After getting 10 days of junk loaded up in the old truck, we were off...
The 10 hour drive and a few pit stops put us on the mountain around 4:30 and in the middle of this stuff... Yes, that's rain/hail mix. Apparently there's quite a bit this time of year.
Meanwhile... We had to set camp up on the evening of the 24th, in the rain/sleet. It sucked.
So... Here's one I forgot, the beautiful panhandle of Oklahoma. Soak that in for a bit.
This is what we woke up to Thursday morning...
The game plan on Saturday was to slip into a couple different areas not too far from camp and intercept a deer. Having hunted this area for elk in 2011, I had knowledge of their tendencies. Later it would come to find out, I wasn't far off.
Keep it coming Rick! I don't fly into the bush till Sunday, possibly Monday. Looking forward to your hunt!
Friday morning... Wake up and it's raining. We sleep in a while. I step out of the tent and not 10 yards from the door, I see the ass of mule deer! I crane my head around the tree and lo and behold it's a perfect 4x4 standing there, just 10 yards from our damn tent! Probably in the high 140s and BIG body. I think I raved about that deer the rest of the day. Crazy.
I'll just speak of those handful of encounters, fill in with some pics and then I'll tell you about "Jack" and "Wagon". J&W were the local resident hunters that burnt up the country side with elk and mule deer tags in their pocket. They were quite the pair!
Now... This is where I started on opening day. Awesome bedding spot. Just 3/8 of a mile from camp and a 300 foot climb.
After an unsuccessful morning of the opener. I decided to go visit my "bowl" bedding area. I slipped in on the down wind side and peaked up the hill at the layout. Immediately I spotted a buck bedded just 75 yards away and unaware of my presence. After surveying the layout and belling crawling a bit closer, I noticed even more deer bedded. 5 bucks total, from 50-100 yards. All with their backs to the wind and facing downhill. There were two bucks that were easily in the 150's and maybe even 160. Then there was a 3x3 with a real wide spread <(remember this buck) and a 140s 5x4 with a 5-6" drop tine on his left main beam. I watched them for over an hour while every part of my body fell asleep. It was hard to move with all of the eyeballs!
The deer eventually got on their feet and went over the hill and disappeared. If I'd I would've known the land a little better, I probably could've did a big circle to cut them off. I was simply glad to have the close encounter and to not spook them out of the basin. Maybe I'll get another chance, I thought.
I told her to make sure she had her bow close by in camp too. You just never know.
My plan was to grab Lana and be in that small strip of timber in the AM.
Getting there around daylight on Tuesday morning, we both took up positions to make it advantageous for each of us. After not seeing anything for the first hour and a half, we decided to move up the ridge just a bit. Just as we stepped out from the tree line, there he was! The 4x4 and a forkie, with the forkie staring us down. The 4x just started trotting up the hill. I knocked an arrow and went to stalking him, using the trees to block my movements.
I had covered around 100 yards and could monitor his movements with glimpses of antler and his coat. I finally saw my open and knew it was going to happen fast. With my range finder in my pack, I quickly guessed a distance to the gap he was about to cross. 40 yards, I figured. I drew back and he started moving faster... I whistled at him and he stopped. Third pin, everything was happening fast... Settled mid body.... Release.
Here's a random tree growing in a rock for no reason....
I first heard of j&w on Friday before the opener as they had ridden their 4 wheelers up and down the road several times. One evening they ran into a hiker that I got to speak with, and he informed me that not only did j&w have elk tags they also had resident deer tags. Okay, no big deal. I thought!
When you hunt most animals, you would think less pressure and being secretive, crafty, not alerting the damn deer every step you take, would be better for your success, right? That's what I thought anyhow.
Wednesday afternoon I'm up in the area of the 4x trying I intercept him one more time, when I see, "Jack", dancing across the fields. Seriously, he was walking with an arrow nocked, across a small opening. He walked within 60 yards and pushed off to the North. No big deal, right? Well... 45 minutes later, here he comes from the North (arrow still loaded), and proceeds to walk by at 30 yards or so. I whistle at him so he won't go back south and ruin Lana's hunt.
We shake hands, exchange "how's it goings?" Then he opens his mouth... "Dude... I just f'n shot at these 5 bucks I just jumped down in the next drainage." (My blood pressure is rising). He continues... "Yea, they were like 70 yards or so. Guess you could call it a Hail Mary? I figured I'd hit one or I'd miss." I could not believe what he was saying and quite frankly, I just wanted him to leave! After listening to him f-bomb and mf-bomb for 10 minutes, I just wanted to go back to camp and self medicate. I couldn't believe it.
Then, before he leaves he says... "My buddy should be coming up soon." Oh great, can't wait to meet "Wagon".
Wagon, he came out of the same area that Jack came from. He sauntered across the small opening only to end up 10 yards in front of me. Wagon was locked and loaded as well. As he walks into the timber, I'm standing in front of a couple large evergreens just 5 yards away. He stops, and looks around, facing away from me. He then bends at the waist just slightly and let's out the most disgusting fart. At that point, I was glad the wind was NOT moving directly in my face.
It was very awkward at that point. I waited a few more seconds and said in a half voice, "what's up man?" He just about knocked the arrow off of his bow at that point, from jumping. He turned and said... "GD you scared the sh-- out of me. Your camo works good too." Lol (I wanted so bad to say, it smells like it.)
We talked briefly and I learned he was from Colorado Springs and his buddy was from Pueblo. They were in and out of every basin for all of the days we were there. Relentless would be an understatement. No discretion or being stealthy, just lumbering up and down each ridge or basin. It was quite deflating. But... I know it's public land. ;)
Wednesday found us back in the "bowl" to try and intercept a buck coming to it from bedding. Lana tagged along this time...
Three bucks come off of the opposing hillside and make their way down to us. They peeled off at the last second and walked into the timber and disappeared. Hmmm?
I gave it 30 minutes or so and finally caught a glimpse of the wide 3x3 sneaking out in front of us. He was 30 yds and closing! When he got to about 25 yards I figured this would be a great chance for Lana. I looked back at her and said, get ready! As the buck was behind some smaller evergreens and about to come out, she shifted her weight just a bit. The deer heard the noise and stopped in his tracks. Seconds... Minutes... Then he finally bounced off. So close!
I'm the bald one...
Hopefully We can do it again in a few years. Sorry the story didn't have a bloody ending. We both would've liked that. It wasn't in the cards this year.
More pics of random stuff to come...
Thanks for looking/reading and hopefully I didn't alienate too many folks. Good luck to all this fall! You are all my brothers and sisters.
Yes, she insisted... and those are my toes. :)
Happy it all went safe and sound and enjoyable.
Thanks for sharing
Good luck, Robb
Roy... Elevation was around 11,500 - 12k
Rick, maybe one of these times I'll cook for you guys and you'll think differently about camp food. I'm a better cook than hunter.
Super happy for you two. I'm doing the same hunts but only wish I was doing it like you.
You and your lady getting it done together. Fantastic
Think I've met your friends "Jack" and "Wagon" on some Kansas deer hunts,...and duck hunts...and some turkey hunts in the Ozarks...and an elk hunt in New Mexico....
They fly-fish, too, in case you're wondering. :-)
I think Jack and Wagon get around a lot or were cloned at birth because I've met them here in Colorado and out in Oregon. Sounds like a great time at any rate Rick.
I would have spit tea all over my keyboard when I read that! Sounds like a great adventure, except for the sick part. Congrats on a successful hunt! And some cute toenails! Hahahaha, Mike
Glad that you enjoyed some beautiful high country. Next time!
(Also, don't let Lana read that the highlight of the trip was a visit from a Navy buddy. You can think it, but never write it down...)
Amoebus... Good point on the highlight, I probably should've said... "One of the highlights". :)
I got to thinking and I left out a story that occurred on Thursday September 1st... It was the day I met the angriest man in Colorado. He showed up on the mountain driving a Toyota Highlander. It might have had 5" of clearance. We were sitting in our truck waiting out the mid day showers (go figure). He pulls up and we were both floored to see that vehicle that far up the mountain. Let's just say that road will make stuff fall off of your vehicle, it's that rough.
So, angry Colorado guy gets out and changes his shoes, puts on some pants and then goes to the back and pulls out his vehicle manual. He thumbs through it for about 15 minutes. Every chance he gets, he's staring over at us. Few minutes go by and finally I walk over to say hello and see if he needs help. I said... "Hey, how's it going?" He replies in a very gruff tone... "Good!" I ask him if he needs any help... "Nope!" I figure my service or friendship is no longer needed and turn around immediately to walk back to my truck (I just about gave him the finger).
I guess he noticed I was pissed and comes over to "talk". He tells me he's got a muzzleloader cow tag and is going scouting. Sigh. So angry guy talks himself up left and right, "ive packed two elk out over 4 miles"... Blah blah blah. Conversation had idled down to nothing, because I had ZERO to say to a person that trumps everything you say with an extravagant story. I'll be honest.. There was a point when he was blabbing, that I just wanted to punch him square in the nose. :)
He was probably mad that all of his service lights came on from driving that damn small suv up the mountain. Still had paper tag on it too. His name was Bob... Spelled backwards, it's still Bob.