Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan
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09:01 AM (MST)
"Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

LAST EDITED ON Jun-02-10 AT 05:47 PM (MST) by Founder (admin)

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Been applying for elk in Utah since 1985. Finally drew a San Juan Elk tag. My first LE tag of any kind in all those years here in Utah!

Here are a few pics from my first scouting trip in early May.

Hope you all enjoy it as much as I already am


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  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      May-31-10   1 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Jun-20-10   2 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Jul-05-10   3 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Jul-05-10   4 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Jul-05-10   5 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Jul-22-10   6 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Jul-23-10   7 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Jul-27-10   8 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Aug-14-10   9 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Sep-10-10   10 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Sep-12-10   11 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Sep-23-10   12 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Sep-25-10   13 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Sep-26-10   14 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Oct-04-10   15 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Oct-06-10   16 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Oct-07-10   17 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Oct-11-10   18 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Oct-17-10   19 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Oct-19-10   20 
 RE: Lucky 25 -...  c3      Nov-27-10   21 

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(1767 posts)
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09:25 AM (MST)
1. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Got in another trip a couple weekends ago. This is getting to be pretty fun. Met a new friend and his family. Drove all over the place getting a bit better feel for the lay of the land on some spots I've never driven through. Did a little bushwacking and got one trail cam setup in a goofy location.

Here's a few more pics.

There were elk up top here already.

Are there really elk back here in this stuff?

Seems like you can find rubs just about anywhere!

Dust clouds mixed with rain and endless cedars. How can you see any elk in this stuff? They were there, but I only saw a few.

Saw a few bucks starting to grow nicely.

The flowers were going off !!!

I'll be back in a week or two


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(1767 posts)
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03:59 PM (MST)
2. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Scouting trip number 3 under the belt. Found some more great places and had a ton of fun teaching Jr how to ride a dirt bike with a clutch. Every time I go down makes me want to go more often

This was a shed our friend Morgan brought up to camp to show us !!!

Until next time....


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(1767 posts)
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04:39 PM (MST)
3. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Got back down last week for some more gold digging

Needless to say the bulls are starting to prosper! I'm finding lots of new and interesting areas to hunt. Had a couple of very productive bushwacks into some remote country. Had a couple of horrible bushwacks that turned up drier than dry.

Most importantly I met another great fellow that has hunted the area for 50 years and rides about 1000 miles a year on his mules up on the Blues. Next thing I know I'm in his barn looking at some of his sheds and having quite the two hour chat. Nothing like a couple of fellows with nothing to do but yack stories about hunting, hunting country and the critters that run around in them

Here's a bunch more pics with a few marginal pics of some of the critters I came across in late June.

These guys were about 4 miles off

More to come.


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(1767 posts)
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04:39 PM (MST)
4. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Found this goofy little bull doing a jig on a snowfield in the middle of the day.

Look at the eye guards on this guy!

A few trail cam pics so far too!

Some unmapped water I came across.

Another really long beamed bull I've seen quite a few times now.

The beginning of one of the coolest days in the mountains I've ever had.

Back for more adventure in a couple of weeks


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(1767 posts)
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04:39 PM (MST)
5. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

I've put away my Olympic target recurve this season focusing exclusively on my hunting setup. I've been working out my gear and shooting a ton. Been doing some 3d's and last weekends State Field tournament. It's all starting to come together quite nicely. Hopefully this animation of my arrow going into the dot at 51 yards works here


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(1767 posts)
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02:11 AM (MST)
6. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Got started broadhead tuning last Sat. Only need a couple of tweeks to the rest position and was shooting this type of groups at 30yrds with BH, FP and bareshafts. Not bad for the fist day

After being stuck in town Sat. we snuck away to shoot the Bowhunter Rendezvous with the fine folks from Timp Archers Sun. Even with some sight mark issues on the shots longer than 30, I shot a 404 and what I understand would have been first place in BHFS if I'd been able to shoot on Sat.

Here's a few pics of Jr and I slinging up there in Main Canyon.

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(1767 posts)
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06:53 AM (MST)
7. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Went out for a training run with my pack loaded with lots of glass and full water bottles. Didn't expect to see much, but found this cracker in the craziest of places. Appearantly most of you must like 'em trashy too


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(1767 posts)
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08:33 AM (MST)
8. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Had the oportunity to go run hounds with some friends last week on a Pursuit permit. Got one little bear in a tree. Bears with hounds on their heels will definitely hump up through some pretty rough country

Here's a few pics.

Dean caught a horny toad for Jr.

I have been finding some monster bucks up there it seems. Had two at less than 20 yards one morning. Here's hoping when it counts I can find some bulls this close. They seem to be much more elusive.

Did see a few elk, but nothing to write home about.

Hoping to get in two more trips before the opener. Till then,


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(1767 posts)
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11:01 AM (MST)
9. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Finally got out of the city and down for a final scouting trip last week.

Gave the new dirt bike a good shakedown run and ended up finding some great bulls. Two of which I plan to go after opening weekend. One is a bull I filmed back in late June. He was grown with all guns blazing over the last month and put on somewhere in the range of 60". I don't have very good pics of him, but he's the one I'm after. His buddy is a great 7x7 with 55"+ main beams. Needless I couldn't be more excited for this adventure.

This will be my last post until after the hunt as I won't have a computer down on the mountain. I'll check back with stories and pics when it's all over and done with


Got a new WR250F for ripping around down there during the hunt.

Decided to test it out on some single track back between
Aspen Flat and Red Ledges. Those trails in there are incredibly technical and with a 40 lbs pack full of glass and gear I blew up more than a few times and had one of those epic days in the mountains that one won't forget very soon. Needless to say I won't be riding that trail during my hunt with a bow or any time soon after

Rifle hunters idea of a blind at 10,000 feet

I have a feeling I'll be seeing some of this country more than once

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(1767 posts)
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02:55 PM (MST)
10. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Ahhhhh !!! The eve of the opener. After kissing my wife on the very day of our 27th anniversary, goodby, I'm on the road for my hunt of a lifetime.

Dropped my camper off at Foy Lake and headed over to the take off spot down into the Blue/Tuerto Creek benches off Shay Ridge.

A quick sort of my gear and I'm ready for a three day bivy hunt back into no-mans-land with no roads and no cell service. Just the elk, the bears and I. I can't tell you how jacked up I was to get on the trail.

Here's a view over to where I'd been seeing and filming elk all summer. Hoping they'd still be there come the morning of the opener.

After a two hour hike in, I popped over the knob I'd planned on bivying on that night to see this incredible sunset view!

... and under that incredible sunset low and behold was the affection of my eye all summer - The Basket Bull right where I'd hoped he'd stay !!!

After filming him up close and personal from across a small canyon I realized why he was where he was. If you look closely, there simply is no way to hunt him in that thick oak and cedar. Even if you were superhuman and could get within bow range there'd be no shooting lane longer than a couple dozen feet, much less yards. I spent a long and fitful night in my bivy sorting out how to get on him the next morning.........

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(1767 posts)
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08:48 AM (MST)
11. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Spent the night tossing and turning, hardly sleeping while daydreaming about the big bull across the way due to the nearly full moon.

The sunrise opening morning could not have been any more impressive. Of course with the bull I was after right in the exact same place at first light, it made it seem all the more awesome.

After debating all night and seeing him in the same place in the morning, I decided that a direct frontal assault on him would do nothing more than blow him out of the neighborhood. I knew there was water up in the canyon a bit and decided to slip down in there and wait him out.

Here's a couple of 6x5's I filmed and got to watch spar between 40 and 120 yards. The smaller one gave me quite the show of raking and trying to take on his bigger brother, but he just wasn't the kind of bull I've waited for 25 years for.

I waited under some monster pines in a bedding area just off their water hole most of the day. Around 2:00pm I awoke to a little bear staring at me from about 45 feet away. Pretty exciting, but I think he was a little more surprised when I sat up than I was at him being there. No chance to get the video camera out on him before he was 1/2 mile away

Decided to take a quick walk up the side canyon where the two 6x5's were playing in the morning and found my first wallow of the year.

These guys were definitely in here on a regular basis, but could I withstand the urge to go into the brush after him?

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12:06 PM (MST)
12. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

The answer was no, I couldn't wait for him to go for water as I had no idea which way he'd go. So I followed my long time idiotic instinct and went straight in after him. Needless to say all I saw was asses and elbows from 30 yards or so, but never had a chance in that thick cover.

To add insult to injury, I got a wasp or bee sting right on the tip of my nose shortly after that and ended the opening day with nothing more than a swollen nose, upper lip and gums to show for it. Remember that one as it turns into a rather funny story later in the hunt

From there I left the Basket Bull to where ever he ran off to and headed out across Blue Creek Mesa to find a bull I'd spotted way out in the burn north of there west of Shay Mountain. By the time I got out there on the north end of the mesa it was after dark, but I had plenty of light from the nearly full moon.

As I laid my tarp and bivy bag out to camp that night I could hear bulls fighting and raking the cedars on the mesa down wind of me. For some strange reason some bulls came up from down wind and didn't seem to want to leave, even with me moving around getting set for the night. About an hour later a bull came in from down wind to about 25 yards of me. He walked around out in front of me for quite a few minutes in the light of the moon. I was shocked as I couldn't figure out what in the world these bulls were doing so close in the dark and always from dead down wind.

Finally it dawned on me. I had spent the night before the opener bivying in an elk bed. Opening morning my ground cloth was wet and had mud on it. It stunk of elk urine as I rolled it up to get going at first light. That night as I pulled it out it stunk as much as in the morning. Those elk must have smelled it and come in. By the time they got close I was in my bivy sack and sleeping bag keeping them from really smelling me.

Needless to say it made for quite the show and a fitting end to my opening day.

This is my bivy setup the next day after going on safari over hill and dale looking for the elusive monster bull of the mesa. Even found a nice little 5x shed out north of Blue Creek, but no bulls to report.

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(1767 posts)
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12:43 PM (MST)
13. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

After the 3rd day over in Blue Creek, I was ready for a real bed in the camper and to do some glassing from a few spots I had found earlier in the summer. One of the spots my boy and I had camped at and done some dirt biking around turned out to be a gold mine. I was glassing and stalking bulls for the next 5 to 7 days non-stop. Here are a few of the pics from video I got through the spotting scope.

This is a bull I nicknamed the Carribou Bull. I showed the video to Adam Black and he laughed and said they call him Draggo. Not the biggest bull yet, but as a 7x8 already, he could become one of the legends some day. I only saw him one morning very early and that was the last of him for me.

This was a good six I found hanging out with the Carribou Bull. I went straight after these two guys the minute I shut off the camera, but in the thick oak brush it was an impossible stalk much less to get a shot in that jungle of oaks they like to hang out in. The rest of that day I spent chopping a trail through the oaks to a ridge close to where they were hanging out. This trail also turned out to be the location of one of the most exciting moments of my whole hunt. Not neccessarily in a good way though

On the morning of the sixth day of the hunt the bulls started to bugle in anger for the first time. I stalked this guy working in on his constant bulgles right up my new trail. I ended up 20' from him at one point and had a perfect broadside shot at 14 yards, but couldn't see him well enough to tell if he was a shooter or not. Nice bull, but I'm glad I passed and waited.

Saturday morning I filmed these two guys sparring at the same time I was hearing a bunch of dogs barking over a ridge or so. I couldn't figure out who the idiots were with all the dogs in their camp until they crested the ridge to the west of me. It finally dawned on me that it was opening day of fall bear season and they were on the trail of a good one.

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(1767 posts)
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10:11 AM (MST)
14. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

While chasing many of these bulls around in the oaks I found another great glassing spot I called "On The Rocks". It was an incredible elk spot. It has views of a great bowl, a water hole and all the way out into the oaks and cedars to the CWMU. It has a perfect spot to shoot into two meadows in the oaks on either side of a huge pine out to about 70 yards. I'd planned on spending some time in this spot!

That evening the nearly full moon appeared over a thunder cloud east of Monticello. It was incredible to see lightening bolts light up the cloud with this monster full moon right over the top of it.

I spent the morning of day 8 glassing another draw with nothing to be seen.

At that point I hadn't heard or seen the houndsmen since Saturday morning. I figured it would be a good evening hunt to sit "On The Rocks" and started up my trail through the oaks about 4:00pm. I figured the elk would be moving early as it was a warm day with temps in the upper 70's.

As I was about 3/4 of a mile from the road I heard the sound of hounds lighting up somewhere close to where I had parked. I back tracked my trail to the top of a little ridge and could see two trucks with hounds going off right where my trail starts. Next thing I know there are 20 hounds set loose right up my trail at me.

It's one thing to be behind the hounds when they are after something. It's an entirely different thing to be in their path. I can't quite describe in words the picture that ran through my mind of 20 hounds chewing my ass to pieces as they charged up that trail after me. I held my bow out in front of me at the last second expecting them to all pounce right on me! My reaction was funny actually in retrospect

The buggers didn't even look up! They parted around my legs, dogs running everywhere. A bobcat slipped down past me a few feet away just as the last of the hounds came by. None of them paid him any mind either. He looked up at me and was gone faster than I could even think to grab my camera.

I turned around a second later, relieved that I hadn't been their target, just in time to see the first of the hounds hook up on the bear in the oaks about 150 yards above me and the chase was on. I got my camera out just as they crashed over the ridge above me and were out of sight.

I had to sit down for minute to laugh at myself for getting so worked up. Needless to say it was one of the more exciting moments of my hunt

I then spent the next couple days exploring some new areas as the all the hounds running bears on that side of the mountain had the elk on lock down. I checked out "Gators Knoll" on the far south east side of the Blues. It look promising, but again a place where spot and stalk would be really tough in the thick oaks and cedars if they weren't lit up bugling.

The next day I was on my way down to the very eastern edge of the National Forest above Monticello when I hit a bug going about 50mph on my WR. It hit me right on the very tip of the nose, right where I'd gotten the wasp or bee sting opening day. The thing exploded up onto my glasses and face and my nose swelled up the size of a golf ball.

By the next morning my nose was so big I had to go to the hospital clinic and have it looked at. It seems I got an infection from the stinger and the bug smack must have jammed it further into my nose.

The doc said I had the option of pills three times a day for 10 days or a single shot. I decided on the shot to just get it out of the way. I'm not so sure that wasn't a mistake, as that thing made my ass hurt for three days. I could hardly walk by that afternoon. LOL!!!

Spent one more morning at "On The Rocks" with no luck other than a really cool time lapse video of low clouds rolling over the Blues.

The elk were gone and my honey hole seemed to have turned into a barren wasteland. That's when I decided a change of scenery and a drive over to south Elk Ridge was just the ticket...

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(1767 posts)
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09:02 AM (MST)
15. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

I loaded up my dirt bike and headed to town to do some laundry and get something to eat. If you've been on the mountain for 10 days and need something great, a bacon cheeseburger, fries and cookie dough shake from The Patio in Blanding comes highly recommended

After finishing my laundry and stopping to find Gators son I was about to head up the mountain. The guy at the station said, "you're Pete" and we started laughing. It was Austin a family friend of Gators and he recognized me from my posts here or something. He had some good advise and after a good laugh at recognizing me I headed off up the hill.

Went to a spot out on Butts Point I had been glassing bulls from in the summer first. Didn't find much and went off scouting some benches my buddy Troy had suggested there were some good bulls working. I found where they'd been, but all I found were someone elses boot tracks in their beds. That night as I got back to my car there were at least 4 or 5 bulls bugling around my camp spot between Kigalia and Butts Point. I was excited for the morning hunt.

At dawn I went to check out a pond I had a trail cam on earlier in the year with a good bull coming in. I found one bull bugling continuously right there. I worked down to about 200 yards from him and made one cow call. Big mistake! He ran off the mountain 1500' bugling the whole way down into Arch canyon. I was dumbfounded. What the hey? I don't suck that bad at cow calling! Here's a pick of me doing a little cow call test on my video camera so I could hear if I was the issue or if it was just some educated bulls.

Later that night I found out why the bulls down that way were so skittish to cow calls. There were quite a number of camps down that way and everyone it seemed had been playing with the bulls screaming all around them.

It was only 7:30am so I loaded up my pack with a days worth of food and water and went on safari north along elk ridge checking side roads and spotting for elk on my dirt bike. I saw lots of tracks, but no elk until I got all the way down to Gooseberry.

My end destination for the day was to finds a tree stand location my buddy Bill Allard (BB) had setup on a couple of wallows years ago. Two years ago another friend Gary Wilson (Midnight) had put up and left some awesome homemade stands there for his brother-in-laws management hunt. I knew they'd be there, but had never actually been there myself.

Here's a pic of a bull BB took at that spot in 2005.

With that in mind I headed off to first see if there were any elk down in there and second to see if I could find the stands and wallow.

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09:43 AM (MST)
16. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

It was just after one in the afternoon by then and as I worked my way down the canyon I hear bugles drifting up from below! Kind of a surprise to hear bugles in the middle of the afternoon as it was just August 31th.

I slipped down closer to a spot where I might have a shot if I could get him to come in and made a soft cow call. He bugled right back, but as with the morning hunt down above Arch canyon he moved away a few hundred yards and bugled again. I learned right quick that the bulls down there don't like cow calls unless they can see the cows this early in the season.

Plan B - spot and stalk in on his bugles! He was going off every 10 minutes or so. If I crunched a stick or made any sound that might resemble a critter moving though the woods he'd bugle at me. This was all good until I got to about 80 yards.

I could see his whole body, but not his head. He had about 10 or 15 cows with him as well. I had a perfect angle on him but it was too far and I couldn't tell how good he was.

As usual right then the wind swirled down on him and all hey broke loose. Next thing I know they're blowing out of there. I gave a couple cow calls and all the cows stopped and fed right back under me as close as 50 yards, but the bull knew and continued off the mountain bugling the whole way until he was out of ear shot.

All I have to show for the excitement was the only pic of a spike I got all season! It appears from my experience that spike hunting on the San Juan is not the most productive thing you could do. I spent 20 days during the archery hunt and this was the only spike I saw or was even close to!

I snuck around the cows and down the canyon further, looking for wallows and stands. I had the above pic from Bill burned in the back of my brain and could tell nothing looked like that kind of honey hole.

The further I went, the better it looked until I was surrounded by elk again somehow. As I snuck around a nice park along the creek I busted a couple of elk. Low and behold right below where they had bedded was BB's famous Pine Wallows stand.

After I climbed up in and hauled up my bow, I remembered Bill saying that they liked to wallow back in the pines where it was difficult to shoot into.

Sure enough, the main wallows and water where back in under the sticks in the pines.

I only lasted a half hour in the stand before I decided I had some work to do to get any elk that might come in to stay out in the open. I spent the next couple of hours draining the wallows back in the pines and covering them with brush and logs as best I could. After an hour or so of dragging timber and brush back in there, I was confident that no elk would want to climb into that mess back there.

I headed back up toward the bike covering any wallows I found along the creek. Even had one bull come into about 80 yards screaming his head off thinking I was another bull wallowing. I was breaking brush and throwing logs in the water and suppose it all sounded like a good wallowing session from afar. I didn't have a bugle tube with me and after a half hour he tired of no other elk sounds besides my raking and breaking brush and moved off without giving me a peek at him.

I rode the 25 miles back to camp in the dark pretty excited to come back and hunt this canyon if not the stands. The elk were hot down in there for the end of August.

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08:20 AM (MST)
17. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

The next morning, just before first light I woke up to someone pulling in behind my camp and as I wasn't up and at it yet, there wasn't much I could say about it. The minute they pulled in all the elk that had been screaming around my camp the night before and that morning peeled off the ridge and down into never never land. I got up and drove off to another spot, but after an uneventful hunt that morning I decided it was time to move my camp over to Elk Ridge. The elk were just too vocal over here to leave be.

I dropped off my bike over by the Big Notch and ran down into town. I bribed Troy into going to lunch with me. I needed someone to yak stories to after being up there all by myself for so long. We looked at video, talked about some big bulls he'd spotted, other places to hunt and I got to meet Adam Black who was also going to get lunch at The Patio too. Like I said they have some great burgers there and even the locals like the place

After lunch I headed back over to Foy lake only to find that my pop-up had been broken into and a bunch of stuff was stolen. Worst thing was they slit out the whole back side of the canvas at the bottom of the window. I called the the Sherrifs office and waited around all afternoon to deal with that mess. Now I was down to only the five arrows I had in my TightSpot quiver. All my extra arrows, tools and spares were in my bow case that got nicked. No room for mistakes now without any back up gear.

I headed back to glass my honey hole over on the north side one more time. It was again a barren wasteland and that sealed the deal for me. The writing was on the wall and I decided I'd move that night over to Elk Ridge. By 10:30pm I was back in Blanding fueled up and had the coolers filled with blocks of ice. I made it out onto Deadman Point by about 1:00am and threw out my bag to sleep.

I woke up at 5:30am to elk bugling near me again. I chased them over to the north side of Deadman trying to run around them to beat them to the edge before they peeled off the ridge. I tripped over some brush and ate chit right on my face. Almost broke one finger and slammed by bow on the ground. After a few choice words, I realized right there that it was time for some rest. I took it easy the rest of the morning and after setting up my camp I slept for nearly 5 hours until early evening. It was now the 2nd of Sept and I had exactly two weeks left to hunt.

It's interesting how a couple of minor set backs takes the wind out of your sails and doubt starts to creep into the back of your mind. To that point, I'd been in the elk every day, video'd a ton, been close alot and had passed a couple decent bulls. I'd found BB's famous Pine Wallows stand, been stalking elk bugling all day for the first time during the hunt, yet I was starting to get a little nervous. The pressure of having 25 years into this hunt was starting to mount.

That evening I went over to a ridge I'd scouted in the summer and found elk on every time I'd been there. This night was no exception. There were bulls down off the edge screaming their heads off. I knew I needed to take it easy and just sat this wallow I found hoping one of the screamers would work up there before it got dark. A couple cows came in, but no bulls.

I had glassed up a couple of really big bulls near these earlier in the summer. It didn't look like anyone had hunted in there yet this year and I couldn't decide whether to come back in the morning or go back to Pine Wallows. As I hiked back up out of there in the dark I said tomorrow would be a good day to sit in Gary's barka lounger in that tree.

Over the years of hanging out with BB, I've come to loath tree stand hunting as nothing has ever come in under a stand when I've been there and had a tag. I've sat stands from dawn to dusk a number of times just to prove I can do it. Still nothing has ever come in. I think I've logged about 300 hours in stands on the Wasatch Front without so much as one elk or one buck deer ever having come in. Crazy as it seems, at this point in the hunt, I really had no other choice. Either go home for a a few days rest or sit his stand and take in the sights and sounds the mountain has to offer.

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(1767 posts)
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09:13 AM (MST)
18. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

In the end of the day, I had no intention of going home during this hunt

My only option was to go sit BB's stand and hope I could get some video of some bulls wallowing and bugling. I rode my bike to the take off point in the dark. It was in the low 40's that morning. One of the coolest mornings I'd seen so far. As I shut off the bike at the trailhead about 5 miles from camp I immediately heard bulls bugling on either side of me!

The screaming bulls followed me down into the canyon in the dark. As I listened to the different bugles on my way down I thought to myself how fitting it would be if I shot my San Juan bull in my friends stands the very first day of sitting.

It was tough to keep from going after the bugles in the fast approaching light. but I vowed I'd just sit today, no matter what the elk did in an attempt to get some recovery. I climbed into the stand just before 7:00am to a cresendo of bugling going on all around me.

Incredibly there were bulls lighting up on all sides. I'm not so sure all that action was allowing me to get any rest at all. Needless to say my heart was racing as I was sure I'd have bulls in that wallow under me in a matter of minutes.

By the time I'd raised my bow up to the stands I'd identified at least 5 different bulls by their bugles.

About 25 minutes later I heard crunching and two does came in for a drink and a little dig at what must have been an old mineral lick.

The spot was a slam dunk if a good bull came in. This spot the doe was standing is exactly 22 yards.

The does finally moved off after about 15 minutes and I was left to my lonesome and the incessant bugles going off all around me.

The minutes crept by and became an hour or so when I heard more crunching. This time it was louder and took awhile to come into view. About 6 cows appeared in the clearing but all of them were peering down the canyon and a little on edge. They quickly moved through and up toward where one of the bugles was consistantly going off.

The bugles continued all around. Some times closer some times further up the hill behind the wallows. By 9:00am or so they were so close I thought for sure there had to be one bull who would appear in my little opening at any second. Again it was just a teaser and they slowly moved away again, but still in ear shot.

About 9:15am another group of cows slipped in below the stand followed by a lone bull. Finally some action....

At least for this guy it was almost some action

Some of the things bulls do when in the rut are much more easily seen when sitting a stand. Here's of pic of a bull doing a lip curl. I've never understood exactly what they are on about with this, but it doesn't take too much of an imagination

He was the smartest of the bulls in that whole canyon. He was quiet the whole time and never once made a sound. Needless to say the other 4 or 5 bulls around me never had a clue he was in with the cows even if it was too early for the real game.

Believe it or not this is the very first bull elk to have ever come in under a stand when I've had a tag in all my years bowhunting. Don't know if I could have gotten turned around to shoot down that direction, but a first is still a first. Maybe my curse was finally lifting.

As minutes wore on to become hours, with bulls bugling consistantly all around I again started to doubt if I would ever see a bull come in and wallow much less see one I wanted to hang my tag on.

Right as I was about to give in to the urge to chase bugles this little calf bull came into water all by himself. He knew what was up already at his tender age and was already starting to get in the act. Kicking the water and lifting his nose to the smells of the season. For such a little tike he put on quite a show!

After the little guy moved back off to find mama, I had nothing to get excited over for quite some time even though I could still hear bugles continuously.

I had remembered earlier that morning that I have a pre-record function on my new video camera. This continuously records a rolling 4 seconds of video and audio. As soon as I'd hear a bugle I'd hit the record button and it would capture about 3 seconds before the bugle and on from there until I shut it off. It was just enough excitement to keep me in the tree somehow. The wind was swirling around by that time and I knew that if I got down and went after them I'd just wind them and it would be over for sure.

I found pre-recording bugles to be an ammusing way to spend the afternoon. Everytime the bulls would come close I'd get out the cam and record their sounds again. As the afternoon wore on, I found I was able to judge the time by the battery level indicator! I had two batteries with me and with the first one down to about an hour of life left, I put it away.

Here's a view of the wallows, that I had covered with all the brush a few days before. I got this view as I recorded a bull screaming that was up behind all this on the hill to the left of me. By this time I'd named the five bulls bugling around me. Gut and Ugh were behind me. Screamer and Dink were up the hill to the right of this pic and didn't seem to move from their spots all day. This pic was the direction of the Yodeller and the furthest bull to my left all day.

To pass more time I next tried to text, but service was virtually non-existant. All I was doing was running my battery down on my phone with it searching for service. I then played a few games on my GPS, but I'm not much of a gamer. I looked over the maps on the gps of the hill behind the wallows but I already knew what was up there. Bulls, bulls and more bulls

Needless to say I was going crazy. I'm not sure you can really get any rest in a treestand even if it's probably one of the nicest barka loungers you could ever sit. My brain just won't sit still long enough to fall asleep much less let me get any real rest.

As it got close to 5:00pm I resigned myself to grinning and bearing it until the bitter end at dark. I was about to spend another complete day from sun up to sun down in a stupid tree stand.... but for what, so I could say to Bill I tried?

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(1767 posts)
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08:28 AM (MST)
19. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

With a sigh I slouched back into the seat of the stand. I was still hearing bugles all around, but after sitting all day I was not expecting much.

Not more than a couple of minutes later, to my surprise two of the bulls got into a shouting match insulting each other from either side of the little opening I was sitting! I sat up quickly and pulled out my video cam to record their bugles as they were close, real close. The next two bugles I caught on the cam were Ugh from behind and to the right and the Yodeller behind the wallows to the left.

Here's what it sounded like up close and personal as they were as close as they'd been the whole day.

Only a few seconds after I shut off the recording of these bugles I heard crunching from the Yodeller's direction. I hit the record button just in time to catch him coming in. He proceeded to stick his head right down in the middle of all the brush I had piled over the wallow on the left side.

As he watered I was able to look him over pretty well back through the twigs and sticks. I had always drempt of a big bull with the classic San Juan swoop whales tails. While this bull was nice and had a great front end with big thirds, he was lacking on top. Especially on his left side.

It was hard to believe that I contemplating passing a bull of this caliber, especially as he was the first shooter I'd had in bow range so far on this hunt and the first shooter bull I'd ever had come in under a stand I'd ever sat.

After a minute and a half of him watering he turned sideways giving me this view.

When he raised his head and I saw those huge thirds reaching up to heaven, I started to second guess my choice to pass him.

He started to move and I immediately put the cam in my pocket and picked up my bow. I instinctively went into kill mode and decided by my actions that if he presented me with a shot I'd hang my tag on this San Juan bull.

He walked around behind some pines to the other wallow I'd covered with a bunch of lumber and brush. He proceeded to stick his head straight down into the mess and with one powerful swoop lifted most of the junk I'd piled over "his" wallow about ten feet in the air. There was brush and logs as big as 4" diameter and 15' long flying everywhere.

Here's the first pics after I got my cam back out to try to capture the action.

He continued to rake, kick and shred the wallow before he laid down in his mess. Here's a few pics of the action.

Ugh continued to bugle constantly from behind me as the Yodeller kept watering and tearing up the wallow. Finally the Yodeller let out one of the loudest bugles I've ever hear while laying right there in front of me.

With all this clearly on full HD video I was sure to call this my San Juan bull of a lifetime if he gave me the opportunity!

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(1767 posts)
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09:38 AM (MST)
20. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Well, it didn't take more than a few seconds from his bugle to the time he stood up from his wallow. I immediately put the cam in my pocket and again picked up my bow.

BB had taught me well to make sure I had a cow call in my mouth when they came in so I could stop them to get a shot. He'd had the misfortune of not having a way to stop that monster bull he had filmed in 2005 as he slipped back in behind the pines.

As fate would have it I never needed to stop him. The Screamer was on the move down toward the wallows and bugled right at the moment I needed to stop the Yodeller. He turned and stopped looking up toward where the Screamer had just bugled, quartering away from me perfectly. It was the moment of truth!

I had ranged the distance a number of times during the day and knew the exact 35 yard shot it was to the wallow. I split my 30 and 40 pins just infront of his second to last rib.

It was strange moment. Like time stopped still and I thought to myself this was my time. I was as calm as I'd ever been for some reason. I built back tension and the shot went off of it's own accord. Much like I'd imagined of myself shooting the final arrow to win the Olympics or Vegas it found it's mark perfectly and disappeared.

He arched his back and jumped from the wallow. Turned back the way he'd come and walked slowly for about 10 yards. He jumped over a deadfall about the time I got off two cow calls to stop him. He went another 10 or 15 yards, turned back to face the wallow, wavered and fell over a mere 55 yards from my stand and only an amazing 38 yards from the wallow.

Surprisingly the only sensation I had at that point was the lifting of an elephant, a piano and the monkey off my back! Just the sweet release of all the pressure a 25 year tag piles on you.

Even more amazing was the relief of a bull laying in sight of the wallow I shot him in.

Amazing what a bull can do to a wallow in such a short time.

I set about trying to get some pics of him, but being by yourself a long long way from civilization doesn't afford much help that way when there's only a few hours of light left.

I did get off a text to most of my buddies that my curse was over. I also got off one text to my wife and another to a few folks I thought might be close enough to lend a hand.

What to do with this mud caked mess? I actually contemplated washing off the mud, but after one trip to the creek for water and nothing more than a water bottle and a thermos to use I gave up on that idea

I did get a couple of decent hero shots. Here's the best of them.

About this time I tried to get off a couple more text's but with the poor service my battery was finally dead. I resigned myself to a long night of cutting up and hanging my bull by myself.

I worked on skinning the one side that was facing up. I was taking my time and about 9:00pm I heard shouts from above. Sure enough someone had gotten my text, knew where I was and decided I was probably in serious need of some help. At that point some excitement crept back into me! I would have some help after all!

Right then it dawned on me that I'd spent the last two and a half hours and only gotten one side skinned. I was a bit embarrassed at how little I'd gotten done so far. I thought if I hurried I could get a back strap off before they got down to see. A few more shouts later and I gave up on trying to make a good show of it and walked up the hill to meet whom ever had come to my aid late into the night.

In the end of the day it was Shad Pyper and Deen Lyman who were sent from on high to lend me a hand. After leading them back through the deadfall to my bull, the work commenced in short order. Needless to say these two saved my bacon and turned what would have been an epic night into a joyous occation.

Here's a few pics from the late evening as we finished up the cutting and packing of meat.

At about midnight it was time to head up the mountain. Dean and Shad had a front quarter and back strap each. I had the head cape and tenderloins. Luckily it was only about a 1/2 mile back to Shad's truck.

Finally got to the truck and here's Deen lifting the bull from my pack.

Back at camp about 1:30am we hung the quarters in a tree and Shad and Deen headed back south toward Kigalia to pick up Shad's trailer and bring it over to where I was camped. I went to text my wife and friends some pics and when they returned I was still up sending text's on the road where I had service. I was way to wired to sleep at that point still.

After setting up Shad's camp, we took a few pics and bs'd late into the morning hours.

About 4:30am I had finally had enough and needed some sleep. 15 days now on the mountain had taken their toll. Shad and Deen looked at the time and figured it was time to go hunting! They got cleaned up headed out before first light as I layed my head on the pillow for the first time in 24 hours.

I woke about 7:15am and was up and about in short order. I decided to try to take some pics of my bull in the light. This was about as good as I could get.

About 7:30 Deen rolls into camp in Shad truck and say's "Shad shot a bull, come on get your video camera". I said get out of here you liar! Deen was adamant and as I didn't know him that well I grabbed my cam a couple of pop-tarts and off we went. This is the next thing I saw! The All Nighter Bull !!!

After a few more pics and video we commenced to cutting up Shads bull.

About noon we had Shad's bull back in camp. As Deen and Shad hung the quarters in a tree I set about getting ready to go pack out my two hind quarters that were hanging down at the wallow still.

About 4:30pm the next day the job was finally done. I found that Deen was headed off home and I commenced to have a little celebration with a bottle of wine my wife had sent along with me for the occation. There's never been one sweeter lets just say

The next day I got to meet Paula (Ladyshooter) and Braden. Paula took some pics for us.

After some sorting of a shuttle for my bike and trailer that Braden so graciously agreed to take to town and store for me I was ready to head out.

I had a few stops to make going through town. Got to show all the video to Danny, Troy and their families. Then stopped one more time to show my bull to Kendrick in Monticello. He'd been waiting to hear from me the whole hunt and it was great to see he and his wife before I got on the road toward home.

After a long drive and a stop to show Kurt (KK) in Price I finally made it home on day 16 at 1:30am. After some hugs and kisses from my wife and junior I can say, sleep has never come so easily

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(1767 posts)
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07:00 PM (MST)
21. "RE: Lucky 25 - A year on the San Juan"

Thought I'd put a link to the video of all the bulls I filmed on my hunt here. It's a long one at almost 14 minutes, but shows the kind of critters I was in and stalking the whole hunt in full 1080HD if you have a fast connection.


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