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NEW MEXICO'S TOP PREDATORS OF 2012

 
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Forums 2012 Hunt Adventure Challenge
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ElkSniper
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Mar-02-12, 
00:33 AM (MST)
"NEW MEXICO'S TOP PREDATORS OF 2012 "

Another great year is underway and the Cortez family is pumped. Last year was a great year for all of us and we hope to have a repeat for this year. There was lot of great adventures last year. We plan on hitting it hard this year and getting out to enjoy the outdoors to its fullest.

My dad's NM Oryx hunt (Jan 28th, 2012) is soon to be posted.

ElkSniper

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  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 DAD STRIKES O....  ElkSniper      Mar-03-12   1 
  Back to the Tu...  ElkSniper      Apr-05-12   2 
   RE: Back to th...  ElkSniper      Apr-25-12   3 
    Our 2012 Turke...  ElkSniper      May-17-12   4 
     2012 Brown Gol...  ElkSniper      May-22-12   5 
      Tags and the S...  ElkSniper      Jul-16-12   6 
       Uncle Ray's Fi...  ElkSniper      Jul-29-12   7 
        Mom Scores on ...  ElkSniper      Aug-16-12   8 
         Last lope hunt...  ElkSniper      Aug-26-12   9 
          TAG SOUP  ElkSniper      Sep-23-12   10 
           Oct Oryx for C...  ElkSniper      Oct-27-12   11 
            Tag Soup II &...  ElkSniper      Oct-30-12   12 
             My Colorado Mu...  ElkSniper      Nov-06-12   13 
              My 2012 buck E...  ElkSniper      Nov-12-12   14 
               Shooting/Sight...  ElkSniper      Nov-13-12   15 
                Muley Scouting...  ElkSniper      Nov-15-12   16 
                 Uncle Ray's Co...  ElkSniper      Nov-18-12   17 
                  Little Bro's F...  ElkSniper      Nov-23-12   18 
                   My Late Muzzy ...  ElkSniper      Dec-07-12   19 
                    Farewell 2012  ElkSniper      Jan-13-13   20 

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ElkSniper
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Mar-03-12, 
11:31 AM (MST)
1. "DAD STRIKES O.I.L"

Over the last three years, my dad has witnessed most of our family harvest their oryx. Now it was his turn. These once in a lifetime tags don’t come easy and my dad is a great example of that. It took a whole twenty two years for him to draw his O.I.L oryx tag. My dad has hunted all of his life and has harvested many animals throughout the years. This hunt was going to be the most important hunt in his life.
Once my dad drew his tag he immediately knew which rifle he was going to use. He was going to use his trusty 300 Weatherby Mag Mark V, also known as “Excalibur”. My dad must have spent countless hours reloading and put over a hundred rounds through that rifle prior to his hunt. Those oryx were in for a ride.

Again as many of our past hunts we were accompanied by my uncle Brian and my little brother Santiago. We were in for quite a weekend chasing after those oryx. We were not able to hunt on Friday due the fact that some missions were taking place on the range. That was a big disappointment for us. It was pretty cool because we actually heard and felt a bomb go off on the range as we were waiting in line to enter. Now we had a whole day to do nothing in Alamogordo. So we bought some pistachios and waited for Saturday to come.

A sleepless night came and went. Saturday was here. We were up and out to the range in no time. Again we were in the huge line of trucks at the gate until they dismissed us to hunt. We immediately got onto oryx. We spotted a nice 34” bull alone. We decided not to shoot because he was near a closed area and heading towards it quickly. We didn’t want to wound him and have him go into the closed area.

As the morning went on we saw more and more oryx. We went on several stalks and came up short. I saw the biggest oryx I have ever seen. It was a cow that had to of been at least 40”- 42”. She definitely stood out from the rest of the oryx in that group. She never gave us a chance. We knew around midday it was going to be hard to turn up an oryx because they would bed down. It would also be hard to glass long distances because of the mirage.

It was already about 10:00 am and we were turning up fewer oryx than in the early morning. We knew that the next group we spotted, we were going to take our time on the stalk. Sure enough I spotted a nice group of 12 about 700-800 yards off one of the main roads. Half of the group was bedded, half the group was alert, and feeding. They immediately all stood up and had us pegged as soon as we drove by them.

We drove past the group and my Uncle Brian pulled over right behind some small trees for cover and let my dad and me off for the stalk. The oryx at this time were getting really nervous. They seemed to calm down as my uncle and brother drove away. We told them to drive away, park the truck out of sight, and from a long distance keep an eye on the oryx. We began a very long stalk. The oryx were still looking at us so we hunkered down. We waited by the small trees until they calmed down and took their eyes off of us.

Half the group of oryx were bedded down again and the other half were feeding, while they kept and eye out for danger. My dad and I went on a “skull drag” after the group due to we had very little vegetation for cover. A skull drag is exactly what it sounds like. It is a military term that Snipers use to close distance more stealthy. We noticed a couple bushes that were a litter bigger than the rest of the available vegetation. We decided to skull drag to that location because those bushes might be close enough for a shot and it was the most cover to hide behind while we made our stalk.

The skull drag took 30 minutes and a long 200 yards for us to reach the little bushes. Right at the bushes we completely ran out of vegetation. We tried to get a range on the group but it would not work because of the mirage. Just right of the bushes there was a little dirt mound ideal for a prone shot. My dad got onto the dirt mound and got into the prone position. All of a sudden we heard some booms sounding off in the far distance to the southwest of us and the whole group got up and was looking toward that direction. Those booms were not from rifles. They must have been having another mission in another part of the missile range. The group slowly calmed down as we were still trying to get a range on them.

We watched that group while we were on the little dirt mound for about another 30 minutes. Every time a truck would pass, they would get up and then bed back down. My dad finally got a range on one of the nicer oryx in the group. It was 474 yards. One quick check to verify the range and again 474 yards came up. My dad told me he had to hold 23 inches high from where the heart is located. He has to hold roughly a foot over the back. I told my dad to look at the mirage to dope the wind. The mirage was going from left to right. Now he has to hold 23 inches high and 6 inches left. He tells me he is going to try a shot. The whole world slowed down at that moment. My dad squeezed the trigger and the shot went off. The next thing you here is a “Whack”. The 180 grain Barnes TSX found its mark.

The oryx fell and then got back up right away. We knew the oryx was hit really well. The rest of the group ran and stopped about 300 yards away from us. They looked back at the oryx that was hit. The oryx my dad hit was wobbling in circles and then finally went down. We walked up and to our surprise it was another cow. No one in the whole family has yet to kill a bull. We thought it was a bull based on body size, horn mass, and posture compared to the other oryx in the group. Oh well an oryx is an oryx and this one was a nice one at that. It was a nice heavy horned 36” cow that was not broken.

My dad had made an incredible shot on that oryx. The best I have ever seen to this day. I’ve seen a few great and lucky shots in my life but this one takes the cake because it was all skill. It goes to show you that if you practice enough and know your rifle you can make shots like this one without a compensating scope.

It was really sad leaving the range that day. The hunt was over. Who knows when the next time we will be on range hunting these wonderful creatures. It looks like broken horn and off-range hunts form here on out for most of the family.

Special thanks goes out to my Uncle Brian for coming along with us and being the getaway driver for the weekend.

My dad and his once in a lifetime trophy

My dad and me

The whole crew

This hunt was a great way to kick off the 2012 season. Now the sheds and the turkeys are next.

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ElkSniper
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Apr-05-12, 
10:43 AM (MST)
2. "Back to the Turkeys/Sheds"

Out of the whole year the one animal that we spend the most time hunting is the wild merriams turkey. Last year I did not post much about turkey season simply because I kept forgetting the camera. Not this year!

This weekend is the spring youth turkey season in NM (April 7-8) and we plan on getting out and hopefully harvest a bird or two. As always I will be on the lookout for sheds. Opening day is April 15 for everyone.

Few pics of patterning the shotguns.

Little bro with T/C Encore 12 gauge

Some of the targets to show the pattern at 30 yards.

I will be using a Remington 11/87 12 gauge truglo red dot scope.
My dad will be using a Browning BPS 12 gauge.

Can't wait to get started!

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ElkSniper
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Apr-25-12, 
02:51 PM (MST)
3. "RE: Back to the Turkeys/Sheds"

A little earlier in the season I went shed hunting with a buddy of mine and had a good day. Did not find many Sheds but it was fun. This spot was hit pretty hard this year before we got there.


ATL


We are having a great Turkey season so far. I will do a big post when the season is over. (May 10th) The shed hunting success has been pretty slow.

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ElkSniper
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May-17-12, 
11:46 AM (MST)
4. "Our 2012 Turkey season"

April 7th
Today was the first day of youth weekend and the kickoff to our 2012 turkey season. We were pumped. We covered a good amount of country and came up short for the turkeys. Found some turkey tracks and a few sheds but that was about it.

April 8th

Saturday came and went quick with a very quiet morning and a few old sheds. Sunday we were going to try a spot where we had not hunted in a while and was known to be productive in the past.

As it started to break daylight we instantly heard a gobble way off in the distance. We decided to go after that bird and got messed up by some other hunters. Oh well. That’s what you can expect for hunting public land.

The morning went on and we got into some other turkeys and this time there were more than 1. We knew they were jakes because of their gobbles. The jakes answered every call and were coming in quick. They all came in together running and gave us a cool little show gobbling their heads off. My little bro was off to the left of me sitting under a big ponderosa pine tree. I was prone off to the side of another big ponderosa pine tree.

My little bro took his shot under 20 yards at the half strut jake. The group split up and all shock gobbled as I shot my jake. My little bro was pumped and harvested his first turkey on the Easter Sunday of youth weekend.

April 15th

Normally you would think of turkey hunting in warm weather. Not today. We were out in about at the crack of dawn and man was it cold. We had gotten a little dusting of snow the night before and the winds just made it worse. The type of weather that would make most turkey hunters stay in bed. We gave it a good try that morning and didn’t get a peep out of those birds.

It got a little warmer but still no turkey action.

April 21st

We decided to try hunting these birds in the higher country and that was a very good idea. Due to the little amount of snow we had this winter we were able to access some very good spots that we have not been able to hit in the past.

Right off the bat we heard a turkey gobbling off the roost. We decided to set up in this little opening where we have known to get into turkeys in the past. We set up the decoys and here come the group of turkeys.

We had a full strut gobbler and a hen decoy set up about 20-25 yards out in front of us while we stashed in the bush. A group of 4 jakes came in with a few hens. They came in and gave us a little show with the strutting gobbler trailing behind. As soon as the gobbler saw our full strut decoy he separated form his hens and went 30 yards directly behind us and started strutting and gobbling never giving my little bro a shot.

The gobbler finally lost interest and left his hens and walked away gobbling his head off. The rest of the group stuck around the 2 decoys and then slowly walked off in the distance. We covered a few more miles and got onto another gobbler. We closed the distance between us to set up for a shot.

We checked to see where the gobbler was and he gobbled right away. We were in an opening within about 200 yards of him. We were deciding where to set up when we heard the distinct sound of wings scraping on the ground. My dad says he could see him and not to move. I told my little brother to get is shotgun ready for a shot but he did not hear me. It was too late, the gobbler was close and was about to bust us. I raised my shotgun up and shot.

The shot was within 10 yards. Too close for what we’re use to. We were telling my little bro to be more ready when we heard another gobble not too far away. This time we set up right where we were and started calling. He came in right away full strut and gave my brother a perfect 20 yard shot. Another double for me and my bro. We took some field pics and went back to the truck.




Cool little turkey sling I made.


When we were at the truck field dressing the 2 gobblers we heard another gobble off in the distance. My dad grabbed his shotgun and told us he would be right back. I watched him from a distance set up and start calling. The gobbler was coming in hot. I could see the gobbler in front of my dad and he was coming in on a string. The turkey got to within 20 yards when my dad took his shot. We had just done a triple play.
My dad’s bird

Triple Play pic

The spurs on my dad’s bird.


April 29th

Today we came out just for the morning hunt. We went to a spot where we have not been in a while and has known to hold a few birds. The birds in this spot get pressured by hunters a lot so they are really smart. It was very quiet at the crack of dawn. We finally heard one gobbling around 7:00 am. It wasn’t long before we heard some other hunters calling back with the box call. We stayed there a good 2-3 hours trying to work this bird until he shut up around 10:00am. That was the only time we got out that weekend and man was it a good sound to hear those gobbles echo through those deep canyons.

.

May 6th

Today was the last day we were able to get out for the 2012 turkey season. My dad was the only shooter on this day. We headed back to the same spot as last weekend to try to get into a lone gobbler. It was a very quiet evening. A very nice day but the turkeys were not active.


Another turkey season has come and gone again and this year we were very successful. These mild winters have done wonders for the turkey population here in NM. We have had lots of fun getting out and chasing these wonderful spring gobblers. There’s nothing else like it.


Sheds to be posted soon.

ElkSniper


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ElkSniper
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May-22-12, 
11:43 AM (MST)
5. "2012 Brown Gold (sheds)"

This shed season we did not do as well as past seasons. For some reason it was a hard year to turn up a shed. We still managed but the numbers were way down. My guess is that these bulls were very scattered and/or other shed hunters beat us there. We hardly ever find anything big due to the elk in this unit dont reach that age.Anyway here are a few pics from this seasons shed hunting success.

Old deer set ATL

First fresh elk shed ATL

Old fence line shed ATL

Old 5pt elk set ATL

Very nice 5pt Single ATL

Cool fresh ATL 4pt

When I spotted these sheds I thought that it was a little set but when I went to pick them up I noticed that they were not a set because they were both the same side.

What I saw when I spotted them

A pic of the bases to show how fresh they were.

It was a slow shed year for us but I was still fun getting out looking for them. We were turkey hunting and shed hunting at the same time. Killing 2 birds with one stone. By far best time of year to get out.


The draw Results are up and we did pretty alright. Find out what we drew in the next post to come.

ElkSniper

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ElkSniper
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Jul-16-12, 
10:14 AM (MST)
6. "Tags and the Start of Antelope season"

Alright guys here are the tags we have this year. This is going to be a busy year.

July 28th Uncle Ray MI buck Antelope, NM

Aug 11th Mom Muzzy buck Antelope, NM

Sept 16th-22th Dad Bow ES Elk, NM

Oct 5,6,7 Our Friend's Oil Oryx, NM

Oct 13th-17th Little Bro rifle elk, NM

Oct 20th-27th Mom mule deer rifle, NM

Nov 3rd-11th Myself rifle Mule deer, CO

Nov 21st-25th Little bro Mule deer, NM

Nov 24th-28th Uncle Ray MI Cow elk, NM

Dec 1st-5th Myself Muzzy ES Elk, NM

Dec 1st-5th Uncle Brian Muzzy ES Elk, NM


The second big game hunt this year is less than 2 weeks away. (first being my dad's oryx) My Uncle Ray is up to take his shot at his first antelope hunt ever. This is a MI hunt which allows him to hunt antelope before anyone else. The ranch that will be hunting has no shortage of antelope and last year we saw a very nice buck while doe antelope hunting. Hopefully he is still alive and my uncle will have a chance at a huge buck.

Here are some pics of this buck from last year. You may remember this buck from my last year HAC.


If he is still alive we have a pretty good idea where this buck is.

Looks like we will have quite a year cut out for us and I will try my best to post each and every hunt as well as all the scouting trips and prep. As always I will try to post tons of pics.

Till next time

ElkSniper

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ElkSniper
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Jul-29-12, 
11:32 AM (MST)
7. "Uncle Ray's First Antelope"

This year uncle Ray drew an MI antelope tag in NM. This meant that we were going to be hunting antelope in July. The earliest by far we have ever hunted antelope. Uncle Ray has never harvested an antelope before and we wanted to make his first one memorable.

We left the day before opening day to check the rifle one last time and to scout some good bucks out. We saw a few good shooters and one really nice shooter.

Here are some pics of scouting of some of the better bucks. (sorry not the best)

We decided to go after the last pictured buck first thing in the morning because he seemed to be the biggest we saw that evening.

The next morning came quick and we started out to where we saw the big buck the evening before. We looked and looked for him but he was nowhere to be seen. Those things cover so much ground. We finally found him but he knew what was going on and didn’t stick around long. He was without doubt a wiser buck.

We decided to look for another buck that we had also seen the evening before. We found him right away and were going to try a shot if he let us. We got to within shooting range of the buck when the winds kicked up. We had about 25-30 mph crosswinds to deal with. We decide to take a shot and we told Uncle Ray to hold 6 inches to the left. He took his shot and missed to the right. We misread the winds and that buck got away.

We started looking for other antelope to go after when we spotted a group of 4 bucks. All the bucks were decent and seemed to be unaware that we were there. We got to within shooting distance when Uncle Ray tried another shot. Again the winds were not helping us and he missed again.

The winds were playing a major factor on this hunt and we needed them to stop. We were not going to give up and started looking for more antelope when all of a sudden we spotted a group of 10 bucks off to our Right. They came from out of nowhere. We glassed them and saw that there was just a monster of a buck in there. He was chasing this other little buck off. I couldn’t believe this was happening in July. It was too early for the rut. He was the biggest buck we had seen the whole trip.

The group crossed the road. We ranged him at 319 yards and told Uncle Ray to hold a full body length to the left and a little high. He took his shot. BOOM! ... WHACK! I saw the antelope buckle back and fall over through the Binos. “Wooo Hooo” we all shouted. Uncle Ray has just harvested his first antelope with an incredible shot and it’s a monster one. It don’t get any better than that.

As we walked up


Uncle Ray and his first Antelope


Uncle Ray and my dad

The whole Crew

Perfect heart shot

We never saw the buck from the last post. We think some other hunter took him.
This was just a great antelope hunt to be a part of. Having Uncle Ray taking his first antelope was a great way to start off the antelope season.

Uncle Ray’s buck taped out right at 80 ¾”

Till next time

ElkSniper

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ElkSniper
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Aug-16-12, 
10:58 AM (MST)
8. "Mom Scores on NM Muzzy Lope"

This year on our annual muzzy lope hunt my mom was going to be the one behind the muzzy. She is a teacher and has not been able to hunt this hunt for a while due to school starting the Monday after. This year school started a week later. She decided to hunt this year.

My mom has killed 2 other antelope bucks before both scoring in the low 70s. This year she wanted to hold out for something a bit bigger. Opening morning found us walking and glassing to find a nice place to set up. Right away we had a group of 8 antelope within 100 yards of us. The buck in the group was just a bit too small to shoot on the first day so we passed him up.

A few more hrs went by as we watched some really nice bucks way out in the distance. There were some really good bucks out there this year. A few I would guess scoring in the mid 80s. If only we could get a shot at one of these monster antelope. Before we could even make a stalk on any of these antelope we heard a boom. We looked over to where the shot came from and here comes a group of 10 antelope running our way. We glassed them while we waited for them to get into shooting distance. There were 2 bucks in the group. One of which was just a monster of an antelope. The other was also a nice shooter goat.

The group goes down into this dip giving us no visibility of them for about 5 min. Having no idea where they are going to pop out, we are looking everywhere. The does are first to show up so our attention is on them, waiting for the 2 bucks to appear. The bucks never show. All of a sudden my dad spots them to our right. The 2 bucks are looking right at us so we knew we didn’t have much time to shoot. We ranged them at 236 yds and told my mom to shoot high. She shot and the bullet just sailed over the big buck’s back. They immediately ran off and we went after them. We got into 240 yards when my mom took her second shot. This time we had a crosswind and she shot just in front of the monster antelope. He never gave us another chance.

As it got later in the day the winds kicked up to 20 mph. The antelope action got real slow and we decide to go back to the truck for a break to get out of the sun. We went back out for an evening hunt as the winds died down. We did not attempt any stalks that evening. The only thing we did was glass these other hunters miss this one monster buck way out in the distance. That buck had to of also been 80+. The sun set and we left the area with nothing more than bad sun burns.

The next morning we had a hard time getting out of bed. As we pulled up to the same area we spotted a nice buck. My mom and I went after him. He had no idea we were even stalking him. He was feeding and looking directly away from us. We got to within 500 yards of him when my mom tripped over some rocks and fell. He spooked and ran. After asking her if she was alright we shared some laughs.

As the second morning went on we noticed a lot more shooting than the day before. We spotted a group of 20 antelope feeding and making their way towards us. There were 3 good bucks in there. One of them was really big. They got to within 500-600 yards of us when this one decent buck and 2 does came running right beside us. We tried to get a shot that buck never stopped. The big group got spooked and ran off as well. This hunt was really getting the best of us.

Later on we decided to go back to the truck to go eat lunch. We got to the truck and began to eat our lunch while talking to one of our friends whose son also had a tag. We were talking about some of the bucks we had seen when all of a sudden my dad spots this big buck walking right at us. My mom gets the muzzleloader and tries to shoot him from the sitting position. She could not see him through the scope and the buck ran about 50 yards and gave her a broadside shot at 144 yards. She went in the prone position and takes a shot. She makes a perfect shot on him and the buck runs off about 200 yards before he falls over. The next words that come out of my mouth were “I can’t believe what just happened”. We all were speechless.

This hunt was getting the best of us and we are all just so thankful for this antelope. After we took our pics and field dressed the buck we got back to the truck. The potatoes chips were all over the ground along with some spilled drinks. Ha ha. We never did finish our lunch.

Decent buck through spotting scope

We spent countless hrs behind our binos and spotting scope each day

close up

Mom and her buck


Mom’s buck with our .45 cal T/C Omega. Shooting a 200gr sst pushed by 100gr/wt = 70gr/vol of BH209

Mom and Dad

Mom and me

The whole crew


Till Next time

ElkSniper

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ElkSniper
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Aug-26-12, 
09:37 AM (MST)
9. "Last lope hunt of the year"

Every year we go on an antelope hunt with our closest friends. This year we had 4 antelope tags. 2 buck 2 doe. I would write a story on each of the antelope that we harvested but I figured I would just do a photo story. Enjoy!

This little guy woke us up the middle of the night.

First one down. 3 to go.

The crew

Just got busted on a stalk

First doe of the day. No field pics sorry.Forgot camera in the truck.

Second buck of the day. Also no field pics sorry

Last one of the day.

This weekend every year by far is the fastest weekend out of the whole year. Its always great being there. Cant wait until next year.

Till next time

ElkSniper

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ElkSniper
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Sep-23-12, 
12:25 PM (MST)
10. "TAG SOUP"

We were not able to hravest an elk on this hunt. We made it out 4 out of 7 days that we had. We had our chances on spikes and cows but passed on them because we wanted a branch antlered bull. We really got into the elk action the day before the last day but the bulls were cowed up and did not give us a chance.

Here are some pics of the 4 days we hunted.


ElkSniper

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ElkSniper
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Oct-27-12, 
03:07 PM (MST)
11. "Oct Oryx for Chris"

(Sorry for the late post. Its been busy)

As my dad’s Oryx hunt came to an end last January I noticed that were leaving the missile range with long faces. We had no idea when we would be back to hunt the “desert lobster” on range again. When we got back to town the recruiting began. We told everyone we knew that hunted to put in for this tag and to invite us. We even told people that didn’t hunt to put in for this tag.

Our friend Chris Furr was the lucky one to draw this tag and on his first time putting in. Chris drew an O.I.L October tag for Rhodes Canyon. Chris works with my dad and they would talk about the hunt a lot prior to the trip. They went out and sighted in the 7 MM Remington Mag with 160 g.r Barnes TSX bullets. The hunt took place in the month of October. It felt weird hunting Oryx rather than elk that time of year.

The opening day briefing was scheduled at 11:00 am on Friday. As we were waiting in the long line of trucks to get into the range there was a lot of jets in the air along with the occasional booms in the distance. Based on our past experiences, once we heard those booms, this meant no hunting the rest of the day. Fortunately, at the breifing we learned that in fact we would be hunting the remainder of the day . The weather was hot and dry with temperatures reaching the low 90s. This made it extra difficult to stand and bake under the sun while at the briefing.

We got in the truck, turned on the AC full blast and began to make our way down the road to where my dad had killed his Oryx in January. On the way there we spotted a group of about 6 Oryx. In that group there were 2 good shooters. One of them had horns that flared out and was pushing the 40” mark. We pulled over and started to make a game-plan on them when this lifted white Ford pick-up pulled over right in front of us. The driver grabbed his rifle and immediately went on a stalk. This took place right after the briefing where they had just told us to hunt ethically. After a few choice “words”, we went on to look for some more. Some guys just don’t get it.

Not long after we spotted 3 Oryx in the thick creosote brush. Chris and my dad went for a stalk while Chris’ wife Kathryn and I stayed in the truck. I drove the truck up the road so we would be out of sight. The stalk was a bust and we got back in the truck to find some more. We found a high place to glass when we saw an Oryx right on the road we were just on. A truck was making its way up to the Oryx and stoppped just yards from it. The Oryx crossed the road and the truck continued to drive by it.

It looked like a good bull with 2 long horns. Why did they not shoot it? We all had a question mark in our heads. We drove to where the bull was last seen and quickly located him. He was bedded down 150 yards off the road just looking at us. I put the spotting scope on him and saw that he was wounded. He had a wound in the front of both shoulders. We decided to pass on him because we did not think the meat was good and Chris did not want to harvest his Once in a lifetime Oryx like this on the first day. We got on the phone and tried to call the hunt officials when some other hunters came by. We waved them down and asked if they wanted this Oryx. They happily put their tag on it. It was a 35” bull. It was a beautiful bull and we almost regret passing up on him. We were happy that the bull would not suffer and not go to waste.

We went on to locate some more. The mirage from the hot sun made it hard to glass in the distance. We found some more but they would not give us a break. It got dark so we headed back to the gate to check out. Day 1 was over and we were ready for day 2.
Another sleepless night went by as the morning of day 2 arrived. Again as we arrived at the gate we were accompanied by a long line of trucks. They slowly let us in one by one. We all drove down the main road until we went our separate ways. We looked for a high place to glass and we found 4 Oryx. They were a far way off so we took the road that was closest to them. My dad and Chris went for a stalk while Kathryn and I stayed and watched with the spotting scope. Of the 4 Oryx there was a nice bull. Not long into the stalk Chris and my dad got busted. The eye sight of an Oryx is incredible.

As it got later into the morning we got onto a huge dirt hill to glass. Five minutes into glassing we potted a huge bedded bull or what would have been a huge bull. He was busted about half way but he had massive bases. The body mass on this bull was incredibly huge. My dad and Chris left Kathryn and me I spot while they took another road to get a little closer for the stalk. When they drove off the bull looked right at the big dust cloud they left behind. The bull stood up and walked 200-300 yards and bedded down again. This time I noticed that he was in a closed area. He knew that he was safe there. No lie, he pretty much looked at the closed area sign as he walked into the closed area. You could tell that he had played this game before on other hunters.

That evening we had a hard time turning up any Oryx. We glassed and glassed and could not find a single one. We finally spotted some way out in the distance but they were too far out to even think about a stalk. Day 2 was now over and we were starting to wonder if it was ever going to happen. Chris made a decision that any Oryx would do now.

It was hard to get up the morning of Day 3. We were physically and mentally exhausted. We knew that this was our last day and we needed to give it our maximum effort. We arrived at the gate to a shorter line of trucks and they quickly let us through. As it started to get light we started to glass. At this point, we were all sick of glassing through our binoculars. We quickly spotted 2 good lone Oryx. They were a good way out and my dad and Chris started to make their stalk through the thick creosote brush.

Not long into the stalk I saw Chris get on his gun and fire. They were nowhere near to the 2 original Oryx we spotted. That shot was quickly followed by another. As my dad and Chris were stalking the 2 original Oryx they ran into a lone cow in the thick brush. The cow was 126 yards away from them when Chris shot. The cow dropped in her tracks. Knowing that Oryx usually get right back up when they are knocked off their feet, Chris fired once more as the Oryx picked up her head. About a half an hour went by when a black truck drove by on a road near the downed Oryx. The Oryx picked up its head again, which was quickly brought back down with a third shot. The Oryx was still alive. The chest and stomach was still rising up and down. It is amazing how strong these animals are. About another hour went by and Chris decided to just shoot another shot. The fourth shot did the trick. Chris had now just harvested his O.I.L Oryx.

The cow Oryx taped out right at 36 3/8” and 36”. This was great because we were willing to shoot any Oryx on the last day due to our limited opportunities. It was a harder hunt than usual. Out of the 5 on-range hunts we have been on (2 Stallion 3 Rhodes) this was the hardest by far. For some reason we did not see as many Oryx as we did on my dad’s hunt this past Jan. Anyway this was still a great hunt to be apart of. We were sad as we left the gate, but then again we were very relieved to be successful.

Special Thanks goes out to Chris and Kathryn for inviting my dad and me to be a part of this hunt.

I hope we get back on there soon. This stuff is way too much fun. Let the recruiting begin.

Chris and his Trophy

Chris and Kathryn

Chris, me, and my dad

The crew

One of the 3 bullet recoveries

I would of liked to posted pics of every play by play but we were not allowed to take those pics because we were limited to only success pics. Sorry. Missile range rules.


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Oct-30-12, 
08:55 AM (MST)
12. "Tag Soup II & III"

TAG SOUP II

Alright guys this post is my brothers elk tag. We were unsuccessful in getting my little bro his first elk. The bulls were very quiet due to all the pressure that they have had in the past hunts. This is the second tag we have ate this year. It was a rough hunt. We only made it out 2 1/2 days out of the 5. Anyway here are some pics of the hunt. Enjoy

Sitting on a ridge top listening for a bugle

We decided to hunt lower than next morning. Nothing but tracks.

Some bear tracks. A mom and a cub.


Back in the high country.

TAG SOUP III

Alright this next hunt took place one week later. This was my mom's deer hunt. She drew a tag in a really hard area. This was a tough hunt. We could not find a buck. We saw 48 does and not one buck. Oh well I guess thats why they call it hunting. It fun just being out there. Here are some pics of her hunt. Enjoy.


Sitting at a water hole waiting for the deer

One lone doe

And another

A tarantula

The last day of the hunt my little sister joined us.
Glassing for deer

My mom, me, and my lil sister

These last 2 tags were tough hunts. Hopefully we will be successful in the next hunts to come.

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Nov-06-12, 
11:15 PM (MST)
13. "My Colorado Muley"

Hunting this unit 3 years ago we knew what to expect. A good snow would bring those big bucks down from the high country. Without a good snow we would see a lot of does but the good bucks would be hard to come by. This year I wanted to shoot a basket buck or better. In my eyes fork horns would not be an option.

I was constantly looking at the weather forecast weeks before my hunt. There were no storms that were going to hit my unit or around my unit. This meant that we were going to be hunting a resident deer herd. The resident herd will have a lot of does but not so many bucks. Not having any snow was going to play a factor on this hunt.

We have not been in the unit for a whole 3 years so we were going in blind. We have a little spot where the deer concentrate into when they have been pressured. Our friend, Joe, who teaches Hunter Ed. with us was going to accompany us on the hunt. We got there a half an hour before light and the bright moon made it a little easer to see. From the truck I spotted deer feeding in a sagebrush flat. One of which had a big body. It had to be a buck, but I could not tell. We watched them while a parade of elk hunters drove by us. It finally got light enough to see. Joe said that there was a good buck in the group.

We tried to get close enough but the buck freaked out and took off. He left all his does. We went after him but he did not cooperate with us. Joe split up from us as my dad and I followed the buck. We were soon distracted by Joe signaling that there was a big buck over where he was.

We quickly came over and Joe said that there was a big buck with a few forks and a lot of does moving up this canyon. We got to the mouth of the canyon and waited for the deer to appear. We saw the does right away but no buck. We waited and waited but still no buck in the group of does. We looked above the does and there he was. This buck was nice 160ish framed typical 5x5. He did not follow his does and went straight up the canyon. He went up and over before I could even get a shot off.

We got back to the truck and drove up the main road until we were even with the canyon he went into. We told Joe and my little bro to take the truck and pick my dad and I up where we first started that morning. My dad and I went for a walk to try and cut off this big muley. My dad knew right where he was. I was a little surprised how accurate my dad was on locating him. We walked the rim of this canyon when I heard something walking below. This is where I made a mistake. Instead of waiting for him to appear I went down into the canyon. He immediately busted out of there and never gave me a shot.

We started making our way back to the truck. We crossed canyon after canyon busting does and forks. We found a few nice sheds but no mature bucks. There was a lot of sign including some early rut activity. There were a few places where some bucks had made rubs and scrapes. The 2 bucks that we had seen were resident deer because they had light colored antlers due to all the juniper they were rubbing on.

We were a mile from the truck when we decided to walk the rim of this nice looking canyon. Before we started hunting that morning I kept saying that I wanted to hunt this canyon due to all the deer we saw last time we hunted this area. Immediately we spotted a few does and a spike. They caught us by surprise. We made our way to the truck while still walking along the canyon. I’m not sure what made me look over my back, but when I did, I spotted the silhouette of a bedded deer. I put my binos up and saw that it was a buck. It was a 5x5 bedded 194 yards across the canyon. I got down and told my dad who was 20 yard ahead of me to get down also. We walked right past him. I can’t believe we did not see him. I’m sure he saw us but for some reason he did not budge. He was bedded with his rear to us. I did not want to shoot him there so we waited. We gave him about 20 minutes and decided to get him up from his bed, knowing that it might take a while for him to get up by himself.

We made deer grunts to see if he would get him up but he just looked at us. So we started to whistle at him. That did the trick. He got up and gave me a quartering shot. I squeezed off a shot and put him back down in his bed. One shot drop!

Early morning sunrise


shed we found


An example of the type of country that we chased that big buck into. Now I know why he got so big and why a big muley is my favorite animal to hunt. Nothing like them!

A few does we found while on pursuit of that big boy

Couple more sheds

Now this next shed I found is an example of the caliber of buck we were chasing. Not bad for a resident deer.

Okay now this next picture is one of my favorites of all time. This is a pic of my buck right before I shot him. During this pic we were waiting for him to get up so I could get a good shot. I love this pic!

My buck had a cool black mane on his back that I had never seen on a muley before

Me, Joe, and Saint

Me, My dad, Saint

The Crew

The pack out

½ mile to the truck

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Nov-12-12, 
11:47 PM (MST)
14. "My 2012 buck Euro"

Last year I wanted to show you guys how I do my euros. Now I can show you step by step on how I do them. I did my CO buck euro and took pics of what I did and why.

Step 1
Cape the deer and take off as much meat from the skull as possible. (including bottom jaw and eyes) This will make the process faster

Step 2
Wrap the antlers in foil. This will protect the antlers from scratches when you are working with it and it will keep color during the simmer.

Step 3
Get the brain out. A lot of guys struggle to get the brain out and fail to do so and leave parts of it in there. What I use is 8 “ of wire hanger with a ½” bend at the end. I put it in the drill and put the wire hanger in the brain hole and drill away. Warning you will get messy.

Step 4
Put in simmering hot water. (Not a boil because boiling will damage the bone) I use surf laundry detergent along with the simmer. I use this because it turns the meat on the skull into a gel and is easier to remove.


Step 5
Every ½ hour take head out and go to work with knife and brush to remove any meat. After a couple of hours of simmering most if the meat should be off. I use a high pressure wash to take care of all the hard to reach areas. Add some more surf to the skull in between the ½ hrs. Surf also gives it a white color to it when dried.

And that is the way I do my euros.

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Nov-13-12, 
11:07 PM (MST)
15. "Shooting/Sighting in"

We went shooting today just to make sure the guns are on and to sight in the Muzzy for my up coming elk hunt in Dec 1-5. We were also getting some muzzle velocity readings with the chronograph so we can plug it into the ballistic calculator.

There is no shooting range anywhere near we live so we have to improvise and go way out in the middle of nowhere to shoot safely.

Freshly re-loaded 30-06 Barnes TTSX. We need to sight in these new rounds to the 30-06 Browning A-Blot.

Here is a pic of the set up. The Muzzy is sighted in right at almost 2 inches high from zero at 50 yards. I will be shooting 290 grain Barnes TEZs. Pushed by 100 grains of Black Horn 209. The velocity is 1862 fps. That would put the muzzy dead-on at 140 yards.

T/C Encore 50.cal topped off with a 3x9x40 Nikon Prostaff duplex scope.


The Encore was a little off from last year so we worked it down to where it should be.

The 2 center shots were the last 2 shots.


Well, we only have 3 tags left for the year. Hopefully we can be successful on these last few tags.

My uncle’s cow hunt is this weekend and the elk are already in the winter range from the last snowfall. We didnt get as much sanow as we were hoping but its been really cold.

We were unsuccessful last year on this hunt because of many reasons (mostly because of other hunters). We know that there are a lot of hunters out there after the elk and most of them don’t hunt fair. They have no ethics. I will definitely be wearing my orange.

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Nov-15-12, 
08:29 AM (MST)
16. "Muley Scouting Trip "

Last weekend we went scouting in the unit my little bro drew this year for mule deer. He drew a tag in a really great area and I can see why this was such a hard youth tag to draw. I think the draw percentage of getting this hunt was a 1.7% chance. They only give 4 tags to youth. Here are some pics of the scouting trip.

End of a snow storm in the high country

A bull elk in the unit zoomed in from the spotting scope

A few feeding does

A bedded small buck

A very nice buck

This is the biggest buck we saw out of the whole trip. I have a hard time with score so I ranged him to be bout 165”-170”. He is a beautiful buck and I think he will be a shooter for the hunt.

These next pics are also zoomed in from the spotting scope.

We hope this buck will be in the same place. We still have a little under a week before the hunt any we hope the bucks are starting to come out of the nasty country to be with the does. Another storm before the hunt would also help. Can't Wait. We are excited!

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Nov-18-12, 
09:57 AM (MST)
17. "Uncle Ray's Cow elk Hunt"

Well,
I was hoping for more snow. The storm that you saw on the last post was the only snow we got. It moved the elk down a little bit but the temps went up during the week and the elk went back up. The elk were in small bunches but not like they are when there is a lot of snow.

We did see elk but they were way out of range. About 11:00 on sat morn we had a group of about 6 elk spotted. They were on the move and we started to cut them off. They were headed to us perfectly when this truck stopped the group and took hail mary shots. He hit nothing and messed us up. Oh well that’s public land.
Sat evening found us looking for more elk and we came up short.

Me and Uncle Ray


Uncle Ray

Uncle Ray had to get back by Sunday so we only hunted the morn. We hunted up high Sunday. It was foggy and could not see much. We only hunted 1 1/2 days but we still had fun. Only saw one elk on Sunday.

Needed a little wake up juice


Then Came more fog

Little Bro and my dad

After all the fog lifted the sun came out and melted most of the snow.

I am starting to worry for my either sex elk hunt in Dec 1-5 right across the highway. I need more snow between now and then. Snow would be the difference between being successful and tag soup. Crossing my fingers.

We leave in one day for my little bro's deer hunt. Should be a good one!

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Nov-23-12, 
09:09 AM (MST)
18. "Little Bro's First Muley"

This was the one hunt out of the whole year we were looking forward to. We had 6 months to wait for this hunt and we were getting anxious to get out there and chase those big muleys in the rut. Saint drew this tag with 1.7% draw odds.The odds were against him but we figured that they had to give the tags to someone and put him in anyway. We are glad that we did.

We scouted the unit a week and a half before the opener and found a real nice buck. He was a 165-170in buck and he was on our hit list. We saw other bucks that day, but he stood out the most. He did have some broken points on his left antler that you cant see that well in these pics.

The evening before the hunt we went for a ride to scout out some good bucks. Right away we found 2 bucks fighting. They were not big but "basket" type 3x3s. They had about 4 does between them and were fighting pretty aggressively. We went on by and found 2 more bucks. It was a 3x4 and a 4x4. The 4x4 was around the 160 mark. We asked Saint if he liked the buck and he said yes. We were not going on score as much as we were going on appearance. We were going to trophy hunt but not too much considering the lack of weather we had gotten. A lot of the big bucks had not moved into the unit yet.

A sleepless night went by and we jumped in the truck to find some good bucks. It wasn’t long before we spotted a small 3x3 that was with one doe. We passed him up and kept on going. Soon after we found the 3x4 from the night before that was with the 160 4x4. Man he looked nice! The 4x4 was nowhere to be seen. We looked around for a little bit and moved on to look for more bucks.

We decided to go into an area that looked real promising from the scouting trip. We went in about a mile or so and we immediately spotted a buck. Oddly he was alone. I could tell he was a buck because of the white face. I put my binos up and saw that he had a great spread with long tines. He was frosted over and almost looked entirely white in color. He was a shooter for sure. The big buck went behind a tree. Saint put the rifle on the sticks and waited for him to come out. As we were waiting for him to come out I saw a flash of white rump to the right of the tree. It was him! He ran into the timber without giving us a shot. I don’t know how we did not see him.

We followed him into the brush, hot on his trail, a buck appeared on the ridge above us. Not knowing it was him, the wide rack and tine length of the muley stood out and that was enough for Saint to take a shot. The buck kicked and piled up on the ridge. We noticed the buck had really light antlers. Almost a white color to them. When we put our hands on him we found out that it was frost. The buck’s back and antlers were covered with frost from the cold night before (12 degrees). The hunt we waited for so long was over. Saint had killed his first deer and it was a great first buck that will be hard to beat.

Few bucks that we passed up. On any other average unit they would be shooters.


On the way up


My new screen savers


Saint with his first muley


Saint and Me

My dad and Saint


Ready for the pack out.


Back at camp

On the way back home

Another youth hunter was successful in harvesting the other big muley with the kicker pictured above in the scouting trip. The buck turned out to be smaller than we originally thought and the broken points stood out. Still he was a great buck for anyone. It was a great hunt. I hope my little bro draws this tag again sometime soon. Or my little sister who will start hunting in a couple years. I’m afraid it’s too late for me to put in for this tag next year.

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Dec-07-12, 
07:45 AM (MST)
19. "My Late Muzzy Bull"

This year I drew a late muzzy tag on a really bad weather year. Normally we would have a good amount of snow by this time of year to push the elk down out of the high country. These elk have been hunted almost every week since September and were very spooked. They were going into the timber way before sunrise and not coming out of the thick timber until “Dark Thirty”. We knew it was going be a tough one. This was an either sex tag so any elk would be fair game.

We spent a lot of time deciding on where we should hit on the opener. We were going in blind without a scouting trip. We decided on a spot where we have hunted in the past and where we had a feeling the elk were going to be.

We slept in that morning a little bit. We awoke by the sound of my dog’s bark when our friend, Joe, arrived at our house. We quickly jumped in the truck and drove to the unit.

We arrived to the spot where we normally park. I started to load the muzzy when I heard some cow calls. I was going to shoot a cow due to the conditions so I was excited just knowing that they were in the area. The cow calls were soon followed by a bugle and then another. The temperature was unseasonably warm for December 1st. The high was going to be 67. We knew that these elk were in a near meadow and we knew exactly were we needed to cut them off for a shot as they moved back into the timber.

We headed in the direction of the bugles and cow calls. It was still dark when we left Saint and Joe behind while my dad and I went for the closing stalk. Every time a bull would bugle, we would pin-point their location. There were at least 3 or 4 different bulls in the bunch. Some sounded more mature than others. I was still going to shoot the first elk I that would give me a good shot. They were moving into the timber very early.

It was now shooting light and my dad and I were slowly making our way to the herd of elk. As it got to day break the elk started going crazy with their calling. It’s unbelievable how much these elk were talking. Maybe still rutting? While on the stalk, we would check the wind about every 40 yards. The wind was swirling in every direction. We got to within eye sight of the herd and we could see that there were many more elk than we originally thought moving through the trees. A herd had about 30-40 elk.

We slowly moved down to their position when we spotted a big cow about 50 yards below us. I was just about to drop the hammer, when I caught a glimpse of a small bull to the right and past the big cow in a small opening. I had a small shooting window and had his left shoulder in view.. I put it right on him and squeezed. The 290 grain Barnes T-EZ found its mark and he instantly dropped in his tracks. We never ranged the shot but it was around 80 yards. Elk were running everywhere. It was odd because seconds after my shot, a bull bugled close by.

We walked up to my bull and on the ridge above was a very small 6x6 looking right at me about 150 yards. Oh well, I was very happy with my bull. I am lucky I shot when I did, because soon after we spotted some other hunters walking in the meadow where the elk came from. We later talked to them and they were stalking some of the straggler cows when I shot.

My bull had that rutty smell on him. We are certain that these elk were rutting. This is the reason you occasionally see calf elk with spots in October. I have heard about elk going into a second rut and that some times it’s more intense than the normal rut. We heard more bugles that opening morning than on my dad’s archery hunt in September. Go Figure.

We needed an elk for the freezer. I’m just happy to be successful on this hunt especially with a 4x4 bull. It was an unbelievable morning.

Pics of the hunt enjoy.

Here is where he was standing where I shot him.

80 yard shot with T/C Encore. 290grain Barnes T-EZ pushed by 100gr (vol) 70gr (wt) of Black Horn 209. Zeroed at 140 yards. Man I love Muzzy Hunting!


Me and my bull. 2nd with the Muzzy

Me and Joe

Me and Saint

Me and My dad

The crew

The ivories

I was excited when I saw no exit hole. I knew we had a bullet recovery. I got a little sad when I found the bullet. It was not a traditional barnes recovery. It did the job and that’s what really matters. My guess is that the bullet hit a real solid bone in the shoulder and penetrated the bull sideways. Found just under the hide on the opposite shoulder.


The barnes did exactly what it said it would do. It only lost 1 grain of bullet. Got 289 out of 290.


After my tag was filled, we hooked back up with my uncle to see if we could get him an elk before the hunt was over.My uncle ended up not getting an elk on this hunt. We hunted hard for the remainder of the week. We saw the elk but people were really pushing them pretty hard.

That evening of the opener we set up at a water hole. We wanted to see if the elk were going to use them due to there is not really any snow for them.

There was this sick looking canyon that was up and over from where the water hole was so we went up and over to check it out. Came up short. Didnt see any thing.

The next mornning we decided to go up to the high country. There seemed to be more elk in the area but there was also more people there as well. Saw lots of elk across the highway in the other unit.

That same evening we hunted near where I killed my bull. We went for a 3 mile hike and saw nothing. By now these elk are really spooked.

Cow elk track


My dad and my Uncle made it out 2 more days but were not successful. It was a hard hunt. I think I was lucky to get mine. A lot of guys were unsuccessful.

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Jan-13-13, 
09:04 AM (MST)
20. "Farewell 2012"

The Cortez family had a very great year. 2012 was very good to us. We were lucky enough to obtain as many tags as we did and we were evern more lucky to be successful on many of them. Very grateful for the amount of invites we received this year to take place on our friend’s hunts. There were a lot of firsts this year and that was awesome.

Next year I am thinking of chasing muleys with the bow. Im not sure yet. I have a few months to think about it. If I dont, I want to put in for all muzzy hunts.

Now in the off season I am trying to plan out what to put in for next year. I am also waiting for this years shed season and turkey season. Should be a good one! Let’s see what 2013 will bring us!

Here are a series of pics to recap our 2012 season

NOTE: All these hunts were 100% D.I.Y . All 100% Public Land (except the rifle antelope). All hunts took place in NM (except my CO Muley)

Special Thanks goes out to our friend, Joe Muniz for accompanying us on some of our hunts and pack outs.

Special Thanks goes out to my Uncle Brian for also accompanying us on some of our hunts and the pack outs.

Special Thanks goes out to Chris and Kathryn for inviting my dad and me on Chris’ O.I.L Oryx hunt.

Hope everyone enjoyed my 2012 HAC.

ElkSniper

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