2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

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MuleyMadness
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Re: 2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

Postby MuleyMadness » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:29 pm

That dead head is just flat out an EPIC find, soo cool.

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Re: 2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

Postby JBird » Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:47 pm

As luck would have it the very next evening a cold storm front blew into the area dropping temps drastically. It was looking good, and then by Wednesday the temps shot back up to unseasonably warm temps and stayed that way for the next three weeks. It was a nightmare scenario, by far the worst thing that could have happened. We really needed some cold snowy weather to push the bucks out of the high country and into the migration/winter areas. The Pauns rifle hunt is a hard hunt and with day time temps in 80’s its real tough. In the days leading up to the rifle opener we were seeing deer move into the lower elevations, and a check of the high country showed noticeably less deer than in previous weeks, leaving us in somewhat of a bind as to where to focus the hunt. My dad had his heart set on hunting in the low country in the sand, I was leaning towards the mid to higher elevations. It was going to be a game time decision.

Finally the day before the hunt arrived and I made my way over to Kanab to do some last minute scouting and finalize a plan for the next day. My dad, brother and I all split up and headed to three different glassing locations. I headed to an area that I had watched three great bucks the fall/winter before in hopes to glass them up coming down the migration trail, while my dad checked on another canyon and my brother headed to the very south end of the unit to see what may have already made it down there. My trip was for naught, all I was able to turn up was 8 different hunting parties and a hand full of does, my brother’s trip was even less productive, but my dad’s turned out to be very eventful he had turned up a great buck he said, a no brainer shooter is what he called him. Seemed as if the problem of where to hunt was solved, and did I mention that a giant storm front had blown in that afternoon and had dropped the temps and was promising to rain all night? Things were looking up.

The bad news, if you want to call it that, was my younger sister, and girlfriend and myself all had rifle tags on the Zion unit. I’m a dedicated hunter and wasn’t too concerned about filling my tag, but the girls on the other hand were just as excited to hunt. So instead of heading out with my dad and brother I took the girls, and headed out to the other side of the highway in hopes of filling at least my girlfriend’s tag as soon as possible. Well the story of that hunt is for another day suffice it to say that after some truck problems a torrential downpour a 6 mile hike to cell service in said downpour and a missed opportunity to fill both tags on two good bucks, it was quite the opening day for me and my two hunters.
Meanwhile on the Pauns, they were having the same issues with the storm. Visibility was poor and many of the roads were now running creeks. They hadn’t been able to turn up the big buck but had seen some other nice deer. We later found out from an acquaintance who had been glassing the area from above and watched the big buck my dad had seen the night before sneak right out from under them on the opposite side of the ridge they were glassing from. But with no way of contacting them the buck made his way into the safety of the juniper jungle.

The next few days were very similar, lots of deer moving through the area but nothing special. The rain kept coming as well, which was good and bad. It kept the deer moving down, but made for some tough glassing conditions. Tuesday morning found my dad and brother back in the same location as the opener, but this time they had a good buck in the scope. As they made their way over to him they were pretty sure he was a shooter. They got within range and got set up for the shot. But after thinking about it my dad passed on him. It was a solid buck in the 28’’ range but had only average mass and weak backs. Tuesday afternoon was the same story we glassed up many bucks but still nothing that was what we were looking for. That evening I had to return to school for a test Wednesday, and planned to return Thursday. Things were looking good. The temps had dropped and we were still receiving rain the forecast called for cooler temps through the weekend and less storms. I was confident the last four days would be much more productive than the first four. I was right.

As a small side story my girlfriend was able to connect on a sweet 3x3 Thursday morning. After having missed a big 3 at 70 yards broadside a few days before she impressed me putting one through both front shoulders on this guy at 150 yards as he trotted through the aspens.
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MuleyMadness
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Re: 2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

Postby MuleyMadness » Thu Jan 14, 2016 7:27 pm

Unique buck your GF took, cool. Looking forward to more...

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Re: 2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

Postby JBird » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:28 pm

That afternoon we loaded up and headed out. We had been noticing increased deer activity in the low country and were excited to see what the last few days would bring. As we were driving out to the area we passed a knoll and I mentioned that we should hike over to it and glass, but I was the only one that felt like that was a good idea so we continued to our preplanned spot. It didn’t take long and we were glassing up deer all over the place, after a while my dad and brother jumped in the truck to check out a few draws we couldn’t see from the vantage point. As the evening continued I was seeing tons of deer, the problem was I was just too far away to get a good look at them. I know a few were bucks and a couple of them looked to be big but there was just not enough daylight to get any closer. The other guys didn’t turn much up in the other canyons so it was another long drive home in the dark. We were in the same area again in the morning but we were still not seeing much. About mid-morning as we were heading home a buck ran across the road in front of us. He looked good. As we got eyes on him we were getting a little excited, then he turned his head, he was only a 3 on one side. But he was a pretty buck, nice mass, great fronts, and good eyeguards. We let him walk.

As we passed the knoll where I had wanted to glass the afternoon before I again mentioned that it would be a good idea to get up on there and glass, again my suggestion was met with a less than thrilled response. I didn’t know why but I felt like it was going to be productive. It was just me and my dad that afternoon, and I again suggested hiking to that knoll put he didn’t want to, so we went back to where we had been the evening before but made plans to be much closer to where I had been seeing the deer. We parked and began hiking into the bowl. We immediately began seeing deer or more precisely deer behinds, as it was super thick and they could hear us coming long before we could see them. Soon we made it to the edge of bowl and had a much better view of the area. We found a little knob that would give us a good view of area and began making our way towards it. As we neared the top I heard some movement behind and below us in the oak. I was following my dad, and I don’t think he had heard what I had. I stepped around the oaks and saw a smaller buck making his way down the draw, and standing just below him was a monster buck! It only took a split second to know I was looking at a giant of a buck, he was tall and heavy, but not terribly wide, he had a couple of cheaters off each side and one off the right side was probably 6”-7” long I quickly ducked back behind the oak brush and whispered/shout whispered “Shooter, shooter.” My dad got in position but the buck was nervous and started trotting. As he cleared a patch of oaks my dad touched one off…

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Re: 2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

Postby JBird » Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:53 pm

The buck never stopped, and just like that he was gone. It was a clean miss. We followed the tracks up and over the next little ridge but never caught another glimpse of him. We spent the rest of the evening glassing the bowl, but nothing materialized that was even comparable to the buck we had missed.

It was a bittersweet feeling, having actually seen a buck of that caliber, but knowing we could have very well missed our best chance of killing a monster. Looking back there’s a few things that we wanted to do differently we definitely rushed the situation, but that’s always the case when it comes to the one that got away.

Saturday morning we were back in the same area hoping to catch a glimpse of him or another good buck, but it wasn’t ment to be. We did watch a nice 4 point walk over a ridge and get smashed, but that was about the extent of the morning, we hiked and glassed till lunch and took a little break.

Later that afternoon we were glassing one of my favorite places when I glassed up a good looking buck a little over a mile away. He had just stood up out of his bed and looked to be a shooter. We made a game plan and 20 minutes later we were less than 500 yards away from where he had been. The key word there is had. He was gone, probably slipped off into the thick junipers. We scoured the area the rest of the evening but again couldn’t turn up a buck that we wanted to shoot.

As we headed into town that night we were a little disappointed and a little discouraged. I didn’t even know if we were going to hunt the last day or not. The next morning as we were leaving church my dad’s phone rang, it was David Virostko, he runs North Rim Outfitters out of Kanab and we’ve known each other for a few years. He asked my dad if he had killed anything yet and my dad replied he hadn’t, David then told him that he had a buck found and wanted to know if my dad would be interested in hunting him. The reply was of course a yes. We changed out of our Sunday best and met David at his place and headed out.

As we headed out David told us that they had found this buck two days ago and had been hunting him with one of his hunters, and had missed him. They thought the buck had left the country, because they hadn’t seen him since, but that morning there had been a chain of events that worked in our favor. David’s hunter had called him in the early morning hours and informed him that due to some family matters had to leave immediately, so David and his partner Thomas had gone out for a look around anyway. As luck would have it they turned the buck up. They called the hunter but he was already half way across Arizona, that’s when David decided to call my dad.

We arrived at our destination and wouldn’t you know, it was the knob that I had wanted to glass off the whole hunt. My dad looked at me and I just shrugged, I wanted to give him I told you so but didn’t. We split up. My brother and I went on ridge to the south and David and my dad went on the North side of the knob to meet up with Thomas. After about an hour they called us on the radio and told us to come up with them as we had not turned up the buck. We had just started hiking over to them when we got a broken message that said stay were you are, the buck is in between you and us. So we held tight. A storm was blowing in, the wind was picking up and the temp was dropping. About twenty minutes later I thought I heard a shot but I wasn’t sure. We still hung tight. Ten minutes later we got the news, the buck was down! We made the hike up and over the knob and finally laid eyes on the buck. He was awesome. An almost perfectly symmetrical typical that taped at 33” wide.

Here’s what went down while we were on the other end of the ridge. My dad and David got up on the knob and started glassing, with no luck. They had sent Thomas up even higher and he still couldn’t find the buck. That’s about when they called us to come over there, and about that time Thomas had climbed even higher and had spotted the buck feeding in a draw directly between us and them. My dad and David snuck into position and set up for the shot. The buck was at 498 yards, my dad later admitted to be being real nervous when he got him in the scope, and completely pulled the first shot. The buck trotted up the hill and stopped at 505, the second shot nipped his tail, and the buck took off. Luckily they cut him off as he ran down the draw. The buck was going to cross the opposite side at 330, my dad quickly took a knee, squeezed off the shot and put it through the front shoulders. The buck dropped in his tracks.

I couldn’t believe it. Months of scouting, weeks of hunting, hours of glassing, and it came down to the last hour of day light on the last day. What a hunt. It was awesome. David called him the Walk-Off buck, because it was equivalent to hitting a walk off in the bottom of the ninth. A big thanks goes out to David and Thomas of course. They could have easily kept this buck a secret and hunted him this year. It’s not the non-typical my dad was hoping for but he says he’s happy he “settled” for a 33” wide 191” typical.
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Re: 2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

Postby ABert » Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:14 pm

That is a BEAUTY of a buck! Congrats to your dad and all of the determination all of you put! Plus, not a bad "settlement" buck in the least!
It ain't the size of the gun but the placement of the bullet.

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Re: 2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

Postby MuleyMadness » Sat Jan 30, 2016 10:00 am

Yea way to 'settle' good grief. ha ha :) What an awesome buck and experience, those are some tough shots to make. Glad it all worked out in the end. Thanks for taking the time to share the story with us. 10sign:

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Re: 2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

Postby Big Moose » Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:14 pm

Congrats on a great buck! Thanks for the write up! Way to hang in there to the end!
Every hunting season you miss is one you can not make up

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Re: 2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

Postby ridgetop » Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:39 pm

That's a great buck.
Congrats and thanks for the story. 10sign:
There's always next year

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Re: 2015 Paunsaguant Hunt

Postby Bowedark » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:45 pm

What great time, hope draw tag that unit some day, 18 year now


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