Thanks to everyone who helped me out on this hunt and those of you who lent me tremendous moral support while I was in the field.
What the heck is that? Could it be???? ...at 16 yards?
Garfield came in silent and I was taken by surprise when I turned my head to the left to meet the eyes of the big cat at 22 yards. I was definitely busted and Garfield decided that I should be on the evening's dinner menu and pinned her ears and came for me in a rapid low sneak.
To say, "I drew as fast as I could" doesn't accurately desscribe the speed with which I hit my anchorpoint and acquired the cat in the peep. As soon as my 20 yard pin was on hair, I cut the arrow loose and stopped the oncoming feline at 12 yards as the arrow struck the cat directly in the right eye.
Then there followed a great fury of sound and action as the cat tore up the mountain side like Warner Brothers' Tasmanian Devil.
Any critter that can take a broadhead to the skull at 12 yards from a 68 lb Mathews Legacy and run away strong can certainly lay overnight. I had read Capstick's "Death in the Long Grass" way too many times to go charging after a wounded lion in the brush in the impending darkness.
It was a long night, as I lay awake in my bag awaiting a one-eyed ball of fur to tear me into a thousand pieces. A vivid imagination is not always a benefit.
4:45 am I was up and making a cup of coffee with my jetboil and was back in the blind 20 minutes before shooting time. About 5:45 a 5 pt bull elk was making its way to the waterhole and came to screeching halt as it got downwind of the brushpile my cat had disappeared into. The bull tested the air a few times, let out an alarm bark and went stampeding up the ridge, barking all the way.
Alive or dead, my cat was in that brushpile. I couldn't delay any longer and although I tried to procrastinate and went at great lengths to make a total idiot of myself, I recovered the cat, dead as can be, a bloody mess, and with only 4 inches of arrow shaft left protruding from it's skull.
I cleaned it up for a few pics and snapped a few shots as the sun was just starting to break over the ridge. I had the cat skinned and was off the Mtn by noon and headed into town to have the cat sealed at the NDOW office.
A friend I relayed this story to suggested I should change my handle to "Meow Mix".
Isn't there one mule deer buck in this whole freakin' unit?
Ahhhhh! So there are mule deer in NV.
During the mid-day heat, while all the deer were bedded, I popped up my portable blind and brushed in my new home hoping that I would have a chance to take a buck that evening or in the days to come. I fell back over a saddle and set up a primitive camp about a mile and a half from the water.
Awesome hunt so far!
The new area was much improved for mule deer activity as I saw deer every time I sat the blind and saw bucks about half the time, mostly small 3 pts, 4x3's, or big forkies. I had one chance at a nice 4 pt on day 13, but a doe spotted me in the blind drawing my bow and blew and deer ran everywhere.
My morning was a routine, so I was going through the motions, but my confidence was increasing daily. The full moon had come to pass and it would start getting smaller soon, not to mention moon rise was later every day and although the morning hunts had been slower, evenings were usually action packed with deer activity and a handful of elk coming to water.
Every one has a gift, and in some cases, gifts. One of mine is making routine things difficult. As the shooting time came and passed, a group of 10 deer made a sudden appearance en masse at the waterhole shortly after 6 am.
4 bucks came in single file from my left and a dandy 4 pt hung up just at the edge of my shooting window at about 30 yards. After botching the draw on a buck 4 days ago, I had devised a new method for drawing my bow in the blind without drawing attention and it worked brilliantly as I hit my anchor point with little attention from the herd of deer all within easy bow-range.
Seated in a very expensive folding chair from Wal-mart, I had to twist at the torso as far as I could back to my left to get a good sight picture on the buck. I craned around and buried my 30 yard pin right behind the bucks shoulder and touched off the arrow. To my horror, the arrow was not only less than perfect, it was just plain bad. The arrow center punched the deer in the gut and angling forward exited about the 2nd rib from the back on the opposite side.
The buck trotted about 40 yards and stopped and hung his head for nearly a half hour before wandering up the hillside to bed down in an isolated patch of timber.
I snuck out of the blind about 8 am and left the deer for about 6 hours in the hopes that I had caught liver. But that was not the case.
Picking up the blood trail about 2:30 pm, I tracked the wounded buck at a snail's pace and eventually kicked the buck out of his bed at about 4:08 pm. A couple wayward arrows failed to find their mark, but given a fairly unique set of circumstances that I'll save for a far more self-deprecating magazine article, I was able to arrow the buck in the heart and finally breathe a sigh of relief and give a simple prayer of thanks at about 4:10 pm.
I spent at least 5 minutes apologizing to that buck for what should have been a simple shot that would have ended my hunt at 6:11 am. I spoke mostly out of sheer guilt and partly because I'd been 23 days by myself in the bush and was at a point where I was telling myself jokes I hadn't heard before. After a long one-sided conversation with my buck, I got to work butchering and bagging and I had him packed off of the Mtn well before dark.
Bx3, to tell you the truth the cat incident was so fast, I really didn't get too shook up in the moment and was actually spooked more later that night when I had time to really think about how close she got and she was one good bound away from being in my lap. She never flinched, her ears never came forward and I'll forever remember how excited she was as the tip of her tail twitched back and forth with nervous energy.
Given the benign nature of our first encounter, and her daily vocalizations, I was entirely lured into a false sense of confidence about my close proximity to the daily travels of this cat.
As far as sticking it out is concerned, I didn't really give myself a choice. It took 5 years to pull the tag, so I wanted to give it the effort worth "5 years of waiting". I didn't want to settle for anything short of a P&Y qualifier.
When does the elk hunt launch?
I only bumped into 4 guys and 1 gal in 23 days. The first guy I met was a guy from So-Cal I met through the BOWSITE, bowhunter43, go figure!!!! Us California boys were the only ones dumb enough to pack into the wilderness. Used to CA, we were desperate to get away from other people and halfway into opening day we both realized, "there are no other people!"
3 of the other guys were scouting for bull elk, a hunter from WA, a local guide, and a well-published big game hunter that I recognized from his many articles. They were very cool and respected my space, backing out as soon as they realized I had a blind on the waterhole in the next canyon over. In return I spilled my guts on all the big elk I had seen including a couple of whopper 360+ class bulls I had glassed in the area.
The gal was a BLM employee and was just plain rude, as she nearly ran over my toes with her quadrunner and didn't even have the common decency to stop to chat. And me, wasting my tea and crumpets with no one to entertain. I suppose I was a bit intimidating in my dust-clad camos and she may have been a granola-cruncher at heart.
I think when I turned my head, she thought the bill of my cap was the snout of a bedded deer. That's as best as I can figure. But like I said, I don't know why she was even hungry her belly was distended with calf elk parts, bones and all. I've cut up a fair # of big predators, mostly brown bears, but I've never seen that much bone in a critters stomach before.
Now that is funny!
No Joe, I saw your antelope. You're the man!
...I'm just stubborn. And the spot/stalks were not really working out. I had never seen mulies so high strung, it was like trying to sneak on Coues deer. Wind was always boiling down in these holes where the bucks were bedding or they'd bed in mahogany thickets or P-J that were just ridiculous and you'd end up just kicking 'em out the other side. You'd never see 'em, you'd just hear 'em spooking out, so sitting the blind was way more productive for me for producing close encounters even though it was the more passive approach.
On some of the pics, the scouting pic of the buck was taken through my fujinon 20-60x105 spotting scope at about 400 yards. The first elk pic was through my zeiss 10x binos at about 140 yards.
I guess we all know where you'll be applying for elk now, huh?
Now that's funny.
Good luck, Robb
What a way to take a lion. I have nothing against anyone who shoots a lion with dogs, but I personally have no interest in that, but I would love to accomplish what you did. That is just outstanding and very rare! The few times I’ve had chances to shoot cats (and they have been few and far between, spread over many years) of course I did not have a tag. I long just for the time now when I can shoot some photos under those same conditions.
And then to think you not only took a cat, but turned around and took that great buck. What a hunt and what an accomplishment. You are the Man!
This has been the best thread I've seen here in a long time, and to think I missed it on the first go round. Thanks to whoever brought it back up to the top..
Congratulations on a great and outstanding bowhunt.
May you have many more great bowhunts. BB
BB, a huge thanks for your generous praise.
SM, I'm thinking of having it full-body mounted, but I can't keep it here in CA as Mtn Lion maintains "Special protected status". So right now, I'm shipping it to WA, where I have a buddy who has half a dozen of my mounts hanging in his home.
I saw the cape and the European Mount of the skull. They look great, though the cat misses P&Y by over an inch. No matter to me. She looked like a freight-train when she was fixing to jump in my lap.
Chicken! Someone needs to set case law....LoL!
This is AWESOME!
Stories like this is why I return to this sight!
Hollywood...You drank any Don Julio lately ?????;)
I, every hunter, and every deer and elk thank you for eliminating that cat. One of these days somebody is going to get a good video of a cat hoping you're dinner and finding out otherwise. Of course, you have one in your mind's eye and a trophy (somewhere) - congrats!
Great hunt, great experience!
Williamtell, I've never had a problem sitting a blind or treestand. I just came off of 15 straight days in Kansas with no success. I just sort of "Zen out" and really focus on being in the moment and thankful that I'm not under the pressure of "producing". I'm at a different stage in my life as far as my hunting goes and I just don't have to kill a critter every time out. As a guide/outfitter you've only got 7-10 days to get the job done and the clock is ticking as soon as the client steps off the plane, so it's nice to detox from that whole aspect of my life and just "chill" and watch the animals. If big-daddy steps out, lucky for me! If not, it's not the end of the world.
Couple of things in the spirit of full disclosure, I previously failed to mention about this hunt, and since the article never got picked up. When I was tracking the wounded deer and kicked him out of his bed, I actually prematurely touched off my release while trying to quick-draw on him. That was the first errant arrow, I mentioned. The second miss, I clipped a tree limb which deflected the arrow and ended up drilling a tree directly behind the buck. The sound of the arrow striking that tree actually spooked the deer back to me and gave me a slam dunk 35 yard shot to finish the deer. So you never can tell what unusual chain of events will lead to success.
Another point I feel is important to make is that extended back-country hunts are a lot easier to pull off if you pace yourself 5-7 days at a time. Go hard for a week and then fall back to town, do laundry, catch a shower, eat a cheeseburger and have a few beers, sleep in a real bed. Call your wife and your hunting buddy, get the "Rah-Rah Speech" and then get back after it. Not an option always in places like Alaska where I've done months at a time in the bush, but certainly an option in Western States where you're almost always an hour's drive away from civilization.
I'm glad people are still enjoying this thread.
Have a very Merry Christmas!!!