Mathews Inc.
2022 AZ Buck in the Thorns Trip
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
midwest 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Nick Muche 18-Jan-22
[email protected] 18-Jan-22
azelkhntr 18-Jan-22
t-roy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Charlie Rehor 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Nick Muche 18-Jan-22
Bowboy 18-Jan-22
Empty Freezer 18-Jan-22
[email protected] 18-Jan-22
Beav 18-Jan-22
JL 18-Jan-22
Jaquomo 18-Jan-22
zabwelch 18-Jan-22
HUNT MAN 18-Jan-22
pav 19-Jan-22
Rocky D 19-Jan-22
LWood 19-Jan-22
Mad Trapper 19-Jan-22
Southern draw 19-Jan-22
nmwapiti 19-Jan-22
Treeline 19-Jan-22
t-roy 19-Jan-22
Shug 19-Jan-22
BOWNBIRDHNTR 19-Jan-22
midwest 19-Jan-22
Medicinemann 20-Jan-22
'Ike' (Phone) 20-Jan-22
iceman 20-Jan-22
otcWill 20-Jan-22
huntinelk 20-Jan-22
SteveB 20-Jan-22
SBH 21-Jan-22
Ron Niziolek 21-Jan-22
njbuck 21-Jan-22
Bowfreak 21-Jan-22
cnelk 21-Jan-22
From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22
Four of us we're going to AZ in January 2022 to chase Coues & Mule Deer in the Desert. The hunters would be Dave (aka Empty Freezer), Gentry ( not a Bowsiter), Jason (aka NMWapiti), and Craig (aka Bowboy). Jason would arrive on the 4th about noon, Gentry would be there at noon on the 5th, I would be there the 6th, and Dave would be there on the 7th about noon. Everybody else was driving, but me. They had no problems and arrived without any issues.

I received a text from Southwest stating my flight to Tucson was cancelled. I tried to call customer service, and was on hold for over 2hrs and no one picked up. Their computer system rebooked me for the 7th at the same time frame. But that flight also got cancelled at 4:30pm on the 6th. Southwest wanted to schedule me for the 9th, but I didn't take it since I figured it'd just get cancelled again. What a fiasco.! I threw everything into my truck and drove as far as I could the first night. I did arrive late the evening of the 7th.

Jason arrived on the 4th and squeezed in an afternoon hunt. He saw some deer, mainly mule deer. The next morning on the 5th he closed the distance and got a shot at a buck, but hit it a little low. He saw good blood for a ways , but then it petered out. He never did find the deer.

Gentry went out on the evening with Jason on the 5th. He got a shot at a nice buck, but hit a branch and the arrow went under the deer.

They we're texting me play by play of the stalks, and the animals they we're seeing. This definitely helped me drive faster so I could get into the action.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22
The morning of the 8th Gentry heads to a hill just a little ways from camp to glass. Dave, Jason and myself headed over to a place they call the tower. There is some kind of Border Patrol tower there.

The plan is for Dave to drop us off and we'll walk about 5 mile his way to meet up with him. Jason and myself wait until light and start walking through the thorny desert. Jasso immediately spots a nice Coue's heavy 4x4 on a hill about 400yds away. There is no way to get to him since the wind is wrong and he'll most likely see us. We glass up some mules deer does, but no buck is with them. We're walking to the next ravine and a Coue's doe get's up about 6yds to the right of us and takes off running. She was bedded under some brush.

We walk to the next ravine and there is some Coue's does and five little bucks chasing one of them. We watched them for a while, but never put a stalk on them.

We see Dave on the next ridge and he text's us stating he's headed back to the truck. We meet up with him, and he states he saw some mule deer does and a small buck that morning.

We get back to camp and Gentry is there, and stated he was 38yds from a nice 3x4 mule deer buck but chose not to shoot.

For the evening hunt we all get into Gentry's side by side and head over to where Jason had hit the buck on the 5th. The plan is for Dave and Gentry to go high and Jason and myself to go high.

Jason and myself cross two ravines and glassing when we spot a group of mule deer. There is probably 8 does & fawns and a nice buck. The buck is limping after getting the optic's on him, it's the buck Jason hit on the morning of the 5th. I told Jason go finish the job and he takes off in their direction. I stayed put just in case get bumped by him and they head my direction.

I go just about 100yds and wait. I was sitting there maybe 45 minutes and mule deer start coming over the ridge about 180yds from me just feeding and milling around. It's the same ones Jason was stalking. I wait until they feed into the brush so I can move and stalk closer. The problem is there's a cow standing under a tree about 20yds from me and I know she'll blow out and scare the deer. This is public land.

The deer feed to a hill past the cow but I have no cover to close the distance. I have maybe 20 minutes of light left. A little 2x3 mule deer buck come's over and get's a little to close to the big buck and his does. The big buck chases his does over the hill and they out of my sight. I run too the top of the hill and a doe see's me and they head into a ravine to my right. The does cross and the buck stand's there at 97.5yds way to far. The buck starts to cross the ravine and I run about another 7yds and he's standing at 90yds broadside looking at me, but way to far to shoot. Game over.

The other guys saw a few deer but nothing worth stalking. End of our first day with all of hunting.

I post some pictures soon.

From: midwest
18-Jan-22
I think I know how this ends! :-)

Carry on, Craig!

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22

Bowboy's embedded Photo
Bowboy's embedded Photo
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The morning of the 9th Dave goes back to where he went on the 8th to see if anymore bucks have showed up. Gentry, Jason and myself head to another hill to glass for deer. We spot some right away but there all does and a small buck, nothing worth stalking. We glass until a little after 9:00am and head back to camp. Jason didn't have good night of sleep for some reason and we left him at camp.

Gentry and myself head out his the side by side to scout some new areas. We discover a few dry water holes. Gentry looks on his OnX and it show's a waterhole north of us. We get on the right road and find the water hole. It's a AZ G&F guzzler you can't see it from the road, but walk about 100yds off the road and you can definitely see the metal fence. Gentry mentions when you saw that waterhole you had a big smile. I like stalking but getting close to these deer this would be a great place to place a blind. It so happen I threw in my Double Blind. If I would've flown I wouldn't of had one available.

We head back to camp to have lunch. My plan is to place the blind on the waterhole for the evening hunt.

The other guys were going to glass and stalk deer in some other places that night. They all saw plenty of deer, but they never got any stalks in.

I sat the blind that night and saw about 15-20 mule deer and one small 3x3. He was was in range but not the caliber buck I was looking for. Dave wanted to shoot anything and had never shot a deer in the unit and he's been hunting there 5yrs.

I told him at dinner that night to come sit the water hole with me in the morning. If the 3x3 buck came in he could definitely shoot him.

No hunt is complete on Bowsite without the boot picture.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22

Bowboy's embedded Photo
Mule Deer at water
Bowboy's embedded Photo
Mule Deer at water
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Coues Deer at water
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Coues Deer at water
On the 10th Gentry Jason head to another spot they know to glass. Dave and myself head to the waterhole blind.

At about 7:15am six mule deer does & fawns show up. They have no buck in tow. About 8:20am the 3pt with some does show's up, but he won't come into the waterhole. The problem is the blind is kinda of exposed in the open on the one side. We have a couple Coues does come in but no bucks.

I really don't like where the blind is because you have to shoot the deer before theyt get to the water hole. You can't shoot thru the fence because the arrow with hit it, do to the arch. Also if the deer from the water hole side you can't get a shot at all. We sit the blind in the evening, with no deer coming in.

The other guy's saw some deer, but nothing they wanted to stalk.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22

Bowboy's embedded Photo
Gentry Glassing
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Gentry Glassing
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Danger Cave Sign
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Danger Cave Sign
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Actual Mine
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Actual Mine
On the 11th Dave and Jason go to a hill near camp to glass for deer on the flats. Gentry and myself go to an area he calls the mine spot. I felt the waterhole needed a break for at least a day.

Gentry and myself get to the mine spot and glass. we see a little Coues buck and some mule deer does. We glass until about 9:00am but see nothing worth stalking. We walk back to the side by side and go to a hill about a mile away and climb up so we can glass. We immediately spot some Coue's but nothing worth stalking. We keep glassing and see some mule deer with a big forkie chasing does. We leave and get back to camp about noon, the other guys saw a few deer and Dave saw one he want's to stalk that evening if he's still in the area.

Gentry and Jason go back over where Jason hit the buck he never recovered. They spot a nice mule deer 4x4 and Gentry takes off after the buck. He gets about a 100yds from them but has no other cover to close the distance for a shot. He waits until dark and backs out.

Dave and myself spot the buck he saw that morning and he goes after him. He's chasing one particular doe hard. He's just a big forkie mule deer buck. I see Dave for awhile then he goes into a ravine and I can't see him. He's come's back over to me right about dark and states he couldn't find them, and once he was in the ravine he went the wrong direction. Good thing is he never got spotted and they didn't bust out.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22
Double post

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22

Bowboy's embedded Photo
Arrow back half
Bowboy's embedded Photo
Arrow back half
Bowboy's embedded Photo
Blind
Bowboy's embedded Photo
Blind
On the 12th Gentry and Jason head to another spot to glass. Dave heads back to stalk the big forkie. I head to the water hole blind.

Gentry and Jason see some deer, but nothing worth stalking. Dave stalks the forkie, but doesn't get a chance at him he's got to many does. I see nothing except of a coues deer doe and fawn.

When I put up the blind Gentry mentioned he though it was illegal to place the blind inside the guzzler area. I sent a PM to Roy Grace on Bowsite since I couldn't see anything in the AZ Game Regs. He replied back it's fine to place you blind in the fenced area.

I had lunch and told the guys I was moving the blind. Also I stated I had a gut feeling I was going to kill a buck that night. They kind of rolled their eyes like sure you are! This would put me within 24-25yds of the water hole. I moved the blind and brushed it in. I climbed in for an evening sit.

The other guys were going to some other places and try and glass up a buck. They did but never got a shot opportunity.

I had been sitting in the blind since about 2:30pm. I had saw nothing but I stayed positive. It was about 10 minutes until no more shooting light and I see horns.

The buck comes up to the fence looks at the water and jumps it. He goes straight to the water and starts drinking. I come to full draw but he's facing me, so I had to let down. He starts to turn and I come to full draw and about 10-12 does and fawns come in and get in the way. I have to let down again. He chases a doe from the water but no shot opportunity. Finally he come's back and is standing broadside. Two does butts are facing me drinking and the buck steps in between them and gives me a shot. I come to full draw settle the pin on his heart area and shoot. Deer go running in every direction jumping the fence. I see half of my arrow buried in his heart area. I wait about 15 minutes and sneak out of the blind and find the back half of my arrow with blood on it where it broke. About 14 inches of my arrow is in him. I also heard a loud crack when I hit him.

I call Jason but he doesn't answer probably still hiking out. I call Dave and he answers and says he's on his way. I go outside the fence and look for blood can't find any. I walk back to my truck and Dave shows up. We walk back and look for blood in the dark can't find any. We walk the grass and little dry creek areas and we don't find him. I tell Dave lets' leave him until the morning since we might be walking on blood. Leaving over night is a gamble since there are so many coyote's around. PS I'm questioning my shot at this point! Going to be a sleepless night that's for sure!

Gentry and Jason looked at the arrow and state he's a dead buck.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22
On the 13th I tell Gentry and Jason go hunt somewhere since Gentry will be leaving early Friday morning for home. Dave states I'm going with you in the morning to help locate your buck.

Dave and myself get to the water hole at day light and start looking for blood. We can't find any. We make big circles and still nothing. Now I'm really doubting myself and the shot. I come back to the fence where he jumped and I find some blood but not much. Dave show's up and I show him the blood. I go a little farther and find some more on the grass but not much. Dave is off the the left of me maybe 10yds. I see a pin drop of blood on the grass. Dave states there's your buck! The grass was so tall we had walked by the buck the night before and also in the morning. We can't believe we walked past him in the dark and that morning! I was on cloud 9 would be an understatement. Also the coyotes never found him. As you can see in the picture it was a perfect heart shot.

Dave and myself sat the blind again hoping the 3x3 would come in, but we saw nothing. Gentry and Jason saw some deer but nothing worth chasing.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22

Bowboy's embedded Photo
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Dang pictures wouldn’t load on the other. This story isn’t done yet folks

We has some tenderloins and back strap that night with dinner. He was a great tasting buck for rutting!

From: Nick Muche
18-Jan-22
Awesome buck!

18-Jan-22
Greg, when you told me you shot a 3x4 buck I thought it was a little guy. Wrong. Nicely done.

From: azelkhntr
18-Jan-22
Congrats! Nice buck.

From: t-roy
18-Jan-22
I wasn’t too worried….I was pretty sure you were gonna find him ;-)

Congrats again on a beautiful buck, buddy!

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22
On the 14th Gentry got up and headed home early in the morning. Dave, Jason, and myself headed towards the blind. We were going let Jason about two miles from the waterhole to do a little scouting a new area.

Dave and myself climbed in the blind and sat until about 10:00am. Nothing came in that morning. I mentioned to Dave he was going to kill a Coue's buck today. We got out of the blind and picked up Jason along the way he saw nothing

Dave and myself were going to be headed on Saturday the 15th so this evening would be last time to hunt. We got in the blind about 3:00pm. It was pretty warm that day.

Jason spots a bigger buck than the one I shot right behind camp and get's about 82yds but can't get any closer and has to back out.

It was getting to the last 15 minutes before the end of shooting time and we hadn't seen anything. All of a sudden Dave says coues buck. Where I'm sitting and can't see the deer. I lift up the no see screen and sure enough a buck is coming to water. Dave comes to full draw but the buck is facing us. He wants to take a shot but I tell him wait. Dave holds at full draw for probably over a minute. He finally let's down. He's very excited and breathing hard like giving birth. I tell him to calm down and breath slowly. Sorry Dave had to tell that part. Finally the buck turns to our right and starts walking away. I tell Dave draw now. The buck hesitates and the arrow is gone. The buck is quartering way and the lighted arrow zips thru him perfectly. It's definitely a dead buck. We wait about five minutes and find the arrow.

We go to the fence where the buck went over and find no blood. Dave goes down towards the dry creek bed I make a little circle out in the field. We end up back at the fence and I ask Dave if he went towards these two little trees and he says no. I walk over towards the trees and he's laying there piled up. We're excited and give high fives. This is Dave's first Coues buck. He got it done on his last hunting day and just before dark.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22

Bowboy's embedded Photo
Bowboy's embedded Photo
Bowboy's embedded Photo
Dave’s Coues Buck
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Dave’s Coues Buck
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Dave looking up some guy named Gary. He should be looking out the blind. The old guys in the hunting crew got it done. But there is another buck story that needs to be told.
Bowboy's embedded Photo
Dave looking up some guy named Gary. He should be looking out the blind. The old guys in the hunting crew got it done. But there is another buck story that needs to be told.
Here's the pictures since they won't load on the other post.

The old-timers Dave and myself get it done now it's up to Jason. There's another deer great story to tell.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22
Well on the 15th Dave and myself leave Jason buy himself since we're headed home. He goes out from camp and looks for the big mule deer buck he saw the night before, but can't find him. He packs up his camp and moves over to some new territory.

He doesn't have any luck that night, but does see some coues deer with some bucks. No shot opportunities.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22
On the 16th Jason hunt this one spot but doesn't see any deer in the morning he want's to stalk. He's goes to town and get's some gas and gets some taco's for lunch. He relocates to the spot where he shot the buck on the 5th.

That evening Jason spots a deer and it's the buck he actually shot on the 5th. He's get's within shooting range and takes a shot. The shot looks good but he only has a about 15 minutes of light left. The buck walks off but doesn't act like he's been hit. Jason doesn't want to push him. So he decides to wait till morning.

18-Jan-22
“Empty Freezer” no more.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22
On the 17th he hikes to the spot at daylight where he last saw the buck. He finds his arrow it's all covered in blood. Also he finds some big blood spots where the buck bedded. He searches but can't locate the buck. He goes back in in the afternoon and looks again, but nothing. He's sick to his stomach since the meat is probably bad and the coyotes might have gotten to him by now. He actually saw a coyote but his buck wasn't there when he went and looked where he came out. Dave, Gentry, and myself call and text him with you'll find him.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22

Bowboy's embedded Photo
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Blood Spot 1
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Blood Spot 1
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Blood Spot 2
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Blood Spot 2
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Blood Spot 3
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Blood Spot 3
Pics

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22
On the 18th Jason gets up and goes to the spot and does another search again. He see's two coyotes come out of a draw. He also spot's two crow's squawking. One of the crow's flies down from the tree into the grass below. Jason walks over and finds his deer. The coyotes have pretty well eaten the whole thing but the head. They even managed to break an antler tip. The buck was most likely dragged from the last spot he disappeared on the 16th after the shot. Jason never gave up and eventually found his buck, but not the ending he wanted.

During out trip we saw over 50 plus coyotes when glass and heard many more than that. I was definitely lucky they didn't get my buck.

We killed 3 of 4. If Gentry would've shot the buck at 38yds we'd most likely be sitting at 100% success.

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22

Bowboy's embedded Photo
Buck when he found him
Bowboy's embedded Photo
Buck when he found him
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Hair pile
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Hair pile
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From: Nick Muche
18-Jan-22
This was great! Sometimes things happen out of your control but if you stay persistent, luck seems to find a way. Great recap and congrats to all of you!

From: Bowboy
18-Jan-22

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The Four Amigos
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The Four Amigos
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Dave’s Buck Looks Bigger
Bowboy's embedded Photo
Dave’s Buck Looks Bigger
Here’s some more pictures.

We saw no illegals but Border Patrol was everywhere. They also flew they’re helicopters at night a lot. I suspect they were most likely using infrared to find them.

PS: I’m still confused on this Gary guy Dave was obsessed with. It must be a CA thing.

18-Jan-22
Charlie you are correct, i no longer have an empty freezer but i think i'll keep the handle because it fits me now. When Craig and i first met, by the end of the day i was calling him Greg and Gary for some reason, i'm gettin up there, but Gary kinda of stuck and it was alot of fun. I gotta tell you guys about this crew. I am a rookie compared to this bunch and they are a huge help to me with teaching me the finer points of hunting, shooting, field dressing and butchering. I cant thank them all enough. The Coues deer, wow, i have never gone after a coues because they are so fast, spooky, and hard to find, a bucket list harvest for sure. I just ate some and i think it tastes different and a little better (cuz i shot it) than mulie and it was awesome. And special thanks to Gary for giving all of his Giant Mule Deer meat to me. I seriously had to go buy a new freezer. And for Jason, looking for his buck as long as he did shows perseverance, and it was the right thing to do, lesson for me. Pretty amazing hunt with a group of amazing humans.

18-Jan-22
Good story. Nicely done by all. my best, Paul

From: Beav
18-Jan-22
Great story and what a trip! Congrats to all and thanks for sharing.

From: JL
18-Jan-22
Congrats to all and thanks for taking the time to post the story and pics! Ya should have slipped those CBP helo pilots a six pack so they would tell ya where they're seeing the bucks from the air. :-)

From: Jaquomo
18-Jan-22
Great story, guys, and congratulations to you all for what sounds like a great hunt!

From: zabwelch
18-Jan-22
Awesome trip! Thanks for taking the time to share! Congrats!!

From: HUNT MAN
18-Jan-22
Great hunt Craig. Lots of good times had in this trip. Thanks for posting . Hunt

From: pav
19-Jan-22
Great times with good friends! Thanks for sharing!

From: Rocky D
19-Jan-22
Congratulations, what a great trip!

From: LWood
19-Jan-22
Great hunt!

From: Mad Trapper
19-Jan-22
Outstanding bucks! Congrats Craig!!

19-Jan-22
Well done!

From: nmwapiti
19-Jan-22
It's hard to describe how bad the stickers were this year. Southern AZ and NM got a ton of rain during the summer. The grass was over 2 feet high most places. It gave all of us fits finding downed deer. Than there were tons of these orangy weeds with stalks of tiny stickers that loved to get into everything. In the river bottoms, they could be 8 feet tall. Lot of cat claw and other nastiness too. I talked to a couple guys from Kentucky. Places they usually sat to ambush deer in the bottoms were an impenetrable jungle this year. Crazy stuff.

From: Treeline
19-Jan-22
Excellent hunt guys! Great results! Tough that Jason lost the meat but awesome that he found it! Congratulations!

From: t-roy
19-Jan-22
“He’s very excited and breathing hard like giving birth.”

Good stuff, right there!! :-) Sounds like a great time with some good friends! Congrats on the bucks!

From: Shug
19-Jan-22
Congrats…. Great story

From: BOWNBIRDHNTR
19-Jan-22
I agree with nmwapiti, those "orangy weeds with stalks of tiny stickers that loved to get into everything" were a pain in the arse this year! Great story guys!!

From: midwest
19-Jan-22
Great to hear the stories, Craig, Greg, Gary....whatever!

Congrats again, Craig, and to the rest of the crew!

From: Medicinemann
20-Jan-22
Well done. Enjoyed the story.

20-Jan-22
Very nice…

From: iceman
20-Jan-22
congratulations!

From: otcWill
20-Jan-22
Awesome buck Craig! Enjoyed your story

From: huntinelk
20-Jan-22
Great story, great trip, congratulations

From: SteveB
20-Jan-22
Love this! Congratulations!

From: SBH
21-Jan-22
Looks like fun to me! Nice work. Appreciate the post

From: Ron Niziolek
21-Jan-22
Good stuff Craig.

From: njbuck
21-Jan-22
Looks like a fun trip, congrats.

From: Bowfreak
21-Jan-22
Looks like a great hunt! Congrats to all of you on great deer, but more importantly great memories.

From: cnelk
21-Jan-22
Thumbs up!

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