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Potential Dream Season

 
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Ltsheets
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Jul-08-15, 
10:57 PM (MST)
"Potential Dream Season"

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Where to begin...

After a very frustrating season last year, where I hunted hard on some leftover tags I was able to pick up after a very unsuccessful draw in NM and bad outfitting experience in CO, my wife and I were very fortunate this year.

We drew 1st season archery bull elk tags in our 1st choice unit in the Gila, restricted muzz muley tags for a top desert unit, I drew archery Bighorn Ewe in the Latir Wilderness along with a guided Oryx tag, and last but not least, she drew an archery Ibex tag, which she has decided to do with a guide for at least 3 days. We will also hunt whitetails on the family ranch in West TX and I will likely take a weekend to chase them as well on public land in OK during the rut.

Needless to say, this season could be one of the best I ever have and I'm still overwhelmed at how great it could be.

I've only been on one scouting trip so far due to how busy I've been and I didn't get many pics as I was focused making the most of what little time I had to check out many areas and hang 6 trail cams. I will post pics once I have some worth posting.

I won't be taking a scouting trip again until early Aug unless I get a day or so to get away to scout for Mulies, which isn't that far from where I live.

Thanks to everyone who eventually follows my and my wife's adventure this fall. I truly hope to be posting lots of success pics this fall along with the stories to go with them. I'll do my best to keep a journal on all my hunts and scouting trips from here on out so I can tell the stories as they unfold.

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  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Aug-12-15   1 
  RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Aug-13-15   2 
   RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Aug-18-15   3 
    RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Aug-23-15   4 
     RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Aug-26-15   5 
      RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Sep-01-15   6 
       RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Sep-07-15   7 
        RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Sep-09-15   8 
         RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Sep-10-15   9 
          RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Sep-11-15   10 
           RE: Potential ...  Ltsheets      Sep-29-15   11 

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Ltsheets
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Aug-12-15, 
08:42 AM (MST)
1. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

Well I just got back from a 7 day trip..half the time was spent scouting for elk in the Gila and the other was spent up in the Latir Wilderness scouting for sheep. I will post lots of pics and a story from the trip very soon. Stay tuned!

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Ltsheets
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Aug-13-15, 
08:45 AM (MST)
2. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

Ok guys, bear with me as I'm about to talk a lot about probably my best scouting trip I've ever taken in order to fine tune my elk and sheep strategies as the hunt seasons are fast approaching!

Last Monday morning, I dropped the kids off at daycare and made the 6.5 hr drive to the Gila for my last elk scouting trip of the season. I had 6 trail cams to check along with a couple areas I wanted to check out that I was unable last trip due to a washed out road.

To start, I was amazed with how much greener the state is between here and there. The plains where the VLA is located is green where last trip, late June, was brown.

I got to the unit around 2PM and immediately parked to unload my ATV so I could start checking cameras. My plan was to check 4 of the 6 in the first evening and that meant that I didn't have much time to spare. My first location I checked was a little disappointing as it was obvious the elk weren't using the tank like I hoped due to how much rain the area had gotten. These 2 pics show how much this tank's level increased over a very short period of time.


The next camera I checked had a lot more bulls on it though you could tell that they stopped visiting as frequently about the time of the month that the unit got lots of rain.







The other 3 cams I checked before heading back to the truck to relax for the rest of the evening, had lots of pictures of cows, wolves, and not to mention...livestock. I'll include a few pics to show you guys just how green it is out there this year.



The last camera I checked, which was the one I put out with the most haste on the last trip as I just didn't want it to go to waste, actually got a couple nice bulls!


One of the craziest experiences I had this trip, was when I was trying to check a cam the first morning I was there, I was trying to do so without disturbing elk in the area. More than 3 or 4 times, I bumped elk trying to avoid a herd I already had seen. Every time I tried to go around a known group of elk, I kept bumping another group! At one point, I had cow mews coming from both sides of where I was. It was incredible!

The last day I scouted there, I tried a different part of the unit and was please to finally find some tanks that were being used it looked like. I did about a 6 mile round trip hike into this more remote area and hung a couple cams on the tanks I found in hopes of getting some last minute intel when I show up to hunt. Here are a few pics from that side of the unit along with some other general pics from around the unit that I took while scouting.






Stay tuned as I'll post tomorrow about the second half of the trip when I drove up to the Latir Wilderness for my first backpack trip to scout for Bighorn Ewes!

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Ltsheets
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Aug-18-15, 
10:33 AM (MST)
3. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

Ok guys and gals...sorry for the delayed response on part 2 of the scouting trip. It's been a crazy few days at home with the kiddos.

Well to get started, after being satisfied with my scout in the Gila, I decided to head to the Latir wilderness a day early to scout for Bighorn Ewes. I stayed the night in Albuquerque the night I left the Gila and then headed north the next morning. I took a quick pit stop in Sante Fe to check out Imperial Taxidermy and was very impressed with their shop. After a longer than I planned conversation with those guys, I continued up to Cabresto Lake.

After getting dressed for the trip as quick as I could, it was time to lock up the truck and head up the mountain! I was absolutely blown away by the scenery on the 4.5 mile hike to my camp location.



Basin I camped in...

After getting camp set up that first night, I decided to relax for the rest of the evening and just take in the scenery. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was up there. I'd never camped this high before but so far was feeling good. I still decided to go to bed early to make sure I got some good rest.

After waking up nice and early to have my oatmeal and much needed coffee, it was time to head up to the ridge for the first time!

Once on top, I started glassing the nearby peaks and cliffs without seeing a single sheep. I slowly worked my way up the ridges until I finally looked across a basin and BOOM, lots of sheep!

I was so relieved and excited to have found them the first morning! I decided to make a long hike to get close to just observe their behavior. My plan was just to shadow them for a few days and see where they fed, bed, moved, etc. so I could find them quickly on the opener in theory. Here are some pics from the area I hiked to get over to them...


I ended up shadowing this group of sheep while they took turns feeding and bedding back around the basin to near where I was when I first spotted them. It was then that I noticed some really nasty weather blowing in so I decided to head down early. I spent the afternoon reading and relaxing as it slowly got worse. Went to bed early that night hoping I wouldn't get blown over. It rained and blew really hard that night!

The next morning it was much cooler but I hiked up at first light and found the sheep very quickly! I watched them for about 2 hrs and then walked back down in order to meet a couple friends of mine who were going to meet me up there and hang out for a couple days.

Once they made it into camp, we got them set up and let them rest before heading back up the mountain. Unfortunately, weather threatened again and we were forced off the mountain to an early dinner and early bedtime. Didn't mind too much as we were quite tired.

The next morning we were up early and hiking before first light. We found the sheep very quickly and watched them all morning, at one point we were sitting still and a few walked no more than 30 yds from us on a trail that was below us. Even had a young ram (half-curl) walk right at us. He didn't see us until he was about 25 yds away and that was about all it took for him to decide it was time to get out of there. He and a young ram were across the canyon in just a couple mins. It was crazy seeing how fast they can move through some rugged country!

That evening we relaxed in camp and started packing up for our next morning hike out. I slept great that night feeling very confident about this hunt. I feel like all of my observing of the herds will be very helpful on opening day.

The next morning we got up at sun-up to pack the rest of camp and head down the mountain. The hike out was very enjoyable and then it was off to Taos for some great pizza before making the long drive back to Clovis.

Now that I'm back at home, it's time to re-pack for the hunt and try and pass the time until I head back out next week for game time!!








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Ltsheets
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Aug-23-15, 
10:46 AM (MST)
4. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

Well took a big step yesterday to ensure my wife and I are ready for this crazy season. We made a quick day trip to Amarillo to get our bows tuned. After a couple hours of shooting and tweaking, we had both bows shooting fixed broadheads and fieldpoints together at 40 yards. Now we can just focusing on practicing with our actual hunting set-ups.

I will be having an easy week at work and go on leave starting Wed to finish packing and prepping. I'll be heading out Friday morning straight from dropping off the kiddo's at daycare.

I think I'm equal parts nervous, worried, and excited! I've never had tags that I was really worried about not filling. It will be such a relief if I'm able to be successful on the sheep hunt early as I hope I'll be able to.

Stay tuned...

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Ltsheets
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Aug-26-15, 
10:16 AM (MST)
5. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

Well did some final broadhead testing yesterday after getting a small tune up for the bow. Started out with T3 practice heads and 4 different fixed broadheads. Ended up going with Slick Trick Viper Tricks (top photo, 70 yds), and T3s (bottom photo, 70 yds). The plan is to use the T3s for sheep where the wind is likely to be worse and switch over to the viper tricks for the elk hunt!


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Ltsheets
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Sep-01-15, 
10:44 AM (MST)
6. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

Quick update...

I was able to tag my Bighorn ewe by 7am on opening day yesterday! Here are a couple quick pics. I will post more details of the story later but right now it's time to head south to the Gila for my elk hunt! Stay tuned...


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Ltsheets
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Sep-07-15, 
08:12 AM (MST)
7. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

So here's the sheep story...I've been trying to keep a hunting/scouting journal this year and here's what I wrote for opening day.

Opening day is finally here! We woke up extra early today to make sure we were on the ridge by first light. After breakfast and double checking to make sure we had all the gear, we set off up the trail. Once on top, we quickly spotted the group of sheep on the peak to the south but wanted to try and find the bigger group first that we had been watching all weekend. As we hiked the trail towards where we left the sheep yesterday, we noticed the big herd of elk was back in the valley. I left my two friends to watch the elk as I climbed the ridge to the East in order to gain a better vantage point to locate the sheep. Well it worked! I spotted some sheep exactly where they had been the night before.

As we planned how to go after the sheep I had seen, a ewe skyline on the ridge behind us, right above us! Not wanting to miss this chance, I quickly grabbed my bow and started up the ridge as my buddies watched from below. Due to the shape of the hill, I was able to get about 70 yds from the feeding sheep without them knowing I was there. I was then able to close another 20 yds moving very very slowly. When it looked like they were about to go back over the ride, I ranged the closest ewe at 52 yds, drew my bow, and MISSED! I had rushed the shot, held too low and shot right below her. I ran up to check my arrow to be sure it was a clean miss. The arrow was dry and there were no signs of blood or hair. I was momentarily very disappointed until I peeked over the ridge and there stood a ewe, not too far away. I nocked another arrow, ranged her at 42 yds and shot. I watched the arrow fly true and bury up to the fletching. She immediately disappeared and the other sheep scattered.

I then eased down the slope to validate a good hit. I found good blood almost immediately! I walked back to the top and signaled my friends to come up and join me. After a 15-20 min wait to make sure she had expired, we took up the blood trail. After less than 10 mins of tracking, my buddy spotted her about 500 yds below us on the slope!

The feeling that I had, once I knew she was down is hard to describe. It was very mixed...relief, excitement, and thankfulness all come to mind.

Now it was time to descend down to her by sliding, stumbling, etc. It was definitely an exercise in controlled chaos. It probably took us almost 15 minutes to decent to the sheep. We found her all twisted in a pile. She was bigger than I anticipated both in body and horn size! I was thrilled!

After snapping a few pictures, we quartered and caped her. It took us about an hr to do so and pack her up in our packs. We packed down another 500 ft to the bottom of the basin and hiked the 3/4 of a mile or so back to camp. 30 minutes later, we had camp packed and were ready for the 4.5 mile hike back to the trucks.

My pack weighed 100+ lbs for this hike which is easily the heaviest pack out i've ever done. The truck was a very welcome sight when we got back and I quickly took some Advil, knowing I'd soon be sore. As tired as I was, the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, made all the work worth it.

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Ltsheets
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Sep-09-15, 
08:33 AM (MST)
8. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

Here's my elk story...

After 3.5 days of hard hunting and not being able to get close to any of the bulls I chased, I was finally able to make it happen! I chased this guy over a mile for more than 1.5 hrs before getting close enough that I felt I could call him successfully. I cow called and when he responded, I hit him with the best challenge bugle I could muster haha. He flipped a 180 and let out a bugle that made the hair on my neck stand up! I had about 2 minutes to find a good cedar bush to get in, nock an arrow, and range one tree before he popped up in front of me at about 70 yds coming straight in. I had one tree trunk that he needed to go behind to offer me a chance to draw, and that's just what he did. I drew as quick as possible and when he cleared, I cow called to stop him. He stopped at what I thought was about 30 yds (turned out to be 27), quartering to me, and I shot, trying to tuck the arrow just behind his shoulder. I watched as it buried to the fletchings exactly where I was aiming. He spun to run and I cow called which made him run a semi circle. He stopped about 60 yds away to look back, wobbled and fell! I could not believe how it had happened and i couldn't be happier! I already dropped him at Imperial Taxidermy and am waiting to see if we can get my wife a bull too before I decide what kind of shoulder mount to do! Can't wait to get back out there Fri to chase them for my wife!

I'd also like to thank everyone on MM that offered me advice and information that went into the success of this hunt! It was and still is greatly appreciated.

Also, here is a video I took talking about the hunt. I literally shot the bull and sat down to compose myself. The video is me talking about what just happened only minutes after letting the arrow fly and before I even walked up to the bull for the first time! I apologize for the amateur nature of the video but hope you enjoy! You can tell by how I'm acting that I'm in total shock!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYVr60WEjVc





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Ltsheets
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Sep-10-15, 
10:16 PM (MST)
9. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

Well I made a quick trip today to hang some cams in the area I'll be mule deer hunting in Oct. I didn't think to wear my snake boots and that was almost a very bad mistake. I ran into 3 Prarie rattlesnakes and one of the almost got me. I all but stepped on him by the time he rattled at me. I reacted by jumping a moving my closest leg, and it's a good thing I did. As I jumped, I looked down to see him strike at me. He didn't miss me by more than a couple inches. That would have been a quick way to end the rest of my season. I'm very very thankful that he didn't get me. Just goes to show that you have to be careful out there...especially when solo!

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Ltsheets
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Sep-11-15, 
08:45 PM (MST)
10. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

Well the wife and I are all packed up and ready to head back to the Gila so we can try and get her a bull! We'll be there from tonight through the end of the season if needed unless she tags sooner. I can't wait to see the look on her face the first time she hears a live bugle! Here's a pic of one of the bulls that's in the area that I got on cam... stay tuned!!


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Ltsheets
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Sep-29-15, 
09:18 AM (MST)
11. "RE: Potential Dream Season"

Sorry for the delay in updates everyone. There have been some family emergencies to really slow down my ability to get on here and type up some updates. I will post some updates as soon as possible!!

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