Archive for the ‘camp’ Category

The Experience of a Lifetime!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

I just got back from my early season mule deer hunt. It was a huge success. I was able to harvest not the biggest deer that I have ever shot, but a deer that I am the most proud of! He is a very nice deer – but what really made it one of the best hunting experiences that I have ever had was the way in which I was able to take this animal. My hunt had it all.

  • Physically demanding,
  • Beautiful scenery,
  • Raging bull elk,
  • and last but not least … I found great deer.

It was by far the most physical hunting experience that I have ever had. If you have never done a back pack hunt, I highly suggest that you give it a shot.

Here’s how it went.

  • I started my hunting trip at 8:00 am Friday morning. By 2:00 I had reached my campsite.
  • After another thirty minutes I had camp set up and I was ready to settle in.
  • After a short nap and some great food, it was time to grab the binoculars and go do some glassing to figure out where I wanted to be opening morning. I was unable to locate any deer that evening, but I  knew that they were there because I had seen them on previous scouting trips.  I did spot several good bull elk and had a good time watching them practice for the upcoming rutting rituals.
  • So after working up my opening morning strategy, I headed back to camp to get ready for an early night. It got pretty chilly that night, in fact it snowed on me. However, I had plenty of company because the neighbors – the elk – were quite vocal for most of the evening.
  • The next morning found me glassing the shady side of a bowl that I had scouted the day before. Although it looked like a great area I didn’t see any deer.
  • As the sun got higher and it started to illuminate the area, I took a cue from the elk and started to retreat and follow the shadows. As I skirted the top of the ridge that I was on, the washes below me were still shadowed by the peak to the south of me.
  • As I continued glassing I spotted two bucks making there way to wash that was closest to me. I tried ranging the animals with my range finder, but they were still out of range. So I started skirting the ridge above them to try and close the distance. Just about the time I had run out of ridge, the deer decided to head down one of the drainages to try and get into the dark timber before it started getting warm. I figured it was now or never. The deer were still below me and they had absolutely no idea that there was anybody even close.
  • So, I took off my backpack and assumed the prone position using my pack as a good solid rest for my rifle.
  • It took me about 10 minutes of glassing to decide which deer I wanted to take.
  • I ranged him one more time. He was 510yds away. Now I know most people do not believe in shooting at an animal that far away and I would have to agree with most people. However, in target practice, I normally shoot up to 600yds on a regular basis. So I knew exactly what I was capable of as well as what my rifle could do. Luckily there wasn’t any wind whipping across the canyon, so I held 23” above the heart/lung area of the deer and squeezed the trigger.
  • I was unable to hear the slap of the bullet impacting on the deer, but I didn’t need to. The 180gr bullet entered high on the front shoulder and exited just behind the shoulder on the opposite side. The buck dropped in his tracks. The only problem was, was that he was standing on about a 60 degree grade, so after about 150yds of rolling down the chute, he came to a rest.

To say that I was ecstatic would be an understatement!

The next challenge would be to figure out how to get to him!

It was 7:30 opening morning and I had been lucky enough to have already gotten my deer.
The only problem was that he was well over 500yds away across some pretty rough terrain. So I decided to go back and pack up camp.
After packing up camp, I started making my way over to where the deer had fallen.
The only problem was, is that as I got closer the landmarks that I had used to pinpoint his location, they no longer looked the same!  So I spent a while glassing the rock slide until I was able to find him and make my way over to him.
Wow, was I pleased when I got up to him!
He may not have been the biggest deer in the forest, but I was sure happy to have him.
After taking some pictures, the real work began. I gutted him, quartered and then deboning the meat. I was 8 miles in and wanted to save weight anyway that I could!
So after that was complete, I put the meat into plastic bags and put it into my backpack.
Let me tell you, the first time that I picked that pack up and put it on my back, I told myself “YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND!” I didn’t h
ave a scale but later on after I had taken the meat to the butcher, I figured that I had about 130lbs on my back and I still had a long way to go to get back to the truck.
Five hours, three gallons of water and god knows how many rest stops along the way I found myself back at the trailhead and my truck. I was exhausted, dehydrated, and basically felt like I had been kicked around by a mule, but there was no way to wipe the grin off of my face!
I had completed one of the most difficult hunts that I had ever been on and I was so excited that I almost wrecked my truck getting down the mountain so that I could get into cell phone range and call someone.
Hopefully one of these days I will be able to draw another tag and have the same great experience that I was able to have this time. If you ever get a chance to go on a hunt like this I would highly encourage you to.
Let me warn you though, it will definitely test your metal.
Good luck.

High Country Scouting

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Well this weekend we were finally able to get out and do a little scouting in the high country.  I had my head scout and Sherpa with me so I knew that things were going to work out well. I was trying to get a lay of the land, being as how it will be the first time that I hunt this new area. So with my two helpers, our trusty watch dog and me
we rucked up and headed out on a six mile (one way) hike. We went to an area called Twin Crater lakes. The lakes themselves are a little above timberline, so we made our camp in the trees and then walked the last quarter of a mile to the lakes.
What a beautiful area! So once we had seen the lakes, we headed back to camp. Along the way we stopped and refilled our water bladders using a pump filter. This was the first time that I had ever used one and I have to say that I was impressed. It did not take long and the water tasted a lot better than if I had used iodine tablets. I had picked up a new backpack to use this year for a pack-in hunt. I chose the Badlands 4500 and I could not have been happier. What a mule!
I will give a full product review in upcoming posts, but to say the least, I was impressed.

Once we got back to camp, I really started to get to work glassing the surrounding hillsides. I was using the 4 step glassing process developed by David Long and mentioned in his book, Public Land Mulies (The Bottom Line). Like I have said earlier, I am new to this backcountry type of hunting. I really didn’t know were or how to start. After reading David’s book it really gave me a direction to go and it really has helped me out so far. I highly suggest reading it if you get a chance.

It was early in the afternoon and I really wasn’t seeing anything, but as the day got later I started noticing a few nice mule deer and then a fairly decent bull elk. Success! Well kind of. I was glad to see that some techniques that I had read about worked, but I still am looking forward to seeing a little more of the area that I have to hunt. We have another trip planned in a couple of weeks and hopefully I will be able to narrow down the area that I would like to start out on opening day.

Hunting camps make good friends

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

If you hunt a lot you have probably been in several different hunting camps. For me, a lot of the enjoyment of hunting is the camp itself, the people you hunt with.

I have been hunting with the same group of guys for over 20 years now. We have had new people come and go, but for some reason the same core group of people seem to stick together. I don’t know why this is. Maybe it is the way we all razz each other without anyone taking offense? Maybe it is because we all chip in when we are in camp? Maybe even because when we are in the woods and one of us has been fortunate enough to take an animal, our group starts materializing out of the woods to help each other out? I do know this: the people that I hunt with are some of the best hearted, good spirited, and most fun people that I could ever hope to hunt with.

This is one of the reasons that I cherish my elk hunting trips so much. It’s a time for friends to get together and enjoy each others’ company, share stories and basically rib the heck out of one another. For me, having enjoyable people in camp is essential to the overall satisfaction to the trip. You may not always be able to harvest animals, but at least at the end of the day or trip, you can look back and laugh at some of the things that happened and at the memories that will last a lifetime.  Like that time that Gary tried to hammer the 2’ long piece of wood into the 20” deep stove at 2 am. After a while of that, Dad hollered “Gary, I think I have a bigger hammer in the truck if you think that would help?” and the tent erupted into laughter.