there was no way it was co-incidence that here was a section of blood and a magpie squawking nearby. I picked up the tracks now more consistent with blood. All of the sudden the tracks disappeared! It amazes me how even in the snow there can be times where you lose tracks. I made a couple circles before finding this slide mark. Not hard to figure this one out.
I looked down and 50 yards at the bottom of the hill was my cow, stone dead. She had went around 500 yds. I had hit her way back in the panch, hence the little to no blood.
The meat was still in great shape. I took my pics, and got to work deboning her.
I had found her at 9:15 and had her back to the truck deboned and packed out by 12:30! What a year, and I still had 3 tags left to fill!
Time was running out to close the deal on the muley does. The area had been heavliy pressured and they were starting to stay on private land. At his point I had harvested 4 different species of big game with my bow for the year, but decided that it was time to pull out the AR and finish the deal. I had also been wanting to take my 5 year old daughter (oldest child) hunting for something more than small game, and I figured this was the perfect opportunity. I got her up in the pre-dawn hours and headed out. Imagine my happiness when I see my good ol’ buddy from opening day getting ready to head out! Sheesh…. I wasted no time and located a group of 5 does. As wiry and energetic as my 5 yr old is, she still can’t keep up with her dad’s long strides up the mountain. I carried her when I could, and did my best to hurry her along when I couldn’t, before the does made their way out of sight.
We got to 200 yds, just in time to set up my camera, and get her ready. The does popped over the knoll in front of us, and I let the lead one have it. Man I love that AR! I decided to do the gutless method with this one and deboned her on the spot. You gotta love a 5 year olds inquisitive mind. She still talks about the heart and how she thinks it looked like a seashell. lol..... Kids are a hoot!
(Video Link of the hunt)
Now it was time to focus on my extra buck tag. I had pretty much burned through my leave time, so I was going to have to make my short time off count. I only had 3 days, work week, and then 2 days to get it done. It’s also a 4 hr drive with access to public land only. I wasn’t planning on being picky. The first day I didn’t hunt, but set a stand. That evening I went in to set a stand in another spot. I have to cross a river to get there, and when I had got across earlier I had seen a buck standing under a phone/power line 100 yds away staring at me take my waders off. It was 3 pm and broad daylight! I made a mental note and kept on my way. By the time I got done setting the stand I only had around 45 mins left before dark, so I decided to still hunt my way out. I bumped a good buck who didn’t go far. As I slowly inched forward more deer began to filter in around me. There was a power line in the distance, and at last light I watched a great buck saunter out under the power line and to scent check some does. Another mental note.
The next morning I decided to sit my first set and had this coyote come through. No free pass for him. Laced him at 35 yds. Second bow dog down for the year!
That afternoon I began to second guess my plan to sit my second stand set. With all the action I had seen near the power line I decided to do something I had never done and completely outside the box. I crossed the river, grabbed my climber and headed straight for the telephone pole I had seen the buck standing near the night before.
As I sat 20 ft up with no cover whatsoever and completely visible for 100’s of yards I was definitely questioning my sanity. My thought process though, was that I’m sure no one else was doing this, and that the deer were probably completely comfortable around this line. I also figured that as long as I sat motionless and didn’t get caught flat footed, I would be fine. Still…….. what a weird place to be sitting in a climber.
My hesitations were quickly assuaged as deer began to appear all around me, including 2 little 8 pts trying to intimidate each other and vie for a doe that had filtered in. Soon a doe and a couple fawns appeared from behind and made their way parallel to me farther down the line. A few minutes later a deer with its nose down came out heading straight towards the does. I didn’t need to see antlers to know this was a buck. Although not the big one from the night before, one look through the binos confirmed he was more than sufficient for a ride in my truck. He nosed the does, who ignored him, and I gently let out a can estrous bleat. He looked my way and started right over. The trail he was on was going to take him behind me. I had my range finder up and as he hit 30 yds I knew this buck had no clue.
I stood still until he passed behind me going behind the tree to the left in the pic below. I seized the opportunity to turn around and draw. The trail circled to my left at only 12 yards, and he was on par to walk right down it.
As I readied myself for the shot, the craziest thing took place that has ever happened to me while in the deer stand. The pole I was sitting in was cabled to a smaller support pole about 10 yards away next to the trail he was on. He stopped and started to rub the support pole at 10 yards, and I could feel the vibration of him rubbing it in my climber! So here I am at full draw with a buck rubbing at 10 yards with no shot. He did this for about a minute stopping to paw a scrape as well. I knew that if I let down I was done, so I determined to hold however long it took. My other thought was that this buck was dead and didn’t even know it yet.
Finally he had his fill and stepped out to work an overhanging branch at 12 yards. I was totally calm as I centered my pin and let it go.
I’m not sure I have ever seen a deer jump that high. He couldn’t get his front legs under him and was plowing snow as he ran down the power line. About 40 yards out he actually flipped himself over doing a somersault. Amazingly he got back on his feet, and made it around another 100 yds. I could see him through the trees as he went down. I was super stoked. I had just shot a buck at 12 yards out of a pole! First sit no less!
I say best thread of the year!
I called my buddy ROUGHCOUNTRY and elicited his help in getting the buck across the river. Thanks Mike! What an experience!
It was a sweet feeling to have walked in the previous evening, observed movement, came up with a plan, and executed it flawlessly. Having a buck vibrate my stand with by rubbing the support pole was amazing! Definitely one of my more fun and memorable deer hunts.
Killin' stuff works up a powerful hunger, so I stopped off at my buddy Matty's restaraunt "Howards" for a celebratory dinner. Had a big ol' plate of steaming ribs and sweet potato fries washed down with a vanilla shake. Great food and great way to cap off an awesome evening.
Congrats! I was chuckling while reading your telephone pole story. There's a telephone pole that my buddy keeps threatening to put a stand on where we hunt. I'm definitely going to bring your story to his attention.
As a dad, I love the pics and videos of the kids taking part. That enthusiasm is contagious.
Too bad about the horse. Glad you guys didn't get hurt. Hope your buddy who was on the horse didn't leave you with the bill.
You must be feeding the homeless with all that meat! Nice job. I sat a stand on a power pole once but the power co kept taking it down. The third time they took my stand. It was a good conversation piece when I interviewed to work for them.
A week or so later season was now almost over. I still had a doe tag for the unit that I do the majority of my deer hunting in.
I needed to pull stands anyway so I drove the 3 hours over, and went in at night to pull the stands. I checked tracks in the snow and settled on a tree at the bottom of a small hill, that I had hunted once before. From past experience I had noticed over the years that a group of does always seemed to filter through this hill mid morning. I left my stand at the base of the tree and headed out. The next morning was my last day of the year. It didn't really matter at this point what happened as the year had been an unbelievable season. Little did I know I had one grand adventure left.
I got in early, and quietly began to hang my stand in the dark. It was snowing heavily, but the snow made it bright and I could see a couple deer about 150 yds out. I finally got it hung and settled in. The deer usually come through late on this hill, so I was caught unaware when I looked up a half hour after light and saw a group of about 5 quickly making their way down, already in range. By the time I got the camera running most of them had crossed an internal fence in front of me and were already out of range. There was one slacker, and as she readied to jump the fence I stopped her at 42 yds. I let it rip, and the shot felt good. She bolted over the fence, ran out in the field, and stopped. I quickly realized my shot must not have been great as she stood there looking back. As I've said before all bets are off once they've been hit. I read Paul Schafer once said "There's nothing unethical about shooting a long shot at an animal that is already wounded". I ranged her at 60 at sent another on it's way. I connected again, but she still didn't go down. It looked like both shots were low, and after a couple minutes she slowly walked off the field.
The snow was picking up (blizzard conditions). When I got down to inspect the blood, it was starting to be quickly snowed over. I have only ever done this once, but I decided to start tracking her immediately. I knew that as long as she kept bleeding I would be able to follow her. The last time I had done this was 10 years earlier, and although it took a long time we eventually were able to push the deer hard enough to tire it, and put it down for good.
I started trailing her at around 9:30am and didn't stop until 1:30 pm. I jumped her multiple times. The blood never ran out, and I was like a mad coyote hounding her. I started to jump her more and more, and could tell she was wearing down. A few times I was 10 yards from her when she jumped, but didn't see her in time to get another shot. I was soaked from snow, but I knew at some point I was going to get a shot if I kept at it. Although the blood was small, she literally never stopped bleeding the entire time. The tenacity and stamina of a deer are truly something to behold.
Finally I jumped her again at 20 yards, but this time I saw her stumble as she tried to get up. I knew this time she was almost done. I literally charged her like a bull, and she lost her footing and went down. I quickly knocked another arrow, and finished the job. I felt like a coyote that had just ran down a deer. I later figured I had followed her a total of about 4 miles (mostly in a big loop). I certainly wasn't proud of my shooting but I was, however, proud of my determination and persistence in tracking her down for 4 hours in a snowstorm.
As I carefully drove home in the storm, I couldn't help but smile at yet another incredible adventure and an awesome season.
(Video link to the hunt)
I ended the year with a little waterfowl hunting. Nothing like sitting in a duck blind watching the river come alive in the morning.....
As I look back over 2014 I realize how blessed I am, and not only because I was able to kill some animals, but because God has blessed me in a multitude of other and more important ways. I have a wonderful family, a good job, great friends, and most importantly a relationship with Him. When I get to the end of my days my trophies won't hold much value, but I am thankful that in the meantime God has allowed me to be blessed in even the small things like hunting.
I'm happy I was able to share it with you guys and hope you all enjoyed it!
(Stay tuned..... The elk hunt video footage should be posted today!!!!)
Well said Justin, God has truly has blessed you. Like I said before the hunting success is icing on the cake.
Once again great thread, for those of you that haven't met Justin, he's a big guy and it was pretty exciting pulling the whitetail buck across the river at night.....The water was just a few inches from being able to sweep us off our feet with hydraulic pressure out in the main channel......can you say hypothermia:)
LOL.... That definitely had the ol' cheeks clenched! The day before I bobbed for a second while crossing the river! Don't know if it was water in my waders or something else! hahaha....
Congrats and job well done!
Here's the video footage.... Hope you enjoy the finished project!!!!
Gave me the chills!!
Especially those screaming bulls!!
I don't know what your son had grabbed, or what he was holding, but he looks guilty.
Grats on a great season :)
What a dandy thread.
Thanks for sharing
Dang horse anyways---
Good luck, Robb
Justin, Thanks for sharing your story of your 2014 season, and for reminding us all of how blessed we truly are to be able to hunt and enjoy the creation God has blessed us with.
Fantastic thread, Justin! Thanks for sharing. You captured it all. The highs, lows, family, all the emotions....very well done
I'm curious, are there any huntable animals left in Montana?:) Great thread!!!!!
Thanks guys it was an awesome adventure, start to finish!
Way to go Justin. Dream season for ya. You have come a long way from the first time we hunted together. Proud of you and glad you decided to stay in Montana. Great video. Hope it doesnt bite you in the ass this year. Good luck. P.S time to start rounding up grease and doughnuts. Snow is gone. HUNT
Great season for sure, the ups and downs were epic. Congrats!
Justin has always been a killing machine. Some times in life one can go through periods of drought and hunting is no exception. 2014 was a continued big upswing....a banner year for sure!
Deerslayer, congrats on an awesome season. Blessed is right!
You are blessed to have a job that allows that much freedom to hunt and fish! Good for you! C
I have around 4 weeks off a year (accrued) which certainly helps, but the most important aspect is that I live in a place that affords me tremendous opportunities. I also am very careful from January to September to not use much leave and build it up for the fall.
I watched that video again, those bugles give me the chills! Can’t wait for this year!!!
Awesome video! I'm counting down the days til September!!
You're living the dream Justin! What a season!
Enjoy your father's day.