My 2017 season
General Topic
Contributors to this thread:
IdyllwildArcher 18-Mar-18
IdyllwildArcher 18-Mar-18
IdyllwildArcher 18-Mar-18
IdyllwildArcher 18-Mar-18
IdyllwildArcher 18-Mar-18
IdyllwildArcher 18-Mar-18
IdyllwildArcher 18-Mar-18
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Fuzz 19-Mar-18
otcWill 19-Mar-18
njbuck 19-Mar-18
HUNT MAN 19-Mar-18
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Brotsky 19-Mar-18
LUNG$HOT 19-Mar-18
Michael 19-Mar-18
Charlie Rehor 19-Mar-18
uteangler 19-Mar-18
t-roy 19-Mar-18
APauls 19-Mar-18
Medicinemann 19-Mar-18
BOWNBIRDHNTR 19-Mar-18
Ron Niziolek 19-Mar-18
Beav 19-Mar-18
Scar Finga 19-Mar-18
elkstabber 19-Mar-18
IdyllwildArcher 19-Mar-18
deerslayer 19-Mar-18
Inshart 19-Mar-18
JSW 19-Mar-18
orionsbrother 19-Mar-18
WV Mountaineer 19-Mar-18
JTreeman 19-Mar-18
Mulehorn 19-Mar-18
IdyllwildArcher 19-Mar-18
orionsbrother 19-Mar-18
Quinn @work 19-Mar-18
PoudreCanyon 19-Mar-18
kota-man 19-Mar-18
Jaquomo 19-Mar-18
midwest 20-Mar-18
BULELK1 20-Mar-18
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SBH 20-Mar-18
Treeline 20-Mar-18
grubby 20-Mar-18
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Scoot 20-Mar-18
grossklw 20-Mar-18
Nesser 20-Mar-18
IdyllwildArcher 20-Mar-18
buzz mc 20-Mar-18
JTreeman 20-Mar-18
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Mark Watkins 20-Mar-18
TD 21-Mar-18
midwest 21-Mar-18
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BigOk 21-Mar-18
Julius Koenig 21-Mar-18
Outdoordan 22-Mar-18
Michael 22-Mar-18
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LUNG$HOT 04-Apr-18
Zackman 04-Apr-18
Marty 04-Apr-18
bowhunter24 09-Apr-18
turkey talker 11-Apr-18
18-Mar-18
The usual preface to my hunt stories – I’m no photographer. When I’m hunting, the last thing I’m thinking about is photography, especially when there’s animals around. I usually don’t even take a camera besides my phone and I don’t take a lot of pictures of animals, so the story will, as usual, be a lot of text and not a lot of quality pictures. You can expect the first hunt on Kodiak to take nearly an hour to read and the entire season nearly two hours, just so you know; it's a really long read.

18-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

18-Mar-18
This is the story of my 2017 hunting season. I’m going to start back in April of 2015 at the P&Y conference in Phoenix. I was on the bus to the Hunter Education class from the conference that was set up so that we could take advantage of our trip to AZ in order to get the bonus point that comes with doing AZ’s course. I happened to sit next to a guy named Ron and we got right to talking about hunting. I’d moved to Alaska the year prior and we got to talking about hunts we both wanted to do. He’d hunted Afognak for deer in the past, but hadn’t connected on a buck and wanted to go back to hunt Sitka Blacktail. I’d wanted to go to Kodiak as well since I could now hunt the south island OTC for mountain goat. We had plans for the next couple seasons and with Kodiak just starting a short series of mild winters preceded by a pretty bad one, we planned on a 2016 August mule deer hunt in Northern CA and a 2017 South Island Kodiak hunt for 2017.

18-Mar-18
The 2016 LE California deer hunt went well – my dad shot his first buck and Ron killed a high 140s net buck with some split tines. I ate tag soup. But we also learned that we get along good, which is important when you’re couped up in a tent with a guy for 2 weeks in the rain. I have the P&Y Club to thank for bringing us together – otherwise, we’d never have met. Certain folks like to bash the Club for this reason or that, but for me, it’s been nothing but a positive thing in my life – for whatever that’s worth.

18-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
So August 2017 finally arrived. We were scheduled to fly out of Kodiak on August 13th and get picked up on the 23rd. We were pretty worried because the weather had been horrible with low visibility and lots of rain. The days leading up to our fly date all the planes had been grounded. We ended up getting out, but were delayed till the end of the day due to other people wanting to get out before the next set of storms. Sitting by a float plane waiting to go out on your hunt is a pretty tense time.

18-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
The fly in was gorgeous. They call Kodiak “The Emerald Isle,” as it is so green during the year. Most pictures I’d seen of Kodiak were during the November rut and the ground is mostly brown. The scenes were spectacular.

18-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

18-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

18-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
There’d been nice weather all day, but due to getting bumped, we got dropped right as the storm hit. It started pouring right before we landed on the lake and we had the dubious privilege of setting up our brand new Cabela’s 8 man guide tent for the first time… in the pouring rain. It took us about an hour just to find a flat spot that didn’t have an inch of water in it, but finally got set up. All our stuff was drenched, but we were pretty dry in our brand new rain gear. We went to bed and it poured rain all night.

18-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
The alarm went off the next day bright and early, but it was pouring. We elected to wait it out and make breakfast. The rain finally quit about 11 AM. This was the first time I’d tried these OvaEasy freeze-dried eggs – they’ did not disappoint and I’d recommend them for any hunt where weight is an issue.

18-Mar-18
We got the bear fence up around the tent (didn’t bother doing that in the rain) and headed out. Goat season opened Aug 20, so the first week was devoted to Sitka Blacktails. The lake we landed on was a pretty popular place to hunt out of, but there’s only so many places on Kodiak that you can hunt deer and goats from the same spot. Thus, there were no animals close to where we landed. We walked ¾ mile from camp and then forked – Ron to the left and I went right, as we approached high ground. I immediately bumped a doe and fawn down the drainage that went downhill to my right. I sat down and glassed the mountain side in front of me that ascended 1500 feet. I only saw one deer, a 1.5 year old fork. I had 3 tags and he was legal so I went after him.

19-Mar-18
He went into a patch of alder and I wasn’t sure if he could see through it to me, so I had to back out, go far to my right for fear of messing up Ron, drop down into the drainage, then climb the mountain and then come back over to get on top of him. I marked my landmarks and set off. It took me about an hour or so to get up there. I got right above the alders and couldn’t see him. I had the wind, so I decided to just sit down and wait him out. Two hours went by and I still hadn’t seen him and the wind was starting to change, so I had to back out and head towards Ron and come in from the side. As I got in below him, I looked to my right, downhill, and he was right there, 80 yards away, looking right at me. I’d been sitting on the wrong alder patch the whole time. I won’t take that long of a shot, so I tried to pretend that I didn’t see him and backed out, then sneaked up to where he was bedded, but he’d taken off.

The rest of the good country in that area was where Ron potentially was and I didn’t want to mess him up, so I went back towards camp and went the opposite way we’d come. I got to another high point and set up the spotter to glass the next mountain with country that was between 1-3 miles away. I found two bucks after about 20 minutes. One appeared to be a 2 year old fork and the other a 3 year old 3x3 with eyegaurds. They were out on a finger ridge that had cliffs on all sides except from uphill behind them. I decided to go after them. They were about 2 miles away beyond a large creek. I crossed the creek and went up the drainage to the right of them. I got above them and glassed back – they were at about 500 yards at that point and they were bedded. The problem was that there were two cliffs with a creek that emptied into the creek that I’d crossed between myself and the deer. I followed the creek uphill. Over a mile later, it was still impassable and as I crested a rise, I could see that at least another mile uphill was still impassable. It was late in the afternoon at this point and I knew I wouldn’t get around it and back down to the bucks, kill one, butcher it, and get back till well after dark, so I backed out.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
On the way out, I came across a lot of these. The locals call them Salmon berries, but up on the north slope, we refer to Salmon berries (Akpiks in the Inuit language) as a different berry. I thought these were called Moon berries, but the locals said otherwise. Either way, they were absolutely delicious. And they were big, so that you could stop at a bush and quickly have several hand fulls of them. There were also very large blue berries on the cliff edge. I grazed my way back down to the creek.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

19-Mar-18
I got back to camp around 7:30 PM, still plenty light (it got dark around 10:30PM when we arrived) and Ron was already in camp. He had a long look on his face and explained that he’d spotted two bucks, a forky and a nicer buck about 45 degrees to his left once he’d gained the high point where I spotted my first buck. They were about another ½ mile away. He’d gotten on to them and shot the bigger one in it’s bed, but the arrow was low and hit the buck in the hind leg where it went under its belly while bedded and pretty much took the lower leg off just below the joint. He tried to get after the buck to get a follow up shot, but the buck was still able to move pretty good and went into some alders. He decided to back out and hope that he’d taken out an artery large enough for the buck to bleed out.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
Where I’d glassed my first buck from.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
Looking back towards camp from where I glassed buck #1. Mountains in the distance where I glassed buck #2

19-Mar-18
The next day, we got up early and both headed over to look for the buck. He’d bedded about 1.25 miles as the crow flies from camp. It took a while to get up there, as crossing that creek with the alders and cliffs was pretty rough. We got up to where he’d shot the buck and we could not find any blood nor the arrow. I headed up hill along the cliff and Ron went downhill in the direction the buck had gone. I circled around and found his arrow on the way back, buried in the muskeg up to the fletching. When I came over the rise about an hour after I’d left Ron, he was waving and fist pumping.

Turns out, he’d followed the buck’s old path and spotted him bedded in the alders with just a small patch of neck visible. He’d threaded an arrow in there with a perfect shot and pretty much took out the entire neck from the spine forward just under the jaw, leaving just a thread of hide connected, taking out both jugulars and carotid arteries (he uses one of those big-bladed mechanicals, something we give each other crap about back and forth).

The buck crashed downhill through the alders, but didn’t go too far. By this time, it was late morning. Ron didn’t want photos in the alders and convinced me to help him drag this buck uphill for photos. We dropped our packs and bows. I had to take off my release and all outer clothes as we were literally laying on Cliffside and pushing the buck a few inches at a time. We finally got him back up, took pictures, and broke him down.

Right then, I realized that my release, which I’d taken off while we were dragging, was no longer in my pocket. It’d come out on the slope while we were dragging. The alders were beyond thick and where there were none, the grass and flowers were 18 inches thick. I followed the trail but couldn’t find it. I was devastated. I didn’t have a backup and I shoot my 32 inch ATA bow horribly with fingers. Ron let me wallow in my misery for several minutes before saying, “well, it’s a good thing one of us thought ahead and brought a backup…” I was so relieved. But I decided to walk the path one more time and finally found it. I put it in my pack and we set to work with pictures and deboning the buck.

By the time we finished breaking down the deer, it was around 1:30. I figured that we were already this far and that if we packed the meat out now, that our day would pretty much be over, so I decided to go up the mountain and leave Ron with the meat and pick up ½ of it and hike back together and he’d just hang out.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
Since it was a straight up climb for over 1000 feet and it was a sunny day and hot, I decided not to take my pack with my spotting scope and supplies. I climbed to the top which turned into about a mile long plateau. There were no deer on the plateau. I spotted a buck through my binoculars on the next mountain over, about 1.5 miles away. The mountain to my left had 5 deer on it, all does and fawns. I dropped to the left so he couldn’t see my approach and circumnavigated the entire mountain. The buck was bedded on the next mountain just below a knife ridge. There was one unmistakable rock sticking up just below where he was, so I had a target to walk to.

As I approached the rock, I belly crawled up and over and he was still bedded right there facing away from me. I ranged him at 45 yards. I took an arrow out of my quiver and put it on the rest. I went to attach my release to the string… and it wasn’t on my wrist. I immediately realized that I’d put it in my pack while breaking down Ron’s buck and I hadn’t brought my pack. I couldn’t believe how stupid I was. This was a nice buck – 3x3 with eyegards, mature deer. There was no way I could take a 45 yard shot with fingers – my group is about 3 feet at that distance without my release. I decided to back out and leave this buck and try him another day.

I got back to Ron late afternoon and told him the story. There was a comment about all my good decision making that day and then we packed up the meat and headed back to camp.

19-Mar-18
My plan for meat preservation is worth discussing because it worked. Meat was placed in two contractor bags, emptied of air, then folded down and then up to make a sort of toilet plumbing stop to keep rain water from getting in. This was zip-tied in place. The meat was then put in the lake, completely submerged, and rocks piled on top of it to keep it steady. The top of the bag was zip tied to a PFD to keep it from submerging. We did this for all our meat and that buck was perfectly good after 6 days when we finally got a meat haul. I don’t know the temperature of the water, but it was cold. We put the bulk of the meat in a sealed bag and kept some out in the creek for daily consumption so that we didn’t have to keep opening it.

Another side note, we ate deer every night even though we had some good food. Sitka blacktail fried in butter and EVOO with Stubs meat rub is absolutely amazing. I thought the Coues deer I’d shot the previous January was the best deer I’d ever had, but the blacktail was even better. I think it’s by far better than mule deer and Midwestern white tail, even a young one that’s been eating corn.

19-Mar-18
The next day (day 3) we started to have some rain on the forecast. It was like 50% chance in the afternoon, so I didn’t want to go far. Ron stayed in camp to flesh out his hide as he was doing a shoulder mount. I headed back up the mountain to try and find the no-release buck. I saw one doe on the mountain to my left, but never saw him. I glassed for a few hours, but then the clouds and rain came in. I went back to camp and the 2nd half of day 3 it poured.

19-Mar-18
It also poured all day on day 4 and we never left the tent.

19-Mar-18
Day 5 I wanted to go somewhere else. There was a mountain 90 degrees from the way we’d been going right above camp that went straight up 1500 feet. But if you went a mile from camp then turned, there was a saddle and it was only a 900 foot climb. That’s where I wanted to go and Ron didn’t have any better idea, so he went with me. It was a Hell of a climb. On the other side, was a 900 foot scree slope down to a large rolling bench that went two miles before another mountain rose up. There were cliffs on each side of the bench.

After we’d gained the first mountain and were in the saddle, we glassed the rolling bench. I quickly spotted a herd that were about a mile away. They all appeared to be does. Ron took out his spotting scope and noted that one was a buck, but a small buck. Another 1.5 year old forky.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
The 2 mile bench from the saddle. The herd was on the higher rise.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
The saddle above the bench

19-Mar-18
Ron already had a nice one and had no interest in the buck, but I hadn’t killed anything yet so I opted to stalk the buck. We had to drop down to the left and walk on the cliff side to approach them because they were in the highest point on the bench. I got to about 200 yards and had to belly crawl. 100 yards and I ran out of cover. The buck was on the far side of the herd. I had a cross wind. So I decided to go all the way around and figured I’d have about a 30 yard shot. I made it around and as I belly crawled over the edge, I saw him only 20 yards away. I nocked an arrow, rose to my knees, drew, and right as I was putting the pin on his shoulder, a deer just below me and to my right caught the cross wind and they all blew out.

19-Mar-18
On our way down the 2 mile bench, there was a cliff below us to our right that went into a deep drainage, then a steep rocky cliff that rose nearly 2K feet from the bottom up to the peak that was directly above our camp (camp being on the other side of the mountain). There were 2 goats in the cliff. One large, one small. We assumed they were a nanny and kid.

We continued on about ½ way down the far side of the larger rise and posted up to glass the next mountain. After about an hour, I’d counted 12-13 deer. Through the scope, nothing was that big. To the left, there were 3 bucks with one being a wide fork. The rest of the deer were does and fawns. Ron decided to stay put and I was going to put a stalk on the bucks on the left side of the mountain.

All the sudden, Ron says, “Goat.”

Right at the top of the mountain, over to the left, was a big goat. Alone. We watched him graze a while – he’d come from the other side of the mountain, which was a cliff, and was grazing at the top where grass grew. Goat opener was still a couple days away, but an experienced Kodiak goat bowhunter I met at work told me that you just have to watch them and they’ll do the same thing every day. We discussed me going after this goat on opener and waiting at the top of that mountain till he came up and over.

19-Mar-18
I studied a route that was straight in front of me to get above the bucks, then I’d go over to the left when I was above the deer. I’d just started my accent when Ron noticed a big buck near the top of the mountain directly where I was headed. He tried to get my attention, but I was already ½ mile away and headed up. As I gained the top of the mountain, I glanced up and he was standing right there. I ranged him. 90 yards. He just stood there looking at me. He was comfortable because the pitch on this mountain was almost straight up.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
I knew no one would believe me how big this buck was, so I snapped a picture with my phone. It’s not a good photo, but you can at least see how tall he was. He was a mainframe 4x4 with eyegaurds and deep forks. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the top 10 bucks on P&Y’s website and this buck was right there with them, if not bigger. I wish the picture was better.

19-Mar-18
I backed down, got out of view, dropped my pack, moved left 100 yards, and tried to get on an even elevation with him, which I should have, but he’d moved higher. I came around the crest and there he was again, this time only a bit above me, but still 80 yards away. Unfortunately, he saw me as I peaked over the crest because he was on alert and looking for me and at that point, he walked up the mountain and over the crest. I didn’t want to bump him so I decided to let him go and go after the original bucks I’d been after.

19-Mar-18
I headed back left, side hilling. I got on top of the deer. It was a long side-hill, about half-mile on steep terrain and my boots were starting to let me know about it. At this point, there were 5 deer. The wide forky, which was a mature fork beyond his ears, a small fork, a small 3x3 that I thought was 2 year old, and two does. I came up on them about 150 yards above them and they saw me and spooked and ran the opposite way I’d come.

I backed up, climbed up to the top of the mountain which was about 300 yards up, and got over on top of them. This took a while because it was quite a climb straight up. I finally got sight of them and worked directly over above them. At this point, I could see 2 of the deer. The big forky and the smaller forky. They were both bedded about 30 yards apart, looking downhill. The other 3 deer ended up being directly in front of them, but out of view down hill.

19-Mar-18
What I did then, was just laid on my back, put my bow on my lap, and slowly slid down. It was just grass at this alpine elevation and it was so steep, that all I had to do was lift my boots and I’d slide. I got some video of the slide, but don’t know how to post it and will do that later. When I started the slide, I ranged the bucks at 250 yards. 30 minutes later, I was at 100 yards and slowed down, sliding a few inches at a time. Fortunately, the grass was about 12-18 inches high so most the time, the bucks were out of view.

I got down to the point where the larger forky, that was wider than his ears, was directly below me, ranged at 45 yards. The smaller forkie was to my right, ranged at 65 yards.

The shot I want is 25 yards, but I’m money at 45 yards and that’s the distance I decided I would take a shot. I got to 45 yards, surprised I’d made it without busting them out. I nocked an arrow, sat up, drew, and surprised they were still looking away, so I decided that I’d stand. I stood, drew again, lined up my shot, and released.

19-Mar-18
The release felt good, the arrow sounded good with a hollow thump. The deer got up and bolted downhill. Where they bedded, the terrain was like a series of steps, with the flat part being 30 yards and the cliff being 10 yards. The deer blew out and I couldn’t see anything, so I ran to the edge of the step. Down on the next step, was the buck, right at the edge of the drop off. I ranged him. 30 yards. He had his legs planted wide and looked sick. The hit was good: I’d center punched the lungs.

I nocked another arrow. I knew he was going to die in a few seconds, but I wasn’t going to give him that. I aimed for his heart and released the string. I hit him well, right through the heart, the arrow hitting bone on the other side. He buckled, and fell down the cliff. As he fell, the last thing I saw were his hooves, pointing straight up.

19-Mar-18
I slid down the next step and ran to where he’d gone over. Just as I got to the edge of the cliff and looked down, I saw him bounce. He was already about 500 feet down the mountain. He did 3 cartwheels midair and then went out of sight without touching down. The mountain above where they were sitting was an absolute cliff that plummeted into an alder-choked chasm.

I went to the right to try and find a way down and got cliffed out. I went back left the way I’d come and had to go almost all the way back to where I’d ascended in the first place, nearly a mile back to the base of the mountain. I started down the creek where he’d gone, now almost a mile away. At first I followed the mountain above the alders, but I got cliffed out. I tried the other side and got cliffed out again. There was no wading through the alders; that was impossible, so I just started walking down the creek. With great difficulty, I made it about 500 yards before the creek turned into a set of falls that were not passable.

At that point, I realized that recovering this buck was physically impossible. I couldn’t get into the area he’d fallen and he’d fallen into a large area of alders. I was really disappointed. I questioned whether or not he’d have fallen if I hadn’t shot him again. There was nothing I could do at that point.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
From where I started the slide. Below is the 2 mile bench and the saddle beyond that we came over. The slope I slid on is not visible from this picture.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
My back a couple days after the slide.

19-Mar-18
Day 6 I was obviously going after that buck again. I got up early, a mile down to get below the saddle, over the saddle, across the 2 mile bench, and posted up glassing. I found him after about 20 minutes. He was near the top, just to the right of where he’d been, grazing. I watched him, waiting for him to bed. He ended up grazing up and over the top of the mountain. I took a route to the right of where he’d gone over with the plan of belly crawling at the top every 80 or so yards and working left till I’d found him.

I climbed the 1000 foot slope, worked to the right, and started doing just that. About the 4th belly crawl over, I ran right into him. The mountain was not a peak at the top, but had a sort of ravine running on top with two peaks on each side of a 40-50 yard U shaped crest that was about 10 yards deep. He was there with a smaller buck and a doe. I got over and got a look at him without them spotting me as I was already on my belly. He was an amazing buck. This is when I got the good look at him and why I can say he was such a fine buck, because I looked at him for a minute before inching back down. He was grazing in the little saddle right at the edge of the next ridge above the cliff. I ranged him at 45 yards.

After inching down, I nocked an arrow, crouched, and then stood and walked the couple steps back up the slope till he was in view and drew. He was quartered away. The smaller buck was at 20 yards and saw me and snorted and ran a few yards. The buck looked back at me right as I was steadying my pin behind his shoulder. He spun and ran right as I released the arrow, which missed the lip on the cliff and sailed into the bowl beyond. Look out below…

19-Mar-18
I ran to the edge of where they’d all gone over and there was a trail just above where it really cliffed out into scree. They’d hung a right and were high-tailing it out of there. I spent the rest of the day wandering around that side of the mountain trying to find where they’d taken off to.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
But before I did, I spotted the goat to my left, about 400 yards away, bedded in the scree. You can see him just above the lip of the green cliff bedded in the rocks.

19-Mar-18
The goat was to my left and the deer went right. I followed them and spent the day looking for them. When I got back to camp that night, Ron told me he’d gone the other way back up to the area with the no-release buck. He’d spotted a herd of 5 deer on the plateau with a nice 3x3 in it. He decided to just watch them all day to try and pattern them as the wind was screwy on the plateau. It started raining that night. By midnight, it was hard to sleep because of the noise of the rain on the tent and the wind.

From: t-roy
19-Mar-18
Keep it coming, Ike!

19-Mar-18
Day 7 we awoke to torrential downpour. It rained all day. It was now the goat opener. We never left the tent.

t-roy, the entire story is written. I'll get it all up tonight.

19-Mar-18
Day 8: What are deer? I had a faint recollection of them. Perhaps I’d hunted them at some point? I couldn’t remember. I was now goat hunting.

A mile from camp, up and over the saddle again, across the 2 mile bench. I plopped down on the far side of the high rise of the 2 mile bench and glassed the goat. By this time, my 3rd day of laying eyes on him, I knew his schedule. Climb up to the top of the cliff around 8, graze till about 10, go back into the cliffs till around 4 or 5, then pop back over for dinner and graze till late before returning to the cliff for the night.

I watched him graze till 10 when he popped back into the cliff. I made the 1000 foot ascent, much to the right of where he liked to go over and then worked my way over on my side of the mountain to where he liked to come over between two spires. I found that there was a well-worn trail up and over, even in the scree. It was obvious that goats had been walking this route for many years.

I set up on the goat path next to one of the spires at the crest of the mountain where I could still see him and waited him out.

About 4 PM, he got up, took a leak, then started slowly walking up the goat path in the scree right to me. I watched with only my eyes and the top of my head visible to him till he got to 150 yards, then I slowly crouched and backed up a few paces to get out of view.

I nocked an arrow, got in the shooting position, took one step off of the goat path downhill with my head about 2 feet below the crest of the mountain, rested my bow on my left thigh, put my range finder in my right hand and up to my eye, and pointed it down the goat path. And I waited. There was only one way he could possibly go and that was directly into my lap. And I waited. And waited.

It seemed like it was taking forever and I started to doubt that he’d come this way and was fighting back panic, when I saw his horns crest the mountain. Then his head, then his body. His horns crested when he was about 40 yards away. I watched him approach through my range finder up to my eye the entire time, frozen in place. I was one step off the goat path to my left. He walked completely into view of me and finally spotted me. He stopped, facing me, quartered maybe 10 degrees. I ranged him: 24 yards.

I slowly let go of my range finder, found the D loop with my release, drew, and shot him in the chest.

19-Mar-18
Now, I haven’t had buck fever in several years. I seem to go into kill-mode when an animal gets close and I’m able to focus in on a spot and I don’t get even a hint of an adrenaline rush. But the wait up to him cresting just got me shaking. After the shot, I was shaking bad. The shot felt good, but it made a very loud crack so I knew I’d hit bone and I saw fletching sticking out of his chest when he whirled.

I ran to the edge of the cliff and saw him running down the path he’d come up, but he was limping bad. Through my binoculars, I could see that his left front leg was dangling and flopping like jello. His brilliant white fur was red and he was leaving a good blood trail on the rocks. I knew he was done for, but he was making some serious distance. I kept waiting for him fall, but he didn’t.

He got across the bowl, about 200 yards away, and got to the edge of it where it was an absolute cliff. He kept looking back at me, there sitting out in the open sky-lined like an idiot with my 10s up to my eyes watching him. He tried to climb the cliff, be he couldn’t with his broken leg. He made his way to a knife ridge and started to work his way around it. I could tell he was trying to hide, so I backed down and worked left, then belly crawled up to the ridge.

19-Mar-18
I watched him continue to try and climb the cliff, but he was disabled. He finally went around the knife ridge to an area no bigger than him, and didn’t come out. I assumed he bedded. I was trying to decide what to do at that point. I didn’t want to negotiate the scree across the face because he could see me coming and might run off again. I decided to back out, head left, go above and beyond him, and approach from the other side. I found a single scree slope that was about 300 yards beyond him that I could get down… the rest were cliffs.

I backed out, made my way around, then walked to the crest of the mountain.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
This picture isn’t going to do this justice, but the path along the top was treacherous. The wind was blowing across me from the side and gusting. Any misplaced step was an 800 foot drop on either side.

19-Mar-18
I got up there and down to where I had to drop down, but I’d actually overshot my decent by a couple of scree slopes. The spot I ended up going down was ridiculous to the point of being foolish. I basically surfed down scree. If I’d have slipped and tumbled, there’s no way I’d have walked away from it.

19-Mar-18
I got down to the bottom of the bowl and had to work my way back up to the knife ridge the goat was on, about 1/3 mile back uphill. There were 5 deer in the bowl, 3 bucks with 2 does, and one buck was pretty nice. I figured I’d shoot him if he jumped in front of my arrow, but the noise I made coming down that slope alerted them and they walked off downhill and out of the bowl.

I made my way up to the knife ridge the goat was on. I got directly below it and started working my way up the scree as quietly as I could. I actually did a pretty good job of being quiet as far as scree goes and got right up to the base, just below him, but below him about 2 stories.

All the sudden, the scree gave out from under me and I hit the rocks with my bow hammering the rocks as I fell in a very ungraceful manner, the way scree makes you avoid getting cut up. I looked up and the goat stood up and peered down at me.

19-Mar-18
I gained my footing and ranged him. 35 yards. I use an angle-compensating range finder, so the shot was actually much farther than that. He wasn’t going anywhere. He stood there broadside, directly above me.

Now, at this point, I’m going to pause to explain something. I use a hip quiver. I’m not going to get into it, but I just cannot or will not use a bow quiver. My quiver holds 4 arrows. I’d made a critical mistake. The prior hunting day, when I’d shot at the buck, I never replaced that arrow. I have a lot of pictures of me hunting with 2 or 3 arrows. It’s usually all I carry. Part of it is hubris. Part of it keeps me from flinging arrows. I really feel that you should need 1 arrow, maybe a backup. I often get into my treestand with 2 arrows. I like to hike with 3 arrows because it keeps the forward arrow in my quiver from hitting my arm. Anyways, I didn’t think anything of it when I set off with 3 arrows in my quiver, which is usually all I have.

I had 2 arrows left. I knew it was a long shot straight up, but It was a good hour since I’d shot him the first time and I wanted to end it. I had the opportunity. So I took it.

I nocked an arrow, drew on the flat, then bent at the hip, took my time, and released.

I hit higher than I wanted. I center punched the nearside lung. The arrow did miss the spine and passed through. I actually saw the arrow after it passed through as it crested and fell. The goat stumbled back into his hidey-hole.

I felt I had him at this point, so I started working my way up closer. I got right up on the base of the knife ridge. I was still about 20 feet below him. I wasn’t trying to be quiet at this point, stumbling through the scree to get up on him.

19-Mar-18
All the sudden, he stood up again, in the same place, looking down at me. I couldn’t believe he was still alive. My first arrow I didn’t get the best penetration, but I knew I’d gotten one lung and had good blood. I knew the 2nd arrow had gotten both lungs. The same guy I mentioned earlier who had advised me on goat hunting with a bow, told me that goats are tough, hence the saying “tough old goat.” But I had 2 arrows in this goat and had gotten at least one lung with one and 2 with another.

I ranged him: 25 yards. I decided to shoot him again.

I really debated. It was my last arrow. I’ve never run out of arrows before. But it was a close shot. I felt confident that I could make it.

The shot was almost straight up, thus, again, it was much farther than 25 yards. I took my time, drew on the level, bended at the waist the best I could. My last shot was high, so I decided to shoot low. Which was a mistake. I aimed for the heart. I hit him right next to the sternum in the chest. The arrow passed through and flew into oblivion; I never saw it. He flopped again into his little cubby.

At that point, I had an empty quiver. That’s a pretty helpless feeling as a bowhunter. I’d never experienced that before.

I scaled the cliff. It was a three-points-of-contact type of climb. I got up to him and ended it with my Havalon. They are tough animals. There’s a bit more to that story, but I’ll save that for the campfire.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
I always saw the ribs off the sternum and open up my animals to do a post-mortem and see what my arrows did. The first arrow entered to his right of midline and hit the humerus, destroying it. I took out the front lobe or apex of the right lung.

Picture of the shattered humerus.

19-Mar-18
The second arrow had hit the near-side lung center-punched, slid right under the spine, but missed the aorta and vena cava, and hit just the top of the far side lung. The 3rd arrow hit just nearside of the sternum and passed just under the near-side lung without piercing it as far as I could tell, and obliterated the far-side lung , leaving the animal near the exit hole of arrow #2.

19-Mar-18
He ended up rolling off the cliff and falling the 20 feet onto the scree. I climbed down to him and set to work breaking him down. It was close to 9 PM before I finished. I was 4 miles from camp, by map. At the end of the day, GPS said it was much farther, but GPS miles are erroneous IMO. I figured I’d take the meat up onto the cliffs away from the carcass as there was no way I could get it all back that night.

I boned him out and filled 5 ovis deer sized game bags to capacity. I put it all into my pack just to see if I could, and there was no way I could carry it. So I put 3 bags in and climbed the scree to the crappiest place I could get to, then went back for the other 2 and the head. Once I’d gotten them all there up on the cliff, I covered them with the 8x10 foot tarp I always carry while hunting and secured it with 200 lbs of rocks.

I took both backstraps and headed for camp at 930 PM.

I got up and over the mountain, then made the 1000 foot decent. It really started to get dark as I made my way through the alders at the bottom of the mountain.

I still had some light as I headed up the 2 mile bench. It was pitch black before I made it to the top of the high point. And it started to drizzle on my way up.

19-Mar-18
I checked my Delormme. I texted Ron that I was still hours away. He told me to be careful, that he’d seen a huge bear that afternoon.

Great. Thanks Ron. We’re on Kodiak Island where the largest bears in the world live. It’s pitch black, foggy, and drizzling, reducing my visibility to about 12 feet. I’m covered in blood and carrying raw meat. I have hours of walking over miles of tundra. Warning me that large bears are about, is so damn helpful.

I walked the rest of the way, bow in my left hand, Glock 10mm in my right. If a Kodiak bear attacks you when you have 12 feet of visibility, I assure you, you are going to die. But you will feel just a little bit better about the whole situation with a pistol in your hand.

19-Mar-18
Ok, so where was I? I’m half way up the 2 mile bench. I still have to climb up 900 feet of scree, then down 900 feet of grass cliff, then a mile to the left to get to camp. When you chart your way through Kodiak during the day, you walk around the alder and the willow, because walking through it is completely ridiculous. If the Chinese knew about alder, they’d have planted a crap ton of it and just forgone the whole Great Wall thing. It’s impenetrable. The willow grows so thick in places, that you have to throw yourself at it to get through it.

When you walk about Kodiak in the dark, you run into every damn patch of alder and willow there is. You can’t see which way to go left or right, so you invariably just charge through it like a chimpanzee that just had his banana taken away from him.

What would have taken me a few hours to traverse, ended up with me rolling into camp at 2:30 AM, a good 4 hours after dark, with a heavy drizzle the entire time. When I got to the scree slope, I followed the wrong scree slope up because the entrance to it on GPS was only a few yards away and it was raining so I didn’t consult it frequently enough. I got cliffed out and had to descend half way down the mountain and move over one scree slope and climb back up.

Climbing a scree slope in the dark while it’s raining at 1 in the morning is one of the most wonderful experiences you’ll ever enjoy. I just love hunting.

19-Mar-18
I woke up the next day and it was raining. My legs were also jello. We waited it out in the tent. I really fretted about my meat. We didn’t leave the tent that day.

19-Mar-18
The next day was nice. Ron came with me. Down the mile from camp, up and over the saddle, down the 2 mile bench again. We glassed the mountain. A couple does, no bucks. He stayed put and I went up to the meat cache on the other side of the mountain. It hadn’t been touched. The tarp had protected the meat through the rain and wind. I hiked the first load of meat up to the crest of the mountain, and then the second load with the head.

At that point, I’d learned something from sliding down this grass-covered portion of the mountain a few days prior. I put all the meat in the tarp and tied it like a purse string, but without puncturing the tarp. I then sat on the meat and slid down the top half of the mountain. I did about 300 feet of elevation loss in about 45 seconds. At one point I was going so fast that I couldn’t put my feet down or else I figured I’d just roll, but luckily, the grade decreased and I just slowed down.

I then just rolled the meat the rest of the way with para chord around the open end of the tarp. The tough part was the alders at the bottom, but the entire decent only took a few minutes.

19-Mar-18
Ron met me at the bottom and we loaded up the meat. We got it all to the second rise on the 2 mile bench. He had 3 bags and I had the two biggest bags and the head. We stashed the meat again under the tarp on the cliff that fell down to our left heading back to camp. I took one bag of meat and we left 4 bags of meat and the head under the tarp and finished walking back to camp.

That night, we enjoyed mountain goat backstrap. The finest tasting, toughest meat you’ll ever eat. We damn near broke our jaws on it and this was backstrap.

The next day, I came back, got two bags of meat and hauled them to the saddle, then went back and got the other two bags, then rolled all 4 down the mountain in the tarp and then packed them in two trips to camp.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
As I came through the saddle the 2nd time, guess who were heading through it, but the two goats we’d spotted a week earlier. But at only 100 yards away, it wasn’t a nanny and kid, but a nice billy and nanny. I didn’t even have my bow on me. They walked out and grazed right up the slope. By the time I got down to camp with the 2nd load of meat, my legs just didn’t have it in me to go back up that mountain a third time and shoot him. My feet were mush and my thighs ached.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
Here’s the horns. If you look through the hair, you’ll see the fifth ring. It’s amazing how these animals grow most of their horn in the first two years and then barely grow anything after that. This was a 5.5 year old billy. I feel really lucky to find and kill a goat this old in an OTC unit. Both of his horns were broken, but not from the fall, they appeared as if they’d been broken a long time, either broomed or through fighting.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
Jeez. I’m not even done with the first hunt and I’m already on page 22. I’m going to get a scotch. I’d recommend you do too. Ok, yeah, that’s BS. I had a glass of scotch in hand by day 2. This brings up a good point though. When you hunt Kodiak in August, you can count on spending some time in a tent. We’d brought some Jameson and Maker’s Mark and damn if we weren’t so glad we did. If you do this hunt, bring some liquor and a book. You’ll be glad you did.

Also, it is really nice to have a tent that you can stand up in. I mentioned our Cabela’s guide gear 8 man tent we got for this trip earlier in the story. It’s an $800 tent and it was worth every penny. Not only could you stand up in it, which is really nice when you can’t leave the tent for 36 hours at a time, but it took the 50mph winds that we had on two separate days like a champ.

Our plan was to leave the tent on Kodiak with a guy I know who lives there and sell it to one of you guys for $700, but I decided to keep it.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

19-Mar-18
The next day we were supposed to fly out in the afternoon. We woke up to lousy weather, drizzling, low clouds, and wind. We broke down camp except for the tent and stayed in contact with our transporter. They asked for hourly updates in the afternoon, but at about 5, told us they’d try again tomorrow.

I figured I could get a quick hunt in the PM as long as I stayed close to camp so I headed past the saddle and got on the mountain about 1.5 miles from camp. I sat there with the spotting scope on the opposite mountain and finally the clouds blew through. In the few minutes I had, I saw a nice buck on the opposite mountain about a mile away. There were a lot of clouds, so I took a compass heading, packed up, and walked through the fog in that direction.

As I got close to the ascent, I came over a rise and bumped a doe and fawn. Where did they run, but right towards where the buck was bedded on the mountain. I got on a high point and waited for the clouds to blow through with glass on the area, but he was gone.

I got back to camp right before dark and we had tasty boot leather for dinner again.

19-Mar-18
The next day was pretty clear and our transporter picked us up late morning. We had an uneventful flight out. Back in the freezer, we grabbed Ron’s deer that was sitting next to a meat box that had “Chuck Adam’s deer” written with a magic marker on it.

19-Mar-18
It was a great hunt. We had a great time. Some afterthoughts, going in August vs November has its pros and cons, which I think I detailed. But I think the biggest plus for August is that you have such long days, which allows you to get places you can’t in November, although we were at the edge of the area that you’d want to spike camp anyways.

I weighed my meat unscientifically by standing on a bathroom scale holding the cooler, then subtracting my weight and the weight of the empty cooler and came up with 94 lbs. There is an incredible amount of neck meat on these animals. They have giant necks. In fact, I’d say there’s as much neck meat on a mature billy as there is on an elk. I took the trapezius muscles off whole and they were as thick as the hams. When I was cutting up the meat at home, I grabbed one of the trapezius muscles and was looking for the strip down the side of the ham that you dissect down to the femur before I realized it was neck meat.

Old billy goat meat is tougher than nails. It’s absolutely delicious, but I had to grind most of it. The other backstrap I still had to slow cook. It has an incredibly mild flavor and makes an amazing burger. But there is not a single steak in that entire animal. I’ve heard the 2 year old billies and the nannies are not so tough.

19-Mar-18
We got settled in Kodiak and hit up the brewery. We stayed at a friend’s and caught the jet out in the AM. I got in to my place in California that night, kissed the kids, went to bed, and was up at 4 AM headed to my next hunt a day late due to getting weathered in.

19-Mar-18
I’d planned on having a week off between my Kodiak hunt and my September Wyoming elk hunt, but while I was still up at work in AK prior to the Kodiak hunt, I drew an Arizona strip hunt, specifically, my second choice, the second most desirable tag if you know the strip. This is a tag of a lifetime, but the problem with it, is that the draw results come out 5 weeks before the archery season opens, which makes planning anything very difficult. I was already in AK working and worked straight till I left Kotzebue for Kodiak. I wasn’t planning on drawing this tag, it was just a fluke thing. I had 6 points and there was only one NR tag.

Fortunately, I have a grade A hunting partner back in CA (Ron) who drove out to the strip and scouted for me for a couple days.

Here’s the deal with the strip. The genetics are absolutely amazing. One unit has 15 tags and the other has 25, so the quality and the pressure is unlike anywhere. There’s two areas: the high desert flats and the mountains up against the north rim of the Grand Canyon. You have to drive into New Mexico to access the strip and it’s 50 miles on dirt roads to get to the southern end.

The desert area has these big collection tanks that are basically huge tarps that are 100 yards across and collect water and siphon them into tanks for cattle, otherwise the land would be barren of big game. The deer population down there is very sparse, but the bucks get old and they have amazing genetics for huge antlers.

Then there’s the mountains. There’s more deer up there, but they are not known for producing the massive atypical mule deer that the desert has.

I gave Ron a couple areas that I’d like glassed and he spent some time there with some duds where there was no water and then found some nice bucks in another area, specifically, one monster 35+ inch wide 3x4 with extra points.

I needed to head to WY for my elk hunt because I had prior plans. Thus, from the moment I drew the tag, I had 5 days to hunt this tag. Losing a day stuck on Kodiak meant I had 4 days.

19-Mar-18
I drove all day to NM and then down the road into the strip. The trip in takes hours on the dozens of miles of dirt roads.

When I got to the base of the mountain I would glass the next AM, it was well after dark. . I was able to get a couple hours sleep, but woke up well before dark so I could make the climb and have my spotter set up before sunrise. I was up there and in position. I had about a 220 degree visual field spanning 2-4 miles in front of me. The sun rose and I glassed. And I saw not one damn deer.

The sun came up and it got hot. I mean hot. As in 98 degrees and humid. The truck’s thermometer said 95-98 in the shade all afternoon. After 2 months in coastal AK, 98 degrees will melt you. I found a lonely place in the trees, parked my truck, took off all my clothes, and laid on my sleeping pad on a north slope. It was miserable. To make matters worse, I’d picked up some of those pre-made sandwhiches at the Walmart in St George and I definitely ate someone’s stink finger. I started shitting my brains out and had a fever. I was miserable.

By sunset, it was still over 80 degrees, but I walked a ridge and glassed the mountain closer to where Ron had seen the big 3x4. Still, not a single deer.

The next day, I was up at 4 AM and at the knob I’d gone to the night prior, hoping to see deer before sunrise. I had a 200 degree view ranging 1-2 miles. Not a single deer was seen, even though I could see standing water.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
Dawn on the strip

19-Mar-18
Noon came, again the temperature rose to 98 degrees with high humidity. I didn’t have enough gas in my truck even with my extra gas cans to sit in it and run the AC because my truck is a V10 and it goes through gasoline like I go through arrows on a goat hunt. I gambled and lost. I wondered if my cholera I’d contracted was from the hard-boiled eggs that I’d gotten at the Walmart. I threw them out and ate the other ½ of the dysentery sandwich and proceeded to crap my brains out all afternoon with fever and chills again.

By 4 PM I’d had enough. I remember, in my heat-stroke delirium yelling, “this is xxxxing horse xxxx!”

I got in my truck and headed south for the mountains. They rise up to just above tree line and are topped with virgin ponderosa pine forest. This is what I cut my teeth hunting on in the mountains of California. I could see the monsoon clouds dropping rain on them and I was headed there, leaving Hell and its huge deer behind.

I arrived late afternoon and immediately started seeing deer. I stopped before I got to the top because there was a nice ridge I’d Google Earth scouted that looked good. I did a PM hunt and saw tons of does. I was finally on deer, I just had to find the bucks.

Well, it was August and I was on the side of the mountain in does. Obviously, the bucks were up at the top. I headed up there after sunset. On the road up, it was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The road got bad, I mean ATV road bad, but there were bucks everywhere. Running across the road, just off the road… My truck’s lights were lighting up bucks every couple hundred yards.

I was really excited for the AM hunt. I was in the middle of nowhere, I hadn’t seen another truck in 2 days, and I had one of the best mule deer tags in the country. I had to calm myself down and think about what I’d do. I often set goals for what I want to shoot, but then end up killing the first legal animal because that’s just what I do.

But I really wanted a big deer and this was the time to do it. So I decided that I would not shoot any deer under 180 inches and set myself at that standard.

19-Mar-18
The next AM, I got out of the truck and walked ½ mile down the road to an area where a couple drainages came off the plateau and went down into the Grand Canyon. On the way in, I bumped 3 bucks in the dark that were wide, but that’s all I could see with my headlight.

I decided to hang tight till first light instead of just bumping deer. At first light, I started still hunting towards the first draw. As I got to where it started to drop down into the draw, I came upon 3 bucks. One was a massive wide fork. 35 inches wide with eye gaurds. The other two were 3x3s, one was wide, one was tall.

In any other unit, I’d have shot any one of these deer, but they were just big, not huge. Plus, they spotted me about 80 yards out and walked off.

I walked in farther, into the draw, and down in the mess of tangled deadfall, I spotted a giant, right as he spotted me. I ranged him at 90 yards. He was huge. 4x4 typical frame, wide, tall, an easy 190 inch deer, one of the biggest I’d ever seen.

His problem was that he had a tangled mess in his escape route, so he had to walk parallel to me. I ducked down and moved quickly to cut him off. I got to a huge downed ponderosa deadfall that was 3+ feet in diameter that I was able to crouch and walk behind. When I ran out of tree, I peeked over and there he was. I ranged him, 74 yards. Farther than I wanted to shoot.

I thought I could get closer and I worked past the tree and got closer and when I did, the next time I saw him, he was at 95 yards, stopped to look at me, then bounded up the hill.

19-Mar-18
I’d been hunting about 30 minutes and already had had 4 mature bucks under 100 yards. I was excited. I walked around that hill he went up but didn’t see anything. I headed inland and didn’t see anything. I crossed the road that my truck was on and got into new country, moving towards another double hill.

I busted a doe and a fawn at the base of the hill and then crested the first hill. I expected to find deer, but only found beds on the north side. I moved between the hills and there was nothing. I crested the 2nd hill and nothing again.

At that point, I let my guard down and started moving a little too quick. Still hunting is an exercise in patience. As soon as you speed up, you bust deer and lose all the work you’ve done, it never fails. As I descended the second hill, I felt a very cool breeze on my face as I got into a moist area with huge ponderosas, the kind that are 4-5 feet in diameter and spaced every 30 yards from each other.

As soon as I thought that I should slow down, I spotted the bucks. There were 5 of them, bedded right out in the open 150 yards away facing in all directions, invulnerable. They all stood, looking at me. The gig was up, but I fortunately had a huge ponderosa just to my right and in one step I was behind it.

I quickly reached into my pack and pulled out my bow-mounted mule deer doe decoy and attached it to my bow, having already had the Velcro attached to my bow. I peaked around the tree and they were all still there, staring my way.

I flicked the ear, let the decoy have a long stare down with them, then started making my way towards them, straight, then diagonal, then straight, then diagonal. They just stood there. I was looking at them through the arrow window in the decoy. They were all mature, large-bodied deer. One was a massive fork. The other 4 were all 3x3s. Two were definite shooters, wide, tall-tined bucks with extra points sticking off of every tine.

They let me get to 80 yards and then sauntered off. I followed their tracks for a mile before they came to a cliff with pine needles on it and I lost them. While tracking them, I busted a group of 3 bucks that were 2-3 year olds and a single 1 year old.

It was about 11 by then and I’d made a giant circle back to the truck. I grabbed a sandwich (not premade), jumped into the driver’s seat, reclined the seat, and took a nap. I was amazed to be awakened by AZ F&G. It was sorta awkward because I was butt-ass naked because it was still damn hot up there and there was no one around out there so I just rolled around camp naked. You could not sleep in clothes.

He drove up to me and I put my pillow over my junk and we talked like we weren’t two guys in the middle of nowhere with one of us sitting there butt-ass naked.

I was amazed he was all the way in here as it was a several hour drive from the nearest paved road. He had a lifted truck with offroad tires and two spares in the bed. What an awesome job.

Eventually, he asked me for my tag. “Right,” I said, as I realized that it was in my pack in the back seat of my truck. I had no choice but to lean over the center divider and grab my pack. That’s when he saw my butt and probably my balls because they were knee level by then due to the heat. I sat back down, dug through my pack, and handed him the ziplock with my hunting license, tag, and ID.

He had this mortified look on his face and I realized that he just figured I didn’t have a shirt on, but I thought from his vantage in the truck next to mine, that he could see that I had a pillow over my stuff and was just acting like it was no big deal.

He checked my tag, handed it back to me, said, “have a good hunt,” and drove off the way he came.

I went back to sleep.

19-Mar-18
The evening hunt I figured I’d post up where on the edge of the drainage where I’d seen the 3 bucks and above where I’d seen the big one, hoping that they’d head for the draw. I sat behind a big ponderosa deadfall. On the way in, I spotted three bucks. Two were probably 4 year old 3x3s and one looked like a 4 year old fork. They were pretty wide and tall, but none of them were over monsters. I could have killed two of them and ranged one at 45 yards and drew on him, but ended up drawing down because he just wasn’t what I was after for this hunt. Otherwise, he’d have been the biggest mule deer I’d ever shot.

19-Mar-18
That night, there was a ghostly image in the clouds.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

19-Mar-18
The next day, I had a plan. I was going to sit a tree with my climber in that drainage where I’d seen the big one. There was deadfall in the center of the drainage and a game trail on either side where the terrain tapered up and where it came to a pinch, I found a tree with 35 yard shots to each of them. About 22 feet up the tree, there was a nice branch with good cover.

I got in there really early. I was up the tree and quiet way before first light. The sun peaked over horizon. And then, it happened….

Nothing. I saw no deer. I couldn’t believe it. I sat till 11 AM and saw no deer. It heated up and I was in the sun so I got down and went back to the truck. I’d grown so accustomed to seeing a bunch of bucks up here that I was truly incredulous.

19-Mar-18
I decided to hunt the mid day. I was nearing the end of my hunt. I didn’t have much time to hunt here unless I tagged out quickly in Wyoming and could come back, so I figured, since it was cloudy today, that I’d still hunt along through the woods through the afternoon and try and find bedded bucks.

I moved farther down the road, one mountain over, and got out, walked 200 yards, and then slowed down. One step, glass, glass, one step, glass, glass.

I didn’t make it 100 yards and I bumped bucks. 2 and 3 year olds. 5 of them. I continued on. I bumped another group about an hour and 200 yards further. 3 of them. A wide 4x4 with shallow forks, a 2x3 that was really wide, and a big 3x3 with a few abnormal stickers, tall and wide with good mass.

A pattern was emerging: The bucks ran in bachelor herds of 3-5 of them. There were the 2-3 year old groups and the 4-5 year old groups.

I kept going. It got hot. And that was good because it slowed me down. I got around the hill and was able to look south when I came through an opening.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
It was really cool to be hunting with a view of the Grand Canyon.

19-Mar-18
I sat down in the shade of a big ponderosa. It was really warm, but there was a breeze coming over the cliff. I ate lunch and before I knew it, I was asleep.

19-Mar-18
When I woke up, it was late afternoon. It’d started to cool. It seemed like it was time to start hunting again. The wind had completely shifted so I reversed course and hunted back the way I’d come. I’d only gone about 50 yards and I came to a deadfall and decided to sit there a bit.

Right on que, 3 bucks came through from my right, walking straight to my left. I was stuck behind the deadfall, there was nothing I could do to move. I watched them as they walked past. When they were straight away, I ranged them at 72 yards. Too far.

One was a pretty big fork, I think he was one of the ones I’d seen the day prior. One was a 3x4 and one was a 3x3. They were all mature deer and at that point, I’d have shot any of them. They were all massive bodied deer with antlers well beyond their ears. They walked by and I couldn’t do anything about it. Not in August at least.

19-Mar-18
I still hunted back to the road and didn’t see any more deer. I drove back to camp (which was basically a fire ring with a place to park my truck facing uphill so I could sleep in my driver’s seat like a recliner). I cooked dinner of Mountain House chicken breast and mashed potatoes and went to sleep. Tomorrow was my last morning hunt and then I’d head to Wyoming to hunt elk.

19-Mar-18
I woke up early that morning. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time. I ate a breakfast of dried mangos and coconut chocolate chip Cliff bar and headed down the road with my climber on my back and my bow in hand. I didn’t move my truck because I didn’t want to spook any bucks. It was 1.5 miles to the drainage.

My plan was to get into the same tree. I knew bucks were coming through there. There were fresh tracks on the deep game trails on each side of the drainage. The tree was perfect. I just had to wait them out.

As I headed down the road, it started raining. I knew there was a chance of rain, so I was ready for it and had on my rain jacket. It opened up and really started coming down.

I got under a giant ponderosa to block the downpour. I waited 15 minutes, eventually putting my climber down because I knew I’d have to wait this out. It didn’t let up. Eventually, the ponderosa started to rain down gallons of rain upon me, divided up into fist-sized drops.

I pointed my head to the ground and told myself that it would stop, just another monsoon. I’d been rained on several times since arriving and never more than a few minutes. It just continued on. Half hour later, I felt the tops of my soaked socks start to leak into my boots. It wasn’t cold, so I didn’t care. I knew that as soon as the rain gave up, the bucks would be moving and I needed to be waiting for them.

Half hour later, first light appeared and it was still pouring. I could see the road because the tree I was under was just 10 yards from it. The road looked like a creek. The only part of me that was dry was the small of my back. I cursed myself for not wearing or bringing my rain pants.

I still had a chance. But as the sun rose and the road began to look worse and worse, I realized that if it continued, that I was going to be stuck out here for several days. 50 miles and 4 hour’s drive from the nearest paved road or cell signal.

I had to decide if I was going to get out of there or commit to staying for the next several days. I chose to leave.

19-Mar-18
I got to my truck and headed down the mountain. It rained the entire way. I got to the area where I’d started my hunt where Ron had glassed the big 3x4 and the rain let up. Out of nowhere, a 2 year old 3x3 ran across the road in front of my truck. I slowed down and right behind him was the biggest mule deer I’ve ever seen.

A wide bodied mature buck, stocky and tall, with a mainframe 4x4 with symmetric atypical tines off of his G3s. His G2/G3 forks were 18 inches long. Half way up his G3s, he had another fork with tines that paralleled his G2s and were a foot long and equal on each side. His G4s forked off the main beam and each continued on 18 inches.

He was a gorgeous deer. He stopped on the far side of the road and just stared at me. I’d stopped my truck at that point and just looked at him. He walked off into the sage.

I had to decide if I’d go after him at that point. In AZ, it’s illegal to road hunt, but if you’re driving from point A to point B and see an animal, you can go after them. I also despise road hunters with all my soul. I just couldn’t do it. I watched him disappear into the junipers and then I drove north towards Wyoming.

19-Mar-18
I got to Wyoming late that night. Archery opener was the following morning. There were four in the group: Mike (Fulldraw_1972), Chuck, dad, and myself. Mike got there the day I did. Chuck was arriving the next day. Dad was flying in the next weekend.

Opening morning, Mike and I were at a place I’d found bulls in the past. We were up in the woods before first light and had 2 or 3 bulls responding to us in the dark. We got pretty close to one and had to wait for legal shooting light. Mike went up ahead and I did some calling and raking. The bull got close – Mike saw him, but didn’t have a shot. As it got lighter, the bulls got pretty quiet as it was still pretty early in the season.

19-Mar-18
Chuck got in that night. We hiked into an area where I’d seen some wallows and hunted a real giant of a bull the year prior. Unfortunately, I’d lost all my way points when Trimble decided to destroy its customer’s data by making the app no longer work so that you’d have to buy their newer expensive program.

We spent the next couple days mixing up hanging some stands and running and gunning and we were seeing or hearing elk every day.

The second evening, Chuck and I went into a new area where I’d seen bulls in the past. We didn’t see or hear anything till we were almost back to the truck after sunset, but a bull was off in the distance to our right. He seemed too far away to get on before it got dark, but the second time he bugled, I realized that he was heading sorta towards our path. I bugled again and he seemed to be coming my way.

I sent Chuck forward to head him off and I kept bugling. He started challenging, so I ramped up the intensity of my bugles and started growling. We went back and forth probably 30 times. He got as close as 100 yards. As it got dark, he got quiet and I figured he was either dead or busted. I headed down and met up with Chuck who said that he had him at about 50 yards, but through brush and he got busted. He was 320 bull. I would see this bull again later in the hunt.

19-Mar-18
I didn’t take field notes on this hunt and don’t remember exactly what we did every day because it was such a long hunt, but one day, I think day 3, we went back to the same spot that we’d gone opening morning and ended up going farther in. We got into a bowl and there were 2 bulls that responded to my locator. We set up Chuck forward, Mike off to my left, and I was back making herd talk. We got the two bulls to bugle at us a bunch and I thought that the one on the left was coming in.

I motioned Mike to move up so that we had two shooters forward with them being separated by about 80 yards. 5-10 minutes after I motioned Mike forward, a 5x5 bull walked out into the park to my left silent and was honed into the trees I was in making all the noise. He was 70 yards from me and he stopped 20 yards from where Mike had been. If I hadn’t motioned him forward, he’d have had a chip shot on that bull.

I think it was that evening that we went to a new area that I’d always wanted to check out, but never did because it was a bit too long of a hike for my dad. The three of us worked our way in with a goal of getting into a set of parks that were a mile in with the ultimate goal of some parks that were 2-3 miles in.

As it started getting dark, we ran into a very nice bull with 2 cows. Chuck spotted them through the trees. I did some cow calling and the cows actually came around to check us out, but the bull didn’t budge. They ended up taking off.

19-Mar-18
The next AM, Chuck and I came back to this same spot and as we got into the first park, the bull just walked right through, grazing on his own. We saw him at 100 yards. He was a nice bull, about 340 inches. We had to wait for him to get out of view because we were hunkered down right in the middle of a park. After he walked by, we hurried over and skirted the next park to get a shot on him.

We saw him go around a turn about 120 yards up and Chuck motioned for me to stalk him. I worked my way through the park and he grazed back into my view just over the rise of a small hill. I could see him from the leg joints up, so that when he put his head down to feed, his eyes were out of view. He was broadside feeding and I ranged him. 69 yards.

Now, I know a lot of you can make that shot and I can too. I’m a pretty good shot out to 80 yards. I used to be a good shot out to 100, but I don’t do a lot of long-distance shooting anymore. My self-imposed limit on any animal is 60 yards. I let him walk. He walked back around the corner he’d come from and I worked up another 10 yards and got ready to shoot him when he came back out. But he never did.

Eventually, we went into the cubby of that park where he’d gone and he’d just vanished into the trees.

19-Mar-18
We decided to keep working up the mountain to the next set of parks. We had about a 1.5 mile uphill climb through nasty deadfall. We got to the next parks and there was fresh sign. I let out a locator and 3 different bulls responded. It was already getting late in the AM, so we decided that I’d sit back and do locators and Chuck would try and sneak in on one of them. I got only a few responses after that. Chuck did work close to one, but they all headed off to bed and quieted down.

19-Mar-18
The next few days we sat our stands. I was on the bull’s wallow in the area I just mentioned and Mike and Chuck were in the other two areas. We heard elk, but no one got a shot on anything. Dad showed up and I put him on a pinch point where the elk crossed a ravine. He didn’t see any elk the first few days, but did see a couple near the end of his hunt, but they were about 80 yards away so he never got a shot.

19-Mar-18
We did have a lot of opportunities on elk those first 10 days though. Personally, I either saw or heard elk on every AM and PM hunt till the 15th. Sometime around day 7, I lost my Barry Thunder bugle, which really handicapped me because it’s what I’m most practiced with and I didn’t have any new diaphragms so they sounded horrible.

19-Mar-18
I think Chuck left on the 9th.

On the evening of the 10th, Mike and I went to a new area that I’d wanted to check out in the past, but it was pretty nasty getting in there. There’s an easier way to get in, but you’d come in with the wind at your back, so to get in with the wind in your favor, you had to walk through some nasty stuff. We’d hunted it a couple days prior and saw two spikes in there, but they wouldn’t come to calls.

We got in, set up a Head’s Up and Montana decoys in a park. Mike was the shooter and I was calling back by the decoys. Mike was up in the trees at the entrance of the park about 100 yards in front of me. I got a response to my first bugle. Mike was in a great place for him with wind in his favor.

I continued with herd talk and the elk bugled a couple times and was obviously coming in. It was about sunset. I couldn’t see Mike, but all the sudden I saw him move to my left, intently looking in the direction I heard the elk.

All the sudden, he drew, aimed, and released. I did some quick cow calls to try and stop the bull, but I heard him crash through the woods. I went up to Mike and he said he’d hit him, but was unsure of the shot because it happened so fast and he was out of view immediately.

Before we’d finished talking, there was another bugle behind us. We still had a cross wind. Mike backed up into the trees and I moved over to some trees by the decoys and waited. Mike started doing some cow calls and the bull did the “come on over ladies,” bugle, but wouldn’t come into the park or I’d have had a 20 yard shot on him. For a minute there, it looked like we were about to double up. But after several minutes, the bull backtracked and took off.

We gave him 30 minutes and then examined the hit location. There was pretty good blood. It was dark; looked like regular venous blood. 10 yards later I found the arrow. It didn’t stink. It has good venous blood on it.

The blood trail was fair to begin with, with several quarter size spots, but within 20 yards it slowed to small specks and then they started getting farther and farther apart. I was down on my hands and knees with a light as it was now dark. After 80 yards, I couldn’t find any more blood. We decided to back out and come back in the AM.

19-Mar-18
The next AM, Mike, Dad, and I got to the area of last blood and then started walking in the direction that the blood trail was going. We’d only gone like 30 yards and we bumped the bull. I walked right into him at 8 yards. He stood up, turned to his right, looked at me for a few seconds, then turned to his left and walked over the deadfall slowly and continued on the same way downhill. I hadn’t brought my bow, only my kill kit and pack, so I couldn’t put an arrow in him.

I could see both the entrance and the exit were both intestinal hits. We backed out, went into town for breakfast, and decided to come back in the afternoon. When we came back, we bumped him again 80 yards from where he had bedded for the night. This time he took off pretty quickly so there was no chance of getting an arrow in him.

We backed out again. I encouraged dad to sit his stand that evening as I knew we’d find him and could get him out ourselves. We came back 4 hours later, near sunset and found him dead 100 yards downhill from where we’d bumped him the second time.

19-Mar-18

19-Mar-18

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
Mike’s first archery elk. I was so happy walking up onto that bull with him. What an experience.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
I’ll go ahead and shamelessly throw my grill in there too.

19-Mar-18
After high fives and pictures, we boned him out. Mike’s a crazy man and wanted to take him out in one trip. I told him that I pack 60 lbs per trip and that’s it. I put 60 lbs in my pack and Mike loaded up all the rest of the meat (all boned out except for the 4 shanks we left bone in) and the head. His pack must have been well over 100 lbs.

I led the way and took us back to the truck via the worst possible path over the worst of the terrain and deadfall. I was so frustrated by the time we got back because I kept taking wrong turns and we knew this area as we’d been in and out of there a couple times. I felt bad for Mike because he was the one that was really working. I’m usually a better navigator than that.

19-Mar-18
The next AM was the 12th. I went back to where we’d seen the 340 bull. At that point I was pretty obsessed with him. I’d had 3 sightings and heard him several times. We’d played cat-and-mouse and I’d just missed getting on him a couple times.

That evening, Mike told me he’d gone over to another area we’d checked out and called in the 320 to like 80-100 yards. I was kicking myself for not being there, but hind-sight is 20/20.

19-Mar-18
Mike left a couple days later. A couple days after he left, I went to the same spot in the AM and the same bull was sitting up on the ledge with 2 cows right where we had been heading down into the drainage. I wasn’t expecting them so close to the road so I busted them. That night, I came back and when I got to the ledge, the same bull was down at the bottom of the mountain at the edge of the park with about 6 cows and a spike.

I had to work around to the left of the mountain to get down to them because it was bare and open up to them where they were grazing about 250 yards away. I got down there and ran out of cover. I was running out of light. It was after sunset. All the sudden, the bull got up and started walking almost directly at me. This was going to happen.

I had crawled up to the last cover which was a couple of 4 foot pines. I crouched and watched him. He bugled a couple times and continued towards me. I watched through my range finder. 100 yards, 90 yards, 80 yards, 70 yards… and he stopped. He then turned around and walked back the way he came. “You’ve gotta be xxxxing kidding me,” is what I recall thinking.

19-Mar-18
I had like 5 minutes of legal shooting light left. The herd was on the move back the way I’d originally come. The spike, which was below me, started heading my way and I decided to kill him. It was the 16th and at that point, I was ready to take any elk. He went into a ravine and where he’d come out was at 25 yards. I drew in anticipation of him popping out, but he didn’t come out the other side. After a minute, I drew down. I checked my phone, I had 2 minutes of legal shooting light left. All the sudden, he walked out and facing me at 25 yards. I drew, thinking I had him, but when I drew, he whirled and took off running. I was so surprised that a spike would be so edgy, but he bolted like his ass was on fire.

19-Mar-18
The next day was the 17th of September. I decided this would be my last morning hunt. I was back in the area with the 340 bull and was in the area I’d been finding him about a mile in over an hour before legal shooting light. He didn’t bugle till a few minutes after legal shooting light and he was a ways off to the north, not exactly where he’d been.

I hiked over there and he was kind enough to give me 3 more bugles over the next 20 minutes so that I could get on the herd. I ended up bumping a cow at 50 yards. She ran off, but the rest of the herd just kept moving down the ridge they were on. He was herded up at this point and had about 6 cows with him. They were on the move and I had to get in front of them, which proved to be no easy task. I slipped down the far side of the ridge and ran through the trees to get ahead of them.

A couple times I came to openings and worked up a bit, but seemed to always be right behind them. Finally they stopped to graze and I got in front of them. Where I worked back up the ridge I walked right into them and was lucky not to bump them as I came around a tree and saw cow rump and the top of one of his antlers. I got a range on the tree he was behind at 72 yards and the cow was at 55.

I was kinda pinned down because there was nothing in front of me and the only cover I had were a few saplings. If I called at all, all they’d have to do was look right at me and know that there were no elk there. I stood ready to shoot if any of the elk gave me an open shot.

They milled around for a few minutes and then walked on down the ridge and I never had a clear shot at them. I started after them again and they were again leaving me in the dust. I tried doing some calling and did get him to bugle back at me a few times, but they were not going to play and headed off to bed.

The problem with calling in close around 100 yards away through cover is that you can only be so aggressive moving forward, but they often times will sit there for a few minutes calling to you, then get quiet and walk off a long distance while you’re wondering if they’re sitting still or perhaps even coming in. That’s what happened and within a few minutes, they’d moved out quietly and were gone.

19-Mar-18
That’s when I decided the gig was up. This bull had gotten this big by not being dumb. I’d thrown every trick in my book at him and he didn’t go for any of it. Such is hunting pressured public land animals. I primarily tried to ambush this bull and I got close several times, but it just never came together.

I really wanted to hunt him a few more days, but I had to fly out to Alaska for work in 7 days and I’d been hunting nonstop for 36 days – I hadn’t even cut up my goat. He was still in game bags in the freezer.

I’d had a great fall so far. I was a little disappointed to only have one animal in the freezer thus far. I’d had opportunities and with a little more luck and a little more hunting skill, I’d have had a bunch of dead animals, but I still had November and January. I packed up and drove back to California.

19-Mar-18
After working the month of October, I got back to California around Halloween. My plans for November were to hunt the closing week of the season around my place, take my daughter hunting for her first deer hunt, I had a white tail only tag in Wyoming, and then my brother had a rifle deer tag in the unit south of me that opened later.

19-Mar-18
I love hunting for mature animals and I love the adventure of hunting. But I’m also a meat hunter. My goal each year is to put enough game meat in the freezer for 4 people to have enough meat that it be our primary meat source. I want my kids to grow up eating game meat because I think it’s healthy for them. I personally eat over 500 game meat meals per year so I need north of 200 lbs just for myself. To give you an idea of how much we go through, in 2013, I killed a bull elk and two mule deer and we ran out the following July. In 2016 I killed 4 Nebraska white tail – 2 does, a button buck, and a 3 year old buck, a small mule deer, and then a small Coues in January and we had about 15 pounds of sausage and 2 roasts left when I got back from Kodiak.

I say this to explain that while I select for mature animals, I end up needing to fling some arrows at whatever gives me a shot and since January only gave me one Coues tag, I had to kill some animals in November or else face running out of meat.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
My first hunt was one of my favorite stands, but I was going to have a ground blind for my daughter’s hunt that weekend in the same area, so it was mature buck or nothing. Right at sunrise, a forkie and a few does/fawns came in, but I let the buck walk. It was the rut and I wanted to see who was running with the does.

19-Mar-18
My next hunt was a couple days later and I moved to a different area. Any fork horned buck was legal and any one that gave me a shot was getting an arrow. I got into an area I know that has good buck numbers and bumped a small buck right at legal shooting light. I took out my rattling antlers and he came right back in…young and dumb. The rut was in full swing. I didn’t have a shot till he was close. He came through the manzanita and I shot him at 9 yards.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
He made it 40 yards.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
What it’s all about.

19-Mar-18
I killed the buck midweek. The closer for that unit was Sunday. The weather was good for my daughter’s hunt on Saturday and everything was set up. She was shooting good out to 20 yards and I had her in a great spot with 5-10 yard shots in a place where deer walk through most days. Unfortunately no deer came in that AM. She wasn’t really interested in waking up before dawn again on Sunday, so I purchased a second buck tag and hiked in to a spot I’ve hunted a few times back in the wilderness where there are good bucks, up on the Pacific Crest Trail.

19-Mar-18
It’s a long walk in, about 3 miles with a big climb up to the crest. I made it just about sunrise. My initial glassing revealed no bucks, just a doe/fawn. They all bed down in one area of thick trees, so I worked my way over there and did some rattling. After about 5 minutes, I had the strangest looking buck come in. I saw him first from about 150 yards and watched him through my 10s all the way till he’d made it to 40 yards.

He was a large-bodied mature buck. His left antler was actually two main beams without forking. The front beam was a spike about 10 inches long that went almost straight forward. There was another spike that went almost straight back that was about 18 inches long.

The right antler was a huge club that went straight up. It had huge mass compared to the two spikes on the left and was about 2 feet long. At the end, it flanged like it had wanted to branch, but didn’t really branch. There was one knob that was definitely an inch long. In CA, for a buck to be legal, it has to have a branch on at least one antler that is 1/3 the way up the antler and has a tine that is at least one inch long. I looked at this buck for a long time, but I just couldn’t tell for sure if he was legal or not. He was a really cool buck and I really wanted to shoot him, but without a game warden sitting right next to me telling me he was legal, I wasn’t going to take the chance shooting an illegal buck.

He stopped at 40 yards and would have been an easy shot as he turned quartered away and looked the other way, giving me a chance to draw. After that, he walked back the way he came.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
The view of the Cochella Valley and Palm Desert from the Pacific Crest trail. The Orocopia Mountains in the background.

19-Mar-18
The next evening, I packed the truck and headed for Wyoming. I had an easy-to-draw LE white tail only tag. My goal for the trip was a mature buck only until the end of the hunt when I’d kill any deer that was legal. I’d found this area through elk hunting and had seen these high-country white tail when I didn’t have a tag. Two years prior, I’d run right into two separate mature bucks that I could have shot if I had a tag.

So I ended up in the same area I’d seen the bucks and knew of a pinch point where the deer and elk came around a private land fence and a ravine. The area had just received a foot of snow before I arrived. Getting a stand and decoy in there was a chore with the snow, but I got it set up the afternoon after I’d left for an all-day sit the next day. There were some deer tracks and elk tracks that I passed on the way in and deer tracks under where I put my stand at the pinch point.

19-Mar-18
The next day I was in stand before first light. It was damn cold. 9 Degrees that day was the high. As soon as the sun came up, the wind blew about 15 mph. I froze my tail off. I saw a doe and fawn at about 9 AM and then nothing. I got down after dark.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
My view of my decoy at 12 o’clock

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
My view at 3 o’clock

19-Mar-18
The next day I sat the same place. The high was 7 that day and 15 mph winds all day again. It was a long all-day sit. I saw the same doe and fawn and my first rattling sequence was followed by a snort upwind of me about 3 minutes after rattling… I’m assuming that was my buck.

I debated what to do the next day. I wasn’t seeing many deer, although there were fresh prints in the snow every day and one appeared to be buck-sized. I sat the morning, didn’t see anything, so pulled my stand and decoy around noon and relocated.

About a 45 minute drive from where I was, there was a river valley that looked very whitetailish with some public land between a couple of ranches. I went there that afternoon and walked it to scout. On the way in, I saw several mule deer. Right in the middle of the best bedding area, I bumped a nice 8 point white tail out of his bed. I’d found my area. I found a tree on two intersecting game trails where a west wind would blow my scent over the creek and prepared my stand.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
Mule deer does on the way in.

19-Mar-18
The next AM, I saw a lot of mule deer does, but no wait white tails. I sat the entire day. Before I left, I forgot to take my decoy down and stash it.

19-Mar-18
The next morning, I got to the stand and my decoy had been demolished. Every part of it was pulled apart and spread all over the place. The metal rod that held it up was bent. Some buck was not happy about this guy being in the field overnight and took out some major aggression on it.

I repaired the decoy and got into my stand right at first light. Right at sunrise, I was looking through my 10s and saw the big buck about 200 yards away. There was a row of trees and I could see just past into a small area of the field, but in that little spot, I could see him. It was the same big WT buck I’d bumped 2 days prior. And he was doing the rut-march directly in my direction.

I got ready for a shot as he closed the distance and came through the trees at 70 yards. He was coming straight for the decoy. All the sudden, a 2 year old WT came in from my right and the two met 50 yards from me. They sniffed each other for a minute and then started fighting. They were really going at each other, throwing dirt up, ranging all around. I almost had a 40 yard shot on the big buck between spars, but they only took a break long enough to take a couple breaths before resuming fighting.

I was ready for when it ended. I figured the big buck would win, I’d grunt, and then the buck would come to the decoy and give it a turn. The problem was, the deer didn’t follow the script. All the sudden, the big buck lost his footing and fell on his side. Immediately, the smaller buck was on his belly, horning him mercilessly. The bigger buck got back on his feet and took off.

I couldn’t believe it. What lousy luck. The bigger deer had to have 2 years on this 2 year old. The smaller buck was feeling his oats at that point, shaking his head like a dog kills a pheasant, grunting and snorting. I was so mad. The victor then turned his attention to my decoy and walked up and started posturing.

That was all I could take. I had one day left to hunt, but I just decided to take out my frustration on this little buck. I put an arrow through his heart.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
I didn’t spend time taking nice pictures. I snapped a selfie and started breaking him down.

19-Mar-18
I got back to CA very late. I spent the next few days hanging out with my kids. I had a tag that was good in the unit south of me, but it’s a 90 minute drive and a 90 minute hike in to my spot, so I decided that my hunting for November was done except for the day I’d hunt with my brother.

My brother doesn’t get much time to hunt and he’s a new hunter. He only bought his .30-06 a few years ago. I helped him kill his first big game animal last year with it in the same area we’d go to in San Diego County, where he’d drawn a LE doe tag (there’s not many doe tags in California). (That was a cool hunt. The first doe we came on was at 45 yards and he was shaking so bad that he shot under the deer by two feet with a scoped rifle. He ended up taking the second deer we found at 80 yards). This year, he’d not drawn the doe tag, so he just had an OTC buck tag. He had one day to hunt.

We planned a midweek hunt date and went in. This place is very remote, which is why it’s a good hunting spot at all. Southern California public land deer hunting is a tough thing. There’s 24 million people who live within 80 miles of the deer we hunt. It took me years to find this little nook that holds unpressured deer. The unit my house is in, D19, has a 4-8% success rate for rifle hunters year in, year out. San Diego (D16) is a little better.

19-Mar-18
The day of the hunt, we left our houses around 2:30 AM to be able to get in there before first light. Right at first light, when we got into the valley, we came upon a fresh deer kill. It was obviously hit with a 3-blade broadhead and quartered out. Dangit, someone had been hunting my spot. It was not looking good.

We still hunted for about a half hour and all the sudden my brother spotted deer to our left. About 100 yards away, there were two bucks trailing a doe. One was a forkie and one was a nice, mature buck. One of the biggest I’ve ever seen in California. They walked behind some trees and we hurried forward to try and cut them off. We got set up for what would have been 90 yard shot, but they never exited the trees. They had turned to their right and walked straight away from us. We got around the trees, but they spotted us and sped up a little. There was no getting a shot at that point.

So we continued on the way we were, into a drainage that is full of oaks where I always seem to see deer and where my brother killed his doe the year prior. We came over a crest and there were 6 deer in front of us at 45 yards. 3 does and 3 bucks. The biggest buck ran forward uphill to our right and was immediately out of sight. Right as he took off, one of the does took off and then the rest of the herd started walking uphill. I told my brother to lean up against the oak on his right and get ready.

I gave out a loud whistle and one of the bucks stopped to look. “Kill him now!” I whispered. BOOM! Man, it always surprises me how loud that gun is. The deer did not fall, ran forward, but I got my glass on him right as he went out of view and I could see that he center punched the lungs and the deer was broadside at the shot.

We backed up and discussed the shot. He felt it was a good shot, but the deer had run away and we could see for 50 yards where he’d gone. I decided we should give him 30 minutes. After the wait, we went to where he was standing and there was a good bloodtrail. We followed it and the buck had gone down just out of our view at the top of a hill, 60 yards from where he was shot.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
My brother’s first buck.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
As a side note, now I know where my Kuiu merino wool beanie is. I was missing that on my January Coues hunt…

19-Mar-18
So that was it for November. I spent the next week with my kids and headed back to AK for 5 weeks of work in late November.

19-Mar-18
I was back in the lower 48 for January and decided to hunt Coues the second week of the month. This was my 4th year hunting Coues. I’d hunted one area the first 3 and killed a 3 point buck my 3rd year, but I was now in a new area that I’d scouted with Ron after the P&Y Club conference in St Louis back in April. Ron ended up drawing a tag in NM, so I was hunting alone.

19-Mar-18
My first day, I decided to go into some open country that had cattle tanks and glass for deer and see if I saw anything worth putting a ground blind on. I ended up glassing up 3 deer, but they were all 2 miles away so I couldn’t tell much about them as I didn’t bring my spotter that day.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
This was the kind of country I was hunting day 1.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
Day two of my hunt I was in my core area where a dry creek came out of the mountains. There was rain forecast that day so I wanted to be in a ground blind. I had a game trail scouted that had fresh rubs on it and I set up on the trail. I was glad to be in that blind because it poured most of the AM. Right after the rain let up, I did a rattling sequence and a few minutes later heard a snort downwind.

Mid day after it’d warmed up, I walked farther in still hunting and looking for a tree. There’s very few pines in this area or any trees you can put a stand in, but I found a small stand of pinyons that was near a pinch point. I bumped a spike as I got into this area, and then a doe and fawn on my way out. There were rubs everywhere and good amounts of scat.

19-Mar-18
The way I figure, there’s a couple ways to hunt Coues. You can spot and stalk them, but they’re tough to stalk and this often times results in longer shots and I don’t like long shots. You can sit a ground blind over water and this is probably a very effective way to hunt Coues, but I hate sitting in ground blinds. It’s just not fun hunting for me. The way I prefer to hunt them is to find pinch points where the trees grow in riparian areas and get in a tree.

I want really close shots on Coues. The year prior, I’d had two clean misses, one at 45 and one at 25 yards, when the bucks had jumped the string and I’d recovered clean arrows stuck in the dirt. The shot I’m looking for on a Coues is under 20 yards. So I found a spot where I had two openings with good cover at 15 yards.

19-Mar-18
Day 3, I’m in my stand well before first light. I had a spike come through before sunrise, and then another spike a little later. I know they were different spikes because one had 2 inch spikes and the other’s were about 5 inches. They both came through at about 45 yards, closer to the ridge.

At 8 AM, I did a rattling sequence and heard something walking slowly in from the north. I had no view to the north. As it got closer, I was sure it was a buck and I readied for a shot. The buck was taking one step, then smelling the ground. Then one step, and smelling the ground again, walking very deliberately. The last stick that blocked my shot was at 17 yards. He stopped and I got a good look at him as he smelled the ground.

He was a mature 6 point. His main beams and tines had that cool-looking triangle shape to them and he was big-bodied (for a Coues). The problem was that he was smelling right where I’d walked in. He took one more step and I now had a clear shot to his neck, but not his chest. He smelled the ground again right where I’d walked. Looked up. Turned around. And walked back the way he’d come. So close.

I didn’t see any deer that afternoon.

19-Mar-18
Most of the deer were coming from the ridge, so I moved trees over about 25 yards to be closer to that path. Plus I had better cover in this tree, although very limited shooting windows. That AM, I saw the bigger spike come through and then the doe fawn. I’d walked in from the south this time in case the buck came through that way again. Same story, around 8 AM, shortly after a rattling sequence, I hear slow, deliberate foot steps coming my way. But this time, from the south. Of course.

The same thing happened. He got to 20 yards, smelling the ground the whole time, came into view, but caught my trail just a step or two before I had a shot and turned around and left the way he’d come.

The spike came back through around 10 AM but after that, I didn’t see any other deer.

At this point, I had a decision to make. This buck had smelled my path twice. I figured I would never see him again. I considered moving and during the hot part of the afternoon, I did scout further up stream and found a water tank that held water and a few pines along a game trail.

I figured I’d give this tree one more day since I was seeing deer there and the pinch of the hill and creek were putting them right under me.

19-Mar-18
The next day I walked in and took a circuitous route around the area, came in over the creek and through the brush, then walked on downed trees or through thick brush the last 80 yards to my stand to keep my scent off the game trails.

8 AM rolled around and I did a rattling sequence and was hoping that buck would come through again, but he didn’t. I did another rattling sequence about 8:30 and heard a something to the north. I looked through and caught site of a buck coming through the brush, but this was a different buck. He came in from behind me and then turned right as he reached my cover. He never came into my shooting lanes. At 25 yards, he stopped, quartered away and I had about an 8x8 inch shooting window through the twigs and was at full draw, but decided to let him walk because I just didn’t like the shot.

He continued walking the same direction and I let him get out of view and about 80 yards away I figured and then did a short rattling sequence. He came right back in and this time walked right into one of my shooting windows at 17 yards and stopped, almost broadside, slightly quartered-to.

I’d gotten to full-draw as he passed through the trees at 25 yards. I aimed for his heart and dropped the string. He so plainly jumped the string that I saw it all happen in slow motion. I’d made a good shot and my arrow went where I wanted it to, but he jumped bad and I hit him square in the guts. I got one good view of him at 40 yards as he ran off and I knew I was in the guts.

I was sick. If I could tell you the whole history of 4 years of Coues hunting, only for it to come down to this… And I’d done everything right, so far as I could figure. I’d done the right thing as far as my scent went, I’d passed on iffy shots. I’d taken a close shot. And I still ended up in the guts.

19-Mar-18
I knew what I had to do. I had to give him 8 hours and then take up the trail. I pulled my stand as I was punching my tag whether I found him or not. It was a long 8 hour wait. I backed out and tried to take a nap in the truck, but that was not happening. At 4 PM, I took up the trail. There was pretty good blood for the first 30 yards, but it slowed to tiny specs every 5-8 yards and I lost it. I started doing a grid search. It got dark and I still hadn’t found him.

I was really starting to give up hope of finding the buck and I was really hating bowhunting at that point. I started to despair, so I went back to my pack to eat and regroup. It was dark now and I only had my tiny backup headlight because I’d lost my good one a few days prior. I went back out for a mag light and decided that I’d give the blood trail another try.

I got to the point of my last blood and got down on my hands and knees. After quite some time, I found one new drop of blood about 15 yards from my last drop. My spirits soared. Now I knew which way he was traveling and he’d made a 90 degree turn. I stayed on my hands and knees another 80 yards and found about 5 more specs of blood. But I was getting into dense brush and there was only so many ways he could go so I just had to explore each path till it dead ended.

Much of the trailing I was doing was by observing kicked rocks. Due to the rain a few days prior, the hard-clay soil was rock hard everywhere the buck kicked over a rock, you could tell from the slightly moist under-side of where the rock had been, that he’d walked through there.

I lost blood again as the trail came to a 3-way fork. I went right first as it seemed to be the quickest dead end and I was right… it go so thick that there was no going that way. I went left next as it opened up into a big area. I spent quite a bit of time in that opening looking for blood and found none. Lastly, I took the straight trail and it opened up into a small area inside some scrub oak that made a 6x12 foot opening, surrounded on all sides by thick scrub oak.

It was dark that night as it was only a day or two till the new moon and I was staring into the reflection of a mag light, so I had no peripheral vision – I could only see where my light was pointed. As I got into this opening, I came upon a pile of deer scat. Then another. 1 foot further and it was solid deer scat; 100s of turds in various degrees of decay. I immediately realized I was in his bedroom.

I stood up and shined the mag light in a circle and there he was, dead 6 feet to my left.

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

19-Mar-18
I was so happy! And relieved. I really thought for a while there that I was not going to find this buck. Usually when I get on an animal that I’ve killed, I’m rather somber. I feel more of a satisfaction and relief than anything. But after finding this buck, after the hours and hours of searching and the despair, I pulled a Full-Stan-Potts. There was fist pumping, some hoots, a really loud YES! I got a little teary eyed and had to give myself a moment…

This was the toughest tracking job I’ve ever had. He’d only gone 120 yards as the crow flew from the shot. But the winding path he took per the GPS was 250 yards and everything after 30 yards was done on hands and knees.

Again, sorry about the lousy photos. It was tough getting a picture in that cramped area with zero light and I wanted to get him broken down due to the poor shot, so that’s the best I could get.

19-Mar-18
Overall, I had a great season hunting with friends and family and I’m very satisfied with the outcome. The Coues deer in January was like the icing on the cake.

I’m looking forward to this year’s adventures. I’ll be hunting Dall sheep in AK and already have an elk tag in Wyoming with Ron and Mike.

As a side note, I wanted to mention something else. I keep seeing a lot of people saying that the costs of hunting are getting out of hand and that western hunting is becoming a “rich man’s sport.” To that, I say bullshit. If you really want to hunt western game, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to hunt with a guide or hunt private ground. I did all these hunts for about $10,000 and that includes my 40 tag applications, the tags, transport, gas, everything. If you really want to go on these hunts, you just have to do some research and go. There’s a learning curve, but you don’t need a professional to help you do this. Sure, it helps to be an AK resident, which opens up a few more species, but I hunted 6 different species and only 1 requires a guide for non-residents and there’s plenty other species that can be hunted without one. You can do any of these hunts if you want to.

Good luck to you all in the draws and hunting season to come!

19-Mar-18

IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo
IdyllwildArcher's embedded Photo

From: Fuzz
19-Mar-18
Great storytelling! It's making this midnight shift pass quickly. I literally lol'd picturing you bare-assed talking with the fish cop!

From: otcWill
19-Mar-18
Great stuff, Ike! Thanks for taking us along

From: njbuck
19-Mar-18
Ike, congrats on a great season and best of luck this coming season!

From: HUNT MAN
19-Mar-18
Great season Ike. Looking forward to this years story. Thanks for posting. Hunt

From: elkmtngear
19-Mar-18
Excellent Season recap, Ike!

What a great morning read! Congrats on your successes and adventures!

Best of Luck, Jeff

From: JCHB
19-Mar-18
What a great read with excellent photos to back up the story. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with the rest of us. JCHB

From: Brotsky
19-Mar-18
Awesome season Ike! That's going to be one to remember! Awesome write up and story telling as well. Thank for sharing it with us!

From: LUNG$HOT
19-Mar-18
Awesome Ike. Can’t wait to read all of it.

From: Michael
19-Mar-18
Ike, how is the grill working out for you?

For those that get to share a campfire with Ike know some of his adventures are down right entertaining. BTW how are the Kuiu pants doing?

This years bulls will be going out on a game cart. No heavy pack’s this year!

Congrats on a great year.

19-Mar-18
Wowser. Great stuff Ike. I agree that between Bowsite and P&Y contacts I am able to hunt most every where in North America. Just a fine way to connect with like minded guys.

Had to smile at the release thing and lack of arrows. Been there and done that.

Continued good wishes on following your dreams. C

From: uteangler
19-Mar-18
Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed every second of your story. Sounds like a great season to me! Good luck in 2018!

From: t-roy
19-Mar-18
Congrats on a great season, Ike! Thanks for taking us along.

From: APauls
19-Mar-18
"...and we talked like we weren’t two guys in the middle of nowhere with one of us sitting there butt-ass naked." LMAO That was hilarious!!

Great recap man that's a heck of a lot of writing and a great effort you put in. What a year! That's a ton of hunting to get in. Those great memories will be with you forever.

From: Medicinemann
19-Mar-18
Looking forward to your 2018 summary in a similar format!!

From: BOWNBIRDHNTR
19-Mar-18
Terrific season and write up Ike. Thanks for taking the time to share it all with us! Jeff

From: Ron Niziolek
19-Mar-18
Great read Ike!

From: Beav
19-Mar-18
Great season and great read! Thanks so much for sharing!

From: Scar Finga
19-Mar-18
Awesome season and a great re-cap.

Thanks for sharing, I always enjoy it!

From: elkstabber
19-Mar-18
Thanks for sharing Ike. I guess you'll bring 4 arrows now?

19-Mar-18
Hah, yeah. My November and January hunts I had 4 with me at all times...

From: deerslayer
19-Mar-18
You are one funny dude Ike... you got some legit lol's out of me!

Thanks for taking the time to post. I know it takes a long time to write a season long post up. We all appreciate it!

Good luck in 2018!

From: Inshart
19-Mar-18
Great adventure, thanks for bringing us along. Boy you sure have an understanding family to be gone that much.

From: JSW
19-Mar-18
Great stories. Thanks for sharing that with us.

19-Mar-18
Fun thread as always Ike.

Coupla things got stuck in my head.

Are those leather seats in your truck? Does manscaping create a contact paper-like tack in hot weather or with enough sweat do you just slide around?

And for the rest of that trip, when you went to sleep, did you try to make sure to position your loin cloth pillow so that the sweaty junk side was down?

Congrats on your season!!

19-Mar-18
Congrats man. Great read.

From: JTreeman
19-Mar-18
Damn brother, thanks for taking the time to take us through all of it! Looks like a lot of fun, and great adventures. We are certainly gonna have to work on your hero shots though ;)

Congrats on a great season.

—jim

From: Mulehorn
19-Mar-18
Way cool! Thanks for sharing.

19-Mar-18
Orion's bro, I have cloth seats in my truck. And after having already been hunting two weeks, I'm sufficiently fuzzy not to have to worry about the suction cup effect. As far as the pillow, I never gave it a second thought. You see, when you manscape, you never get that gross to begin with. I'm sorta like an 18 year old geisha virgin; I even smell good.

19-Mar-18
LMAO, Ike !!!

From: Quinn @work
19-Mar-18
Wow. A lifetime of hunting memories in one year! Congrats and thanks for sharing.

From: PoudreCanyon
19-Mar-18
Awesome recap Ike. How is the mountain goat burger? Can you make patties with it? Poudre

From: kota-man
19-Mar-18
Fun stuff Ike...Congrats on a great year.

From: Jaquomo
19-Mar-18
Wow, Ike! What a great story and a great season! I know about running out of arrows and also about that feeling of relief..

Thank you for the great work, and congratulations!

From: midwest
20-Mar-18
Thanks for taking the time to write it all up. Great stuff!

Wish you could have spent more time on the strip....wow! The game warden story was hilarious!

From: BULELK1
20-Mar-18
Good for you and your bud's Iddy

Thanks for sharing

#LovinLife

Robb

From: trkyslr
20-Mar-18
Looks like another fun year.. congrats!

From: SBH
20-Mar-18
Great job Ike. Your commitment and dedication top the charts. Looks like a lot of good memories made.

From: Treeline
20-Mar-18
Great hunting season, Ike!

Congratulations!

Gotta wonder what kind of tale that Game Officer had back at the station. He's probably still scarred from that unexpected view!

From: grubby
20-Mar-18
awesome! Thanks for sharing! I haven't talked to anyone in a position of authority while naked in my truck since high school!

20-Mar-18
awesome!

From: Scoot
20-Mar-18
Very nicely done! Both your year and your write up were excellent!!! Congrats and thanks for taking the time to share with us.

From: grossklw
20-Mar-18
Fantastic thread Ike.

From: Nesser
20-Mar-18
Great thread! Laughed out loud a few times!

20-Mar-18
I'd like to add something on the subject of my Alaska residency since I got a PM about it and I figured someone might ask. It may appear that I'm gaming the system and not truly an AK resident, which would not allow me to hunt goats without a guide.

I assure you all that's not the case. While I do own a home in CA, this is not my primary residence. I lose a sizable tax deduction because of this. I have a job in Alaska, spend the majority of the year in Alaska, have an AK DL, I vote in AK, I have an apartment in Alaska, and have for nearly 4 years. By AZ GFD's definition and by the state, I am an AK resident.

In order to make sure I was kosher, before I ever bought my first AK resident hunting license, I called the GFD's HQ and talked with two different people, explained my entire life, and was assured that I was indeed a resident. I also contacted an attorney in AK who deals with residency issues and he told me I was an AK resident.

Alaska residents are allowed to vacation outside the state. And that's what I do when I visit California, Arizona, Wyoming, etc. I spend a minority of my time in CA.

From: buzz mc
20-Mar-18
Great story and season. Thanks for taking the time to write it all up.

From: JTreeman
20-Mar-18
I’m more worried about only 3 Arrows in your quiver or the hero photo situations than your family or residency situation!

—jim

20-Mar-18
Jim, I'll carry 4 arrows, just for you. The bad hero pics, well, what can I say? They suck. But when you've had a 16 hour day and it's not nearly over, I'm one to cut corners. Skinning a goat takes forever.

From: Mark Watkins
20-Mar-18
Ike,

Congrats on an incredible season....we look forward to your 2018 season!

Mark

From: TD
21-Mar-18
Wow. What a great season and the write up was awesome. That's a real effort to do..... and you do it so well. Thanks much.

Everything from hand to hand combat with mountain goats to the hands and knees finish. Pretty cool. And thanks for putting your clothes back on for the hero shots........

From: midwest
21-Mar-18
I forgot if you mentioned it....are you doing a full body mount on the goat?

21-Mar-18
No. I'm doing a euro. I don't have room for full mounts. What would I do if I killed 20 goats in my lifetime? I'm going back again in 2019. I might shoulder mount one some day if I ever get a big one that still has the lamb tips. This goat's horns are only 7.5 inches long due to them both being broken.

From: BigOk
21-Mar-18
Congrats, great read.

21-Mar-18
Awesome year IKe, congrats!

From: Outdoordan
22-Mar-18
That was a great write up! Thanks, not sure how you left the strip with a tag in your pocket, that must have been hard...

From: Michael
22-Mar-18
I thought it was common knowledge that we are grateful Ike is a dr and not a photographer.

However he has become a work in progress. He took all my hero shots of my bull. He even took the one with both of us in the picture.

From: Outdoordan
22-Mar-18

Outdoordan's Link
Lumix point and shoot. Keep it in the pocket of your jacket. Takes 4k video as well!

From: LUNG$HOT
04-Apr-18
Awesome season Ike! Just got done reading this! Congrats and better luck on a bull this year.

From: Zackman
04-Apr-18
Well done doc!

From: Marty
04-Apr-18
Nice, thanks for sharing!

From: bowhunter24
09-Apr-18
Thanks Ike and all the other great hunters who take the time to write up and post their stories it really fires me up much more than a magazine article can!

11-Apr-18
That's awesome Ike, congrats on a great season and for taking us along! Sounds like a good time in camp!

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