My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

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derekp1999
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My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

Postby derekp1999 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:57 pm

I thought I'd share the events of my hunt last weekend... enjoy.

Tuesday - “Opener Eve”
We got to the cabin at about 6pm and decided to take a quick ride on the ATVs to get our “deer eyes” back. We rode until dark and saw a bunch of does & fawns and an unusual 2x2 that was very tall on one side and tiny on the other. We all had to be home Saturday afternoon so we had to hit the ground running. My brother Darren isn’t much of a hiker, so he decided to hang with Grandpa (and also keep an eye on him). They’d be road hunting most of the time. I had month’s worth of trail cam pics and had been scouting on Google Earth with a Topo overlay throughout the summer so I had a long list of side canyons and bowls that I wanted to hike into. My buddy Cody agreed to hunt with me. The plan of attack was set and we watched one of the Bourne movies until way too late.

Wednesday - Day 1
Cody & I headed out in the dark for the first bowl I wanted to explore. I’d been into it once before on the general elk hunt when I was in high school. We saw three very nice bucks at the time, but that was 15 years ago! It was next to impossible to walk quietly because of all the vegetation that was now dried and brittle. I got to my little rock outcropping and had deer spooking all over the place. They were stomping and snorting from the bottom. When they took off I could only get fleeting glimpses as they bounded through the thick stuff. Once all the deer finally settled down (or moved out) I heard chirping coming up from the bottom. I wasn’t sure what kind of creature was down there. After a couple minutes a spike elk walked across a clearing at 200 yards. It had been years since we’d seen elk in the area, so seeing one back in there was exciting & it hadn’t even occurred to me that it could be an elk. See, about 15 years ago the area held a really nice herd of elk but the DWR traded them to Kentucky for some turkeys to quiet the local ranchers and farmers... talk about the short end of the stick on that trade! IMO. Hopefully this means that we might have another little herd trying to re-establish itself in the area again. I eventually ended up at the very top of the bowl and saw several does & fawns and made my way down for lunchtime.
That afternoon I wanted to see somewhere brand new. I had seen what I thought was a small canyon on the south end of the property while scouting on Google Earth, so Cody & I decided to check it out. We dropped down into this canyon to find that it was enormous. There were three different saddles within the main bowl and multiple very heavily timbered side canyons. There was no way that we could hunt this thing effectively at first glance. So we just sat back and glassed for the evening. Obviously we weren’t in the right place because we didn’t see anything. I’d like to go back in there again, although it seems to be better suited to the rifle hunter because of its openness. But if I could find a high traffic area in one of those smaller side canyons I bet it could be very fun. It would also be a bear to get a deer out of there so I’d have to know there’s a buck in there worthy of that much work.

Day 2
Cody & decided to hike up to a saddle directly east of the cabin. We cleared a small clump of aspens and spotted a small 2 point broadside & skylined on the ridge at 112 yards. It was a very tempting shot, but ultimately I passed because we were still too close to the cabins. While on the saddle I could hear several bull moose grunting and snorting, this would be a common occurrence… moose were everywhere we turned. We saw 3 or 4 good mature bulls each day, I’d love to draw my moose tag and chase them with the smoke pole! I know right where to go!
By late morning we hadn’t seen anything except the 2 point right early, so we decided to head back to the cabin. We met up with Gramps & Darren and decided that we’d attack a saddle west of the cabin. Darren & Gramps would be dropped off on top and work their way down while Cody & I would hike up from the bottom. We sat on the saddle and watched does and fawns run all over the mountain… but no bucks. I had a doe run to within 50 feet of me and didn't know I was there. It's a shame she couldn't grow antlers for me!
We decided to abandon that saddle after several hours and try somewhere new again, so Cody & I headed to a larger canyon with a small stream north of the cabin to sit until dark. We watched two impressive bull moose fight over a couple cows near the spring where I had my cameras all summer (I posted pics in the Trail Camera section). The larger (huge) bull chased off the smaller (also huge) bull and then turned his attention to a small clump of aspens. He raked one of those poor little aspens (6 to 8" diameter) until there was nothing left of it and left it on the ground. Wow, those are some powerful animals. I had gotten pics of several good bucks up there, but with all the “moose activity” I concluded that the spring was not going to be a productive area that evening for deer. We saw 3 does. Just before dark we heard a muzzleloader blast that sounded very close. Since we hadn’t seen much we’d head down to see if that meant good news for Gramps or Darren. From up the canyon, I could see them walking around on the road so I knew something had happened. When we got down to the road we found that Grandpa had sealed the deal on a great little 3 point. Gramps is pretty quick with a knife (and hacksaw) but I managed to take a quick picture of the skull plate.
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But that’s only the beginning of the story. Trying to get some details from Gramps, he said that they had come back to hang up Darren's buck. Darren had taken a little spike still in full velvet earlier in the evening, and had they not returned to hang it at the cabin they would have never seen the 3 point. As I got more of the story of Darren’s buck, the more impressed I became. He had taken a 65 yard shot hit the buck in the neck. He and Gramps tracked him for several hundred yards and almost 2 hours. They lost the blood trail but pushed on looking for any little clue they could find. Darren was losing hope of finding his first buck ever, and that sick feeling began to settle into the pit of his stomach. Despite losing the blood trail, Darren decided to keep going and on a hunch walked for several yards down the middle of the road. There, going all the way across the road, was a blood trail. To make it even sweeter, just off the road and down in the grass he spotted his expired little buck. I’m very proud of him for sticking with it, it’s just a little guy but your first buck is always a trophy.

That's all I can post for now, I'll put Friday and Saturday up shortly.
“The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”
-Albus Dumbledore

waspocrew
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Re: My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

Postby waspocrew » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:19 pm

You can't just stop in the middle of a story like that! It's been awesome so far!

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killerbee
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Re: My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

Postby killerbee » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:32 pm

loving it so far! sounds like you guys had a great time, i'm looking forward to the rest of the story!

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Re: My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

Postby dahlmer » Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:20 pm

Great hunt so far...looking forward to the rest of the story.

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derekp1999
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Re: My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

Postby derekp1999 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:26 pm

To continue....

Friday – Day 3
Since Cody and I had walked up multiple mountains the previous two days, we were beat & decided to take it easy. So we had Darren drop us off at the top of an old spring road and walked down it. I ended up leaving the old road and hiked 2 draws south, so my thoughts of taking it easy were ignored in an effort to see more deer. As I walked down the ridgeline it seemed like deer would explode out from under every single pine or juniper along that ridge! They would snort first then bolt about a half second later. It took a bit to get used to and not freak out every time, but all ended up being does or fawns.
I took a solid nap that afternoon and decided to take it easy and just ride the roads in the evening. Heck, it had worked the night before for Gramps & Darren, right? Since the weather was so nice there was an awful lot of people coming in to enjoy their trailers or cabins one last time before the weather turns south. We saw a bunch of does and fawns… no bucks.

Saturday – Day 4
For our final morning we decided to revisit the bowl we hiked into on day 1, only we would leave about an hour earlier and hike all the way to my original vantage point before first light. Just as we reached that vantage point we spotted a cow elk skylined just above us. Further proof that perhaps a small herd is trying to mose back into the area! We sat on a rock outcropping glassing the upper reaches of the bowl. I spotted a doe, and just below her was a group of 4 bucks… two small 2 points, a small 4 point, and a really nice 4 point that was much wider than his ears and tall. I ranged them at 455 yards, well outside my range… even with a rifle and powered scope. We only had a couple hours left before we needed to leave so there wasn’t much of a decision… we had to try and close the gap. Our only real option was to loop all the way around the top of the bowl keeping the deer in sight most of the time. We made it up to the northern most part of the bowl and almost level with them in elevation. I ranged the bucks again and was floored at the reading… 451 yards! We had walked all that distance but only gained 4 yards! Unfortunately, when we came out from the next small clump of aspens they were gone. Whether they had fed off over the top, spooked, or bedded down we didn’t know. We kept going and closed to within 120 yards of where we last saw them, but nothing. Since we had very little time remaining we decided to walk down the middle of the bowl and check out the terrain that looked so thick from the top. We came across this huge game trail. It had to be 15 to 20 feet wide and just covered in elk, deer, and moose tracks.
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Many trails split off from that so we split up. I found several small meadows through the bottom where trails entered looking like spokes on a wheel. We eventually came to this wallow that was covered in tracks of all shapes and sizes.
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Another hunter had obviously has spent some time there because we found a salt lick near the wallow and a shovel stowed several yards up the hillside. We made our way down the bowl without seeing anything, although we could hear deer bounding all around as we walked.

I've been unable to sneak away after work (and even if I could I think my wife would threaten me bodily harm if I tried), so it looks as if that is how my hunt will end for this year. I had never hiked so much on a hunt, but I had also never seen that many deer. It was worth it, and I am perfectly satisfied. I have a new list of places that will be getting a visit in the spring to place my trail cams, and the excitement & anticipation will begin all over again. After all the energy and time spent on the mountain I thought that I might somehow feel entitled or that I “deserved” to take a great buck. Such is not the case, they bested me this year and I am thrilled that they did... my time will come.
“The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”
-Albus Dumbledore

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killerbee
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Re: My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

Postby killerbee » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:27 pm

great read! sounds like you put in your time, and eventually it will pay off. finding areas to hunt the next year is all part of the big puzzle that ends up with you taking a big buck.
thanks for sharing your hunt!

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MuleyMadness
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Re: My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

Postby MuleyMadness » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:37 pm

I enjoyed the story and pics. Thanks. Always way cooler when you take time to shoot photos/video along the way.

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derekp1999
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Re: My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

Postby derekp1999 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 6:07 pm

Here's one last picture from up at the top of the bowl. Once I re-sized down to what the forum would accept it's not nearly as impressive. So, if you guys could help me out & tell me how to get a bigger pic out there I will.
Anyway, I labeled some of the locations:
1 - is were the group of bucks were located Saturday morning. The stalk we put on Saturday went from 2 all the way up the ridge on the right side then to where I took the picture.
2 - is my vantage point, a small bunch of rocks that offered a pretty good view of most of the bowl & a pretty comfortable chair to be quite honest.
3 - is the small clearing that the spike bull walked across Wednesday morning
4 - is the game trail, better put highway
5 - is the location of the wallow
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“The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”
-Albus Dumbledore

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dahlmer
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Re: My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

Postby dahlmer » Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:33 am

It sounds like you had a great hunt derek. You got some great experience learning the area and that should pay you back some day in the future.

waspocrew
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Re: My 2011 Muzzy Hunt

Postby waspocrew » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:49 am

I wish it ended differently for you! It sounds like you had a blast though. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure it'll produce next time you're there.


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