CA M9 Zone

TehachapiBuck

Member
Messages
28
Howdy Monster Muleys Forum,

After 19 years and watching the Goodale G3 CA late season zone Deer herd and Bucks decline, I finally drew M9 using all 20 points. Not sure if this was a mistake or not but I am getting older, the CA Deer heard and quality of bucks are declining and I figured its time. I have had the fortunate opportunity to hunt and harvest some good bucks in CA, 1 in NV and a few in CO, but never had the opportunity at a true monster. I am not any under allusion that its automatic, in fact the word Hunt defines just that, "hunting" , not "killing" but to be in an area with much higher opportunity, later in the season etc.

Anyway - hoping to hear thoughts, good or bad and any advice etc...

thanks all

Tony
 

huntindad4

Very Active Member
Messages
2,272
The tag is not what it used to be. But which CA tag is.

That said there are still some big bucks in there during the rut. Which brings one of the new developments that I believe has hurt the tag which is the season only goes until 11/6. We were there during Thanksgiving week last year bird hunting wnd looking at bucks. Best buck we saw in that hunt boundary was a nice 26 inch 4x4 that might go 170ish.

We didn't look over by Clear lake and Doublehead/Carr mtn. area though. Also didnt go near the burn in the northeast area of the unit. And we just cruised and looked from the pickup.

Big groups of does and rutting hard, but that's a full 2 weeks plus after your hunt.

We camp there every memorial weekend and see bucks including some big ones. Regardless of what some say a lot of deer still migrate out of Oregon. All one has to do to prove it to yourself is visit in June then go back late November. They also come from X1 area I believe.

Good luck PM with questions I will help a bit if I can.
 

Deerdon

Active Member
Messages
357
The buck of your dreams probably does indeed live in the zone, but do a search of bucks taken with that tag over the last several years and you're not going to find many that are worth the points. The muzzy hunt is only a week or so after the rifle hunt and the weather patterns are no longer favorable enough to get the big ones moving. I believe it has been MANY years since they have any significant snow during the hunt and, with the true rut being around Thanksgiving, those big ole' nomadic OLD bucks just don't move much. Pretty much the entire northeast corner of the zone is private/gated/patrolled/timber company land. Other than the poachers, that area has not been hunted for 5 or 6 years....which has pretty much turned that particular area into a game preserve. If mother nature cooperates and they finally get a heavy early snow it will actually move some of the absolute monsters, that live in the Collins Timber land holdings, down into the M9 wintering areas. The person that has a tag if that happens is going to have the hunt of a lifetime!
 

TehachapiBuck

Member
Messages
28
The buck of your dreams probably does indeed live in the zone, but do a search of bucks taken with that tag over the last several years and you're not going to find many that are worth the points. The muzzy hunt is only a week or so after the rifle hunt and the weather patterns are no longer favorable enough to get the big ones moving. I believe it has been MANY years since they have any significant snow during the hunt and, with the true rut being around Thanksgiving, those big ole' nomadic OLD bucks just don't move much. Pretty much the entire northeast corner of the zone is private/gated/patrolled/timber company land. Other than the poachers, that area has not been hunted for 5 or 6 years....which has pretty much turned that particular area into a game preserve. If mother nature cooperates and they finally get a heavy early snow it will actually move some of the absolute monsters, that live in the Collins Timber land holdings, down into the M9 wintering areas. The person that has a tag if that happens is going to have the hunt of a lifetime!
Thanks Deerdon - Have gotten similar feedback so I have backed off my expectations (hopes) some. Praying for weather and most have said the migration starts when season opens but bigger bucks late in the season. Are there any areas that allow tresspass fees or is it only guided hunts? thanks
 

DWarcher

Active Member
Messages
156
The buck of your dreams probably does indeed live in the zone, but do a search of bucks taken with that tag over the last several years and you're not going to find many that are worth the points. The muzzy hunt is only a week or so after the rifle hunt and the weather patterns are no longer favorable enough to get the big ones moving. I believe it has been MANY years since they have any significant snow during the hunt and, with the true rut being around Thanksgiving, those big ole' nomadic OLD bucks just don't move much. Pretty much the entire northeast corner of the zone is private/gated/patrolled/timber company land. Other than the poachers, that area has not been hunted for 5 or 6 years....which has pretty much turned that particular area into a game preserve. If mother nature cooperates and they finally get a heavy early snow it will actually move some of the absolute monsters, that live in the Collins Timber land holdings, down into the M9 wintering areas. The person that has a tag if that happens is going to have the hunt of a lifetime!
Good advice from someone who knows the Garden very well.
 

TehachapiBuck

Member
Messages
28
Thanks all for responding. I got some good info and met a really nice fellow hunter who might join me if his schedule permits. Season approaching (not fast enough)
 

TehachapiBuck

Member
Messages
28
Looks to be some decent weather moving, hoping it doesn't change, looking forward to my trip only 7 days away... hope guys on the opener do well.
 

LIK2HNT

Very Active Member
Messages
2,151
Wish you luck. Looking forward to seeing how you do. As they say, “PRAY FOR SNOW!!!”
Please keep us posted.
There was a guy on here about 5 years ago, think his name was Aaron. He seemed to know a lot about the area. If he’s still around and willing, he might be of help.
 

Gollywomper

Active Member
Messages
277
I have had family hunt it 4 times in the last 8 or so years. With weather you can watch the deer come through sitting in camp,no weather it is slow and the deer are active early and late. They always hunted the north end of the zone. Seems to always be a few big bucks near janes reservoir too. They always camped at four mile reservoir. Seemed a bit too far north on years with early weather.
 

Deerdon

Active Member
Messages
357
Howdy Monster Muleys Forum,

After 19 years and watching the Goodale G3 CA late season zone Deer herd and Bucks decline, I finally drew M9 using all 20 points. Not sure if this was a mistake or not but I am getting older, the CA Deer heard and quality of bucks are declining and I figured its time. I have had the fortunate opportunity to hunt and harvest some good bucks in CA, 1 in NV and a few in CO, but never had the opportunity at a true monster. I am not any under allusion that its automatic, in fact the word Hunt defines just that, "hunting" , not "killing" but to be in an area with much higher opportunity, later in the season etc.

Anyway - hoping to hear thoughts, good or bad and any advice etc...

thanks all

Tony
So how did it go???
 

TehachapiBuck

Member
Messages
28
*****************************NOTICE***************************
I am telling my story; my experience and I am not claiming to be an expert of the area or an expert hunter. I will say I had a damn great time, I had an opportunity at a true Modoc Monster and couldn't get it done (spoiler alert, I took a true Modoc monster in body, not in horns).
I will post my story of the 10-day trip, day by day as I have really enjoyed reading other hunters' stories and the anticipation in the past and wanted to share the same.
I will also post pictures along the way. I would also like to comment that I really appreciated all that have reached out with info and experience of the area. I ended up good really good friends with someone here and look forward to hunting with him in the future. For reference, I call him M9.

Enjoy - and sorry it has taken so long.... still catching up at work and recovering!!!


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TehachapiBuck

Member
Messages
28
Preface – The 1000-mile Buck

As my post earlier this year on the forum states, I finally drew a California tag of a lifetime, not in the area I had been applying for, for many years. Growing up in Tehachapi and around ranches, I was afforded the awesome opportunity (some might say luck) to hunt locally and on private ranches. I have harvested some nice deer, which genetically are not 100% mule deer. The deer in my area are smaller in general and anything over 22” is considered a big one. Yes, there are bigger deer than that in the area but in generality that is the goal. This meant I could still hunt CA every year even if I did not draw a premium tag building preference point etc. I have also been able to be a part of several X9A hunts including a round valley junior hunt last year. In addition, several out of state hunts, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona are also on my list. I, like many, have watched the Eastern Sierra Deer herd decline over the years which led me to Modoc. Again, I am not debating on G3 over M9 or any other area, I just did what I thought best, and I wanted to hunt the coveted Modoc bucks regardless of decline everywhere in CA. When I checked the CADFG website and saw that I had drawn I had a sinking feeling. Both excitement, anxiety, happiness, and sadness. Had I drawn the right tag, I just burned all my points, I will never draw a tag like this again, should I have waited another year, will there be a fire, was there enough rain that year, will it be too hot, is another round of covid going to shut it down, etc, etc, etc. It's hard to explain to someone that hasn’t waited many years (19 in my case) and who’s true passion is mule deer hunting. I look back of what drove me then versus my views and what drives me today. How I hunt and why I hunt are completely different today as I am sure they are for many of you too. The variables that Mule Deer hunting provides are unprecedented, it's what drives me during hunting season to dig deep, push harder and study more and more. On top of it all, I have never owned or fired a Muzzle Loader, and so, the Journey begins.

Below are some local Buck I have taken in past year(s).


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LIK2HNT

Very Active Member
Messages
2,151
Great adventure so far. Keep it coming. A good after the hunt story when you can look back and re-evaluate everything is almost (and sometimes better) than a day to day as it happens story. Keep it coming. 👍👍
 

TehachapiBuck

Member
Messages
28
1000-mile Buck pre-hunt post #3

Kudos to my wife for dealing with my obsession for 4 months leading up to the hunt. I work away from home during the week so every waking moment I spent preparing, researching spending money (lots of it) during this time. On weekends, I would work on my jeep (re-geared to 4:88’s a project that was in work previously) added went through my hunting gear and bought more. I picked away on my motorhome adding a 3-way value to plug 5-gallon propane bottles in, so I didn’t have to go to town and, upgraded to Lithium Batteries $$$$ . I also tried to shoot every weekend. When out of town working, I am pretty sure I searched every possible combination of X2, M9 and mule deer that I could conceive on the internet just to get information. I also watched every Hushin and Gritty episodes I could find on the internet. In addition, I searched the Monster Muley’s forum constantly. I focused on my health during this time, eating healthier, quit drinking and did 2.5 to 3 miles in 45 minutes on the treadmill taking my heart to 125-135 for 30 minutes 5 times per week. That might not seem like a lot, but at almost 50 it kicked my ass for the first few weeks. I realize that Modoc is pretty flat, but I wanted the energy and stamina to get up each morning and never find myself lying in my bag thinking, I will just sleep in this morning. I searched the CADFG website and found migration data. I charted the data and created laminated pages of migration corridors, staging areas and winter range. I talk to as many people as I could. This is where I met some of you. I also spent time in the Garden mid-September trying to understand the area, lay of the land etc.

Here is the recap from September.

-1500 miles driven between Friday morning at 4 to Sunday evening at 4 when I returned home
-90 Gallons of fuel = $450
-1 Buck Antelope spotted
-2 Coyotes
-6 bucks in Alturas + does
-2 wild horsed
-1 340-350 bull elk with 20 cows and a few satellite bulls
-2 different sets of lion tracks
-2 shots after dark 8:00 pm'ish on Saturday night
-Located several camp sites and some alternates
-Had Lunch in Oregon
-Understand why it’s called the Devil's Garden

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TehachapiBuck

Member
Messages
28
1000-mile Buck The hunt post #4

Saturday 29th

Morning Hunt – North of Blue Mountain, Weather Calm and Sunny

39 Deer in total
-9 Bucks – (2) 4x4 20” range (1) 3 x 3 20” range,5 smaller bucks 1 mystery buck (only caught a glimpse but looked good)
-1 Bobcat

Afternoon Hunt – Badger Wells

26 Deer in total
-2 small Bucks
-2 Turkeys
-1 Stud Horse

Sunday 30th

Morning Hunt – North of Clear Lake, Weather Calm and Sunny

25 Deer in total
-25 Doe
-50 Antelope
-20 Quail
-1 Bobcat

Afternoon Hunt – Badger Wells

40 Deer in total
-40 Doe

Monday 31st

Morning Hunt – North of Blue/Janes Reservoir, Weather Calm and Sunny

25 Deer in total
-25 Doe
-50 Antelope
-20 Quail
-1 Bobcat

Afternoon Hunt – Deer Hill/Badger Wells, Windy afternoon

44 Deer in total
-40 Doe
-4 Bucks
-3 Turkey

One of the 4 bucks on the afternoon hunt was 26”-28” 4 x 4, he was running with 3 does and another smaller 4 x 4. I messed up…. My hunting partners spotted them from their side of the jeep and of course I couldn’t see them. As I backed up, I backed up directly off the road into a huge rock where my basket on my jeep struck the rock hard and as you might have guessed it, the deer blew up. I am not saying I would or would not have got a shot or would have shot but I sure didn’t put myself in position to have an opportunity. Honestly after a 12-hour drive to camp on the previous Friday, then 2 ½ days of covering a lot of ground, admittedly I was not sharp and a bit complacent. This unfortunate event snapped me back into full hunt mode though as this was the first really good buck we had seen besides the mystery buck of which we didn’t really get a great look at. This buck we named “The Rock” and we will run into him again later in the hunt.

**Note: we tried not to count the same deer twice, if we saw deer in the same place as before we didn’t count them again**

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Locations we saw Animals marked on On x
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Camp
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Reno Buddies joined us for the weekend

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Oregon Trail
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TehachapiBuck

Member
Messages
28
1000-mile Buck Interlude post #5

Hunting Gear
Kenetrek Boots
Vortex 10 x 50 bino
Crooked Horn Outfitters Pack
Argali Game Bags
Raptor Cleaning kit
Old timer Sharpfinger Knife
Pelvis saw
Cabela’s Rain Gear
Boot Gaiters
Waterproof case for powder and ammo
Barnes Thor 250 grain bullets
Speed loader
White Hots pelletized powder
De-caper hooked to a fishing lanyard (worked great in shirt or pants pocket)
Hill Jack Hats
CVA Accura MR-X .50cal -topped with a Williams sight
Muzzle loader pouch- extra plug, extra trigger, tools etc.

***Note: Not endorsed or sponsored by any, just what I use***

Much much more, but this is what I carried each day

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Food Menu
We pre-cooked the meats and froze them flat in galloon zip locks, that worked great for space and each morning I would take out that night's dinner. Worked great until it was 9 degrees ;)

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Sighting in the Gun

At 100
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At 180

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Bwht4x4

Very Active Member
Messages
1,204
If I am back/high country I don't carry as likely to bone out or quarter. On this hunt its relatively flat and likely near a dirt road so it was likely to clean and hang the entire carcass to skin and cool off.
Reminds me when I had the Doyle tag a few years ago I shot my buck in the snow, dragged him down to the road, and then dragged him down the snow covered Doyle Grade almost 0.5 mile by myself using the sling on my rifle. It was super slick and he would almost slide on his own. If someone had been coming down the road they would have either laughed or been mortified! Nice part was being able to skin/gut it at camp and ultimately having a clean cavity. With that said, a super sharp knife will remove the bung really easy once the animal has been gutted. Like @Cahunter805, if doesn't make sense to use it I ditch it from my pack.

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LIK2HNT

Very Active Member
Messages
2,151
Reminds me when I had the Doyle tag a few years ago I shot my buck in the snow, dragged him down to the road, and then dragged him down the snow covered Doyle Grade almost 0.5 mile by myself using the sling on my rifle. It was super slick and he would almost slide on his own. If someone had been coming down the road they would have either laughed or been mortified! Nice part was being able to skin/gut it at camp and ultimately having a clean cavity. With that said, a super sharp knife will remove the bung really easy once the animal has been gutted. Like @Cahunter805, if doesn't make sense to use it I ditch it from my pack.

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Think you are missing the picture of you dragging your buck 😃😃
 

Bossbrott

Active Member
Messages
423
Reminds me when I had the Doyle tag a few years ago I shot my buck in the snow, dragged him down to the road, and then dragged him down the snow covered Doyle Grade almost 0.5 mile by myself using the sling on my rifle. It was super slick and he would almost slide on his own. If someone had been coming down the road they would have either laughed or been mortified! Nice part was being able to skin/gut it at camp and ultimately having a clean cavity. With that said, a super sharp knife will remove the bung really easy once the animal has been gutted. Like @Cahunter805, if doesn't make sense to use it I ditch it from my pack.

View attachment 94526
Good buddy of mine is hunting Doyle right now. Lots of does but nothing worth tagging so far. Jealous? Yes I am.
 

TehachapiBuck

Member
Messages
28
1000-mile Buck The Hunt post #6

Tuesday November 1st

Morning Hunt – Mowitz

40 Deer in total
-2 Bucks

Afternoon Hunt – North of Blue Mountain, looking for the mystery buck

31Deer in total
-29 Doe
-2 Bucks

The Storm is here. We started out with a short hunt Tuesday morning as weather was moving in and we needed propane and fuel. After seeing several deer that morning and a couple decent bucks that we just starting to rut, we headed to Alturas. We got fuel, propane and stopped at the local hardware store to get rubber boots as my cousin forgot his boots and been hunting out of his street shoes. By the time we got our errands done the snow it. It came down fast and furious. By the time we left Alturas (probably only 45 min) the ground was white and the roads started to cover. It was a white snowey drive back to camp and admittedly, I was worried about getting my motorhome out but didn’t say anything to my hunting partners. We got back to camp and made a long-awaited breakfast in our cook tent. We stuffed ourselves, had some laughs and a 20 min nap then back out to look for the Mystery buck as he was relatively close to camp and we hadn’t seen any other hunter in that area. On the way to where we wanted to hunt we ran across the 20” 4 x 4, I believe the buck we saw Saturday morning but this time he was rutting pretty hard. He followed 4 does across the road right in front of us, 15-20 with his head down sniffing doing the stiff leg thing. This sent us into the next level of excitement as we felt that the rut had officially started. We all agreed it was a very pretty buck, but it was only 4 days into the hunt and certainly we would have other opportunities. We hunted out the evening in the snow (which made it 100x easier to spot deer in the thick woods). We headed back to camp near dark and saw deer all the way and right up to camp but no big buck yet. At camp we prepared for the cold night and the hunt the following day.

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