A year to reminisce

ridgetops

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It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the first HAC. When I had shared my Utah bighorn sheep hunt . Since that time, I’ve had an incredible run of good luck hunting Utah general season Muleys. I’ve been able to kill six 4 point or better bucks with the top two scoring 210” and 191”. I’ve also been able to put a tag on a couple 300”+ general season bulls.

This year I’ve decided to challenge myself and return to a unit that has really kicked my butt in the past.

The last time I hunted the area, I hunted 7 days and only saw one small 2 point and the time before that, I only saw one deer period in 3 days of hunting. Although it was a nice buck, I couldn’t get close enough for a shot.

So with a new game plan this time around, will it be “third times a charm” or “three strikes and I’m out”?

I’m also probably going to try and do the general season muzzy elk hunt for the first time this year.

One of my good friends also drew a Nevada desert bighorn tag, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to tag along and help out on that late Nov. hunt.

Hopefully I’ll be able to continue and pay it forward by helping one of the 5 Stansbury sheep tag holders again this year. I’ve been fortunate to be able to help several of these hunters over the past few years.

Scouting season is just around the corner, so stayed tuned for another adventure for 2020.

Here’s some video’s I’ve uploaded of a few general season bucks I’ve either scouted or passed on during the past nine seasons, with a couple kill shots hidden among the video’s.

 
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ridgetops

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Well it's under a month now until my first scouting trip of the year. Until then, I thought I'd share a few stories of what I've been up to since the last time I did one of these hunt adventure threads.
If some of you remember from my 2010 HAC thread, I was after a big 3 point we called "lucky". Which seemed to always slip past us.
We had unfinished business, so the gang decided to go back and hunt the same area as we did in 2010. I never did see "lucky" during any of my scouting trips and I had a close call with a cool cactus buck during that 2011 muzzleloader season but in the end, I ended up eating tag soup.
Although my buddy Corby did end up coming across "lucky" during the rifle hunt. Unfortunately the buck had regressed from the year before.
Here's the gang with lucky.
2011 Group with Corby's rifle buck.jpg
 

ridgetops

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2012:
Started out with a bang with me spotting the first true 30” buck in early July and then several other great bucks throughout the summer.

This was going to be an extra special year because I had told my son that I would take him hunting with me when he turned eight and he just so happened to turn eight on the second weekend of the rifle deer hunt. I had a dedicated hunter deer tag, so my plan was to hold out shooting a buck unless it was one of those once in a lifetime encounters.

Opening day of the archery hunt had me watching two 190”+ bucks and several 150”-160” bucks feeding at less than 100 yards away but a failed stalk would let them live another week.

One week later my buddy Paul killed one of the 160” bucks and then the next day my other friend Tom killed a 193” buck that was part of that opening day group. I had lots of trial cam pics. and video footage of Tom's buck.

Also, I had taken my oldest daughter with me on that backpacking trip into our backcountry spike camp for the weekend.

Here’s a picture of us coming out with Tom’s buck.
Group with Tom's 2012 archery buck - Copy.JPG




And Paul with his buck.
pauls 2012 buck - Copy.jpg
 

ridgetops

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Less than a week later, the gang found ourselves in Idaho overlooking the snake river in search of a moose for Tom to put an arrow in.
We hiked about 10 miles that first day but in the end, we spotted a great bull from the road while driving to a different location. Tom ended up shooting the bull on an a small island in the middle of the river just before dark. We shuttled and packed meat across the river all night long. We loaded the last of it into the trucks around 7:00am. I was glad I was there to help but after that experience, I have no desire to hunt moose for myself. lol
In six days, Tom was able to kill two record book animals with his bow.
Here's a picture of Tom's top 20 P & Y archery moose and the gang.

Tom's 2012 moose.JPG
Tom's 2012 moose2.JPG
 

ridgetops

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A few weeks later, Paul tagged a nice 5 point archery bull elk up in Idaho. We were definitely starting out 2012 with a bang.

When the general season muzzy deer hunt finally came along. My cousin and I hunted hard for 4 days and had a close call on one great buck but we just couldn’t close the distance on it.

Now it was time for the rifle hunt.

I passed on a 30” wide buck with short tines on opening day in hopes of seeing another buck that lived in the same canyon that was a solid 180"+ but I had no such luck finding it. John’s wife killed a nice 4 point and Tom’s son shot an average 3 point on the first day and John killed a tall 3 point with a cheater mid-week.
Here's a picture of John's buck.

2012 John's rifle buck.JPG
 

ridgetops

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Now it was Saturday and my son was turning 8. As promised, I planned on taking him out and we would shoot the first 3 point or better buck I saw to give him the experience of the harvest.

Corby still had a tag but had to work until the next morning, so Tom offered to help me out with spotting and packing one out, if needed.

We end up finding a nice 4 point to take and we were home by early afternoon to celebrate my son’s birthday with the rest of the family.
2012 Group with Koby's rifle buck2.jpg


Here’s a short video I put together of that day.

 

ridgetops

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So with Corby having the last unfilled tag in our group, he headed for the mountains once his Sunday morning shift ended at 7:00am. Although he arrived at the base of the mountain well after sunrise, his persistence paid off and he ended up killing a buck of a lifetime on the last hour of the last day. After getting news that the buck was down, I headed his way and helped him and Tom get it off the mountain. The buck was a 10x9 and ended up scoring 226”. The buck ended up on the cover of Trophy Hunter mag.

2012 Group with Corby's rifle buck.png

2012 Corby's rifle buck.JPG



And to top off the 2012 year. I had a kid named Kade (known on this forum as Katorade) contact me about his dad drawing a Stansbury sheep tag. I was able to point them in the right direction and his dad kill a nice 10 year old ram. Kade and I have stayed in contact ever since, sharing our successful hunts each year and even getting together to help other sheep hunters that have reached out to us.
I honestly didn't think 2012 hunting season could be beat but what I found out later, it was only the beginning of some great adventures.
 

ridgetops

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Well I finally got to go on a road trip this past weekend. With several months of google earth scouting and mapping out a route on my phones onx maps app. I was ready to do a solo backcountry overnighter. What I didn't plan on was running into a road closed sign several miles before the spot I was planning on hiking in from.
closer.jpg


So it was time for plan B. I drove about 8 miles to another canyon, only to discovered another closer.
closer2 - Copy.jpg

Now I was starting to get really frustrated. It was time for plan C. I knew where there was an atv trail that would take me up a very rough route for about 15 miles but once I got ready to head up this trail but I had a really bad feeling that I shouldn't go up there. Over the years I've learned to listen to those feelings.
So now it was time for plan D and just like that, I took off for a different part of the unit. This was a spot that the deer would migrate through in the fall but I was hoping to find some resident deer. I drove around on my atv for about 20 miles checking out the country and glassing different areas. I never picked up a single deer. So I found a roadside spot to pitch a tent for the night and then tried to come up with a plan E. This first day was not going at all as planned. I sent my wife a text right before I went to bed and told her where I was camping and where I was planning on going in the morning.
My alarm went off at 4:15am and I quickly threw my stuff in the truck and was off to a new area in the low country. A friend of mine told me about this spot years ago. He had heard of a guy that had killed a big buck down in the flats.
I got to this new spot just as the sun was starting to hit the upper peaks on the distant mountains. Within 200 yards of where I unloaded my atv, I had a group of bucks cross the road right in front of me and a couple of them caught my interest. One had great backs but crawdad fronts and the other had good fronts but average backs but they did have good growth for early July. Unfortunately I never saw anther deer after that. Next trip I'll try another part of the unit and hopefully won't see any more closer signs.
Here my first still picture of the scouting season and a video clip of the bucks.
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ridgetops

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2013:

This year became a very productive one for finding giant bucks.

It would be my friend Paul’s turn to draw out on an Idaho moose tag.

It’s crazy to think that my group of friend that I hunt with had drawn out on four different OIL tags in five years, including Tom’s 2009 mountain goat.

This would also be the year that I would introduce a new friend of mine Roger to the way I hunt and how much sacrifice it takes to hunt big ole muley bucks.

I had found some great bucks during the summer but when the archery season came around. My group of hunting buddies all had different plans or had to work opening weekend. Roger didn’t have anyone to go with and he was picking my brain about areas to check out. I offered to take him to a new area that I had never been to before but felt like it looked promising.

Roger and I found a couple 180” bucks that opening day but they just weren’t in a good location to make a stalk on.

By the time Labor Day weekend had come around, I met up with the gang in a canyon where we had a couple great bucks located from our trail cameras. As I was hiking in to meet up with them on Friday afternoon, I located a 200” typical and we quickly made plans to be right on top of the buck the next morning. Unfortunately there was a big deep canyon between us and the big buck, I did get some good pictures and video of the big buck. We came up with a good game plan to make a stalk on the buck and we were just about ready to draw straws on who would be the lucky one to try and go after the buck. When a friend of Paul’s up in Idaho that had been watching a big bull moose hanging out on private property but close to public lands. Paul’s friend had called to let Paul know the bull was now on public land and he should get up there ASAP! Paul was really torn about what to do, forget about the bull and help his buddy’s try and kill a 200” buck or head for Idaho. We all voted to leave the buck for another day and we quickly bailed off the mountain. Paul’s brother (which was with us) had been very sick from the hike in and Paul felt really bad about leaving him because he was in no condition to travel several hundred miles to Idaho. So I offered to stay behind had help his brother out while they went after the bull. That’s the type of friendships we had developed.

Paul ended up killing the bull and Roger ended up going out with another friend to a new area and killed a cool looking non-typical with his bow. That ended the archery season.

When the muzzleloader hunt came around, Paul, John and I would be back in the same canyon where the 200” typical, a 34” wide 8x7 and a cool 180” buck with a big hook cheater that all resided in.

Unfortunately we got hit by a huge 3 day snowstorm and heavy fog, which made those three days very miserable to hunt. We finally bailed off the mountain to hunt lower country and regroup but Paul had to get back to work in Idaho.

The next morning Tom met up with John and his daughter and myself. We were going to try and find a crazy droptine buck that looked more like a raghorn elk than your typical mule deer buck. We didn’t find the raghorn but I did find a another nice buck I had found earlier in the summer and had named him “beamer” because of his long twisting main beam.

Although he was much smaller than some of the other bucks we were after, it was a cool opportunity to have family and friends with me and to watch me make a stalk on the buck. The stalk worked out perfect and I made a 60 yard shot on beamer.

Here’s Tom, John, his daughter and me with my buck.
He ended up being 28" wide and scored in the low 170's
2013 Group with Koby's muzzy buck.JPG


No one else would tag one during the muzzy hunt.
 

ridgetops

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2013 Utah general season elk hunt:
One week after I killed my muzzy buck, I was able to score on a great general season bull.
Here's the story: https://www.monstermuleys.info/xf/threads/what-a-week-my-best-bull-yet.52022/

Then the following weekend (which was one week before the general season rifle hunt) my buddies Tom and Corby called me to let me know that they had found another great buck in the same canyon as the other three bucks we had on our hit list from earlier in the year. I don't know how we missed seeing this buck all summer but I guess he was under our noses the whole time (according to some other hunters).
Here's the video Corby got that day.


Tom, his son and Corby were back in this canyon the night before the opener and relocated the buck we had named "cheaters". After hearing this over the phone, Paul, John and I all offered to help Tom or his son kill this buck and maybe run into one of the other bucks we knew was in the area.
Opening morning came and Tom had a chance at the cheaters buck but he didn't feel good about the shot, so he passed on it. Another hunter ended up killing the 34" 8x7 just up canyon from us. I found out later that the hook cheater buck was killed in the next canyon over from us.
I located one other cool non-typical that afternoon but it didn't work out to get one of the guys in our group on it.
So the next day, we went into a little honey hole canyon that we knew would hold a nice buck for Tom's son to shoot. Tom didn't even take his rifle because he just wanted to focus on his son's success. Luck would have it that they found two nice bucks feeding together and after Tom's son Ethen dropped his buck, the other buck just stood there looking at the downed buck. So after some discussion, Tom took his son's rifle and dropped the other buck. Knowing he was giving up the chance at those other great bucks we had scouted out but this opportunity was to good to pass on. A father / son combo with the same rifle. How cool is that!

2013 Group with Tom's & Ethan's rifle bucks.jpg


Another cool back story is that these two bucks were killed about 50 yards from where I shot my muzzy buck just a couple weeks earlier.
Paul had some chances of some nice bucks but he held out to the very end for a chance at one of the better bucks we had seen in the area but with no luck.
That ended a pretty terrific 2013 season.
 

ridgetops

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I'm not going to have time to review more years past hunts for now. With my daughter wedding coming up, things have got really crazy.
But here's a recap of my most recent scouting trip.

July 23rd:
I got a pretty late start and with only a couple hours before the sun would be setting. I decided to look over the lower country where I had seen a few bucks a couple weeks earlier. Hopefully I could catch something moving to water since it hadn't rained in several weeks. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm popped up out of nowhere and the rain really came down hard and fast with a lot of lightning to add to the excitement. Thankfully it was a fast mover and I didn't have to wait it out for too long. With only a little more than an hour of glassing light left now, I quickly hiked up a very steep, brushy hillside so I could do some glassing of the surrounding flats. Within minutes I was able to pick up 5 feeding bucks in a far off clearing about 2 miles away. One of them got me excited when I saw his 180" class left side antler but then he turned his head and exposed his very average 3 point side, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. The others were all 2 or 3 year old smaller bucks. Those would be the only deer I would see that evening.
scouting 7-23.jpg

Here's waiting out the storm in the cab of my truck. Muck better than out on atv.

scouting 7-23a.jpg

And here's one of the flats I was overlooking from the hillside that I was glassing from.
 

ridgetops

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July 24th

I was on the road by 4:00am to check out an area on the other side of the unit. I arrived at my pre chosen spot about a half hour before light. I couldn’t believe all the trailers parked in the meadows. I wondered how many of them were other people scouting or maybe setting up early for the upcoming archery hunt. As I started hiking, I found it a lot more brushy than it looked on google earth but I was still able to make good time and got to a good glassing location right around sunrise. I glassed for a couple hours and ended up seeing four nice 3 and 4 point bucks and several smaller ones. By 9:00am it was getting very hot and everything had already bedded, so I decided to head for another spot I had planned on doing a backcountry overnighter.

So, I loaded up the ATV and headed for the new location. After eating lunch and loading my pack for the overnighter, I decided to take my time and hike slower than normal in the afternoon heat. The slope I was climbing was a southwest exposure with very little shade and it was one of the hottest hikes I’ve done in a long time. I finally reached a nice basin around 5 PM and I started looking for a good place to drop my gear and set up camp. I spotted a nice looking pine tree that looked like a good spot to pitch camp. As I got about 10 feet from the tree, I suddenly saw one of the largest rattlesnakes I’ve ever seen—right next to that tree! I estimated it to be at least 50” long and 2 ½ “wide. I quickly moved on to find another spot about a half mile away. I’m glad I had brought a fly tarp tent with me in case of a random thunderstorm. Even though there was no sign of rain, I decided to pitch the tent to give me more security from any slithering visitors.

That evening I ended up seeing three more bucks right before dark. One was a nice, upper-160 or low 170" class four point and right before dark as I moved to put away my spotting scope, a doe snorted about 20 yards away and bounded down the hill. Apparently, it had walked right on me as I was intently glassing the far side of the basin. It sure made me jump! As quickly and cautiously as possible I worked my way back to camp with the light of my headlight, nervous of another snake encounter.

Here's a look at that big ole snake.

scouting 7-24b.jpg


Here's a look at my camp spot overlooking the basin that I had seen the nice 4 point. I circled were my tent is set up.

scouting 7-24.jpg


Here's a look at my jimmy rigged shelter to keep the bugs and serpents at bay. lol

scouting 7-25d.jpg
 

ridgetops

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July 25th

I actually slept pretty well and was up a half hour before first light. That’s the great thing about doing overnighters and spike camping. You can start looking for animals usually right from camp. I went back to where I had been the night before and spotted a couple new bucks. The biggest was a 24-25” wide mid 160” class 4x4 and he had a 22-23” wide 2 point with him. I then moved over the hill and found 8 more bucks moving into the shade of the landscape to feed a little longer before bedding for the day.

It was getting to be mid-morning and I decided to check one more spot before heading back and breaking camp. I found a funky 3x4 bedded on a very steep north facing side hill in which I took a picture of it through my spotting scope with my hand held cell phone. Wished I had one of those phone scopes. lol

That ended the scouting for this trip. So I headed back and broke camp. As I was hiking out, I came across a couple small pines that were torn up by a pretty big buck from the year before. I would have thought maybe an elk but there’s no history of elk in this country.

It was now time to meet up with my wife and kids for an extended camping trip and try and check my trail cameras I had set up in a general season any bull unit.

Here's a look at the canyon were I saw the group of bucks feeding.
scouting 7-24a.jpg


Here's the funky 3x4 bedded
scouting 7-25c.jpg


And here's the torn up tree I came across on the hike out
scouting 7-25.jpg
 

ridgetops

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Sept. 4th
After going back to my plan A spot only to find out that the area was still closed down due to the extreme fire season that was going on. I decided to try an area that I hunted years ago. I got there later than I had hoped but after a very dicey atv ride up a very rough and steep trail. I hiked in a little over a mile and after finding a fairly level spot, I dropped off my tent, sleeping pad and a few other things. Then went looking for some bucks and a good place to glass in the morning. With only about 10 minutes of light and after spotting a few small bucks about a mile away. Suddenly a very nice 170" class buck just appear out of nowhere and was standing about 300 yards straight across the canyon from me. He had one antler behind a tree and was staring right at me. I have no idea how long he had been standing there but he never moved an inch until after it got too dark to see. He did rotate his head a few times and I got a look at his other side and the width of his antlers. I'd guess he was pushing 27-28" wide. I was hoping to see him again in the morning but he must of sneaked out of the canyon after I left because I never did see him again. I saw a few other small bucks that next morning but that was about it. Oh ya, I ran into another rattlesnake. I sure do hate those damn things.

Here's the tent I used on this trip. It's not waterproof but it sure is nice to have along to keep the bugs out on those warm summer nights. weights only about 2 lbs.
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And the snake

snake 9-4.jpg
 

ridgetops

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Sept. 5th
Now it was time to go check some trail cameras I had set up earlier in the summer. Although I had missed out on getting a general season elk tag for myself. I was planning on helping out some family and friends on their hunts.
I was pleasantly surprised to see what had showed up on my cameras.
This was the first year since 1998 that I never got out for a single day of scouting in August but thank goodness my trail cameras came through for me.
Here's a few pictures I got during the summer.

First the elk.
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HUNT1094 - Copy.JPG

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ridgetops

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Here's some of the bucks came in front of the camera.
I have to admit, I was a little bummed not to have a tag for this unit.

A very nice looking 3 x 3
HUNT0265.JPG

I named this buck 49er
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HUNT0103 - Copy.JPG

Here's 49er from last year
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I'll be sharing some more nice bucks from my trail cams this year.
 

ridgetops

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Here's a little inline buck that I passed on last year about 45 minutes before I ended up killing a 190" buck.
HUNT1974.JPG
STC_0480.JPG

I was pretty happy to see this buck return this year with a little more growth. Hopefully he returns next year and with a wetter spring and summer, he could end up being a huge buck. I don't think I could have passed on him this year if I had the chance though.
HUNT0125.JPG
HUNT3136 - Copy.JPG
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ridgetops

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Oct. 2nd

I made it to elk camp with about an hour to spare. Briefly greeted everyone in camp and then got ready for the general season any bull opener the next morning. Although I missed out on the rush for tags this year, I was excited to be able to help out.

Oct. 3rd and 4th

We were able to get the two best bulls down in the first two days. I ended up leaving camp on Monday the 5th to start scouting for my early rifle general season deer tag.

The next day on Oct. 6th, one of the youth hunters killed a nice 6x6 bull.

Later in the season a couple smaller bulls were also taken from our camp but I didn’t get any pictures of those bulls.

Here’s a look at the first three bulls that were taken from our group.

Two were from youth hunters.

IMG_5870-1.jpg
IMG_5876-2.jpg
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2020 elk - Copy.jpg
 

ridgetops

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I forgot to share an experience I had on Sunday, Oct. 4th.
I was on a lookout glassing for elk for my friends. When I noticed some deer working their way down a ridge line towards me. After I got my spotting scope on them, I couldn't believe I was looking at the collared and inline bucks that were from my trail cameras. I was about 1.5 miles lower on the mountain from where my cameras were set up.
That inline buck could be something special next year if he ends up making it back.
 

ridgetops

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Oct. 5th

I decided to check my plan “A” area one last time to see if it had been opened up, but it still was closed down because of all the fires during the summer. After that disappointment, I took a little detour and spent the night at my in-laws, since they were still up at elk camp. It was nice to take a warm shower and use my CPAP machine one last time during the week.

Oct. 6th

My alarm went off at 3:30 AM and I was out the door by 4. My plan was to check out the area I had scouted back on the 4th of July and see if the bucks I saw at that time were still there. I was also optimistic that maybe a few others would have migrated into there as well. I got to my pre-planned spot to glass just after first light. I was there about 15 minutes when a person stood up about 80 yards below me as they repositioned their spotting scope. Completely stunned, I stood up and glassed in their direction. I could see two people with their scopes below me. I thought, “Crap! What are the odds?” I quickly packed up my stuff and moved a half mile south to start glassing again. After a couple hours glassing in the new spot, I saw less than a dozen deer with only two small bucks. As I hiked back to my ATV I came across the two people I had originally been above. I struck up a conversation with them. They were a very nice couple from California and hadn’t even noticed I had been above them earlier. The wife was seven months pregnant. They told me that they saw a pretty mature and heavy buck that morning in the deep canyon below them, but in her condition they felt it was too steep of a hike to go after it. They told me I was more than welcome to give it a try.

Shortly after we parted ways, I ran across another guy who was scouting for his dad. He had spotted a big-framed buck on a far off peak and felt it was too far of a hike for his dad to go after so, once again, he said it would be ok if I wanted to go look for it. Now, knowing where two nice bucks were located, I decided this was as good a place as any for the next day’s hunt. I started making my game plan and then started setting up camp. As I finalized setting up my tent, I heard a loud buzzing sound very close to me. I was horrified to see a gut pile about twenty feet from my tent covered in a few thousand flies and yellow jackets. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before. I really didn’t want to relocate camp, so I pulled out my shovel and proceeded to bury the thing, which did the job and the flies and hornets dispersed. Later that afternoon, I went to glass some flats near the road hoping to see some migrating deer movement. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a single deer that evening. I was able to contact my hunting partner Roger only to find he was running several hours behind schedule. He didn’t make it to camp until just after 11:00pm.
After helping him set up his tent and go over the next mornings plans, we finally were in bed a little before midnight.

Here's my camp set up.
deer camp 2020.jpg

deer camp 2020 ..jpg
 

ridgetops

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Oct. 7th

Opening day was finally here and I couldn’t believe it had been exactly a year since I killed my 191” buck last year. A few minutes before my 4:30am alarm went off, someone in an atv or side by side went tearing up the mountain in the direction I had planned on us going. I quickly grabbed a bite to eat and loaded my pack onto the front of my atv. Roger had his machine started and was already to go. All I had to do was go unlock my truck bed tool box and get my rifle out. I reached into my pocket to get the keys for the box but they weren’t there. I must have left them in the tent. Nope, not there either, nor anywhere in the cab of my truck. I even looked all around where I had help Roger put up his tent the night before. As the minutes went by, another vehicle passed our camp heading up the mountain and I was becoming more frantic. Roger offered for me to use his 6.5 Creedmore back up rifle but I let my pride get in the way and declined his offer. Finally, with less than an hour until sun up, I accepted defeat and told Roger I would be his guide for the morning hunt and we could look for the keys later.

As we got to the top of the ridge there were already a couple vehicles parked there. I had planned on going down that ridge to a lookout where we could glass from. We could not see anyone around or their headlamps. As soon as we started to drop off the ridge a headlamp turned on down by that lookout. As Roger and I were standing there deciding what to do, the headlamp below started flashing, then turned red and flashed some more. It seemed like the person was either trying to detour us from going down there or trying to get someone in their party’s attention. Roger and I decided to move a couple draws to the South to set up and glass. When it got light, I looked over to where that guy was flashing his light at us from and I could see two different orange vests hanging in trees. it looked like to me the guy was trying to make people think that there was a whole group of hunters down there. After about an hour of uneventful glassing we decided to move further South, until we found another good place to glass from.

We were almost to a great looking glassing spot when an unexpected thing happened as I went around a tree. There was a jack russell terrier standing there looking at me about 20 yards away. I thought to myself, “What is a little dog doing all the way out here?” Then the shape of a person appeared just a few feet from the dog. The guy did have an orange jacket on but because he had camo pants and a camo backpack, I didn’t notice him before I saw the dog. Roger and I went over and talked to the guy about where he was planning on hunting and if he’d seen anything. He turned out to be a great guy and was pretty open about the area and what he had seen in past years and what other hunters had seen on the archery and muzzy hunts. After we wished each other luck, Roger and I found an awesome place to glass from that was well shaded by a big pinion pine.

A few minutes later I spotted a tall, heavy buck in the shade of a juniper tree about 1,500 yards away. I was just about to start filming it from my spotting scope, when it took off running down canyon at full speed. We figured out what had spooked the buck when we saw another hunter about 300-400 hundred yards above the buck. The buck never stopped running for over a mile until it disappeared. By then everything was all bedded up and it was getting pretty warm. So we headed back to camp for lunch and to look for my keys.

After looking around camp and my truck for at least another hour, I was sitting in my driver’s seat of my truck with the door open wondering what I should do. I happened to look straight down and there sticking out of the dirt was a piece of black plastic. It looked similar to the handle part of my ignition key. As I pulled it out of the powdery dirt, up came my whole key ring with the tool box and house key also still there. Awesome! I was back in business and ready to kill a buck in the afternoon. I’m sure the prayer I said about an hour earlier asking for guidance to finding my keys didn’t hurt either.

That afternoon we went to a different spot to look over some flats and fields where the deer were coming into at night. We saw a lot of deer and some small bucks but nothing to get excited about.
 

ridgetops

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Oct. 8th

On day #2 Roger wanted to see if we could locate the tall, heavy 4x3 we had seen the day before. We were able to get to the same lookout under the big pinion tree as the day before. We were seeing about 15-20 does but no bucks at all in the first couple hours of glassing. Somewhere around 10:00 to 11:00 AM three guys started to push the trees down canyon from us. They were pretty close to the guy with the flashing headlamp from the day before. Yep, he was still in that same spot. One of the three guys split off from the other two and started to make a big ½ mile sweeping half circle pushing the tall, thick gambel oak. The other two guys set up and watched the area being pushed.

About twenty minutes after the single hunter started his push, we started to see deer moving out. A few does appeared and then I spotted a nice 22-24” wide buck, then another similar one following it, then another, and another. There were four 3 to 4 year old bucks in a single file line heading away from the hunters. A shot rang out and then another with a distinct thud sound on the second shot. None of the far bucks I was watching jumped or even picked up their pace, but they moved out of sight.

The three hunters met up and then all hiked up a hill about 500 yards from where I had watched the four bucks. The hunters zig-zagged back and forth on the hill and then went over the ridge and into the next draw out of sight. I’m guessing there must have been a bigger buck I hadn’t seen which was sneaking out on a different route.

A few minutes later, the flashing headlamp guy packed up his stuff and started hiking out of his glassing spot. I’m guessing he must have seen the buck the other guys were shooting at. Anyways, he was out of there. That was our clue to head back to camp ourselves. I had lost my lucky hat while hiking in—it had been so hot, so I had put it over my rifle barrel and I guess it got pulled off by a tree branch or the brush. After some searching, I found it, so I was hopeful that our luck would start to change for the better.

In the afternoon, we headed for an area that I found on Google Earth. Onscreen it showed a good-sized pond and we were hoping it will still be holding water during the drought. It took about an hour to hike to the pond area. We located a rocky ledge that put us 250 yards above the pond, which was completely full of water. With less than 2 hours until sunset, I was hoping to see a lot of deer coming in, but that wasn’t the case. A total of five does is all came into the pond while we waited. We glassed the surrounding hills and draws and didn’t spot any feeding deer. It sure was discouraging hiking that hour back to our ATVs.

On the ride back to camp, we came across a guy sitting on his ATV. He was talking to his wife on the phone. I could hear her yelling at him—words like “stupid”, “idiot”, and “what are you thinking?” and “I’m not going to eat that thing!” I could see a small 3x4 buck’s head strapped to his ATV rack and a backpack that wasn’t very full of meat at all. They guy tells me he had shot the buck earlier in the day but then tracked it for several hours, only to shoot it several more times, losing it again, and then locating it an hour before dark. I’m sure the meat was starting to spoil by then and I’m sure his wife was thinking the same thing. In hind sight, I wished I would have tried to get hold of the DWR that night and had them give the guy a visit.

Here's the pond we had hiked into.
rogers buck.jpg
 

ridgetops

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1,863
October 9

This hunt was not going as planned at all. For years I’ve hunted specific bucks that I had pre-scouted. This hunting random bucks that “might” be passing through the area was not working for me. Today, I suggested to Roger that we load up the ATVs and drive a few miles west to an area that had some clear cut areas with a couple stock ponds around them. We arrived at the area just before light but, unfortunately, there were two other trucks that had gotten there before us. We slowly moved along the clearings, stopping every few hundred yards to glass for a few minutes.

After doing this for a couple miles and not seeing a single deer, we came across an ATV parked alongside the two track road. No one was in sight, so we continued on a few hundred yards further. The road cut just under a peak before going over a pass into another little valley that had a small pond in it. We stopped a few hundred feet before the pass and snuck up and over the peak to look into that next valley. My plan was to sit awhile and watch the pond to see if anything was watering at it or maybe feeding nearby. I was hoping that a buck might even come into water as long as nobody disturbed the deer by driving into the area.

After quickly glassing around the pond, I noticed a deer standing on top of a small line of ledges about 350 yards away. It looked like it had a big body. When I put my binos on it I could see one side of its rack. The other side was behind a bush. I motioned to Roger that there was a nice buck over on the ledges. I turned to look at it again but there was a big doe standing right where the buck had been. I explained to Roger that the buck had been there seconds before and we both quickly got out our spotting scopes and were looking at the feeding deer on the ledge. It had its head completely behind the brush but it was facing straight away at that point. After I zoomed in with full power, I could clearly see it was a buck by what I was looking at between his legs. I whispered to Roger what I was seeing and he laughed and said that he had noticed the same thing. Then the buck moved his head out from the bush and turned 180 degrees. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing—it was an one-antlered buck. Not a broken antler, it clearly had nothing at all on its right side. Roger commented that he wanted to shoot it and I agreed that it was a unique and cool-looking buck. It was probably 3 or 4 years old. Roger quickly set up his phone scope and started recording and then set up for the shot. As the shot ran out from Roger’s 300 win. mag, the buck flinched slightly and started to walk up hill about 15 feet when it turned broadside again facing the other direction. I could see blood starting to flow from behind its shoulder area and I told Roger it was hit. Roger sent a second round in the bucks direction and the buck dropped in its tracks. We had the buck quartered and packed out and was back to camp by noon. We needed more ice for Roger’s buck, so I started to break camp and Roger skinned out the bucks skull for preparation for a euro mount. Then we headed to the nearest town for more ice for the coolers. Our plan for the evening hunt was to go to a different mountain range that I had scouted during the summer and hunt a canyon I felt would hold bucks escaping the pressure of other hunters. It was getting a lot later in the day than I had hoped but we were just a few miles from the turn off to our new hunting area when Roger let me know he had a problem at home that he needed to deal with and had to head home that night. That ended my plans for hunting that escape route canyon because it was very steep and down hill and I wasn’t up to trying to pack one out by myself uphill several miles because I would only have that day to do it before I needed to head home myself. Before it got dark, we quickly checked out some nearby flats that I knew held deer during the summer but now a lot of people were hunting those flats and had pushed everything out of the country. Roger ended up taking my atv back home with him because I didn’t have room in my truck and I felt it would be fine to just drive my truck and hike back into that area by the pond we hunted Thursday afternoon. I had planned on going back into that area about another mile and if I did get one, it would be all down hill. I ended up going back to my in-laws to spend the night and get ready for the next and finally day of my hunt.

Here's Roger's buck
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And him setting up for the shot

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The buck was about 200 yards up in the thick trees above this pond.
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ridgetops

Very Active Member
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1,863
Oct. 10th
When I got up and started taking my gear out to my truck in the predawn morning, the wind was blowing crazy hard and it was a lot colder than it had been all week. When I went retrieve my coat from the cab of my truck, since I couldn't find it in the house. I then realized that I had left it in my atv compartment the evening before because of how warm it was and in the hast to get Roger on the road and back home, I forgot all about it being there. Well, without a coat and how cold it had gotten. I decided to throw in the towel and went back to bed to sleep for another 3 or 4 hours. Any other year, I would have been beyond upset about missing out on the last day that I could hunt but this time it was different. I has no passion to just go road hunting, so I ended up just watching a few netflix movies and relaxed.
i really enjoyed the piece and quiet that day. My daughter and in-laws showed up later that day from elk camp. After dark, my daughter and I went out to get dinner for everyone and as we pulled out of the driveway, there was a nice 3 point buck standing in the middle of the road. We just laughed and commented how fitting it was to see a buck like that just to rub it in a little.
 

ridgetops

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1,863
Well that ended my 2020 Utah general season deer hunt. It was nice to get back to some of my old stomping grounds and welive some old memories. Things have definitely changed over 20 years. The migration routes have changed and along with the hot dry weather that never let up all summer and fall, it really made for a tough hunt. I'm sure Roger also felt the hunt was only "half" as good as he had hoped! lol
Here's another look at his one antlered buck. It should make for a cool euro mount.
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ridgetops

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Two weeks later, I made a trip back to our elk camp area to retrieve a few trail cams I had left out and didn't get time to get the ones further back in because of my deer hunt. Only one of my cameras got vandalized but not from a person. It looked like it took an elk tine right to the lens and broke the glass and cracked the plastic housing a little but the camera kept taking pictures afterwards. It was probably this bull.

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ridgetops

Very Active Member
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In the next week or so, I'll share a few of the trail cam pictures I got this year. I broke them up into a few different groups.
For starters, here's some deer that I captured. It mostly was the collared and inline buck that seemed to hang out with each other all year long.

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ridgetops

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1,863
Now that the Utah Big Game hunts were behind me, it was time to get ready to help my good friend Paul on his Nevada Desert Bighorn sheep hunt which starts on Nov. 20th.

In the meantime I got word from my FIL that an uncle was going to sell his 2008 Dodge 2500 quad cab w/ 6' bed and was wondering if I’d be interested in buying it. My wife and I had been thinking about selling my 98 Dodge 1500 for something with more HP for towing our camp trailer. I got pictures of the uncle's truck sent to us so my wife and I could see it. It was a good looking truck, so I made time to go test drive it and I really liked it. We committed on buying the truck from our uncle and would try to pick it up after the holidays. It was going to be nice to have the extra HP for towing our camp trailer but I was going to miss my 98's 8’ bed.
It was a weird feeling knowing that Paul’s sheep hunt would be the last hunt adventure I’d be going on in the ole 98 Dodge. I have had the truck since 2002 and it’s the only truck two of my kids have ever known. I definitely will be spending a lot of time reminiscing about all the camping, scouting and hunting trips I’ve made around the West in that 98 Dodge throughout the coming months.

Here's a look at the ole 98 Dodge all cleaned up and ready to sell. It's the cleanest that truck had been in over 20 years. lol

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ridgetops

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Here is a quick recap of the week leading up to Paul’s sheep hunt.

I got a text from Paul on Monday, November 16th. The text showed a pin drop of where he was camped. He also said that he hadn’t seen any sheep around his camp that morning and would be looking in several different areas throughout the week. My plan was to meet up with him on Thursday and a few other guys would be showing up to help throughout the week. I didn’t hear from him all week which had me a little concerned.

On Thursday, November 19th, I left my house about 5:00 AM and reached Elko, Nevada by 8:00 AM. I felt impressed to stop in at the local Wal-Mart and buy a replacement battery for my ATV. It had a hard time starting the night before when I loaded it into the back of my truck. Around that same time I received a text from Paul showing a good-looking ram he had found. He then stated that he was going back to that area to look for his wallet which he had lost sometime the previous day. He was fortunate that he hadn’t put his tag in his wallet, but it still was a crappy situation for him.

Once I got to the sheep unit, I reached out to Paul and asked him anyone had scouted Fairview yet, since that was close to my location and there were only a few hours of daylight left to scout. He said no, so that’s where I headed. Good thing that I bought that new battery—my ATV wouldn’t start and my battery went dead while still in the back of my truck. I installed the new battery and headed up the mountain.

When I arrived at the top of the mountain, I was shocked to see fir trees and two foot snow drifts. This was supposed to be a “desert” sheep hunt! lol I had planned on hiking to the south but found it very challenging hiking up the steep north-facing slope in over a foot of crunchy snow. I decided to head further north and look until dark. I was glassing on a point a few hundred feet from my parked ATV when I received an important phone call from a relative. While on the call, I thought I heard some rocks rolling, but after hanging up I glassed the area and didn’t see anything. With less than 30 minutes before sunset, I packed up and hiked back to the ATV to check out another spot before it got dark. I barely tied down my pack to the front rack of my machine, when I looked across the canyon. What appeared to be an odd-looking, burned out tree from a past fire turned out to be a group of rams huddled together. I’m no desert sheep expert but a couple of them looked like keepers to me. I quickly got out my cameras and spotting scope and started taking pictures and video. I couldn’t believe how cold it was getting as the sun dipped toward the horizon. I had removed my gloves to take the pictures and my hands grew so numb I had a hard time moving them. I waited until it was almost too dark to see when I started up my ATV and returned to the truck.

I met Paul at his camp trailer in the next valley to the West. I was also greeted by his brother-in-law Jason and our mutual friend Tom and his son. They were looking over video footage of thirty-plus mature rams they had filmed between the three of them. I told them I also had a few rams they would probably want to take a look at. Paul was really having a hard time deciding which ram to go after the next morning. Some rams had good length but needed more mass, others had great mass but not much length. It was proving to be a real challenge to find a ram with both.


Here's the text photo of the ram Paul had sent me.
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Here's some pictures of the sheep I ran into that first afternoon I arrived on the unit.
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ridgetops

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1,863
Nov. 20th

It was finally the opening day of Paul’s Nevada Desert Bighorn sheep hunt. After a lot of talk, Paul decided he wanted to get an in-person look at those rams I saw the night before. Crazy to think it was ten years to the day from when I killed my Utah California Bighorn. Once we got up on top of the mountain, Tom and his son looked to the south. Paul and Jason went to where I was the night before. I looked farther north. As I was side hilling a very long, steep slope, it was just getting light. I saw animals standing on the skyline less than 200 yards away. When I looked through my 10x42s I was shocked to see about 15 bighorns. Some were looking at me but others were either bedded or feeding. I could see one big ram, so I got as low as possible and snuck back around the hill and out of sight.

I tried to text and call Paul, but got no response, so I hiked back to my ATV and drove back to Paul’s location and told him about the sheep. He hadn’t seen anything and neither had Tom, so Paul and Jason followed me back to the area I had seen the sheep. We got to a peak which had a good view of where I had seen the sheep standing. Unfortunately, they had moved and now nothing was in sight. We then moved around a peak to look into the next canyon north. Paul spotted a group of five or six rams far down canyon to the northwest and we also saw movement just downhill from us. That turned out to be another group of sheep feeding. I guessed it was probably the group I had seen that morning. Meanwhile, the group down the canyon of five or six rams fed around the hill and out of sight. There was one good borderline ram in that group that tempted Paul to follow. We also kept an eye on the group below us, but realized there was no longer a big ram with them.

About an hour later, Tom reached out to me and said he had moved in our direction and had two rams spotted. At that time I had hiked further north, so Paul and Jason worked their way back toward Tom. By the time I got to their location, they had been looking at the bedded rams and Paul was almost ready to shoot the biggest one but was waiting on my opinion. The moment I sat down next to Paul and barely started looking at the rams through my binos, the biggest ram jumped up and took off at full speed like he had just been shot at. The other two rams with him followed. They never stopped running until they were well over a mile away and well into the no hunt zone within the unit. At that point, we decided to go back to camp for lunch and to make plans for the afternoon hunt. We all concluded that the ram Paul almost shot was the ram I had seen the night before.

Paul, Jason, Tom and his son all went to an area where they had seen some good rams in the previous few days. I went to check out a new area where the maps showed a guzzler. The area I went into looked really promising and the guzzler had some water in it; however, I didn’t see a single sheep all evening. I did get to see one amazing sunset though. Paul and the gang saw several nice rams again, including one very heavy but extremely broomed off ram. Paul just wasn’t sure if he would like a ram with such short beams, so he passed for now. That ended Day One.

Here's some scenery pics. of that first afternoon.

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ridgetops

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1,863
Nov. 21st

Tom discovered one of his leaf springs on his truck had broken and he was worried about driving it on the rough roads within the sheep unit so he rode with me. Paul and Jason went back up on the mountain we had been on yesterday morning. As Tom and I were driving down into a new canyon we hadn’t to before, the road was getting very narrow and the banks on both sides were very steep, so there was no chance to pull off the road and let another vehicle pass if needed. As so as I found a spot where I could get turned around, I did so. We drove about ½ mile back up the road from where we had just come. I found a flat spot where I could park and unload my ATV so I pulled a few feet off the road. Just as I turned off the truck, I looked up at some cliffs less than 200 yards across the road from us and there were three rams standing on top of the rocky ledge looking our way. I quickly pointed them out to Tom. I then noticed that there was a ewe about 20 feet below the three rams. She must have been going through a second cycle because of the way the rams were acting. Tom and I were both taking pictures and video of the rams and agreed that Paul might be interested in one of them.

We didn’t have a cell signal to call or text Paul about what we had found, so I stayed at the truck while Tom took my ATV and went looking for a signal. While I waited at the truck the sheep moved over the ridge and out of sight. I was able to pick out some more sheep on distant ridges, but no big rams. It seemed like Tom was gone for over an hour before he finally returned. Tom told me Paul liked the ram we had pictures of and was on his way to our spot.

Not long afterwards, Paul and Jason came rolling into our location. We quickly made a game plan and started hiking up to the left of the ledges to hopefully be able to see the ram on the back side. As we started hiking up the hill, Paul started pointing off to our right. There, standing on the skyline about 150 yards away was a ewe. Seconds later, our target ram came walking over. I quickly whispered to Paul that it was the one, but faster than he could shoulder his rifle the two sheep turned and went back over the ridgeline.

We quickly crossed the canyon to get some elevation. The plan worked perfectly. Paul ranged the ram at 250 yards, dropped to a prone position, and squeezed the trigger. Amazingly, the bullet hit about 2 feet high over the ram’s back. Maybe the bullet clipped the brush in front of Paul when he shot but who really knows. The sheep bolted and the rams bunched up which made it hard for Paul to pick out the one he wanted through his scope. Within seconds, all the sheep ran around the hill and out of sight.

Paul was very upset and confused that he had missed such an easy shot. A few seconds later, the sheep appeared on the far side of a draw to the left of us. Our target ram was following the ewe now and we quickly ranged it again. It was about 460 yards and Paul adjusted his scope, dropped down and fired once more. This time, he hit the ram perfectly behind the shoulder. The ram’s front legs buckled but his back legs kept pushing him forward for about 50 yards. It looked like he was snowplowing as he couldn’t even lift up his head as he plowed through the brush. He died so suddenly that his rear end was still up in the air when we got to him. We were all so happy for Paul and he was excited to find a ram with the look he was hoping to find.

Here's the ram as we walked up to it.
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Here's a picture I got of Paul's ram when we first spotted him.

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ridgetops

Very Active Member
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1,863
Here's some raw video that I put together of those couple days I was there helping my friend Paul. He had spent a lot of time helping me on my Utah sheep hunt ten years earlier. It was nice to be able to be there to help and share his awesome hunt with him.

 

ridgetops

Very Active Member
Messages
1,863
When I first came up with the title of this year's HAC, I was mostly thinking I'd be reflecting about old memories of when I hunted the same unit 15 years ago and my 2010 sheep hunt. I had no idea that I would end up selling my 1998 dodge 1500 to replace it with a 2008 2500. I really had a lot of great hunting adventures in that old truck. I really enjoyed being back in my old stomping grounds during this years hunt but I definitely felt like I have unfinished business to take care of next year. So maybe I'll give it one more try. Who knows, maybe I'll draw another OIL hunt. Lots of good things to look forward to.
 

ridgetops

Very Active Member
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1,863
I was looking back of some of my past videos this week and 2018 sure brought back some memories. Although I didn't tag a buck or bull that year or even pull the trigger on one. Here's a video of a weeks worth of some incredible velvet bulls that I had scouted.


Here's a bull I found a week before the hunt started but sadly for me, it was killed just a couple hundred yards on the backside of the canyon I was watching.


2018 was definitely a year to reminisce.
 

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