What I loved most about this hunt is the lack of other people and hunters. This was a dream come true for me as I am used to hunting in Utah with high hunter densities and always plenty of pressure and competition. After 2 more days of scouting before the hunt I was happy to have my brother show up for the company, the help, and safety. If something were to happen to me in this remote area there was not another soul around to help. After hiking up the first ridge we noticed 3 nice bucks below us. Not nice enough but these bucks would have blown out of there if we were hunting in Utah. These deer never see people and don't know what to make of us!
Another buck spotted across the way. We decided to let him be and try for a better one.
Once we were about 4 miles in and near 12,000 ft in elevation our hearts were working hard to get oxygen to the legs. With 50lb packs and steep unstable rock and shale to walk in we had to stop every 10 steps to catch our breath. At this point I really started questioning why I am hunting at high elevation when there are lower areas with good deer in the unit. I am a sucker for the high country I guess.
We had seen a bunch of nice bucks from the bottom the night before and were determined to get up high for a better vantage. The obvious challenge was going to be how to stalk in on a deer in loose noisy rock and shale! Even a mountain lion can't sneak in this crap. I had seen this before. The big bucks bed up under a lone bristlecone pine surrounded by shale rock knowing that nothing can sneak in on them. These 3 amigos were bedded together. I was after the best one.
After a 3 hour stalk in from above and 400 yards from the peak of the mountain over 11,800 feet. I would wait for the wind to blow hard in their ears so I could make a little more noise trying to walk on the big boulders for less noise. And I would keep one lone tree in between their line of site to me. To my surprise with all the noise I got within 150 yards! I had been practicing with my CVA Accura with new open sites peep on the rear and globe with cross hairs on the front. I was very confident at 100 yards and pretty sure if the big guy stood up with a dead rest I could shoot a little bit high and have a good chance at a lethal hit. I got way excited to see they were still laying there in the sunlight the big guy with his back to me. I rested behind the lone tree for a minute and then looked back to see all 3 bucks headed down the mountain to the quakie patch. Nooooo!
The good thing was I could still see them and saw where they went in and bedded. While I was watching them my brother spotted two other bucks come toward us from over another ridge and move toward the same bedding area. I never saw those ones I was focused on the 3 amigos. I decided to try and get off of the steep shale and plan another stalk. This time they would be in a better stalkable spot. As I worked my way down it was impossible to be quiet. Keeping an eye on the bucks they got nervous at the noise and at over 1000 yards this time they stood up and moved out over the next ridge. Hot tired and defeated I wondered what to do next.
Remembering that my brother saw some bucks go into the same area I though I may just make a move over there anyway and slowly make my way into the patch of quakies. I thought that there is no way that those bucks would be in the same spot and would have blown out with the others. I slowly crept into the trees. There were enough openings that a shot would be possible. Right above where the other bucks were bedded a big heavy 4X4 with deep forks and nice eye guards slowly stands up at about 80 yards. I ##### the hammer back lean against a quakie for support line up the sites and squeeze crack!!! Only the primer and a little bit of powder go off! Stupid muzzleloaders I curse. I would be better off with a bow. The buck slowly turns and walks down and starts making his way across the shale slide. I grab a quick load and reload. Fortunately the bullet had cleared the barrel. By then he is out of site. It was all over. As I started walking to where I last saw him another buck that was still bedded 50 yards up from me jumps up and runs! I though a running shot may be all I get on this guy. But with open sites I was not going to do it. Just then he stops at the edge of the trees and looks back at me at about 70 yards. I line up and this time boom! That is the kick I was anticipating. He ran across the shale and then death ran back toward me and began to roll down the slide.
Once again I was very grateful to have my brother there to help. It make it much more fun and he has helped me pack many animals out of the mountains. Starting to feel like we are getting to old for this type of grueling hunt but it was another great adventure and shared experience that we will always have.
The next hunt will be trying to help my daughter on the Utah General rifle her first hunt. May help a few friends with their hunts as well as time permits. And then it will be my late season Nevada elk hunt. Can't wait!