Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

It's gonna be a great year!
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04:51 PM (MST)
"It's gonna be a great year!"

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Thanks to Brian (Founder) for renewing the HAC for another year. This is a really fun way to share all of our adventures with the MM members or just readers, and lets us practice our skills at photos and story telling ..... Some of these even have a hint of truth about them!

Our new year started out in my family with a decision to have both of us retire on our birthdays. Wow, talk about taking some big steps! The wife will be 62 in July and I will be 66 in October. Wanted to have the time to devote to an amazing Fall, and this will do it. Not too sure how all the financial stuff will work out yet, but we will just take it one step at a time. Have a trip planned back East to the PGA golf championship in Northern New Jersey in July, along with seeing the various sights in NYC. I grew up back there, before service in the US Navy and settling in Idaho, but the wife is an Idaho girl and wants to see the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Bldg., and now the 9/11 Memorial. I must admit, that is pretty high on my list now also.

Since the draw results have been rolling in for a little while, everyone can finally start making some plans for the coming hunting season. Lightning struck twice in Arizona this year, what with successfully drawing both antelope and elk tags for Unit 8. Looking forward to a long scouting trip and the full season for the muzzleloader antelope, then back in November for 3 late bull hunts with Predator and my other hunting partner.

I drew a local turkey permit here in Southeast Idaho for the second season, but the birds didn't cooperate and all the rain really set us back. Have to try again another time, I guess. Just starting to get serious about Spring bear hunting, with a muzzleloader and predator calls. Will get out this week end and see how it goes.

We have a bunch of applications still out there with Wyoming deer and antelope, Arizona deer and sheep, and then all of my resident Idaho tags, so I will update the tag count again in a couple more weeks. Good luck to everyone in the coming draws.

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05:19 PM (MST)
1. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

I haven't been sitting idle this year while anticipating the draws. The wife and I managed to get down to Las Vegas for the SCI show, and saw quite a few of our African friends. I asked her what she wanted for her retirement trip, and she said a trip back to Costa Rica again. I can't say enough great things about Crocodile Bay Resort, so I stopped by their booth and was able to get a week long reservation confirmed for April. Here's a few pics to show that it was as fun as the last time.

The rooster fish were as cooperative as ever along the beaches on live baits in the surf.

My largest sailfish of the trip. This one didn't hardly color up, and stayed jet black. We figured it about nine feet long, and 125 pounds. All told, I raised 25 sails in 5 days of fishing!

This was a really acrobatic fish, and probably jumped 20 times. One of the prettiest and most colored up of all of them.

When things slowed or we got bored with sailfish, we went out on some rocks and deep-dropped for amberjack, grouper, and snapper. Back at the lodge they were amazing on the grill!

Finally, you can tell it is really rain forest and primeval country all around. You can go out hunting dinosaurs if you want (some were over 4 feet long) but I wouldn't recommend trying to grab one. I bet they could just bite the living fire out of you if they wanted!

In May, the strong southwest winds and warm temps had the ice breaking up a couple weeks sooner than usual on some of our local lakes, and Hebgen Lake in Montana turned on for really big brown trout and rainbows. The crawdads were spawning on the beaches and it was a blast catching these big fish on 6# test and small jigs! This lasted for almost 4 weeks, and was huge amounts of fun from the banks.

Not a bad way to ease into Spring and I'm sure Summer will be just as much fun with scouting and camping trips.

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10:12 AM (MST)
2. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

As if I didn't have enough to do already! I have been looking for a project car to work on in my shop for a little while and just haven't been able to make up my mind what I wanted. Part of me leaned towards a hot rod or muscle car, while the other part wanted to relive the sports car period of my teens. Winters in Idaho after hunting seasons close can be boring, and a nice warm shop is pretty inviting.

You know how you always read on the Internet about classic car barn finds, but never believe that any stuff like that still happens? Well, I can now tell you that it does! I got an original owner 1962 MGA MK II. It was purchased new by a lady and hasn't been driven since 1989, and was actually stored in a barn, then move into a garage after a few years. Only 57,000 original miles. Still had all the air in the tires, came with paperwork, and everything is there except the plastic side windows. Removable fiberglass hard top included. They did a lube-oil-filter, filled the anti-freeze, put in two new batteries, then disconnected all cables, and drained the fuel tank after flushing it out. I should be able to start it in a week or so.

It sure is smaller than I remember, tho. Must have shrunk over the years in storage, because I can't be that much bigger than I was at 16!!!!!!!!!!

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01:09 PM (MST)
3. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Had my Emergency Response duty this weekend, so couldn't go too far from home, but the wife wanted to go camping anyway. We have a really pretty area just an hour away up the valley by a creek, so got all packed up and planned for an early Friday departure. As luck would have it, I had to make a quick trip to the Post Office, and what did my wandering eye see on the way? You guessed it, another MG project car for the shop.

This one is a 1970 MGB GT, and is a running daily driver. The guy was practically giving it away (my story and I'm sticking to it!), so I risked the wife's wrath and picked it up. He delivered it to the house, and she would see it in the driveway when she got home from work. Told her that it followed me home, and that wasn't entirely a lie either. Someone accused me of leaving bread crumbs for them! She wasn't too upset, but I think I have enough to keep me busy over the winter now.

After getting away from town and on the road, we headed to the upper valley, There was a front moving in so we fought a 20 mph wind but once there, we set up a nice little camp by the water that was protected by a large grove of bushes. I love the sound of running water all night, so very peaceful and soothing.

The surrounding area has had an incredible amount of rain the last two months, and I think this is as green as I have seen the desert in June. The antelope are scattered all around, and the fawns are big enough to keep up with the adults now. Saw several really nice bucks, with a lot of mass already. These herds migrate down into my muzzleloader unit in the Fall, so its encouraging to see this much growth.

Last Fall was busy for all the family, so they didn't get to hunt as much as I did. I've been supporting all of my kid's food supplies this year, so we were out of elk and whitetail in the freezer. Had to make do with some of that yucky old beef steak for the BBQ! Throw in some spuds and onions tho, and you can manage to get it down OK. The wind settled down thru the evening, and the next day was beautiful for scouting, some 4WD touring in the back country, and wildlife viewing. Saw a lot of deer in their pretty red summer coats, out on the hillsides enjoying the sunshine.

Looking forward to the next couple of weeks for some more draw results. Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are getting closer by the day. Good luck to everyone still waiting for that dream tag you applied for.

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11:05 PM (MST)
4. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Well, with the release of the Wyoming draw results yesterday (finally), I can see that the Fall is shaping up to be really busy and even better than expected....

Congratulations to all of the lucky successful hunters out there. Hope you got the tag of your dreams, and will have as much fun as we will.

I had max points for deer, so I knew quite a few of us would be trying for either 101/102 or the various late hunts, or Region G high country. All you can do is roll the dice, pick a hunt, then see what Lady Luck has in store for you. Imagine my surprise to see that I drew a Unit 128 Type 1 late buck hunt at Dubois, and also two of the reduced price whitetail doe tags in the same unit to go along with it. I have hunted this unit and late hunt several times for both mule deer and whitetails, and am so happy to get another opportunity to do it again. With good weather conditions, you can see a lot of deer, elk, and sheep all over the unit. You can make it as easy or hard as you like, you get to meet some great new friends, and the country is varied from flat hayfields to rough-tough-craggy country around Union Pass, Brooks Lake, or Horse Creek.

My friends here in Idaho Falls drew two of the 128-3 whitetail tags, and also an 89 antelope tag. We will have plenty of trips to cooperate on, and should be lots of fun.

Now if Idaho F&G would just post our final results, we would have our hunting season lined out for sure. Good luck to everyone and be sure to let us know your successes-always willing to funnel info your way, and help all I can. GOOD LUCK!

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07:55 AM (MST)
5. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Since Idaho came through with their draw results, we have a couple more tags to look forward to in my home state. I got the late muzzy deer hunt and an extra whitetail antlerless tag in the river bottoms. Sure do love to eat those whiteys! My hunting partner stole my muzzy antelope tag, but I will still get to help them out and scout some areas for nice bucks. With a long season for elk here on the desert, I'll be looking to fill that cow tag in December when they come down to the hay fields. Now to start getting in some scouting and photo opportunities.

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08:47 AM (MST)
6. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Oh my goodness, when it rains it really does pour! Arizona finally charged cards last week, and I got billed for another Coues deer tag. After drawing that late tag last year, I just figured I'd put in for a random chance instead of a point, just in case. Applied for Unit 8 again, as first choice the late tag and the early Oct. tag for second. That would be a couple hundred to one chance anyway. Since I have an antelope and an elk tag there, you can appreciate that I like that unit. Have been on pins and needles since it cleared the bank, hoping to hear which one I drew but guess I'll have to wait through this week too.

Got to go out and shoot the muzzleloaders some this morning, hoping for a couple hours of calm before the wind came up. I'm shooting my White Whitetails, with either a 2x7 or 3x9 scope on them, Pyrodex P and regular RWS percussion caps. The 100 yard groups were good and so I moved the homemade target out to 200 yards for a while. I can hear you all chuckling now, as it was a pretty crude attempt at a decoy many years ago, but now has been retasked to target practice only. They usually take one look at it, and run off laughing all the way! Here is the result of 6 different brands/makes of bullets from 300 grains to 385 grains, with 3 from each of the two different rifles. All in the kill zone at 200 so I hope that is the farthest I will have to shoot. Tried 300 gr XTP, 300 Barnes MZ Expander, 300 Federal Bore-Lokt, 300 gr Hornady FTP, 345 PowerBelts, and 385 Great Plains.

Couple people have indicated they have moose tags this year, so here are a couple off the river today from Unit 63A. They can only lay in the shade so long, then they want to stretch and eat a little. This is 1:00 in the afternoon and both will develope into shooters in the next month.

The wife celebrated her 62nd birthday last week, and retired on the same day. I am sticking it out for a couple more weeks, but hope to have all the time I need this Fall to fill these 10 wonderful tags. The little camping and hunting trailer is ready to go and should see lots of use very soon.

Good luck to everyone in the upcoming early hunts, and hope the high country Wyoming hunts produce some monsters this year for MM members.

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02:21 PM (MST)
7. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Well, we returned from our trip back to the East Coast for the golf championship and are we ever glad to be home! It was 92-97 degrees while we were back there, and the humidity was about 80-100 percent every day. Wow! The tournament was amazing, the world class golfers were extremely friendly and everyone we met was wonderful, but we don't need to go back. We visited all my old haunts, the house and high school I went to, and all the local hangouts. Brought back some great memories, but I'm done. Give me the mountains and open plains any day.

Went out and got my written permission from various landowners and scouted a couple hundred antelope while I was driving around. Excuse the poor cell phone pics, but I was more concerned with the range conditions that the antelope. I don't think I have ever seen it this extreme in early August! They are pouring in from the desert every day to feed and get water. My son that is the HotShot firefighter has over a thousand hours of overtime here in Wash, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming this summer. He is on the Hunter Peak fire NW of Cody right now.

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08:07 AM (MST)
8. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Well, it seems the entire West is on fire now. Wash, Oregon, Calif, Wyoming. Several close to home in SE Idaho now, and the Henry Creek fire on the winter range here east of Idaho Falls has exploded to over 25,000 acres. Driven by high winds it is over 17 miles from starting point to the head of it now. There is a brand new one in Unit 67 in the Tie Canyon/Pine Creek Pass area that just started last night.

Had a fun project this weekend, and got to put up my big Nyala that I shot in the Limpopo region of RSA a couple years ago. I really think they are the prettiest of all the spiral horned antelope in Africa. Everyone who gets a chance in their lifetime to go there should really try to make one of these a priority!

Now it is time to concentrate on our Western hunts. We all struck out on any left-over or second choice hunts here in Idaho. Looks like my Arizona muzzy antelope in Unit 8 is up first!

Trailer is pretty much loaded up, and all my guns and gear are ready. The Primos Shack-Attack pop up blind is checked out and ready, if needed. Rain gear for sure, cause the monsoons apparently are rolling thru the Williams-Flagstaff area quite regularly. Lists have been written, and checked twice-means we will probably only forget one or two important things. Meals are prepared and frozen, and the celebratory whiskey is safely stored in the cupboard. The wife and I are gonna take off this weekend for Williams for my muzzleloader antelope tag, and I really hope the weather cooperates for a good experience. After 15 years of anticipation, I'd like to enjoy a great hunt.

Hope to find a good big one, but will settle for a big good one!

Good luck to all of the archery hunters out there. I have been seeing pictures of both antelope and deer already, and some are BIG. Have a great time and enjoy your trips out into the hills. Remember to be fire safe!

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09:49 AM (MST)
9. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Had a great trip down to Arizona prior to the hunt. No wind at all, and the trailer pulled awesome. Got reasonable mileage and we were able to make it in one day, instead of two. Spent the night in Williams, then went out the next morning to find a camp and get set up. Little did we know, with all of the monsoon rains we would face an obstacle with terrible muddy roads and having to turn around in the middle of a mud bog! Luckily we got thru it alright, but I was cussing the fact that my brand-new tires arrived a day AFTER I left home. We continued to explore and found a beautiful camping spot on the edge of an antelope prairie, and ended up being the most beautiful place we could have asked for..

Had these same 5 antelope out in front of camp, every day for 5 days, and the buck was very appealing. A unique wide flaring one, with a very distinct wave in both horns and really wide flat appearance. Couldn't accurately judge him, even with the spotting scope but knew he was a possibility when the season opened. Living right on the side of a main road, he was quite the popular landmark for everyone driving by.

Went sightseeing one day for the wife, one long driving day, since she has never been down in this portion of Arizona. Forgot just how many USFS roads there are, but it was fun. We bumped our way around most of the roads I am familiar with, and went out to the Sycamore Overlook to see some amazing country. It was so green and lush we could hardly believe it! Showed her where I will be hunting for both Coues deer and rifle bull elk.

Wandering the first morning after setting up camp revealed a beautiful sight. We had camped in close proximity to a beautiful lake, and there were elk bugling like crazy. Lots of tall grasses and seeps and on the other side of the dam was one of the most stunning lakes I have seen in Arizona. What an attraction for elk for the next 14 days! Turns out, when you have that much rain and greenery tho, it is an attraction for mosquitoes too! Thank goodness for our screen room, and we never had a problem sitting out and enjoying afternoon breezes. For any of you that haven't tried a Coleman pop up screen house, they are worth the money and are the best out there!

Whenever you're in the Williams Arizona area, you have to stop for pie in the Pine Country Cafe. I know I have mentioned it before in the past, but just can't get enough of it. A Key-Lime to die for!

No trip to Units 8-9-10 in Arizona would be complete without a trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I have been to the North Rim many times, but this trip was truly unique and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Gorgeous vistas and so many different angles and colors to see down into the rocky landscape. The day flew by, and before we knew it the day was gone.

Found a great AZ Wildlife Area named Sunflower Flat in the center of the unit. Had a ton of elk every morning and evening. There were many herds right on the main roads and the wife was thrilled to see between 25-100 elk every day. Many of the prairies only had transient animals, but several had herds that could be seen in the same place every evening. If there was a little evening rain, the next morning would be shrouded in morning mist.

My wife was excited to have all these new wildlife experiences. A Bobcat walked across the road in front of the truck one evening and could have cared less about the truck, and a couple of javelina walked right thru camp one evening.

Found a true monster buck on the second day, but just had to watch him for quite a while. He moved around a lot but finally settled down and I was able to make two separate stalks on him, to 304 and then 284 yards. Wouldn't give me a broadside look and never got a good opportunity at him, so I passed. We thought he was a true 85-87" goat..

The wide one got shot at many times the first day, but no one connected. On Saturday evening I passed him up twice at less than 100 yards, but just couldn't make up my mind. On the first Sunday morning, a lucky hunter got the wide buck. It was fantastic because it was his first one ever. I put the tape to him, and while impressive I was glad I had passed. Just wasn't the true trophy I was willing to hold out for in AZ.

I didn't know it until after the Holiday weekend, but someone mentioned the upcoming archery elk season. I found out that it actually overlapped my antelope hunt by three days, and with the people coming in early, scouting and hanging stands, etc. Had people on the waterholes I was hunting come in, and hammer down pop up blinds a day or two early. Lots of people just walking the areas hanging trail cameras just a day before the hunt didn't help. I felt like I lost 5 days of my 10 day hunt. The lopes I had patterned and been pursuing got blown out of the usual haunts and never returned again. All in all, I passed up a total of 25 shootable antelope bucks, looking for the big ones. Many were chip shots and many others were just too young. I did miss a true 82-84" trophy buck due to shooting over his back, so I felt my hunt had been a success whether I harvested or not. Heard several other reports of big bucks we just missed seeing, or that were there the day before.

So much for my Arizona hunt for antelope. It was great and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I did learn a few things, from both experience and talking with other local hunters. Here are some of the things that I learned for you other hunters in the future: 1. Pay attention to the other hunts for different species in the same area, 2. Be especially cautious about hunting on a Holiday weekend, crowds are horrible as was the ATV traffic, 3. Be prepared to be very mobile and have several back-up plans and areas in mind (it is public land, after all).

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03:34 AM (MST)
10. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Comfortably settled in at home for a little while, I passed the time by scouting for elk and antelope for my friends here. I hate hunting desert elk when its hot, so I usually don't get very mad at them until November. Needed to locate some big speed goats for Lisa and Dave tho, so off I went. Found some good numbers of antelope on all the farms that I have permission on to hunt, so was quite excited for the opener on Sept. 19th. While I was looking, I ran into this big herd of elk, but it was hot and a long way from the truck so they got a free pass to safety!

Waited for Preddy to show up the night before the hunt opener and regaled her with stories of the likely candidates to hunt, and made plans for in the morning. We were quite successful in just a short period of time and you can read her account of the hunt in both the Idaho section and the full report in the Sheep and Antelope section here on MM. Needless to say, she got a beauty and one of the 4 or 5 really good ones on the farm. She wants a nice Euro mount and this will make a dandy!

Had errands and dentist appts. in town the second day, so had to wait to go out until my friends could get off work on Wednesday. Set them up in pop up blinds in the necessary locations and we went to look for cow elk on a different far, so as not to bother them. All we managed to locate was a large number of bull elk, in various size herds, but who cares? Again the value of pre-scouting for antelope paid off and we had our second big buck on the ground! Definitely a trophy worth mounting, so we took good care of it and the cape. About as long as Lisa's, but with even better prongs.

My last partner has two tremendous bucks giving him fits right now, slipping in and out of range in the sage, so we hope to be able to update with one more picture tomorrow. The one buck is the best of the bunch up there. Sure wish I had drawn this tag again this year, but with nine other tags that would just be greedy!!!!!!

Everyone enjoy the hunting seasons.

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04:59 AM (MST)
11. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

We have been giving it our best effort, despite all the rain and wind and finally got it done. 3 for 3 in five days, on quality antelope bucks! This is the best one we found this year, and I gross scored it tonight at 81 1/2". Amazing for an Idaho muzzy speed goat! Long horn over 16 inches.

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08:02 AM (MST)
12. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Well, its been a couple weeks since the last post so thought I'd give a little update on what we've been doing. Not a lot of seasons or controlled hunts open yet, but some are starting. I'm still chasing those dad-blamed desert elk. When I go right, they go left and vice-versa. What's really frustrating is to have to drive by Camas National Wildlife Refuge every trip and see these herds out in the protected zones. Some dandy bulls out there this year, and they provide great photo opportunities.

General deer is opening up on Monday the 10th, so everyone is preparing to go into the hills. After the terrible loss of habitat in the Henry Creek fire, the people will be concentrated in a few new areas. I have a late muzzy tag with Predator so we don't get to start looking until the end of October and all of November. I do have an extra Whitetail doe tag tho, and plan on putting some delicious venison in the freezer soon. There seems to be more and more of them, and they are wonderful eating. If you haven't heard yet the IDFG Commission authorized an additional 500 doe deer and 500 cow elk tags in the area of the fire this Nov. due to the loss of habitat and fear they will starve anyway. Going to set up some feeding stations also.

I couple friends have been successful on rifle antelope, with some scoring up into the low 80's.Here's one a friend got last week....

I am leaving next week to go back down to Arizona for my October Coues Whitetail hunt in the Williams area. The wife had so much fun camping last time that she is going along again. I really hope to find some quality bucks and to also scout up some bulls for our November elk hunt there also. I order to stay tuned up for the little gray ghosts of the hills, I have been working the coyotes over pretty hard with the 300 RUM to ensure it's accuracy. This one big dog was almost prime, and in another couple weeks they will be fully furred out and worth pretty good money.

The South Fork of the Snake is starting to drop, and is about 5000 CFS right now. Really fishing well for bigger browns, and it won't be too long and they will be staging tospawn. My favorite time to be on the river is Nov. thru March.

Good luck to everyone heading out to the hills, and I want to wish you all safe trips.

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05:16 AM (MST)
13. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Well, it's time for the 2016 Idaho general bull elk season to open on the 15th. My grand-daughter has been trying to kill her first bull and swears this is the year. I gave her a new Remington 700 SPS in 270 Win last year, and she has been practicing faithfully with it. Shot a nice 4x4 muley and some coyotes last year and is ready to go. Unfortunately I had other commitments and couldn't go, but her Dad has a lot of years experience and off they went. As you can see from the pics and her ear to ear grin, she was pretty happy. One shot-one kill at over 300 yards; shows what good practice can do for your shooting ability! It may only be a 2x2 but what a memory for her. I was super happy to get the text saying "Bull down"!

My son made a post to social media after taking pictures that this was his proudest moment as a Dad, and a great day on the mountain. I know exactly how he feels. I had the same feelings once. They got the entire sequence on video also.

Looking back 30 years, and I believe I had the same feelings when my son scored on his first big game animal. The fact that he scoped himself and almost blacked out just adds to the story.

Just finished mounting my Limpopo Bushbuck this week, and put it in my office today. This will be the last of the mounts for a little while, as hunting seasons get serious for the next couple months.

Getting gear cleaned and ready to go. Packing up the truck tomorrow to return to Unit 8 in Arizona for my Coues whitetail hunt. Rifles are dialed in, the wife is excited for another camping trip, and we are ready for a little warmer weather. I bought a new Nikon B700 camera to take along this time, and hope I can get some good photos and maybe video animals also. Here's a sample shot of its capabilities.

Made a quick trip up the river road along the South Fork of the Snake this afternoon, and the browns were hitting jigs and lures really well. This was a typical male brown and he cooperated by laying still on the wet river bank for all of 2 seconds, while I snapped a picture, then released him. While I did land over a dozen, they were really fast and I probably missed or lost as many as I hooked. A good day for sure.

Probably be a couple weeks before I get back on, but I guarantee I will have more stories and pics on my return. Good luck to everyone out there on your hunts.

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09:40 PM (MST)
14. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Man, what a hectic six weeks it has been. Retirement is about to kill me! Just returned from the last of a half dozen hunts in three states, didn't know a person could be so busy. I have really been a slacker on the HAC updates, and Preddy took me to task over it. Publicly shaming me in her elk post will make me get off my butt today, and get it up there.

First a picture of a nice trout (that I forgot to include in the last post). Fall and Winter is brown trout heaven to die-hard fishermen.

Next it was back down to AZ to try to hunt my Unit 8 Coues deer. This was the early hunt, with no advantage of the rut, and they were supposed to be extremely spread out in bachelor groups and difficult to locate. We were going to have fun product testing some new gear from ORCA (coolers and insulated cups), so you get some camp pics.

They were great items, and really kept things cold for long periods of time. My first day out, I blew out the sole of my favorite boots, and had to whip out the universal fix (Shoe Goo). Greatest emergency repair in the field you can imagine!

The Coues deer hunting was really hot and hard, and was tough. I saw does every day by both walking, glassing, or sitting on water holes but never saw a buck in eight days of hunting.... This was totally different than our later hunt to follow for elk. No one I talked to had seen them all summer in many scouting trips.

The roads were really rocky, and in terrible condition. I had gotten a set of Falken "WILD PEAK" all-terrain tires to try down there, and I have to admit they were the best I have ever used. Extreme traction for an AT, but I'm afraid the soft rubber compound will not give good tire life. There are always trade-offs. One day of incredible rain really put them to the test on those clay roads!

I ended up having to give up the last couple days of the hunt, and never talked to any of the locals who were doing very good at all. I was mailed this picture a couple days later of an amazing Coues buck taken by a lady hunter, on one of the many tanks that I hunted during that week. Her happy smile says it all. I will try again tho, because of my success last year, and the deer we know live there.

Meanwhile, my son and grand-daughter continued to hunt and do photo shoots in Idaho. The weather was a bit different, and cold! We were going to be using some of the newest Mossy Oak Mountain Break-up camo and Browning boots for the later hunts this season.

Now it was time to clean and re-organize gear and guns, and head over to the area of Dubois Wy for my 128-1 deer hunt. It had been and extremely dry year for them too, and there was very little snow in the high country. Did not seem to deter the deer from their migration tho, and they had piled into the winter range. WYG&F maintains a lot of winter feed in the East Fork of the Wind River, so most people congregate there. This can be as challenging of a hunt as you want to make it. The unit has high mountains, thick river bottoms, lots of private land with difficult access, and easy roads with deer like this, if you want to be relaxed and lazy!

Here's a PhoneSkope pic of a buck I found at about a mile, and many of the ones I passed up daily, looking for the big one. I ran into a 160" whitetail I would have used my tag on in a heartbeat the first day, but he was too quick and we never saw him again for the rest of the season.

I had passed up the buck I ended up taking at least 3 times previously, and enjoyed watching him rut and spread his genes around. He was the most dominant of 10 bucks in the field every day, and was built like a tank! There were usually around 40 does in a half dozen groups, and he courted them all. I waited until the last day, and was happy to be privledged to take this beauty. I know I passed up many better, more attractive or higher scoring bucks, but I never located the 210" monster my friends had seen and showed me pictures of, so this was just icing on a nice hunt. Back at home in the shop, he field dressed 225# on an accurate scale. The unit is great for seeing lots of mature deer, the reduction in tag numbers is helping them make a come-back, and allowing whitetail hunters to shoot them is saving some of the quality mule deer.

I met some new friends, helped drag and load some deer for older hunters, and generally had a great time all around. The whitetail tag holders made a pretty good dent in the WT numbers too.

I had a day to cut and wrap the deer meat, then another to switch from deer to elk equipment and load the truck. Then it was off to Salt Lake to pick up my pretty hunting partner (Predator) and begin the long drive back to Williams AZ (again). This was going to be a really enjoyable hunt, because not only did Paul and Lisa have tags also, my sons were coming down to spend the entire hunt with us. We had a new friend coming to join us, who is another professional photographer, and he was great to be around. They would prove invaluable for scouting, hunting, providing photo and video services, and packing heavy loads out of terrible canyons!!!!!!

The canyon country South and West of the pines has vast vistas where the elk go to rest up after the rut, and these provide some amazing sunrises and sunsets. It is almost like the entire horizon is on fire.

My partner Paul would be the first to see an exceptional elk, and my son and him took off on about an 800 yard dash to close the distance before dark. He got set into a solid rest, took dead aim, and they heard the loudest click ever is the stillness. Turned out he had short-stroked the bolt and it did not pick up the round. The elk freaked out and took off thru the cedars, and by the time they recovered and got back on target the second shot was a clean miss at over 300 yards. They followed up for quite a while to make sure, but finally admitted they had just missed one of the largest bulls we have seen in the unit. Heartbreak!!!!!

We hunted hard every day, put up with rain, snow, three degree temps, and fog which removed all glassing abilities. Lisa got the next opportunity at an awesome bull, and it was soon "grip and grin" time. My son used about an hour and $20K worth of camera gear to make everyone into movie stars, then the recovery began. You'll be able to see more of her other pictures and comments with other threads.

My youngest son is an amazing man. You have heard me brag in the past what an animal he is on his HotShot fire fighting crew, for stamina and physical abilities. He enjoys hunting with us (has two bulls to his own credit), but just always loves to help in any way he can. This time he packed a hind quarter AND front shoulder out on his first trip, then only a hind quarter on the second. Slacker!

We hunted hard for me every day too, but I was the only one who did not see a shooter bull during the trip. Plenty of spikes and rag horns, but that is not what we go down there for. This is our fifth trip down, and the bulls have ranged from 310 to 350 and we have never had a trip without getting at least one bull down. It makes for a fun enjoyable trip, to drive home with big elk racks in the back and getting the thumbs up sign from all the hunters on the highway. All together, we saw elk, mule and Coues deer, bobcat and a mt. lion for an incredible outdoor experience. I rented a house for us and there was plenty of good food and real comraderie.

I heard from Lisa that she finally up a tape to the bull at 335" gross, 315" net so that's another big one for her trophy collection.

I promise not to take so much time before the next update, as there is still plenty of hunting left to do this season.

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10:00 PM (MST)
15. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

Did I really title this thread "Great year"? It is gonna be an amazing, fantastic, over the top year! To quote Jim Shockey "Holy moly"!

Just got an email from Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept, and I just beat 4000 : 1 odds and won the fully guided scimitar horned oryx hunt on Mason Mt. WMA! This is one of their research management areas and has sable, gemsbok, scimitar oryx, and other exotics. WOW.

I have been putting in for these public hunts since leaving Texas in 1992, and have drawn several in the past. This greatly exceeds anything I could have wished for tho. Just can't wait for next month.

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09:41 PM (MST)
16. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

I talked with the Area Manager and another technician yesterday about this scimitar-horned oryx hunt. They are as excited to host us as we are to go. There will only be two hunters for the entire area, and they are committed to getting us the best ones on the place. It will be a 3 day hunt, we are welcome to show up a day early to look around and use the range to check our rifles. Full lodge and guest house facilities, along with walk in coolers and meat cleaning area. This was a fully stocked exotic hunting ranch which was donated to TPWD, and has about 14 African species they continue to study. I don't know all of them, but they did say kudu sable gemsbok scimitar oryx warthog waterbuck Thompson gazelle and others. There is a big difference between the Kalahari Oryx (gemsbok) and Scimitar-horned Oryx. Here's a picture of one, and how strikingly beautiful they are. Should be a gorgeous mount. The other hunter and I will both be shooting 7 Mags with 160 gr Barnes X bullets. These are supposed to be tough animals. We will see how they stand up to an elk load.

Once again, I cannot believe how lucky this draw has been. I have been playing the draw and odds in many states for years, but Texas has been exceptionally good to me. I can recommend to everyone that this is a sleeper state for quality public land hunts on WMAs

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(1885 posts)
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11:08 AM (MST)
17. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

We had a great trip back to the Chicago area to see the kids over XMas, and I was impressed with all the whitetail hunting opportunities in their area. His work area is 9000 acres open to bow hunting, and there are many WMA's and state parks too. Looks like a trip is in order next year. Made our way down to the Texas coast for New Years and it has been a blast also.

Our friends are building a new home out in the prairie, and it just wouldn't be coastal Matagorda without live oaks!

We have been fishing a lot in the Intercoastal canal and West Matagorda Bay. Catching redfish, seatrout, black drum, and sheepshead. Fantastic time with over 300 fish caught today alone!!! Man, I love eating fresh fish.

We are going to head out to the deer lease in the morning and spend a few days looking at turkeys, deer, and pigs. They have some great deer out in that South Texas country too. Then I will be back for that Oryx hunt in 3 weeks.

Hope everyone had a fantastic Holiday Season. Time to start reviewing applications and regs, and get those licenses for the New Year. Hoping 2017 is my year for the Paunsagunt deer tag

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11:18 PM (MST)
18. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

We had an uneventful trip thru SAN Antonio and down to the deer lease in Uvalde. Weather is beautiful, with high temps in the 70's and supposed to cool off a lot as a front moves down from the North. Perfect South Texas deer hunting. You can tell when you get there by the stuff they carry at every convenience store!!!! Sure different from home.

First thing in the morning, a dozen pigs came in and we watched them feed for a while. When it was light enough to see pretty good, my friend picked out an eater and hammered it. We decided since it was still pretty dark, we would let it lay there and watch a lot more deer. Had an exciting time watching the does and fawns feed in the sendero and bucks run in and out to check them out. This is a pretty large low-fenced ranch and you never know what will show up one day and then never be seen again. I found a big deer working a scrape line thru the brush and watched him get closer. After judging his size and age as good as we could, we decided he was a definite shooter and the 300 Weatherby barked like a big dog. Big buck down. Six year old 150 class buck; beautiful.

Worked on the trailers and bunk house, drove around and filled feeders for everybody on the lease, just relaxed and visited with friends and had some amazing mesquite BBQ dinners. Saw some of my Masonic friends from the area and caught up on several years of news. Country folks love to talk.

Heading to Dallas for the Dallas Safari Club convention and a few days with all of our African friends. Can't wait to see them all, then we will set our sights for Phoenix and a return north to Utah and Idaho. Happy New Year!!!!!

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08:43 AM (MST)
19. "RE: It's gonna be a great year!"

The trip to Dallas for the DSC convention was great, but sure got scary at the very end. An ice storm set in just as we were getting there, and there were hundreds of slide offs and some serious wrecks. They bank all their overpasses, and we watched many cars try to make up them, only to stop and slide all the way

against the concrete guard rails. I had put new studded snow tires on before leaving, so we were OK. I got the truck into valet parking as quickly as possible, and didn't move it gor three days!

We had some amazing meals and got a chance to eat at the YO Ranch restaurant. Fabulous, and anyone in Dallas should try it.

We saw all of our African friends and had great visits. Business was lively and many hunts were booked around the world. Talking with Western outfitters, I found them really upbeat about deer and elk hunting. The taxidermy was beautiful, and all of them got a look and picture. Scimitar Oryx especially!!!

While I was there, I got word from my partner that he had filled his WY unit 78 elk tag with a nice bull. This is the last of our 2016 hunts, and will be a good stopping place for this years adventures.

Now that Utah, Arizona and New Mexico refs are available we can all plan and hope for our 2017 hunts. Good luck to everyone and we will see you in the near future with a new HAC.

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