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How lucky can a guy be?

 
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hoopscoach
(214 posts)
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Nov-29-13, 
00:26 AM (MST)
"How lucky can a guy be?"

Alaska Caribou:
I usually hunt solo on the Alaskan haul road but this year I was joined by my good friend Ron from Alabama. The salmon fishing was pretty sorry so we headed up the haul road for an archery caribou hunt. We arrived early the next morning and immediately started hunting. We found a few cows but didn't see a bull until mile marker 349. The bull was young but Ron was not going to be picky on this caribou hunt. I dropped him off well ahead of the bull and Ron used some brush to conceal his position in the ditch. The bull stopped 70 yards from Ron and stayed there for 45 minutes. Finally, he started to move and came to within 35 yards. Ron drew back and stopped the bull with a bleat but a poorly timed wind gust pushed his head net in the way and he can't see through his peep sight. The bull moved on and started trotting down the middle of the Dalton highway and it looked like Ron was out of luck. Fortunately, a truck traveling eastbound on the road turned the bull back toward Ronís hiding place. The bull left the road and trotted onto the tundra so Ron bleated again to stop him broadside at 45 yards. Ron made a good shot and the bull piled up within 100 yards. By noon on the first day, Ron had punched his tag!
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The next day we were both exhausted from the long day before so we slept in. We were on the hunt by mid-morning and the mission was any caribou. I had decided early on that if Ron filled his tag early in the hunt, I would shoot the first caribou that offered a shot so we could get home early and I could fill my freezer with some delicious caribou meat, so cow or bull didnít matter. While stopped for lunch, some other hunters stopped and asked if we had seen anything. We told them about Ronís bull and where we had seen the majority of the caribou. They chatted a few minutes and moved on down the road. After lunch, we continued our search and came upon the hunters we had talked to earlier parked within a half mile of where Ron had gotten his bull. They were frantically pulling on camo so we stopped and asked if they had seen one. They pointed to spot about a quarter mile away where they could see an antler sticking up above the bushes. How they were able to see that antler tip at 400 yards is a mystery to me. We wished them luck on their stalk and continued down the road, glassing for more caribou.
About a half hour later we were glassing a few miles away and Ron suggested we go back and watch their stalk. I was curious to watch myself so we headed back. When we arrived, we could see the two hunters making their way back across the tundra with no sign of the bull. We continued down the road looking for a place to turn around when I spotted the bull a quarter mile in front of us on the road. We closed the distance and kept a close eye on where he was going. Another car, coming from the other direction, caused him to bail off the road and into a brushy draw that ran parallel to the haul road. I instructed Ron to continue driving and drop me off 100 yards past the bull, thinking he would continue down the draw and might present me with a shot. I got into position further down the draw and realized he had stopped in the tall bushes and was staying put. The tourists in the car were sitting there watching the bull so I waited for them to move on but after 20 minutes, it became apparent, that they werenít leaving.
After a strategic conversation with Ron, I began easing up the draw in an attempt to put myself in position for a shot. It took a little over an hour to close the distance. Several times during my stalk, I encountered spots where the bushes that had grown together creating a problem. I knew it would be noisy making my way through those spots so I would stop and wait for a tractor trailer to pass by and make enough cover noise for me to get through the trouble spot. Once I got to within 30 yards, I stopped moving and waited for him to make the next move. I figured he wasnít likely to head toward the road because of the activity and noise so I positioned myself for shot assuming he would go the other direction. I was prepared to wait all day if necessary.
In the meantime, our tourists that were watching the events from the road were joined by several more cars that wanted to see what was going on including the hunters that has spooked him during their stalk. They were all less than 75 yards from me and the bull. I was not terribly happy with all the attention and wished they would all get bored and move on. I just tried to focus on the bull and repeating my shot routine over and over in case one was offered. After about 30 minutes of waiting, another car pulled off the road (this makes approximately 7 vehicles observing) and nearly got run over by a tractor trailer in the process. It crunched the gravel loudly and the bull got nervous, trotted out of the ditch and cleared the bushes. When he started to move, I drew my bow, unfortunately, when he stopped, I had only a head on shot. The bull had no idea I existed, and stood there for a long time so I held the bow at full draw, waiting for a broadside opportunity. Finally, after several minutes, he started to turn and as soon as I saw his shoulder, I touched the trigger. The arrow hit right where I was aiming but the quartering angle caused it to penetrate only one lung. The bull ran about 250 yards before bedding down and expiring.
When I made it back on the road and joined Ron, we found out the tourists in the first car had videoed the whole thing on their phone so email addresses were exchanged. We also talked to the hunters that stalked him originally and learned that they had gotten within 15 yards of the bull but one of them had a tickle in his throat. He drew his bow and cleared his throat thinking the bull would stand and offer a shot. Instead, the bull exploded from his bed and didnít stop until he was 60 yards out. They tried a shot but missed which is why the bull was running down the road when we stumbled upon him.

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After we returned to my sisterís house and started processing the meat, Ron decided he wanted to purchase another caribou tag and drive back up the haul road for another opportunity at a bigger bull. I had made other plans and wanted to finish up the processing, so he made the trip on his own. Unbelievably, he found another bull bedded in a good place for a stalk on the first day he arrived! Ron had gotten to within 45 yards when the bull stood and started to walk across the tundra. He was not spooked so Ron stopped him with a bleat, at 45 yards and made a perfect broadside shot. The bull did not run far and Ron collected his second caribou bull!
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Three caribou in three days of hunting is about as good as it gets on the Dalton Highway. To say we were extremely lucky on this hunt would have been a major understatement.

Stay tuned as I recount my AZ elk hunt!

"Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud"

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 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 How lucky can ...  hoopscoach      Nov-30-13   1 
 IA whitetail  hoopscoach      Nov-30-13   2 

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hoopscoach
(214 posts)
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Nov-30-13, 
02:49 PM (MST)
1. "How lucky can a guy be?"

Arizona Elk:

I arrived 2 days prior to the season for some scouting and at first light I watched a couple of really nice bulls on private land near "little green valley" bugle their heads off. Fifteen minutes after first light they moved off of the private land and headed into the hills to bed for the day. I left the valley and walked into an area called Indian Gardens. They were also bugling heavily in this area. As I moved up a ridge, I heard something coming my way as a medium sized bull chase a cow and calf past me at about 10 yards. I thought, "wow, they were really close". As I turned to head back up the ridge I saw a young, 4 point bull coming from the same direction but a little higher up the hill and he was walking right toward me! I thought, "he'll see me in a second and stop"... At 10 yards I thought, "he'll stop any second now"... At five yards I thought, "why hasn't he stopped"... At two yards, I thought, "oh @$%#". He finally stopped directly in front of me close enough I could have smacked him in the nose. Literally, he was two feet away as we eyed each other. I was frozen with fear of being trampled or gored. I saw him start to reach out to sniff this strange looking tree stump and then thought better of it. Instead, he whirled and was gone. That was by far the closest I have ever been to a live elk! The smile on my face would later have to be surgically removed.

The next morning, glassing at little green valley turned up the same two smoker bulls I had seen the day before and they left the meadow in the same manner as they did the day before. There was more bugling in Indian Garden. Opening morning arrived and everything went silent. I would say it's uncanny how they seem to know when the season opens... or it could be all the morons out all night spotlighting all over the unit that tipped them off. Either way, the first day was basically a bust. The second evening I had my first encounter. A couple of friends I had met while scouting (Brent and Joe) were bugling at each other trying to stir things up when a bull started bugling about 15 minutes before the end of shooting light. I moved closer while Brent kept him talking (a deadly tactic we have used in the past). I got to within 50 yards of the bull but was losing light fast. I hid behind a 5 foot Christmas tree and waited. He was moving past me on his way to Brent, way too close. As he passed my hiding spot within 20 feet, I finally got to see he was a decent 6 point. I decided he was plenty big enough and slowly turned to draw a bead on him but he caught my movement and buggered out of there. VERY EXCITING ENCOUNTER! I was pumped to say the least!

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The next morning I had heard a few bulls bugle sparingly and had seen a really nice 6 point about a mile away moving through the brush. That evening (day 3) I was sitting on a rock pile not far from Little Green Valley about a half mile from where I had seen the big 6 point that morning. About an hour before dark, I heard some rocks clatter and saw a cow on the adjacent hillside 200 yards away. I moved to get a better view and saw several cows slowly moving across the hillside so I knew there had to be a bull coming. I worked my way down my hill to get into a better position and was successful in cutting the distance to 150 yards. On my way down the hill, I had gotten a good look at the bull and he was a shooter (mature 5 x 6 with a medium size rack). I steadied the crosshairs and pulled the trigger... click instead of boom... Never has that muzzleloader failed to fire in the 10 years I've had it... very strange. So I pulled another primer out of my pocket, steadied the crosshairs and pulled the trigger... click. What the #$@%. I repeated this process 7 or 8 times while the bull stood out there, oblivious to the danger. Actually, he was never in any danger unless I had tried to sneak close enough to whack him over the head with my useless gun. All of the primers I had with me were no good. He walked away never knowing how lucky he was... When I returned to camp, I pulled a primer from the box in my truck, aimed into a creek bank behind camp and pulled the trigger... BOOM! It's possible, I might have cursed a few times. Apparently, primers in one's pocket are rendered useless due to moisture from sweating??? There's no other explanation except it just wasn't that bullsí day to go. Anyway, after purchasing some brand new primers, and finding a better place to carry them, I was ready to close the deal. On the morning of day four, I had an encounter with a bull while Brent was calling behind me again but he just wouldn't commit and all I could see what his rack (medium sized 5 x 6).

The following morning was Tuesday (day 5) and my last to hunt as I was expected to be at work on Wednesday and had a 13 hour drive ahead of me. I arrived an hour before shooting light and was planning to make my way past little green valley in the dark and be on my rock pile at first light. As I made my way in the dark, there were 2 bulls bugling every few minutes, one from the meadow (private) and the other from the hillside across the meadow from me. I crept forward, well away from the edge of the meadow using the darkness and brush to conceal my movement. Finally, I was able to take a position that would allow me a shot at the bugling bull on the hillside when the sun rose. As light trickled into the valley, I realized there were cows feeding just 40 yards from my perch and knew my positioning was perfect. I still couldn't see the bull across the valley but he sounded mature and since it was the last day, I wasn't in a position to be too picky. The wind was blowing directly from me to the cows, so I was glad I had taken the time to complete my daily ritual of washing off with scent free wipes, slathering myself in scent free lotion and spraying my clothes in scent free spray. Many don't believe you can fool an elk's nose but those cows never smelled me and they were directly down wind. I was content to wait this bull out knowing he would have to show himself at some point. Twenty minutes after shooting light officially started, he decided it was time to head into the hills and started gathering his cows. There were some trees between us so I didn't have a clear shot but patiently waited for him to clear the trees. Within minutes, he was pushing his cows across the public land portion of the meadow so I stopped him with a single cow call and squeezed the trigger. This time the gun fired and he was down within 100 yards. He's not a giant, but a mature herd bull was all I was hoping for from the beginning. He was technically a 5 x 6 because his fourth on the left side was broken off from fighting. I'm thrilled with this bull and with the experiences I enjoyed In Arizona. I really feel like I milked every last bit of adventure out of this hunt considering I filled my tag with only hours to spare. Although there was a fair amount of cussing, I believe the adversity I encountered only made the success that much more satisfying. I can't wait to draw in Arizona again!

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"Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud"

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hoopscoach
(214 posts)
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Nov-30-13, 
02:49 PM (MST)
2. "IA whitetail"

Iowa Whitetail:
I am lucky to have some friends who own 500 acres in central IA where I enjoyed an extremely satisfying hunt during the late muzzleloader season in 2010. I decided to hold out for an archery tag this time and was fortunate enough to draw one in 2013. I left work on Friday and drove through the night in order to arrive in time for sunrise on Saturday. The first 4 days were sadly, unproductive and the only shot I had, was at a spike buck. I had seen only one shooter buck on the morning of day 4 but he was too far and going the wrong direction. I was beginning to wonder if I would even have an opportunity to fill my doe tag.

In hunting, itís uncanny how oneís fortune can change in the blink of an eye. Iíd been hunting hard for four days without having so much as a close encounter. Day five dawned cold and windy. I was in the stand well before dawn and after 45 minutes of no sightings, I was beginning to question my sanity. I practically said out loud, ďwell, it looks like itís going to be another quiet morning, they just arenít moving again todayĒ. Those thoughts had barely stopped echoing around in my head when I looked around the tree and there stood a shooter buck! He was a mere 20 yards away and moving my way. As is always the case during prime time, the bow was in my hand with an arrow ready. I watched the buck make his way around my tree taking a path that would bring him merely feet to my left. I turned my head to pick him up on the other side and waited. I heard leaves crunching on my right side so I slowly turned my head back. The buck was right below me and knew something wasnít right. He might have smelled my trail in or maybe the wind swirled a little. At any rate, the buck was on full alert and only 3 steps from the base of my tree! He trotted to my right and turned to look back my direction. He just happened to stop with a tree between me and his head with his vitals exposed. With his vision obstructed, I came to full draw, settled my pin and turned loose of the rage. The buck jumped and bolted. I watched him disappear up the draw and felt good about the hit. I decided to give him an hour since I didnít actually see the arrow impact and besides, itís prime time for movement and I still have a doe tag to fill. Itís amazing how one successful encounter instantly changes a personís outlook. About half an hour later, I caught movement to my left and noticed a doe making her way down the fence line from the other direction. If she continues, I will have a 10 yard shot. I was wondering how I could be so lucky when she stopped 50 yards away and let me know, without hesitation, that I was not nearly as scent free as I thought I was. The way she snorted and bolted, left no doubt that she had smelled me. Fooling an elkís nose if one thing, fooling a whitetailís nose is an entirely different kettle of fish. After an hour had passed, I followed the extremely heavy blood trail to my buck.

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That evening and the next day provided no more excitement, so I decided I would hunt one more day and call it quits. My nephew had a football game back in Colorado on Saturday that I wanted to attend and I didnít want my buck to spoil. I love eating wild game so I take great care to keep the quality of the meat very high. I also prefer traveling at night so I decided to hunt all day on Friday and leave after shooting light ended. With the help of some caffeine, that would put me back home in time for my nephewís game. Thursday evening, I had seen a couple of does feeding on acorns under a tree about 200 yards from my stand so I decided to make a move. I climbed into the tree at first light on Friday morning and within an hour, had 2 fawns under the tree. I decided it would either be a mature doe or nothing at all, so I passed on the young deer hoping for their mother to make an appearance. No more deer were seen so I headed for the house. After packing all my gear and taking a short nap, I climbed the tree for the last time at 2:30 for the evening sit. Two and a half hours later, I hadnít seen a single deer and was coming to grips with the fact that my doe tag was probably going to go unfilled. With only ten minutes of shooting light remaining, I looked up in disbelief to see 2 mature does trotting directly at the tree I was hiding in. I immediately came to full draw and watched them come to within 10 yards of my position. At that point, the doe in front, turned 90 degrees, walked into my shooting lane and stopped broadside. Thatís right, with ten minutes of shooting light, on my last evening to hunt, I had a doe stop broadside at ten yards. I ask you, how lucky can one guy be? I settled the pin and released the arrow. The doe bolted under my tree and was down within 20 yards on the other side. Unfortunately, she went down in a mud hole at the edge of the pond I was sitting near. I was in a bit of a hurry to get going so I didnít take my time with the pictures in the dark and they didnít turn out as well as I prefer. Too much blood and mud for my taste but Iíll post them here anyway.

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There is further significance of filling this tag that should be explained. I started the year out with 8 tags. I turned back my CO antelope doe tag because of a conflict in my hunting schedule. I forfeited my CO elk tag because of the massive flooding that closed all the roads to my hunting area west of Boulder I had filled my caribou tag, my Arizona elk tag (on the last day to hunt), my two WY antelope tags (one filled on the last day to hunt) and now I had filled my two IA archery deer tags. Not counting the CO tags I had to turn back, I went 6 for 6 in filling my tags this year. I ask again, how lucky can a guy be?

"Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud"

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