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Author Topic: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck  (Read 3036 times)

Offline Pathfinder101

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Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« on: November 07, 2017, 05:36:34 PM »
As in most years my primary concern is for my kids to get deer before I worry about getting one.  This year my oldest is off in college, so my focus was on my 10 year old and his buck.  After some bad luck on opening weekend, we got out hunting a few times during the week, but with my schedule as a teacher we only got a couple of evenings and didnít connect.  That Thursday night the little guy came down with a stomach bug that had him missing school on Friday and still sick Friday night, so come Saturday morning I was on my own. 
As I always do, I hiked an hour in the dark in order to reach my glassing point well before first light.  As the sun started coming up behind an overcast sky calling for rain, I began to pick up a few feeding deer.  Across the canyon about 600 yards distant I spotted a lone doe feeding.  On another ridge I picked up a couple of small bucks that occupied my attention in the growing light as I tried putting a third point on one of them.  As things became clearer I kept focused on the pair of young bucks, wrestling with the idea of whether or not I would go after one if I identified a third point.  I try to stick to mature bucks, but after all, it was the last weekend of the season. 
It was now full light and I had identified several groups of deer.  I glanced back at the doe across the canyon and immediately noticed another deer with her.  Even before I got the spotter turned on him, I could tell he was a buck by his blocky appearance and his stiff gait.  The spotting scope confirmed it, and I recognized the buck right away. 
He was an older, mature 2x3 that I had only captured on my trail camera once this year, and only recently after he shed his velvet.  I had thought he was one of those ďcruiser bucksĒ that cruises through the area, shows up one time, and then disappears forever.  But there he was, in broad daylight (sort of) feeding next to this doe.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 05:45:50 AM by Pathfinder101 »
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 05:37:31 PM »
.  I ranged him at 611 yards and thought about taking the shot (I am in possession of a brand spanking new Remington Long Range 700 in 7mm Mag), but I had to work up a handload that my new rifle liked, and that had thrown my turrets off.  I knew I was 9 inches low at 600, but honestly didnít feel like risking my shot and the deer to my sketchy guess-math.  Besides, he was in a good stalkable position and would probably bed down soon.  I doubted he would head west because there was a paved road there that I didnít think he would cross in the daylight, and any other direction he might go would just bring him closer to me.  So, I decided to wait him out.
After watching him a while and getting a few photos through the spotter, I noticed him start to get antsy.  He surveyed his surroundings a moment, and then as quickly as he had appeared I watched him slip over the hill into a shallow draw on the other side.  I watched the draw intently for 10 minutes and didnít see him exit the top or bottom or come out on the opposite hillside.  I decided that he was bedded and it was time to make my move. 
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2017, 05:42:09 PM »
I quickly packed up my gear and made a long looping arc to get both upwind and uphill of where I assumed he was bedded.  I started the stalk at 8am and by 9 am I was pretty sure I had come out above ďhisĒ draw.  Of course everything looked different from the different angle, and being open brush country it was difficult to pick out landmarks for perspective.  After peeking into a draw that I decided was too deep, I pinpointed the small, shallow draw that I had seen him go into.  Or to be more accurate, I thought I had pinpointed it.
The draw looked right.  It was shallow.  Not even really something you could fully call a draw, just sort of a fold in the side of the hill.  It was not much more than 100 yards long and 50 yards wide.  And it didnít have a piece of brush higher than the mid point on my thigh.  It looked right.  There was only one problem with it; when I crawled up to the edge of it and peeked inÖ there was no deer.
I slowly got up to get a better vantage.  Still no deer.  So I stood fully.  Nothing.  Keeping my rifle ready, I walked into the draw.  Nothing.
Now, I have had this happen before.  The deer in this country are ghosts, and I have been ghosted plenty.  I know they can hide, and I know that I walk past them without ever knowing they are there.  I know better than to assume they have left the area, even if I know they must have.  And I just knew he had to be there somewhere. 
So I stood for a full 5 minutes, glassing the draw and puzzling.  Looking for an ear, an eye, an antler tip, a shadow, anything that didnít look right.  I tried to figure out where he might have escaped to.  I didnít think he could have gone out the top of the draw, I had kept that in full sight of my stalk for the whole hour.  I know he didnít go out the bottom, because I would have seen him leave the big canyon at some point.  I had seen the doe leave (she had watched my stalk and then left when I got too close for comfort), and I knew she didnít take him with her.
I sat down to think.  There would have been no reason for him to leave.  The doe was out of his sight when she left.  I had a good wind the whole time.  I know he didnít see me, because I was covered by terrain for the whole stalk.  There was a soft wind blowing, enough to cover my sound, and I knew I had been quiet.  It was overcast, so I know my shadow didnít bust me (Iíve had that happen before).  While I was sitting I kept glassing.  It seemed silly to be doing it, since nothing was more than 100 yards from where I was sitting.  I still thought I might spot an eyeball or a nose through the brush.  Another 5 minutes elapsed.
Now, this next part pretty much guarantees that I can never write this story up for a magazine. 
I have been told that if you hunt long enough, you will eventually have a story about ďthe time the big buck showed up while I was taking a dumpĒ.  Thatís not exactly what happened, but itís close.
Earlier that morning, in the dark, I had performed the operation mentioned above.  We all know that no job is really complete until the paperwork is done, and as I sat on the side of that draw, it was becoming increasingly apparent that I had not completed all of my paperwork.  So, anticipating more walking in my near future, I fished some tissue out of my pack.  I stood up, took off my binoculars, unbuckled, and was wrestling out of my suspenders (I never wear suspenders)Ö when that buck exploded out of the knee-high brush less than 50 yards to my left front.
I honestly donít know exactly where he was bedded because I was concentrating intently on my suspenders and I heard him before I saw him.  I had just enough time to grab my rifle and offhand him just before he escaped out the bottom of the draw at 81 yards.  Spined him with the first shot, then finished him with a second shot behind the shoulder. 
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 05:46:28 PM »
So, that is the story of my 2017 eastern Washington muley buck.  He is a hair over 23 inches wide, with a nice boxy 2x3 frame and decent eyeguards. He had a huge body and looks like a spike elk hanging in the cooler next to other mule deer. I euroed him out and he will hold an honored place on my wall, not because of his score of course, but because he represents exactly what I chase every year.  A big, old, mature deer that has survived several hunting seasons.  I know that buck has hid in the brush just as he did the day I killed him.  I wonder how many times I have walked past him.  He was smart enough to lie there hidden less than 50 yards from where I sat cussing him for over 10 minutes.  And who knows, he may have done that to me before too. 

God, I love mule deer.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2017, 05:47:08 PM »
Pics must be too big to post.  I may have to add the rest when I get home.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Online Boss .300 winmag

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2017, 06:05:46 PM »
So what your saying is that you got caught with your pants down.  :chuckle:

Nice one pathfinder. :tup:
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Offline bowhunterforever

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2017, 06:15:39 PM »
Nice buck :tup: Congrats
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Offline Brushbuster

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2017, 06:25:36 PM »
Great story along with pics!! You got that sneeky bugger! Congrats :tup:!

Offline tgomez

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2017, 06:29:24 PM »
Congrats on a good mulie buck, should be great eating and I must agree with your statement I LOVE MULE DEER HUNTING!
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Offline bearhunter99

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2017, 06:31:41 PM »
Nice old buck!  Congrats!
RIP Colockumelk   :salute:

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Offline Timberstalker

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2017, 06:45:51 PM »
I look forward to you and your families stories every year. Thanks for sharing this story.
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Offline hunting4sanity

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2017, 06:52:31 PM »
Congratulations, that's a good looking buck! I enjoyed your story even if it's 'unsuitable' for print.
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Offline X-Force

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2017, 07:41:56 PM »
Great story.
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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2017, 07:42:47 PM »
RW= rewipe. Nice buck

Online Dan-o

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Re: Pathfinder's 2017 Buck
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2017, 07:45:59 PM »
Great buck!

I've tried your technique, but it hasn't worked for me yet.
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