As a caveat I did start posting this on another forum, but wanted to share here as well
To start the year off I had a hunt for Coues deer in Mexico. It was originally going to be in December but lots of rain postponed it to January. I went with my buddy Brady and we had a good price on a new ranch out of Hermosillo. I have unsuccessfully bowhunted spot and stalk for coues deer in Arizona a few times. I had killed a small 2pt buck with a rifle in AZ about 20 years ago.
Well, the weather didn't cooperate and it rained the first few days there. Makes for long boring sits at water holes! The other hunters were super slow as well. The Second to last day we set up a new ground blind at a small water hole that was getting hit. We brushed in the front we thought the deer would come from, then Brady said don't worry about the other side. I wanted to take the time but he was hungry!
The last day I sat the blind, and I see a monster buck circle around the waterhole and walk to the far side of the blind that wasn't brushed in. It came down the bank and at 45 yards facing straight at me locked onto the new blind! I had no shot as he took a step backwards and disappeared. Ugg, after a week of nothing i lost a chance at the biggest Coues I have ever seen.
Luckily not long afterwards 2 other bucks came in, a smaller 6pt and a 7pt. I had decided to shoot the first legal deer, being the last day. These young deer come into water and I pick the one broadside. I go through the draw process and settle the pin and release- I watch in horror as by arrow goes right under the buck! I used the wrong pin.
I do have to admit that white tail deer from a stand has always been my archery shooting nemesis! I have missed more whitetail from a stand than all other hunts combined! Pretty sure I get way too excited, but that's why I love it :) .
Luck was on my side. The 6pt buck that I didn't shoot at came back about 15 minutes later by himself. I took my time and made a good shot for my first Coues deer with a bow! I knew the ranch had extra deer tags so I stayed in the blind. Needless to say another small basket 8 came in about an hour later. It was at the far side of the water hole and spooky coming in. I waited it out and decided to try the shot. Not meant to be as the longer shot and jumpy buck completely jumped the string.
A coyote showed up later, and I put an arrow through it- a little back but solid hit. Pretty enjoyable for my first trip to hunt Mexico. The food is great and warm weather and Sunshine sure is a nice break from the Alaska winter!
Next up was Kodiak Mountain Goats. I never had a tag before so March is a great "off Season" hunt. I had a couple buddies who wanted to go as well. Winter hunting adds a whole new layer of gear and preparation. Weather is always a concern as well. We got into Kodiak and dropped off just before a storm blew in. First day glassing was promising!
Lots of snow that year- the Goats were less than a mile away but up about 2500'. Killer quad burn. The hardest part was busting through the snow. By afternoon the wind was blowing snow, but there were enough breaks to still see. We got to 4-500 yards below the group when they started to get spooky. The big Lead goat started heading away from us with the rest following.
I dropped down and dialed for the distance and hoped I was holding enough for the wind. My shot dropped her! The rest of the goats turned back momentarily not knowing what to do. My buddy was then able to connect with another. 2 goats down! The third friend was having a tough time with the snow since he weighed more and would break through. We started working on field dressing in the weather.
45 minutes later we see the 3 buddy crest the ridge. As luck would have a few new goats had feed over the top of the mountain. After a wind correction, there were 3 goats down! plenty of fun skinning out goats on a windswept hillside with 3' of snow!
With the daylight quickly fading we decided to cache the meat and hides and get back to camp before too late. We made it down after an exhausting day. The next day we busted out the snowshoes and were able to retrieve everything, while also glassing up a nice Billy the next mountain over. Due to work constraints with the pressing Covid pandemic I was to head home early while my buddies planned out a spike camp to go chase the billy.
Back to March- we all know the pandemic took a huge turn for the worse. The State of Alaska issued Health mandates that virtually shut down my dental office. So I decided to go hunting ??. I still had another goat tag for Kodiak and wanted a good billy. I had another buddy who had never killed a Goat so he was up to go.
We flew into a different spot this time and the weather forecast was much better. Once again we found some Goats from camp.
We glasses door a couple days but didn’t turn up a billy. There was a big collared nanny to go after. The morning we went after that group they had relocated a mile down the ridge. We had to skirt some cliffs on the beach but found a good chute to climb. My friend needed a closer shot so we tried to close the distance but got coiffed out directly below the goats. I saw them for a split second before the old goat busted us and left over the ridge,
We tried to skirt the cliff in the snow and ice. The one thing I learned about Mt. goats is they live in steep terrain! Easy to slip and fall. As we made our way to the next basin we spotted a few more goats coming our way. My buddy set up and after a few shots?? he had his first Mt. Goat!
Next up was bear season. I have grown to love the spring bait season. Great way out of winter and start getting in shape. My oldest had two first time bear hunters planning to come so we opened two new baits in addition to a bait I ran the previous year. Lots of bushwhacking and machete work to find suitable and legal locations.
Luck was on my side and the bears quickly showed up. Feeding a couple of Brown Bears takes a lot of bait! Once they started hitting regularly towards the end of season I committed to hunting them full time- which means sleeping in my ground blind 3 nights in a row only 20 yards from the bait by myself with my bow ??.
I didn’t know who scary that could be til the 3rd night the bears finally showed up together right before dark. If there ever was a time I wished I had the biggest rifle in my hands that was it!
the sow came in first while the boar warily circled. They took a piece of fresh bait and quickly left. 5 minutes later they come back. It took everything I had to calm my nerves and wait for the boar to present a shot.
Finally he came into to the bait mostly broadside, slight quarter to me. I drew and settled on a spot, But then told my self Middle of the Middle is better than shoulder! I released and saw my arrow hit dead center! The boar circled and ran down hill, the sow busted out thankfully straight away from me and I started shaking!!
It was getting close to midnight and a light drizzle was falling. There was no way I was going to spend another night solo in that blind or go after a bow shot Brown bear by myself in the dark ??. So I quickly bailed out the blind and made it to my truck and home.
The next morning I called some back up and we got to the bait by midday. I was hoping to find my arrow or good blood but nothing. I did feel ok about the shot, a bit back but the arrow seemed to go all the way in. I was shooting an Iron Will v100 standard with collar on an injexion shaft. Total weight about 450gr. I knew that blade would continue to cut if inside the bear.
I was relieved when my friend found some evidence- the back 6” of my arrow witch was crunched
Still no luck on the blood but the soft ground had definite paw marks. We followed the trail down to a little creek. We split up and slowly walked along both sides seeing lots of bear sign all over.
Not more than 20 yards I hear my buddies shout There it is! The bear had rolled up under a log dead! I can’t describe my emotions at finding the bear. I’m sure many bow hunters have spent a night not knowing if they would recover such a great animal. Also all the time over the past several years to finally get the chance to arrow a big boar. On top of that the sleep deprivation over the past several days and the emotional release of it being successfully over!!
While skinning the bear I found the rest of the arrow just under the hide on the opposite Ham. The bear must have been quartering to me more than I thought. It was very odd that the vanes had been bitten off though with blood on them - My thought as to what happened is the arrow went in at least to the vanes-
I recall at the shot it appeared the arrow went all the way in- the bear did a 180 and we found the vanes about 20 yds down the trail. The arrow must have pushed back out enough for the boar to bite it. then the bear took off again and this time the rest of the shaft and Broadhead worked its way in deeper to the opposite ham with every move until it came to the far hide. That’s like 3-4’ of penetration and the bear died close. Pretty good hemorrhage all along the path of the Broadhead- still very sharp!
Alaska had closed Non Residents from hunting in May. My oldest had plans with two buddies to come up for Black Bears as a senior Graduation trip. Luckily the state implemented the Covid testing option and in June they were able to travel.
The two new baits were looking good for bears and Caleb was very patient as a good friend to not let anyone hunt them until his friends got their bears first. It did make for a lot of dog food runs til they came ??
Next up Justus who had come up the year before and got skunked (mainly because he didn’t buy a tag til after Caleb shot a bear ??) We made extra sure this year to have a hot bait for him to hunt.
He made a great shot and also got his first bear! A nice boar. Justus is my son’s best friend and was like another son when we lived back in Colorado. Great kid an I’m glad I let Caleb bring him along hunting with us that first time. (They doubled up on cow elk )
Last up was my son Caleb. Not to be outdone he shot the biggest bear on the baits. Now the Black bears don’t get big here, probably because of all the Brown bears, genetics, who knows but it rare to see a big one like the SE. this one went 6’ nose to tail but was very old.
The older boys have all grown up to be great hunters! They are all Graduated and going out on their own. As we know it doesn't come easy, especially bowhunting! I started my youngest Jack who is 12 on his first bowhunt. As you will see its not that easy-
His first opportunity came and missed low. pretty nerve racking for him
This opportunity came right after. Of all his chances this is the one I feel worst about. He held it all together and made a great shot. I thought the bears was toast. But it was not to be. the arrow hit lower than we thought and only one tiny drop of blood. We looked that night and all the next day with the whole family and couldn't find any more blood or bear.
After the two low shots I checked his shooting on target and he was shooting a bit low. I had had the older boys helping him, and Justus who works at a bow shop coaching him. But archery Form and slow arrows makes it tough. I hadn't taken the time out of my busy schedule to check everything myself and see that he was good. We made a slight adjust to his sight and he wanted to try again.
The last weekend Jack decided he wanted to kill a bear, and this time he said he wanted to take his rifle. Last year he made a great shot and killed his first bear with the same rifle. I have no problem with rifle hunting and prefer my kids hunt than not! I checked the zero on the gun and it was dead on. We have a lot of bears in this area, so I have no problem letting him shoot another. Well, I have no idea what happened this time- the bear came in- he took the shot, and NO BEAR! he said while he was aiming he decided to move the aim point, he didn't have a steady rest maybe jerked? but no blood and NO BEAR after another day of searching. I guess it just wasn't meant to be for him that season. Hunting can be frustrating.
With Covid we weren’t sure if my son would be able to hunt or not. His summer job as a fishing guide with his Uncle had been slow due to Covid so he had a few days to look for sheep. His best friend Justus also was visiting again from CO and wanted to pack for us. So we changed our area to hunt.
2 days before opener we get to the area in the evening and start glassing. We unexpectedly turned up two rams on a mountain the opposite way we were planning to go. From the distance we couldn’t tell if they were legal or not, so decided to sleep on it and see if they were still there in the morning
One of the more stressful parts of sheep hunting is the “legal ram” judgment call! Last year I hunted with Caleb and we found a ram that I called at 7yrs, he thought 8. We knew it wasn’t full curl by the stick test but might be by the tip tangent rule. Needless to say I couldn’t shoot it, he was confident in his call so shot his fist ram last year. The Anchorage office aged it a 7 years but gave him the tip past tangent on the left antler to make it legal
I’m not that confident so prefer obviously legal to a Squeaker!
Great stuff so far, hopefully there's a few more hunts to come. And tip of the cap to getting/keeping your kids involved. Mine are just starting to get old enough to come along and I know it will make it harder to bring them with, but hopefully it pays off similarly well as your situation.