Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

Big Buck or Tag Soup?
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Forums 2010 Hunt Adventure Challenge
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07:25 PM (MST)
"Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

LAST EDITED ON Sep-06-10 AT 05:23 PM (MST) by Founder (admin)

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My name is Drew Edwards and I was raised and lived in Florida for the first 30 years of my life. My Mother had come from Wyoming and all of my life I heard stories about the West and about cowboys and how my Mothers brothers, my Uncles, had all lived thier lives chasing mule deer, elk and antelope and from the very beginning I was in love with the Wild West. Throughout my life my family would travel from Florida to Wyoming to visit relatives and my love of the West just kept on growing. In 1987 and 1993 I took two hunting trips to Wyoming and had a great time hunting with one of my Uncles but a seed was planted in me and I knew that one day I would have to move West. In 1993 I worked at the Denver International Airport and then worked in a gold mine in the Elko, Nevada area where I settled down. In the 17 years I've been in Nevada I've been constantly learning how to hunt the West turning from truck rifle hunter to archery bivvy hunter. I'm not going to talk about the last 17 years but instead talk about the last couple of years which brings me to where I'm at now. Hope you enjoy the story.
I decided to get into the Hunt Adventure Challenge due to all of the great stories I've been reading in this forum so I thought I'd share my owne adventures. So here it goes.
In 2007 I took up bow hunting and decided to give it a try. Its kinda funny because my wife and I were getting married in 2006 and while planning our wedding she specifically asked me if we could get married on August 6th. At the time I was not a bow hunter and I told her that I had no intentions of ever bow hunting so August 6th would be great. Nevada's early archery seasons start on August 1st but since I didn't bow hunt there was no chance of me ruining our future honeymoons. Ha ha, I've ruined every honeymoon we've had because bow hunting really agreed with me and got under my skin. In 2007 I got my best buck ever but more importantly I hunted in such a way that got me up in and on top of the mountains which is something I truley love. It wasn't so much killing a deer but getting in those mountains that I really fell in love with. Killing a deer is just icing on the cake. Here is my first archery buck.

Well in 2008 and 2009 I never really saw a buck that I wanted to shoot so I mostly concentrated on helping my new hunting partner, Steve Stanfill, get his first buck. We were unsuccessful but now Steve was hooked and was quickly learning everything that had taken me 17 years to learn.
So stat tuned to read about our 2010 archery mule deer hunting season. Would this be another year of tag soup or would we finally get Steve his first buck and fill my tag for the first time since 2007? fatrooster.

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  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Sep-18-10   1 
  RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Sep-19-10   2 
   RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Sep-22-10   3 
    RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Sep-23-10   4 
     RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Sep-26-10   5 
      RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Sep-26-10   6 
       RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Sep-27-10   7 
        RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Sep-29-10   8 
         RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Oct-04-10   9 
          RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Oct-05-10   10 
           RE: Big Buck o...  fatrooster      Nov-21-10   11 

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12:21 PM (MST)
1. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

This year I prepared like never before. Running, working out, shed hunting up and down the mountains and a couple of scouting trips. I was determined to be in the best shape possible so that I could spend more valuable time hunting and less time recuperating from long hikes. My first scouting trip took me to a place that mountain goats would be crazy to venture into but venture I did. With a lot of steep climbing and hiking I made it to my destination in 4 hours. Just in time to set up my tent and go to bed in the late sunset. The next day I awoke to a beautiful overlook looking for muleys. As I was sitting under a tree I heard a noise to my left and when I looked up I saw a Mountain goat 10 yards away. When I unzipped my camera case the goat heard it and ran out to 25 yards where I got this picture.

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10:15 AM (MST)
2. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

This is what the area looked like.

Although I didn't see many deer I felt enriched by seeing new country. I've never seen an ugly spot in the Ruby Mountains.

After spending a day on the mountain I started coming down the mountain. While descending a dangerous spot I took off my backpack as a safety measure and while climbing down a cliff made out of hard concrete like dirt it got away from me and rolled 40 yards down the mountain and rested in a creek. All of my gear seemed to be ok but a couple of days later after a closer inspection I found that I had damaged my Swarovski spotting scope. This was a big blow for me since I had bought an SLR camera in order to do some digiscoping during my deer hunt. This is what the scope looked like.

That damage in the above picture would not keep me from digiscoping but the damage to the eyepiece would. After recieving the damage the eyepiece would not fit on the scope without wobbling and it would not go into the lock position. In this picture you can see a gap between the eyepiece and the body of the scope.

Luckily for me I had just traded a pair of Swarovski 15x56 bino's for a Leica Televid 77 spotting scope as a back up spotter. The only problem was that my swarovski digiscoping adapter would not fit the Leica spotter so I would be reduced to holding a point and shoot camera up to the spotter which does not take great pics but is better than nothing.
So in my next post we will start my hunt. fatrooster.

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09:21 AM (MST)
3. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

So I was finally going hunting and my goal was to look for a nice 170" class buck or better. I would be hunting alone for the first week and my partner would join me on the second week and we would hunt for 2 weeks together. My plan was to move from canyon to canyon looking for that special buck. The first canyon had 16 bucks with a couple of them reaching up into the 150" and maybe the 160" class. Not what I was looking for so I moved on to the next campsite and saw only one 3-point buck. I moved again and on the third day found a decent buck. Not quite what I was looking for but getting better.

This buck and his 3-point partner kept looking over in my direction and they ended up walking over the top of the mountain. I never saw them again and I don't know if they moved out because of me or what. I was about 800 yards away from them and couldn't see them without using my bino's so I don't know what was up.
Here is a picture of my tent in my very first camp.

I spent three nights out and stayed in a different canyon every night. I had a strange feeling that I needed to go home so I packed up the stuff I was taking out and made ready to stash the stuff I could leave until I returned. I was stashing this stuff up in a tree when the branch I was standing on broke and I came down on a locked kneed right leg and I went to the ground. It hurt pretty bad but after about 5 minutes of rolling around it started feeling better and I was able to get up. I was only about 3 feet off of the ground but it was enough to do damage. It started swelling up and on the hike out it got to the point where I could hardly bend it. I made about a 5 mile hike going up and down hill and it took quite a bit longer than it normally would but I made it out to the trail head and to my truck. On the way home I called my wife and she was in a panic. "Get home now, the dog is having puppies!" She wasn't due for a couple of more days but apparently she decided she was having them early. I guesss that was the strange feeling I had about me needing to go home. fatrooster.

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(4074 posts)
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12:06 PM (MST)
4. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

When I got home I found that my wife had the sawzall out with a pry bar, a shovel and a sledge hammer and a couple of boards in my beautiful deck were cut up. The dog had 4 puppies under the deck and my wife cut it up to get them out! Well we got the dog into the laundry room where she commenced to spit out 6 more puppies making it a total of 10 pups. Oh my God! I would have been happy with the first 4, ha ha. fatrooster.

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(4074 posts)
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02:20 PM (MST)
5. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

Then another distraction from hunting season came along. A friend of mine wanted to sell his truck and we had been talking about it the week prior to my hunt. I wanted it and so I went to the bank to make the arrangements for the loan. Got all of my loan request papers signed at closing time on a Friday so I wouldn't find out until Monday wether or not the loan went through. Well I was going hunting regardless of what was going on. I'd just have to find out whenever I came off of the mountain. So I hooked up with my partner Steve Stanfill and headed for the trail head. Here is my partner Steve at the trail head.

Here is me.

After hiking in we set up camp. Here is Steve's sleeping accomodations.

And here is my tent.

After setting up camp and pumping water through our filters we went right to glassing. Steve spotted a little 4x4 and decided to put a stalk on him. He got within 80 yards when the buck stood up and started feeding. Since it was getting late in the day he decided to speed up his stalk and blew the buck out.
This is the buck of Steve's first stalk of 2010.

It was getting late when Steve got back but we were still able to do a little glassing. Here's a couple of bucks we saw before it got too dark to see.

Steve's first day was over.

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05:49 PM (MST)
6. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

We got up the next morning and went to glassing. Saw lots of nice bucks but they just weren't bedding in a stalkable position. So after the morning glassing session we headed to the top of the mountain so that we could walk the ridge and look for bedded bucks under trees and rock overhangs. This method of looking for bucks is usually productive for us but we just couldn't find any on this particular day. Saw lots of beautiful country.

Steve posing up above a high alpine lake we found.

Again we did our evening glassing from camp and saw good bucks and again the next morning but they just would not bed in a good spot for a stalk with archery equipment. We decided to move camp and went for a 6 mile hike. After getting to camp my knee really started hurting and soon I was in some very bad pain. Steve had 4 tablets of advil and so I took it. It finally started to help about 20 minutes later but later in the night the advil wore off so in the morning we decided we'd better get off of the mountain and get some drugs. Also Steve discovered that his bow had a broken piece on it and we would have to come out anyway. Here is the broken piece on the bow.

So home we went. Steve was working on fixing his bow and I was working on resting my knee and getting lots of advil to take back up with me. Also, I was approved for my loan on the truck and I finished taking care of the financing paperwork. Not enough time for registering, tag and insurance. I waited all year to hunt and had no time for distractions.

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09:42 AM (MST)
7. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

The next day we were back in action and headed back to our last campsite where we had left our tents set up. The next morning it was a 40 minute climb to get up on top of the mountain but climb we did. I already knew what the deer in this particular canyon would do since I had hunted it years prior and had gone to it the week before when I was by myself. The deer would go down into the bottom of the canyon and feed all night and then about an hour or two after daylight they would slowly feed up to thier bedding areas. A stalk down to these deer in the daytime is impossible because you have to cross an open area to get to them. If you try to go around them up high you cannot come down on them because of a sheer rock wall. So the plan was to show Steve the layout and give him my plan. The plan I had worked for me last year, and involved getting down into the bedding area in the dark while the deer were still 1,000 yards away feeding. Also, if he did bump these deer they always went down canyon about 500 yards and rebedded and you could stalk them a second time and one time last year we got a third stalk on them. The wind slightly downhill in the dark but changes direction and blows uphill after daylight. So we were only observing the deer today. Like clockwork the deer fed up and bedded in thier regular spot. There was 14 bucks in the group and several of them were shooters. Steve was pleased with the quality of the shooter bucks.
We named this 4x4 buck Rembrantd because he sure makes a pretty picture.

This is a 3x4.

Steve was particularly fond of this buck and named him Porky because he looked so fat while he was laying around.

A couple more bucks.

So the plan was made and Steve was going to sneak down in the dark into the bedding area the next morning.
That evening we sat around talking about the bucks we had seen that day and went over our plan several times while eating our Mountain House dinners. I'd boiled my water in a Jet Boil stove and had marked every boiling on the bottom of the fuel canister. So far I was very happy with how many boilings I had gotten out of it.

As you can see, I'm up to 16 boilings. Every boiling was 2 cups of water at 8,000 to 10,000 feet elevation.

The next morning would be the big hunt. Our spirits were high with anticipation of a succesful hunt.

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09:17 AM (MST)
8. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

On this morning we got up extra early and began our 40 minute climb to the top of the mountain. Steve would need extra time in the darkness to climb down the other side of the mountain and cross the open area. Me and Steve would part ways at the very top where he would start his trip down and I would travel about another 40 minutes around the mountain to get to a better vantage point to see Steve and the deer. After lots of climbing up and down and around the rocks I fanally got to my destination. It was just starting to get a little bit of light in the sky and so I decided to call Steve to ask him how he was doing and how close to his destination he had gotten. Thats when he gave me the bad news! He was hearing hoof beats in the dark sometimes up against rock. There was no mistaking that it was deer and they had already detected Steve since there was a slight breeze blowing down hill. What the HECK!!!! The bucks had come up into the bedding area in the dark on this particular day and put the Kabosh on me and Steve. Finally we got enough daylight for me to look around with the binos and spotting scope. Sure enough, the entire group of bucks had herded up together and was nervously milling around. Then all of a sudden the 3x4 took the lead with every other buck following in a single file line and he took the rest of the pack up over the mountain in a place where only mountain goats should travel. I couldn't believe what I just saw. They totally changed thier routine and came up in the dark and instead of going down the canyon about 500 yards and rebedding they climbed up a goat trail and went into another canyon. To say that we were dissapointed is an understatement. It really knocked the wind out of us and dissapointment set in. I wasn't really worried about me getting a buck but Steve was on his 3rd year hunting with me and had never been hunting prior to that and we were both working very hard on getting him his first buck. Steve had worked way harder than I had getting ready for this hunt and now we had both taken a huge lickin' from the deer. It wouldn't had been so bad in they had stayed in the vicinity but they didn't. We went back to camp and sulked.
Ok, new day new plan. We were going back to one of the places we had hunted earlier in our hunt. We were determined to make something happen. We knew where a bunch of deer would hole up in some thick overgrown country and we were going to bump them and get them out of the thick stuff. We got into the canyon and Steve was going to get out ahead of the area I was going to walk through on a deer trail and hope that the deer would pass in his direction. I decided to do some glassing while Steve was getting into position and this is what I found.

Same buck different view.

Steve called me and said that he was in position so I started my walk and pushed a lot of deer but none of them went up Steve's path. Allright, time to go home and recharge our batteries. Meaning our bodies. The excessive hiking was taking its toll on us and we needed to get some real food in us and rest our bodies.
My feet felt like hamburger and when I got home and took off my boots I found out why. Ouch!

Even did some damage to the big toenail.

After cleaning up I met Steve at Muleys bar and Grill in Spring Creek and had a giant hamburger. Wow, was it ever good!

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(4074 posts)
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09:02 AM (MST)
9. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

Well we spent a night at home and then the next day we got a late start and when we got to our canyon we found out the road was closed due to road repairs, and would be for several days. So we made a quick decision to go to another spot that we've hunted in the past. We got to our camp just in time to meet up with a guy who was headed back to his owne camp. Andrew Miller was a guy I had met on a different hunting website and he had taveled from Las Vegas and was hunting alone. His camp was back down the trail an hour and a half away. Steve and I invited him to come back the next day and hunt with us during the weekend which he decided to do. So Andrew took off down the trail towards his camp and Steve and I set up our camp, pumped some water from a nearby pond and cooked up our dinner. As we were finishing up our dinner we heard somebody yelling out to us. We went out to the trail and saw Andrew running up the trail towards us with a sheath knife in his hand. I asked him what was wrong? He commenced to tell us that on his way back to his camp he saw Mountain Lion tracks on the trail on top of Mine and Steves foot prints. And when he got to his tent he found dirty lion tracks on his sleeping bag and sleeping pad. The Lion had gotten into his tent and chewed up a bag of cookies. Andrew pulled up camp and came running as fast as he could and I can't say that I blame him. So we set up his tent and got him situated and crashed out. The next morning the three of us went to a good glassing spot and started looking for bucks.
Heres Steve glassing in what appears to be darkness but in actuality there was a lot more light than what the camera is showing. I like this picture because it looks like there are 4 moons.

We saw a few deer but these deer always go over the top of the mountain and bed on the opposite side. We knew that we had to go and find them in thier beds. That we did but were unsuccesful in our stalk so we had another unproductive day. The next morning we were at it again and once again had to go look for bucks in thier bed. We found a nice one and the stalk was on. Here is the buck that Steve and Andrew went after.

Here he is a little closer.

After Steve and Andrew got about 80 yards from the buck Steve was to go alone for the rest of the stalk. Steve took off his boots and started closing the distance. In 2009 Steve was in his second year of hunting and had many stalking oppurtunities and made a lot of common mistakes that a beginner makes. But this year he was stalking like a pro but had few stalking oppurtunities so he was determined to make this work. At one point the buck got up and grazed around for awhile and went back and got in his bed. Steve was at about 50 yards and had a cliff in his way and couldn't see the buck and the buck kept looking in Steve's direction. Steve was going very slow and taking long pauses and was going so quitely that he couldn't even hear himself move. There was no wind what soever to mask Steves approach but Steve was doing everything correctly. Sometimes the buck would stand up and stare in Steves direction for a long time and then lay back down and rest or just stay alert. Here he is resting. He kinda looks like he's sacked out.

Steve finally narrowed the distance to 40 yards when the buck decided something just wasn't right and ran out to 60 yards. Steve is a proficient shooter at 60 yards so that distance posed no problem. But the giant log laying on the ground was between the buck and Steve and all Steve could see was the Buck's head. No shot oppurtunity and the buck had enough of this game and turned around and hopped over the ridge he was standing on. Well that was it for Steve as his season was now over. Andrew also had to go back to Vegas. We would spend the night and head out in the morning. We took a couple of minutes to take a couple of pictures after Steve's stalk.
Here is Andrew and Steve. Thanks Andrew for your company and your help during the hunt. Your welcome in my camp anytime.

This is a picture of Andrew glassing some country during our hunt.

Here is a rock wall I hid behind while I took pictures of the buck on Steve's last stalk.

That night in camp we were treated to a beautiful full moon.

Don't go away because my hunt is not over. fatrooster.

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09:43 AM (MST)
10. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

This is a video clip of the last buck Steve chased.

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03:15 PM (MST)
11. "RE: Big Buck or Tag Soup?"

So Steve's hunt was over and tag soup was definitely on his menu. But I had one more weekend left in my hunt and so did another MM regular, ELKOHUNTER. We had never met in person but had been corresponding on MM and talking on the phone and so we planned to hunt together on our last weekend. So we met at the trail head at about 3:00 in the morning and started our hike. When we got to our destination daylight was descending upon us and we didn't waste any time finding bucks. We knew where these bucks bedded and so we had to get above them and look for them in thier beds. As we glassed for bucks over the top of the ridge we started finding does and we knew that we would soon find bucks. ELKOHUNTER(Keagan) and I kept moving down the ridge looking for bucks. Here is Keagan posing for this photo.

Then Keagan glassed up a buck on our side of the mountain standing up against a giant rock. The buck fed around and layed back down. After scrutinizing the area we were able to pick out another buck bedded up under the overhang of the rock.
Heres Keagan scoping out the bucks and picking out a travel route for a stalk.

I stayed behind and watched Keagan as he headed off towards the bucks. I knew it was going to be a long wait so I decided to snap a couple of scenery phto's.

Before Keagan could get within range of the bucks they got up and started feeding and fed out and down towards the bottom of the drainage towards the creek. Instead of two bucks there was three and on of them was a 28" 4x4.

I know it is a terrible photo but it was all I had time to take before they got in a spot where I couldn't see them. Keagan followed close behind but could not get a shot due to too many other deer that began to pop up out of the foilage. They actually spotted Keagan and and the whole herd spooked. Except one deer and it was a BUCK! One side was a 4-point and the other side was a big spike with a long curley droptine. A very unique buck. Keagan thought the buck was looking right at him so Keagan walked straight toward the buck to close the distance and try to get off a shot. Funny thing, that buck bedded down and had never seen Keagan. So Keagan went back to stalking the buck and got within 30 yards but could not get a shot to the vitals. Keagan was going to wait him out but the wind started swirling so he decided he'd better use the rock throwing trick to get him to stand up. It seemed like Keagan had to throw about 30 rocks befor he'd budge but finally he jumped up and ran out to 40 yards. The wind was blowing hard from left to right and Keagan's arrow completely missed the buck. The buck then ran out to 60 yards and let Keegan shoot again. But due to the strong wind his arrow did not come close to the buck. What was funny was that Keagan had no wind were he was standing but 60 yards away the wind was intermittently gusting. Tough luck because Keagans hunt was over and so was mine. TAG SOUP again for another year and my 3rd in a row. Oh well, thats ok because I'm beginning to acquire a taste for tag soup and have come up with a good recipe or two. I'd like to thank everyone for following my story and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed sharing it. Thanks to Founder for creating the Hunt Adventure Challenge and thanks to all of the participants because I've really enjoyed reading about all of the great hunts. I'd like to thank my hunting partner Steve for hanging in there and looking forward to next years hunt. When you get your first buck its gonna be sweet buddy. Thanks Andrew Miller for your company on the mountain and hunting with me and Steve. Its tough hiking all over the place but as you can see, it pays off. Keagan, great to meet you and I'm looking forward to many future hunts with you. I learned a great deal this year just like I do every year and feel lucky to get out there and earn TAG SOUP. And if I get TAG SOUP every year for the rest of my life then its allright with me. Because its not all about killing something, its about all of the treasures we experience trying to reach our goal. Thanks again, and BON APETITE for TAG SOUP! fatrooster.

Heres a closing photo of Keagan looking at big bucks in a magazine dreaming of the day we all harvest a monster. Keep on dreaming buddy!

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