Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting - MonsterMuleys.com

Will 2011 be another lucky year for me?

 
Previous Topic | Next Topic 
Forums 2011 Hunt Adventure Challenge
Original Message

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Apr-06-11, 
08:10 AM (MST)
"Will 2011 be another lucky year for me?"

I know going into 2011 that it will be extremely hard for me to top my year that I had last year, but who knows, maybe I can get lucky two years in a row!

I'm looking forward to starting early on this year's hunt adventure challenge, because the planning for my 2011 hunts actually started before my season was even over last year.

So far in 2011 I've put one piggie on the ground here on my place in Texas and my friends from Wyoming stopped by for a visit and we put a couple more on the ground when they were here. Nothing very big, but they ate really well.

I've also already applied for and received my Wyoming General Elk tag and got my first unsuccessful drawing results for New Mexico Oryx. I've got applications pending for New Mexico Elk, Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep and Ibex, Utah Elk and Mountain Goat, Nevada Elk, Mule Deer and Antelope and Colorado Mountain Goat. I've purchased raffle drawings for Colorado Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat and Montana Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Elk and Moose, and still plan on applying in Idaho for Mountain Goat and possibly Montana for Mountain Goat.

The crazy thing is that none of those tags are even close to a guarantee, and many of them have drawing odds of way less than 1%. I should have a decent shot at drawing the New Mexico Mule Deer tag this year again, and an outside shot at my 3rd choice New Mexico Elk tag. Everything else has draw odds less than 10%. But with luck you never know, I might not draw any of them, and I might draw more than I can actually take the time off to hunt.

I've been upgrading my hunting gear some this year, and will probably document that process although several folks have said that part of these threads bores them to tears.

Right now I'm trying to decide between going shed hunting where I shot my elk in New Mexico, or going turkey hunting on my place here in Texas sometime in the next couple weeks.

Oh well, looking forward to documenting my 2011 hunting season. Big thank you to Founder for letting us do this again this year!

That's it for now. Nathan

  Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top


  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 RE: Will 2011 ...  npaden      Apr-09-11   1 
  RE: Will 2011 ...  npaden      Apr-17-11   2 
   Applications, ...  npaden      Apr-29-11   3 
    RE: Applicatio...  npaden      May-04-11   4 
     Getting in sha...  npaden      May-06-11   5 
      Turkey hunting...  npaden      May-11-11   6 
       Not feeling ve...  npaden      May-12-11   7 
        My luck hasn't...  npaden      May-17-11   8 
         RE: My luck ha...  npaden      May-27-11   9 
          I finally got ...  npaden      Jun-08-11   10 
           Summertime...  npaden      Jul-11-11   11 
            RE: Summertime...  npaden      Aug-31-11   12 
             One week to go...  npaden      Sep-13-11   13 
              Successful Wyo...  npaden      Oct-03-11   14 
               Wyoming Hunt R...  npaden      Oct-10-11   15 
                I think I'm re...  npaden      Oct-23-11   16 
                 Last minute pr...  npaden      Oct-25-11   17 
                  RE: Last minut...  npaden      Oct-27-11   18 
                   Hunt starts to...  npaden      Oct-28-11   19 
                    RE: Hunt start...  npaden      Oct-29-11   20 
                     Still after it!  npaden      Oct-30-11   21 
                      Not feeling ve...  npaden      Nov-01-11   22 
                       Finally some l...  npaden      Nov-03-11   23 
                        Opening Day Su...  npaden      Nov-06-11   24 
                         RE: Opening Da...  npaden      Nov-08-11   25 
                          Mistaken Ident...  npaden      Nov-29-11   26 
                           Another deer o...  npaden      Dec-14-11   27 
                            RE: Another de...  npaden      Jan-08-12   28 

Lobby | Topics | Previous Topic | Next Topic

  Messages in this topic  

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Apr-09-11, 
08:20 PM (MST)
1. "RE: Will 2011 be another lucky year for me?"

Well maybe 2011 will be a lucky year for me!

I had pretty much decided that I was going to quit trying to look for shed antlers on my hunting property here in Texas. I've spent days looking in the past and end up hardly finding any sheds. The deer are on my place and I have pictures of them, but I think they bed on the neighbors land and drop their antlers there.

I made a whirlwind trip down to my hunting property to swap cards on my trail cameras, fill the feeders and just check on things. I brought my 4 year old son with me and one of his friends so I could give my wife and my son's friends mom a break for the afternoon and they could spend some time outdoors. After messing with one feeder that I think the neighbors cow ended up breaking for a while, we went over to fill my protein feeder and I got out of the truck and there was a shed just laying there!

I found another little shed about 10 seconds later within 10 feet of that one, and then looked around some more but didn't find anything.

My son and his friend were getting restless so we went to go check on a trail camera and as we were driving off I spotted another shed from the truck! It ended up being the other side of the first shed I found making my 2nd matched set I've ever found on my place.

Here's what it looked like as it laid.

We looked for another 30 minutes or so but didn't find anything else of course since we were looking. I've been meaning to hinge cut some trees so I decided to try it. I used my sawzall on this tree and pulled it over.

My son wasn't actually crying in this picture, that is actually a smile, but he was hot and had actually been crying earlier, he doesn't like cactus! The hinge cut seemed to go pretty well though!

We all ended up hot and tired, but overall it was a great success.

Here's the end result back at the house.

Those sheds aren't much, but I was very happy with them. It sure gave me the bug though, I think I'm going to go shed hunting in New Mexico next week instead of Turkey hunting on my place.

I did get some trail camera pictures of some turkeys though!

That's this week's update. Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Apr-17-11, 
08:43 AM (MST)
2. "RE: Will 2011 be another lucky year for me?"

LAST EDITED ON Apr-18-11 AT 11:53 AM (MST)

Spent the weekend in New Mexico where I hunted last year looking for sheds.

Not exactly sure if my lucky streak is continuing or not. Spent a LOT of time and effort to only end up with 2 sheds, but my buddy is still there looking for the next couple days, and after the first 2 days he only found a 2 or 3 year old spike so I guess compared to that I got pretty lucky!

They had a very mild winter this year as far as snowfall, so the sheds are supposedly all way up high.

Spent 10 hours looking before I found these 2 on my way back to camp the first day. Only had an hour left before dark after I found them, so after spending that hour looking for the other sides and striking out, I went back to try to find the other sides today, but spent 5 hours looking and came up empty. All said and done I was hoofing it for 16 hours and found these 2 sheds! At least they are decent ones.

I got so excited when I finally found them that I forgot to take pictures of them as they laid. This is the closest thing I have, sitting on my backpack waiting to get strapped on.

Here they are strapped on my pack.

Heading back down the trail as the sun was setting.

I got to try out some of the new gear I've been buying off Camofire and I think it is going to work out pretty well. I got the Trekker poles at Cabelas and they really do work!

Still haven't figured out my boots. Either I have wimpy feet or I'm not meant to climb up and down such steep loose slopes. Wore a couple big ol blisters in just 2 days.

A LOT of work for a couple of sheds when it was all said and done. I for sure got my exercise!

One last scenery shot.

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Apr-29-11, 
08:26 AM (MST)
3. "Applications, Applications, Applications, Applications.."

Okay, I will do this here because I don't think anyone I know actually reads this. I for sure couldn't post something like this on my blog because sometimes my family reads that and they would choke if they saw the actual dollars that I have outstanding in tag applications each year. I havenít actually sat down and added everything up myself yet, so I will probably choke when I see the actual dollars that I have outstanding in tag applications this year!

I mentioned that I already have one tag in my pocket. It's a Wyoming nonresident general elk tag. The regular tag for a nonresident is $577 + a $14 application fee for a total of $591. Not exactly cheap, but not that bad compared to some other states. This tag is a guaranteed draw every other year if you pay for a $50 preference point. The problem is that for the last several years you can draw this tag every year if you put in for the "Special" license.

Sometimes I think they call it a "Special" license because only "special" people are stupid enough to pay that much for a hunting license. I guess I'm one of them, because for the last two years I've paid the extra money to go elk hunting every year instead of every other year. That tag is $1,057 + the $14 application fee to bring you up to a whopping $1,071!

Last year I applied for Utah elk, New Mexico elk, deer, antelope and oryx in addition to the Wyoming elk tag. This year I went crazy on the applications.

I applied for New Mexico Oryx again this year and was unsuccessful again. That tag is $1,610 and has a $20 application fee this year. I had to pay in the full $1,630 on a credit card, but when I was unsuccessful I got my $1,610 put back on my credit card so I was only out $20.

After that, I applied for Utah elk and for the first time decided to apply for mountain goat in Utah as well. I'm way behind on points for both of those, but I guess I'm not very smart, so I'm still applying for some reason. Utah is actually one of the cheapest western states to apply for now, I bought the $65 license last year and was able to use it to apply for last year and this year by timing the applications right so this year I only had to pay $10 to apply for the elk tag and $10 to apply for the mountain goat tag. Not bad at all, although I'm so far behind on points that I may never be able to actually draw a decent tag there in my lifetime!

The next stop should have been Arizona, but I didn't get my ducks in a row and get things ready to apply there and missed out. I'm still not 100% sure I want to start the points game there or not, but will look into it for next year.

New Mexico was next with 2011 being the last year for the good old days for nonguided nonresidents being allocated 10% of the tags. The new rules are really going to decrease my drawing odds in New Mexico, but I have one more chance under the old system.

I applied for elk ($760), deer ($355), bighorn sheep ($3,160), and ibex ($1,610). Each of those have a nonrefundable $20 application fee so that ends up being $80 that I won't get back and $5,885 that I may be some or all of it back. That was all done on a credit card. I didnít apply for antelope this year after my bad experience last year when I did draw the tag.

Next was Colorado mountain goat. They don't allow nonresidents to apply online for sheep and goats in Colorado for some reason, and I was planning ahead enough that I was able to request a application booklet and get everything sent in time for the deadline. It was $1,854 to apply and I really am not sure how much of that is nonrefundable. I think $13 is nonrefundable and $1,841 is refundable, but Iím really not sure on how the point works. I think the point is actually free! This was probably the most nerve wracking application. The rules are difficult to understand and it all needed to be filled out by hand on their official forms. It even goes down to the fact that you have to fill it out in black pen. I hope I got everything filled out correctly.

The other different thing about Colorado is that I applied for a nanny tag. There is 1, I repeat 1, tag that is available to nonresidents that is specifically for a nanny. Last year there were only 8 people stupid enough to spend $1,841 on a nonresident mountain goat license that applied for the nanny only tag. That is tremendous odds for a mountain goat hunt in the lower 48 states. The problem is that it is only good for a nanny. Looking at my drawing odds, I probably have about 10 years of applying before I get that good of odds at an either sex tag, so I thought I would go ahead and try for the outrageously priced nanny goat tag. The average person probably couldnít tell the difference between a nanny goat and a billy anyway, so I went ahead and applied. Of course with only 1 tag available just a few people switching their applications could dramatically change the drawing odds, but hopefully there arenít that many more stupid people out there willing to pay that much for a nanny tag and my odds will still be good for this years draw.

The next state that I applied for was Nevada. Again, Iím way behind the curve on points with zero starting out, but you have to start sometime. My son is 4 this year so maybe in 10 or 12 years Iíll be able to haul him with me on a great hunt before Iím too old to still put some boot leather to the ground. Nevada is expensive from the perspective of nonrefundable fees, but you donít have to pay for the tags in advance so you donít end up with a bunch of money tied up for several months like some of the other states. To start off you have to buy a $145 license then you pay around $30 for each species you apply for. To make it worth your while you end up applying for some things you probably wouldnít otherwise. I really am only interested in hunting elk in Nevada, but I ended up applying for deer and antelope anyway since I had to pay for the license. When it was all said and done I ended up with a charge on my credit card of $228. By the time I end up with 10 years worth of points to draw a decent tag the price of the tag (currently $1,200 for a nonresident elk tag) will seem like a bargain compared to adding up the price of all those years of applying!

The last state that I applied for a regular tag was Idaho. A few years back Idaho followed the lead of states like Arizona, Nevada and Utah and started requiring folks to purchase a hunting license each year for the privilege of applying for a tag. For Idaho, this didnít turn out so well and the number of folks applying to hunt dropped dramatically. The benefit of this for stupid folks like me is that it improved the drawing odds. Another drawback to Idaho is that there arenít any points to earn so increase your odds down the road. Itís like New Mexico and each yearís drawing stands alone as a completely random event. So I plunked down what I thought was going to be $154 for a hunting license and there was an extra $8.89 ďconvenienceĒ fee added for applying online and using a credit card to bring my total to $162.89. I wasnít overjoyed with that, but figured it was worth it for going ahead and applying online. I then proceeded to apply for my mountain goat tag and they wanted to add another convenience fee to the $2,116.50 tag price but this time it was $67! Thankfully I still had enough time to send it in via snail mail and a paper copy so I filled everything out by hand and spent 44 cents on a stamp and mailed in a check instead of spending $67 for the convenience of applying online and using a credit card. Based on previous years drawing odds I should have a little less than a 10% chance of drawing a tag for the unit I applied for.

Iíve also spent $75 on raffle tickets with the rocky mountain bighorn society with $50 going toward 2 chances in the bighorn sheep drawing and 1 chance in the mountain goat drawing. I bought some Montana Supertag chances, 2 bighorn sheep, 2 mountain goat, 2 elk and 2 moose and that came out to $52.55 including the required $10 conservation tag and their convenience fee. I havenít decided by I may spring for another 10 mountain goat changes for another $50 since I already bought the $10 conservation tag.

Now for the real damages. This is the first time Iíve ever added it all up. In my head Iíve been thinking that itís going to total up to around $500 in nonrefundable application fees and $10,000 of money tied up waiting for the draw results. Of course Iíve never told my wife that though!

Drumroll please...

Total nonrefundable out of pocket costs this year ended up at $734.94 plus Iím thinking about buying $50 more in Supertag chances. Right now I have $9,842.50 of refundable fees outstanding waiting for drawing results. I received back $1,610 already on my unsuccessful Oryx tag and I already paid out $1,057 for my successful Wyoming ďspecialĒ tag. I guess no one ever said that building points was cheap.

Realistically based on my drawing odds I should be getting the vast majority of my money that is outstanding back. I have less than a 50% chance on every remaining tag that I applied for so really I need to get lucky just to draw any of them. My New Mexico Deer tag should have the best odds at around 35% followed by my 3rd choice New Mexico Elk tag which should be close to 30%. The next best chances are my Colorado and Idaho mountain goat tags with hopefully around a 10% chance on both of those. After that it does down to less than 1% odds on everything else. 1% is a lot better odds than if I didnít apply at all though! Hopefully I will draw either the New Mexico Elk or Deer tag and I will be VERY happy with anything else.

Most of the draw results are still a month away so Iíll be crossing my fingers for a while longer!

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
May-04-11, 
08:38 AM (MST)
4. "RE: Applications, Applications, Applications, Applications.."

Well, one of the states draw results just posted today. Looks like I won't be hunting mountain goats in Colorado this year.

On the bright side of things, hopefully I'll get my refund check in time to pay part of my credit card with all the New Mexico applications on it.

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
May-06-11, 
10:05 AM (MST)
5. "Getting in shape"

Getting in shape seems to be a constant battle for me. I like to eat, and I like to sit around and be lazy so those two things don't really correlate to being in tip top shape without making some effort. Top that off with the fact that I sit behind a desk for my job, and being in shape is something that I really have to make a constant effort at.

I'm starting to jog again after a layoff during my busy season at work, and have been using a program on my iPhone called Runkeeper. It is a pretty neat little program that tracks your distance, time, average pace, etc. and then gives you a nice little graph at the end of each workout. I'm jogging a little over 2 miles each time I get out and my average pace is just over 10 minutes right now. Not great, but I hope to push the distance up to at least 6 miles and am actually flirting with the idea of running a 1/2 marathon sometime late summer early fall. Not sure if I'm going to make that or not though.

Anyway, a few weeks ago my wife and I went to Las Vegas, Nevada to celebrate the end of my busy season and our birthdays. One thing we love to do when we go out there is hike in the Red Rock Canyon recreation area. I was hoping to talk her into going a little farther out of her comfort zone and try some shed hunting in the mountains farther north but still a close drive from Las Vegas but I didn't get it done. We did break out of our standard routine at Red Rock though and went on a nice loop hike that ended up being just over 7 miles.

We hiked up to Laguna Springs which is supposed to be your best chance of seeing some wildlife, and there is a chance to see some desert bighorns, but all we saw were lizards.

Here's a picture of the springs.

Usually we stick to the most popular area which is right at the front, but this time we made a loop around a huge outcropping of rock. Pretty much a little mountain sitting off by itself.

Here's the back side as we made our way around it to the north.

Another picture looking back the way we came up.

Here's a picture of the mountain itself. I thought about going over the top while my wife hiked around the base, but we ended up hiking around the base together.

Last picture. This is as we were leaving and looked back and you can clearly see the mountain sitting out all by itself. It really was a neat hike.

Here's a screen shot from the runkeeper program. There are several other screens that show your pace, elevation, etc., but I thought this was a neat representation of the loop.

The only problem is that it burns through batteries and it would be tough to leave it running all day. It took us just over 3 hours to do the 7 miles and I was down to less than 10% battery when I got back. The area we were hiking didn't have cell coverage so that probably burned the battery a little faster looking for coverage the whole time, but I'm not sure if I can turn the phone part off and keep the runkeeper program running or not. I may just have to keep my workouts to under 3 hours!

Oh well, not exactly what most people do on a weekend in Vegas, but we had a great time.

Hopefully I'm going to get to go out turkey hunting on my place here in Texas sometime in the next couple weeks. Maybe even get a crack at some pigs too.

That's it for now. Nathan


  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
May-11-11, 
11:18 AM (MST)
6. "Turkey hunting = pork?"

I made a quick run down to the land Saturday afternoon and was hoping to find some Turkeys, but after spending the afternoon without hearing a gobble, I hung the shotgun up and grabbed the Rock River Arms AR-15.

I was afraid that the pigs would have skipped town for the summer since my pond was dry, but I figured I might as well sit for a couple hours and see what showed up. I saw lots of deer, at one time I could see 8 all at the same time in 3 different groups. The bucks are starting to grow antlers, they had nubs a couple inches long or so.

Solo boar came in to one of my feeders and the RRA put him down.

Amazing that a tiny little piece of lead can smoke such a big animal if you put it in the right spot. I didn't put him on the scale, but I'm guessing him right around 200lbs, maybe a little more. He had really good cutters for his size, and they were both intact (sometimes the bigger boars end up with a broken cutter).

Took some work since I was by myself, but I got him on the tailgate so I didn't have to bend over quartering him up. A LOT easier on the back. He looks a lot bigger on the tailgate.

Quartered him up and was home for Mother's day! He's on ice now and I'll probably turn him into pulled pork this week. I need to buy a bigger smoker! Need to do an inventory on my sausage before I turn him all into pulled pork though.

That makes pig #4 off my 160 acres so far for 2011. My friends from Wyoming came down and shot 2 back in March. They actually shot more than 2 but that's all we recovered. Pigs vitals are so much farther forward that a lot of deer and elk hunters shoot them too far back and they can run forever and don't bleed much at all if you shoot them too far back.

With it being so dry, the conditions were perfect for finding old sheds. The grass has withered up and is flat as a pancake compared to normal. Didn't find any from this year, but found 4 old ones. I would prefer rain over finding these old sheds, but they were a nice bonus.

The Northern Rockies are dealing with record snow this winter, and the Midwest is having record 100 year flooding this spring, but it hasn't really rained here in over 6 months.

Please send some of that moisture our way!

Oh well, thought I would share my Saturday.

Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
May-12-11, 
06:51 AM (MST)
7. "Not feeling very lucky right now!"

This really isn't part of my hunt adventure challenge other than the fact that my spring turkey hunting, summer hog hunting and maybe even my fall deer hunting on my property here in Texas is now pretty much over.

Out of 160 acres on my place, about 155 acres burned up! I did get some neat pictures though. Instead of cluttering up my HAC thread with all of them, I'll just post a link to the thread I posted in the general hunting forum and just post a few of the most dramatic pictures here.

Here's the link to the full thread - http://www.monstermuleys.info/dcforum/DCForumID5/17847.html

Here's a few trail camera pictures of the fire. I think these pictures capture the intensity of the fire pretty well.

In the thread in the general hunting forum I posted over a dozen trail camera pictures of the fire showing how quickly it progressed using the time stamps on the cameras. You would have had to be jogging at a pretty good clip to stay ahead of the fire, a fast walk wouldn't have cut it.

I'll post the panoramic pictures in this thread as well. These were taken from the highest vantage point I have on my place. Pretty much the only thing that didn't burn was bare dirt. The road and some long narrow food plots that I planted last October but they never grew because it didn't rain.

This picture is a little over 180 degrees of panorama. It starts off looking north and then pans around to the southeast.

Click here to see a larger image - http://padens.com/v-web/gallery/FisherCo/north_to_east_stitch?full=1

This picture starts off looking northeast and ends up looking southwest.

Here's a larger image if you want to click - http://padens.com/v-web/gallery/FisherCo/east_to_south_stitch?full=1

Last panoramic picture. This one starts off looking southwest and ends up looking due north of a complete 360 for all the pictures combined.

Click here for a larger image - http://padens.com/v-web/gallery/FisherCo/west_to_north_stitch?full=1

The area looking north was the thickest nastiest stuff on my property and you can see from the ashes that there was plenty of fuel to burn there. That area took the brunt of hottest fire. There were actually a few stumps still burning today when I was down there checking on things. The rest of the place didn't exactly come out unscathed, but some of the trees look like they just might have a chance.

For the second year in a row I'll have a picture of a burned up travel trailer in my Hunt Adventure Challenge thread, the bad thing is that this year it was my trailer!

I posted a ton of other pictures of the damage in the general forum, I'll keep it to just a few here.

Here's a big old mesquite tree right in the middle of the worst of the burned area. I put the camera on the timer to help give a perspective of just how big this old tree was.

And this picture shows the worst of the fire. The tree in the front center of the picture still has green leaves for now, but it completely burned up at the base and then fell over.

That is not a small tree by any means either, it is actually bigger than the large mesquite that I was sitting on in the timed picture.

Walking around in that area with the worst of the burn was like walking around on the moon. Nothing but ashes as far as you could see.

It will be interesting to see how quickly things come back. In areas that get more rain often the habitat springs back and is better than ever in just a year or so. I'm afraid it is going to take a bit longer than that in our area.

Maybe my luck will turn around and I'll draw some amazing tags!

That's it for now.

Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
May-17-11, 
02:26 PM (MST)
8. "My luck hasn't changed yet..."

Well, my drawing odds were only 8%, so it's not like I really expected to draw this tag, but I sure was hoping to get lucky and I didn't.

Looking pretty iffy on being able to go mountain goat hunting this year after Idaho posted their results.

It's crazy because Idaho had one of the last application deadlines of all the western states and they already have their results posted. I'm still waiting on Utah, Nevada and New Mexico.

I still have a decent chance at my New Mexico 3rd choice elk and my New Mexico deer tags, but if you add everything else up I don't think I have 1% odds on everything else combined!

Utah results should be coming up pretty soon and Nevada should be out pretty soon as well, but New Mexico isn't supposed to post results until June 8th even though their application deadline was all the way back in March! I guess at least right now I have some hope though!

Maybe this is the year to buy a New Mexico landowner antelope permit if I strike out on everything else. That way I could pick a ranch that actually had antelope on it instead of like last year when my ranch that I was assigned to didn't have any!

Good luck to everyone else on the draws, someone has to get the tags!

Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
May-27-11, 
05:06 PM (MST)
9. "RE: My luck hasn't changed yet..."

Well, it looks like I don't need to change the subject line for this post. No luck for me in the Utah or Nevada drawings.

I'm going to have to check and see if I'm related to the other 2 Padens that were unsuccessful. I think I might be related to the guy in Palmer.

Down to New Mexico now.....

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Jun-08-11, 
07:13 PM (MST)
10. "I finally got a little lucky!!"

Well the New Mexico results are in and I finally got some luck!

When the emails came out last night all I got was an email notifying me that I was successful on my 3rd choice elk tag but didn't get any other emails. They only send out emails to the successful applicants so I figured I struck out on everything else.

I was still happy with the elk tag, but a little disappointed that I didn't draw my 3rd choice deer tag because this will be the last year with really good odds on it since New Mexico will be completely revamping it's drawing system for nonresidents and the odds for the unit I apply in for my 3rd choice are going to go from around 40% to somewhere closer to 10%. I also passed on some decent bucks in that unit last year and shot an older buck instead so hopefully they will have all had a year to grow older and bigger!

The results post to their website at midnight MST time and I actually thought about staying up to check on it, but decided against it and went to bed. When I woke up this morning the first thing I did was go check the results though and was surprised to see 2 green boxes instead of just one for the elk tag. I drew my 3rd choice deer tag too!

Of course if I was REALLY lucky I would have drawn the sheep tag or the ibex tag, but I'll settle for the deer and the elk tag!

Here's my official results!

The 3rd choice elk tag is for a unit that I did a lot of research on the computer for, but I haven't stepped foot in the unit in person. The success rates are pretty good and the drawing odds were decent (about 30% last year for nonresidents) but it isn't known for it's quality. From what I understand a 300" bull would be a very good bull for that area, but that's plenty big enough for me.

The other interesting thing about the area I drew is that it is a Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This will be the last year that nonresidents are allowed to hunt them in New Mexico so that will be kind of unique too.

I've got the map of the WMA overlayed on google earth and have been looking at it already. I will definitely need to keep working on getting in shape, the unit is roadless and the elevation starts at 7,700' and tops out at 11,000'! Of course if I stick with my typical strategy I will want to go to the thickest nastiest spot in the WMA because that's probably where the elk will be!

Only negative is that my friend who hunted with me last year on my New Mexico elk hunt also applied for the same areas that I did and he didn't end up drawing. Hopefully I will still be able to talk him into going with me though!

That's it for now. Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Jul-11-11, 
02:02 PM (MST)
11. "Summertime..."

Well, it's been a month since I posted so I guess I should update this a little bit.

Been trying to work out to get in shape and actually got a 6.5 mile run in a couple weeks ago. Spent a week in Montana and got in 35 miles of hiking with 14 miles one day.

Still trying out my new Russell APXg2 gear and so far so good. No blisters on my feet with my boots that I bought last year either! Hopefully I actually have them broken in finally!

It is amazing how much snow is still on the ground up there, especially since things have been so hot and dry down here in Texas.

Still liking the runkeeper app for my iPhone, really nice using it to keep track of my runs and hikes.

Here's a few scenery shots from my hikes in Montana.

The 14 mile hike was to a cave that we've been exploring over the last few years. Out of the 700 feet or so of passages that I've mapped, only about 75 feet of them were accessible due to the water running through with the heavy snow melt. Was interesting to see it with that much water though, maybe we'll find some new spots when we go back in August.

Here's the entrance to the cave.

Lots of water flowing this year.

In the end I got plenty of exercise and saw lots of pretty scenery. Something that is severely lacking in my part of Texas.

The snow was so heavy it broke the roof on this old mining shack.

Still a TON of snow on the Beartooth pass!

This weekend I got back down to my hunting property here in Texas and started the clean up work from the fire.

Here's my 31 foot travel trailer loaded up on my 16 foot utility trailer.

Still LOTS of stuff to get done down there. Did find out that the fire was caused by the railroad though so there is a chance I might get reimbursed for some of the damages caused.

Really going to try to get a scouting trip to my elk hunting unit worked in sometime this summer, but in the meantime I'm just going to keep working out. One more trip to Montana for sure and plan on getting plenty of hiking in there and more running here on the flat lands.

That's it for now. Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Aug-31-11, 
04:00 PM (MST)
12. "RE: Summertime..."

LAST EDITED ON Aug-31-11 AT 04:33 PM (MST)

Well, summer is almost gone and I havenít gotten much more done on the hunting side of my life.

Itís not looking like Iím going to get a chance to do any scouting on my New Mexico elk hunt this summer, but the entire WMA Iím assigned to is only 13,000 acres so Iím not sure that scouting is going to tell me a whole lot anyway. I may head up there a day early and get a day of scouting in right before the hunt starts.

Still havenít gotten much rain down on my hunting property and it is looking pretty sad. Iím filling my protein feeder up every 2 to 3 weeks as thatís about the only decent food source available around. No monster bucks showing up on camera, but I did get this picture with 7 bucks all in the same picture waiting for their turn at the feeder.

The AM and PM setting on the camera is backwards, but the bad thing is that they are showing up well after dark and leaving well before dark so Iím afraid that they are bedding a long way from my property which would make sense since there isnít much there for them right now. No point in planting any fall food plots right now because the ground is still too dry and there really isnít anything better in the forecast. Long term they arenít expecting any decent moisture until next spring so I may be filling feeders for a while longer.

I did take another trip back to Montana and got to enjoy the cool weather and some nice scenery again. Didnít get in as much hiking this time but did end up making the 14 mile round trip back up to that cave again. There was still more water than normal, but at least this time we were able to do some exploring.

Hauled our ATVs up there and were able to enjoy some trail riding. This picture was taken on a 20 mile loop that is closed to anything over 50Ē wide.

Saw this beautiful cinnamon black bear and her two cubs one day. Watched them for about 15 minutes from the road until they ambled off.

Still working out to try to be in good shape for hunting this year. Got in 37 miles in during July and 41 miles in August. Not quite where I wanted to be by this time, but getting there. I probably wonít be at a 10 minute pace for 6 miles by the time we leave for Wyoming for my elk hunt there, but I really want to be there before my New Mexico elk hunt.

Hunting season is right around the corner!

Thatís it for now. Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Sep-13-11, 
10:42 PM (MST)
13. "One week to go!!"

Okay, the clock is ticking! Next week at this time I will be halfway through the opening day of my Wyoming elk hunt! Based on my last 3 years up there, that would mean there will be a 66% chance that I may have an elk on the ground by this time next week!!! At least I can hope!

I've still been working out and my wife actually worked up a workout schedule for me finally (she used to be a long distance running coach). I'm running 2 short runs (2 and 3 miles) during the week and then one longer run on the weekend (last one was 5 miles). I'm not quite to 6 miles in 60 minutes yet, but Saturday I did run 5 miles in 50 minutes.

That's a snail's pace to most "runners", but that's something I've never claimed to be, I'm just trying to get in shape. It felt good and I could have kept going at the end of the 5 miles so I think I'm ready for Wyoming. I'll keep working out after I get back and hopefully I'll hit the 6 miles in 60 minute goal that I set for myself this spring.

I shot my rifle this weekend and although it wasn't sub 1" groups or anything like that, I think I should be good for an elk out to 300 yards or so. I think I'll punch some more paper one evening this week just to make sure though.

Finalizing my last minute packing and getting things ready this week, very happy to be moving from the planning stages to actually spending some time in the woods soon!

I haven't decided if I will be breaking this thread into 2 parts with this portion being the planning part and the next being the actual hunts. I'll see how many pictures I need to post before deciding.

Good luck to everyone on your hunts this year!

Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Oct-03-11, 
08:30 PM (MST)
14. "Successful Wyoming Elk Hunt!"

Okay, where do I start? Do I make this a novel and include everything or do I just cut to the chase and write about the hunt itself? Iím leaning toward the novel!

Opening day was on a Tuesday this year so the travel schedule wasnít going to work out quite as well as it had the last couple years. We made all our last minute plans and got everything packed in the travel trailer on Friday evening and planned to head out first thing Saturday morning. In the past we had been bringing one of our 4 wheelers for Cathy and Eli to be able to putt around camp with, but with our new trailer being heavier, it wasnít going to work this year so we had to leave the 4 wheeler at home.

Saturday ended up being a long day of travel, we ended up pulling into a parking lot beside a McDonalds in Laramie, Wyoming about 10pm and spent the night. Headed back out the next morning and ended up having to change out one of the trailer tires because it was wearing funny in Rock Springs and made a last minute trip to Walmart while we were at it. After another few errands in Jackson, we headed out to our spot. The last 35 miles is all gravel roads and it was in pretty poor shape this year and it took two hours to cover that last 35 miles pulling the trailer. We ended up pulling into our camping spot for the week right at dark on Sunday night.

Monday was a day of relaxation and we had a great time just hanging around camp waiting for the opener. It really was a great day just hanging out with the family. The place where we camp has a nice creek running through and this time of year it is a perfect place for little boys to hang out. Weíre going to have to do that more often in the future for sure.

Tuesday morning was opening day and we knew exactly where we wanted to be at first light. After a little bit of debate, we decided that we would need to leave camp at 4:45 am to have plenty of time to get where we wanted and get settled in before first light. Itís about a 20 minute drive from camp to where we park to hike in to our spot so we were loading on our backpacks and spraying ourselves down with scent spray just after 5:00.

As we were getting ready to roll we heard something that neither of us could figure out. Sounds are pretty hard to describe in writing, but the closest thing I can think of to describe the sound would be a severely constipated grizzly bear! A very loud growl/groaning sound that ended up almost like a moan. Whatever was making the noise was pretty close and big! There are moose in the area and at first we thought maybe it was a moose although both of us have been around moose and never heard one make that noise before. My friend Mike said he had heard bears making that noise before when they were grubbing and rolling logs over so thatís what we were leaning toward. I was already a little nervous about bears this year with 2 hikers being killed over the summer in Yellowstone less than 50 miles from where we were hunting and we always see plenty of bear sign in the area and actually saw a grizzly bear last year right where we were planning on hiking to this morning. We probably hung around the truck for 15 minutes and then decided that we werenít going to kill anything hanging out at the truck so we needed to get going.

We kept our rifles at the ready and bear spray readily accessible and started out. It was 29 degrees and clear, but it had rained over the weekend and the brush was pretty wet and the deadfall was as well. It was about a half moon and bright enough to see pretty well. We tried to be extra quiet and skirted well to the west of whatever it was that was making the noise. About ľ mile in we hear the growl/groan again and it was pretty much where we had heard it the last time, that gave us a little bit of comfort level and we headed in to our spot we wanted to be.

We got there just before shooting light and got setup. I sat in the same exact spot that I was in the year before when I shot a raghorn on opening morning. Sunrise came and we heard a few bugles off to our west. We made a few cow calls and nothing really responded. A bull was bugling off to the west still and we tried to decide on whether to go after them or what. We saw a few cows moving through the heavy timber and but they were headed away from us so we decided to commit to going after them. The problem was that the wind was right at our backs. We dogged them at about 100 yards and in the heavy timber we could just barely catch a glimpse of them every now and then. Both of us could have shot a cow, but our general tag was only good for a mature bull in that area. After a hundred yards or so either the wind got our scent to them or the heard or saw us or something, because they busted out and took off. Both of us were pretty sure we saw the bull, but neither of us saw his antlers so there was not really a chance at a shot.

They hadnít busted out too bad, so we decided to keep after them. The wind wasnít going to be against us as badly, and at least we knew we were after some elk. Probably 30 minutes later we ended up at the top of a steep ridge and made a cow call and we surprised to hear a bull pipe up from his bed less than 100 yards away from us! We thought that maybe we had broken up the bull and his cows and he was ready to hook back up with them. We just sat there for 10 minutes or so and then tried to close the distance on him as quietly as we could. We were as quiet as possible and the wind was blowing up to us from where he was below so we were pretty confident we could close the distance. We moved about 25 yards closer and somehow he had us pegged. He started moving through the timber about 50 yards away, but neither of us could get a good glimpse of him. In retrospect I should have tried to stay still and cow call, but I decided to get aggressive and cow call while I went down the hill after him. I caught another glimpse of him, but just a few tines and a bit of tan hide, nothing even close to a clear shot. Thatís the biggest problem with the area that we hunt, the timber is so thick that we were within 100 yards of a bull elk for close to 30 minutes and never even came close to getting a shot at him. If they arenít talking it is pretty close to impossible to hunt them.

The area we hunt is also very close to Yellowstone National Park, and after talking about it a bit we decided that the last thing we wanted to do is push the elk into the park so instead of keeping after them, we decided to go back to the spot where we were at first light and hang out there for a while. We checked out a few spots on the way back and then hung out for a while to see if anything else was talking. Everything had quieted down and nothing was moving. We ate lunch and went over the morning and I was kicking myself for the blown opportunities that morning. We were probably not aggressive enough on the first opportunity (we should have started moving that direction right when we heard the first bugles) and I was too aggressive on the 2nd opportunity (I should have stayed put and cow called instead of going after him). Chalk it up to learning experiences. We finished lunch and my friend had brought a can of coke with him and he stood up and crushed it with his boot and it made a loud crunch sound and low and somehow that triggered our mystery animal. It responded with the now familiar growl/groan sound from about 400 yards off to the south. It was directly between us and the truck and we decided that it would be better to figure out whatever it was during the daylight than having to worry about it on the hike back out in the dark so we gathered up our stuff and went after it. We werenít exceptionally stealthy, but werenít making a lot of racket and we got within about 100 yards of where it had sounded off and tried to get it to talk again to help us locate it to figure out what in the world it was. We tried moose grunts, cow calls, bugles, mimicking itís growl/groan and couldnít get it to talk again. After close to an hour, we gave up and headed back over to our spot to spend the afternoon sitting around twiddling our thumbs.

Mid afternoon whatever it was that was making the noise spouted off again but it was moving through the bottom to our west and going away from us. We still didnít know what it was, but felt like it was probably a large grizzly bear and were very thankful that at least it was going to not be directly on our path on the hike out now. As it got closer to evening we started to hear some movement in the timber and then saw an outfitter and his hunter go through the timber on horseback below us. If nothing else it gave us a good feeling that we would be able to spot some elk if they did come through at least.

It was getting close to sunset and we started thinking about when we were going to need to start heading back to the truck when our mystery animal spouted off again right back where it had been after lunch. Same growl/groan as it had been all day. Whatever was making the noise was a large animal no doubt. We made some cow calls and some bugles and tried to mimic it again but didnít get a response. With whatever it was back between us and the truck, we decided it was probably a good idea to start heading that way while it was still light. We got our stuff together and had just started that way when we heard it again with the growl/groan and then at the end of it there was a distinct chuckle of a bull elk trying to round up his cows. No mistaking it! The entire time it had been a bull elk growling/groaning. We didnít waste any time heading his direction and decided that it must be injured or something and thatís why it wasnít bugling and why it wasnít moving much.

We had made it about 100 yards closer to it and we saw some movement in the tree line to our south. The reason we hunt this particular spot is that it is about the only place anywhere near that you can actually see any distance at all. Just a few seconds later and a cow elk breaks out of the tree line headed toward us. We were standing on deadfall and there wasnít anywhere to really get down and get a rest for a shot and of course right after the cow breaks clear a nice bull comes out after her! Both of us shouldered our rifles with our packs still on, and started to try to get a good hold on for a shot. He was still coming directly at us somewhere between 150 and 200 yards away. After getting steady, I started to squeeze the trigger and BOOM, my friend Mike shoots first and the bull goes down like a sack of potatoes! I was too slow on the trigger!

I really expected to need to put a shot into him even if my friend hit him first and was surprised to see him drop so fast. We both looked at each other and were amazed at how fast everything had gone down. From sitting there dejected and bored to having a nice bull on the ground was probably a whopping 15 minute time difference. We went ahead and headed straight for him with our rifles ready, but as we got closer there was no doubt he was down for the count. He also didnít have ground shrinkage and looked even bigger the closer we got to him. He was a nice 6X6 with decent backs and very big bodied.

Here's a couple pictures of my friend Mike with his bull.

We didn't get any pictures of us together with the bull, but here's a picture of me with his bull.

The sun was now setting and even though we had one less boogey man to fear in the woods since our mysterious animal ended up turning into a nice bull elk, we still didnít want to mess around too long and needed to get to the job at hand. We took some pictures (it never seems like you end up taking enough pictures) and were about to start working on getting him cut up with another outfitter walks out of the timber toward us. He told us they had been shadowing this bull much of the day and he wanted to make sure if we got him or not. He was actually the same outfitter that ended up on a 370Ē bull 2 years earlier that we had been dogging all day and then they shot him the next day so we didnít feel too sorry for him that we had shot this one. He said he was happy it was us that got him instead of the other outfitter that we had seen. Seems like they are having some territorial disputes over some of the areas that they hunt. This bull wasnít 370Ē, but we felt like he would push the 320Ē mark and for sure he was the biggest bull Mike had shot and he has been hunting this same area for nearly 20 years and is 53 years old. I was very happy that he ended up being the one that squeezed the trigger first and he is very happy with him.

Talking with the outfitter a little more we discussed the crazy growl/groan that this bull had been making and he said that they have been seeing more and more bulls doing that lately and fewer and fewer bulls making the high pitched bugle at the front end anymore. Speculation of course is that they are doing it because the higher pitch brings the wolves in from a long way off, but no idea if that is right or not. For sure it was a noise that I had never heard in the woods before. He also said that was one of the largest bodied elk that he had ever seen as well.

It was pushing dark and we had a lot of work to get done. I had bought a havalon knife and was really looking forward to using it to see how it worked, but somehow I lost it before I even left on the trip so it was the old standby gerber for me. Mike worked on caping him while I got to work on quartering him up and we made pretty decent time on him. I bought some new Caribou game bags and those worked out pretty nicely as you can just drop the quarters right in the bags without worrying about any dirt getting on them. No need to have a drop cloth setup to work off of. After we had him quartered and caped we ended up with 5 bags of meat plus the head and cape. It was full dark and even though it was only about a half mile to the truck in a straight line, there was some up and down between us and LOTS of deadfall and brush. The temperatures were plenty cool so we decided to just hang everything and come back for it in the morning.

We found a good tree about 100 yards from the carcass and moved the game bags over to it and got to work hanging them. Last year I we had trouble hanging my elk in New Mexico due to the friction of the rope on the tree limbs so I had a pulley in my pack to help with that chore this year. The problem was that there was no way we were going to get all of this hung up on one rope. After trying to think through a better option we never came up with one so we ended up using the pulley for the head and cape and just rope over the tree branches for everything else. We had plenty of rope and were able to hang the hind quarters and loose meat individually and had to hang both of the front shoulders on the same branch. We struggled to get the meat high enough as with the friction of the rope on the tree branch you can only get the meat as high as you can reach over your head with one guy pushing the meat up and the other guy pulling on the rope. We decided that with it in bags and at least off the ground 6 or 7 feet it would have to do though. We hung our florescent orange vests on the antlers and on a tree branch, hung a glow stick and a LED flashing beacon up and peeíd on the bushes around the base of the tree and called it good.

The hike out was very uneventful and it was so nice to get to the truck about 11:20 and rolled into camp just before midnight. Our wives were awake and a little worried about us as my friend is a diabetic and if he ran out of food it could get ugly, but we had packed plenty of food as we expected to be out all day and he was fine.

We went ahead and slept in the next morning and went back after the meat about 9:00. We figured that we could get it done in 3 loads with me hauling the head and cape with one load, then each hindquarter for the other 2 trips and he would take out the loose meat with one load and a front shoulder on the other 2 trips. When we got in there we ended up running into the outfitter that we had talked to the evening before and another guide with the same outfitter and they had 4 hunters in there. One funny note is that they had seen the florescent orange that we had hung in the tree and assumed there were already some other hunters over there and hadnít gone over to that spot. Lots of traffic for a tiny little spot thatís for sure.

The guy we talked to the night before said we were crazy for trying to take the head and cape out together, but I figured that it was only a little over a half mile and I would be fine. He gave us a few tips on caping out the head if we decided to do it and we nodded and smiled and they ended up leaving. I got everything loaded up on my pack and started toward the truck. It was heavy and it was awkward, but I could do it. Iím sure I could have done it, but after about 200 yards away climbing over deadfall and busting brush with a 100+ lbs awkwardly on my back the elk decided he didnít want to cooperate and somehow a strap came loose and it tumbled off my back onto the ground. Sitting there looking at it I decided I might be willing to try to cape itís head!

Mike decided to continue on to the truck and while I attempted to cape the head. The tips that the outfitter had given me was to start around the eyes and get that all done as far as I could reach through the eye holes, then do the scent glands as deep as possible and then do the lips as close to the teeth as I could. I set to work and it really wasnít as bad as I was dreading. The left side went really well and I think I got overconfident because I ended up with a few nicks on the right eyelid and I didnít get the right scent gland as deep as I had on the left one. I felt like I did pretty good on the bases of the antlers and the lips and nose though. I was using my same Gerber knife and the biggest problem was that it was a little too big and thatís why I ended up with the nicks on the eyelid and not getting deep enough in the scent gland. Not sure if it was easier because it had set overnight than if I had caped it when it was fresh or not.

Once I got the head caped I cut the tongue out and all the other loose meat that I could get to and that trimmed a bit of weight off of it. Mike still wasnít back from hauling his load to the truck so I went ahead and grabbed the antlers and hoofed them to the truck without my pack expecting to run into Mike going or coming. Somehow I missed him both ways but when I got back he was there wondering where I ended up. He grabbed the cape and started hauling it to the truck and I went to where we had everything hung to grab another load.

Sometimes I think Iím pretty much of a stud and I decided that I would haul both front shoulders in one load so that we could still end up getting everything out in 3 trips. In the dark the night before I hadnít boned anything out, but I typically donít bone the front shoulders out anyway so I figured I would just grab them and go. I got them in my pack and got my pack on but after about 50 yards I decided that it wasnít going to be worth killing myself to feel like a macho man. I haul the front shoulders back to the tree, set them down in the shade and pulled a hind quarter down. I quickly boned it out and threw it in my pack and it was a much more manageable load!

We got back to the truck and ate an early lunch then headed back to the tree. We decided that the only way that we were going to get everything out in one more trip would be to bone out the front shoulders. We got to the tree and I set to work and it really wasnít that bad at all. Not as easy as boning out a hind quarter, but I was able to keep the entire quarter in one piece and bone it off the shoulder blade pretty easy. It was amazing how much weight we lost taking out both front shoulder bones, what was a borderline unbearable load ended up being very manageable. I boned out the last hindquarter and Mike hauled it out and I hauled out both boned out front shoulders.

I should have taken a picture of the tree when we had everything hanging, but I didnít. The Caribou game bags really did well and the reflective tags really is a nice touch when we were working in the dark that night. One of the knocks on the synthetic game bags is that they donít ventilate as well, but the meat was nice and glazed over the next morning when I pulled it out to debone it. The temperatures overnight got down below freezing and the meat was very cool even after lunch when we made out last trip out. I was able to wash them in the creek and they would have been ready to use the next day if we had needed them.

It took longer than expected getting everything out, but we did keep at a pretty leisurely pace when it all comes down to it. Still we ended up with a little over 3 miles on the clock with half of that hauling some pretty heavy loads through heavy deadfall and thick brush. We made a quick trip into town to get the meat in coolers and on ice and send out some pictures and messages to everyone, and got back to camp just in time for an evening hunt. It was pretty uneventful and VERY quiet. Seems like the woods had pretty much shut down with all the pressure from the first two days.

We got back in our routine on Thursday and left camp at 5:00 and headed back to where we were on opening morning. We struck out completely there not hearing or seeing anything and then decided we would put our boots to good use instead of just sitting around like we did on opening day and moved out. We checked out several of our spots from previous years, a known wallow spot and some known bedding areas but the whole place just seemed dead. Thinking it through there was a lot of pressure put on the elk that opening day with us and two different outfitters in a pretty small area and I think we pushed them right on out of there. We were seeing plenty of sign, but that just means that they had been there, not that they still were there. We got in some miles and some pretty good elevation changes but didnít have anything to show for it. We got back to the truck mid afternoon and went back to camp for a bit then tried a different spot that evening with the same results. Didnít see or hear anything and everything just seemed eerily quiet. We hadnít even heard any wolves which is usually the explanation for why things are quiet.

We decided to try a different area the next morning and put in some miles and elevation gains on our boots and we got to see some pretty country, but didnít see or hear any elk and not a lot of sign. We took the boys out that afternoon to another spot and planned on it being more of a hike with the boys (they are 4 and 5 years old) than really a hunt and it pretty much turned out like we planned. Not much sign, didnít see or hear anything. That evening was going to be our last night there so we went back to the spot we were opening morning on the slight chance things had calmed down and the elk had moved back in there. The recurring theme continued as we didnít see or hear any elk, but we did see the fattest black bear sow either of us had ever seen. We were sure it was a big boar when we first saw it, itís ears were very far apart and very small compared to the rest of itís head, but then we saw a 2nd year cub about 10 yards behind it. The cub was almost a good sized bear in itís own right and a really nice chocolate color. They were about 20 yards away and we watched them for several minutes, but we were after elk, not bears and they werenít even legal if we were after bears so we made some noise and started walking toward them and they scooted off into the timber.

We setup and watched the sun go down and made a few cow calls and didnít hear a thing. We saw the bears again but they were even farther away and moving away from us so we didnít think they would really affect anything, especially since there didnít seem to be anything around anyway.

Saturday morning arrived and we made one last ditch effort in another spot and saw some sign but didnít see or hear anything else. The area where we were hunting is very dark timber and the chances of just stumbling onto some elk and getting a shot off is about zero. If they arenít talking it is pretty close to impossible and either the elk just werenít there after opening day, or they werenít talking. Probably the latter, but we sure spent some time looking for them and didnít even hear anything bust out ahead of us, let alone have to worry about trying to get a shot off. We packed it up, hooked up to the trailer and headed home. Here's a picture just before we pulled out Saturday morning headed for home.

The trip home was pretty uneventful, we got a whopping 10.8 mpg pulling the trailer home and 9.9 mpg on the way up there for a round trip average of 10.35 mpg. Pretty close to what we got the previous two years with our smaller trailer so that was nice. I was super nice to have a queen sized bed to sleep on instead of the jackknife sofa that I was sleeping on in the smaller trailer. We had a great time and I was very happy to be there with my friend Mike when he shot his biggest bull of his life. Going through it all again in my head, Iím really happy that I was slower on the trigger pull than him and he was able to end up with a really nice bull on the ground.

This has turned into more of a epic book than a novel, so Iíll end it here. I might go back and add some thoughts on some of the gear and other things later.

Hope you enjoyed the read, I know I will sometime down the road when I come back and read this again and relive some of the details I will have forgotten by then.

That's it for now! Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Oct-10-11, 
11:32 PM (MST)
15. "Wyoming Hunt Review"

Thinking back on the hunt, one thing I for sure should have done was record the growl/groan that bull was making, I had my iPhone in my pocket and just never even thought about it. It sure was crazy hearing him in the dark that first morning!

I posted this on a few other forums and got a few questions on the tips the guide provided me on caping. I thought I would share those here as well.

The #1 tip I would give on caping the head out is to bring a small sharp knife. My regular Gerber was too big, although I was able to get it done, a smaller knife (maybe 3" long and 3/4" wide) would have been easier, especially on the eyes and scent gland right in front of the eye.

The #2 tip I would give on caping would be to go ahead and try it, it really isn't that hard and it is AMAZING how much easier it is to deal with the head when it isn't attached to the cape. We didn't saw the skull plate off, but we probably lost 10lbs just by being able to cut out the entire tongue and some more meat off the back of the neck that we couldn't get too until I caped out the head. Just having the 35lb head and the 45lb cape separated makes it way less awkward to try to carry.

The tips that the guide gave me were to start out around the eyes and get as far as you can all the way around them. Just put your knife in under the eyelid and start working on it. You can get a good ways all around the eye and that keeps you from cutting the eyelid when you are working the rest of the head. I nicked the eyelid a couple times because when I was going through the opening to get to the scent gland and open everything else up around it the knife was so wide that it nicked the eyelid. A smaller knife wouldn't have had that problem.

Next tip was to get your knife down inside the scent gland in front of the eye as far as you can and then work your way out just like you did on the eye. This is where a smaller knife really would help out because my knife was so wide when I stuck it down deep into the scent gland the side of the knife cut into the side of the scent gland a little. My friends taxidermist said it was still okay the way I did it and he could make it work, but a smaller knife would have done a better job and been alot easier. When you are done you should have about a 5" X 3" area around the eyes and scent gland where the hide is completely free of the skull. When you are caping the head instead of struggling when you get to the eyes, now you are home free.

Last tip the guide gave me was to get as close to the teeth as possible when skinning out the mouth. That was actually pretty easy and I didn't have the problems using the larger knife that I had with the eyes and the scent glands. I worked my way up from the front of the mouth and got quite a way back all the way to where I hooked up to where I had done my work on the eyes before I stopped from the mouth. That was probably the easiest part out of all of it.

The antler burrs were the last part I did, making the Y cut up the back of the neck to the base of the burrs. I actually started at the burr and as hard as I could cut down from the burr to make the top of the Y on each side. A strong sharp knife is really important here as you need to make that cut in one cut and not have to come back and saw on it. Next I went around the entire base of each antler burr, moving the longer hair out of the way and really making sure I had a deep cut all the way through the hide to the pedicle all the way around the burr. Then I started working around the base of each antler making sure I was cutting deep enough to be going all the way to the bone. Here is another place where a smaller knife would have probably helped, but it needs to be a sturdy knife as there is a lot of bending and pressure applied. I think you would break a Havalon knife blade pretty quick on that part.

That's about as good as I can describe it without taking a video while I'm doing it. The tips on starting at the eyes, scent glands and mouth were new to me and really made it less daunting. Once we had it caped it was much easier to deal with the cape as well since we stayed out for the rest of the week we just put the cape in a cooler and kept it on ice and didn't have to worry about it.

We tube the front legs at the knees instead of cutting down the back side of them as well. That way if you end up with some of the floor pedestal mounts you for sure have enough hide and you don't mess up on a errant cut down the side of the leg or anything like that.

I'm going to start caping all the animals I shoot even if I don't plan to mount them as it will be good practice and you can always sell the cape or trade it to your taxidermist for discounts or at least some good faith. You might not ever want to mount a raghorn bull, but there are plenty of folks that may and often those are the guys that may have butchered the cape on their bull and need one.

Hope that helps a little for anyone thinking about caping their own animal. It really isn't that hard and I would encourage you to go ahead and try it, especially if you aren't going to be able to get the animal to a taxidermist within 24 hours. It was so much easier to care for the cape once it was removed from the skull.

Lastly I mentioned that I would review some of the gear used.

I was wearing the new Core4 gear on this hunt. The Element pants and jacket. I was REALLY impressed. On the first morning the brush was still plenty wet and although my pants did get wet on the outside, my legs didn't and they dried up pretty quick.

It was in the upper 20's in the mornings and high 50's to high 60's in the afternoons and the Element was a very good match. During the warmer afternoons when we were moving of course we had our jackets off and wore the pivot base layer shirts, but the pants did fine with the thigh ventilation zips open. One afternoon when we had been sitting and it was windy I put on the assault shirt over my pivot base layer and had my jacket on and it was very comfortable.

One evening I wore my Sitka Ascent pants and it made me very appreciative of the thickness of the Element pants. I hadn't realized it but busting brush and deadfall the Element pants were doing a great job of protecting my shins and wearing the ascent pants in some thinner brush my shins took a beating. In defense of sitka though, I've since worn my Core 4 Switchback pants (the equivalent of the sitka ascent) and they didn't do a great job of protecting my shins when busting brush and cactus either, they are just too thin to do a good job when it comes to protecting your shins in heavy brush and cactus. I think as long as it's 70 or less I'll wear the Element pants in the future.

I had the Russell gear on this hunt too, and the L3 Zephyr layer on the Russell gear is kind of in between the ascent type (switchback for Core4) layer and the 90% type (Element for Core4) level. I liked the Russell gear fine and I had their L5 rain gear in my pack most of the time but didn't ever get to try that out to give a good review on it.

Really impressed with the Core4 stuff though. So much so I'm thinking about buying an extra set and selling some of my Sitka and Russell gear.

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Oct-23-11, 
00:31 AM (MST)
16. "I think I'm ready!"

Well, I've been working on getting in shape and my goal was to be able to run 6 miles in an hour before I went on my New Mexico elk hunt. I was surprised to meet my goal a little bit early as I was able to get in 6 miles in just under an hour about 3 weeks ago!

The elevation and pace chart looks pretty impressive, but really it was a pretty flat run, the ups and downs were only 5 or 10 feet each time so they look impressive on the chart, but not in real life.

I kept working out and started adding in some hill work and upped the miles to 7 last week but missed the 10:00 pace and then got in 8 miles yesterday and kept it under 10:00 per mile!

Here's the elevation and pace chart and the splits for each mile.

You can see that mile 5 was where we went back up the hill, and we actually walked briskly up the hill instead of jogging, but we were both breathing harder walking up the hill than at any other time on the entire run. I was running with my wife for the first 5 1/2 miles, but she hasn't been running as much lately (she's run several marathons and half marathons in the past) so I went ahead and ran on ahead of her for the last 2 1/2 miles or so. I was pretty proud of the fact that the fastest I ran the entire run was the last 2 miles! I felt great and didn't even feel sore today.

I still don't consider myself a runner, but it really feels good to meet my goal and then some for getting into shape for my elk hunt coming up. We will be starting each morning at 8,000' elevation and climbing to between 10,000' and 11,000' each day so I'm going to need to be in shape. Lubbock is right around 3,000' elevation so I'm going to be breathing hard just walking the first few days I'm there with the big change in elevation. Hopefully this will have me ready for it.

Hopefully my next update will be from New Mexico!

That's it for now. Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Oct-25-11, 
06:23 AM (MST)
17. "Last minute preparations."

I've debated posting a live hunt because that pretty much tells folks that I won't be home and they can go rob my house, but the family is staying behind on this one so they should be able to keep the house safe while I'm gone.

My friend Ben is coming along with me, he's about 20 years younger than me, so I'm counting on him to help pack some loads out hopefully if we get lucky. He was will me on my New Mexico elk hunt last year and was dumb enough to sign up to go back with me again this year. Went grocery shopping at lunch today and ended up buying $185 of junk food pretty much, but based on last year's New Mexico hunt I know we will be too tired to do any cooking when we get back to camp so the only thing we are going to have to heat up to eat is we bought a few cans of soup for evening meals.

I have a packer lined out if I get one on the ground too far back, and I talked to him on the phone today and he said that the 3rd hunt week is going on right now and pretty much everyone is striking out and going home early. Most are saying they haven't even seen any animals. I'm going to be hunting the Urraca WMA and it's only 13,000 acres so it's not like you can really go somewhere else if the animals aren't there so sounds like most folks are just packing it in early. This sounds like both good news and bad news to me, I picked this unit and these hunt dates based on drawing odds and pretty good success rates the last several years, but last years success rates came out after I already drew my tag and the 3rd hunt ended up with a 70% success rate last year while the 4th hunt (the date of my hunt this year) ended up with a 10% success rate last year. With the 3rd hunt date being a bust this year, maybe that will mean that my hunt dates will be better. Some weather is supposed to be hitting tomorrow that will hopefully help to change things around there.

I've got a list of honey do's to get done before I take off and still have quite a bit of packing to get done so I'm not sure how much I'll get posted before I leave, but I checked and I'm supposed to have decent cell phone coverage there so I'm hoping to be able to keep this updated as I go. I setup a photobucket mobile account so I hopefully will be able to take pictures and upload them while I'm there as well.

I've been working out pretty hard over the summer and fall and hopefully I'll be ready to tackle the steep elevation gains waiting for me this weekend. I'll be camped right around 8,000' and I expect to be working up in the 9,500' - 10,000' elevation range to be into the elk and I might even end up over the 11,000' mark if we end up having to work all the way to the back of the WMA.

I've never stepped foot or even laid eyes on this property before, everything I know about it has come from talking to folks on the phone and looking at maps and google earth. I feel like I know it pretty well from the time spent looking at it on google earth though!

Here's a overhead look at the WMA.

Here's some elevation shots from google earth.

Can't really tell much from this, but here's the entire front of the WMA looking back to the east.

North side - still looking east.

There are 10 bull elk tags for this 5 day hunt as well as a mule deer hunt going at the same time. Not sure how many deer tags there are. There is only one designated camping spot and that is right at the end of that road that you see in the screen shot above.

There is no motorized travel allowed other than driving into the designated parking spot and there is a road that runs north and south about 1/2 mile to the west of the mountain front. There are several old logging roads, but they are off limits to anything but horses and people on foot.

Here's the center - still looking east.

Supposedly that pond in the middle has been dry pretty much for 2 years now. Not sure what the status of it will be this weekend if they get some rain and snow tomorrow.

Here's the south side - still looking east.

I'm going to have Friday to scout before the opener on Saturday, but that's where I'm currently planning on spending opening morning. It's the roughest looking area in the WMA and it is for sure the steepest area. Fartherest you can get from the designated camping spot and vehicle roads. Not much in the way of closed off logging roads, and once you get back a ways there is some pretty dark looking timber and a hidden pond way back at the back.

New Mexico just passed a new law where non-residents will no longer be able to hunt their WMA's so if this turns out to be a honey hole it won't matter to me as I won't be able to hunt it any longer, so no point trying to keep any of my plans a secret. If it turns out to be a complete bust, at least I'll have given it my best.

That's it for now. I'll try to keep this updated as it goes.

Wish me luck.

Thanks, Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Oct-27-11, 
11:51 AM (MST)
18. "RE: Last minute preparations."


Looks like the weather may have missed where I'll be hunting and hit here instead. 38 degrees and rain here. Got everything hitched up and loaded, hopefully I'll be able to make it the 2 miles from the house before I get to pavement. My driveway is gravel, but the county roads are pretty bad.

Testing out photobucket and posting from my iPhone. Here's the truck hooked up to the trailer in the driveway ready to go.

Plans changing around a little. Still have to go by the office and finalize some work and then go pick Ben up after that. Hopefully we'll be on the road by 4:00 or 5:00.

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Oct-28-11, 
05:42 PM (MST)
19. "Hunt starts tomorrow "

Pulled into camp last night about 12:30 am local time. Cell service is a bit iffy, probably not going to be able to upload pictures, but we'll see. Not even sure I'll be able to post or not. Everything going well here so far. Haven't seen much sign at all, but just taking it easy and scouting around getting acclimatized to the altitude.

It's a lot prettier in real life than on google earth! Did get a little snow up high, but not sure if it will be enough to really be a game changer.

Got 4 miles in this morning just poking around. Some pretty country. Some decent sign, but not exceptionally fresh. Did find a little raghorn shed.

Came across this crazy looking bear sunning himself on a rock. Almost looked like he was stuck or something. We got about 150 yards away and he looked at us, but didn't ever get up.

Drove into Questa for our last hot meal for a while at the wildcat's den, it's no dairy queen, but it will have to do.

Couple other pictures from this morning.

We'll put another couple miles on the boots tonight and hopefully have a plan for in the morning.

Not sure when my next update will be, still haven't figured out an easy to get to spot with reliable cell coverage out there.

Wish me luck in the morning.

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Oct-29-11, 
07:13 PM (MST)
20. "RE: Hunt starts tomorrow "

Well no luck so far. Got a tiny bit of signal so I'll try to post.

Saw a small bull and 2 cows right at dusk last night. Put in a total of 7 miles and 1,550' elevation gain when it was all said and done.

Of course the guys who just hung around at camp saw 3 nice bulls and a dozen cows from the camper while we were out scouting. They all have deer tags, so we decided to go after them in the morning.

Got where we wanted to be about 15 minutes before shooting light, and had about a dozen cows in on us right before daylight. Several were less than 50 yards away. Saw what I'm assuming were the se 3 bulls from the night before getting shot at by folks in 3 or 4 different vehicles as they crossed the road heading our way. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I saw they got off 20 shots at those bulls as they crossed the road. The crazy thing is that I don't think they hit any of them! I watched all 3 slow to a walk after they got into the trees. We moved along the ridge line to try to intercept them, but lost them.

Just 3 miles on the boots so far this morning, but 2,000' of elevation gain. Sitting here at 10,000 feet eating lunch right now. We are just going to hang around up high this afternoon. At least we know there are elk around. Hopefully we can get back on them this evening

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Oct-30-11, 
07:07 AM (MST)
21. "Still after it!"

We are still after it. Stayed out until after dark last night and left out in the dark this morning. We thought we had the skinny on a 6 X 0 that one of the deer hunters at camp saw yesterday, but we got skunked this morning. Pretty view though!

Really pretty spring fed pond, but really not much activity around it.

We thought we might have an offhand chance if some bulls decided to run the gauntlet and cross the road heading for the hills this morning, but there were 7 vehicles staggered out along the road and either the bulls crossed earlier in the dark or after getting shot at yesterday figured out a safer place to cross.

Here's the view where we sat last night.

Last night we stayed up high until 25 minutes after sunset and with nothing moving at all we headed back down to try to use at least a tiny bit of light with 1,000' of elevation to drop through the brush. Of course we get back to camp and several folks saw our headlamps coming down the mountain in the dark and thought we were crazy. Even worse the said that right at the end of shooting light 3 bulls came over the saddle to the left of that picture in the oak brush. Coming down in the dark i was thinking we should have left out earlier, I guess we left 5 minutes too early. Seems like they must read our play book and know where we are going to be in advance or something.

Trying a different spot this afternoon. Maybe we'll see something at least. Tomorrow we are going to go all the way back in hitting the trail at 3:30 am if we don't get something today.

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Nov-01-11, 
07:36 PM (MST)
22. "Not feeling very lucky right now"

Well we are still at it. Maybe we are putting in too much effort.

Yesterday was our big day, we had the line from some other hunters on some elk up on a small pond that had been in there pretty thick. We woke at 3:00 am and actually started up the trail a little later than I wanted at 3:50. At 1.25 miles in we came to a fork in the trail and started to go left like the other hunters had said, but after going up the trail another 1/4 mile or so we second guessed ourselves and went back and took the right fork. I really should have sprung the $10 for a nice hard copy Topo map of the area instead of trying to talk to them with patchwork Topo maps on my phone. I navigated right to the map se had talked about on the map on my phone, but it was the wrong pond. 6 miles one way in and 2,700' of elevation gain walking through up to 8" deep snow to get to a frozen pond. Oh well, live and learn. It was really pretty though.

Here's the walk in:

Here's the frozen pond.

We had it figured out where the right pond must be, andheaded back around the back of the property to find it. We got the right around noon with 11 miles on the boots, again with much of it spent trudging through snow. We were tired. We hung out and dried out and ate lunch and scouted around for good spots to sit. Someone had made a litte rock blind about 150 yards above the pond. Here's the view from there.

One bright spot in the day was that we met up with another hunter on horseback while we were on the backside of the property and he said that he had been at the right pond that morning and he hadnt seen anything, so all the side trip cost us was a lot of wasted effort. Since the elk hadn't been the that morning, we decided not to sit the pond that evening, but hunt the oak brush over the ridge from it instead.

Here's the view we we sat yesterday evening.

It was a bust. Probably left too early again, but we were tired and thought we could hunt on our was back to camp after sunset. It was our biggest day by far in terms of miles covered and effort put in. Saw 1 cow elk and 2 doe deer. By the time we got back to the truck we had 14.6 hard miles in with over 3,500' of elevation gain and much of it spent slogging through 6" to 8" deep snow and even worse some 4" to 6" crusty snow where you break through on every step.

At some point we talked ourselves out of going back to the right pond this morning and tried another spot on the north corner of the property where the elk were supposed to travel from the crop fields back into cover in the mornings. There was a good chance that they would be on private property, but at this point we were excited to just have the chance to actually see some elk.

We slept in and left out at 5:30 this morning and got setup in a good spot about 30 minutes before shooting light and just before shooting light we actually saw an elk! It was too dark to see antlers, but based on the fact that it was by itself I was going to assume it was a bull. It was 600 yards away and moving south so I decided to go after it. About that time we saw 20+ elk with several bulls moving off onto private property. We were distracted for a second and the lone elk we had seen disappeared into the pinons. I told Ben to watch the elk on private to see what they would do and I went after the lone elk.

I sidehilled for about 1/2 mile and thought I had lost it, but I caught a glimpse of tan hide moving through the pinons. I waited for a bit thinking at a little draw, thinking it might come my way, but after a bit I decided it wasn't going to and started sidehilling again.

I got to a spot with an opening and caught sight of it again, it was a bull! At first I thought it was a raghorn, but I'm pretty sure it was a 5 or 6 point on the left side with a pretty nice main beam and nothing on the right side. It was 450 yards away and moving pretty quickly and I didn't take the shot. He obviously knew I was there and was moving out. The worst thing was that he was closer to where our travel trailer was parked than he was to me. On our way out this morning I ranged it from where he had been the last time I saw him before he disappeared into the pinons again and he was 355 yards from camp! According to my GPS I walked 5.8 miles this morning and a bull went within 400 yards from camp about 30 minutes after sunrise. Crazy. It seems like we are putting in too much effort, maybe we should start road hunting!

Even worse, some guys on horses went back to the pond where we were last night and shot a little 5x5 this morning. Wrong place at the wrong time.

Came into Questa to drop off some trash and eat at the wildcat den again. Their green chili burger is worth the guy at the counter being a little too friendly. Maybe our luck will change for the better. Trying a different spot tonight and not sure about tomorrow yet. A cold front is supposed to blow in so maybe that will change things up for the better.

Wish me luck, I for sure need it!

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Nov-03-11, 
04:38 PM (MST)
23. "Finally some luck came my way!"

Got home last night right at midnight and been fighting fires at work this morning, but I'll try to get this finished up now. I'll start back up where I left off with the narrative last time leaving the Wildcat Den in Questa to go back to try to hook up with some elk Tuesday night.

Tuesday night we ended up going up pretty much the last spot that we hadn't hit on the WMA, the canyon on the very south side of the area. We headed up several hours before sunset with no intentions but to hike up until we could find a good lookout spot and then wait for dark to see if anything would come out. We got going pretty good and about 1/2 mile up the trail we got on a track of a wounded elk. I'm assuming a bull, but it wasn't an exceptionally massive track and there were no dew claw marks in the snow so I won't guarantee it. The season was for bulls only though so someone really messed up if they wounded a cow. The track was at least a day old, but the snow made it pretty easy to track and it was staying right on the trail so that made it even easier.

We followed the blood trail for over a mile and found one spot where it had stood there for a while and then instead of following the switchbacks, it had just gone right up the side of the hill so I didn't think it could have been hurt too terribly bad. Then I came to a spot right in the middle of the trail were it had laid down and there was a pretty good amount of blood there and I wasn't so sure.

Here's a picture where it laid down. Looks like it was bleeding from the right hindquarter. I know the snow makes it seem like more blood, but it looked like a lot of blood to me. It was walking on all 4 feet and when walking there was usually 2 or 3 drops of blood on every 4th step. Hopefully it's still alive somewhere.

We ended up following the blood trail for at least a mile and a half and that elk was still moving steadily up the hill. We never did see a good lookout spot and it was pretty close to sunset so we decided to quit the trail and started heading back down hoping that we might have a chance to see something moving. I was cow calling and bugled a few times but didn't get any responses.

It was right at the end of shooting light and we were going down the switchback that we had skipped following the blood trail on the way up and I let out a cow call while we were walking and a bull lit up about 200 yards off the trail. I tried some more calls and never could get him to talk again and it was too dark to see him even if he did so we headed on back down for another unsuccessful day spent on the mountain. We logged 12.5 miles for the day and 2,700' of elevation gain. Again, it seemed like we were putting in too much effort. We had followed that blood trail up to 9,800' and then on the way back down we hear the bull at 9,300'. If we hadn't been following the blood trail up the side of the hill instead of taking the switchbacks would the bull have piped up when we walked by earlier? Lots of second guessing.

We debated back and forth on where to go on the last morning. Since another bull was shot at the pond that morning we figured the elk wouldn't be back in there the next day and it would be pretty discouraging to hike 3 miles back there and not see anything. Our packer that we had lined up was also going to be unavailable that afternoon and I really didn't want to have to stick around an extra day if I got a bull down back there either. We had seen elk in the front corner the morning before and really had the best opportunity of the week there and no shots had been fired to keep them from coming back so that's where we decided to head in the morning.

We had scouted out a few good spots to setup the morning before during the daylight and had marked it on the GPS so we decided to get there at least 30 minutes before shooting light. We got to sleep in late and headed out at 5:30 since the spot we had marked was only a mile from camp. The spot we picked out was right at the edge of the pinions at the base of the mountain because once they got to the pinions it was almost impossible to really be able to move in on them so we wanted to intercept them before they got there.

We ended up getting to our spot 45 minutes before shooting light and hunkered down and tried to be as quiet as possible. For a second the wind got behind us and I worried everything was going to be for naught, but then it turned and started blowing right in our face. The sagebrush was so tall in front of our spot that we had to stand up to get a good view. We had a pinion pine for a backstop and started glassing about 10 minutes before shooting light. We adjusted our spot a little as it got shooting light and heard some elk moving in the pinons already. I heard an antler click on a branch not very far away. I decided to try to go after them and headed in their direction. I let out a soft cow call and got an answer less than 50 yards away, but the pinons were so thick I couldn't see anything. I tried to follow for about 100 yards and cow called a few more times, but didn't see or hear anything and decided to go back to the original spot.

One reason for optimisim that morning was that a front was coming in and we were hoping the elk would be feeding later that morning so it was pretty disappointing to have a group of elk move in before shooting light. The big herd that has sticking to the private land was still out on the alfalfa field though and we thought there still might be a chance. They started milling around and a car parked out on the highway and that seemed to bother them a little. They worked right then left then started moving out and were staying on the wrong side of the fence.

About that time I saw a cow elk headed our way and it was already on the right side of the fence! Then I saw a decent bull following behind her!! Our plan might actually work! He wasn't a monster but after all the hard work and lack of any real opportunity all week any legal bull was going to be in trouble.

They were about 400 yards away and moving south and where we were setup I was thinking they might cross about 200 yards out in front of us. Looking some more there was also a raghorn following back about 100 yards behind the cow and the larger bull.

We got setup and started watching the opening where they were going to have to cross. I had my shooting sticks up and was on my knees to stay above the sagebrush. It seemed like an eternity and they still weren't showing up! I was a little worried about the cow being out front that she might spot us and turn back before we got a chance on the bull. I was so tempted to try to stand up and see if I could spot them, but stayed put.

Out pops the cow in the lead VERY close. She is looking straight at us! We stay perfectly still, but we have absolutely nothing for cover in front of us, just the pinion behind us to block our outline. She looks for a good 30 or 40 seconds and then starts walking a few yards then stops and looks, then walks a few yards then stops and looks for what seems like forever. The wind is perfect and she knows something is odd, but can't figure us out. The bull is still no where to be seen. She ends up traveling about 30 yards and I'm barely able to see her in my peripheral vison but I don't dare even move my head.

Finally the bull shows up and is just walking by completely oblivious. He's a 5X5, nothing impressive, but a decent but and plenty of meat on him. He's so close I don't even try to stop him, just take the shot as he is walking steadily. It's a solid hit, but he's still on his feet and moving, so I chamber another round and hit him again. He goes down. Right before he goes down he takes a breath and you can see the exhalation going out 2 seperate holes in his opposite side. It's over. All the effort put in over the previous 5 days and we now have a bull on the ground less than 1 mile from camp as the crow flies. The GPS reads 1.15 miles and less than 200' of elevation gain for the day! When I went over to where the bull was down I used my rangefinder and it was a whopping 65 yard shot.

It's about 20 minutes after sunrise but the sky is overcast and there are a few snow flurries starting to show up. We got the pictures taken and started working on getting him quartered up and packed out. There is one spot where the road ends up only .76 miles from where he went down so we'll go ahead and pack him out on our backs. It's pretty open and slightly downhill too.

Here's the glory shots from the real camera.

Here's my friend Ben with me.

And the start of the short packout.

I'm going to go through my pictures and will probably post some more and I'm going to try to get my tracks uploaded and put onto google earth to show how much of the area we ended up covering when it was all said and done as well, but I've got to get back to getting some work done now.

Thanks for coming along for the trip with me. Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Nov-06-11, 
09:19 AM (MST)
24. "Opening Day Success!"

After hunting down to the wire last week, I am tagged out and home already this week. Shot my New Mexico mule deer on opening moring.

I'm just a sucker for the big old tall framed bucks even though they don't score nearly as good as they look.

Not the biggest buck I've ever shot but pretty respectable. One of the first sheds I've ever found out there in the Sandhills and crazy that it sure looks like a match for the buck I ended up shooting.

Here's some pictures from my phone.

He was running with a buck that was shorter and narrower, but he had all his tines and maybe a tiny bit of trash and would have probably scored better, but I'm a sucker for the big tall frames. His G2's were both over 15".

Here's a couple more pictures.

I should have moved him around and been facing directly into the camera so my face wasn't shadowed. The wind was blowing 30+ mph and blew the camera off my backpack a couple times and I was just ready to get him cut up and packed out.

I told myself I was going to hunt hard this week and hold out for a monster, but he looked pretty good and after hunting all last week both the family and I were ready for a shorter hunt this time.

Still ended up with 13 miles on the boots and 1,800' of elevation gain with all the ups and downs in the sandhills, but it was well worth the effort.

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Nov-08-11, 
02:59 PM (MST)
25. "RE: Opening Day Success!"

I got my camera back with a couple more pictures I thought I would add and fill in the details on the hunt while I was at it.

I woke up at 5:30 and left out in the dark at 6:00 heading to where I shot my buck last year. I thought they had a good spot where I had jumped several deer everytime I had been there and expected the same this year. I got there right at shooting light and was surprised to only see 3 does hanging out in the sagebrush tucked in out of the wind. They are very hard to see and without scanning carefully with binoculars I would have never picked them out. I had jumped 5 deer just before shooting light on my way in but they were all does and a small forkhorn. The big groups of deer I had seen in this spot last year were somewhere else this year.

I watched for a while to see if anything else was moving, but everything seemed bedded down already and I decided to start moving. In the sandhills my hunting style is to try to get to a vantage point and see things moving at sunrise and sunset and then just keep moving the rest of the day and see if I can catch some deer bedded down out of the wind. The wind was picking up with gusts up to 30mph so it wasn't looking like a super pleasant day to be out walking the hills. As I was heading out I found a nice shed antler that was still in pretty good shape for this late in the year. It was pretty respectable, although the back tine wasn't forked where it should have been, but that is fairly common in this area.

I spotted another group of 4 does and they moved on off to the East so I followed them but tried to angle around where I would have the wind in my favor. The wind was pretty steady out of the southwest so I was trying to walk diagonally into the wind instead of having it blowing behind me.

I was up to about 6 miles on the boots by this time and trudging through some sand going to another area with a bunch of shinnery oak that looked like it might be promising. The area I was in didn't have any hills to speak of, but just a bunch of ups and downs maybe 10 to 15 feet of elevation. As I was trudging along I spotted a medium sized buck looking at me from about 50 yards away. He wasn't anything I wanted to shoot on opening morning so I didn't really try to be sneaky and pulled up my binoculars to get a really good look at him. About that time another buck stood up beside him and then another beside him and both of them were pretty good bucks and by the time I was able to pull the rifle off my shoulder and get it pointed in their direction there was about 25 deer making a bee line directly away from me. There were 2 nice bucks in the group and I couldn't figure out which was the better buck, but I was thinking either of them were probably shooters.

The group never offered a decent shot opportunity, but they weren't terribly spooked since I didn't go running after them or shoot at them so I decided to just try to keep going after them. A group of 5 does got split off from the main group and I was able to somewhat keep them in sight every 10 or 15 minutes while following them.

A mile or so later I was getting into the shinnery oak and just happen to catch a glimpse of a buck making his way to bed down in the shinnery. I put the sneak on him and got to within 25 yards before the game was up. He really didn't have a clue I was there, but I sat up a bit and let him see me while I tried to snap a couple pictures with my little point and shoot camera.

Not the best picture, but considering I was using a $100 point and shoot camera I thought it turned out pretty well and gives you a pretty good feel for how close I got to him before he decided to leave. Was a pretty fun little stalk.

I watched him go over the hill and then followed after him. I was trying to figure out if he was part of the larger group that just got separated, or just happened to be out there by himself. I then saw the group of 5 does again and thought they might be just the stragglers. I moved around some, saw the smaller buck again and then kept on walking the general direction I'd been headed the last several miles. I pulled my shooting sticks out of my backpack and was ready for some action. Just a little farther and I saw a large group of does. I didn't see the bucks with them, but this had to be the same group I had been chasing. Not sure if they saw me, but they were headed out to the south about 200 yards in front of me. The group got spread out and I saw the bucks coming down a hill a little farther away. This was the same group with the 2 large bucks in it.

I got sat down and put my rifle on my shooting sticks and got ready. They were all bunched up and there wasn't a chance for a shot and they were still moving. Last year I had carried my cow elk call with me and I had made some cow calls and gotten the deer to stop for me, but I had forgotten it this morning. I don't remember what I said, but I just screamed out a "hey", or something like that and the entire herd slowed to a stop and started looking at me. I have my rifle zeroed at 275 yards and I felt like they were pushing 300 yards away and still bunched up but I got a quick opening at the buck that I decided I wanted held right on him and pulled the trigger. Whack! It was a hit. The deer started running again, but the buck was struggling and getting left behind. He didn't go down so I chambered another round and aimed and fired again. The 2nd shot was a clean miss behind him. I hadn't compensated for the strong wind and missed him completely. I chambered another round and prepared to shoot again and he spun around and went down before I pulled the trigger. The other deer were still making their way over the next hill but he was down for the count.

I got my gear together and started over to where I saw him go down. I probably should have waited a while, but I had my rifle ready just in case he tried to get up. I got over to where he was and after looking for a minute or so I found him in some brush. He was still breathing, but I really didn't have a clean shot in the brush so I debated on what to do. He didn't seem to be suffering, but I didn't know where I had hit him so I decided I needed to put him down for good with a heart shot. I was less than 10 yards from him and had been watching him for a couple minutes and even saw him blink a few times, but as I moved around to get in front of him he saw me and jumped to his feet, turned around and started running directly away from me all in one quick movement. I pulled my rifle up to shoot him, but I had left my scope on maximum power and couldn't get him located quickly. He was obviously shot very far back as his left hind leg was broken. I hadn't compensated for the wind on the first shot either and it had pushed the bullet much farther back than where I was aiming.

He wasn't moving very fast and I didn't want to shoot him from behind again so I let him go. I looked where he had been laying down and was surprised to see very little blood. He ran about 100 yards up to a fenceline and laid back down. I snuck over to him again and this time was ready. I had my scope backed off to it's lowest setting and I got up on my knees about 25 yards away from him and when he stood up I shot him just behind the shoulder and he went down hard. I watched him and he was really struggling to breath. He was having a hard time holding his head up, but he just didn't want to die. I went ahead and chambered another round and shot him again, this time a little closer to the shoulder and a heart shot instead of a lung shot. He died right away on that shot.

That was the first time in a long time that the animal didn't die right away before I got close to them and it was pretty tough watching him from that close as he struggled to live. I'm not sure what I should have done differently, probably the big thing would have been to put my scope on the lowest power as I walked closer right at the start. Also I should have compensated for the wind better, it was a fairly long shot and the wind was blowing pretty hard, I didn't even think of it as I pulled the trigger and that resulted in a poorly placed shot right from the start.

Anyway, he was down and recovered and I was happy with the end result. As I started looking him over I realized that his left antler was a very close match to the shed that I had found earlier in the day. I put it up next to his antler and the resemblance was very strong. I would put about 95% odds that it was his shed antler from the year before. The first decent shed in 3 years that I found in the sandhills and it turns out to more than likely to be a match for the deer I end up shooting. Pretty cool.

Here's a couple more pictures. It's always tough taking timed pictures off your backpack, but the wind had actually picked up and was now gusting over 40 mph. It actually blew the camera off the backpack several times before it was all said and done. I think the pictures still turned out decent though.

I scored him out and he looks a lot better than he actually scores. He lost a couple inches because his inside spread was more than his main beam, and loses 6 or 7 inches because he is missing his G3. Oh well, he looked good so I shot him. He was running with a buck that was shorter and narrower, but he had all his tines and would have probably scored better but I'm a sucker for the big tall frames. His G2's were both over 15".

The wind was miserable getting him cut up and ready to pack out. I hadn't done a good job sharpening my knifes after the elk hunt so that wasn't helping things either. The sand started blowing and it ended up close to a full blown sand storm before it was all said and done. Sand was blowing in my eyes, small sand dunes started building up around where I had set my pack, and worst of all it was blowing onto the meat while I was getting the deer quartered up. There was sand everywhere and sand burrs too. Ended up taking me a full hour to get him quartered up and I didn't end up saving the cape because I was just ready to get it done and get out of there.

According to the GPS it was 4 miles back to the truck but only 2 miles to a county road farther east so I talked my friend who was letting me park my trailer at their farm into driving over to pick me up. The only drawback was that what would have been a 6 mile walk was about a 20 mile drive so it didn't save a lot of time but it was going to save me 4 miles carrying out the deer. I loaded 1/2 the meat in my pack along with everything I already had in there and headed out to the road. My friend met me and we went back to get ice and the coolers out of my truck and walk back to get the last load.

Here's a picture of me carrying out the last load. It was half the meat plus the head. I really like my Eberlestock pack, it has now hauled out parts of 4 elk and 2 full deer in the last 2 years and done a great job.

When it was all said and done I ended up with 13 miles on the boots for the day according to the GPS. Kind of surprising was that it said I had 1,800' of elevation gain for the day as well. The graph looked like a heart monitor with constant the up down, up down, up down, of the sandhills. It seemed like a pretty easy day compared with most of the days that we were elk hunting though.

I think that about covers it. Not sure when or if I'll be able to spend much time hunting whitetails down on my property in Fisher county, but I'm hoping to get a couple days in at least. Season goes through the first week of January so maybe I'll get a few chances at it.

That's it for now. Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Nov-29-11, 
07:26 AM (MST)
26. "Mistaken Identity."

Well, Iím a little late getting this posted, but I was able to sneak down to my hunting property in Fisher county for a Friday night, Saturday morning hunt last week.

A guy on another hunting forum is working on a solar/lunar type forecasting calendar that also takes into account local weather conditions. Hereís a link to his website - http://ranulos.com You just put in the nearest zip code to where you will be hunting and it projects a graph for the next six days based on the long term weather forecast. Anyway, I plugged the zip code nearest my hunting property in there and it showed that Friday evening was going to be an excellent day for hunting. I needed to go down to check on things anyway so I figured I would try to get in a quick hunt while I was at it.

I took the afternoon off work and hitched up the travel trailer and hauled it down to the property, backed it into its spot and headed off to my big blind on top of the hill. It was a little windy and it was going to be a full moon, but a cold front was heading in and I was hoping to get in on some movement from that.

No such luck. In the 4 years Iíve owned the property Iíve only sat in that particular blind and completely struck out without seeing a single animal one other time, but I didnít see a thing that evening even if the fancy ranulos software said it was an excellent evening for a hunt. It sounds like the guy is really working on a good program, but for now it doesnít seem to fail proof.

The program showed that the next morning was not going to be a good day to hunt, but I was down there and wasnít going to pass up a chance to hunt. I was in the blind an hour before sunrise and watched the world wake up from my hill top view. Always a great thing. The wind was blowing a bit and the sun came up and nothing was moving. I did see some quail, but I was chalking up my complete strike out of seeing anything else to the fire that burned my place up back in May. I had been keeping my protein feeder filled all summer and there were deer eating at it, but at 12:00am and 4:00am and never during the daylight. I figured they were bedding far away from my property where the fire wasnít as bad and moving to and from my place to eat at night and I was going to be out of luck this year.

I was going to sit for another couple hours, but figured it was pointless then out of no where I spot a nice 3 Ĺ year old 9 point about 150 yards to the south of the blind. I was surprised I hadnít seen him earlier as with the fire I had thought I would be able to see anything within 300 yards because the brush was basically all gone. He was a nice buck, but not a monster and for sure had a few years of growth before he would reach his full potential. Iíd had pictures of him on my trail cameras for the last couple years and I decided I was going to pass on him. I watched him for 30 minutes as he made a complete semi-circle around me. For the anti-baiting folks, I watched him walk within 50 yards of my protein feeder then walk right by two different spin feeders that had spun out some corn earlier that morning without even slowing down. He was for sure more interested in looking for does than looking for corn laying on the ground.

He was gone for a few minutes and then I spotted another buck about 150 yards to the East. I watched him a little bit and reached for my rifle. I was pretty sure that it was ďStubbyĒ, a mature buck that I passed on last year and regretted it the rest of the season. I watched him a little and then a doe showed up and he chased her a bit. One thing I noticed was that his tarsal glands were not dark at all and the 3 Ĺ year old buck I had watched earlier had extensive tarsal staining on his back legs to the point that they were nearly black. Looking at him he was much bigger than the doe he was chasing and his antlers looked very similar to Stubby from the year before so I decided to take him.

Here's a picture of "Stubby" from last year:

He was right at 100 yards and it was an easy shot. I squeezed the trigger and he jumped and kicked out his back legs and I knew it was a good hit. He ran off about 100 yards and then slowed down and looked back. The doe was still around and she started walking off and he started following her. I decided I better shoot again and as soon as he stopped I shot again and hit him in the front right leg but it was low. The doe took off and he followed right behind her again. They actually came closer to me so evidently they had no clue where the shots were coming from. He stopped about 150 yards broadside and I decided I needed to keep shooting. I shot again and he went down. Somewhere in there I shot 1 more time and remember him jumping and kicking again but I canít remember exactly where it fits in the sequence of events. At some point I thought I must just be missing, but it sure sounded and looked like I hit him with each shot.

I was pretty shocked to have 4 shots at a whitetail with my 7mm Mag with all shots taken at a stationary deer under 200 yards away. I waited a bit and got my stuff together and then walked over to where he was at and was surprised to see that the deer laying on the ground wasnít Stubby. At first I thought he must be a 2 Ĺ year old buck based on how small his antlers were, but based on his body size, tooth wear, and the mass of the antlers Iím pretty sure he was a 3 Ĺ year old now. Either way it was clearly a case of mistaken identity, this was not Stubby, but probably one of his sons.

Here's a picture of me with the buck I shot.

The buck I had passed on earlier in the morning had much larger antlers, but I had passed on him because he was too young and then turned around and shot another buck that was probably the same age but had smaller antlers! Oh well, in theory I guess I could look at him as a management buck because he really had limited potential to grow much bigger antlers and the buck I passed on earlier in the morning should be a really nice buck next year.

Examining him as I skinned and quartered him I could see where I had hit him 3 times for sure. The one that was low on the front leg wasnít fatal but both of the other shots were. Then when I boned him out I found another hole in the front shoulder blade that I think might have been the 4th shot. I may have hit him each time, he just didnít think it was time to go down.
I was lazy and took him to get butchered again and ended up with 59.3lbs of boneless meat off of him. If you do that math that would mean that he weighed somewhere around 180lbs on the hoof, so he was a decent sized deer for around here from a body size perspective, just not from an antler perspective.

So my hunting season is over it looks like. Not sure Iíll get a chance to do any trapping or anything else. I could shoot a doe, but Iím going to let my friend Ben hunt on my place if he wants and let him shoot whatever he wants, doe, big buck, little buck, whatever.

That's it for now. Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Dec-14-11, 
07:04 AM (MST)
27. "Another deer off my property here in Texas"

My friend Ben has now helped me out on the last two New Mexico elk hunts and still hasn't drawn a tag. I offered to let him hunt my place here in Texas last year but it didn't work out, so I offered again and he took me up on it this time.

He was only able to hunt one day so he wasn't going to be very picky, but he was able to knock down a decent buck right at the end of shooting light.

Not a monster, but it was his first deer ever so he's pretty excited about it. He shot his first pig on my place last year so this was a nice step up for him. He's been researching Colorado OTC tags for elk pretty heavy this year and I think he's going to go that route next year and depending on how the draws work out for me I may be doing that as well.

Thought I had a pheasant hunt lined up last week, but didn't get it done. Still might try to throw some traps out over the holidays and see if I can catch a coyote or something. My wife said I can't go pig hunting because there is no more room in the freezer.

If I don't get any trapping in I'll try to make one last post to kind of wrap everything up and try to fill in any holes I missed on my earlier posts.

That's it for now. Nathan

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top

npaden
(851 posts)
Click to EMail npaden Click to send private message to npaden Click to view user profile Click to check IP address of the poster
Jan-08-12, 
08:23 AM (MST)
28. "RE: Another deer off my property here in Texas"

Set a few trail cameras out here at the house and got some pictures of a pretty nice buck. These pictures were taken within 400 yards from my house, too bad there isn't a deer season in my county!

I did get out and shot a few doves last weekend during the late season they have had the last couple years in Texas.

Set a few traps today around the house too. Hopefully I'll catch something other than the two stray dogs we've been seeing around the house chasing deer the last couple weeks. I got several pictures of coyotes when I had the trail cameras out and I've seen a bobcat and both red and gray foxes around so there should be a decent chance.

Here's a scent post set that I set. Sprayed coyote urine on the post.

This ended up being everything but the kitchen sink set. I sprayed some coyote urine on the post in the background and made a dirt hole set in front of it. Stuffed a dead dove in the hole and put a dab of canine force lure in the hole too.

Last set is near a pretty good path on a canyon rim. Big pile of rocks and brush around this spot. It looks so good, but I've never caught anything here. Set this more for a cat or fox than for a coyote. Used a dove in the hole and some cat call lure. I hung some dove wings in the branches after I took this picture.

I'll keep these out a couple weeks and see if I get lucky. I'm not the best trapper but it's fun to check the traps in the morning anyway.

  Remove | Alert Edit | Reply | Reply With Quote | Top


Lock | Archive | Remove

Lobby | Topics | Previous Topic | Next Topic