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SEAN MORGAN - HAC 11’ UTAH

 
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Forums 2011 Hunt Adventure Challenge
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bugleboy
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Oct-08-11, 
08:30 PM (MST)
"SEAN MORGAN - HAC 11’ UTAH"

THE REWARD OF RISK:
AN ARCHERS SEASON
By: Sean Morgan

What does it mean to be rewarded? Is it the pure satisfaction of taking a risk and accomplishing what you’ve worked so hard for? An archers season is full of taking risks where they might be rewarded, but more than likely not. The only uncontrollable factor in this whole equation of taking this risk is luck. Without luck you are only as good as you prepare and because of this it is the most crucial element in being successful.

Everyone in life has their passion. Something they live for, work for, love for, and sacrifice for. To define exactly what my passion is, we must consult with Mother Nature because not even I know the answer to that question. My passion is an ever evolving challenge that doesn’t only overcome physical challenges, but mental challenges as well in the great outdoors.

And so it starts…yet another season has come and it is time to get hunting! This story consists of my entire hunting season and the amazing adventure that took place from Jan.1st to Dec.31st 2011. As many of you probably already know, I participated in the Monster Muley.com 2010 Hunt Adventure Challenge last year and enjoyed sharing my story. I had a pretty good season last year with lots of chances, but in the end I was unable to harvest a deer or elk during my archery season. This year I hope to have an equally successful season if not better and document it as much as possible.

Through the months of January to mid March, I spent countless hours glassing the foothills of all my hunting areas watching the wintering animals. It was rather nice because I got to know most all the bucks and bulls in the area, figure out their habits, and keep track of all their movements over a time period where I knew very little before. By studying them I knew where they were at most any time of day, and was able to identify those select few times when I could go in safely without endangering their health. And after watching most of the animals disappear and go higher and higher up the mountain, I decided it was time to go in and search for some fresh shed antlers!

Can you spot the shed antler(s)?...

Couple antlers dropped the previous year…

Unfortunately I didn’t find many freshly dropped shed antlers, but was able to pick up a few nice antlers and enjoyed the reward for all my time spent. I also learned a lot about shed antlers in general and effect of varying winter conditions…

Just like last year, I will be posting lots of videos from all my many adventures throughout the season. I made a major upgrade in digiscoping equipment this year and I hope you enjoy the higher quality! Stay tuned!

Presenting…

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

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Every year or two I try and upgrade my archery equipment to help better my success; and this year would be no exception. Just like other kids at a young age, we picked up the ole stick and strung our own bows. Then moving up to a plastic bow with stretchy sting and suction cup arrows, I was shooting like a pro. Finally when I was big enough to pull some weight, my father bought me my very first bow, a Browning Micro Midas @ 40lbs. I shot that bow for my first archery big game season and was able to harvest my first mule deer buck. As I gained more muscle I moved up into a Reflex Super Slam @ 50lbs and was also successful in harvesting two more mule deer bucks in the following seasons. Getting older I once again outgrew that bow and purchased a Bowtech Patriot 2 last year. This bow was a major improvement from my past bows and I shot it very well.

My first archery kill in 2004 with my Browning Micro Midas…

As I stated earlier, this year was no exception and I decided to upgrade to the absolute best bow on the market, the 2011 Mathews Z7 Extreme Tactical with a 29” draw length and at 70lbs. When I was shopping for a new bow, I wanted to get something out of the ordinary in style and go all out black and neon green. I’ve always been super particular on camouflage, but I decided to go to the complete opposite and give it a try. Once I saw this bow on Mathew’s website in their new releases section, I knew I had get to my local archery shop and shoot one. I immediately called Wilde Arrow in Centerville, UT and had them put one on reserve as soon as they came in. After waiting countless days, I finally received the call that my bow was in and the very first one in fact was mine.

Now that I had the king of all bows, I had to outfit it with the highest quality accessories. Next to the bow, the second most important element is the arrows. Carbon Express is one of the best and now my arrow of choice, so I purchased two dozen Mayhem shafts and fletched them myself in custom colors and wraps. And to carry my 440 grain CX Mayhems I purchased the Mathews 2-piece quiver. To hold my arrow in place I went with the G5 Expert Pro drop away rest that had no shelf contact, which I loved. Continuing my color scheme I put a new Winners Choice String on and complimented it with Mathews custom dampening accessories. My sight of choice was the Sureloc Sportsman’s Special with 35mm housing and 0.19 pin. I also braided my own custom wrist sling and lastly decided to stabilize my bow with the Doinker Quadra-Flex 8” with Doinker Quick-Detach.

Custom braided wrist strap made from parachute cord and a piece of leather. And Mathews custom dampening accessories…

Love the Sureloc single pin sight!!!...deadly accurate…

As a side note I would like to thank Jeremiah and Cody at Wilde Arrow for their excellent service in getting me this bow and helping me fine tune it to perfection. Also big thanks to Lance Harris at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Riverdale, UT with further help. I couldn’t have made this bow better without you guys, thanks again!

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  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 Shed antler hu...  bugleboy      Oct-13-11   1 
  New optics and...  bugleboy      Oct-18-11   2 
   Leave for the ...  bugleboy      Oct-23-11   3 
    Back to Utah...  bugleboy      Oct-28-11   4 
     Teaser Alert…  bugleboy      Nov-02-11   5 
      Opening Weeken...  bugleboy      Nov-07-11   6 
       Big Buck Down....  bugleboy      Nov-13-11   7 
        Spotter Duty...  bugleboy      Nov-17-11   8 
         Finding Trace ...  bugleboy      Nov-25-11   9 
          Teaser Alert 2...  bugleboy      Nov-27-11   10 
           Untraceable Tr...  bugleboy      Dec-05-11   11 
            Trace is Down....  bugleboy      Dec-09-11   12 
             Extended Arche...  bugleboy      Dec-22-11   13 
              Year End Thank...  bugleboy      Dec-31-11   14 

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bugleboy
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Oct-13-11, 
12:13 PM (MST)
1. "Shed antler hunting continued…"

A special shed antler hunting day in the desert…

And back to my usual area after a fresh snowfall, I was lucky to find this sweet antler…

As cruel as Mother Nature can be, I found a few winter kills while hiking about from deer that couldn’t quite make it…

Me and Ally in the scrub oak…

A nice fresh shed antler!...

A good friend of mine, Gary Wilson had found shed antlers to some of the big bulls we were chasing late in the winter during our extended season, including my favorite the “BIG 5” bull…

Gary was nice enough to bring them by the house for us to check out. Here is Dad with the “BIG 5” bull and me with the “RN” bull shed antlers…

This might look a little off to some people, but it is a great combination for me. I get so hot while hiking and to prevent sweating I wear these nylon fishing shorts that dry well. The Kenetrek gaiters kept all the snow and debris from going into my shoes and protected my shins when breaking through the snow. Hiking through some of the massive snow drifts that the canyon winds would produce was difficult but most definitely do able as you see pictured below…

Ally with her prizes…

Exhausted puppy from another long mornings hike in search for shed antlers…

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bugleboy
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Oct-18-11, 
08:45 PM (MST)
2. "New optics and Digiscoping..."

I was quitting Sportsman’s Warehouse in a couple weeks, and I knew I had to make one final big purchase to use my employee discount to the fullest extent while I had it. That my friends, was for the BEST glass in the world, Swarovski Optik! My main intent for this glass was to be used on all the high country adventures I do, and must be lightweight but not sacrifice quality. I now had to make a few decisions on which types I wanted for this purpose. The debate was between the EL series or the SLC’s binos, and also over the 65mm or 80mm objective for my spotting scope. You would think these two options would be easy to make already being at the level of Swarovski, but it was quite difficult. In the end, I chose below…

Swarovski 10x42 SLC HD binoculars, Swarovski 20-60x Straight 65mm HD spotting scope, and the Swarovski DCA…

Thanks you Pelican Cases for your outstanding product!...

In my quest for digiscoping perfection, I had to make a decision of how I was going to take video/photos through my new spotting scope. I definitely wanted to keep it super light weight and not bulky so I could pack it easily with my as I hunted. There was already a pretty neat product on the market by Tines Up called the ScopeCam Adapter that I liked the idea of, but felt like there was a lot of room for improvement in their adapter and also the camera they used. With that being said, I knew I had to build my own version and make it better. To do that I spent quite a bit of time researching and talking to many sources before defining exactly what I needed to do and how to do it. Including going to the Expo and talking to the man who created the ScopeCam Adapter himself, Mr. Reggie Parsons. I also spent quite a bit of time talking with Pete Carney on technical details. And after all that, I conjured up the idea of using Swarovski’s DCA (Digital Camera Adapter) and making my own custom aluminum ring that would allow me to connect my camera to the adapter.

I was taking quite the risk of making my own custom adapter for my spotting scope and could quite possibly be wasting all my time and money if it didn’t work. There were tons of variables and I knew all my measurements had to be spot on if it was going to work correctly. I could easily just buy the decent product that is already on the market and would work alright, but I am definitely not the kind of person to always take the easy route and knew I could achieve better quality.

After spending countless hours online researching point-n-shoot cameras with all their specifications, I narrowed it down to a few options. The main feature I was looking for is that it would take video in Full HD 1920 x 1080 (@60 fps). I decided that the Sony DSC-WX9 was the perfect match that had everything I wanted and also Pete had some experience with a previous model, so I knew it was a good choice. Unfortunately it was a new camera on the market and wasn’t supposed to be released for another month. Until a couple days later, I was walking through Wal-Mart and noticed it sitting on the shelf! I bought it instantly and ran home feeling oh so lucky!

Now that I had my camera, the next step was to create an aluminum ring that would affix to the camera body. For that I enquired the help of my friend Jordan Robinson and his unique machining skills. We met up a couple times to go over measurements and calculate the all the variables, including the thread pitch that Swarovski used. It was now the day of creation, so we headed to the shop and finally put my idea into action. With careful execution and many hours on the lathe, we had created the perfect ring on our first try!

Jordan using his master machining skills…

So close! Just waiting for it to make one last turn…

Perfect thread match!...

I then went home and bonded the aluminum ring to my digital camera with some clear adhesive. After letting it dry for a day I completed my adapter with a final touch of Max-1 camouflage by CamoClad…

And the finished product!...

The SwaroAdapter…

TESTING TIME! I went out the following weekend to test my new setup in the field on some wintering elk. Make sure to check out the video to see if my creation actually worked!?...

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

Most people would assume the elk without antlers were cows, but in fact they were bulls that had already shed their antlers…

Few bulls hanging out down low in the farmers fields…

A friend of mine, Andy Kay had found these two elk sheds while glassing. They were 1,800 yards away, can you see them?...

I took a huge sigh of relief when I put it all together and got to see it working perfectly! There was a ton of risk in this whole process, and I could have easily ruined my camera or somehow miscalculated and caused the alignment to be off. But I’m proud to say it turned out better than I could have imaged. All my measurements proved correct and the camera’s lens sat perfectly in correlation to the eyepiece of the spotting scope. The perfectionist quality in me really shined on this project and couldn’t be happier!

Again, thank you Jordan for all your machining help! And also thanks to Reggie and Pete for all your technical advice.

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bugleboy
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Oct-23-11, 
03:25 PM (MST)
3. "Leave for the summer..."

Mid April found me taking a HUGE risk by leaving my home state of Utah for a new job. I’m not going to lie, leaving Utah was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. But as unfortunate as getting old is…I had to move on and try to make a better living for myself. I planned on being away for 4 months and returning to Utah just before my archery season began. So I sold my SUV and purchased a more economic car for the road I was about to travel down, a 2006 Mazda3. My first preseason office I was headed to was in Lubbock, Texas. Let the traveling begin!...

Passing through Moab, UT…

Halfway through my 15 hour drive, somewhere in the four corners area in New Mexico, I decided to take a break and shoot a couple arrows. I was sure glad to have my bow on this adventure, it was my one piece of sanity…

Being new to the area and totally out of my element, I needed a place to shoot my bow now in Lubbock, TX. I did many online searches and chatted with a few employees at Gander Mountain and they informed me of a local archery shop downtown by the name of Lubbock Indoor Archery. So I went and checked it out, it was a pretty nice shop and good people.

After finding out there wasn’t many outdoor ranges around, I found my own place to shoot in a field just outside of town. Here is a photo of the first mornings shoot before work. Darn Robin Hood’s! Although very cool and unique, it’s sure costly…

There was only one relatively close outdoor range about 30 minutes south west in Meadow, TX. It was called the South Plains Archery Club and the following weekend they were having an open shoot, so I decided to go and get some practice on a real course…

The course was mainly setup for traditional archers and close ranges. I ran through the course shooting those distances and the second run through when there wasn’t many other people, I stepped back to further distances. The wind was blowing quite strong that morning, but I felt like I shot pretty well for the circumstances.

Pig at 47 yards…

Dino at 33 yards…

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The middle of May had me relocating to the official summer office in Nashville, Tennessee. I was sure glad to leave the windy season back in Texas, but when I got to Tennessee I was shocked with amount of humidity. I got into Nashville late on a Sunday night and was excited to see the new area. Moving in that night, I had to haul all my luggage up three flights of stairs and it about killed me when I got to the top. I’m in really good shape out west, but that eastern humidity was an absolute killer.

Welcome to TN!!! I found this on one of my few hikes. Rather ironic…

Internet scouting at its finest on 105” screen! I had some free time at work so I powered up the projector from the computer and went back home! Since I couldn’t scout from the ground in person, I was limited to the lazy digital way…

And the long awaited results are in! Successful for Utah General Archery Deer! I couldn’t tell you how relieved I was to know I drew a tag this season! I also purchased an over the counter Utah General Archery Elk tag as well that I hope to fill later in the year!...

All settled into the new apartment in Nashville, I found a place to shoot my bow! Shhh…don’t tell. In all reality it was quite secluded and a safe place to shoot; other than all the ticks! I was clueless to the tick problem out there and so I went tromping through all the brush and when I came back, I was covered in tiny ticks. I’ve never had a problem with ticks in Utah, but they were absolutely terrible in Tennessee. You literally could not walk through any, and I mean “any” brush and not come out with 2-3 ticks crawling on you under your clothes. So that put a damper on the majority of my outdoor practice time.

The view from our enclosed deck and above from the target…

I can’t even begin to explain the difference in humidity level I experienced going from Utah @ 4,500 ft to Tennessee @ 600 ft above sea level. I sweated more in the 2 months while I was in TN than I have in my entire life living in UT. I thought I was in pretty good shape, but once I started exercising there my lungs and muscles were struggling. I never spent any time in the gym when I lived in Utah because I was a mountain athlete and got enough exercise from them. Not having any mountains around, I was forced to go to the gym and try to prepare myself for the mountains that were waiting for me back home. Most of my fellow employees had a very different lifestyle routine, but I was different and had a hunt to prepare for! My general daily routine would consist of waking up at 9am, gym from 9:30-11:30, relax at the pool till 12pm, and then work from 1pm-10pm Monday-Saturday.

The only even relatively close incline I had to practice on…

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While I was back east wishing I was home, my dad was in southern Utah on a scouting trip in a Limited Entry unit. He was able to locate a few bucks, but the weather was unseasonably hot and humid, so he decided to cut the trip short and came home. Here are a few photos he took…

Giant management 2-pt!...

A nice drop tine buck that we know from the previous year…

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Here is one of my customer’s whitetail deer…a big 3-pt!...It was hilarious to see their reactions back east when I would call their deer 3x3’s, 4x4’s, etc like we do where I’m from. When in all actuality this was a 9-pt to them…

Because of the ticks, I was limited to only shooting inside my apartment at 10 yards in my living room. But any practice is better than no practice…

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After a couple months in Nashville, TN our time was up and we moved back to Lubbock, TX. I was sure glad to leave the humidity behind and get back to a dry heat like I’m used to in the west. Fortunately the windy season was over and the temperature was relatively standable.

More flat ground practice at 50 yards, no mountains in TX…

My new gym in Texas, my mountains…

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Dad was hiking a lot over the summer and was lucky enough to see this monster buck bedded down! He emailed me the photos and I was even more excited to get home!...

Okay okay okay enough with work, it is now time to get home and start hunting! I had a fun summer, but it has been long overdue for me to get back into the wilderness of Utah. I planned on taking 4-5 weeks completely off to dedicate myself in harvesting my mule deer and spending time with family and friends.

Mid-April – Mid-August / 15,000 miles driven over the summer…

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bugleboy
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Oct-28-11, 
06:44 AM (MST)
4. "Back to Utah..."

UTAH !!!

Day 1
Finally after four extremely long months of being away from my mountains and my dog, I get to come home! I was so excited that I drove the entire 15 hours straight through and got home in record time. Going from continual flat ground and rolling hills to back home where the mountains are tall and steep was incredible to see again. My whole summer adventure made me realize how much I do love my home state and am very grateful for it. I spent a day recovering from the drive and visiting with family. It was nice to see all my friends again, but Ally and I had plans at 4am on Tuesday morning to be on the mountain. I planned on going to my Plan B area first, and if nothing was there I would spend the rest of my days scouting my Plan A area. I didn’t want to go into my Plan A area very first and see a monster and in the back of my mind wonder about the other area I didn’t get to see.

My first hike was to the old familiar spotting scope spot 4 days before my hunt started. This hike approx. takes 2 hours just to glass and has tons of elevation gain for the amount of distance traveled. With so much adrenaline and pure excitement running through me, I reached my destination faster than I expected and completed it in 1:45min. I was a bit disoriented during the whole hike which was probably because I couldn’t believe where I was! In all honesty, it might have been an overdose of energy from my pre-workout shot I took earlier! All summer long I had dreamt of getting back on to these mountains! This would be the first time this year I would be able to see what this area had to offer. Little did I know that my backup area was going to produce very well!

As it became light enough to see, I began glassing with the binos and scanning the entire area. At first I didn’t see anything and was getting a bit worried, so it was time for the spotting scope and really look into the areas I have seen deer in the past. And as if it was meant to be, an absolute monster mule deer came into focus. Oh my god…it’s Trace! The giant 3x4 last year is alive and has returned! And he has grown a ton since we last saw him! He is now a 190” 4x4 and 29” wide. Watching him feed up in the same area I saw him last year made me think of the very first giant buck I saw in this area a few years back, named Titan. Titan was a magnificent buck, but disappeared and was never to be seen again. Watching Trace feed, I can obviously see he is the son of Titan and continues to live his genetics to the greatest.

I felt like the luckiest guy in the world! I wasn’t able to spend near the scouting time I wanted to during the summer, but I had now found a once-in-a-lifetime deer a few days before my hunt started! I watched Trace for a few hours along with a dozen or so other bucks as they moved to their bedding areas. After putting Trace to bed for the day, I packed up all my equipment and started my hike back down. It was such a relief to know that in fact, it was going to be a good season and there was a shooter buck in my area!

Happy dog, happy owner, Thank you Utah and Trace!…

You might have noticed the Bluetooth headset in my ear. I used that thing every day on my job so I could keep working and handle calls coming in and out hands free. But it has a dual purpose, I can play music wirelessly on it! When I got back I figured I could still use it and play music while I hike, instead of using wired headphones which I hate! So far it has worked great and will never go back to headphones again. Next task I had to do was to create an up-beat, high energy playlist to keep me motivated! I scrambled through my whole library and compiled all my favorite songs. It included everything from Alternative Rock to Hip-Hop/Rap and Electronic music lasting 3 ½ hours. You will hear quite a few of these songs in my videos to come!

Tired dog, poor girl isn’t used to such extreme hikes…

The sacrifice of my time spent elsewhere for work over the summer hasn’t resulted in a bad way at all. I was so worried all summer long that I would be behind the game when I came back, but it made me feel confident seeing Trace again. The mountains are still here, the deer are still here, and they look great! Even after all the sweating and gym time I put in, it didn’t amount to anything when I hit the trail on the mountain. My butt muscles were so sore from the pack weight and my calves were strained, but it was so worth it. I knew my conditioning would get better the more time I spent on the trail.

I was able to get some decent video footage of Trace at approximately 1,600 yards away. Be sure to check it out further down!

Trace…

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That evening I headed to the mountain archery range to get some real practice in before the big day Saturday. Last year I had hit this mountain range countless times and was super confident by the time my season started. This year was quite different, I hadn’t touched this course and my mental confidence was lacking. I knew I still had the knowledge and skill of what I needed to do, but these first arrows would to tell the truth about my preparedness. As I stood up on the hill looking down at my target way below, I reverted back to all my knowledge and calmed my nerves. One of the biggest tips I could remember was to look at the target and tell myself it wasn’t that far. Concentrate and let your equipment do what it does best. I ranged my target, set my pin, anchored, released well and the first arrow was sent. It flew perfectly and hit right where I released. I then shot a few more rounds at various distances and was able to keep all my arrows in the vital area, which was great!

After I finished shooting, my confidence was at an all time high and I knew I was ready. I owe a lot of credit to my bow; it shoots like a dream every time I pick it up!

70 yards ranged, 64 yards actual distance…

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Day 2
The following day found me on the trail way early before the sun would even think about coming up. Needless to say I was angsty and couldn’t sleep very well because I wanted to get back up on the mountain. I was headed back into the area I saw Trace the day before and to hopefully get some closer video of him. About to my destination where I was going to glass from, a friendly mountain goat stood there and watched me go by as the sun rose. And as my luck seemed to continue, I was able to locate Trace in a draw below me, bedded down in the brush. I couldn’t believe I was able to see him two days in a row because all the big bucks I’ve known in this area are unpredictable and usually nocturnal. But I beat the odds and it was amazing to see him up close and personal! Every time I’ve seen this deer in the past, it has been at such a great distance and couldn’t really tell how big he actually was. But now having him at 300 yards I was able to really analyze him and see how he grew from last year.

I watched him there for a while, and as the sun rose he became anxious and started to move to thicker cover. I could tell Trace was especially weary and noticed everything that happened around him like old bucks do. Knowing he was unaware of my presence, I was able to get some amazing video as he fed about and around the hill into his bedding area. As soon as he went out of view, I slipped out of there and hiked back down feeling like a million dollars! I knew if he kept doing what he has been doing the past couple days, I had a really good chance at hunting him when my season opened that weekend.

Up where the mountain goats play…

“Trace” feeding just below me, notice the 2-pt in lower right corner…

Ever observant…

Mmm, Wild Flowers!...

Check out the video footage of Trace and others from the past couple outings below!...

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

Last photo of the day…

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Day 3
The last official scouting day is here and time is ticking! I planned on going back into the same area, but staying back and viewing the basins from a far this morning. I knew Trace should be in the same general area and my hopes were high to see him again today! Just like the mornings prior, my excitement level was through the roof and I practically ran up the mountain. With knowing there was only one shooter in the area, I knew I had to capitalize this last morning and look over as many deer as possible. As the sun light began to fill the mountain hillside, I started my glassing routine.

This consists of using my binoculars and scanning the whole entire area looking for deer that stand out. If that doesn’t produces anything, I will pull my spotting scope up and concentrate my time looking into areas where I have seen deer in the past. Lastly, if both methods don’t work I will scan again but with my spotting scope. This usually produces bedded bucks being that they are lying down and the only thing visible is their antler tips. And if I still don’t see anything, I begin this process over again and really take my time.

Opening day is tomorrow and at the last second, my luck has seemed to run out because Trace is nowhere to be found! I’m in a panic as I glassed and glassed and glassed every square inch of that mountain with no luck. I was able to locate a couple other bucks, but not the deer I was after! He seems to be pulling his usual tricks again like he did last year by disappearing into thin air. Although we didn’t name this buck for nothing, yet he continues to live up to it by becoming untraceable

Trace is gone! No, no, no I can’t find him!!!

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bugleboy
(90 posts)
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Nov-02-11, 
01:38 PM (MST)
5. "Teaser Alert…"

TEASER ALERT!!!

Stay tuned!

It’s going to get good!

A picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s all I’m going to say for now…

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bugleboy
(90 posts)
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Nov-07-11, 
09:19 AM (MST)
6. "Opening Weekend..."

Day 4
The day I’ve been waiting for so long has finally come, August 20th, 2011! The alarm went off at 2am and my hunting season has officially begun! I immediately jumped out of bed, got dressed, stretched, took my energy shot, grabbed my pack and ran out the door. I was absolutely sick to my stomach knowing Trace had disappeared, but I had a good positive attitude that if I spent my time and paid my dues, I would be rewarded. Andy was going to glass for me this morning from below to try and help me. Below is a list of everything I had to pack in that morning for my hunt over the weekend.

My two day pack included:
-Gregory Whitney 95 Pack
-Badlands Reactor Pack
-Water Bladder w/100oz.
-Food and snacks
-Trekking Poles
-Sleeping Bag
-Hammock
-Compressed Pillow
-Max-1 Rain Jacket and Pants
-Max-1 Long sleeve shirt, Pants, Hat, and Gloves
-Iphone
-Phone battery charger
-Radio
-Bow
-5 arrows
-Release
-Rangefinder
-Binoculars
-Spotting Scope
-Compact Tripod
-Digital Camera w/extra batteries and memory cards
-Digiscope Adapter
-Knife
-Saw
-Survival essentials
-Nylon webbing
-Scentless Spray, Soap, and Wipes
-Other misc. things

My super lightweight pack for two days…I wish, not…ugh 50lbs…

I drove like lightning and arrived at the trail, strapped on my pack and got to work. This was only my 4th hike of the season and definitely the heaviest pack I’ve had so far. But with extraordinary levels of energy, I hiked into my hunting area in good time and plenty to spare. And now for the worst part of the morning, it was time to take a shower and get scent free. Not a soothing warm shower, but a bone chilling cold water shower! If you haven’t showered in the wilderness on a windy ridge with cold water, I would definitely recommend not doing so. It is an experience that even now thinking about it gives me the chills.

After washing all the sweat off, I pulled my scentless clothes out of my pack and began dressing in all my hunting attire. Andy and I had been talking over txt the whole time and both were about ready. I then moved my big stinky pack off into the timber and was ready to hunt as soon as the sun came up. At first light, I saw a couple decent bucks but no sign of Trace. Andy also found a few other bucks and kept an eye open as moved around.

Possible shooter in the next couple years…

I knew I had a very short amount of time to locate bucks before they bedded down. So I continued glassing and moving around to different vantage points to see what all was out and about. As I looked over into the area where my big pack was, not expecting there to be anything there, I saw a couple bucks. As I raised my binoculars up to see what they were, I thought I found Trace! But then the buck turned his head away from me and I was mistaken. This buck was a narrow 4x5 with good tine length, but a definite shooter! I made a plan of attack and slipped around and waited above them. I figured they would be moving into the timber to bed and I hoped my big pack’s stink wouldn’t spook them. Well as my luck was still low, the bucks winded my big pack and left the country. I watched them run around the basin and they stopped a couple times to look back in confusion. I knew they weren’t spooked very bad and moved into the timber to bed.

I spent the rest of the morning glassing really hard, found a three more small bucks, but nothing interesting appeared after the 4x5 encounter. I never thought those bucks would use the patch of timber I put my big pack in, that’s why I put it there! But guess again, and now I know. My first chance at a shooter buck was blown and I headed back to camp for lunch. Andy had to call it a day because he needed to be to work at 1pm, so he hiked down and I was all on my own. Well after relaxing for a couple hours it was time to go out for the evening. Unfortunately it was slow and didn’t produce anything, like usual. I hiked back to camp and went to sleep feeling pretty uneasy about my chances tomorrow.

Unique 2x1 that was injured, but still hanging out with these other two small bucks…

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Day 5
Waking up the second day of season was really tough. I didn’t sleep very well and on top of that I was still exhausted and very sore from the hike in the day prior. But I got up and began my routine to be scentless again. Standing there shivering in the cold, I knew it would be worth all my hard work and minor pain. All I needed to do is get lucky, I can control most everything else. A lesson I have learned the hard way is that if something wasn’t hard, it wasn’t worth doing. And if something is hard, it wasn’t worth doing because the reward isn’t going to be that great. I’ve realized my trophy is much different than most hunters. It requires a whole different level of dedication that most others wouldn’t do. But enough of the mind games, time to eat some breakfast and get to hunting!

This morning I wasn’t going to have a spotter and the odds were already stacked against me. I made my way to the ridge and as I peaked over into the first basin, nothing. I kept glassing and turned up the usual variety of small bucks. I was about ready to call it a morning, then I decided to do another round of glassing and I’m sure glad I did. The third valley I peaked into had the 4x5 and a small 2-pt standing in it and feeding about! I couldn’t believe it, I had spooked this buck the day before and he is back! Not in the same exact area, but in the general surrounding area. I evaluated the situation and decided to sit back and take some video of him for a bit and see where they bed down at. Well as luck would have it, they moved off into the deep brush and I didn’t see any possible chance of making a stalk. Knowing this buck was already pretty spooked, I knew it was the best idea to not push him and slip out of there.

Definite shooter!...

This young 2-pt loved this buck, must be his older brother…

Scratching his back…

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

Now back at camp, I figured I could stick it out and hunt the evening, or pack up camp now and head out mid day. From my past experience I knew the evening hunt wouldn’t be good, so I packed up everything and started my hike down the mountain. Once I got back to my car, I was exhausted and ready for a real shower!

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Day 6
After not seeing Trace the first couple days of the season, I was a bit disappointed so I decided to change things up and check out my Plan A area. This would be the first time I’ve been into this unique area and I had high hopes that a big buck was waiting for me. I planned on only staying for one whole day and hunting the morning and evening. As I started up the trail with my 40lb pack I quickly remembered how much more difficult this hike was compared to the others. The incline was an absolute killer and the distance was even longer by about. It took me a good 30 minutes longer than I expected and I was once again exhausted by the time I hit my camp spot.

Because I was running late, I took a quick cold shower and got ready to hunt as fast as I could. The sun was already rising and I was losing time now. All suited up and ready to go, I skipped a few basins and went to the basin I’ve always seen the most deer in. As the sun rose higher I was greatly rewarded by my decision to check this basin out first because I was seeing deer immediately. 20+ bucks in fact, all in the first couple hours all feeding around. Including a definite shooter buck that was a real nice 4x5 with a cool 5” cheater off his left side. The other bucks were a couple decent 4-pts, few 3-pts, and rest smaller bucks. I had now found a total of three shooter bucks in all my areas and things were looking promising.

Couple decent bucks feeding along the way to their beds…

Yet another 4x5…

This big buck was also with a giant 2-pt bedded right out in the open sagebrush. I knew they wouldn’t stay out in the open for very long, so I made a plan of attack. I figured they would be moving to timber soon, but which timber. There was two possibilities, one was a small patch of timber around the hillside and the other was deep timber below them a ways down. I decided that I would make my way down to a small cliff in between them and the timber around the hillside. Well I was almost to my cliff when I looked downhill and noticed they were slipping out down the bottom of the draw towards the timber. I had the wind in my favor the entire stalk and knew I didn’t spook them. Although I knew they had two bedding area options, and they took the one I wasn’t able to get to. Another missed opportunity, but it’s alright because it was nice seeing a new big buck that I would most definitely shoot if the opportunity presents itself.

Last photo I took before my stalk…

The sun was now pretty high and most all the bucks had found their beds for the day. I was tempted to make a stalk on that decent 4x4 as he was in a really good spot to get close to. But then I sat there and thought about the other three bigger bucks and decided to let him live for another year or two. Hiking back to camp, I found a lonely satellite bull elk lying down in the grass in the bowl below me. I thought that was pretty cool because I rarely see elk up here. I watched him for a bit and continued on back to camp, pulled out my lunch, strung my hammock, jumped in, and kicked back.

A cool new product I picked up this year was the Goal Zero Guide 10 Rechargeable Battery Pack. This little unit allowed me to recharge my iphone no matter where I was at. It was sure a life saver because I use my phone a lot for various things while hunting. Everything from checking the current weather, viewing maps on Google Earth, and texting.

Thank you Goal Zero for making an ideal power source in the backcountry!...

That evening had me back in the same spot in search for that big 4x5 again. I sat there for a couple hours glassing and waiting, knowing he could step out at any minute. Well I grew a bit impatient and decided to check out another basin and return later. Without even using my binoculars, I thought I could see a couple deer in the meadow at the bottom of the basin. But as I looked closer, I saw they were elk! More elk? I seriously never see elk in this neck of the woods! Seeing these bulls was very tempting as they would be an easy target lying out in the open, but I opted to stay back and spend my time on that 4x5 buck. The only reason I did this was because I knew I would get my chances later in the season on some big bulls, so I wasn’t too worried about it. One of the bulls even had full velvet still on and looked great.

If only I was hunting elk…

After watching the bulls for a while, I hiked back to the area I really wanted to watch. As if I wasn’t already second guessing my decisions already, the decent 4x4 from the morning showed back up, alone, and not with his bachelor group. He fed there a couple hundred yards away, taunting me to chase him. No! I want his older brother, the 4x5! The evening was coming to an end and he was the only buck to show up. Oh well, I felt like I had a pretty successful day overall.

Another up and coming shooter buck. The tempting decent 4x4…

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Day 7
The fourth day of my season I was headed back up into my Plan A area in search of the big 4x5. I had plenty of ambition for this area that was producing well and decided to make a two day trip this time. Just like opening day, I had another 50lb pack on but this hike was much more difficult. I didn’t want a repeat of last time, so I planned accordingly and gave myself plenty of time. I knew the pack weight was going to slow me down a bit, but what I didn’t account for was equipment problems.

The first couple steps up the trail and I knew I had serious problems. My hydration bladder was leaking out of the main valve. I tried multiple things to get it to stop leaking and I was losing time so I pressed on. By the time I had got to my half way spot, it was still leaking and I was getting mad. I ended up having to completely tie the hose in a knot as tight as I could. Every time I wanted a drink, I would have to untie it with my teeth and waste more time. I struggled with it the whole way up the trail and by the time I reached camp, I was once again late.

As soon as I sat my pack down, I was concerned with how much water I had lost. I pulled my bladder out and was shocked that I had lost almost half of my water supply. This was not a good start to a two day trip, and I now had to conserve my water, which meant not exerting much energy. I made the best of what I had and used as little water as I could to shower and become scentless. I was now ready to hunt and headed over to the basin I last saw the big 4x5. I glassed all morning again, but was only able to turn up a good 4x4 with big eye guards bedded down in the timber.

This buck had some impressive eye guards…

I decided not to put a stalk on this buck because of a couple factors. For one he was facing uphill, two the wind was blowing the wrong direction, three I was low on water, and fourth he was in a mid day bed and would most likely move shortly. I’m glad I made the decision to sit back and watch what happens because within 20 minutes, he got up and moved down into the deep dark timber. Not seeing much after that, I returned back to camp and had lunch.

Love the equipment that never fails me…

All rested up, but still worrying about my water I got to my glassing spot a bit early and began glassing. I sat there for a while, but didn’t see much because it was early and the sun was still high. I decided to move around a bit to glass in different directions. I’m glad I did because there in a new place I haven’t seen any deer before was standing the big 4x5. It looks as if he had bedded in a clump of pine trees and stayed there all day. I can’t believe I didn’t see him earlier in the morning because I had looked over those trees. Either I had missed him lying there, or he had moved within the last couple hours to there.

The big 4x5…

Light was fading fast and I was forced to sit back and watch this buck feed below me. I could have rushed down there and tried for a stalk, but he was out in the wide open and I knew I had little chance at him tonight. If he would just stay in that area and be there in the morning I had a perfect stalk setup.

My favorite photo I took…

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

After running 3 batteries dead and 1 full memory card on my camera, I left the big 4x5 feeding just before it was too dark to see. I made it back to camp and realized I needed to deal with my water situation.

Like I talked about earlier, I was running very low on water from a leaking camelbak bladder. Because I had little water by the time I hit the top, it limited the amount of energy I could exert on hunting. It was quite frustrating hiking all the way back up in there and not being able to hunt like I wanted to. So I had to make a decision on what I was going to do about this water issue. I could either cut my trip short and pack out with a couple gulps of water, or take the chance at finding water up there. Well I remembered there was a glacier just over the ridge and decided to check it out before making a decision.

I usually never bring any water filtration device or chemicals with me in my pack to save weight, because I can usually carry enough water to last the whole trip. But when hunting in a remote area, the unexpected can and will happen. So I made my way over to the glacier to check it out and see if it was a possibility. The glacier was in the rocks and it looked really clean to me where the water was coming out. Being extremely thirsty and the thought of another day chasing that big 4x5 weighed heavily on my mind. I took the risk and decided to drink some of the water in the fast moving part of the stream. I knew drinking unfiltered water was dangerous anywhere, but I figured this water would be the cleanest I would find.

Glacier stream that saved my life…I mean hydration…

I filled up my water bladder and empty Gatorade bottle from the glacier runoff stream and headed back to camp. This water tasted amazing, but I knew I should limit my consumption to prevent getting any sickness. I made the trek back to camp and finished eating dinner. It was quite lonely up there when the sun went down and I wasn’t active. My mind began to wander and fear set in as it usually does and the battle began. I knew I had to distract my mind of lonely feeling and concentrate on the little things I could do right now. Those being getting ready for bed by hanging my hammock, unrolling my sleeping bag, fluffing my pillow, listening to music, and texting friends. My phone was my savior and was thankful I could zone out on it. I fell asleep rather fast being extremely exhausted, but my mind didn’t let me sleep much through the night. The bugs also didn’t help, but I covered myself pretty well and curled up in my sleeping bag.

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Day 8
The next morning I woke up with bug bites all over my right leg. I had no clue how this happened because I knew I was covered. Until it dawned on me that I had unintentionally stuck out my leg during the middle of the night while asleep to stretch. I remembered doing this, but fell back asleep and didn’t pull it back in. Oh well, I then began my morning routine again and got ready to hunt. As the morning went on and the sun grew higher, I was finally able to relocate the 4x5 already bedded down in a patch of pine trees. My original plan of attack was now ruined, because he is now in a much more difficult area. Also this time, he wasn’t alone and today he had met back up with his big 2-pt buddy and a new 3-pt. But I still planned on trying to get close and see what happens.

My first stalk on these bucks got me to within 130 yards, but I ran out of cover in front of me and had to try another route. I sat there wondering what I should do because the wind kept changing uphill to downhill and so forth. I glassed these bucks and saw they were all facing downhill, so an uphill stalk was my only option. I snuck out and around and as I got to within 45 yards of the clump of pines they were bedded in, I pulled up my binoculars. To my surprise they weren’t there, they were gone! I’m pretty sure I didn’t spook them, but where had they gone? I knew they weren’t going to stay in those beds for long, but I figured I had enough time to get in close when they decided to move. But they had once again out smarted me and I returned to the top of the ridge to glass.

Not being able to relocate the group of bucks, I called it a morning and went back to camp. I was absolutely stumped on how I blew that stalk just earlier. The wind was right; they didn’t small me, didn’t hear me, and didn’t see me. It must have been that big bucks sixth sense to move them out of harms way. It’s a game of luck, and I knew I would get my chance eventually. I’m the type of hunter who plays it safe and strikes when he has the chance. Like my motto I work by “Work Smarter, Not Harder”. So I decided to pack out there and give the area some rest. Hopefully those bucks weren’t spooked by me, but if they were I was going to give them a few days to settle down.

While I was hiking down, I decided it would be best to go back to my Plan B area in search of Trace next. This was the beauty of having two hunting areas, if one was getting too much pressure go hit the other! And I also didn’t have a real good set plan on how to shoot the 4x5 buck, so I wasn’t losing anything.

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bugleboy
(90 posts)
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Nov-13-11, 
07:13 AM (MST)
7. "Big Buck Down..."

Day 9
It was now Sunday, August 28th and it has been almost a week since I’ve been into my Plan A area where Trace and the 4x5 buck lives. I have been hunting hard since opening day, been on some great bucks, got a few chances, but now the mental exhaustion was setting in. When I woke up that morning, I literally laid there for 10 minutes contemplating whether or not I should go hunting that day. My body already was telling me don’t go and now it was up to my brain to talk myself into it. I then thought about all the days in the summer where I could only dream about going out, and I knew I couldn’t waste a valuable hunting day. Also knowing there wasn’t just one shooter buck, but two in the area I knew I had to get up. So I dragged my body out of bed, loaded up all my gear in my pack, and then hit the road. Halfway to the trail, I slammed my energy shot and was pumped.

Yet another pre-sunrise routine of getting ready to hunt was under way when I got to my hunting area. This time I was not going to leave my stinky pack in the patch of pine trees I spooked the bucks from the previous weekend. And if they decided to go to that area I would be watching and ready to attack if the opportunity presented itself. Something was in the air this morning and I knew it was going to be a good day. It probably was just the cooler temperatures coming in, but it felt right. I hit all my usual glassing spots and was able to locate the 4x5 buck again. In fact he was in a perfect area to make a stalk on and I knew I had a good chance at this buck. He was bedded in a patch of brush along with three other small 2-pt bucks. I’ve known bucks to use this bedding area as this was the same spot I took the video of Trace not 10 days prior.

I began my ascent down the back side of an adjacent ridge peaking staying out of sight of the bedded bucks. The wind wasn’t exactly in my favor as it was slightly blowing downhill. This was extremely unusual because 9/10 its blowing uphill regardless of what time it is. But I wasn’t going to let this disadvantage stop me from attempting a stalk. So every so often I would peak over the ridge slowly to keep track of the buck’s movement. As I was getting closer, I noticed a small cliff in between the bucks and myself. I knew if I got to that cliff I should be close enough for a shot, but how could I be sure? A genius idea then popped into my head to range find the distance to the cliff and then subtract the range to the deer, and I would have good estimate. That difference in between them was approximately 60 yards and that good enough for me. I sat down, put on my wool socks, and reused my scentless spray again. I was within 200 yards of these bucks and now I had to get to cliff. I slowly snuck over the top of the ridge and now the difficult part was here. The terrain was loose rock cliffs on a steep hillside, but this was where they lived.

I knew I was close enough now that even one mistake would spook these bucks and the game was over. I now went into slow motion mode and was as careful as I could be. I was moving through the cliffs, trusting every rock I stood on to not move. I made one more step and I felt the rock start to give. Watching that rock roll down the hill in terror, I prayed it stop miraculously, but nope it rolled to the bottom of the canyon making a loud ruckus. Now all the bucks stood up on high alert and were staring intently in my direction. I immediately sat down and held as still as I could and squinted my eyes. I now had to rely on my camouflage and hope the bucks wouldn’t bust. Three to four minutes later, I saw the 4x5 buck wiggle his tail and I knew I was good. He then bedded back down in his bed, but now facing towards the noise they heard. The smaller bucks then followed his example and bedded back down as well. I knew I had just cheated the inevitable and was super lucky to be able to continue my stalk.

No more mistakes. This big buck made an unusual mistake and I now had to capitalize on it. I continued my stalk but now even slower down into the ravine. Every step was risky as the larger rocks turned into loose gravel and brush. In a matter of 60 minutes, I had now got the cliff and was about to peak over to see if the bucks were still there. I then pulled up my binoculars and found the bucks bedded in the thick brush, but only could see antler tips. I knew I would have to wait until the buck stood up to have a clear shot. I ranged the distance and it was 63 yards with the downhill angle, but actual physical distance was 67 yards.

I began my stalk at the top in the rock cliffs and snuck my way down ever so slowly…

At the cliff I snuck to, waiting patiently…

Now the waiting game. Being in a position where I was now within range of a shooter buck made my nerves run wild. I had to sit there for an unknown amount of time and hope the buck would give me a shot soon before I drove myself crazy. To control my anxiety I focused on the little stuff to distract my mind until the time presented itself. How I did this was preparing my bow with an arrow knocked in front of me, taking off my binoculars and rangefinder and sitting it next to me, and finally getting into a comfortable position to shoot. The way I had to shoot was from a kneeling position but the rocks were hurting my knees. I moved all the small rocks I could and dug out small spots I could kneel in the dirt. After all my preparation in the cliff, I was now as ready as I could be.

My view from the cliff to the bucks bedded below in the green brush…

Every minute or so I would slowly peak around the cliff to see if the buck had stood up. I knew my chances were slim because I’ve watched bucks bed in this area for the entire day and not move. As the waiting game continued, I made another peak around the cliff and noticed one of the small 2-pts was now standing and looking directly at the cliff I was behind. Somehow they had made my position and I have no clue how. Now the 4x5 buck stood up wondering what the smaller buck was alarmed by. I knew this was my chance and it was now or never. I slowly leaned back around the cliff, grabbed my bow, drew back, and leaned back outside the cliff into position. The 4x5 buck was now staring directly at me noticing my movement and was quartering towards me. This wasn’t the ideal shot opportunity I was hoping for but I hadn’t gone that far to not shoot.

As my pin settled down onto his shoulder, I released the arrow. The arrow was on its way and the buck ducked down slightly but knowledge to always aim a tiny bit lower on a spooked buck proved itself. Wack! My arrow had hit exactly where I wanted it to and knocked the buck down off his feet. He then began rolling down the hillside uncontrollably and I knew he was mine! The sight of watching my arrow arc down and hit exactly where I wanted it to on this big buck was one of the greatest moments of my archery career. The other three small bucks busted out of there not having a clue what happened. It was exhilarating to send those little bucks on their way without their older brother with them.

I had just done the impossible stalk and harvested the biggest buck of my life! I jumped up and down and couldn’t control my excitement!

My view from above…

I was in the cliffs in the lower right of the image and the bucks were bedded in the middle left…

After sitting there in the cliff for a half hour or so watching my buck expire, I made my way back up the hill to my pack and shoes. This whole time I was on the phone calling everyone I knew and sharing the joy. Getting my shoes back on my feet was so nice because this rocky hillside was brutal walking up in my socks. I now had to hike back up to my big pack and get the rest of my equipment. After getting my big pack and I made my way back down trophy.

Walking up on my deer…

All tangled up…

One of the smaller bucks bed below my deer’s bed where he fell and broke my arrow…

Where he rolled down through the brush…

Lots of blood where he tumbled downhill…

I made sure my buck was down for the count and walked around to check out where he was bedded and the blood trail. Now the real work was here and I had to do it all by myself. First priority is to get some quality photos of my trophy. After untangling him I now found out how he got in that position because the hillside was so steep and I couldn’t get him to stop rolling downhill. I finally was able to get him into a decent position where I could take some nice photos. After viewing the photos, be sure to check out the video down below for some great footage of my harvest.

Ground view…

My Trophy…

Front View. 23” mainframe and 24” with cheater…

Other side view…

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

Rage broadhead absolutely devastated this deer! Massive entrance hole!...

After taking a ton of photo, I now began caping my buck out and got the head detached. The flies and ants were relentless while I was cleaning out my buck and would not leave me alone. I ended up gutting him out to make my drag easier because I had a long slope to go down to get it closer to the trail. I finished taking care of the meat and putting it in the bottom of a deep cool drainage and would be back in a couple hours with friends to help get retrieve the rest. I now had an extremely heavy pack out because not only was I packing out all my hunting equipment but now topped that with 20lbs of deer antlers and cape. My pack was now approximately 70lbs and I was having a difficult time getting down the trail. I was already pretty exhausted from the hike up, time I spent hunting, and cleaning my deer.

Best view ever when hauling out a 70lb pack!...

So my morning started at 3am, harvested my buck at 11am, and started my hike down at 3pm. I was about ¾ the way down the mountain when my friend Andy met up with me. Andy hadn’t seen this buck alive before and his reaction when he saw the antlers on my pack was priceless. Being extremely exhausted after doing all this work by myself then to see the sight of my friend coming to help me was one of the best feelings in the world. He graciously offered to carry my pack for a while and we continued down the trail. We ended up getting down to the bottom at 6pm and my friend Gary was waiting with hot food and drinks.

Finally made it out…

After getting some burritos and gatorade back into my system, it was time to hike back up the mountain. Andy’s younger brother, Kody had also came to help pack out my buck. Gary and Kody were pumped up and super anxious to get up to my deer, but I was beyond the state of exhaustion and needed a few minutes to rest. I knew I had to pull it together and at 7:30pm we all headed back up the trail as the sun was setting behind us. I was literally running on empty and was having a difficult time getting back up the trail. But I knew I only had to do this hike one more time and I could rest later. All these guys had dropped everything they were doing to come help me and I really appreciated it.

Best hunting partners I could ever have! (Left to Right) Gary Wilson, Myself, Kody Kay, and Andy Kay…

The hike up that trail was actually one of the best I’ve ever had. I had good company, relaxed mood, and great talks. By the time we made it to my deer, we were all pumped and ready to finish quartering out my deer and get off the mountain. As we were cleaning him out we found the rest of my arrow that had broken off in my deer’s chest.

Devastated this buck …

Absolutely love the Rage Broadhead and CX Mayhem arrow combination!...

We all took a quarter and began our pack down the mountain. Halfway down the trail it began to thunder and lightning began crashing around us. Then it began to rain, and not just a normal drizzle rain but a torrential downpour! The trail immediately became a stream and by the time we made it down to the bottom we were all completely soaked. It was as if mother nature was cleaning the mountain after my harvest and sent us on our way. It was now 1am when we all got home and I didn’t make it to bed until 3am. So talk about a 24 hour marathon on the mountain! The range of emotions that ran through me that day and the amount of energy I exerted completely drained me. It was the most amazing experience of my life and a great accomplishment.

I want to say Thank You to everyone who believed in me! Especially Gary Wilson and Andy Kay, I couldn’t have done it without both of your support! There were a lot of people that thought it was impossible and I could not do it. But in the end it was so nice to prove them all wrong and harvest a trophy buck. I can’t even begin to explain the amount of achievement I experienced in harvesting my buck! I can tell you one thing though, that it dramatically improved my confidence in both the backcountry and also my hunting archery skills.

Being a thankful hunting partner, I compensated both Andy and Kody. I also bought Gary a Miso Salmon dinner at the Cheesecake Factory! You deserve it guys, thanks again! You are true friends and I truly appreciate all your support and help. Over a whole 2 weeks of scouting and hunting, I was on some quality deer and glassed over 40-50 bucks. I found 3 shooter bucks and was ecstatic that I was able to harvest one of them! Again…Thank You to all my friends!

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bugleboy
(90 posts)
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Nov-17-11, 
01:19 AM (MST)
8. "Spotter Duty..."

And the story doesn’t stop there! A couple days later I still had the itch to get back up in the mountains and keep searching for deer. Even after being completely drained physically and mentally, I still wanted to be on the mountain. Most of my friends still had tags and I figured I would try and help them be successful as well. I also had a lot of time off from work to spend and I figured I would scout some new areas as well.

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CAUTION!... Don’t play with cool broadheads at any time! They will cut whatever is messing with them, even if they have already gone through a deer!

In all honesty, this was one of the dumbest mistakes I have made in a long time. As you know, I did most all of the knife work myself on my deer and made it out perfectly fine without any accidents. Then the following day being home, I was so excited to show my dad the broadhead, I accidently cut my thumb wide open. Ouch!!!...

After a trip to the doctors, 8 shots, 4 stitches, and 2 hours later I never felt more stupid…

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Day 10
The following week I made plans with a new friend, TJ Sumner to hike into an area he has been hunting and spot for him. We met over the summer while I was out of state working on the Monster Muley’s website and found out we had a lot in common. We started talking quite a bit and sharing information about the areas we hunted. I will let TJ tell the story now.

TJ Sumner writes:
“I first knew of Sean on Monster Muleys.com and really enjoyed reading his 2010 HAC on his “Quest for Titan”. His posts are really actually what got me started hunting the high country and working harder than anybody else. Well time went on and we would talked quite a bit more online and over phone until one day I was in need a hunting partner for the following weekend. All my buddies had bailed on me after opening weekend and knew Sean had just harvest his buck, so I offered and invite to him. He gladly accepted and the next thing I knew, we were on the trail hiking up into one of my new hunting areas. We made quick work of that hike as the time flew by with us talking the whole way. That morning turned out to be a great one as we got to see two perfectly identical 4x5 bucks in the basin below us along with many other deer. After watching the newly named “Twin bucks” bed down for the morning, I made a few stalks that were unfortunately unsuccessful and we hiked out at the end of the day. Overall, it was a great experience being close to trophy bucks, meeting a new hunting partner, seeing some pretty country, and most importantly we found some Monster Muleys…”

TJ going in on the first stalk of the day…

One of the “Twin” bucks. (2) Identical 4x5’s…

Same buck in another bed…

TJ going in on the bedded buck…

Myself glassing for TJ and guiding him in as he sneaks around…

Busted!...and this buck moves down into another set of trees and becomes paranoid staring uphill in his new bed…

Without me watching from a distance, we would have totally lost this buck…

TJ watching one of the Twin bucks…


Myself catching a few Zzz’s while TJ glasses…

TJ going in on the second stalk…

Uh oh, he knows something is up, busted again…

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

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Day 11
A few days later my dad wanted to go back up into the area I went with TJ, but in a different canyon nearby where he saw a good buck earlier in July. We started up the trail extra early and got to the top in good time. It was fun to hike new trails and see some great area. I’ve never been to most of areas TJ and my dad took me to but it was nice to know there is lots of area other than mine I hunt.

We hunted most of the day and dad put a stalk on a decent 4x4 buck but was unsuccessful. It was a fun day spent with my dad and we hiked out just before dark.

Dad leading the way…

Check out the buck laying his head down on the ground…

My digiscoping setup that I am capturing all this amazing video through…

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bugleboy
(90 posts)
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Nov-25-11, 
11:23 PM (MST)
9. "Finding Trace Again…"

Day 12
The next couple weeks I spent searching for new areas and glassing for new deer. Over the summer I had compiled a list of areas where I wanted to check out if I had the time to do so. Most of these areas were surrounding places that looked similar that would most likely be just as good. One of the areas I hiked into was a little spooky because up in the boulders I found a couple somewhat fresh mountain lion kills.

Nothing but bones…

I had the assistance of my trusty lab to help me scout new terrain. Without her I wouldn’t have near the confidence to hike into the unknown or the endurance to press on and hike farther. We’ve spent many mornings blazing a new trail in the complete dark by ourselves hoping we turn up something good when the sun comes up.

Ally staying close and watching me look over new country! The best scouting partner there is…

Taking a nap in the shade to beat the mid-day heat…

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Day 13
I wasn’t having much success finding new bucks in the new areas I searched. It was fun to see new country and tie everything together with the surrounding mountains. One of the hikes I did was back into the area I last seen the big 4x5 buck. I hadn’t been up into this area for a week or so now and was curious to see if that big buck was still hanging out. It was really nice to just relax and hike a familiar trail without the pressure of hunting when I get to the top.

Don’t mind the Swaro about to tip over…

And exactly how big bucks get big, I wasn’t able to locate him this morning. A few of the smaller bucks I had seen earlier in the season were still in the area and in their usual routines. I made my way back to my camp site to see if anyone had been using it and I was glad to see it was vacant.

Home sweet home!...

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Day 14
Alright, I need to see some big bucks! It’s time to hike back into the area where I harvested my buck a few weeks prior and see what’s going on up there. My conditioning has been improving dramatically and the once difficult hike was getting easier now. I still know this hike is an absolute killer, but being able to wrap my mind around it and my legs able to handle the difficulty, the trail was becoming a bit easier.

I reached my spotting scope place and began glassing. To my surprise everything seemed to be normal like nothing had happened. I felt like after I shot my deer and spent so much time in that basin I had completely ruined it for a while. But I guess that’s not the case as there were deer moving around the basin as they usually do. It has been almost a month now since I’ve seen Trace and I am becoming worried by the day. I don’t have a clue where this mystery buck goes when he disappears like this. I’ve searched high and low in almost every possible direction and still no sign of him anywhere. And out of nowhere he comes into my field of view through my spotting scope! Not in an unusual place, but one of the places he usually hangs out at! How he slips into these areas and out is beyond me. But now there he is again and he has stripped off all his velvet.

Trace in another one of his famous random mid-day beds…

Be sure to check out the video below to see the footage!

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Day 15
Knowing Trace was still alive I really wanted to see him harvested and on the ground. I could only think of one other person that has put in time up there and is familiar with this big buck. This lucky guy is my friend Andy Kay and personally saw Trace last year when he was a giant 3x4. Andy had a muzzleloader permit and it was only a week or so away from opening. We both have history with this buck and I would be ecstatic if either of us were able to put our tag on him. But my tag was punched and it’s time for Andy’s turn!

A few days later found me and Andy hiking back up into the area to keep track of Trace and make sure we did all our homework before his hunt opened. Andy hasn’t hunted this country much, so I guided and showed him the ways I hunt it. He had mainly just been a spotter from below and glassed for me. Well now his good friend dues are going to be paid off and I’m putting him on a buck of a lifetime.

One of the up and coming shooter bucks in the next couple years…

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

We spent the day going over stalk routes and tactics from above and I felt he was ready to hunt. We glassed quite a bit but wasn’t able to locate Trace this morning, but was greeted with a bachelor group of young bucks earlier in the day. Oh well, we knew Trace was unpredictable and we would have to be really lucky to see him during the hunt. Andy’s hunt started in 8 days and the countdown was on until we got our chance at Trace!

Wish Andy luck! He is going to need it to connect with a buck of a lifetime on public land with a general tag in hand.

Absolutely tearing up the trail! And my shoes…

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bugleboy
(90 posts)
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Nov-27-11, 
07:57 PM (MST)
10. "Teaser Alert 2..."

TEASER ALERT!!!

Uh oh! Another sneak preview!

You remember what happened last time, it’s going to get even better!

Stay tuned!

A picture is worth a thousand words…

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bugleboy
(90 posts)
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Dec-05-11, 
07:20 PM (MST)
11. "Untraceable Trace..."

Day 16
Only three days left until the Utah General Muzzleloader Deer season starts and I was hiking back up into the area where I saw Trace the week prior. I had Andy all hyped up, but after not finding Trace the last trip we made up there was a bit discouraging. We knew we would have to be extremely lucky and the stars would have to align just right for Andy to be successful on his hunt. I had a big urge to make as many scouting trips into the area as possible to increase our chances. From all the time I’ve spent looking for this big buck, I was sitting at a 30-40% ratio of seeing him.

The sun broke and yet another day glassing is here. My odds just jumped up another 6% as there Trace was feeding along the hillside. Little did he know that he has a huge target on him and in a few days Andy will be on him. I sat there and watched him for a while until the sun rose too high to see.

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Day 17
Andy has yet to see Trace in person, other than video and photos I’ve taken and today was the day we were going to change that. It has been less than 24 hours since I last saw Trace and now we were hiking back up to watch him some more. Hopefully he will cooperate this morning and not be the ghost he usually is.

Andy leading the way up the trail…

Myself…


Only two days left and I was starting to feel the pressure, and I didn’t even have a tag in my pocket! With all the history I have with this deer, I really wanted Andy to harvest Trace to finish the last chapter of his story. We got to our glassing spot eager to see what the mountain had to offer us this morning. Luck seems to be on our side this morning as we are able to locate Trace feeding along the hillside with a group of 6 bucks. This was unusual because he was never around other deer for very long and almost always off on his own.

Trace with a smaller 3-pt…

One of my favorite photos! Don’t catch many big bucks with their pants down…

We watched the 5 of the bucks feed rather quickly and head to their bedding area in the brushy cliffs. Trace and the smaller buck fed around for a while wandering back and forth being unpredictable as he always is. I then split off from Andy to get closer and try to get some better video of Trace before he bedded down. Andy stayed and kept an eye on Trace while I made my stalk. Eventually the smaller buck split off and joined back up with the other bucks as Trace still wandered closer to their bedding area. We watched him for a while as he bedded a ways down lower in the cliffs below the group of bucks. Be sure to check out the video below!

Andy spotting from below…

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

Our odds are now 50/50 of seeing Trace and getting better by the day. Andy has now seen Trace this year and now got a little bit more familiar with his routine and how we are going kill this majestic buck. With only two days left until Andy’s season starts, things couldn’t be looking better!

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bugleboy
(90 posts)
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Dec-09-11, 
10:39 PM (MST)
12. "Trace is Down..."

Day 18
The day Andy Kay has been waiting for, September 28th is now here and his Utah General Muzzleloader tag is now open to be filled! Hopefully on the giant buck we know as Trace! I’ve done all the scouting and now it’s time for Andy to seal the deal with a buck of a lifetime. I will let Andy tell the story for now!

Our morning started at 1:30am, on the road by 2am…

Andy Kay writes:
"Sean and I have been great friends since middle school. Over the years we have shared some amazing experiences in the outdoors together. Whether it is in the water after waterfowl or on the high mountain slopes glassing mule deer, we both have a drive to be out living life to the fullest and sharing our passion for the outdoors together as hunting buddies. Last year in 2010 Sean asked if I would join him on a hike up the mountain to help pack a mineral rock to a spot where he had seen lots of deer. This was the first time I had seen this part of the mountain and that day we enjoyed seeing lots of good potential bucks. From then on we spent a lot of time hiking the hill together to glass in hopes of seeing Trace and getting one step closer to figuring out his patterns. Sean had an archery tag in hand and I was his spotter but we just couldn’t find Trace when the hunt started. We had hopes that Trace had lived to see another year.

Well 2011 rolled around and I decided to get a muzzleloader tag. Once again after getting the news that Sean had spotted a nice buck I was pumped and excited to help him try and connect on this once in a lifetime buck. Once again I found myself spotting for Sean on the opening day of archery season. I glassed and glassed and glassed and Trace could not be found again. This buck is illusive!!! Well Sean never connected on Trace but shot a very nice buck and a true trophy that he deserved and the morning I got the call that he had done it, I was pumped! Well a few weeks went by and one morning at about 7:30am I got a call from Sean. He said hey guess where I’m at? I said you’re watching Trace aren’t you? He said yeah buddy I’m watching him right now. Wow with the muzzleloader hunt fast approaching and Sean already tagged out, Sean told me man this is your year you need to shoot this deer, he’s a monster. So I started getting excited. I shot my new CVA Accura a lot and got to where I felt very comfortable at 100 yards, and every other shot or so I was surprising myself at 200 yds. Well the Monday before the hunt we both hiked up the mountain to see if we could watch the deer one last time before my hunt started on Wednesday. It got light out that morning and sure enough Trace was there! I remember telling Sean he just has to be there in two days and we have got this. The excitement was trying to surface but I had to just keep reminding myself to stay focused.

Wednesday morning came very fast. Sean dropped me off with my gun and my 52lbs. pack at the trailhead that morning at 2:45am. The last thing he said to me before he drove away was “the next time I see you we will have this monster buck down!” He told me I could do it and drove off. The mountain was quiet that morning and as I hiked up the hill. All I could hear was the breeze through the trees and the crickets serenading in the cool mountain air. I was pumped and ready for the hunt. With the excitement and anticipation I surprised myself and made the challenging hike in less time than I thought. This allowed me plenty of time to strip my stinky clothes off, get scent free, and take a breather when I got to the top before it got light. Once it got light I sat at the top to start glassing in hopes that either Sean or I could spot Trace before he made it to his bed after feeding. I immediately found a group of deer as soon as I started glassing and every now and then as this buck would turn and walk I could tell I was watching a monster. But at 1000 yards or so with 10x42 binoculars, I wanted to have confirmation from Sean to say yes it’s him.

Well after waiting and waiting the group of deer finally fed out into the open where Sean could finally see them in his spotting scope. Sean said yes I see Trace, shoot that buck! I tried to stay calm and from that point on I waited and tried to think of a plan. After Sean and I discussed it through text message, Sean and I decided the best idea was to bed him down and not try to ambush him on his way to his bed. Trace finally bedded and even better he bedded down away
from all the other small bucks he had spent the morning with. Sean found a small cliff that was about 80 yards above the deer and told me that I needed to get to the cliff in order to get my shot. Well I started to sneak down the hill. It was so steep and extremely difficult to get down the hill and remain quiet at the same time. Luckily the wind was in my favor and he had no idea I was there. I rounded the corner and took my shoes off. Now with the cliff in view, Sean said I was well within shooting distance now. The last 50 yards of the stalk was the slowest, from there to the cliff I watched every step I took. Finally I got to the cliff. Sean said he’s right below you now and you just need to wait for him to stand and give you a shot. I perched myself right up on the cliff and began to scan with my binoculars. I looked and looked but could not see Trace at all because it was too thick. Finally I caught a glimpse of his antlers shimmering in the sun. I could see the back fork of his rack through the brush. From that point on my eyes were glued on him. After what seemed like forever his rack started to move a little. Sean said he is going to move any minute. With the sun hitting his bed he would be getting up to switch spots and bed in a cooler spot. Well finally all at once he stood. I remember the rangefinder reading 86 yds. The second he stood he was broad side so I settled down on him and the gun went off! Smoke filled the air and I heard a smack and he bolted like a flash of light. He ran about 70 yards and laid back down so I knew I had connected. Well I reloaded and aimed back down on him again after ranging him at 104 yds. As I aimed down my ramrod slid out of the gun and dropped off the cliff I was sitting on. Oh No! Wow. I needed my ramrod so I hurried down the cliff and retrieved it. After some quick follow up shots the deer was down.

Wow what a monster buck and an awesome experience! I was floored! Sean has never hiked so fast in his life. I am so glad Sean was able to share this experience with me and I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to take this magnificent animal and share the experience with such a good friend. This deer is Sean’s deer too! I wouldn’t have connected on him without a spotter to watch and guide me from below. We both worked hard and I will never forget how awesome it was. I learned a lot from this hunt and gained a lot of respect for those mountains and the majestic high mountain mule deer that call them home. Sean’s dad Kenny hiked up to us after hearing of our success. Wow what an experience! I’m grateful that Sean and Kenny were there to help me in this adventure of a lifetime."

Here is the conversation of texts we had over the hunt from 8:45am-1pm. (Andy in grey, and myself in green texts)…

Trace’s mid day bed where Andy shot him…

Short blood trail…

Ally being a good guide dog laying in the shade…

Me and Ally…


Andy overlooking Trace lying dead in the background…

Trace is down!...

Perfect photo…

Front view…

Close up side view…

Andy with his pack all loaded up with the days hunting gear, muzzleloader, cape, and antlers…

Great view to follow down the mountain…

Thanks Dad for coming up and helping us get our heavy packs down part of the way!…

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

The tale of this buck will live with us forever and is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Trace was a true old warrior and a smart mature buck. He was definitely the smartest buck Andy and I hunted and went down fighting. The coolest part about this whole story was the history we both had with Trace as we knew him from the previous season and spent so much time getting to know him. The great name of this buck came from the amount of points he had on one side in 2010, 3 = Tres. This buck also would disappear without a trace, thus earning his name as “Trace”. Trace was officially scored and measures in at 173 0/8” net, 178 5/8” gross, and 28 5/8” wide being hard horned.

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bugleboy
(90 posts)
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Dec-22-11, 
04:02 PM (MST)
13. "Extended Archery Hunts..."

Day 19-35
The following weeks, until the end of November I spent scouting for deer as if I still had a deer tag in my pocket. It was rather leisurely to not have the high pressure to fill a tag and just relax and do what I love. Plenty of my friends still had archery deer tags and I thought I would help them out as much as I could. I had an archery elk tag, but knew it would take some time before the elk moved down into their winter range. I didn’t even begin hunting elk until the last couple weeks of the season. This post will be the culmination of photos and videos from the last 17 times I made it out from Oct.1-Dec.15.

Ally keeping warm…

Decent 4x4 bedded down in the scrub oak…

Same buck later in the week…

At the end of each day I would come back to my laptop and transfer all the video I took from the day’s adventures. One of these nights was unique because when I reviewed the footage I took, I was absolutely amazed with what I had captured. Little did I know that the video I was taking was of a decent 4x4, but it had an arrow in his neck! When I saw this I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had no clue when we saw the buck earlier in the morning as he acted perfectly fine.

I immediately called all my friends to show them and see if they knew anything about it. It wasn’t until a couple days later that I found out this buck was harvested after I took the video by another hunter. It was quite unique to get this video and then to find out that this deer was put to rest shortly after. I’m sure glad to know it ended in a good way.

Big 4x4 guarding his doe…

Great buck I got to see the very last day of the deer season…

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

Over the last few weeks of the extended archery deer season I got to hunt with quite a few good friends and also got to see a whole bunch of new country. Even though I didn’t have a tag, I took full advantage of the time I had and spent it learning new area. Next year I will be even more ready if I still have a tag come the late extended season.

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Time to stop messing around with deer and get back to business hunting elk. I knew I had a big challenge ahead of me because this year we we’re having a shortage of snow. This is a major factor because if we don’t have good amounts of snow in the high country the elk will not migrate down to where it is easier to hunt them. Instead all the elk this season were all still way up high and extremely difficult to get close to. There was waist deep snow on the shady sides of the mountain but completely bare on the sunny side. This would allow the elk to stay up high because they had everything they needed up there. This was very bad for us, but you can’t control the condition. You can only take them as they come. During the summer I was used to 2+ hour hikes to get to the hunting area, but not late in the season like this with heavy clothing. Hiking in this late winter conditions was difficult, but definitely something worth doing when I was on elk at last.

Hiking up the trail…

The “Banana Bull”…

Banana tipped down front tines…

Great combination! Yak Trax and Kenetrek Gaiters…

Bryan going in on a stalk…

Decent 6x6 bull…

Good 6x6 bull I blew a stalk on…

Rub…

Unique 6x6 bull bedded down in a safe place…

Watch the video!... (click the image below)

I hunted hard until the end of the season and was able to make a couple plays on some bulls. But as the sun set on the last day of my hunt, I wasn’t able to fill my elk tag. This hunt was very hard and I’m proud I found some good bulls to chase in some new places even in less than ideal conditions. I hope you enjoy the video and photos I took during the last weeks of my hunt.

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bugleboy
(90 posts)
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Dec-31-11, 
09:48 AM (MST)
14. "Year End Thank You..."

The year is now coming to an end and this will be my final post. Looking back on the year I had brings back lots of great memories and I’m so very glad I documented them well with photos and video!

Over the years I’ve never had a great big game photo to share on the Braggin’ Board at Sportsman’s Warehouse. Until this year when I harvested my great buck and then later guided my best friend to kill the big buck I couldn’t find during my archery hunt. It is probably a once in a lifetime event that both me and him will connect with such big bucks on the same year. It seems like every it gets harder and harder to hunt with friends and I’m grateful we got to share that experience together while we were both still young.

Mine and Andy’s photos on the braggin’ board at Sportsman’s Warehouse…

My euro mount…

Myself and Andy with our 2011 bucks…

During the last few months of the year I found a couple random shed antlers while out hunting. Most I glassed up across the canyon out of pure luck and after I was done hunting I picked them up.

Elk shed at 8,000 ft…

All loaded up, ready to sled down…

Moose shed I found while glassing as well…

It’s bittersweet writing this last post because I’ve had a lot of fun sharing my story. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from all my friends and quite a bit from people I’ve never met before. I didn’t quite finish my final video in time, but for all of those interested you can check out my YouTube page here in a couple days. It’s a short compilation of all my videos over the season and a bit of extra new video at the end. And to everyone who has helped and supported me over the season I Thank You! And for everyone who read my story and watched my videos, Thank You! My season never ends as it will start again on Jan.1 with scouting, scouting, and more scouting. Setting up trail cameras, glassing what bucks and bulls are still roaming, and later pick up some shed antlers.

Until next fall, I’m signing out for now and I hope you all have a great new year!

- Sean Morgan

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