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2022 Great Hunts, Great Friends and ‘23
As I sit on the plane heading to my next adventure, I got to thinking about 2022 and how truly special it was. I haven’t shared a hunt on here for quite sometime. I thoroughly enjoy other members hunts so I thought “why not”…
DISCLAIMER: If a rifle or hunt or two are not your thing, stop here, hit your back button and move to the next thread. ;)
Sheep Show All Stars
Sheep Show All Stars
2022 kicked off like it has the last 10 years with a trip to Reno to the Wild Sheep Foundation Convention. This annual trip has become a staple for me. Catching up with great friends and many of the outfitters I’ve hunted with through the years, has become a ritual. Here’s most of the core group of guys that gets together most years for many lies, laughs and sushi. Many of these guys are Bowsiters. How many do you recognize? The amount of hunting experience in this group is off the charts. An incredible group of men to be associated with. I’m honored to call each and everyone one of them friends…
Now, the hunts…In April I was able to realize one of my childhood hunting dreams of hunting the big bears of Kodiak. The trip with Freelance Outdoor Adventures, did not disappoint. Lance’s motto of “Cold, Wet and Miserable” rang true on Kodiak, but we still managed to turn up 55 bears in just 4 days of hunting. Two of these bears were the bears dreams were made of, eclipsing the magic 10 ft. mark. On day 4 of the hunt, I managed to take one of these giants. After chasing a larger bear most of the day, we retreated to a glassing knob just before dark and this bear came right to us.
May has historically been reserved for Black Bear hunting in Manitoba. I’ve hunted black bears in BC and Saskatchewan as well, but Muskeg Country Outfitters near Rossburn, Manitoba has turned into an annual trip for me. This year I would be accompanied by my brother. He loves to hunt but being a Physical Therapist-Head Football Coach- Athletic Acceleration Trainer, leaves him little time for adventure hunts. My goal was for him to shoot a great black bear. His goal: to shoot one bigger than mine. We did a ton of looking at bear pics, talking bear characteristics going into this hunt. It’s common for a new bear hunter to not be able to judge these bears, but I always told him, like anything else, you know a big one when you see it. On his very first night in the stand, we pulled in to drop him off and there were two bears on the bait and two in trees around the bait. What a way to kick off your first night! With light fading fast, after passing on a few lesser bears a 430 lb giant came to his bait. He made a clean kill and was forever hooked on bear hunting. Now, the standard had been set for me. I sat the next few nights without seeing anything big. On night 5, I heard a branch break to my right and saw a giant closing. I grabbed my bow, drew and sent the arrow just as he was approaching the bait. He had just started to sit when I shot and was not sure of the hit. We had a hard time finding blood, but we were able to follow his tracks in a swamp for about 100 yards where he lay. I thought for sure, he was bigger than Kyle’s! However, the scale doesn’t lie…Mine was 409 lbs. but, my consolation was that the skull on mine was bigger! Nothing like some good sibling rivalry. Bowsiter Steff was also on this hunt and killed a great color phase bear.
In July I had my first experience attending the Boone & Crockett Club 31st Awards Convention. My Tule elk from 2021 was recognized as the largest tule elk ever taken by a hunter, coming in at #2 All-Time B&C. There is only a pick up head larger. The whole experience was surreal. My elk was displayed at the Johnny Morris Wonders World Wildlife Museum in Springfield, MO from April to July. My wife and I went down attended the 31st Boone and Crockett Big Game Awards presentation and brought the elk back home with us. Springfield is a great place for the outdoor enthusiast. A great week of golf, visiting the Wonders of World Wildlife Museum, enjoying some water sports, and eating like Kings. Wonderful week spent with the one that puts up with all of my hunting adventures. Thank you Dear…
#2 All Time B&C Tule
#2 All Time B&C Tule
KEEP TYPING COREY.
In for the ride!
In August it was back to Alaska for the second time this year for Dall Sheep with Ultima Thule Outfitters. I was able to slide into somewhat of a last minute spot with this sought after outfit. Hunting with the legendary guide Don “Hollywood” Martin, I was able to take this old, mature ram on day 4. The UT crew, the Claus family and Jay Stanford run a First Class operation. Fantastic adventure…
Holy wow. You aint kidding.....only 4 hunts in and 3 of them could easily be considered once in a lifetime for most! Incredible. Well done!
How big were the skulls on the bears?
Neither of the bears have been scored yet. Both green scored on the edge of B&C minimums.
Trip three to AK for the year was back to Kodiak with 5 great friends for Sitka Blacktails. The deer numbers were down, but we made the most of it. Another epic Alaska adventure culminated with a great buck on the way back to the boat on the last night of the hunt.
I’ve come to realize boat based hunts on Kodiak are the way to go. Sleeping in a warm bed, eating great food and putting on dry clothes in the morning is not a bad thing! I’m getting soft in my old age…
Great friends…(and more sushi).
All of this traveling hunting put a bit of a damper on my local hunting. I had some great bucks on camera this year, but not a ton of time to hunt them. When I did get a chance to get to the tree, the deer didn’t cooperate. My nephew, however, had better luck. While I was in Kodiak, he climbed into one of my stands and in 20 minutes killed one of the top three bucks I had on camera all year! I was thrilled as he is a collegiate track and cross country runner and has VERY limited time to hunt. For the second year in a row he killed on the only day he had to hunt…
I called him #3
I called him #3
I decided to make a big late season push to try and kill one of the good bucks I had on camera. I made several sub zero sits in December, coming up empty on every one. I had daylight pics of most of my shooters during blizzards when I couldn’t even get to the stand. And speaking of getting to the stand, it became a physical chore just to get there in the deep snow. Snow shoes were a must, then getting cooled down to put on warm dry clothes and boots in the stand became a chore.
As the end of December came upon us, my deer decided the snow was too deep and moved to their wintering yards. Not only were they moving, they were starting to shed their antlers due to the stress of the snow and sub zero temps. I decided if it was going to happen in the next few days, it would have to be in/near a wintering yard. My wife was on my case to fill the freezer with some venison. I had gotten a call from one of my neighbors a week prior asking if I had killed my deer yet. I told him I hadn’t, but that I had several good ones I was still hunting. He said if it gets down to the end and you want to kill a deer to come on over. I put that invitation in my back pocket thinking at least I should be able to go into his livestock yard/operation and kill a doe for sausage/meat.
December mode of transportation…
On 12/27 I took a drive over to my neighbors. He wasn’t around but his wife was out tending to some cattle, so I just pulled in the driveway to check things out. There were several deer in the hay yard. A few deer scattered in their trees and well over 100 deer in the adjacent public land adjacent quarter. I watched and devised a plan for the weekend. The deer would funnel from the public land, through his tree grove and into the hay yard. I had seen enough and thought I’d return with a ground blind or tree stand and set up in the tree grove. I was just leaving the yard, and my neighbor came rolling down the road in his tractor. He got out, climbed in my pickup for a visit. He said he was going to do some feeding, but when he was done the deer will flood into the hay yard. He asked if I wanted to sit the hay yard tonight! The wind was perfect, but I wasn’t really prepared to hunt tonight. I had my bow and release, but was wearing my work clothes. I did have a camo jacket and hat in my truck, but no Bino’s and no rangefinder. Luckily the temps were decent. He said I was welcome to stalk around the backside of the hay yard while he was feeding, but when he was done be ready in a position between the trees and hay yard as the deer will come in droves.
Lovin' this, Cory! Thanks for taking the time to share!!!
My thought process was really to just get a feel for what the deer were doing on this night, then come back on the weekend to execute my plan. Plus, I could take an inventory of what was coming to the yard. By this time I had seen well over 100 deer. Some decent younger bucks, but nothing huge. Every once in awhile the farmer would stop his tractor, come over to my location and tell me what he was seeing. He was probably wondering, “why in the heck isn’t this guy trying to kill a deer”! With about a half hour of shooting light left, he stopped next to me one more time, said he was done and I better position myself to be ready. I crawled into a grassy patch near the end of the trees next to a corner post. As soon as the farmer left the yard, the deer started coming. First a group of 40 does, fawns and young bucks parading right past me. The closest trail was about 30 yards, the second trail about 40. As the next group of 30 or so approached, I saw a decent buck near the back of the group, He was closing fast and I needed to make a snap decision. There was 5 days left in the season. I have no doubt I could come here and shoot just any deer any night of the week. The buck came down the 40 yard trail and veered slightly off of it. He stopped quartered away and before I knew it, I was at full draw with my 40 yard pin resting on the top of his back. I squeezed the release and watched the arrow disappear perfectly into his side. He ran a few yards, wobbled and fell,over. I couldn’t help but think what a perfect ending to a perfect year.
Looks more like a musk ox hunt than a deer hunt…
With that, 2023 is upon us. I find myself typing this on an airplane to go meet two good friends to kick off 2023 with an archery Coues deer hunt Mexico, followed up with a few days in Reno at WSF after the hunt. Can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year…To be continued…
Wow! Great memories! Thank you for sharing!
What a pile of amazing critters! Congratulations!
Heck, we probably met at B&C, I was a bit star struck the whole time I was there…
Dang you had and awesome year and some beautiful animals taken congrats!
Great thread, year of a lifetime
Thanks for sharing! What a year!
I’m in for the long haul. Keep it coming.
You should have waited till the last day to shoot a whitetail. I feel like we kinda got shortchanged on the testing of your cold weather clothing review.
Looks like you had yet another great year, with some incredible animals, Cory! Congrats!
Good stuff!! Congrats on another fine year. I saw a sneak peak of Mexico . Wow
Well done Corey! Good luck with the Coues deer!
Wow, what a great year!
Thanks so much for the great pictures and recaps.
Enjoy your current hunt, good luck, stay safe and fill us in when you get back please!
The Coues hunt got off to a rocky start. I was to travel from Fargo the Phoenix, meet up with Zack Walton and Dan Evenson, then to Hermosillo the next day. The airlines had a different itinerary for my bow. When I took off from Fargo, my bow did not show as scanned on the airplane. Turns out my bow went to Dallas. The airline tried to reroute my bow from Dallas to Phoenix, but instead, it went back to Fargo. Then, back to Dallas again! From Dallas it would be forwarded to Phoenix. Phoenix would then forward it to Hermosillo.
I entered day one of the hunt with no bow. I would go to the blind and sit with Zack. After a few warm up shots with his bow, I was ready. He was after a giant buck with a drop tine, I would give it a shot with his bow for anything else good that might show up. Day one went without a good buck sighting. A ranch hand had headed to Hermosillo to get my bow. We got word it had arrived so I SHOULD be hunting with it in the AM.
Zack’s bow worked! And I only lost one of his arrows… ;)
The airport had other plans and would not release my bow to the ranch hand. I would have to make the 2 hour trip to Hermosillo to get my bow myself. With any luck, I would be back to the ranch and into the blind by noon on Day 2.
The trip to Hermosillo went without a hitch. I was first in line when they opened the baggage area where my bow was. After a quick inspection, I was on my way back to the ranch.
I climbed into the blind at noon. In my 6 hour sit, I encountered a bunch of does, some small bucks, but nothing too big.
What an awesome year buddy. Congratulations.
Day 3 started out in a blind a couple hundred yards from my blind the previous day. Zack and Danny were sticking to their original plans of hunting the two huge bucks they had their sights on. None of us had seen any “shooters” as of yet. My morning started out with deer flooding to a nearby water hole. Small bucks were following does and at one point I had 18 deer around me. At about 10:30 am I looked to my left and a giant Coues buck appeared about 100 yards out. He raked a bush and headed my way. I “guessed” he was going to walk a small ridge 30 yards from my blind. Once he committed he was on his way to pass by me at 30 yards. I bleated to stop him and just before I released a spike buck stopped perfectly in front of him 8 yards from the blind. No shot, and just like that, the buck was off looking for does. He went out to the far side of the small lake, got a drink and headed back my way. He got on the heels of a doe and chased her back passed me at 55 yards, offering no shot.
After the buck went by a second time, there was a ruckus to my left. I looked out to see a javelina chasing a coyote! After a short chase, the javelina lost interest and the Coyote was headed down the same path as the buck previously used. I squeaked a couple times and he paused just long enough to catch my arrow through his chest at 31 yards. The whole scenario had cleared the field of deer.
My Day 3 Blind in the background. Day 3 is about to heat up in more ways than one…
2022 was an exciting year for you. Some great hunts and nice trophy animals. Congrats. Tks for sharing !
Best of luck in Mexico.
About a half hour later, I was looking out and saw 4 does re-enter the field. Following them was what I thought was the buck from earlier. Again, this one was going to walk the same ridge following the does. I was already at full draw, squeaked and he paused long enough to for me to put one in his rib cage. The hit looked high and I wasn’t real confident in the shot, so I waited an hour before taking up the trail. I had seen the deer enter the brush about 75 yards out and was fairly certain I saw the arrow break off when he entered the brush.
I walked over to where he entered the brush, found the broken arrow and a bunch of blood. The blood trail was short. I found him about 60 yards in. I was a little disappointed that it was not the buck from earlier, but a smaller buck. None the less a decent P&Y Coues buck. About the time I got done with pics, I got an in-reach message from Zack. He had just killed the big drop tine buck he was hunting. After going and recovering Zack’s deer we headed back to camp. We had just got settled back at camp and we got the message Danny had killed the other big double drop tine non-typical. We had all just killed record buck Coues in a matter of hours, all on day 3 of the hunt! The rest of the week was spent scouting for the next group, telling more lies, eating and relaxing. In a few days I will have come full circle for the year and heading back to Reno for Wild Sheep Foundation convention.
Wow! Spectacular Coues bucks to start off the year! Congratulations across the board!
I feel jet lagged just reading this.
Thank you for taking the time to share. What a year...!
The convention did not disappoint. Lots of laughs, food (more sushi) and drink and hunting stories. I was fortunate to be presented with my 2nd FNAWS plaque at the awards banquet. I never dreamt I would kill all four North American sheep once in my lifetime, much less twice. We didn’t make it back from Mexico for the awards banquet, but my good friend and guide Don “Hollywood” Martin accepted the award on my behalf. Dan also missed his time in the limelight as he was presented with his first archery FNAWS. Amazing accomplishment. Zack too was on the list of award winners with his Desert Sheep from 2022.
‘22 was “one for the books” and I can only hope history repeats itself in 2023. So far so good…
Sheep Show ‘23…and with that we’ve gone “full circle”. I don’t know that I’ll have another year like ‘23, but Lord willing, I’ll keep trying…
Living life! Thanks for sharing pics from an epic year!
Great stuff Cory!!! Congrats on an awesome year!
Congrats on an amazing year Cory! Definitely living the life!!!
I just hope you had enough gear to stay comfortable on all of those hunts in various temps, terrains and altitudes...LOL!!!!
Great post, congratulations and thanks for taking the time to share!
Good stuff Cory. Grats on another successful year. Apparently your knees are still holding up.
Great ‘22 recap. What a year. After seeing what you wore in ND on a December deer hunt. I’m thinking we may need a peer review of your cold weather gear reviews.
Or a latitude chart. Missouri hunters subtract 20 degrees. Georgia,Florida, Texas subtract 40 degrees from Kota Man reviews :>)))) Kidding of course. Thanks again for the great read. It allows us more mortals to live vicariously
Please give us details of what you do for a living!! It is obvious the Zack guy owns a bunch of wal marts, but I wanna know what you do too!! Thinking about a career change;). Congrats on an unbelievable year!!
Very happy for you Cory. Congratulations on a phenomenal year! Hoping ‘23 tops it somehow!
Congrats on a great season and thanks for sharing the stories and pics!
"owns a bunch of walmarts" that was pretty good Shiloh. I am still giggling about that.
What an awesome year. Congrats on the animals! Your taxidermist had a good year too.
Congrats on (another) helluva year, Cory!! Bummed I missed everyone at Sheep Show, but hopefully we'll cross paths at P&Y!
Awesome year Cory. Glad I was able to be part of it.
That is truly a year that dreams are made of kota-man, congratulations and best of luck in 2023.
Great write up… congratulations
One heck of a year and write up, thank you for sharing. Best of luck in 23!
Fantastic year for you kota-man, thanks for sharing. Congrats on all of your success.
Very busy year. Congratulations. Good luck in 2023
Good stuff, Cory! Congratulations!
Congrats on an awesome year and thanks for sharing!
Great times with big poppa this past year. Congrats Cory on continued success!
Apparently that’s the face I make after polishing off a half dozen Prime Rib Tacos…
Thank you all…
Kota the Killa. Some awesome animals this year! Wish you would have left a deer for me in Mexico!
You and your shorted and less handsome adopted son are sooooo serious.
Congrats on the incredible past 12 months and good luck and safe travels for the next 12.
When did you have dinner with Charlie Chan, Kota??!!
T-Roy…That’s not Charlie Chan, that’s the heir to the Walmart fortune.
Treeman…I left plenty of deer. Even shot a smaller one and left the big ones on the “Represso” for you guys. What happened man?
MUCH less handsome Matt…
Congratulations on quite the year... well done.
Congrats again, bud! Great year!
Nicely done Cory; now you have to figure out what to do in your spare time.
Great re-cap Cory. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us!
Going to be hard to top that year! Congrats!
What a year!!! Thanks for sharing with us!!
Helluva year! Thanks for sharing
Heck of a year Cory! Congrats again and sorry I missed that motely crew in Reno!
What a year! Congrats Cory!
Great season Cory, but you do need to get better friends.
Incredible year, congratulations
What outfitter did u hunt Coues deer with?