Bucks, Bulls or Bust!!!!!

This whole party started a few months ago, with me considering how to apply my 7 AZ Elk bonus points. I went ahead and put in for the early archery hunts in both of my favorite units, 1 and 27. In the meantime, I have spent every waking hour thinking talking eating drinking and dreaming bull elk! I had the opportunity to hunt CO mule deer in 2011, and in my scouting found some big mature bucks, and bulls that I would love to pursue.





If I wasn't drawn in AZ, at least I would have an excellent option #2.

Well, as I dreamed of big antlers, my buddy went ahead an invested in a hound dog named Spot. The name Spot probably came from the fact that he could "spot" a lion from miles away. There are few creatures that like hunting more than I do, but Spot might be one of those. You cannot contain that craziness once he is on the trail!

One Saturday morning, we headed out before daylight, not more than 30 minutes from the house. We unloaded at the trailhead, expecting to do a +/- 8 mile hiking trip, hoping we might cut a lion track, and see how Spot reacted. About 13 minutes from the truck, less than .5 miles, Spot started hitting a trail, and came up baying!! We followed him up a canyon, and it hadn't been a minute, when his baying changes, and the GPS unit indicates "Cat treed!"

Disbelieving that he could actually be on a lion so quickly, we hurry to the tree, and sure enough, a mature lion steps out on a tree limb, mad as Hades! As soon as we arrive, he jumps the tree, and the race is on again! We follow Spot another 200 yds., but he doesn't seem to be indicating any particular tree, and we wonder if the cat has given us the slip. As we are scanning tree tops, all of a sudden, Mark yells,"He is right above you!!" Afraid to look up, and perhaps catch the cat full in the face, I cringe and hurry away from the tree I had just been leaning against, and look up to see that cat not 10 ft above me!!

So I get clear of the tree enough to see that this cat is mad as ever, and probably deciding on whether to eat me or the dog! I drew my .40 and shot 3x, hitting the cat twice. Well, the cat just got madder! After sizing up Spot, my buddy and me, he decided that I was the easiest target and leaped out of the tree straight at me!

Now, I will tell you right now that there are few things more terrifying than an injured lion flying through the air straight at you! I will have that image burned into my brain until the day I die!!

Well, as that cat was flying at me, I calmly considered putting 3 more rounds in it mid-air, or maybe bypass the pistol and just punch it right in the face with an awesome upper cut. Wouldn't that have been sweet!?! Well, with the cat half-way to me, I came to my senses and quickly hid behind a tree, hoping the cat wouldn't follow suit.

So the chase is on again, and good ol' Spot puts the heat on him, getting him to tree a third time! As we watched him, he started to lose his balance and ultimately fell 25 ft to the forest floor. We thought for sure the cat was done, but even with 2 bullets in him, and a 25 foot fall, there was plenty of fight still in that cat! That cat got Spot pretty good twice, a bite on his muzzle, and on his chest, before I could get close enough to finish him with 2 more rounds.




Well, please mark a BiG one off my bucket list!! My buddy had him for about a week, and we weren't sure how good he really was, but Spot quickly put our doubts to rest!! More to come!!
I'm sad to say that I have begun to expect the too-common "Not Drawn" on my applications. I rationalize, "There's always next year, right?" Well, I have advice for you . . . NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!

Instead of the typical draw results, I saw before my eyes a strange sight, indeed! My antelope result was a language I understood too well, but somebody had decided to post my Elk results in some foreign language.

Species: Antelope
Result: Not Drawn

Species: Elk
Result: Draw Successful
Hunt No.: 03145
Season Dates: Sep 14 - Sep 27
Permit No.: 000145

Draw Successful? Is that German for "Not Drawn"? What does that mean? Hunt No., Season Dates, Open Areas, Permit No.? All terms foreign to me on the AZ Elk Draw!

After an exorbitant amount of hooping, hollering and fist-pumping, it finally began to sink in that I was going to be pursuing AZ Bull Elk come fall, and there was a lot of work to do!

I called my wife to let her know, and her response reminded me that I am the luckiest man in the world . . ."Congratulations! You need a new bow!" What did I ever do to deserve such a gem?
With her blessing, I have begun researching bows, and it will be my first of many big steps in readying myself for the hunt of a lifetime!

I am still hoping for an opportunity to hunt CO, whether it be Bucks or Bulls, and I am heading up there for Memorial Day weekend to do some early scouting, trail cam set ups, and time with the family! Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday!!
Buying a new bow is like buying a new truck: they are all good, they all have the "latest" technology, and they all get the job done, but how do they make me feel when I let 'er go?

I went to the local archery shop, Gila Outdoors, and shot 3 bows: Mathews HeliM, Hoyt Vector and Bowtech Insanity. After shooting them several times, I was quite sold on the Mathews HeliM: smoother draw than the Bowtech, with less vibration on release than the Hoyt. I refused to shoot the Hoyt Carbon Element due to its price; why shoot a bow I could never afford and potentially ruin my experience with the bow I was actually going to buy? This was not the kind of decision to rush, so I headed home to sleep on it.

2 days later, I was still having a hard time deciding when I got a phone call from my HR rep. Uh-oh! What did I get caught doing wrong? Could it have been a firing offense? My company was actually giving me a promotion and that they needed me to come down and sign the job offer! Holy Shnikeys!!! This is awesome!! So what do you think I did? Yep! I called Will at Gila Outdoors, and made sure he had a Hoyt Carbon Element set up to shoot that very afternoon! Then I called my wife . . .

After shooting it, the Element lives up to all the hype! Smooth, fast, light and practically no movement on release!! I ran it by the boss, and she said,"You have been such a good boy. You can get whatever toy you want!" Here it is!!


A rundown on accessories:

Quality Archery Designs Ultra-Rest HD
Tight Spot Quiver
Black Gold Ascent 5-Pin Sight
B-Stinger Stabilizer
Gold Tip XT Hunter 7595 Carbon Arrows
4-Fletched w/ Max Hunter Fletchings
Slick Trick 4-Blade Broadheads

I looked at all sorts of broadheads: Rages, Vortex, Meatseekers, Trophy Takers, G5's, and could not find anything that flew as well as the Slick Tricks. I'd love to open a 2.5" tunnel through an animal, but the consistency of Slicks, and the reliability of the fixed blade, I could not say "no."

Went and shot at the range, and after confirming my sights, shot this 1.75" group at 40 yards, and I have a whole lot of tuning still to do on the bow, AND myself! I'd like to get my group at 60 yards under 2", but that may be a pipe dream!


Planning on getting to the Sunrise 3D shoot in 2 weeks and having a blast with the boys flingin' arrows in the mountains! I'm sure it will help my feel for angle shots, and judging distances!! Wish us luck!
LAST EDITED ON Jun-17-12 AT 11:11PM (MST)[p]I headed out early Saturday Morning with a backpack full of granola bars and cameras, hoping to find a few sweet spots to get photos of elk in their element. Up at 3am, we were on the road to the trailhead by 4am.

NOTE TO SELF: It was light enough to glass at 4:45am. Get your rear in gear and get up earlier next time! Your missing prime bull time if you start glassing by 6:00!

We took some pics along the way: beautiful country and lots of wildlife:




Once we reached the area, we immediately scared up 2 bulls heading off through the thick stuff, one of which was already starting to branch into his 5ths and 6ths. We had caught them red handed feeding in a burn area from the record-breaking Wallow Fire last year. That burn was tragic in the damage done, but has opened up the forest floor to amazing amounts of low growth that these cervids just love!




We saw all sorts of activity throught the burn areas, and it makes sense: good forage, cool morningsin the shade of the mountain. What surprised me was that they bed right out in the middle of these burn areas with no cover, right out in the middle of an open hill! Makes glassing them up a lot easier!!!

Now, the elk and deer love the new growth, but what likes burn areas even better are probably the bears!!! We saw so much sign, it started to get ridiculous! And then we started seeing the bears!!





We ended up seeing 3 total, 2 of which were bears I wouldn't hesitate to put an arrow through come OTC Archery season!!

What a trip!! 6 Coues deer, 20 muleys, 5 turkey, 2 bulls and 3 bears!!! I'll take that any day of the week!! Got the cameras set up, and excited to see what we get the first few weeks of July!

On our way home, we came across a motorcycle rider who had laid his bike down, and was in a bad way. I won't post pics, they were pretty gruesome: not much muscle left on his arm, and like 6 broken ribs almost coming through the skin. We helped out where we could, loaded on the helicopter and sent him on his way to the nearest hospital.

Just a reminder to enjoy the outdoors, but keep safe! It's not worth it if you can't get home to tell your loved ones about your amazing experiences!
A close friend of mine came down from Detroit, Michigan for a
few weeks and we definitely wanted to take the opportunity to
enjoy the mountains, and see some wildlife. I picked him up at
4:35am, and we rolled out, the light from the morning sun just
beginning to creep over the top of Escudilla. It was not long
before we began to see elk grazing in the open meadows.



We arrived at the spot we wanted to hike from, loaded our packs,
and hit the proverbial trail. The area had been hit very hard by
the Wallow Fire, with a lot of trees burned like match sticks,
very little overhead growth, and a lot of ash on the ground.
There was quite a bit of undergrowth coming up, and the animals
in the area were very much enjoying the rich forage. Within a
half of a mile, we had seen a wide variety of animals:







Bighorn Sheep

We finally got to a decent glassing spot, and before we could
ever get our glasses up, we could here dozens of cows, calves,
and bulls calling down in the river bottom.


There were elk eVeRYwHeRE!!! We watched probably 4 different
groups of elk between 20-50 head strong move through that area:
some on the river, some on top, some walking right passed us!



As we enjoyed the spectacle, and the chorus of mews and bugles,
I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye on a far
ridge. I grab my Kaibabs, and focus in on about 15 bulls hanging
out high on a rocky cliff, keeping a watchful eye on their lady
friends. Now, it may be a little difficult to see, but keep in
mind this was probably close to 800 yds away.


Bulls on the Bluff

All in all, we saw 12 turkey, maybe 40 bighorn sheep, 12 mule
deer, 3 antelope, and 250+ elk. Welcome back to the blessed land
of Arizona, Trav! Let's not wait too long to do it again!
Took a whirlwind trip to CO this last weekend to check cameras, set up tree stands, and scout. It was a blast to have my brother-in-law break away with me and introduce him to all the beauty Colorado has to offer!! We had 3 out of 4 cameras produce really well, with a lot of 160" class bucks, some strong 5x5-6x5 bulls, and some monster bears!

The country I hunt is a historical mining district, with beautiful remnants from last centuries CO Gold Rush. This is just a couple examples of the hundreds of buildings, mine sites,tunnels and equipment that try to tempt me away from hunting the hills to explore.



These 2 bears came into this same stop 3-4 oter times as well. What I assume to be a female, the brown bear, really filled out and is looking real healthy. THe black bear, as you can see in the video, has her by at least 4 inches. I would love to see one of those during the 2nd Rifle Season with an OTC tag.

http://s1090.photobucket.com/albums/i369/AntlerObsession/CO Hunts 2012/?action=view?t=IMAG0110.mp4

These bucks we glassed up on the last morning we were there, and we were able to hike within 400 yds and snap these pics. This is kind of a fun "Can you spot the Buck" pic!! There are actually 3 bucks in that photo. If you can't see the third one, look in the tree in the lower left corner. See a nose and antlers?


These bucks and does were seen browsing at about 12,800'. Holy thin air!!



This is a decent buck that kept coming in, these pics from the beginning of July, so he could have as much as 6 more weeks of growth! Not a bad buck!



This buck we ran into about 50 yards off the highway. Nice tall rack with decent tine length and decent width. He would make a lot of hunters happy, especially with the haul to the truck!!

We spent the Labor Day Weekend up in the northern portion of UNit 27 in AZ, checking cameras and scouting for my Early archery bull elk hunt coming up in . . . 11 DAYS!!! Saturday night we drove into our Plan A spot, and saw about 25 bulls, bugling, fighting and thrashing some of the water holes. A few buddies and I also got a lot of bulls on camera that put an elk hunting smile on my face!! I can't wait!


http://s1090.photobucket.com/albums/i369/AntlerObsession/AZ Hunts 2012/?action=view?t=IMAG0076.mp4







We also got a few bears, and Coues Whitetail on camera as well that I wouldn't mind finding during the October rifle seasons!







http://s1090.photobucket.com/albums/i369/AntlerObsession/AZ Hunts 2012/?action=view?t=IMAG0056-1.mp4

http://s1090.photobucket.com/albums...ts 2012/?action=view?t=ElkCanyonbuckvideo.mp4



It's been a while, but lots of good things going on!! I hunted hard for 12 days on my Unit 27 AZ Archery Bull hunt, and after many highs and many lows, I was able to connect with a nice 6x6 we named Moby, because he had a whale of a tail! His longest points were his fifths at 18" and 16.5"!
More than happy with him being my first bull! Although with the Bear Wallow Fire enriching the forage, there should be some absolute monsters shot out of there in the next few years! He scored a rough gross score of 347".




Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos
Top Bottom