Opening weekend went much like what Founder stated... at least from a standpoint of hunting deer. I had bulls bugling all around me most of the night Friday and Saturday evening, with one 300 class 6x coming right to within 30 feet of my tent. As for deer hunting, "frustrated" describes my sentiments well, especially after seeing "THE" buck, which I'll refer to as "King" on Saturday evening right before the opener, and then not seeing him all day Sunday or Monday.
My buck, and I say that very loosly, came out from a patch of about 10 small pines on a relatively open hillside at about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening, fed uphill about 40 yards and went into another patch of pines about double the size of the first. A beautiful 31-32" 180 class 4x then made his way over from a larger strip of pines to the left and climbed into the big boy's prior bed.
I filmed and then observed for as long as light would permit, and then went to camp to prep for the morning hunt. I got up at zero-dark-30 Sunday and got back to my viewing spot anxiously anticipating my chance to stalk King. I waited as patiently as one can for light to tell me where the buck was going to make his day-bed... and I waited, and waited, and waited, untill darkness once again swallowed the mountain. Neither the "King" nor the 30+ 4x came out, at all - ALL DAY LONG.
I had spotted two other bucks on the mountain during the morning, one about a 26 inch heavy 4x that fed down and into the meadow at the base of the mountain 250 yards below my buck and bedded in a very stalkable position, and a 25" 3x4 that fed up to the left about 300 yards from the one I was searching for. The wind was somewhat unrelenting, gusting up and down hill in erratic fashion, and there was a great deal of smoke in the hot summer-like air. It didn't feel like Sept 1 at 9000+ foot elevation. No wonder they weren't moving.
That evening was relatively uneventful. The 26" buck got up about 7 and began feeding in the lower clearing, so I made my way to position for a shot should King decide to join him. I got to within 60 yards and at one time drew on him to loosen my muscles and get a sense of how my heartrate would be... "thwack" was the thought that went through my mind. Any other hunt in Utah or Idaho I'd probably be letting fly, but not here. Not with King and that 30+ 4x on the hillside.
Evening turned to darkness, and neither of the larger bucks had come out. Back to my roost for another sleepless night with elk bugling all round me within a stone's throw of my tent. Sleep finally overtook me at about 2 a.m. and what seemed only moments later I was brought back awake by the pitter-patter of rain on my tent at about 4:15 a.m. I couldn't bring myself out of the warm bag, nor could I sleep so I made breakfast in bed and studied the map. At 5:45 I got out and went to my hide.
I got back to my position well before twilight with binos and scope at the ready, my trusty Bowtech by my side. The light rain continued until about 8:30, and as it stopped, the wind settled into a steady breeze in my favor. A small 4x that I hadn't seen in over a week appeared feeding in the lower meadow, and made his way up to a patch of pines 40 yards to the right of where King had bedded two days earlier. The young buck kept looking directly into the King's patch as if to say, "Hi", I hoped it was to King.
By 10:45 Monday I was getting a bit antsy to actually make this trip into a hunt, so I planned a route and took off to make a wide path around the face of the hill out of sight, and out of smell, so that I could approach the buck's lair from above. After a 45 minute trek up the canyon and around the top of the ridge I bumped 3 small bucks in the upper basin. They boogeyed out of there pretty quick in the opposite direction, I assume due to my not having bathed in more than 4 days.
At the hour-15 minute mark I made my down to the perch above where King had bedded, and eased over the top in my stockings with bow at the ready. The shot was less than 40 yards... but he was gone.
I carefully picked apart all of the visible patches with my 8.5x binos to ensure a clear opportunity to go into the bed to see what I'd missed... sure enough, there were fresh, dry tracks in the moist soil leading out. I'd missed him by less than 1/2 hour.
I backed out carefully and made my way back to a vantage point, where I watched till about 2pm when the canyon filled with clouds and lightning began snapping all around me. I packed my stuff and hit the trail out to the truck. I can hope I didn't buggar him out of the canyon and that I'll see him there again when I have the chance next week two days before the rifle hunt opens. I plan to pack both weapons the 4.5 miles in, and if an opportunity comes with a bow I'll take it. If not, I can only hope to get a look at him with my rifle after that season opens Sunday the 15th.