Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Idaho Second Chance Draw- Muzzleloader Elk

After many unsuccessful draws and a few successful ones I had my fall season all figured out.  In August Idaho released the tags available through the second draw and there were 6 tags for a hunt I was interested in.  I threw my name in and low and behold my name was picked.  This hunt was for any elk with a muzzleloader. I also wouldn't be alone on this hunt as my idaho resident friend (Scott) drew the same tag. Opening day approached and we scouted a range that held a few elk...about 300-400! The first day we spotted many elk including a group of 9 bulls that were in a great spot however some other hunters beat us to them and were able to take a bull. That evening we did a few mile hike and found a group of 80 elk bedded. I decided to go after them. The stalk was about 1/2 mile through timber and deep snow. When I got to the saddle that the elk were in They were all up and feeding into he open at 500 yards. I was a bit deflated as there was no way to get closer. As I sat and watched them I heard a few cows calling about 60 yards away around a knoll.the cows continued to call and were interupted by a loud bugle. I crept slowly around the knoll and spotted a few cows feeding. One was actively calling and that is when the bull entered the picture and bumped her with his nose.  He was a nice 5x5 with extra points on each royal making him six. I got ready and let out a few cow calls. The bull turned and came right to me. As his body came into view and he was only 25 yards. I rested the sights on his chest and pulled the trigger, only to be greeted with the loud pop of the percussion cap going off but no gunfire.... the bull ran off out of my sights and the frustration was overwhelming.  I sat for the next 15 minutes, gathered myself and headed back to the truck. Shit happens and even when they are close there are no guarantees or gimme.
The next morning found us on the ridge where the 9 bulls were the day before. Our non hunting buddy(Jeremy) that joined the camp was glassing for us and turned up 4 bulls and they were headed the same direction, right to us. Scott and I got set up and the bulls fed right to us. A nice 5x5 was the first to come in range and it was on my side. The elk were getting weary so we decided to take what we could get. My shot was 60 yards and hot center of mass. The bull walked off and stopped for a good follow up shot. The other bulls stood at about 90 yards and Scott went for a shot and hit low below a nice 6x6. My bull was a nice 5x5. We all worked on the bull and got him back to the atv by mid day.  That evening we saw elk but none in good areas for a stalk. 
The next morning found us in the same spot and there were elk! 15 cows and a couple bulls followed the same path as the elk the last two days. Scott was ready, however when the elk got to a few hundred yards of my elk carcus they spooked. We watched them head into a string of timber to bed. The timber patch was small and we figured it was a good spot for a good ol fashion elk drive. We hiked in and Scott got set up while Jeremy and I went to the opposite side, downwind and started our way to the timber. The elk started to funnel out away from Scott right towards us! I ran uphill to try and cutting them off but I was too late...well almost. One of the bulls held back and was standing on the edge if the timber at 60 yards. I cow called a few times and he turned and walked into the timber. About 30 seconds later, BOOM! Scotts elk came right by him and Scott made a great shot. 2 elk in three days with primitive weapons! What a hunt! The hunts was one of my favorites not for the success but for sharing the camp with two great guys willing to put everything on hold to help out on a second chance draw tag!

Monday, December 6, 2021

California General season Buck

This is a short story and not too complex. Emily and I knew one area that held some deer in a general zone. It was the last two days of the season and we decided that we would sit and glass a few different basins the entire trip and see what we could turn up. Hours behind the binoculars, only spotting 5 deer and about 100 other hunter later we found the only buck we saw.. he was a giant old buck,, 24 inches wide, heavy with big eye guards. Both Wes and Luke were excited for mom as well!

California Mule Deer with a Bonus Bear!

The first 7 days of the California deer season seemed to be full of more bears than legal bucks. I had seen 7 different bears in those days. That Saturday (bear opener) I had decided that if I saw a bear I would do the deer fawns a favor and put it in my freezer...and that's just what happened. I was able to take a nice 200 lb sow by 8am.
The next 4 days were a grind, I found a few bucks but nothing mature that I wanted to hang my tag on. Day 12 of the season took me to a spot that had some regular does. I had seen a buck bear there acting rutty and I figured checking on the does first thing would be a good idea...it was! Before shooting light I could make out a large bodied deer with the does. I got set up and waited for it to get light. The next 15 minutes felt like hours. The light gave way to a beautiful 4x4 that was
31 inches wide with the does. One well placed shot at 370 yards and he was down. I felt so fortunate to have this deer cross my path as well as getting to hunt 12 days in a row for a species that I love. 

California elk Hunt

My pop was fortunate enough to draw a California elk tag, the downfall is that all the usfs public lands were closed due to wildfire! We contemplated turning the tag back but with some BLM and state ground still open we decided to go for it. The first two days of the hunt were tough, we located elk but they were not rutting very hard and seemed to be nocturnal.  On day three we spotted a bull near some state ground. We hiked into a nearby spot and set up and I started calling with hopes to bring him in....and that's exactly what happened. He responded to my calls with screeching bugle and when we first saw him he was at 350 yards running right at us! I called one more time when he was at 150 yards and he let out one last bugle before he stopped at 75 yards. My dad made a great heart shot with the 300 ultra mag and the bull was ours.

My dad's first rutting elk experience and it was a dream to be apart of it. We spent the next 4 hours processing and getting the bull back to the truck. What a way to have your one in a lifetime California elk tag end.

First hunt of 2021- California Coastal Blacktail

July has always been a special month for me. It marks the earliest deer season in the country. My buddies and I decided to try something new and hunt a coastal zone boarding the Pacific ocean. This area was steep but had a decent population of deer. Opening morning found us stair stepping down, 1000 vertical feet towards the ocean. was foggy and visibility would range from one mile to 50 yards as it rolled in and out. I spotted a smaller buck that I decided to make a stalk on. On my way I bumped two bucks out of their beds, they disappeared but I was able to find their beds and a well used game trail that led to them. I decided with the poor visibility that I should sit and wait to see if they would come back. I sat for an hour and was a bit frustrated since the fog was thick and my view of the ocean or anything to pass the time was obscured...but I kept sitting with no other options. After some more time passed, movement caught my eye about 10 feet away! Antler tips waved back and fourth as a buck was feeding on some coyote brush along the trail. I had an arrow knocked and drew back as he came into view. Being that Close the buck immediately spotted me and trotted about 25 yards and stopped. I let the arrow fly and it hit its mark perfectly and the buck disappeared in the fog, crashing towards the ocean. He was a gorgeous full velvet 24" 4x4 blacktail. They don't get much bigger than that for coastal bucks.

My good friends met me at the scene and we took photos and each carried a load the 1200 vertical feet back to the truck.

The trip was amazing and with good company especially to be hunting in July in 65 degrees teps with views of the ocean.

2020 season catch up- displayed In photos

 Well 2020 was a tough year but rewarding for us we had a 1 year old, fires that forced us to evacuate and another boy on the way. We did however draw some great tags. I was able to tag a 86" pronghorn, a great 28" California Mule Deer along with a nice meat buck in Idaho. 

Emily was fortunate to fill her California B Zone tag, a late nevada muzzleloader tag as well as a nice idahoe whitetail!
December rolled around and we welcomed the new addition,  Luke Paxson Ryan. 

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