Hunting Washington Forum

Big Game Hunting => Deer Hunting => Topic started by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 06:08:00 PM

Title: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 06:08:00 PM
Alright! Things have been absolutely crazy this late summer and fall, but the football game is on the television and the fire is going in the hearth, so why not knock out some of this year's adventures?  :dunno: :tup:

Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: huntnfmly on November 18, 2018, 06:12:41 PM
Can't wait to read them I always enjoy your write ups of your hunts
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 06:13:26 PM
The summer fire season kept me busy as most tend to do, and I spent the last two months of it willing the oak leaves in Southwest Oregon to start turning. I couldn't have been more thrilled when they finally started to obey. My bosses know what they "bought" when they hired me, and that's a gal who tends to disappear for the majority of October. The calendar finally turned to that glorious month, so I exchanged my fire boots for my hunters, grabbed my muzzleloader and spent some time shooting before the general season opener. Nobody in my family was lucky enough to draw any special permits, but we were hopeful a little luck mixed with a lot of exposure might provide some opportunities.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Skyvalhunter on November 18, 2018, 06:16:30 PM
Sounds like a good season Hirshey
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 06:17:50 PM
https://www.instagram.com/p/Box52WRBamN/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet (https://www.instagram.com/p/Box52WRBamN/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet)

muzzleloader practice  :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JakeLand on November 18, 2018, 06:21:22 PM
 Been waiting for you to chime in !!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 06:22:53 PM
The warm weather of SW Oregon seemed a lifetime away as the day before the opener yielded a winter wonderland. I was grateful for great friends and family to help me construct my new (to me!) wall tent before the worst of the weather hit. We spent the evening laughing and telling stories, enjoying the warmth and comfort only a lively campfire can provide. The morning promised to be exciting; I reminded those worried about the weather that Mother Nature just provided us quite the treat: every elk track we encountered held promise of being less than 24 hours old.  :chuckle:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 06:26:37 PM
https://www.instagram.com/p/Box6LDpBMeu/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet (https://www.instagram.com/p/Box6LDpBMeu/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet)

Winter Wonderland
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JBar on November 18, 2018, 06:47:18 PM
 :whoo: Been waiting for the write up of your adventures!!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: jmscon on November 18, 2018, 06:48:57 PM
Oh snap! Canít wait to read about your season!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 06:49:43 PM
The first lights of day were veiled by a freezing fog, extending the shadows past their normal shift. My parents' friends and their sons were joining us for the hunt, and their eldest, Michael and I were set to work together to cover a large chunk of steep, rocky ground for the day. We ascended the terrain still shrouded in thick fog, working through fallen trees and fireweed until we intersected the trail that would take us to our area. Surprisingly, there were already boot tracks on it! We discussed our options, and after a few minutes, decided that the area we picked was most likely not the target of choice, so we continued up the trail. As daylight revealed more of our surroundings, we started to notice two figures working on the trail ahead of us. I tried a short wave when they looked back, but they disregarded and continued up the trail. The odd pair, one carrying a bow and one a rifle with a suppressor, both wearing hunter's orange continued to work faster up the trail as I continued to hail them. When they finally relented, we asked them what area they planned on hunting, so we could work together and not against one another. They stated they were only after deer and bear, and were headed the opposite direction we planned on heading in about 1/4 mile. We let them go ahead as we exchanged glances at one another... did he have a multiseason tag? A muzzleloader tag but no muzzleloader? Their behavior seemed a little odd, but without further information we let it go to concentrate on our day at hand. As the pair had stated, they were headed to a spine ridge on the right. Michael and I agreed that I would take the creek bottom and he would go on the tabletop to the left. I started down the bottom of the draw, sure to go slow to capitalize on any animals the bear/deer hunters or Michael may accidentally move. Less than 15 minutes into my trek, I looked back to see the two hunters at 150 yards and closing. They had given up on their ridgeline due to the fog, and were pushing out the drainage in a manner that indicated they decided to go elsewhere. I stepped off the trail and out of sight and watched them pass. The layer of fog was warring with the winds and sun above; as I waited, watched and listened for the woods to resume normal business, the sun won out. The filtered, ethereal light experienced in the fog gave way to blinding sun that shone like diamonds on every snowflake and ice-laden branch. Now, what to do with the rest of my hunt since those two went right down my drainage?
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 06:53:18 PM
I felt those two hunters missed the opportunity to capitalize on a very high traffic ridgeline. I decided to slowly parallel the drainage and take opportunities as I desired to gain the top of the ridge; I knew my biggest ally was the snow, and my plan was to find some tracks and start the pursuit. After all, if you follow them in the right direction, eventually those tracks end at an animal.  :chuckle:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: lokidog on November 18, 2018, 06:54:09 PM
 :whoo:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 07:14:08 PM
The ridgeline didn't produce in the manner I was hoping; if I had been that bear hunter, I would have been much more excited. The only tracks I crossed were a lone coyote and a beast of a bear. I cut back across the drainage in hopes of running into Michael or some elk; I didn't find Michael, but the number of elk tracks across the tabletop was dizzying! You simply couldn't follow the same set of tracks for more than 100 yards if you tried. Melted out as they were, the elk had used this area heavily in the last 24 hours. I spent the remainder of the day wandering among the lodgepole pines and enjoying the sun until it departed into the treetops to the west. I cut across a meadow in the last light of day to a dirt road back to camp. As the natural light faded I was greeted by a set of Toyota headlights; my pal Jeff had made it for a few days of elk hunting! I grinned, pointed him towards camp (his seats were full) and trotted the last 200 yards back to a flurry of family and friends. We got Jeff all settled into the wall tent just in time for the evening report; my parents had been into elk but hadn't seen any spikes, their friends hadn't seen any, and both of their sons were in fresh sign all day, but no animals. We formulated plans for the following morning and broke bread around the campfire. When you've been hunting an area for multiple seasons, you generally are fortunate enough to make new friends. This hunt was no exception to us, as we had met ANOTHER Michael four years prior. (We had a Mike, Michael J., and Micheal Jay in camp) Michael Jay was a staple of this hunt for us in his Ghillie suit, trapper's hat, and motorcycle with custom-created muzzleloader carrier. I could write an entire chapter of this hunt dedicated to some of the hilarious things that have been vocalized by that man, but I'll keep that one for the publication. ;) Micheal Jay had arrived in the snow, so we housed him in the wall tent until the snow relinquished enough for him to set up his own camp. Although he slept a few miles away, the warmth of the campfire and the day's stories were alluring to him, and he was a welcome guest around our fire. He had an unending collection of jokes, mental puzzles, and personality to share. We all enjoyed catching up on the day/year/season before heading to bed. Jeff and I had a plan for the morning, and I already knew my feet were going to hate me for it.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Wetwoodshunter on November 18, 2018, 07:19:43 PM
Sub, just to see the bucks Jeff sent me ;)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 07:28:43 PM
The next day started as most; me being ready and Jeff tinkering.  :chuckle:

The morning started to emerge from the depths of the night as we were already well on our path for the day. The terrain attempted to shroud the distant bugling, but to no avail; we already knew those animals were in the vicinity. The light penetrated the timbered slopes, revealing hills previously shrouded by shadow. Taking the opportunity, I put up my binoculars and immediately found elk. These were not the ones we were after; the terrain they were on had bested us ten times over in years past... they had a multitude of outs, and pretty much every opportunity to detect you before you could close the distance. As troublesome as it was to continue past, the bugles were getting closer with every step, and in terrain better suited for us to win the deadly game of hide and seek. We continued on, allowing for someone else to get schooled by those particular animals. We crossed a creek and worked up a steep, frozen slope still shrouded in snow. The bugles were below us now as we worked to close the distance along a spine ridge. The plan was to get above them and let them work up to us, and we were in ideal position to let this happen. The only thing that could foil us? Our own curiosity.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 07:43:46 PM
The lone bugle seemed to maintain its distance into mid-morning. What enchanted us more were the bugles from a sub-drainage to our southwest; bugles erupted from the landscape at a rate of 5-10 per minute, and many were interrupted by their competitor's. What was going on down there? Could we wait on this lone bugle to see if he had a spike in his harem, or should we chance it and go for the bigger group?

Well, if any of you know Jeff, you'll be sure to reinforce that he doesn't do well out of motion. He is as active as they come, and his curiosity and excitement is contagious; it was quickly decided that we would try to close the distance on the group. He set out to get above them, and I moved carefully through fireweed and winding water hoping to ambush them in their current abode. With each step we took, it appeared the elk took ten. By noon, the animals were still vocal and still increasing their distance between us. Jeff and I reconvened on a saddle, having invested many more miles than our intent was for the day, but we couldn't say no to those bugles. We made one more plan to try to get on them; I'd go directly towards them, and Jeff would wrap the top of the peak they were under. We parted ways and I parted the thick lodgepole saplings on my descent towards the calls. The thick carpet of trees didn't deaden the muzzleloader percussion I heard in front of me. My mind raced; did Jeff get on animals and pursue? Was it someone else? Who else was as crazy as us to be this far from a road??

My question was answered within a half mile as I worked across the terrain and found two hunters. They had missed a spike in the group we had heard vocalizing. I communicated with Jeff and made a plan with the two hunters who wanted to maintain their elevation: Jeff would get around the slope as quickly as he could and wait. There was a very good chance he was in position for a follow-up shot on the herd. The two hunters planned on slowly working across the slope. If Jeff shot and pushed them back, they'd be in good position. I would lose elevation and slowly work across the slope to pick up the rest.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 07:52:03 PM
Bugles resonated off of every surface and echoed through my chest; I was SO close to these animals! My path across the hillside had gifted me a well-worn game trail and I moved effortlessly through the timber as I continued to close the distance. The first elk seemed to blossom from the hillside as I pulled up my binoculars to confirm: it was a true spike. I slowly lowered my binoculars and fumbled with my range finder before confirming it was still a little too far. I abandoned my game trail, trying to claim a tree with the perfect shooting rest 50 yards in front of me, but I only made it halfway to my destination before a cow and the spike were staring hard my direction. I was frozen, and the pain in my legs from the awkward position was still present even after the animals had fed over the adjacent hill. I decided a direct pursuit wasn't wise, so I reclaimed my game trail and worked slowly around the slope. The scene I was presented was a treat I'll recall for a long while.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 08:07:44 PM
With all the precipitation we had received in the past few days, I was surprised to see DUST intermingled with the trees ahead, but the sound of antlers interlocked as two incredible bulls pushed each other across the landscape morphed surprise into awe. I sat down among the carpet of seedling and sapling lodgepole and watched the brutes finish their tiff and continue to bugle over each other. At this point, I could see no animals aside from the two beautiful bulls. Something in me told me to hit my diaphragm call. I made the best chirp I could, and both bulls locked up once more. Two smaller bulls emerged from the folds in the terrain and started coming my direction. They walked past at 40 yards, showing me my shooting lanes if I was fortunate enough to have the spike follow. Cows and calves by the dozens started to filter by, following the same path as the younger bulls. The two mature bulls followed, stopping to fight at less than 35 yards.  :yike: I couldn't help it; I pulled out my camera to take photos. As I was trying to get photos of the fighting bulls, another bugle sounded directly behind me. Surprised, I turned around to see two MORE large bulls at less than 30 yards, tailed by half a dozen cows and the spike. Two cows caught my movement and were staring at me, as were a few from the group in front of me. I compare their reaction (or lack thereof) to a stranger crashing a house party. Nobody recognized me, noone invited me, but everyone assumed someone else invited me, so didn't sound the alarm. I set down the camera and tried to swivel ever so slightly to get a good shot on the spike. I was seated, shooting over my left knee/behind me in a very awkward position, but I felt confident. I took off the safety and recall thinking "Jeff and I are going to have a LOT of work to do tonight!". I squeezed the trigger. The muzzleloader did what I asked it to do, and I felt the recoil in my shoulder. All the elk stayed frozen for what seemed like an eternity before erupting in every direction. I watched the spike move up the hill, confused, and uninjured. I was SHOCKED!  :yike: what happened? This gun drives tacks!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JBar on November 18, 2018, 08:34:20 PM
 :bash:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: mtn.goat on November 18, 2018, 08:41:27 PM
I too, love your writing and storytelling.  You probably already know your great elk hunt, thus far...is in the deer section.   :dunno: :chuckle:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 09:24:14 PM
Jeff came down to assist me in searching for blood, just in case something was not as it appeared. We walked to where the spike had been standing broadside and started looking for blood. An hour of searching, and not a drop. It was an absolute truth at this point.... I'd missed!

BUT, I hadn't been the only one that day.

Jeff had also had an opportunity above me at another spike at roughly 70 yards, and had also missed.

My father who is usually a dead ringer? Also a miss.

The day was full of opportunities not seized, but we were happy to have spent the time in the woods, and together. I was still very bothered by my miss, because I had by far had the closest shot. I went to bed wondering what exactly had gone awry. I woke up in the middle of the night with a potential answer, but decided to wait until daylight to prove it to myself. I reenacted the position I had been in on the hillside, and it demonstrated that I couldn't quite seat my cheek against the stock as was my normal position. With the 1/4 inch of space between my face and the stock, where I had determined was a lethal shot on the animal was actually a complete miss when pressed against the stock as normal. The challenges of shooting in unique positions with open sights... at least I took something away from the endeavor.

The new day brought a deluge of water, but that didn't stop three of us from continuing to explore and seek out the mighty wapiti. What we found is that elk don't disintegrate in the rain; we still found bull elk and cows, but no spikes. The following day Jeff left for work and general season deer was fast approaching, so I promised myself I would only hunt until noon. It was a promise I soon broke as I found several small groups of bulls and cows, a 2x1 I snuck to 30 yards on, and a spike in a larger group I couldn't quite seal the deal on. I was no more than 200 yards from elk for more hours of daylight than not. I arrived back at camp with enough daylight to break down the wall tent, decline a marriage proposal from our hunting friend (ring and all) :chuckle:, wish my parents and friends the best of luck in the remainder of the season and headed out of the mountains to prepare for modern rifle deer season; I was preparing meal plans for four of us for seven days, and needed to get backpacking gear ready to go. THIS was the season I was most excited for, and it was almost here!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 09:35:24 PM
Derrick had to work a pay period longer than I did, so he was also fresh off of his fire season when he arrived in my home town to pack for our remote deer hunt. This week-long hunt spent together would be more time than we'd had in each other's company since May, so it was an exciting adventure for many reasons. We had decided to only take two deer out of our hunt area to maintain the quality of animals we had come to appreciate, so Derrick and Jeff were the ones we agreed to concentrate on in Washington this season. When Derrick arrived in town, we confirmed his rifle was still a precision machine and he helped confirm all the preparations for the trip were complete. Jeff and his friend Dan joined us on the night of the 11th since our rigorous trek into the mountains takes a full day.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 09:39:41 PM
((WA Mule deer continued tomorrow... the photos and the mystery page 2 issues took a little time tonight.))

 :sry:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2018, 09:43:01 PM
I too, love your writing and storytelling.  You probably already know your great elk hunt, thus far...is in the deer section.   :dunno: :chuckle:

I'm doing the entire story in one big thread.  ;) Almost to the deer, I promise. Deer/elk gets a little intertwined in Idaho, so I thought I'd do it this way.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JakeLand on November 18, 2018, 09:43:16 PM
Nice !!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: h2ofowlr on November 18, 2018, 09:48:17 PM
 :tup: :tup: :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: lokidog on November 18, 2018, 09:52:17 PM
What an awesome bull in the photos!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Blacktail135 on November 18, 2018, 11:29:34 PM
 Great story! Better than the "Hairy Apemen Attack of 1924" rabbit trail I just left.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: trophyhunt on November 19, 2018, 07:01:37 AM
Read half of this on my way to work, couldn't put it down!  After almost wrecking 3 times I decided to wait to finish the story at work!  Love your post, thank you and keep them coming.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: DOUBLELUNG on November 19, 2018, 11:46:01 AM
Tagging along, top quality as always!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: kellama2001 on November 19, 2018, 01:31:47 PM
Yay!! It's Hershey's hunts thread time! One of my favorite annual threads, you are an inspiration Hershey!  :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: mfswallace on November 19, 2018, 01:36:00 PM
Yep
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Wunderlich33 on November 19, 2018, 03:24:56 PM
Hirshey's stories are always entertaining
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 04:19:54 PM
Alright! Where were we...
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: trophyhunt on November 19, 2018, 04:25:45 PM
YES!!!! 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 04:32:00 PM
Jeff and his friend Dan arrived long after the sunlight had given its final farewell to the slopes of Central Washington. We exchanged our greetings and ensured Dan and Jeff were both properly packed and outfitted for the adventure at hand before taking to the luxury of the mattresses and sheets we wouldn't be seeing for the next week.

The aroma of coffee roused the troops, and we enjoyed a nice breakfast with my parents before loading all our gear in the vehicle for the three hour drive to the hillsides we were set to attack. We shrugged into our packs and looked up at the terrain we were set to conquer. "Are we really doing this again???" I grinned, as we started our way up the slopes. A few hours into the trek, Derrick had found multiple chalky sheds that exemplified the types of animals we were hoping to find. Were any of those shed's previous owners still alive? If not, here's hoping they were prolific in spreading those genes!

Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 04:41:48 PM
As always, the year between these types of treks seems to suppress the memory of the effort required for the task. We all finished the big push with just enough daylight to make a trip to filter water and set up the tipi. We celebrated the completed climb with Mountain House meals and Mtn Ops Slumber cocoa spiked with Bailey's. The cocoa was a big hit, and a big hitter: Jeff fell asleep on top of his sleeping bag that first night.  :chuckle:

 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 04:51:18 PM
The morning routine is always the same, although the instigator seems to rotate; a few logs are loaded into the tipi's stove, the JetBoil fires up to heat water for coffee, cocoa, and breakfast as the folks remaining in the sleeping bags slowly emerge from their cocoons. This morning was no exception to the norm, and we were soon outside and packed up for the day's adventures. Jeff and Dan planned a stalk along a steep peak that provided good glassing opportunities into our basin, and an extended hunting opportunity along a steep razorback ridge that seemed to continue in perpetuity. Derrick and I would gain a small sub-ridge in the basin that offered good shooting lanes into an area frequented by our mule deer targets. We arrived at our intended destination just as the sun started highlighting the nearest peaks and started our work picking apart the hillsides. Within the first hour, we had glassed up a few does and a small buck. I moved across the ridge to better glass the draw below us and was immediately rewarded with the sound of antlers interlocking. Wide-eyed, I looked back at Derrick and motioned "BUCKS!".
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 05:07:47 PM
Derrick moved silently to my side as I tried talk him into the animal's location. One doe and small buck were not impressed with the behaviors of the other animals, and quickly moved downhill and out of sight. We could tell one of the bucks was at least a heavy framed 3x4, but the timber prevented any further inspection. We continued to glass the area, trying to get eyes on his sparring companion to no avail. The 3x4 (at least) bedded down in an area we didn't have a shot on from our current location, and couldn't ascertain any additional information on his antler configuration. As I stated earlier, the intent was to get Derrick and Jeff into bucks so I wasn't even carrying a rifle on this trip. "What do you think of that buck?" I asked Derrick. "I don't know, I couldn't really see much..." he responded. "I kind of hate to tag out on the first day... I think I want to be like Jeff and hold out until the bitter end!"  ... :yike:  Part of me wanted to tell him to give me the gun and that I'd pursue him, but that wasn't the right answer. "Ok, well do you want to wait a little longer to see if we can spot his sparring partner? He's big enough I don't think that small buck that left would have considered a battle with him."

We glassed for another 30-45 minutes with no luck, so decided to retreat back to the other side of the sub-ridge and continue to gain elevation and slowly sneak over and glass the side where the buck had bedded. Two hours later, we had gained all the elevation offered by the sub-ridge and hadn't even seen the bedded buck. Shucks! I felt like we missed a really great opportunity, but continued up the mountain until we met up with Jeff and Dan. They had watched a few bucks bed on our hillside and thought a respectable buck bedded on a small bench about 300 yards from where we last saw our buck. We had also not been as sneaky as we thought, as Jeff and Dan noted that we had pushed a small buck and doe that had been above us in our morning trek. He decided to try to make a push on the bedded buck, while we waited in one of the most prolific escape routes those animals seemed to use, but we call came up empty-handed... not even a doe was found the remainder of the day, and we discovered cougar tracks were much more abundant than deer on most game trails. We headed back to camp, questioning what we would do with the following day.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 05:19:56 PM
The next day ended up being a recovery day for me and Derrick; we took a wide, slow swing around the basin and ended our journey at the location we'd glassed up the bucks the day prior. It was around 11AM when we decided to take advantage of the solar heating and close our eyes. I smiled as Derrick softly snored, and continued to will the slopes to reveal the bucks we knew had called this "home" the day prior. Alas, it wasn't meant to be, and after taking turns napping into the afternoon, we took our time slowly descending back to camp for Jeff and Dan's evening report. They had glassed up a few bucks in a very distant basin, but had also come up without any major events to report aside from the high volume of cougar sign the area was producing. We agreed to make an early ascent of the basin to facilitate a long attack on the basin where Jeff and Dan had seen bucks. It was going to be another BIG day.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Birdguy on November 19, 2018, 05:42:39 PM
Love these posts and who doesn't! Awesome as always Hirshey!!!!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 07:14:11 PM
The morning sun rose over the eastern terrain about the same time we conquered the majority of elevation we were to gain for the day. The four of us picked our way across the slopes through the scattered slash and brush, stopping to note the large bear tracks and various cougar tracks interweaving with our own. We were all disappointed at the limited deer sign in the vicinity, but were certain our luck would change in this far away basin. After all, there's always more deer over the next skyline, right?  :chuckle:

The sun warmed the hills and the dotted, gnarled pines offered the only reprieve from the heat by the time we arrived at our destination. We worked carefully across the landscape to various glassing points, each time turning up a few more deer. (the largest being a mid-range aged 2 point with eyeguards) Dan's feet were dotted with hotspots and blisters from the past few days' efforts, so we formulated a plan to best suit the health of the group. It was decided that Jeff and Dan would work across the ridge towards the head of the basin, assuring a position where they could glass all the terrain and escape routes. Derrick would set up on the open south-facing slope with worn game trails in a position with many viable shooting lanes. I would descend into the basin towards the lower end and start pushing up the bottom. We had a good idea where the 2-point had bedded, so I'd work up the basin in a fashion that if I alarmed any of the animals, they'd want to ascend towards Derrick or Jeff. A few hours into the endeavor, I was approaching the location where we'd last seen the buck. I pulled my InReach out of my pocket to text Jeff and let him know my current position when I noticed the green flashing light of a new message. "Abort! Don't go any further up the drainage! I found some bucks!"
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 07:22:01 PM
I paused, and wrote a message in return:

"Abort the plan? Where do you want me to go?"

"Come straight up the hill!"

.... :o easier said than done, as I had lost 1,500 feet to complete this plan.

I turned to the slope and started to ascend. Within 50 yards of that message, I ran into the first group of deer: four does. I knew they were part of the group with the buck we'd seen earlier, so I avoided eye contact and pretended not to see them, sliding across the hill to allow them time to make a decision as to where they wanted to go. They moved precisely as we'd thought, and I watched as they picked up the 2 point and moved towards where Derrick had planned to be positioned. I looked at the time, and my position on the slope and texted Jeff "You should make the stalk without me if you're going to do it".
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 07:37:32 PM
Jeff greeted me partway up the slope as I whispered, "You don't have much time! If you're going to get on those bucks, you should go without me... I'm beat!"
He insisted on waiting to make a stalk until we all regrouped. Somehow, Derrick ended up at the perfect location to intersect us on our travels. He'd seen the 2 point, but hadn't been able to confirm eyeguards from his position, so made the wise decision to not shoot. We worked across the terrain to a position where we could see the two bucks Jeff had glassed up. Neither were the bruisers we had all dreamed of for the last year, but they were both legal bucks. They were exactly where bucks should be: at the head of the basin, high in the rocks with very limited opportunities for an attack, and a perfect view of the entire basin. After much discussion, it was decided Jeff would make a stalk; he had about an hour to get it done before we lost all the day's light. Jeff worked down the basin and into a small fold of the hillside with skill and speed. We had identified a single, bright larch to use as a marker for him as he made the approach; this was the elevation he should start sidehilling for the most ideal shot on the bigger of the two bucks. As many I'm certain can sympathize, the marker looked much different when Jeff arrived on scene; he disregarded it as not THE larch and continued his ascent. By the time he realized his mistake, the light was turning the hills a pastel orange hue. He worked into a position he was hoping would allow a shot on the buck, but it wasn't meant to be; the pair saw each other seemingly simultaneously, and both bucks took their leave hastily. It turns out, 75 yards in fading light is simply not ideal.

We messaged Jeff and set up a rendezvous location, and set out to meet him for the long trek back to camp. We all met by headlamp under a clear autumn sky, and picked our way across the countryside, unsure of what our plan for the morning should entail. I couldn't help but regret not pushing Derrick to pursue that buck on opening morning. 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 07:48:18 PM
It had been agreed that evening that Dan's feet needed a break, so Derrick, Jeff and I would assemble a plan for the three of us to hunt together the next day while Dan took the day off. We planned to gain the large peak near camp to facilitate glassing our basin, and then continue on the razor ridge towards yesterday's basin. The morning arrived, and once the fire was roaring and coffee was poured, I was getting restless waiting for my companions to be ready; at this rate, the daylight was going to beat us to the top of the drainage. I told them I'd meet them up where I could actually do some good glassing, and took my leave. Although we each took different routes up, we all arrived at the same glassing spot at just the right time in the morning. We were about to continue our trek when Derrick exclaimed, "THERE HE IS!"
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: jstone on November 19, 2018, 07:52:00 PM
Your stories are better than any hunting show.!!! :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 07:52:30 PM
Plain as day with your bare eyes was a beautiful buck about 700 yards away stepping into our basin. He paused at the rim, surveying for possible danger. Immediately the plans for pursuit started to develop, but the complexity of the situation increased when out stepped ANOTHER big buck!  :yike:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 07:58:26 PM
We were developing a plan of attack as the excitement level increased yet again: TWO MORE great, legal bucks followed the same path as the first two. They all disappeared into the sub-basin where the bucks had been fighting on opening morning.

"We have ALL DAY to make this stalk, let's make it count..." I started. "Let's go back down into the bottom of the basin, up that sub-ridge, and take opportunities to glass as necessary until we find where they all bedded."

We all agreed that route gave us the best chance for success, so we commenced our 4 hour trek to make it happen. 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 08:19:37 PM
The wind was just right for our first look into the terrain. We all pulled up our binoculars, eager to lay eyes on the bucks we'd seen a few hours prior. Our first attempt at finding the animals came up empty; we retreated out of sight and gained a little more elevation. The plan was to continue this pattern of movement until we found our targets, but didn't have to wait for the old saying "third time's a charm", as Derrick motioned that he'd found two of the bucks. He talked us into their location, and we noted they were the smaller pair out of the four bucks we had seen. Derrick was excited by the sight nonetheless. "I'd be happy with the larger one of those bucks, maybe we should just make a move on that one". We assured him that we still had the large portion of the day to turn up the other two bucks. We changed position one more time before Derrick's eyes continued to do solid work; the two large bucks were bedded roughly 50 yards up and to the left of the others. We ranged the group, finding that about another 80 yards would put us in unquestionably lethal position. The plan was still for Jeff and Derrick to take the bucks. After a little excited discussion, I agreed I'd consider taking one of their rifles for a follow-up shot if the larger of the second group of bucks gave me an opportunity, but I knew this was not a reality. We snuck into position and Jeff handed me his rifle. "I want you and Derrick to get Power Couple status! You HAVE to shoot one of those two bucks!" We argued back and forth, and Jeff continued to insist that I take his rifle to make the shot. He reminded me that he still had a deer tag for Idaho, and I did not. I shook my head, incredulous, and finally consented. "YES!!!" Jeff whispered. What an incredible friend to offer me this opportunity.

The plan was to get into a comfortable shooting position and wait for the bucks to stand up naturally. I left Jeff's rifle behind a large boulder to test out a log as a rest. The position was uncomfortable at best, with the seated position requiring a large portion of abdominal work to pull off due to its uphill slope. Not a good idea. I tried to move back over the same time Jeff and Derrick passed me the rifle. "This isn't a good spot!" The movement of the rifle caught the closer buck's attention; he stood up.  :yike:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 08:23:37 PM
I slid over, getting into the shade of an adjacent fir tree. "SHOOT" I thought. This wasn't ideal. Derrick was resting over the large boulder that had been our cover. It wasn't tall enough to stand behind, but too tall to sit. Not the perfect rest. I moved into the prone position. We were too far away to communicate for a 1,2,3 SHOOT to be realistic. Both large bucks were standing. "Are you ready?" Derrick and I both asked each other. The bucks moved through the timber, rarely visible at the same time. "When you get a good shot, Derrick, you take it. I'll work with the rest".
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JBar on November 19, 2018, 08:31:27 PM
Dont you dare stop typing!!!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 08:36:59 PM
The sound of Derrick's shot rang in my left ear. I took a breath in, and slowly released as the crosshairs found their position on my target buck. The percussion of the gun was followed up with the THWACK every hunter likes to hear in return. "You got him, Kari! Good shot! Derrick, you missed. Shoot the one that's broadside." "That's not the one I was shooting at." "That's the one I hit." Boom! THWACK! I put another round into my buck to assure his quick demise. Derrick realigned with his target and shot again. Another miss. The chaos of the drainage faded as the only remaining buck lay still. We confirmed my buck was dead, and worked to search for any additional blood and track the other the bucks for another opportunity for Derrick. Jeff worked the slope low as Derrick and I took the ridge the bucks used to depart. Alas, our continued effort lost its fire as the day grew long and the tracks disappeared into a rock scree. It was evident these bucks had abandoned the area entirely. We agreed to make it back to my buck before it got dark. Part of me felt a huge amount of sorrow/guilt for how this scenario had played out. I was the ONLY ONE not supposed to get a deer this year... how did it end up that I was the only one with one down?  :dunno:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: jstone on November 19, 2018, 08:37:41 PM
I was waiting for that to. Get in the heat of the moment.

Good night all
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 08:40:14 PM
We worked across the rocky slope as I continued to apologize to Derrick, and he continued to say that it wasn't my fault, and I should be happy. Jeff and Derrick wanted me to be happy. That reminded me... where was Jeff?

I pulled out my InReach as we arrived at my buck.
Derrick was pulling out the camera to get a few photos with me and my animal.

"Derrick! Take my InReach! Jeff found your buck!"
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 08:41:23 PM
I quickly thrust the device into Derrick's hands after hitting the "navigate" button to Jeff's last message location.

"Hurry! You don't have much daylight left. I don't think we can be quiet enough with both of us going. I'll start on my deer, you go."
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 08:52:31 PM
We had left our packs down the hill for the final portion of the stalk on those bucks, and Jeff had brought them partway back up to my buck before he continued searching for the animals that had eluded Derrick's attack. I worked my way to them, and carried them uphill to the bench where I intended to dress my buck. I grabbed my headlamp and hiked back up the hill to my prize. Carefully, meticulously, I worked my buck down the slope laden with boulders and downed trees, cautious not to let him freefall. I was mid-effort in an attempt to get my buck over a large log suspended in the boulders when a shot rang out. YES! One more. YES. The last light was failing, my buck was on flat ground finally, and I had taken a quick self-timer photo with my buck with the aid of the flash, and had started boning out my animal when I heard a shout; I knew Derrick had to come back to my location irregardless of the outcome; his bag including his headlamp was with me.
"YO!" I shouted in return. Derrick emerged, and I asked the burning question. "Did you get him?"

"NO, it was a long shot and I missed." My heart sank. "But you should see the path I had to take to get to Jeff!"

I leaned over to look at his phone, and saw a photo of him smiling, holding the antlers of his beautiful Washington mule deer.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 08:56:41 PM
Deer (hunters orange taken off for photos for any internet warriors. Youíll see we have it in other photos)  :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JakeLand on November 19, 2018, 09:03:02 PM
Nice!!! Great bucks and story! More ???
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 09:06:22 PM
Derrick had taken the InReach and left my position. The navigation point was more difficult to follow than he had expected, and he soon took to simply hiking the direction he thought it had tried to take him. Miraculously, Derrick intersected Jeff's position. The buck had stayed at Jeff's location (he had circled back around to roughly 400 yards downhill of my buck) huffing at him. Derrick arrived with minutes left of daylight, and put his crosshairs right behind the buck's shoulder. With Jeff's coaching, he steadied his breath and pulled the trigger; the buck dropped in his tracks. "YES!" Derrick exclaimed. (A fairly significant reaction, for any of you fortunate enough to know Derrick :chuckle:) As it would stand, Derrick's first shot hit the buck in the spine, and the second stilled his breath. Similar distance to earlier in the day, but a much different result!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 09:10:07 PM
Jeff and Derrick then parted ways; Derrick's destination was to me, and Jeff's was back to camp to grab Dan. Dan was new to hunting, and was very interested in the process of boning out a deer, so Jeff wanted to be certain he wouldn't miss out. They arrived mid-effort on my animal, but just in time to see my excitement in finding the lace fat... you see, I had watched an episode of Meat Eater where Steven had used the caul fat to wrap a portion of the backstrap and cook it. I was absolutely set on making this a part of our evening treat, so we found a flat rock, cut out a piece of the backstrap and Dan went about making the perfect fire for the occasion. We were fortunate enough that just as we were finished with processing, the meat was ready to eat. Dan may not have hunted deer before, but he sure knocked it out of the park preparing it! I will absolutely say it was the best meat I've ever eaten!

Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 09:12:59 PM
Cooking the backstrap (definitely a cool video worth the click)

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpGMrV2BxVd/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link (https://www.instagram.com/p/BpGMrV2BxVd/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: kellama2001 on November 19, 2018, 09:16:27 PM
 That is so awesome! Ive wanted to try that ever since I saw that episode as well. Thank you for sharing your amazing hunt with us!  :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 09:16:49 PM
We finished our mountain fare, extinguished our fire (we ARE Smokey's friends, after all! ;))  loaded up meat in packs and navigated to Derrick's buck to repeat the process under clear skies dripping with starlight. Packs laden with free range protein, we waddled down the mountain back to spike camp. Our o-dark-thirty arrival didn't dampen our spirits, and we all went to bed that evening with smiles on our faces and blisters on our feet.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 09:25:55 PM
We discussed our successes, knowing we had left one of the top two bucks on his feet. As much as we were tempted to keep hunting for him, we stuck to our original plan and only harvested two bucks from the basin. They were both the size of small elk, anyways, so the task of getting them out of the mountains seemed a hefty one! With four people, we realized packs were still too heavy to take spike camp and the meat out in one effort. Dan's feet were borderline brutal, so we knew that at the end of the trail on this first out, we'd have to leave him. We packed up the majority of the meat with the intent to spend the night at our vehicle before the three of us made a massive effort to do an up-and-back the next day. OUCH!  :yike:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 09:27:29 PM
Out we go!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 09:33:37 PM
Somehow, although I couldnít find the energy to even get out of the tent to go to the bathroom that night (I held it! Poor idea!!!) we still managed to put packs on and keep hammering the terrain the following day. We made it up in record time, broke down camp (we hadnít done this because we thought we might have to stay the night) and made the trip one final time. The lot of us agreed: this was a test to see how prepared we were to battle the frozen cliffs of Idaho, and we all passed with flying colors.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 09:35:31 PM
We continued our discussion on the way down the hill; Iím unsure if it was hysteria preceding complete exhaustion, but I cried a little as I confessed to both Derrick and Jeff how grateful I am for the both of them; each year I think, "there's no way I could POSSIBLY go to that basin"..."that's as far as these little legs can take me". Every year, we surpass those perceived thresholds. Both those men make me into a better version of myself. Both those men support, challenge, and cheer for me at every turn. Both those men have the curiosity and drive to see what is over the next horizon, and the passion and respect for the game we seek. I could NOT be more grateful for the hunting family I have come to know and love.


To Jeff: That's OUR buck. I know you could've easily made the same shot with that tack-driver 300WIN.

To Derrick: I'm so proud of the hunter you've become, and I cannot wait to see what new contraptions you build us out in the wilds. :)

Thank you both.



Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 09:41:28 PM
The Idaho portion of this story is going to have to wait until tomorrow/the next day. :) Goodnight all!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Birdguy on November 19, 2018, 09:42:42 PM
Absolutely fantastic write up as usual! What a cool story or stories you share with us each fall, we are blessed as a community to have you on here and share with us!! I have said it before and will again, I ask my daughter to read your posts every fall to ensure she sees what is possible if it your thing!! I love being able to show her capable women, making amazing memories and so graciously sharing with others. You lady are a class act  :tup:. Thank you again!!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Encore 280 on November 19, 2018, 09:45:13 PM
X 2! :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 19, 2018, 09:46:12 PM
That is so awesome! Ive wanted to try that ever since I saw that episode as well. Thank you for sharing your amazing hunt with us!  :tup:

It is EXCELLENT. We did it in both Washington and Idaho this year (I guess that's a little bit of a spoiler  :chuckle:) and it came out great both times; it adds a nice crisp crust while keeping the inside nice and juicy. We added some steak seasoning on the backstrap prior to wrapping in the lace fat... it was smashing! Flat rock, heated by fire, wrap in caul fat, cook. Nothing fancy, but an absolute delicacy. I'll do it every chance I have now. We even wrapped a grouse in part we saved.

I now lovingly refer to this as Caveman Cooking. :) the rock was so well seasoned that there was even discussion of packing it out  :chuckle:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Blacktail135 on November 19, 2018, 10:00:37 PM
 2nd what Birdguy said. Love the photos! I can close my eyes, hear the fire crackle, smell the smoke and charring of meat, feel the heat.....all under a blanket of stars. Thanks for taking the time to share.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: TommyH on November 19, 2018, 10:16:39 PM
 :tup:
Always enjoy your epic account of your days spent in the places we all love to be!!! Thanks for taking us along on your journey! Inspiring is an understatement! Congratulations, and we look forward to your adventures to come.  :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: lokidog on November 19, 2018, 10:32:16 PM
I would by the book "A Few Hunts" or "Up a Hill, and Back"  by Hirshey....   :chuckle:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: elkoholic1 on November 20, 2018, 12:18:19 AM
 :tup: :tup: :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: tgomez on November 20, 2018, 01:20:32 AM
Absolutely fantastic write up,  a HUGE BUCK,  and breathtaking photos.  Congratulations on another great hunt and thanks for sharing your experience.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: brokentrail on November 20, 2018, 06:45:56 AM
I usually read a lot of the threads and don't comment but I just had to tell you your write up of your adventure was great and I thank you for taking the time to do so!  As others have said, I would buy your book, you have a real talent for writing/storytelling.

Thanks again!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: elkrack on November 20, 2018, 09:12:32 AM
Top notch again your threads never disappoint! 👍🏻
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: nitroelk on November 21, 2018, 07:34:56 AM
Great write and awesome story, thanks for sharing. Also I'd buy the book too!!! :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: nwwanderer on November 21, 2018, 08:20:29 AM
I propose a collaboration, Hirshey/boneaddict with a hunt Washington pre-sale, 500 pages should do it
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Frankchurchbandit on November 21, 2018, 09:16:13 AM
I sit here and type and simply #slowclap for you and your ability to narrate your adventures. Outstanding once again young lady! Your crew is second to none  :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: C-Money on November 21, 2018, 10:10:04 AM
Very nice story!! Sounds like a great WA season.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: jackelope on November 21, 2018, 11:55:38 AM
Well done, Hirshey! Looking forward to Idaho.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: haugenna on November 21, 2018, 08:10:57 PM
Tagging
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: jackelope on November 27, 2018, 06:50:03 PM
Whereíd she go? Idaho?
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 27, 2018, 07:14:18 PM
Whereíd she go? Idaho?
:chuckle:

Enjoyed Thanksgiving with the family and then moved all of my belongings back over to Seattle for my winter work. Started work yesterday and still trying to get settled into my place. Iíll write soon. :) thanks for all the love so far!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: bowhunterforever on November 28, 2018, 12:40:23 AM
Tagging for later :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: opdinkslayer on November 28, 2018, 06:41:04 AM
We continued our discussion on the way down the hill; Iím unsure if it was hysteria preceding complete exhaustion, but I cried a little as I confessed to both Derrick and Jeff how grateful I am for the both of them; each year I think, "there's no way I could POSSIBLY go to that basin"..."that's as far as these little legs can take me". Every year, we surpass those perceived thresholds. Both those men make me into a better version of myself. Both those men support, challenge, and cheer for me at every turn. Both those men have the curiosity and drive to see what is over the next horizon, and the passion and respect for the game we seek. I could NOT be more grateful for the hunting family I have come to know and love.


To Jeff: That's OUR buck. I know you could've easily made the same shot with that tack-driver 300WIN.

To Derrick: I'm so proud of the hunter you've become, and I cannot wait to see what new contraptions you build us out in the wilds. :)

Thank you both.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that I speak for most guys on this site when I say Jeff & Derrick are blessed to be on your team! Congrats to all 3 of you for not only your success stories every year but how you guys go about doing it & the bond it has formed between some obviously really cool people.😎👍🏻

I echo peopleís sentiment on your write ups every year & your talent to write/storytell. I too would read your book & frankly I could see you 3 having a tv show much like western hunter that would be outstanding & better than 99.9% of the crap thatís on now. Thanks again for sharing with all of us & having the ability to put us all on the mountain with you guys!😎
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: 2MANY on November 28, 2018, 08:27:42 AM
Congrats on a successful fall.
Working with Bob again?
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: DeArBuCK4me on November 28, 2018, 08:55:50 AM
Reading the story here is way better than reading hunting stories from expensive magazines subscriptions. Thank you for sharing your amazing adventures ---very inspirational.  cant wait for next season!!!!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Pathfinder101 on November 28, 2018, 08:49:36 PM
Great account (as always )Hirshey.  Congrats on another great season.   :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Jburke on December 07, 2018, 06:25:50 PM
I think this is the thread that I look forward to most each year.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: teanawayslayer on December 07, 2018, 06:54:44 PM
Thanks for sharing Kari. Always a pleasure reading about your endeavors!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: W_Ellison2011 on December 20, 2018, 06:32:23 PM
Come on now... we're all waiting for the Idaho hunt details! I read a lot of hunts and I do comment from time to time but nothing beats reading your hunting stories!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 12:02:45 PM
Hey all, sorry itís taken so long... this winter season has really gotten away from me! My few days of off time had been reserved for family, sausage making, and razor clams. As long as the internet connection works tonight, Iíll bust through all that was Idaho this season :) . Thanks for your patience and for following along!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Gringo31 on January 30, 2019, 03:34:08 PM
 :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Yelper Guy on January 30, 2019, 03:48:53 PM
Excellent, I was starting to go thru Hirshey story withdrawl!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 09:27:22 PM
Bah!  :bash: what a long day! But where were we?

Ok, Idaho...
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 09:36:46 PM
Idaho was somewhat a word said in disdain to our hunting party; as many know, the regulations changed in our normal haunt and the end result was we were prohibited from hunting deer there this season. Derrick and I had a long and honest discussion about our options, and we decided if we were barred from hunting our normal area that we would simply not hunt in Idaho this season; we had savings enough for a single vacation, so it was either Idaho or a trip someplace to renew and reconstruct the bond between us strained by busy fire seasons and absence. Plus, aside from snowy hot springs, I have not gone on a vacation in my adult life where it was appropriate to pack a swimsuit... so we were considering the possibility of ending that drought.  :chuckle:

The most difficult part of that decision was breaking the news to the other most steadfast member of Team Awesome: Jeff.

 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Boss .300 winmag on January 30, 2019, 09:39:32 PM
Awe yes swimsuit hunting, nothing better.👍
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 09:58:37 PM
As expected, he did not take it well. I'm certain in a 5 minute period Jeff experienced all stages of grief.  :chuckle:

But he wasn't finished: a few days later, he circled back around to the bargaining stage. Jeff really wanted to make an Idaho trip of some kind happen, and he desired most to have a slight bit of retribution from last year's season and ensure the plan included his friend Michael from Louisiana. As you may or may not recall, there was an issue with Michael's ability to obtain an elk tag after he flew to Boise, so he caught a ride back to Louisiana the next day and did not join us. Jeff was steadfast on the notion that Michael had to experience Idaho at least once, and even more certain that a true Idaho experience included both Derrick and myself. I assured Jeff that he could use all of my equipment and that they would have a great time without us, but Jeff was unwavering in his effort to include us in this next great exploration. After many negotiations, "no's", explanations, and bouts of silence that evolved over weeks at a time, Jeff used a weapon he hadn't yet deployed: his friend Michael.

Michael contacted me and explained (with a Louisiana accent and much more charm than Jeff  :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle:) the same messages Jeff had been communicating over the last month:
-it won't be the same without you, you are PART of the Idaho experience
-it was likely the only year he could come due to having a young family and the most ideal timing forecasted into future years
-what would they have to do to get a "yes"


In the end, the conversation really changed the course of our season, as we finally consented to go.... and as an incredibly generous welcoming present to Team Awesome 2018, Jeff bought me my first out of state elk tag... WOW. I was speechless for so many reasons: the generosity of my friend, the small guilt for feeling this was the product of us initially saying "no", the fret over making sure MY elk tag was last priority in all of the hunting to be done, excitement to have my first ever branch antler bull tag, and so much more. Ok, Idaho was happening.

So with a few months to go, these were the players:

Jeff: deer, cougar, wolf and elk tag
Me: elk tag, wolf tag
Derrick: wolf tag
Michael: small game license, and tons of large coolers in tow with high hopes of taking loads of shared elk meat back to Louisiana

I could only hope we would not disappoint.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 10:10:14 PM
It almost seemed as if nothing had changed from years prior as Jeff, Derrick and I loaded our hunting home and equipment into the truck for the trek east. The plan had developed wonderfully and with the fairly quick success of Washington's deer season, we were on the road in no time at all. There was a fairly particular itinerary for this hunt: we had three days to hammer down and hunt for Jeff's Idaho deer, three days of scouting/hunting elk for me, and then Michael would be able to fly up from Louisiana to join us to finish off the hunt for Jeff's elk. We knew it was a lot to ask in a short period of time (especially when you threw in the challenges and time expenditure of exploring new areas) but we were going to throw those packs on our back, welcome the rhythm of trekking poles and shuffling boots, and get after it! 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 10:28:09 PM
The concept of our hunt remained the same:

Set up base camp in my Kifaru 12 man tipi, cut/cache firewood, filter water to fill 5 gallon jug and personal bottles, erect gear tent, grab meals from the food bin to last 4-5 days and hit the trail with spike camp on our backs.

At this point, we are a well-oiled machine; the tasks were completed at lightning pace, and soon we were enjoying the sounds of meandering waters and our own footsteps down the trail. We kept each other's company for the first 2-3 miles before the boys started developing some steam and pulling away. I didn't mind; I knew our tentative destination for the evening, had my rifle, and actually truly enjoy the solace that comes from solitude in the wilds. It wasn't long until I caught back up, however, because they had encountered some other hunters, and were talking over their successes and challenges. The message ended up being quite resounding as we encountered two other hunting parties further into the canyon: deer were scarce, it was dangerously hot for meat, and hunters nervous of going home empty-handed had filled their tags with spikes and other young bucks. We took this news in stride and continued on our trek, and when I encountered my hunting comrades the final time, Jeff had started to set up spike camp and Derrick had started back for me, impressed that he had only walked 50 yards out of camp before we met up. We talked about a plan for the morning; if the deer weren't in their autumn homes yet, we would have to pay them a visit at their summer residences. ...that meant a lot of elevation to gain, but that's what we were there for!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 10:46:21 PM
The morning hours were heralded by the sound of heavy rain. Not heavy in the quantity, but rather the size of each drop; they persisted in their advance on the tipi with reverberant thumps well through the consumption of coffee, but not once did they create hesitation in our day's plan. We were outside before any evidence of the sun found its way into our valley, and as we shrugged on packs we could start to see our camp location was pretty much the partition between snow and rain. We started uphill through branches laden with wet, heavy snow. These two would be cake to track I mused, as I was last in line to witness the bare branches spring back in to position after even the faintest brush of an arm or leg of the men in front of me. "At least any track we find will be fresh!" I offered to the snow dense air. We continued on, only pausing momentarily to shed layers or listen to muffled calls of wandering crows. Up, up we went. 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 10:54:20 PM
We gained the undulating ridgeline just as the weather broke. We scattered, clearing seats on downed logs to glass the opposing hillside while the weather allowed. Derrick spotted the first animal, and before long, we had picked out a buck. He moved deftly in the snow, in and out of the timber almost like a ghost. Similarly to a ghost, he disappeared, making us wonder if we had really ever seen him at all. Even with three sets of eyes, none in the group could determine the configuration of his antlers, and without a significant dedication of our day to push that direction we simply would never know... that wasn't the direction we had intended on going, but was it where we SHOULD go? After a little stalling to see if the deer would ever reappear, we decided to stick to our original plan and "love the one you're with"... our ridgeline was going to produce, we just had to be patient. Onward and upward we ventured as the weather window closed and the snow engulfed us once more.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 11:16:28 PM
During my solo hiking time the day prior, I had noted wolves had been the most recent creature using the trail besides my two comrades in front of me as was evidenced by their tracks, so it was no surprise to find wolf scat up on the ridgeline, but I still found it impressive to see entire deer teeth had passed through! While Jeff and Derrick motored up a steep incline, I paused in the snow to take a photo. I silently hoped the trend of predator pressures having a huge impact on our hunts ended in the backcountry of Washington, but I was not optimistic. The realization that the visibility had worsened and I could no longer see Jeff or Derrick snapped me out of my internal monologue, and I powered up the slopes after them. I found them just over the rise on a small tabletop feature discussing options. If we couldn't see the deer, would it do any good to blindly push through the areas we'd hoped to hunt? Should we stop and wait for conditions to improve? Go down in elevation to get out of the freezing fog? Push on?

We decided to investigate a small sub-ridge for any fresh tracks to buy some time in hopes the visibility would improve and we could continue our trek. What we found was promising, but not for the immediate target species; fresh elk tracks! The tracks wandered off the sub-ridge into a dip in the terrain between the main ridge. We couldn't see how large this feature was due to visibility, but our electronic maps verified that the feature was significant: those animals could hunker in there even if we walked the main ridge and never be disturbed. While we were exploring this new area electronically, the snow was replaced with a biting wind. We moved to the leeward side of the ridge to escape the sting. Just as we sat down, blue skies and hillsides rolled into view as the clouds raced with the wind over our head. We took in all the terrain greedily, hungry to find more potential suitors for Jeff's tag, but soon were disappointed as the clouds swallowed the terrain once more. When bitter cold grabbed us all, we started hiking only to discover a perplexing situation: it was as if the clouds were a blanket, and our ridgeline was the center of the bed... and two entities were fighting over the blanket. As one side lay bare to our viewing, the other was completely socked in. And for no apparent reason, no shift in wind speed or direction, the cloud cover would violently rush to the other side of the ridge, leaving us to glass the new open territory. Honestly, it kind of worked to our favor, masking our movements across the ridgeline to the territory we hadn't yet glassed, and offering plenty of good viewpoints to pick apart the mountain.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 11:23:15 PM
This routine of glassing and moving had produced a handful of does and an unique and young 3x4, but nothing worth a stalk (I had to talk Jeff off the ledge a few times, but we WERE holding out for something he'd be excited for, especially the first day!). We had 2 days left to get Jeff into a buck per our schedule, so we intended to use it. Just as the blanket was getting ripped back over to the left side of the ridge, Jeff spotted him. Derrick and Jeff motioned for me to come take a look, and I could tell they were excited. We patiently waited for the next weather window, but conditions were changing; instead of getting a full view of the buck, we were granted small holes in the fog in which to see him. Jeff snapped a quick photo, I said "YUUUUP!" and we made our plan of attack.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 11:31:18 PM
The buck was on a small sub-ridge of the sub-ridge we had found the elk tracks on earlier in our trek, and he definitely had company. From our vantage, we could see at least 4 other does and an unconfirmed animal working the edge of a small opening with the target buck. The does were 70 yards lower down the ridge and feeding downhill, and it appeared the buck would follow. It was determined 3 people would most likely be impossible for the stalk, so Derrick insisted I go with Jeff; he would stay up with the gear we dropped and wait to hear confirmation we had the buck down. Today's effort had left us with maybe 50 minutes of light, so we would have to act efficiently. As we departed from Derrick, an icy snow started to fall, masking our steps with each tumble the flake took prior to settling on a resting place. That was good, but it also limited our field of view to under 50 feet. Not so good.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: redi on January 30, 2019, 11:36:07 PM
Great so far. Don't leave Me hanging. I can't refresh fast enough to read the next paragraph.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 11:37:37 PM
Mother Nature must have taken pity on us, because the snow relented as we approached a small terrain feature we suspected the buck was near. We painstakingly crept over the top only to confirm we still have some distance to go to close the gap.... oops!  :chuckle: We had picked out a few unique snags on the hillside above where the buck had been feeding when we planned our route, and reminded ourselves of that fact so as not to make the mistake again. Jeff looked back at me, grinning, as the snags came in to view. We were no more than 150 yards from them! The snow flurries returned, but lightly. Jeff continued across the frozen slope, only to stop mid-step. He wasn't looking across the small valley, he was looking right below us!

I shifted, slowly peeking around the conifer to my side. Antlers.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 30, 2019, 11:55:59 PM
Antlers, but nothing like what we had seen from the ridge above. A 3x3 with gnarled, devilish bases had stopped feeding and placed his head behind a bush, looking sideways at Jeff. The stare-off lasted minutes, and the light was leaving us. I crept over to Jeff. "That's not your buck."

"Are you sure? I mean, that's what I thought, but maybe I was wrong..."

"No way! I can see does feeding through that gap in the trees, they are still almost exactly where we left them... let's keep going."

We slowly moved across the slope, eyeing the buck that was eyeing us from less than 60 yards. When he was satisfied we were far enough away, of course he did the one thing that might impact our hunt: he huffed, and ran downhill.

By the time the buck had made his move, we were in pretty good glassing position for where we last left the buck that MIGHT exist.  :dunno:

We glassed hungrily down the direction the 3x3 ran, eager to see the deer he took with him on his exit, but only got confirmation of fur through the timber. The does moved downhill and around the sub-ridge. I urged Jeff to keep side-hilling just in case we had the opportunity to see animals moving through the timber. We continued another 30 yards when Jeff turned and said, "Let's get the heck out of here!". He wanted to gain the ridgeline with enough daylight to do some final glassing before our long trek back to camp. "Let's just go a little farther... maybe the spine of the subridge?" I suggested. I didn't think we would have time to see anything from the top, and there was still one more fold in the hill before the sub-ridge with the elk tracks. He relented, moving up the hill another 40 yards. Jeff turned, wide-eyed as I saw a dark body surface out of thin air less than 30 yards from him, and two loud THUMPS of a stotting deer disappearing over the terrain.

"F@$%*!" Jeff said as he raced up the hill.

I stayed in place, still trying to understand what happened. Jeff was 30 yards up the slope from me, skylined against the gray, snowy background when he raised his gun.

BOOM! The gun's sound was immediately consumed by the fog as Jeff disappeared.

boom. The terrain muffled a second shot.

I paused, the world silent again. I slowly moved up the hillside and was quickly welcomed by the silhouette my best friend approaching.

"What just happened?"

"He was RIGHT HERE! Right where a big buck should be! We bumped him out of his bed!"

We exchanged high fives and excited recounts of that abrupt and shocking development, and messaged Derrick to come join us.

In an attempt to take a peek at his buck, I looked past Jeff in our excited chatter only to see antlers skylined on the elk sub-ridge....

"JEFF! ELK!"
Shockingly, there were three small legal bulls and a handful of cow elk feeding up the ridge less than 200 yards away in the weather. We agreed to pull his deer back onto the other side of OUR ridge before processing him to minimize the impacts to hunting those elk later.

but FIRST, we took a quick video....
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 31, 2019, 12:01:35 AM
https://www.instagram.com/p/BqDeaAxhQFI/?utm_source=ig_web_options_share_sheet (https://www.instagram.com/p/BqDeaAxhQFI/?utm_source=ig_web_options_share_sheet)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 31, 2019, 12:02:56 AM
Normally, we wait for all members of Team Awesome to be there prior to photos or touching the animal, but Derrick's arrival was delayed due to communication issues, so we took a quick moment in the last of the day's light to take some good photos of Jeff and his deer.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 31, 2019, 12:05:35 AM
 :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 31, 2019, 12:09:10 AM
 :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 31, 2019, 12:11:00 AM
And Iíll continue tomorrow since we got to at least one juicy part of the adventure! More photos tomorrow too. Theyíre just a little slow to load tonight.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: fishngamereaper on January 31, 2019, 06:07:26 PM
 :tup: Bump just so you don't forget.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 31, 2019, 06:42:05 PM
:tup: Bump just so you don't forget.

Itíll be late tonight... just got home from work. Long days.

Photo to hold you over :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 31, 2019, 06:46:26 PM
:)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Boss .300 winmag on January 31, 2019, 07:01:06 PM
That left front fork is weird, think it was damaged in velvet?
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Colorado Kid on January 31, 2019, 07:06:09 PM
Reading through your post brings back how awesome it is to experience hunting with you   :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: lokidog on January 31, 2019, 07:15:10 PM
Always a pleasure reading your narratives.   :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JWEBB on January 31, 2019, 09:13:14 PM
That left front fork is weird, think it was damaged in velvet?

I have killed a couple like that. Always wonder what happened
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 31, 2019, 11:40:18 PM
That left front fork is weird, think it was damaged in velvet?
I definitely think it was damaged in velvet... hit a branch or rock while working across the hillside. I think that's one of the neatest things about that buck. :):)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on January 31, 2019, 11:40:53 PM
Alright... I can commit to about another 15 minutes of story tonight.  :sry:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Caseyd on January 31, 2019, 11:43:05 PM
Some is better then none :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JWEBB on January 31, 2019, 11:52:43 PM
Keep it coming!!!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 01, 2019, 12:09:38 AM
Derrick worked his way down the slope through fading light as Jeff ascended to find him and help with the packs. While they were gone, I prepared the plastic tarp which would soon become our break-down station we use to remove the muscle groups from all four legs. Satisfied with the flat location and end product, I quickly sprung to action collecting dead needles and small twigs from the dense lower canopies of nearby fir trees; usually these are primo fire starting material. When I had collected enough small material, I started caching woody debris of all sizes to start and maintain our warming fire. It would be especially cherished this evening, as the temperature was rapidly dropping and the day's weather was so damp that you couldn't help but to be slightly wet even with the best of gear. Derrick and Jeff arrived just as I had finished preparing my pile for a lighter. The moisture in the air was so thick that even the red and cured needles were straining to light. We each took a turn at trying to light the fire, and were about to admit failure when the light finally sputtered to life and cast an orange hue over us and the task at hand. Practiced from Washington, we swiftly gathered our prize of protein, antlers and the cape as the fire dimmed and our headlamps reflected off the frost and snow surrounding us. Much to Jeff and Derrick's dismay, I insisted on the most direct route back to camp, insisting I could take us on a relatively moderate hike among the stars. The stars were stunning when they weren't masked by our frozen breath highlighted by our headlamps, but the route was far from moderate. Jeff took a pretty decent tumble, and the evidence of the fall would follow him the rest of the trip; a grapefruit-sized purple mass of discolored skin stained his leg. A few hours of cursing and muttering finally produced easier walking, and we made the long trek back to camp slightly after midnight. We enjoyed a warm stove, lofty sleeping bags, and brown sugar bourbon in our sleepytime cocoa that evening in fairly high spirits despite the difficult trek back down the mountain. With one major task crossed off our list for the trip, we only had two primary targets left: two branch antlered bulls... and it turns out, we knew where at least a few of those were. We discussed our options for the next few days, and decided to use the additional time created by Jeff's early harvest to locate other bachelor groups of bulls. Part of the point of Michael joining us in 5 days was to participate in the successful harvest of an elk; we knew the bulls spotted near Jeff's buck weren't going anywhere, and that the distance from camp and terrain challenges were well within Michael's capabilities, so we would reserve those animals for a later stalk. The plan for the next few days was to hike Jeff's buck back to base camp and spend the next two days scouting areas we had high suspicions would hold big bulls. It was my turn to have a firearm at the ready!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JWEBB on February 01, 2019, 12:12:21 AM
Great writing!! Anymore tonight?
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 01, 2019, 12:13:57 AM
No more tonight. If I try to get to the next big event, I'll rush the writing just to meet my pillow. :)

Goodnight all  :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JWEBB on February 01, 2019, 12:17:07 AM
Looking forward to it!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 01, 2019, 12:17:20 AM
Leaving spike the next morning
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Skyvalhunter on February 01, 2019, 05:17:40 AM
Congrats on getting it done. You guys look like an advertisement for Kuiu!! :chuckle:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: 2MANY on February 01, 2019, 09:07:44 AM
What I like is their dedication to each other and the fact they are smiling.

Congrats!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Colorado Kid on February 01, 2019, 03:51:16 PM
This team is like the three musketeers, all for one and one for all. They are awesome humans! :-)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JakeLand on February 04, 2019, 06:15:36 AM
Tick tock tick tock !
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 04, 2019, 08:16:04 AM
Tick tock tick tock !

Work trip... out of cell service starting today to the 13th! Sorry! ☹️
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Boss .300 winmag on February 04, 2019, 10:36:36 AM
Tick tock tick tock !

Work trip... out of cell service starting today to the 13th! Sorry! ☹️

She put her hook into us and just left us high and dry. :nono:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: lokidog on February 04, 2019, 11:59:53 AM
 :cryriver:     :ban:



 :chuckle:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 04, 2019, 12:42:13 PM
I know... Iíll probably be  :ban: when I get back.   :chuckle:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: gaddy on February 04, 2019, 02:16:48 PM
We'll be waiting for your return, Thanks for the great read so far.  :tup: 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: CementFinisher on February 05, 2019, 05:17:27 AM
Great write up. Thanks for sharing
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: nwwanderer on February 05, 2019, 09:30:12 AM
No pressure, thanks
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: jbeaumont21 on February 05, 2019, 01:09:21 PM
tag
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Brushcrawler on February 08, 2019, 07:43:37 AM
Looking forward to hearing the rest of this adventure!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Clark33 on February 09, 2019, 08:30:55 PM
What happened with Derrick??
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Jimmer on February 09, 2019, 09:51:16 PM
DBís....
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JakeLand on February 22, 2019, 05:26:05 AM
I know... Iíll probably be  :ban: when I get back.   :chuckle:
13th ??? Of March ??? Hmmmm a banning might be happening!! :dunno:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: The Gobble-stopper on February 22, 2019, 10:25:00 AM
Kari, always glad to see you are back and safe after fire season! Great story, anxious to hear the finally. You are an inspiration, not only to woman but men as well! And you clam dig? What don't you do? Hoping to run into you someday out in the wide open spaces...
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 09:45:42 AM
Sorry all! The work trip landed us a few extra days due to weather... then the day I returned to operations as normal, I accepted a new position with the Forest Service... I've been busy packing up from Seattle and looking for homes in the Ellensburg area. So where were we?  :cmp1:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 09:51:06 AM
Kari, always glad to see you are back and safe after fire season! Great story, anxious to hear the finally. You are an inspiration, not only to woman but men as well! And you clam dig? What don't you do? Hoping to run into you someday out in the wide open spaces...

Thanks kindly!

The clams are some of the easiest quarry we chase... we made some delicious smoked salmon, crab, and razor clam chowder on the work trip I departed for prior to finishing this story... it was delicious!  :drool: definitely worth digging! :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 10:05:55 AM
Alright...


The next day came with light spirits and heavy packs as we made the trek back to base camp. We enjoyed a day of relative relaxation upon arrival, with the main tasks consisting of hanging meat, restocking our fresh water supply and cutting more firewood. Once those tasks were finished, we took advantage of mild afternoon weather to make the trek to a nearby hot springs. After a few minor tweaks to direct the flow of water into the pool, we had an ideal location for relaxing with our flask of wine for the afternoon. We arrived back at camp, warmed to the bone by the geothermal treasure as well as the wine. We cooked a hearty dinner to fuel our legs for a big elevation day to follow. One more day of scouring the hillsides to find our target bulls, and we'd be in business. Even as the wine pulled at my eyelids, my mind was abuzz with the great potential held by the next day's adventure.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 10:12:09 AM
The trek back to base camp.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 10:34:52 AM
The morning came easily, as we all ended up sleeping soundly in the luxury of our base camp sleeping setups. Derrick and Jeff fueled their caffeine addictions with Starbucks Via's and cocoa, while I simply warmed my insides with cocoa. We shrugged on our bags and rifles (we still had wolf tags in our pockets if nothing else) and started the putting in the elevation we hoped would yield rewarding views of antlers and elk. A mile or so into our route, the boys started to feel the pulls of the caffeine on their stomachs. Both expressed the need to find a nook in the hillside. So when they started up one ridgeline, I continued around the mountain to slowly work up the adjacent slope. The reward for allowing them some space was enormous; as I clamored up the hillside, a set of bones low in the canyon drew my attention. I immediately shed my pack and sprinted to the bottom as if the entirety of Seattle was in a footrace against me. I was so enamored that I didn't even take an "as it lay" photo... I wrapped my hands around the curved horn in awe as I scanned the brush around me, and found exactly what I had been wishing for: the other horn of the mature bighorn sheep, along with a fairly intact skull.

I placed them on the skull, as if almost still incredulous that they belonged together. Grinning from ear to ear, I walked it back up the slope before dropping the caps into my pack and lashing the skull to my bag. It seemed an effortless glide up the slope to where my ridge and my companions' would meet, as I planned my reveal of my find of a lifetime. Jeff emerged over the slope first, and was sure to sidestep across the terrain for a few moments so I would see his mule deer shed secured to his pack. I smiled and acted very impressed.  :chuckle: As he came closer, I sidestepped so he could see the skull attached. He erupted with laughter and excitement, stating that we needed to go back and try to find the caps. I took off the pack and revealed the caps in my bag. "You mean these ones?" I chuckled. Derrick came over the hill with his own mule deer shed, and I was able to repeat the act.  :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle:

(For those unfamiliar, it is legal to retain deadhead sheep in Idaho as long as you get them pinned by a Fish and Game Regional Office... which I was absolutely going to do)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 10:36:24 AM
🐏
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Birdgetter on March 12, 2019, 10:47:11 AM
Awesome sheep, I wish it was legal to keep dead heads in Washington. My brother stumbled upon a very nice ram skull chukar hunting, it was even in perfect shape. He called our local wdfw and he got a firm no on taking it, sure is a shame it is just going to rot away.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Rainier10 on March 12, 2019, 10:49:32 AM
That is amazing, congrats such a great find.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 10:53:57 AM
Video of getting the caps cleaned up... pinned. Sent the skull up to Ken at Skull Mountain.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Br9RFkvheJQ/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link (https://www.instagram.com/p/Br9RFkvheJQ/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 10:55:15 AM
And for some reason this photo is not showing up when I post it... so pre-wash

https://www.instagram.com/p/Br9Qf2yhEHf/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link (https://www.instagram.com/p/Br9Qf2yhEHf/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 10:57:30 AM
And all cleaned up!

Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: CoryTDF on March 12, 2019, 11:12:03 AM
 :tup: :tup: :tup: :tup: :tup: :tup: :tup: :tup: :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 11:12:56 AM
Alright... back to the rest of the day. :)

Derrick offered to split the weight with me since we still had a long way to hike. As we shuffled gear in packs, he started glassing some of the most remote and rugged terrain visible from our location... terrain that even intimidates the likes of us. As if taunting us, Derrick's glassing exposed the location of a great bull and roughly a dozen or greater cows and smaller bulls. We talked about potential paths to get there the following day, and continued up the mountain to view another area we suspected bull elk would like to linger. Intermixed snow flurries made glassing difficult, but when we conquered the desired elevation for the day, we were easily able to locate a bachelor group of 3 bulls right where they should be. They were bedded in a burned out basin in the snow roughly 500 feet from the top of the world. We discussed stalking options for future days, and headed back to camp amidst the collapsing fog and snow.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtP78cXh2eI/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link (https://www.instagram.com/p/BtP78cXh2eI/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link)  video of snow flurries on our way up the mountain
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 11:25:06 AM
The next morning, the coffee wasn't the only thing brewing. We knew Michael was 3 days out, which meant we had 3 days to go big and try our hand at some of the most remote, wily, challenging terrain and the bulls that call it home before we needed to temper our pace a little for our flatlander companion. :) We decided to make an attempt at the big bull hanging in the far reaches of where we could consider trekking in a day. While we wouldn't see daylight for another few hours, our plan was starting to come together for a big attack. We packed up Deadsleds for hauling, emergency gear for staying overnight, extra food and water and hit the trail. Daylight caught up with our motions about the time we were to start our ascent on the rocky, unforgiving terrain. This was the day I could take the safety off and potentially harvest my first bull!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 11:28:43 AM
 :) sizing up the attack
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 11:53:33 AM
The first 5 hours was spent picking our way up the steep slopes to a small peak that would yield a great view of where the herd had been the previous day. On the backside of the peak, we each set down our packs and slowly worked around the slope. Slowly, our movements exposed the terrain we were eager to see. After a multitude of glassing sessions, the only things our efforts yielded were a nice buck and a handful of does. We knew our only option was to continue up. There was plenty of sign demonstrating the continued use of the area; ceanothus was manicured by teeth, tracks littered the hillside, and scat and elk scent lingered in the soil. Each track seemed to lure us farther than we ever intended. Finally, with only a few hours of daylight remaining, we spotted the elk on the next mountain over bedded below the peak. We knew we would have to work fast to try to get into position, but we all agreed to give it a go. We closed the distance in fairly good time, but our current stalk path only yielded a roughly 550 yard shot. Personally, I'm much more happy at 350 or under, so we backed out and made an attempt at gaining a little more elevation to cut the distance. The goal was to gain a small saddle farther up the hill which we estimated would have been a roughly 300 yard shot. As we continued up the slope, our potential plan was put in jeopardy by a mess of deer. Slowly working across the slope, we were able to coax most of the animals into a downhill escape out of sight of the bedded elk. One doe and her lovesick companion refused to commit as the light continued to dwindle. Eventually, she set her path up the ridge in full view of the elk. We paused for a moment before working into the saddle, but the damage had been done; we were gifted with one last view of the bull and all his companions headed farther into the folds of that steep, inaccessible terrain as they slipped into the darkening timber.

SHUCKS!  :'(

Jeff and I made one last attempt to get into position in the off chance they paused on the next open slope, but they refused us the opportunity. We turned downhill and took advantage of the last hour of light to book it off the mountain. Each of us took our own path, and mine took me directly to another prize; two bull elk sheds, but not a match. I paused for a moment to try to match them up before slinging them over my shoulder and clinking my way down the hill. Derrick heard my antlers, and in an attempt to locate me to see what I'd found he managed to glass up the match to my larger shed. A consolation prize for letting our protein escape across the wilds, I suppose.  :chuckle:

We made it back to camp under the chilly night sky, and cooked up dinner while discussing options for the following day. We didn't have much faith that herd would move back into an area we could capitalize on, so it was decided to go after the bachelor group of three at the top of a different mountain. Why don't these fellas exist in the valleys?  :chuckle: :dunno:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 11:55:04 AM
You complete me 😂😊
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 12:07:06 PM
We emerged from bed the next morning a little slower than the one prior; it turns out leaving it all on the hill the day prior might make you a little sore.  :chuckle:

But in the end, we all packed up and hit the steep terrain in search of our fellas from two days prior. The basin was just opening up to the first sign of light when we reached our first glassing spot. As I settled into a position of comfort and lifted my binoculars, a small surprised "OH..." escaped my lips as I tried to make sense of what I was seeing.

Elk and deer were pouring out of both sides of the basin and out of view. We were 2 miles out still, so it obviously had nothing to do with us. What on earth could have moved that many animals? I described to Derrick and Jeff what I was seeing, and they quickly pulled up their glass to witness the great migration. We would have continued to be baffled had Derrick not spotted them; four wolves stalking across an open slope. They seemed to vanish depending on their stance on the hill... but the size, behavior, and number made them unmistakable. We shifted our focus (knowing that those bull elk were long gone for the day) and decided to beat feet to put ourselves in position to fill a wolf tag.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 12:16:37 PM
Two aerial miles in Idaho terrain can only be truly appreciated by someone who has stalked across that soil, but after hours of sweat and toil, we were closing in on where we had last seen them, with only small breaks to stop and appreciate the sheer wildness of the area and honor a few fallen mountain kings we found in our path. The rain, snow, and fog continued to ebb and flow as we made our way up the last snowy slope and in to view of the last known location of the pack. A lone set of wolf tracks mirrored our movements. Sadly, we were met by an empty basin and only tracks to accompany our morning memory. We worked across the basin through bouts of heavy fog and back down the ridge to camp. Tomorrow, Michael would join us and we would make an attempt at the only herd we knew was left undisturbed; the animals we had seen up at spike camp. It was back on Jeff to fill his elk tag now.

Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 12:18:19 PM
Fallen king of the mountain.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 12:19:49 PM
https://www.instagram.com/p/BtMyS5sBv1S/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link (https://www.instagram.com/p/BtMyS5sBv1S/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link)

Tracks on tracks in blizzard.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 12:47:29 PM
I'll write more later... its lunch time! :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: 206 on March 12, 2019, 01:06:13 PM
It's freaking cold, we can't see anything, and we love it.

LMAO.  LIKE
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: jstone on March 12, 2019, 01:23:51 PM
I wish I was a talented story teller
Great job as always
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 03:59:17 PM
The morning was dedicated to getting base camp cleaned up and ready for Michael's arrival. He navigated to our location without issue, and we immediately started gearing him up for the hike to spike camp and reexamining his belongings to confirm he had everything needed to succeed in the wilds of Idaho. We took off around noon with a spring in our step and a plan in our heads; we were hiking to spike camp tonight and executing the perfect attack on the herd we had seen when Jeff harvested his buck the next day. We arrived at spike camp with no issues with daylight to spare. I couldn't shake the notion that we should take a peek into a small basin that looked divine from all the aerial footage we had seen. It had what it takes to hold elk, and if we continued with our current plan of attack, our path tomorrow would allow for minimal viewing of all it had to offer. Michael decided he would like to rest up for the big day ahead, and Derrick wanted to get spike camp tidied up, so Jeff and I went light for the hour-long hike, only taking binoculars and a rifle. As we were set to gain a small knob with good visibility, Jeff peeled off to go to the restroom. I continued up the rise, daydreaming of catching up to the wolf whose tracks mirrored my own from less than a day prior. The elevation was tapering off at the top when I found myself pinned down by a doe and yearling feeding up the opposing slope toward me. All my concentration on them, I almost ignored Jeff's excited whispers until the second time he called my name. I turned around to watch him fast approaching with wide, excited eyes. He put his hands next to his ears with flat palms and fingers pressed together. "WOLVES" he whispered.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on March 12, 2019, 04:11:45 PM
My heart raced alongside my legs as I fell in stride with Jeff. He plopped down on the hillside and started to explain where they were. The adrenaline eased out of my system as I realized they were too far away to pursue for the day. The skylined peak that hugged the other side of our narrow valley was draped with snow, and spread along a sub-ridge were dark figures trotting uphill, stopping momentarily to nip or posture at one another. In total, we counted seven when they reached the skyline; six pure black ones loping past a white one standing proudly on the top of a large rock. "That's just where a wolf SHOULD exist." "Straight out of a Discovery Channel film" we both said in wonder. And conversely, it was the ONLY day we didn't have a camera with us.  :yike: :bdid:

We watched the pack disappear into the terrain before turning our attention on the basin above us. A half hour of glassing into twilight produced nothing larger than a deer,  and we walked excitedly back to spike camp with news of our sighting, although we were both disappointed we had no photographic proof with which to enforce the story. We enjoyed good food and conversation over the campfire that night and felt confident in our plan to get on elk in the morning. Tomorrow, we had high hopes of coming back to camp with heavy packs.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: KillerBeee on March 15, 2019, 01:05:59 PM
Always a pleasure to take the time to live your adventures through your pictures and storytelling. Keep up the great work!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: jstone on March 29, 2019, 03:08:32 PM
I
Am
Waiting
For
A
Story
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: jstone on March 29, 2019, 03:08:56 PM
 8)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JWEBB on March 29, 2019, 11:38:57 PM
A wolf sighting in Idaho is becoming the norm. My wifeís family owns an outfitting business over there and the wolves are just getting out of hand.  I have seen wolves there the last 2 hunts Iíve been on
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: idelkslayer on May 21, 2019, 09:53:39 AM
It seems we may never hear the exciting conclusion to this hunting story.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JakeLand on May 21, 2019, 12:12:49 PM
 :yike:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Macs B on May 22, 2019, 07:44:02 AM
Hirshey I have read your hunting accounts now for a couple of seasons, and I truly think you should set down and try to put these into story format.  You obviously have the intelligence, the acumen, and the ability to tell a good story.  You are constantly adding to your list of exploits and experience.  I'm sure the people you surround yourself with are equally dedicated focused on the outdoors.  Please give some thought to writing it down, flesh it out a bit.  Tell people about your off season, fire fighting, and anything else you could think to add.  You are a young vibrant outdoors woman who seems completely comfortable in her skin and her role in life.  Share that with other young women like you. 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Boss .300 winmag on November 10, 2019, 07:16:33 PM
I canít wait to hear about this yearís adventures.🤔

@hirshey
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Wetwoodshunter on November 10, 2019, 07:34:17 PM
Nothing short of epic. I had the play by play from one of her partners with pics.

I canít wait to hear about this yearís adventures.🤔

@hirshey
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: lokidog on November 18, 2019, 06:35:03 PM
Nothing short of epic. I had the play by play from one of her partners with pics.

I canít wait to hear about this yearís adventures.🤔

@hirshey

Of course! Would it be any different?  :chuckle:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on November 18, 2019, 06:41:51 PM
Hey all! Last week of work for the Forest Service for the year, then a week off with family/helping a friend move into their first home, and then starting work at NOAA. Life has been hectic this past year; I will definitely get to you with the conclusion of this story and then into this season soon. Sorry for the delay!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JakeLand on November 18, 2019, 06:43:38 PM
I think Plat taught her how to really drag a story out !
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: lokidog on November 18, 2019, 06:44:43 PM
Hey all! Last week of work for the Forest Service for the year, then a week off with family/helping a friend move into their first home, and then starting work at NOAA. Life has been hectic this past year; I will definitely get to you with the conclusion of this story and then into this season soon. Sorry for the delay!

 :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 03:45:36 PM
Alright... sorry for the long delay. Life has been hectic; I took a new position in a new town requiring a move and learning new parts of my firefighter trade, exploring my new home, finding new friends, and still trying to maintain other pursuits that are important to me... I haven't been in the right headspace to write, which would have produced subpar storytelling; I wasn't willing to write under those circumstances just to finish my tales.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 03:59:50 PM
The next day started early and full of anticipation. Snow clung to every surface, only disturbed by our movements across the slopes. Looking back, you could discern our path clearly by the brush and branches that weren't covered in pillowy white snow. As the daylight hours slowly revealed themselves, we were met with the same freezing fog ebbing across the topography. Sometimes you could not see more than ten feet, the next moment sky blue conditions revealed the landscape for miles. Snow flurries accompanied these transitions, and we patiently took each open opportunity to scan every fold for our target. Our Louisiana companion, accustomed to flat and stable terrain took these opportunities to rest... he later described the physical feats we performed every day to pulling a large canoe up the side of the steepest terrain imaginable. :chuckle:


Ever in good spirits, Derrick took our transitions between sun and blizzard to harass me with snow, even if the only photographic evidence of the matters appear to produce me as the bully.  :tup:

Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 04:08:55 PM
All horseplay aside, when we arrived at the crown jewel of our day's endeavors and crept up to the edge of a steep rocky saddle like ghosts under the shroud of fog. After a few positional adjustments to see all angles of the steep drainage in our moments of clear skies, we located the herd we were after, along with a bull bedded on a small subridge mid-slope. It wasn't an impossible stalk, but it would take patience and a lot of care. Another snow flurry approached, and we took the opportunity to move down into the folds in pursuit. The snow falling was full of heavy ice, and it was almost musical as it fell; the myriad of surfaces it impacted produced unique sounds that certainly masked our slow and methodical approach.
 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 04:18:23 PM
(photo taken by the crew who stayed up top during the final stalk)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Skillet on February 17, 2020, 04:28:13 PM
Awright!  Gonna settle in with a scotch and do some reading tonight.
 :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: bracer40 on February 17, 2020, 04:44:01 PM
Awright!  Gonna settle in with a scotch and do some reading tonight.
 :tup:
Yea that!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 04:45:44 PM
As we crept within sight of our desired viewpoint, the skies cleared and the snow drumline faded. We slid into position to see the herd agitated and looking downslope and away from their resting positions. Too soon prior to us getting settled, they clustered tightly. We identified two legal bulls and waited for an opening in which they didn't have cows in front and behind them. I ranged them at 300 yards and waited. Before any reasonable opportunity presented itself, the herd started to run up their subridge. The bull was skylined at 350 yards broadside. Frustrated, I almost took my safety off and considered a shot, but better judgement prevailed. We regrouped and agreed on a strategy: I took Michael in pursuit of the herd and Jeff and Derrick took the ridgeline in hopes of gaining the highest peak and finding our prey. Each step was a struggle in sometimes thigh deep snow, but my body barely registered it above the desire to get back on the animals. I gained the elk's ridgeline and found what I thought to be their lowest set of tracks; unfortunately I found that to be a false notion, and potentially the reason we failed our stalk on the herd... two fresh sets of wolf tracks! DANG! I let my frustration fuel my legs up the snowy slope that was fighting against me at each step, and was soon in the last position I had seen the herd bull. Michael was a few hundred yards behind me and I knew he would be able to see me if I moved to the next fold across the slope, so I moved quickly to the next vista and glassed for our prey. One rust-colored body was disappearing into the next depression as I raised my binoculars. I looked back for Michael, and confirmed he had gained the last saddle and pressed on to the next ridge. We were on the waning end of the day and daylight was a precious resource. We continued in this dance for a few miles with no sight of the elk when I got an InReach message from Jeff. From the highest precipice surrounding us, they had spotted the herd... They were less than a half mile in front of me bedded on a ridge! I told Jeff I needed to wait for Michael and that he was struggling with the slope and snow before going on the pursuit. He told me to leave him; he would come for his friend and allow me the opportunity at my first bull. We were text-battling over this when I heard a panicked shout: "Kari!"...it came from Michael. I crow called, trying to be discreet since the elk were close enough to hear. The next shout seemed so urgent: "KAAARI!" I shouted back: "Yo! Michael!" as I started to hurry back in his direction, expecting the worst. I arrived to see him leaning against a tree. Was it a broken leg? A sprain? I approached and asked if he was okay. He looked at me and (looking back now it is funny) said with fatigue written all over his face "I fell a lot". Even though I had kept tabs on him across the hill and ensured he was nearby, in his struggles with the terrain I guess he hadn't seen me, and thought I'd left him for dead in the strange and unwelcoming terrain of Idaho. In his panic, he had assumed the worst. I texted Jeff that I would have to deliver Micheal to him prior to trying to get on the elk... that he could take one of the animals if he had the opportunity because gaining that much of the landscape's elevation to get to him would burn most of the day. He insisted I had time to pursue the animals, so Michael and I slowly gained the elevation as our most precious resource slipped from our grasp: the daylight. I was upset, discouraged and saddened when we finally met up with Jeff and Derrick, because we had only MOMENTS of usable light left. Jeff told Derrick to take me to the herd, but in the rush to get there in time for an opportunity and his unfamiliarity with the terrain, we took the wrong ridge and ended up on top of the animals in the last throws of daylight instead of the ridge opposing the herd... they disappeared into the increasing shadows and out of my life. The hike back to spike camp was a little more silent than most days as my stubbornness against the snowy slopes finally caught up with the realities of my fatiguing body. We took comfort in the fact that there was always tomorrow.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 05:09:36 PM
The next day, our aches were numbed by the same cold weather patterns we had seen in previous excursions, but nothing numbed our hearts quite light the sight of the herd we had pursued the day prior; from our vista they were only two aerial miles away. Sadly, to get to them would mean countless terrain miles, a large creek crossing and over 8,000 feet in elevation lost/gained in thigh to hip deep snow. Even with as hungry for an opportunity at those animals as we were, we knew they were out of our reach in their current location. We explored the farthest reaches of our arterial ridge that day but found no fresh evidence of the creatures we hoped to pursue. The day's endeavors had been the last of the elevation Michael could stand, so when we went back to our tipi that night we devised the strategy for the last efforts of our hunt. We settled on a daft notion we jokingly called Operation Slingshot; Derrick, Michael and Jeff would break down spike camp the next morning and I would leave as early as I could stand, resupply and drop items at base camp and make the huge effort to pursue the elk we watched the wolves disperse earlier in our trip. I made it back to base camp in the full light of day and quickly dropped off items from spike camp to lighten my daily load. It appeared I was gifted a rare bluebird day as I attacked the agonizingly steep and frozen slopes donning just a longsleeve shirt for the first time in weeks. After a few hours of toiling and much elevation won, I took the first opportunity to gaze upon the head of the basin we knew to be frequented by our four-legged friends. It took but two seconds before I dropped my binoculars and texted Jeff: "Operation Slingshot is a go!"
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 05:10:35 PM
Too far to pursue. A hard notion to digest.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 05:15:20 PM
At the head of the basin, there were multiple cows and at least three nice bulls grazing through the burned timber. I put my InReach away and excitedly donned my backpack as I felt a cold breeze rise at my back. I looked down drainage on an unwelcome sight; a wall of snow was approaching! NOT THIS AGAIN!  :bash:  I charged up the slope through the whiteout conditions... I made it about 1/2 mile of my 5 mile stalk before I realized I wouldn't make it to them by dark if I didn't pick up my pace. I set down my pack next to a prominent rock feature and took out only the necessities and marked the location with an InReach message to Jeff: "this is where my pack is". If they were to come on the assist and this actually worked out, they'd have to walk right past it to get up to me.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 05:40:43 PM
The weather was as fickle as a politician being courted by special interests, shifting from 30 MPH winds with whiteout conditions to stunning sunlight and calm every 45 minutes. I took each open opportunity while gaining the mountain to confirm my targets were keeping to their location. If I were going to be successful, I'd need to almost completely circumnavigate the peak they were under in order to get to a small rock feature offering perfect cover for a shot. Time and again the snow came through, and time and again it opened to show my progress on those beautiful bulls. The moment came when I could no longer see them due to my progress around the slope; it came in perfect concert with a message from Jeff and Derrick; they were down at the saddle I had initially spotted the elk with gear to overnight at an animal if this wacky tactic of ours actually panned out. They had perfect vantage of the elk, and confirmed their presence remained a constant while I worked through waist-high snow on the back side of the peak. With grouse as my only witnesses, I persisted through the onslaught of whiteout conditions on my efforts to get to that ONE rock. The next open weather window came right when I had eyes on my rock outcropping. Moments turned to minutes as I struggled to gain my last objective, while Jeff and Derrick assured me the elk had bedded just below. The visibility departed as I arrived at the rock which was my only shelter from the worst of the winds I'd experienced; it had to be at least 50 MPH as I hunkered next to the rock as my only shelter against the snow it tried to drive straight into my soul. When it finally receded, I was shaking... whether in excitement or cold or both, I truly don't know. I peeked over the ridge, sure my prey would be less than 150 yards below me, as they were for my entire journey. Shockingly, as I took in the landscape, I did not see a single elk... only beds hardly visible from the harsh conditions they had just endured. I crept down the slope to the beds that had been pounded by the wild winds to try to discern the direction of their occupants' exit, but the harsh conditions had almost swept away any evidence the elk had even existed there at all... it was almost like waking foggy-headed from a dream and trying to determine what in the moment was real. At the same time, Jeff and Derrick were able to see the basin again as well and had the sinking feeling they'd failed me as spotters, because although they were able to see miles in each direction from where the elk had been, there was no sign of them. Those sneaky buggers had absolutely ghosted me! I don't know whether the winds had delivered my scent to them, the conditions had finally bested them on the open slope, or something else entirely had happened, but my last chance to tag an elk had slipped through my fingers. The sun was setting on my last day to make it happen, but the views I possessed heading down the hillside in addition to the two people waiting for me miles below provided me such a comfort I could not possibly find disappointment in the moment. Their warming fire burning far below was my aim, and the two people sitting next to it held all my gratitude and love for the support they so willingly offer me in every wild plan we may concoct. I was (and am) SO blessed.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 05:41:27 PM
Last light on the last chance. First photo is looking back at where I'd already descended for the day. I needed to descend FAR into the valley below in that second photo to meet up with Jeff and Derrick, and get to the very bottom to get back to camp for the night.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 05:51:59 PM
While we didn't go home with elk that year, we ate beautifully on deer and other wild fare and enjoyed great company... the season's endeavors ended with two Washington deer, an Idaho deer, and an Idaho ram skull... We counted ourselves incredibly lucky for the adventures we live and friendships we continue to fortify!

 
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 05:52:57 PM
 :)
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: jstone on February 17, 2020, 05:57:34 PM
Great job.!!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 06:06:06 PM
The day we arrived at our vehicles, we made the trek to our favorite diner for the traditional burger, fries and malt shake we normally enjoy... I had started to feel ill, so let the three fellas enjoy their meal without me while I tried to rest in the truck for the next step of our trip: getting my bighorn sheep skull pinned at the Fish and Game office so I could legally possess it. Derrick doesn't understand the notion of someone not wanting to eat, so he brought me a burger anyways. I stepped out of the vehicle to bid farewell to Michael and was relieved to smell the fresh air rather than the burger... still not feeling great, I sat back into the vehicle and was greeted very quickly with my morning's breakfast. Grasping at straws, I found a trash bag to deposit it into. Derrick opened the door to check on me and was shocked at my admission... so much so that he instinctually grabbed the bag and squeezed it to confirm.  :chuckle:  Sure enough, he was convinced. We drove to the Fish and Game office to get my sheep recorded, and the admission that the person who found it was in the car and was too ill to come inside made the officer in charge uncomfortable so he insisted I come inside to confirm. One look at me and he was assured of my ailment and the story and supported my return to the vehicle. I am convinced the reappearance of my breakfast was affirmation that I had left almost every part of my soul to Idaho that year... the only remaining portion given to that bag.  :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle: As sick as I was, I knew it would fade... but the memory of the pursuit never would.

Thanks to all who pursue those wild places with me... thanks to the game officers we see in there each season tirelessly committing to protect those lands and the creatures that inhabit it... thanks to the game official who pinned my sheep so I could take him home as a treasure gifted to me by the wilds. And thanks to YOU for your patience in allowing me the time to live for the right moment to finish putting this adventure to words.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: elkoholic1 on February 17, 2020, 06:12:56 PM
 :tup: :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 17, 2020, 06:18:31 PM
And after over a year and 14 pages, perhaps now it is understandable why what started as an elk hunt narrative and ended with one, it is in the deer hunting section.  :chuckle:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: JakeLand on February 17, 2020, 08:57:17 PM
Awesome read !!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: fishngamereaper on February 18, 2020, 06:12:48 AM
 :tup: good job Kari and crew. Did I miss a 2019 story somewhere?
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: C-Money on February 18, 2020, 08:27:37 AM
Very, very good stories!
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: hirshey on February 18, 2020, 11:05:33 AM
:tup: good job Kari and crew. Did I miss a 2019 story somewhere?

Not yet! Had to put the final words to this one first.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: CoryTDF on February 18, 2020, 03:08:55 PM
Fine job as always. You are a gifted writer. Love this line!

 
I am convinced the reappearance of my breakfast was affirmation that I had left almost every part of my soul to Idaho that year... the only remaining portion given to that bag.

Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: elkpack on February 18, 2020, 04:41:54 PM
Great wrap up to the 2018 story.  Looking forward to the 2019 addition.   Congrats on a great year of adventure and memories.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: fishngamereaper on February 18, 2020, 06:40:41 PM
:tup: good job Kari and crew. Did I miss a 2019 story somewhere?

Not yet! Had to put the final words to this one first.

 :tup:

Looking forward to it
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: lokidog on February 19, 2020, 07:17:28 AM
Wonderful writing, as usual.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Ironhead on February 19, 2020, 07:52:01 AM
I just read the entire thread. Beautiful writing, great pictures and awesome animals.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: 2MANY on February 19, 2020, 09:19:10 AM
This^^^^^^^

Nothing is worse than the Hirshey squirts in Church.
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: bracer40 on February 19, 2020, 10:09:34 AM
Kari,

Thank you so much for taking the time and care to put your stories and photos up for us to enjoy! Always a highlight of HuntWA postings!!!

Jim
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Buckhunter24 on February 19, 2020, 10:21:32 AM
Great writeup and adventure, look forward to reading the next one  :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Skyvalhunter on February 19, 2020, 11:57:59 AM
Evidently Kari works with a friend of mine during the winter months that I was unaware of
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: bowhunterforever on February 19, 2020, 01:00:36 PM
I just read the entire thread. Beautiful writing, great pictures and awesome animals.
:yeah: :tup: :tup:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: Pathfinder101 on February 23, 2020, 08:19:38 PM
:tup: good job Kari and crew. Did I miss a 2019 story somewhere?

Not yet! Had to put the final words to this one first.

It's like waiting for the next season of Stranger Things... except not being embarrassed to admit it. :rolleyes:
Title: Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
Post by: 4fletch on February 28, 2020, 06:24:24 PM
You are so gifted you should write a book of your adventures