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A Hunting Year to Remember

 
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Jun-02-14, 
10:06 AM (MST)
"A Hunting Year to Remember"

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This will be a real test of my writing skills, and I hope you'll bear with me thru this saga. We will try not to let it get too boring. I've been privileged to be able to go to Africa several times in the last few years, and as a result, I've neglected some of my own state's wonderful hunting. I have put some short posts up before as hunting reports, but never anything of this magnitude, and certainly never chronicled an entire season. Getting such a late start, I will try to catch up the past few months as I fill in the events. Hopefully we can write down some good ones this year. The muzzleloader antelope hunt here is one I'd like to draw again, as Predator (Lisa) and I are both trying to break into the B&C realm on speedgoats with a frontstuffer. Maybe we'll get lucky again this year.

I decided to make a change in plans this year, and concentrate on having a great deer and elk season locally, whether I bagged some big trophies or not. Hopefully this will be a chronicle of my successes (but will include my failures too). Since I love hunting with my muzzleloader so much, I'm going to try to use it as much as possible. No promises tho.

The hunting season for me actually got started just a couple days before New Year's with my grandson's very first hunting trip. He conpleted his Utah Hunter Safety course in Salt Lake City a month before the 2013 seasons, but is so busy in school sports he was unable to go with me on any Idaho hunts. He was lucky enough to draw a much-coveted public land deer and javelina hunt in Texas on a wildlife management area though, and we got to spend the last week in South Texas. He took a very nice 5 1/2 year old 8 pt and a nice 40# boar; super excited with his success and really enjoyed himself. I can see doing something every Fall now.

2014 now started off for real with elk and antelope tag applications in Arizona. I had an extra antlerless elk tag open on the desert here in Idaho too, and that was made even tougher by one of the mildest winters we have had in quite some time on the desert. In January and February, the snow was less than 12 inches deep; you could drive around in your car! While I could find herds of anywhere from 30-100 bulls, the cows were being very elusive. The third trip out on the 2nd of February, I found a small group out in the open sage, and with a good sneak and a great shot was able to fill the freezer with even more delicious meat and jerky. Nothing better than fresh elk tenderloins, some squash from the garden that you've saved, and a nice red wine to compliment the venison. YUM! The only down side was I tore something in my shoulder dragging it out, and it was about a month before I could lift my right arm. Even now, I still have to take some Advil once in a while. Will see how archery goes this summer.

We were able to get away for the following week to the annual Safari Club convention in Las Vegas, so we picked up Preddy in SLC on the way through, and then my partner, his wife, and the three of us rolled down I-15 to the grand-daddy of hunting shows. About 2000 exhibitors in a million square feet of exhibition space, over a three-day period is serious hunting overload. No wonder the wives just shake their heads, and head off for the spa! We got to see several good friends at their booths and my outfitter from my last South Africa trip. There was plenty of visiting with hunting and fishing folks from around the world.

Since it is my wife's upcoming 60th birthday this summer, and she has been so accomodating to all my hunting excesses, I broke down and booked a week-long trip for us to Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica for some deep sea fishing, spas, zip lines, and eco tourism hikes. That will be coming up here in two weeks, and I hope they have Internet 'cause its when the draws start to come out! Agony!!!!!

After that nice week-long break, it was back to the grind at work and trying to figure out all the confusing new rules, regs, and seasons for draws in surrounding states. Like most of you, this is a time of serious consideration and what-ifs, phase of the moon, slaughter a chicken, or any of the other silly superstitions we have for making our picks. Just wondering "how do I juggle all these without overlapping any of the hunts" is enough to make you crazy. I had 18 points for deer and 14 for moose in Utah, so that was an easy one. Wyoming deer and antelope with max points should result in at least one tag, I hope. The dream tags for Montana sheep comes next as well as Arizona deer and sheep, then finally the Idaho deer, elk, and antelope group hunts with Predator again. The nice thing about Idaho is the fact that even if I'm unlucky I have OTC deer, elk, bear, and lion tags so something is going to get hunted for sure!

I managed to get a second season turkey tag here on the upper Snake River, but they were extremely reluctant to let me shoot them. I found hens on every trip out, but the mystical gobblers were silent and invisible. That is one drawback to hunting later, when they have been chased, shot at, and educated-they are wise in the ways of the world and bury themselves in the thickest islands they can find. Oh well, there's always next year or I can go to Northern Idaho if I really get mad at them.

Bighorn sheep are one of my passions, and I have been lucky enough to harvest one here in Idaho and go on a couple other hunts. I continue to apply in a lot of states, hoping lightning will strike again but no luck so far. The other day I was lucky enough to have nice weather, so ran up to the Madison Range in Montana to look around. They come down during the winter around Hebgen Lake, and are accessible for a couple weeks. I was able to get up the hill on a band of rams, and one cooperated by posing for a couple quick pictures at the end. Very regal looking.

That's got us caught up for now. I will try to be much better about photos as we go along, and hope to fill you all in on summer scouting and luck in the draws. Good luck to everyone!

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  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Jun-07-14   1 
  RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Jun-24-14   2 
   RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Jun-25-14   3 
    RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Jun-29-14   4 
     RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Jul-19-14   5 
      RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Jul-27-14   6 
       RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Aug-16-14   7 
        RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Sep-03-14   8 
         RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Sep-04-14   9 
          RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Sep-28-14   10 
           RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Oct-05-14   11 
            RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Oct-18-14   12 
             RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Nov-02-14   13 
              RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Nov-22-14   14 
               RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Dec-01-14   15 
                RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Dec-08-14   16 
                 RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Dec-09-14   17 
                  RE: A Hunting ...  Blank      Jan-02-15   18 

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Jun-07-14, 
11:08 AM (MST)
1. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

A great day to be in the outdoors. Last day of spring bear season here in Southeast Idaho, so I loaded up the muzzleloader and diaphram calls and headed into the timber. Called in a really nice chocolate boar to 84 yards at 0615. Wasn't bigger than any I have killed before, so thought long and hard whether to shoot or not. Big butt and a skinny front-end convinced me he was still too young and I let him walk. My good friend from Texas wants to come up to shoot one, so I know where we will be the first week in October.

The deer were out wandering all morning, and the bucks were together. They are knobbed out about the size of their ears already. Just staying out in the sunshine, and right on the roads! Sorry about the cell phone pic; I had already packed up the real camera where I couldn't get to it.


Elk are calving in the big burn from two years ago, the grouse are all strutting, the sage hens on the ridges look like turkeys, and it was just pretty enjoyable. The down side of the whole morning was that the mosquitos are terrible, the ticks are everywhere, and I found the fresh tracks of a pair of wolves in the mud right there in my hunting area. Just identified another target for the Fall! Will have a couple tags ready.

Threw in a speedloader for size comparison, so all these tracks are about 4"x4". Walking side-by-side up a trail right above the elk calving grounds. Bummer!

Gotta go pack for Costa Rica next week. Until then, good luck in the draws and may your wishes all come true.

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Jun-24-14, 
08:37 AM (MST)
2. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Yes, we were getting ready for a fishing vacation, but I was still checking for the Wyoming and Idaho draw results every day. Found out I did get a Unit 93-1 antelope tag in Wyoming, but nothing else. Have to take a drive over there when we return from the trip to take a look around and see what has changed in the last six years since my last tag. I think Idaho is intentionately trying to stress us all out by delaying the draw here until the very last minute. Good thing was that we had Wi-Fi in the bar in the resort, or I would have been going crazy not keeping up on Monster Muleys!

JUNE 17 - First day of offshore fishing for me, and the rain forest/monkey tour for Kathy with her guide Diego. I went down to the pier at 0630 and met my captain Humberto, and the mate, Harold. They are nice young guys (28 and 24) and very friendly. I will be fishing each day off a 24 foot Boston Whaler Outrage, with twin 200 HP Mercury four-strokes, very nice fishing platform. Our plan is to go offshore at least for the morning, then see how things go from there. We make bait for about 20 minutes in the harbor by jigging sardines with gold hooks on spinning tackle, then when the live well is full we take off for blue water. There is a pretty good chop and swell going out the Gulf. Turns out it is about 10 miles to the mouth of the bay, and then we go another 10 miles offshore to blue water and some nice weed lines.

The plan is to troll 5 teasers with no hooks, and a single rigged ballyhoo on a flat-line out the back. The plan is to try to get a marlin or sailfish or dorado fired up in the teasers, then do a bait-and-switch with a live bait. Troll for an hour around the weeds and floating debris, but no dorado to be found. At 0830 we find a sailfish on the surface, but cannot entice him to take anything at all. Continued to slow troll around, and an hour later we find another sailfish, but with the same result as before. This is frustrating! At 1100 we decide to pull in the gear and head for the beaches, but before we can the radio crackles to life, and another CBR boat reports a tuna bite about 3 miles from us. Switch to tuna jigs and bucktails and hasten over, and manage to get close and in front of the moving school. Land 4 yellowfin, 2 bonito, and lose about 4 others, then the school is gone. Fresh tuna again for dinner, and Kathy agreed if I caught tuna she would try some again! Have to put this on Facebook!

Once inshore, we go up to the beaches above Matapalo Rock and start catching smaller Roosterfish and Jack Crevalle. This is lots of fun, and they all fight really good. As it gets later we go down to the Rock and start using larger live baits trying for the big roosters. There are about 5-6 of the CBR boats there trolling baits around the reef. Get a couple baits smashed by roosters or Cubera snapper (Pargo) as evidenced by the big tooth marks, then finally hook up with a good one. Turns out to be a very respectable 35# rooster. Get trophy pics, and try to release, but he won’t take off so we put him on ice. The crew can have him to sell, as they aren’t very good to eat. We knock off at 1430, and run back to the dock at 1500. Todd and Allen are there to meet all the bostas and chat with the anglers. They update the catch boards in the bar almost immediately upon return. A few beers, some fresh quacamole and chips, and a dip in the pool take care of all the worries of the world.

JUNE 18 - Inshore fishing today with Kathy. She enjoyed making bait, and was amazed that the sardines would hit plain gold hooks. Catching 4-6 at a time was something new for her also. Loaded up the bait well, and headed out to the beaches around the Rock. She got 6 roosters and 3 jacks, and I got a couple more too. I wanted her to use a fighting belt to prevent her bruising herself (she's on Coumadin all the time), and that worked well also. She landed a really nice 35# rooster by herself, that took her around the boat several times. Got great pictures of Harold holding it for her, since it was “SLIMY” and icky. I think she had a lot of fun, and the water was very calm. Got some great scenery photos as well, along the beaches.

The last day of fishing for me is eventful, but totally not what I expected. Had a nice blue marlin come into the spread at 0800 and crushed a live bait, but the hook pulled and we never could get him interested again. We put out a large trolled lure with a hook, and a big marling smashed it and ripped off a couple hundred yards of line instantly. We saw it was about 250# and got about 3 or 4 jumps out of him, approx. eight feet out of the water, and then he reversed direction on us and streaked by. We couldn't clear the rods and lines fast enough or turn the boat and he cut the line off on one of the braided outrigger lines. DAMN! Now I do have a score to settle and a reason to go back.

Now we are back in town, and the wife had her hip surgery yesterday and came thru fine. She gets a 4 week recovery before returning to her job. I'm just dreading going back to work, as emails have been piling up by the hundreds.... Idaho is still making me crazy but it won't be too much longer and we will know results. Then we can start making some serious scouting plans for the rest of the summer. Good luck to everyone also waiting on this last draw. See you on the hill!

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Jun-25-14, 
01:53 PM (MST)
3. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

YAHOO!!!! Idaho comes through with the Controlled Hunt posts today, and lightning does strike twice sometimes. I get to hunt muzzleloader antelope again with Predator in my favorite season. Of course, none of my other choices were rewarded, but I have two speed goat tags to look forward to for sure. The wife blanked on every one of her choices, but didn't act too depressed since they were late hunts, and "cold" is not her favorite word.

My hunting partner and another friend lucked out with the same muzzy tags, so we will have a very social season. He is the proud holder of a WY cow bison tag and a Wasatch muzzy elk hunt too, so maybe I get to tag along and be photographer and the designated heavy lifter!

Got the Whites tuned up and sighted in, a 2-7X Redfield on the one for general deer and elk season and WY antelope, and the open sights for the restricted hunt here in Idaho. Have an extra one for Lisa also, if need be.

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Jun-29-14, 
11:46 AM (MST)
4. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

My grand-daughter came up from SLC for a week to help my wife out, following her hip surgery, so I was able to slip off for the day and go over to Unit 93 for my antelope scouting, and come back over the divide into Region G Grey's River. Not surprising, there are a lot of antelope all over, but the biggest ones were off by themselves and only my 40X spotter let me see them very well. The ones close enough for photos were mostly little guys, and big herds of does and fawns. All told, I saw about 500 animals and 50 bucks in 5 hours.

All of the creeks are flowing fast with run-off, but everything is really green and the moose and deer are loving it. This big cow looks nasty with her winter coat, but you can see she is starting to slick up. The upper meadows are just exploding with wildflowers everywhere.

Managed to find a couple obstacles along the way - Yup, the RAV4 isn't making it thru that one! Have to go around like everyone else. Got all the way up to the summit and stopped for a nice break in the sun. Looked over and there was a stupid antelope doe in the pine trees at 8500'! She's lost, for sure. For all you guys with Region G or H deer tags, there is plenty of feed and water up high. Saw lots of deer, and most of the does had twin fawns. Think this past winter was pretty easy on them, if they migrated out early enough. They sure are pretty and easy to spot in their red summer coats.

That's it for today's report. Hope to go scouting for deer and elk here in Idaho next weekend.

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Jul-19-14, 
09:47 AM (MST)
5. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Too many vacationing friends visiting us, and our birthday brats to party with over the last couple days so no high country deer/elk scouting yet. Did manage to get out and look over our antelope unit here in Idaho this weekend and am encouraged by the numbers I'm seeing. Saw several hundred in just 5 hours today. One herd of 80 animals in the alfalfa today had 20 bucks among them! Found a couple good mid to upper 70's goats to keep an eye on until the season opens here on Sept. 19th. One is a solid 15"er now, so maybe Lisa or I will get a crack at him..

This is our typical upper Snake River Plains antelope country. Plenty of cover out there on the flats, if you're a horned toad! The guys who think the secret to hunting them is diesel-stalking better think again.

There hasn't been any hunting open yet, and they are still as spooky as only antelope can be! Starting to run when you're still about 800 yards away. Gonna be some long hot days in the pop up blind in the early portion of the season, then maybe they will get a little goofy and less skittish in the rut. Most all of the farmers rotated crops this year, so there will be some new patterns to figure out in the next month.

For all you lucky controlled hunt guys, don't forget to pick up your tags before Aug. 1st or you'll lose them. Hope to see you out in the field and meet some new friends.

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Jul-27-14, 
10:01 PM (MST)
6. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Finally some time to myself, and off we go on a road trip to the mountains. The desert here around town is tinder dry, and I was a little worried about up in the hills. Lots of smoke in the air makes for pretty sunrises and sunsets, but absolutely sucks for glassing and pictures! Things actually looked pretty and green, and the standing and running water sources are doing pretty good. It was 36 degrees getting out of the truck at daylight, so there is hope that Fall may arrive yet.

Predator has the muzzleloader deer tag for November here in Idaho, so figured I better spend some time looking around in there too, and was pleased to see a few deer out in the meadows early, but they disappeared as the day warmed up. There's a little snow left up high, but not much. The avalanche chutes are really green tho. This is right about 8500 feet, so the ridgetop is the dividing line between her two units.

Went a little further up to the top, and lo and behold - the big ones visible over to the East towering above Driggs! No matter how many times I see them, and from any direction, I just am amazed by the sheer ruggedness of the Tetons.

Tried to get a change of scenery and location and get up to the mt. goat, wolf, and grizzly country but it was too late in the day for them to cooperate. Pretty views tho, and at 9800 feet the breezes were still cool. Couple guys about a thousand feet below me had the same idea, and were covering some ground scouting. I have two friends at work with sheep tags this year, and they're out looking already. One in the bottom of the Owyhees and the other on Borah peak. Talk about spread - truly the high and low of Idaho!

All in all, a very pleasant day and gots lots of glassing time in. With some rain to clear the air, it will be easy to get good pictures later. Four more days to get your Super Hunt applications in and also buy your controlled hunt permits. Then we will see who is forgetful, and I'll try for the long shot odds in the second draw again.

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Aug-16-14, 
10:32 AM (MST)
7. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

August 15th has finally arrived and all the archery antelope hunters are excited to be out again. I had looked forward to taking a new blind over to Wyoming to try out in Unit 93. Four weeks ago, it was barren and dry brown out there. They were in bunches within a mile or two of the remaining water. I was a little worried that all the rain we have gotten in Idaho had carried over to there, and I was right. Two weeks ago, this was a beautifuul grassy area that the 'lopes were enjoying. Now look at it. More than a hundred yards of standing water, and every ditch and depression I looked at is filled also. Shucks!

There is so much green feed out there now that the antelope have scattered far and wide, and it was tough to see a hundred in two days, where there had been 500 before. The wild horses are loving it though, and they were scattered around everywhere. Fontenelle Reservoir is as full as I have ever seen it, and I did glass quite a few goats coming down the ridges off the plateau, right to the lake. If a guy could just figure the right trail on the right day.......

While driving around close to the mountains, there were quite a few deer up and moving during the day, but no big ones dumb enough to be close to a road. The little guys which would pose for pictures were mostly 1-2 year olds, but some have nice potential for the future.

Found one nice smaller water hole with fresh tracks around, so set up the new Primos Double Bull "Shack Attack" blind. Have been using an older model (with the fixed mesh window) for years, and this has a new and better camo pattern and the opening front window. Really nice for both vertical or crossbow shots with the netting dropped down, and should be good for muzzleloader hunting also. The one downside to all this water is the mosquitos. Bad enough to drive a guy crazy!!!! When you are sitting in a hot blind with bug spray on, and wearing your rain gear to ward them off, it sucks. Great weight loss program tho.

The only two visitors I had all day long. Neat to see them so up close and personal. The blind must have worked pretty good 'cause they would circle a half dozen times and then set down right across from me. First time I have ever seen a hawk just walk right down into the water, and probably spent 10-15 minutes in it. Goofy birds!

All in all, it was a nice couple days with some pleasant encounters with fellow hunters in the field, and they reported the same luck. Got lots of bino and spotting scope time. Will try to get back over again, and then the firearms season opens up Sept. 10th. Good luck to everyone who is already out chasing them with stick and string.

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Sep-03-14, 
04:52 AM (MST)
8. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Not a lot happening this weekend, but did get to go out on Friday for the archery deer/elk opener here in Idaho. The campgrounds were all packed full and traffic was heavy going up the mountain road so I went low. Decided to hunt some big whitetails coming out of the hayfields into the sage and aspens. Had one 6-point buck at 40 yards, but too dark to see my pins good enough. Managed to see 40 elk, with 2 herd bulls and 6 satellites, a 40" bull moose, and about a dozen deer with several big bucks so it was a good morning.

The funniest part of the day was when I was sitting in the weeds along the fence row, and heard a rustling. Got all ready and release clipped on, and what do my wondering eyes percieve? A large black and white SKUNK AT 5 FEET!!!! Screamed like a girl, rolled away and up to my knees, then ran about 50 feet away. Just knew I was toast and was gonna get it. Looked back and its head was down on the ground, hissing like crazy, and the tail was straight up in attack mode. Don't know how I escaped a dousing.

Weather is starting to cooperate, the rain has eased up, and it was 33 degrees yesterday morning on my way to work. Have been hearing reports of bugle activity and lots of elk sightings. Will try to get out again soon.

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Sep-04-14, 
11:58 AM (MST)
9. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

HOLY CHIT! To all the Idaho readers who caught my screw up, you're right, I'm an idiot. The season opened Saturday! Good thing I didn't see anything to stalk or shoot. The skunk would have been legal, but that was all.

I read the Outdoors section of the Post Register newspaper on Thursday evening and the editor mentioned it was opening day the next day, and I never even looked at the calendar to make sure he was right. There was a correction and apology printed the next day, but that was too late. Watch those regs carefully, you can bet I will from now on. Even a little mistake is still wrong.

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Sep-28-14, 
09:37 AM (MST)
10. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Finally got a break with work and chores around the home place, so decided another trip over to Wyoming for antelope was in order. Went over on Sept 10th for the opening day, but it was just too crazy so I came home after only one day. With 400 buck and 200 doe tags, there were a lot of people driving around and it was crowded. Let's just say that any antelope dumb enough to stand around was probably gonna get some lead thrown its way! I did see a lot of happy kids and older folks who were enjoying the hunting experience, and salute them.

Fast forward a little bit over two weeks, and it was much better. In the two days I hunted I really only saw maybe three or four other hunters. The weather was beautiful on Friday, but supposed to turn nasty on Saturday or Sunday. What the heck, can't have luck if you don't go, right?

There were animals scattered everywhere in the oil country and big desert areas, but I just couldn't find any that excited me. I was prepared to come back in October if I needed to, and I wanted to kill a pretty nice animal. My expectations with the rifle were pretty high, but I love my White muzzy and any chance I get with a good solid buck, I will take it. My friend had taken a beautiful 83" goat in Nevada a week ago, so I was hoping to see something up there to compare with his. Most were in that 10-12 inch range tho, and while some bucks had small harems, most were only singles. A lot of the does were still only in pairs or small family groups, with no buck around at all. After a half day of cruising every road and trail I knew in the desert, it was time to move. I thought the high ridges and windswept bowls might hold some bigger lone bucks. I have found them up there before, and figured they'd be there again.

The private land and hayfields had plenty of critters, and some were really nice. Just no one would allow hunting them, so onward and upward I went. Imagine my consternation when I couldn't find a single antelope up in the usual windy haunts. Planned to come up one drainage, hunt across the tops, and go back down to the reservoir in another drainage. The scenery was gorgeous, and worth the drive. Up towards the head of La Barge Creek, I spotted some deer and a few elk.

Came around a mountain top, and what do you think I found? Yep, 9000 feet and they are putting a well right on the middle of the ridge above one of the great waterholes in that basin. I talked with an older couple who have a cabin up there, and they said they started the well about 30 days ago and the animals just left. Couldn't stand all the heavy truck traffic. So much for that idea!!!!!

Headed back down off the top and went back to the desert again, after the disappointment with the drilling. The sun was getting lower and animals I had missed the first go-round were getting up and moving. Nothing like low angle sunlight to make antelope shine in the sage! By dark I had seen over 50 bucks and 300 total, but just nothing I really got excited about. I had put in the muzzleloader for the buck I was hoping for, and the 7mm Mag in case I saw one of those OMG bucks at 500 yards. Never saw a rifle quality buck at all. Logged over 300 miles in 12 hours, and I had a sore butt and back, tired feet and could use an aspirin or two for eye strain. Headed back to Kemmerer to give myself a treat, and try out the new Best Western motel. Great place to stay and the morning breakfast would be a heck of a lot better than granola and yogurt out of the cooler, while wrapped in the sleeping bag in the car.

The 50/50 chance of rain the Weather Channel was predicting came down all night and it was a mess in the morning. My thoughts of long-range glassing the flats for promising candidates was looking pretty iffy. The upper reaches of Ham's Fork and Fontenelle were totally socked in with lightning in abundance. I figured it was back on the flats and I would make the best of it. Hard to glass for speedgoats, when its like this outside.

The antelope were still there, but they had hit the ground and weren't gonna move until it let up. Rain would roll thru in waves, then it would quit and get foggy. This cycle repeated itself on an hourly basis. I decided to give it until about one o'clock in the afternoon, then pull the plug and call it for this trip. You could only see for 800-1000 yards, so you'd park and glass for a while, then move forward to the limit of your previous visibility. Over and over again, with breaks for coffe and doughnuts when the squalls rolled thru.

Finally at twelve o'clock, I found a nice herd bedded in the sage about half a mile out. With the crappy visibility, even the spotter didn't help much but I could see he was a pretty good buck. There were 16 does and fawns and no other bucks, so I figured he was very dominant. Great black face and dark cheek patch convinced me he was worth going after with the muzzleloader. The pouring rain and fog really helped with the noise (my Gore-Tex liners have started to slide in the old boots, and were squeaking), and I could slip and slide thru the mud on the other side of a little ridge until I got up fairly close. With brown Wranglers on, I couldn't tell what was cloth and what was mud, but I knew I was cold and wet. Eased into 140 yards, and they started to get nervous and stand up. When he came up and stood, I was ready and cut it loose. The bullet entered mid body going forward and exited right behing the shoulder on the off side. 300 grain Hornady XTP's make a helluva hole, and he only went about 30 feet. Sorry about the bloody picture.

Luckily, I was able to maneuver the vehicle down a two-track to within 200 yards, so it wasn't a tough drag back, but it sure was a muddy mess. About that time the skies opened up again, so just time for animal photos and no soaking wet hero shots! You've all seen my ugly mug enough, and the animal is way cuter. Fought my way out and got on the road home. Rain was coming down so hard it was building on the roads and no one was slowing down. Saw a couple slide offs and two rollovers from hydroplaning. Got him taken care of good at home, and the horns cleaned and in the salt. At 14"+ and 5" prongs with nice mass, he is very respectable for the muzzy, and I feel good that he was the best I saw out of over 75 bucks. Just have to draw again and keep trying for that monster we all know is out there!

We have a bull, a cow, and an antelope down so far this season, so we are off to a good start. Between my boys and hunting partners, we have 4 muzzy antelope, 4 bull elk, and 6 deer tags still to fill in Idaho before Nov. 30th, so there will be more to follow.

Good hunting to all, and be safe out there.

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Oct-05-14, 
09:36 AM (MST)
11. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Got an opportunity to go out with my hunting partner on our Idaho muzzleloader antelope hunt yesterday. Everybody else was busy working or camping, so we made the best of it. The first part of the day was pretty unproductive sitting in pop-up blinds on the edges of sagebrush flats and alfalfa, but once we got bored with that, we went driving, glassing, and stalking. With all of the rain for the last 8 weeks, the 'lopes are scattered far and wide. The desert looks like the middle of May out there, it is so green. We are hoping that when the deer and elk seasons open on the hills above our unit, there will be some big ones come down from up high.

After lunch we managed to find a really nice one, and he was able to "get r done" with the 50 cal..... Another nice 14"er and decent mass, so we are down to 3 antelope tags left. Add in the coming deer and elk seasons and we still have a lot of hunting still to do.

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Oct-18-14, 
05:19 AM (MST)
12. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of hunting activity for all of us here, and I've been just too busy to post anything. Paul's Wasatch bull elk was taken with Predator a couple weeks ago. They paid back the favor by packing out her cow elk the very next day.

After a quick trip home from Utah, it was time for the Idaho deer opener and everyone loves to eat whitetails so that was the target. Getting to a secret no-tellum spot, this hefty 6-pt. fell and was quickly transported back to town. Yum-Yum!

Since you can buy a leftover non-resident deer or elk tag at a discounted fee this year, it was time to get another tag and to go find a mule deer on the same weekend. Much bigger and not as easy to pack out, there was some packframe work involved this time.

I've been targeting a specific big antelope buck for over a week and just not getting any opportunities. Trying not to sppok him out of the country has been tough, but I finally got a chance on Day 8 and I blew it and missed the shot. I decided to leave him alone and take Lisa for a few days when she got here. Intimate knowledge of the animals habits, favorite areas, and their past behaviors led to this guys downfall. Great plan came together, she made an awesome 100 yard belly crawl in the rocks and cactus, and she made a perfect shot with the White muzzleloader put this one "in the salt". Those 348 grain Power-Belts shoot exceptionally well in the Whites and really pack a wallop!

The best way I know to practice for muzzy antelope is to really shrink your targets down and up the challenge. Calling in coyotes is one of my favorite ways! Got this big dog to stop at 150 yards this morning by squeaking and squealing, then center punched it with a full on frontal chest shot. We haven't had any cold weather yet to speak of, and besides being real dark he was wispy thin and full of fleas. Come on winter!

A good friend that is about 10 years older than us drew a nice unit for an Idaho moose tag, and he was needing some help getting it done and packed back home. There is always time to squeeze in another hunt and to tag along and help out a friend!

Got my guest here lined out with maps and instructions for scouting her deer area, I decided to go it alone this morning. Continuing on out at 0500 this morning, I watched quite a few antelope in the fields but they just wouldn't cooperate on the fields and sage, no luck with the hides in the haystacks. They are very comfortable all night long in the dark, but come sunrise they know they are vulnerable.

Started driving the unit and glassing from every high point and soon found this nice single buck. Watched him leave the alfalfa pivot and head out into the middle of a large sage flat to bed down. Stalked around the field about a half mile and got the wind perfect. Started heading straight in and completed one of the most fun and successful stalks I've had for a long time. When he stood up facing straight on at 160 yards, I was loving the heavy hooks and knew he was a keeper. I hammered a 348 grain Power-Belt straight into his chest, and he never even twitched! Since my camera woman had left to head home and I didn't even have a tripod along, you only get animal pics and none of the fat old hunter himself. It really is about the animal anyway, isn't it?

Went through the IDFG check station on the way home, and the biologists took all the measurements and age data. They were impressed that he was at least 4 years old, and commented that he might have been truly special last year. I misjudged him somewhat from the half mile distance and thought he was an inch bigger. He is only 13+ inches but has great mass and a lot of character so I'm just gonna call him "Stubby". He still rates a place of honor on the wall.

There's a couple days left for the rifle elk season, then there is a buck whitetail and extra doe whitetail to fill. Add in some more late season tags for muzzleloader deer for Predator, and we are set to have a rockin' good time for a while. Oh yeah, the fishing on the South Fork of the Snake is just starting to heat up and is awesome.

Good hunting to everyone.

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Nov-02-14, 
10:16 AM (MST)
13. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Well, with all the company at the house and our antelope hunting, I just flat ran out of time to hunt the rifle bull elk season with my work schedule, and ended up passing this year. That doesn't happen very often. My son, daughter-in-law, and grand-daughter went out every day and only saw one spike, some cows, and a couple moose. This warm weather has really put the jinx on hunting this year.

Worked a bunch of extra hours and freed up this past weekend so I got to go out looking for a whitetail buck again. Only jumped 9 WT does in the desert sagebrush, and they were spooky as hell. Jet propelled and coming up and out at about 200 yards. Would have been tough with a rifle, much less a 12 ga. Ended up walking a total of about 6-7 miles, saw lots of tracks, but no bucks cooperated at all.

Saw this guy coming across one of the sage flats, and when he climbed up the rocky ridge I was on at 150 yards I got him to stop with some squeaking and squealing. That was a big mistake! These Hornady 300 grain SST's at 2000 fps in a slug barrel are devastating.

Gotta love the "short range" challenge of muzzleloading and shotgun hunting. Next WT seasons run Nov. 10th thru Dec. 9th, so I still hope to put a nice buck on the ground.

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Nov-22-14, 
09:07 PM (MST)
14. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Well, it's been an on again-off again weather patterns which has been screwing up the deer hunting royally for Lisa so far. Lots of driving in both units one weekend with temps in the 60's left us disappointed. Was able to take the car all the way up to a 9000' ridge one day, which is unheard of in November. Looking for a big muley buck and hot weather just doesn't match up.

We finally got some winter weather and frigid temps (-5 degrees) and we went out again for a day last weekend. Had a nice hike and saw lots of game, but no big bucks. Got to look at elk, WTs, moose, and plenty of MD does. One nice bull moose walked right by us at about 10 yards.

The threat of a bad winter storm kept my hunter at home this weekend, so I got to go out and brave the wind, rain, and snow for my short-range whitetail with my slug gun again. Two hour drive turned into three, white-knuckled and cussing the slushy roads and threats to slide off any minute. Finally got down into the unit and the rain eased up and I could hunt in the fog. Great creek-bottom WT country for a walk, and with the heavy clouds, fog, and soggy wet brush it was great for still hunting the sage.... You could be very quiet and sneak right up on bedded deer, but there was a shortage of WT bucks.

The skies cleared for a little bit, and I was able to glass across the valley to the ag fields and private land. There were deer visible in the spotting scope, and they were up close to the BLM boundary so I figured it was worth a drive over to look. By the time I got there, the skies had opened up with mixed rain and snow again, and it was pretty miserable out. Found a nice WT buck tending a doe way out in an alfalfa field by the creek bottom, and watched them bed down for the day. Only draw back? - Posted private land, as usual! Pretty tough area to get permission to hunt too.

While watching them thru my binos, I backed out of the way of traffic and let an approaching truck go by. To my surprise, it stopped and the window rolled down on the passenger side. I got out in the rain to visit and found a nice young man, very friendly, and he asked what I was doing. Told him I had spotted a nice buck way out in the fields and was wondering if I could find out who owned the property and try to ask to hunt. Turns out it was his Dad I needed to talk to, but he did say they had a hunter coming in so didn't know if it would be possible. He pointed out his Dad's truck leaving to go feed all their cattle, and told me to take my best shot.

Headed back down into the valley, caught up to the truck and trailer full of hay, and got out in the rain again. By now I probably looked like a cold wet drowned rat, but I put on my best smiley face and said "Howdy". After introductions and explaining what the son had said, I asked about hunting. He said yes, he had a hunter but the guy was down in another property and he had heard him shoot about a half hour earlier, so it probably wouldn't matter to him. He jokingly asked if I knew the difference between a cow (his are all black) and a deer, and I promised I did. With a smile and a handshake, he told me to get after it and wished me good luck. Yes, there are still lucky angels out there after all!

The rain and fog helped a lot, crawling helped some more and soon I was within shooting distance of the buck. Once again, sex got the better of a male and caused his downfall. About a 240 yard shot (longer than I like, but plenty capable with the Hornady 300 grain SST in a 12 ga.) and we had a nice 8 pt. down for the count. The doe took off like a rocket for heavy brush, and to find a luckier boyfriend!!!!!!

The drive home was a lot better, even tho the roads were just as bad and the weather deteriorating even more. Funny how your attitude can change so quickly when you have a great hunt. Now just have to concentrate for 3 final days for Lisa's big buck after Thanksgiving and it will have been a pretty good year.

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Dec-01-14, 
04:44 PM (MST)
15. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving and spent lots of time with their families. Ours was great as usual, with all of the kids and grand-kids here and we were only missing my oldest son, who was down enjoying an Arizona elk hunt with a friend. Lisa was able to get up on Friday for the final 3 days of the muzzleloader deer hunt here in Idaho.

The weather has just not cooperated at all this year, and when you needed snow it was 60 degrees. If you planned for good weather and road conditions, the torrential rain and sideways snow was sure to be your nemesis. We did manage to find and track some deer, but lots of girls and not many bucks. Still a big track is always exciting!

The deer had finally made their way to the traditional winter range this week and were a little easier to find, now that it is the end of the season. Saturday morning at first light we found an absolute monster 160" type whitetail in the billiard-table flat short grass, and Lisa was able to get within 200 yards. This deer was 4" outside his ears, and with 10" tines just made your jaw drop. The wind was howling about 40 mph and it was impossible to get out of it to get any kind of steady rest at all. It was so bad, you had to squint to keep tears out of your eyes. She made the best of it, took the shot, and unfortunately resulted in a clean miss. That will haunt her for a while!

While checking out more deer, it was obvious we weren't gonna settle for a small deer if we knew where this one was. Saw lots of both Whitetail and Mule deer, but only forkies and light willow-horned 3 points. We did get the word that my friends had taken two cow bison over in Jackson Hole tho, so we had some celebration to do. My wife doesn't eat game, but promised to try some bison backstrap. This should be quite interesting!

We attempted to drive around the unit to the other side of the mountains on Saturday afternoon, but found that was a pointless endeavor. Horizontal rain, stinging ice pellets and cloud cover right down to the deck eliminated our hunting on that side, so back we went to "Windy Ridge"!!!!!! Continued to see does and little bucks, right up until dark and called it a day.

We were right back in the same place the next morning, and lo and behold there were about 5 whitetail bucks running around with hot does. Couple unsuccessful stalks later, she knew why people call them "sneaky little bastards". Pretty tough to stalk in flat cover, so we left them and moved to the higher sage flats and got some elevation to glass from. Found about 20 mule deer, and there were a bunch of forkies, 3 three points, and a nice chocolate horned four point. This one was one of those deceiving ones you almost have to talk yourself into shooting. Not very wide, at 22-23", but tall and the more you looked the more you noticed. Break out the spotter and he's got 4 big perfect forks. All about 10" deep, and with brow tines too! Hmmmmm!!!!

She was able to wind her way thru the tall sage and boulders without all those eyes picking her out and found a rest on a convenient rock. Now what? The problem was that it was at least a 45 degree angle down below her to the buck, and what was that going to do to the hold and sight position with a 348 grain Powerbelt bullet? Making the best guess she could between rangefinder, eyeball, rangefinder, size of the bead, and everything else she held right on top of his back and let it fly. The advantage of being pretty far behind her and on the spotting scope let me see that was exactly where the bullet went. DAMN. Trying to get reloaded, a couple does picked her out and they all started moving out in unison, and were quickly over 300 yards away. Another one to have bad dreams over.

Had a little issue with a flat tire in the middle of the day(that wasn't repairable, $225 thank you) so we were home and picking up my pop-up blind and a chair. We could get it tucked into the sage right where they enter the field, and hope for the best. This would keep her out of the wind and in the perfect position for the evening hunt. Of course, deer being deer they did something different and none of the shooters showed themselves. The temperature dropped about 20 degrees tho, and her lunch and water bottle froze. It would have been brutal without the blind to break the wind.

We separated out about a mile apart to cover different angles and views and managed to watch deer all afternoon, but not the two shooters we were really hoping for. I think we passed most of the time texting, posting on Facebook, checking email (the boys in Arizona killed a 350 class bull), etc. With just 15 minutes of shooting light left, I get a text frantically saying "Look on the east skyline, huge buck". Sure enough, out of the nastiest brush pile around strolls a true Booner buck, 200 yards off the road, and not a care in the world. He's just looking for love and watching the world go by. It's a 1000 yards over to him from me and twice that for Lisa, and we can see this guy is something special. The spotter showed everything being perfectly symetrical and evenly matched, very good mass, and long and high. Why, oh why, couldn't he have come out an hour earlier when we could have raced over and made a stalk? Now we have reason to try again for next year's drawing. He helped us make some memories, and made it thru the season to pass along his genetics.

Sorry for the crappy quality, it is with the I-phones camera, zoomed out and thru the spotter, also zoomed.

Darkness fell as I was getting down off the mountain to go get Lisa, and with it, her season ended. We had tons of fun, saw a lot of new country together and quality animals and held true to our conviction of not shooting anything little, just to fill a tag. I did hear that a 200" deer was killed on this hunt and I guess it was just posted on Idaho's Big Bucks and Bulls website. I'll try to get hold of one.

Bye for now and good luck to anyone still hunting. Let's see, there's archery, predators, waterfowl - a whole month left in this great year.

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Dec-08-14, 
10:26 AM (MST)
16. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Just a quick note to add a couple pics from our late muzzleloader deer hunt here in Idaho. This was the quality of bucks that Lisa was looking for, and unfortunately missed this one. Great four point with his harem of does! Perfect deer as he was pig fat, and with a big blocky body - just what you're looking for.

Saw about 50-60 head of elk out on the desert this weekend, so they are slowly getting spread out on the winter range. There is no snow down low in the sage, and I think this is the mildest November and early December I can remember here. If it stays like this we will be hurting for water next Spring but the hunting in 2015 should be awesome!

Good luck to all in the next few weeks and Happy Holidays.

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Dec-09-14, 
03:14 PM (MST)
17. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

Couple more pics to keep your interest up. First, our friends went to Texas to try for aoudad sheep and whitetail. Had a very successful hunt, and made a nice winter time trip out of it. Can you say 36" ram! Wow, what a monster.

Holy brow tines, Batman! That would be a hard buck to pass up anywhere.

The AZ duo had plenty of success in their endeavor also. Hard work and scouting paid off, and a nice bull fell on the late hunt.


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Jan-02-15, 
09:56 AM (MST)
18. "RE: A Hunting Year to Remember"

The end of 2014 has arrived, and what a nice year it was. Plenty of hunting and fishing opportunities, lots of animals taken by all of us, good companionship with family and friends, and now thoughts of the 2015 season ahead and the tags we are hoping to draw.

Applications and licenses will be ordered for Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Idaho, and Texas. Hopefully several will hit and it will be another great year.

Here's one last picture to lust over. My friend had his California antelope officially scored, and it made the all-time B&C book. What a way to top off a season.

This HAC has been fun, and given some decent tags and experiences to look forward to, probably something to do again this coming year. Best wishes to everyone and hope you have a wonderful New Year ahead.

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