I just returned from 5 days of hunting in Idaho. I couldn’t take it anymore and HAD to go back and try and poke a hole through a muley.
I left after church on Sunday and drove straight to camp. It was 12 hours on the nose. I stopped for fuel and met Carson in Pocatello to give him a couple chips from HuntingGPSmaps.com for Idaho and Wyoming. He gave me my brother Zane’s spotting scope (how lame is that? I don’t even own a spotting scope! Someone needs to thump me…. Everytime I’ve got enough saved for a good spotter, the kids need dentist work, or tires on the van, or…………).
I pulled in, set up the cot and tried to catch some Z’s before Monday morning. Monday I woke up to a light drizzle and much cooler temps. It was in the low 40’s that morn. I hiked out to my point and set up in the rain. I found a couple bunches of does and fawns but no bucks. By 9, I still hadn’t seen a buck. I decided to hike around the bowl I had been glassing to see what type of sign there was. As I poked through the top end of a small patch of Mahogany, a buck stood up in its bed below me and began feeding. Not what I was looking for so I continued on. By early afternoon, I had seen over 30 deer. I had glassed all of them in their beds and hadn’t spooked any. Finally, I’m on the opposite side of the bowl from where I had seen the small buck. I set up on my Outdoorsmans tripod and it didn’t’ take long to find his 2 buddies. They got up and fed across a big sage flat to a rim of Mahogany. I recognized 2 of the bucks from earlier trips: a 24” 3pt. and a 22” 165 type 4x4 – the same buck that had a yellow jacket fly up his nose on my earlier hunt. I stayed on my point til dark and didn’t find any other bucks.
Jake rolled in about 11:30 that night. He was positive we were gonna find one of the better bucks we had seen during the august hunt. He’d hunted the country HARD the past 2 years and spent lots of quality time out there in previous years. I was still super optimistic we’d turn up a mature deer. We hiked to our glassing knob that morning and found a grand total of 7 does and fawns. Jake saw 68 deer from that spot 2 weeks earlier. Sheesh!
By late morning, we decided to go look at another spot. He was only going to be able to hunt with me until wed night and wanted to show me another spot if I needed it on Thurs, Fri or Sat. We turned up 7 bucks that eve with a pretty good 4x4 that was only 20 inches wide, but had great height. He looked like a younger buck so we kept hunting. Same song and dance for Wednesday.
I had decided to hunt our big bowl Thursday morning and if I hadn’t turned up any bucks I would pull out and head south. I also have the Nov. rifle elk tag in that unit and wanted to see some of that country before I came back for that hunt. There would be deer in that part of my unit as well and maybe a change of scenery was in order.
Low and behold, that morning there were 3 bucks out feeding at first light: the decent 4x from Monday, the small basket 4 and a wider 4x. This wider 4x looked like a more mature deer and 24 or 25” wide. His fronts were pretty weak, but a respectable deer. I decided I would try for him, then go look at elk and still drive home to make my daughters volleyball games on Saturday.
Sage flat where they were feeding. Bedded in the middle mahogany in the upper patch.
They fed and bedded in a great spot. I crept to 150 yards and dumped my pack and boots.
Looking back to my glassing knob from where I dumped my boots.
Sage brush I needed to be able to shoot over.
Wind was in my face and the deer were bedded with sage blocking their vision towards me. After a 30 minute crawl, I was planted on my hiney, snuggled up on the shady side of the biggest sage brush 34 yards from him. My Heli’m was in front of me with an Injexion tipped with 100 grain shuttle T’s atop my Trophy Taker rest. It only took 30 minutes for the basket 4 to change his bed and lay down at 29 yards. 30 minutes later, the wider 4x got up and walked straight away before laying down at 44 yards. He never presented even a semblance of a shot.
Buck in his bed. Look for the tines!
An hour later, the basket 4 was up again. I snuggled in tight to the sage and waited for him to go back to bed. He mulled around, fed on a mahogany and seemed unconcerned until he snapped his head to attention and tried to bore holes in me. HOW IN THE #&*! did he see me? He just seemed to sense something was about to run amuck and walked around for a minute trying to figure out what I was. I called him every name in the book and he finally turned and slowly started to trot away. The other 2 bucks were hooves in motion and actually beat him out of the mahogany patch and over the ridge…………. They didn’t even attempt to find out what was amiss. I was devastated. He’s not even that big of a buck that I’m trying to poke a hole through! How do guys like Ulmer do it every year on BIG DEER???? I consider myself a pretty savvy woodsmen and I was utterly befuddled and at a loss for words.
After 30 minutes under a shady juniper, I was ready to head out and look for elk. I laced my boots up, strapped on my pack and stood with every intention of giving up. After a few steps, I turned around and hiked to the tallest knob. I was not leaving this piece of real estate until I killed a deer! 2 miles and a couple hours later I found another buck in his bed – or so I thought. After studying him, I realized it was the same 3 bucks that had just stomped on my heart like a 2012 BYU field goal kicker against the Utes (LOL – I cheer for the Pokes but will dig at Y football every chance I get!!). I couldn’t believe it.
Buck in his bed - 2nd time today.
Some days in August I’d see 20 bucks along with 40 does in this country. This trip all I can find is the same 3 bucks? Are you kidding me? Well, it’s still game on so I formulate a strategy. About then the bucks were up and feeding. A herd of Angus came over the hill headed for water and walked right through that herd of bucks. I was camped in the shade of a juniper, sitting on my stool, outdoorsman tripod in front of me with my binos on top. Those deer spooked and started my way.
At 100 yards I was thinking how ironic it would be if I killed him while sitting on my stool. I had the video camera out of my pack and rolling. They slowed and began feeding on the bitterbrush. After 20 minutes they lined out and headed over the ridge to the west. As soon as they cleared the top, I loaded my gear, threw on my pack and gave chase. The sun was sinking fast and I knew it was now or never. I crested the ridge in time to see them quickly feed over the next little ridge 100 yards away. As soon as they were out of sight, I sprinted to the next ridge and slowed to creep over the top. This time they were 80 yards and feeding on some mahogany. They had picked up a forkie and he and the basket 4 were 200 yards away feeding to the south. The bigger bucks looked like they wanted to stay NW. After 10 minutes they slowly disappeared over the next ridge. I could see a tall patch of sage on the crest of that ridge, up from where they had crossed but in line with where they were moving. The sun had set and shooting light would quickly change from pink to dark purple. I crept toward the sage patch but stalled a time or two when I saw tines over the horizon. My hunch was correct and they were feeding to the NW. It took forever to close the last 30 yards to the sage but I couldn’t shoot until I cleared the sage. As I peeked over the top, the wider 4 was in the back and instantly pegged my movement. The sunset was perfectly at my back so I stood as I drew, locked and released………………….
I lost the arrow in flight but the solid whack was music to my ears. He spun out twice trying to get his feet under him and I knew I had hit a little forward and got the shoulder. The 2 bucks ran over the hill 75 yards away and I exhaled as a new flood of emotions poured over me. I quickly went to where he had been standing and took off my pack for a marker. I walked out to the little rim of the small canyon to try and lay eyes on him. I sat down and after 3 or 4 minutes, his buddy walked out from behind a Juniper 300 yards away. He was snorting, looking back and pacing back and forth. By now the light was really poor. He walked behind a Juniper that was the last I saw him, but I knew my buck was down. YES!
I went back to my pack, waited 15 more minutes then started on the blood trail with my headlamp. It took about 30 minutes to sort out the 200 yard blood trail. Arrow had passed through the front shoulder blade, along a rib on the opposite side and was lying 5 yards beyond where he’d been standing.
I rolled a little video, took some really bad still pics and then started peeling quarters and filling game bags.
I took everything out of my Outdoorsmans Optics Hunter pack and then put ALL 4 quarters inside. I poked the spotting scope and a couple shirts in an outside pouch and filled every pouch I could with the rest of my gear. I tied the head and cape on the top and cinched it down. Finally I tied my Heli-m on the back and was amazed that everything was on the pack but my video camera and one small bag with lunch and a few odds/ends. I then pulled out my GPS and hefted my bulging pack up and buckled in. I’m guessing I was pushing 130 lbs but didn’t get to weigh in. 1.5 miles took me right at 1 hour and I rolled into camp at 11:59 PM. Another sweet night on a cot and then I got up and headed for home. I wanted to see my wife and kiddos that night and then make my 2 oldest daughters volleyball games Saturday morning. Heck of a fun hunt. I’ve tried to add up how many bucks I saw and keep coming up with over 100 different bucks in the 12 days I hunted. Best buck I saw was a 180+ 27” 4x with a cheater. I had him at 34 yards for 3.5 hours. Next 2 best bucks I saw were 170 type 4x’s that both were in bowrange. The buck I killed was the best buck I found on my return trip. I’ve fallen in love with hunting desert deer in both Wyo and Idaho with the bow and can’t wait to match wits again next fall.