Hunting Washington Forum

Big Game Hunting => Backcountry Hunting => Topic started by: savagehunter on September 18, 2020, 02:28:36 PM

Title: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 18, 2020, 02:28:36 PM
I can hardly believe this was the 8th year that my son and I packed up our lives and relocated to the alpine elevations of our beautiful cascade range. The memory of my 16 year old boy coming to me and telling me that for his birthday he wanted to do this high buck hunt seems so fresh and new. His birthday is Sept 11th and we had a month to get ready. I had no clue what this journey would entail or how to go about our planned adventure. I came upon this forum and asked for help and received a ton of response. Some were of the "number one rule" school of high buck while others were encouraging if not skeptical . And some very generous souls stepped up and pointed me in the right direction with sound advice and suggestions to make our hunt enjoyable and suited to our skill level. In the end making year one very successful without the harvest of an animal. I have been thinking about creating this thread for a while as I see prospective hunters come on here searching for a way to make the same journey that my son and I have had. I am going to recount all nine hunts and the lessons learned the successes and failures the triumphs and tribulations and hope that all of you that have great experiences will step up and share your experiences as well. Thanks to everyone who helped darrick and I have the best shared memories  that any dad could hope to have with his kid.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Dan-o on September 18, 2020, 02:40:30 PM
Can't wait!!!
This will be terrific.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 18, 2020, 02:56:34 PM
2020 has been a very stressful year. A constant bombardment of fear anxiety and stress. I could not wait to make the trek and get up high.
We had our rifles zeroed unfortunately due to fire danger i could not verify my drops with my new rifle. No long range for me this year and since my son will not take a shot over 300 yards we decided to head in early on Saturday afternoon.
My son darrick had taken up archery hunting this year and planned on bringing his bow. His first archery buck a spike blacktail the weekend before changed that plan. Lesson one be flexible plans change and things happen enjoy what you can and take what is given. My son decided he would bring his rifle and if he had the opportunity he would shoot a bear.
The smoke had rolled into the valley as we hit hwy 2 to make the 4 hour journey to our trailhead deep in the glacier peak wilderness. We stopped and had dinner at our favorite restaurant on the way over a tradition that has practical as well as ascetic purpose.
Lesson two get started on the right foot . We planned on staying 6 nights and the chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes with summer vegetables really left a literal good taste in our mouths.
 The weather report looked amazing better than it had ever been. Mild overnight Temps with small chances for light precipitation. Perfect weather really but having spent some wet cold unforseen weather circumstance , I brought the whole kit of weather preparedness clothing with me. This made my pack heavier than normal and plus xtra food as we had never stayed more than four nights put me around 60 pounds without my rifle.
 Lesson 3 despite the horrible weather we had endured the year before which we came through fine with a 47 pound pack I decided to over prepare. Take what you need not what you want.
 I am a 53 year old smoker who had never done any physical preparation in 8 trips into the backcountry. I really thought last year would be my last climb and was very bittersweet on 2019s trip.
 My son was very insistent that I would be back. 4 months ago I started walking 5 miles 3 times a week with my wife. Often throwing on my pack and walking around downtown everett looking like a homeless vagrant.
Lesson 4 literally go the xtra mile. Time is valuable to all us working stiffs and if you can't afford or are unwilling to to spend cold hard cash to an outfitter to have the high hunt experience spend some hard earned free time preparing your body for the rigors of the trail and even more so the challenge of going off trail to retrieve  an animal.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: BD1 on September 18, 2020, 03:34:33 PM
Someone please start the popcorn  :tup:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 18, 2020, 04:51:50 PM
Our hike in is six miles. Hydration is king just in front of good boots. Lesson 5 get a quality water pump that will filter water from a mud hole if need be during dry months , water you take for granted may disappear and once we did have to dig a hole in the mud and let it seep full to be able to filter it.
Once you start hiking whether it's hot or cold you're  going to sweat a lot. Lesson 6 choose your hike in clothes carefully they should breath well and dry quick. They will be used on the way out too and should dry while you are hunting. I like a lightweight pair of first lite merino pants a merino tee and  high quality merino socks. This allows me to use my hike in gear as backup hunting gear if I end up getting soaked first day like last year.
Hiking in early in the morning allows you to avoid the heat of the day and gives you ample time to set up camp and maximizes your time.
If you are young and strong hiking sticks seem like crutches for the old and unstable. Think about the horse 4 legs are better than two. A nice set of collapsible hiking sticks give you stability takes load off your legs and hips and come in handy for setting up makeshift lean-to or holding up your lightweight tent.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 18, 2020, 05:08:22 PM
Let me quantify any of my gear statements. Use what you have. I'm going backwards in time on this thread. I have a lot of high quality gear now but it took years to gather it together. I'm not a rich guy and when you can spend 500 bucks on a set of rain gear bibs like my sitka cold front you might loose intrest in attempting to run with gear junkies. I buy almost all my gear on classified ads here on rokslide offer up craigslist I hit the thrift stores like crazy. There are a lot of hikers in Washington and they go through gear like crazy and alot of it can be bought for pennies on the dollar. That being said this hunt can be done with reg gear no frills old school. My kid wears old military wool pants and an old wool jacket under his sitka rain gear and can sit in 28 degrees comfortably. First year we went in i carried 125 pounds of gear thank God we didn't get a buck. Our tent weighed 8 pounds my sleeping bag weighed six heck I had pots and pans really the full boy scout experience.
Tons of choices on gear and as long as you can safely cary it being warm and dry makes for a much more enjoyable trip.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: jackelope on September 18, 2020, 05:29:44 PM
Following along!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Karl Blanchard on September 18, 2020, 05:33:57 PM
Tag
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Bowhunter3 on September 18, 2020, 06:08:01 PM
 :yeah:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 18, 2020, 09:51:58 PM
The trip in is always the hardest for me. Standard is about 2.5 hours last year we hiked in with hangovers huge lesson there dont do that. We had a typical hike in this year with a nice half hour break at the halfway point. By typical I mean I was ready to call the whole thing off and take up an easier pursuit of happiness. Once past the halfway point there is nothing to it but to do it.
We hit our camping spot at around 11 am and the temp was about 67 degrees. The feeling of accomplishment you get from finishing the journey and the splendor of the alpine is a well earned reward and dropping our packs relieving ourselves of sweat soaked gear and losing the boots led to an hour of resplendent lounging on the high country carpet. The weather was perfect and setting camp waited for us to recover our motivation.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: bracer40 on September 19, 2020, 06:30:18 AM
Loving this thread!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Bill W on September 19, 2020, 08:19:34 AM
Our hike in is six miles. Hydration is king just in front of good boots. Lesson 5 get a quality water pump that will filter water from a mud hole if need be during dry months , water you take for granted may disappear and once we did have to dig a hole in the mud and let it seep full to be able to filter it.
Once you start hiking whether it's hot or cold you're  going to sweat a lot. Lesson 6 choose your hike in clothes carefully they should breath well and dry quick. They will be used on the way out too and should dry while you are hunting. I like a lightweight pair of first lite merino pants a merino tee and  high quality merino socks. This allows me to use my hike in gear as backup hunting gear if I end up getting soaked first day like last year.
Hiking in early in the morning allows you to avoid the heat of the day and gives you ample time to set up camp and maximizes your time.
If you are young and strong hiking sticks seem like crutches for the old and unstable. Think about the horse 4 legs are better than two. A nice set of collapsible hiking sticks give you stability takes load off your legs and hips and come in handy for setting up makeshift lean-to or holding up your lightweight tent.

As long as you drink from the creek or above the horses you will be ok.  If you drink from some of the standing water in the timber or ridgeline you will get beaver fever.  I came out one time and a group of us stopped at one of the hamburger spots.  Later I got a call asking if I was ok after eating my burger.  Turned out others in the group drank from a "pond" up on the hill and ended up with giardia aka, beaver fever.  I think one got a water filter after that.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Widgeondeke on September 19, 2020, 10:12:47 AM
Hope to read more in the coming week.
Currently 3 hours into our 20hr drive to SE Wyoming  8)
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Alchase on September 19, 2020, 10:20:18 AM
Hope to read more in the coming week.
Currently 3 hours into our 20hr drive to SE Wyoming  8)

Reading on cruise control  :o

 :chuckle:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Widgeondeke on September 19, 2020, 10:22:43 AM
Hope to read more in the coming week.
Currently 3 hours into our 20hr drive to SE Wyoming  8)

Reading on cruise control  :o

 :chuckle:

Yup, only I'm letting the boy drive. Dad will navigate  :IBCOOL:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 20, 2020, 09:33:42 AM
Choosing a place to put your tent seems simple. Flat soft ground is in short supply in the mountains. A lot of personal preference goes into the decision. Back under cover is good because if there is precipitation the cover afforded will minimize you and your gear getting wet. That's what we went with the first seven years , but the last two we have moved to a more open spot with a vantage so if weather or fatigue keeps us from venturing forth we still have a vantage to glass and see animals. Close proximity to a water supply is very convenient. The dry year we ended up over a mile from a seep that we dug out. Getting water used up hunting time and energy.
Look out for camp hazards especially snags or widowmakers and having almost been killed by a rockslide it is a real hazard.
We run a golite 5 teepee with a bug nest that i picked up on Craigslist for 50 bucks. I like the bathtub style floor in the teepee .  Shelter is really a personal preference. Floor less tarps if set up correctly are as light as it gets . Bivys under a tarp appear to be perfect cover. A hammock with pad and tarp look like they would give a wonderfull nights sleep. I have not used any of these other types of shelters but have seen them in action alongong with wall tents dome tents old school pup tents etc. I prefer to be able to have all our gear enclosed in an area that me and my son occupy at night and crack each other up with jokes or reminisce about the days events. I will say you must trust your partners digestive system as you will share in any gas that is found to abide in your cohabitated space.  Last year my son chased us both into a pouring rainstorm gagging and reaching; TWICE. He claimed the tuna was old i think he was eating roadkill.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 20, 2020, 09:36:12 AM
beauty and the beast. The young kid is darrick my son the old one is me.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Alchase on September 20, 2020, 09:41:53 AM
Enjoying this read, thank you
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 20, 2020, 09:54:16 AM
Very cool thank you 30 years ago my brother was stationed at tinker AFB. I had the pleasure of driving him from Oregon to Oklahoma but thats another story lol. My middle son is a student at Oklahoma city university so he's kind of your neighbor. He's there on a rowing scholarship.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Alchase on September 20, 2020, 10:36:19 AM
Very cool thank you 30 years ago my brother was stationed at tinker AFB. I had the pleasure of driving him from Oregon to Oklahoma but thats another story lol. My middle son is a student at Oklahoma city university so he's kind of your neighbor. He's there on a rowing scholarship.

 :tup:

The wife and I want to make the drive from OKC to Washington one of these days and make it a sightseeing vacation. There are a ton of cool places to visit, once you get out of Oklahoma,  :chuckle:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 20, 2020, 10:40:06 AM
We were two days early and the weather was grand so setting up camp was a leisurely experiance this year. Tent set up on a ground cloth to protect our shelter investment. We set about having a nice hot meal . Food on a backcountry hunt can be as simple as a nice hot mountain house for dinner or as boring as energy bars Neverending. Variety is the spice of life and eating well will help you keep a positive mindset and your eye on the prize. We have brought in eggs in a waterbottle pregrilled ribeye steaks and other weighty tidbits that put a smile on our bellies. The last three years we have focused it down a bit to one hot meal a day at dinner.
We are not super ounce counters so also have a summer sausage a chunk of cheese numerous meat sticks dried fruit nuts and a variety of bars. We also bring some powdered coffee this year the Starbucks but really any hot drink even cocoa is a real treat to get you out into the early morning darkness which can be a real challenge. Calorie counting and protein tracking is pretty popular in this endeavor. The most important thing I have found is to have enough but not too much.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: de0827 on September 20, 2020, 02:22:39 PM
This is a great read!  This was the first year for my son and I - definitely a learning experience!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 20, 2020, 03:36:00 PM
As an aside am not covering some very important elements at this time. Things such as finding a place to hunt how to hunt choosing your high country equipment etc. I will be  writing sections involving all of that, but for now I want to get out the story of this year's hunt. Being the most harrowing and by far the most exciting I believe it is important to start where we ended. Thanks for following and please we are in no way experts. If you have advice, comments or stories of your own feel welcome to add them at any time.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Brushcrawler on September 20, 2020, 05:28:21 PM
Just got back from the mountains myself and enjoying your story!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: greenhead_killer on September 20, 2020, 05:44:31 PM
enjoying this! keep it coming!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Buckhunter24 on September 20, 2020, 05:52:18 PM
Tag for later
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 20, 2020, 06:46:40 PM
Monday morning came not to early as Tuesday was opening day. We rolled out of the tent at 830 am . I always get my gear on pretty quick and am the first out of the tent. I'm old and so is my bladder is how that really reads. Speaking of morning business there is a lack of clothing available to change your unmentionables out every day. This is why toilet paper is referred to as mountain money. If t.p. is mountain money then  diaper wipes are high country diamonds. They will keep you fresh and clean and keep you from walking funny from the dreaded mud bottom.
Coffee water was on first thing and I felt like a million bucks. Before it boiled I already had my spotting scope set up binoculars strapped on and glassing the closer meadows. My son handed me a hot cup as  I spotted a couple of does feeding the edge of the buck brush about 800 yards out.
The smoke was thick and made the details of the first mule deer I had seen since last year very important. They seemed darker and more brown than last year. Each animal you see makes the seeing job easier. The way they move ,the small details of ears tails and light butts. I sipped my coffee and took a deep breath of smoke filled air. I turned my attention to my spotting scope and those pockets and edges that have yielded in the past a welcome sight of my chosen prey.
Immediately my eyes are greeted by something i had never seen unless a gunshot was involved ; two does running pel mel across the meadow. I remarked to my son " I wonder what would make those deer run like that ?"  I looked back into the eyepiece just in time to see a tall 3x2 bust from the brush also at full speed across the hillside. I scanned in the direction they had come from searching for the cause of their distress. 400 yards back the obvious cause was revealed and i exclaimed " there he is !". My sons inquiry of " a big buck ?"  Led to my excited response of " NO A BEAR. A REALLY BIG BEAR"
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: mburrows on September 20, 2020, 07:39:54 PM
Tagging along. Awesome thread so far
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: idaho guy on September 21, 2020, 06:04:09 AM
 :tup: Good read so far!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Bushcraft on September 21, 2020, 07:44:10 PM
Tease...keep it up Savagehunter.  ;)
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 21, 2020, 09:42:24 PM
Well immediately my son decided to make a play for mr black bear. I think the idea of scoring another big game animal sounded way better than my plan of using him as my own personal sherpa. The bear was moving north south down the meadow at a brisk pace kind of like he owned the place. He was 1000 yards out and coming toward us. As my son stuffed a few things in his pack and loaded his savage .308 with some 168 gr sst i had handloaded with imr4064 and proven to be sub m.o.a. we formulated the plan. The bear would have to come through the treeline that separated the meadows. There were two shooting lanes divided by a large v of buck brush. The first was a rockslide on the left side of the brush the other wide open grass meadow that bordered the treeline.
We decided to hit the grass as the wind was quartering up hill and up valley. Our plan was to be below him so he had no chance of winding darrick as he exited the tree line.
By the time we headed out the bear was out of sight on the other side of the trees and I really hoped that he didn't decide to hole up now that we had lost site if him.
My son needed to cross the creek and cover 600 yds to get into position. I would spot and radio him of any changes.
I paused at the creek and called out to the outfitters camp that were our neighbors and the only other occupants at this time ; that my son was going in after a bear.
I was getting pretty pumped up as I paralleled my son up the creek and told him I was going past the treeline to see if the bear had put his journey on pause.
As I came to the base of the treeline our quarry popped into view still on a beeline at the same elevation as i had last seen him.
Thinking that there was no way my son had gotten in position yet I realized my mistake.
I had left my rifle at camp. Huge mistake I know better. Always take your rifle with you anywhere anytime you are hunting. Even or maybe especially when you are going to the bathroom.
I radio my son " there he is can you see him? "
I could tell by his breathless reply that he had been hauling butt " yes im trying to get on him ."
I followed the bears progress as I hauled my own butt back towards camp to grab my rifle. The bear crossed out onto some leftover snow pack that made a large triangle at the top of the meadow. His jet black form made the perfect picture on the white snow in the early fall sun and I paused to look through  my binos hoping to hear a shot and see some red in that picture.
I was 200 yards  from camp and the bear came off the snow when the report of the shot hit my ears. The bear ran without a hitch to my eyes , as I ran to camp a second shot rang out.
With my rifle in hand my son called over the radio saying he thought that the first shot was a hit but that he hadn't led him far enough and it was too far back.
I raced down valley as the bear entered the next treeline that divided the next meadow down. Its about 600 yards to a clear view of the down valley side of that treeline and I crossed the creek at a dead run. Got into position on a wind fall with a 300 yard shot to the spot i figured he would come out.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: bigelk1030 on September 21, 2020, 11:21:56 PM
Tagging along!    Enjoying the adventure!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: jackelope on September 22, 2020, 11:54:36 AM
There oughta be a law....

 :chuckle:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: ThurstonCokid on September 22, 2020, 12:03:13 PM
Tagging. Canít wait to hear this one.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: HikerHunter on September 22, 2020, 01:08:41 PM
Cliff hanger! Can't wait for the rest of the story
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: 87Ford on September 22, 2020, 01:13:22 PM
Definitely left hanging..  :chuckle:  My guess is they finish this bear and we get another pic  :)
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Rainier10 on September 22, 2020, 01:53:15 PM
Is Plat ghost writing this?!

Waiting on the final chapter.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Tpetie3509 on September 22, 2020, 03:20:55 PM
Following
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: jstone on September 22, 2020, 04:10:00 PM
Patiently waiting
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: 10mmg on September 22, 2020, 05:13:02 PM
It as bad as reading an old field and stream elk hunt story at the dentist office only to find out someone ripped out page 78 that had the end of the story.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: jstone on September 22, 2020, 05:43:00 PM
Or your getting to the good part and they call your name.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Alchase on September 22, 2020, 05:51:58 PM
It as bad as reading an old field and stream elk hunt story at the dentist office only to find out someone ripped out page 78 that had the end of the story.

OK, this was funny!
And true, must have been a whole passel of those people that went from doctors office to Dr. office ripping pages out of good stories.........  :bash:

 :chuckle:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Jason on September 22, 2020, 06:08:00 PM
It as bad as reading an old field and stream elk hunt story at the dentist office only to find out someone ripped out page 78 that had the end of the story.

OK, this was funny!
And true, must have been a whole passel of those people that went from doctors office to Dr. office ripping pages out of good stories.........  :bash:

 :chuckle:
Luckily I know how this one ends. But back to more recent conversation, I was once sitting in the dentist office waiting to get a root canal done, I starting reading this health magazine. One of the articles In the magazine was talking about a man in Spokane that had died at the dentist from to much Novacaine. Damn, I said. I didnít need to read that..lol I handed the dentist the magazine and told him to read the article.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 22, 2020, 06:28:32 PM
Once in a good position with my shot ranged I called my son on the radio and told him to come to  me and I waited. 20 minutes later he showed up and still no sign of the bear we discussed the situation. I would maintain my position and he would head up to look for blood. As he left I was hoping the bear hadn't headed down valley before I got to where I sat.
A good 35 min passed before my son came over the radio telling me he had found blood. About three tablespoons at the impact site.
Just as an aside here a nifty trick for determining very close to the location you made impact on the hillside is to use your range finder back to the place you took your shot. My son had ranged the shot at 290 yards; by ranging back he located the blood within 10 ft of his rough triangulation.
I radioed back telling my son to mark the blood and continue to track across the hillside.
The first shot had taken place at 930 am. It was now 10:15 am and I headed back to camp to grab my pack some water and snacks . A couple of times I glassed the hillside to watch my son mark the blood trail. He placed vertical sticks at each location he found blood. As i ascended the steep rockslide I could tell that it was a pretty much straight line across the hill.
When I got the last sign he had marked my son sat there as i had told him under no circumstance was he to go into the treeline. We hydrated as i caught my breath and he pointed to the last marker and said" I found yellow blood what does that mean"? I examined the three yellow spots that lie on a scrap of sun dried wood. " gut shot you said you thought you hit him back and that proves it. I then asked him about the other blood he had found what color it was was it frothy or milky? He told me that all the other places 8 in total were all dark red puddles and splatters.
I explained to him that we needed to find where the bear had entered the treeline as he was in cover now and wounded. I told him we would want to enter uphill from there to give us the high ground and the fact that most sorely wounded animals will head downhill. There was a dry runoff creek bed 50 ft across and then 50 more feet of grass between us and the trees.we both chambered rounds and I sent my son across the gully to look for blood in the grass as I worked my way down the gully. It was now 10:45 am.

Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Seabass on September 22, 2020, 07:05:52 PM
Great account of your experience! Iím excited to read the rest.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Timberstalker on September 22, 2020, 07:53:58 PM
Nerve wracking!  Keep it coming.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: whacker1 on September 22, 2020, 08:09:10 PM
enjoying the story telling.....keep it coming
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 22, 2020, 08:33:42 PM
15 minutes passed looking for obvious sign of the path the bear had taken into the woods and i was getting worried that the bear might have dropped down into the 300 yard huge stand of buckbrush that lay along the trees below us. Before I had come up the hill I had stopped and spoke to the hunters in the icecicle camp. They had 5 sets if eyes on everything that had transpired and had a radio dialed into chanel one. Unfortunately for some reason I could hear their transmissions but they could not hear mine. Their head guy called me on the radio and told me they thought the bear had entered the trees about 50 ft lower than where we had been looking. Very thankful for gracious neighbors.
Dropping down we quickly found several large drops of blood right at the treeline. We took a quick respite and pondered our task at hand. The treeline was about 100 yards wide and ran the full length of the slope down to the creek bed. Having hunted most of these divide stands especially during rainy weather I knew that visibility inside was pretty good. I spoke to my son about the importance of keeping his muzzle forward and that what we were attempting was pretty damn serious. I let him know that if for some reason the bear were to charge us in enclosed quarters that the bruin would be too quick to find a sight picture in his scope. I explained that if you see him and he's going away aim and shoot if he's coming at you wait until you can put the barrel on him and shoot. I let him take lead but was pretty nervous as I knew if anything ever happend to him while we are out hunting that my wife would never forgive me. I went on to tell him that I would stay 5 ft behind and uphill 5 or six feet and would back him up and play ranger.
We picked a spot 50 ft uphill from the blood at a place I could see 100 feet into the shady confines and entered the trees.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: jackelope on September 22, 2020, 08:40:31 PM
Keep it coming...
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 22, 2020, 09:19:08 PM
Tracking blood trail is a very painstaking and tedious process that is made more difficult by the early fall foliage breaking out in more red spots than a kindergarten with chicken pox. Making matters worse in the highcountry, is adding blueberry and other plants that trend to the red spectrum.
As our eyes adjusted to the light change from full sunlight to the murkiness and shadows of the trees i scanned slowly around looking and listening for signs of movement.
Still as a grave with no air movement we moved slowly downhill to find the path the big black had taken.
We were about 50 ft inside the forest edge and quickly found a hand sized splatter of blood on the duff and a large smear of blood on the foliage on the uphill side of the game trail the bear had rumbled down.
I pointed out to my son that one the blood was dry even in the shade. I remarked that if the blood turns tacky or wet that we would be  close to the animal.  Very dark red blood above knee height on the uphill side meant that he had a nice sized exit wound that was fairly high.
Tracking the bear across the treeline proved to be the easiest thing we did that day. Straight lining down the game trail with blood about every ten feet. We stopped and listened and looked at each and every one. It took us about 15 min to cross to the far tree edge which opened out into sparse buckbrush and huckleberry bushes. There was a small edge of rock that dropped down about 3 feet into the clearing. Surveying the semi open terrain we stepped back into the full sun. It took about 15 min of careful searching on my hands and knees to find two pencil eraser sized drops on the lower leaves of some low growing plants that indicated the bear had followed the treeline down the edge of the meadow. 25 feet down i found where he had laid down for the first time. In the shade of a 15 ft tall christmas tree was a fairly good one foot circle of blood in the grass. By the size of the bed I was guessing he was about 6 feet long. I do not believe he stayed long and the blood was fully dried. I surveyed the landscape and it was an obvious path of layed over grass that quartered downhill and I knew we were heading into some thicker and much taller brush.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Birdguy on September 22, 2020, 09:31:07 PM
Fantastic so far!!! Right there with you!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 22, 2020, 10:29:05 PM
Now one thing was running through my head. Something my dad who is the biggest mountain man I've ever met. He told me that a gut shot bear will go to water looking for a place to soak to take away the burn.
The creek runs along the base of the meadows between 400 and 600 yards below our current position. I figured our worthy opponent would take the short route to the nearest place he could soak.
I will not bore you with every drop of blood we eked out or every time we lost the trail and spent agonizing moments crawling on our hands and knees looking for specks of blood the size of a mosquito to find the path. Suffice to say dry blood even the smallest fleck will come off with your fingernail while the changing of the season remains on the leaf no matter what you do.
The bear proved to be much more worthy than a beeline to the creek.Three hours later and a full double z back and forth across the mountainside that took us along full fallen trees with blood sign showing the bear walking 60 feet on a log to a half hour stretch with only three drops of blood from 600 yards down valley to 50 yards behind the icecicle outfitters camp we found our first tacky blood. A palm sized puddle still wet in the middle at the base of a solo tree. A little further on a blood rub on a limb sticking out still tacky.
A small seep spring that cut a 2 foot wide channel down hill revealed a bathtub sized hole where the bear had immersed his lower half. The water was maroon with a large pile of regurgitated berries laying at the head of the pool. The dripping water and blood trail took us down the hill and into the creek bottom.
The creek meanders and splits and twists through grass fields and islands of buck brush and willows. His path in the grass took no field craft to follow and the blood was wet heading straight downstream.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Ridgerunner on September 22, 2020, 10:57:32 PM
Come on this getting really good...,,


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Rainier10 on September 23, 2020, 07:54:33 AM
This is a great story so far...
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 23, 2020, 03:56:50 PM
A couple of pics for an interlude. Our camp from last year
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 23, 2020, 03:58:57 PM
God it was wet
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 23, 2020, 04:05:19 PM
Magic tree
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Birdguy on September 23, 2020, 08:21:19 PM
Looks miserable wet! This year was much different than that for sure.
Will keep checking back for more of the story :bow:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 23, 2020, 10:38:00 PM
As we headed downstream the creek split in two creating an island. The trail led us down the right fork. About 100 yards down a small slough came off the creek and meandered along the base of the hillside. The slough was about 3 ft wide and 2 ft deep of still water. On the left the the creek was about 12 feet wide and running ankle deep. The island was about 2 city blocks in size and completely covered with buckbrush growing out over the creek we found no blood or trail as we slowly moved down the dividing strip of grass. 100 feet down a log lay in the slough having came down the hill. On the other side of that vertical log we found a pool of still water 10 feet long and 3 feet wide . The pool looked like a halloween witches brew. Completely maroon  with thousands of blueberries floating on top. Our bear had lay in this pool for an extended time and I knew we were close. We scouted around the area and found no visible blood beside what stained the water. With the dry spell the entire area was bone dry. I knew the bear had come out soaked. I ran my hand through the grass and found the trail of moisture heading 50 feet to the creek edge and across the creek i could see the wash where the bear had entered the island of buckbrush. At the end of the island where the creek came back together was a triangle shaped meadow and not wanting to follow him into the brush we went down 100 feet and crossed the creek. Skirting the brush we looked for his exit No blood and no moisture as we slowly circled the island. A solid half hour later we found ourselves back at the bears wallow. Staring at the spot where he had entered the dense jungle of tangled wood. To say we were hesitant to enter would be the understatement of the year. As we sat down to discuss it one thing kept ringing in my brain."NEVER FOLLOW A WOUNDED BEAR INTO THE BRUSH".
In past years we have had to go into some pretty big thickets of buckbrush. The stuff is just nasty growing and twisting and grabbing you. Very hard to move in or through. I layed it out for my son. We have a bear though wounded has been moving quite well for about six hours.      He has been able to walk on logs off rock edges over 1.5 miles. If we wait and come back who knows how far down valley he might get. The forecast for tonight is rain around 10 pm so forget about tracking him after a rain. He might hole up in the brush and die but he will definitely suffer. At this moment I look up and 250 yards away I see two hikers on the trail coming in. They are standing at the edge looking like they are thinking about dropping down to the creek. Not good. I holler out to them " don't come down here we have a wounded bear". I don't think they believed their ears because they made me repeat my warning. They hightailed it up the trail looking not too pleased.
This ended up being the deciding factor. We were much too close to other people to leave a wounded bear on the loose and we had a responsibility to them and the bear.
We firmed our resolve and prepared to enter the brush.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Onewhohikes on September 24, 2020, 06:13:42 AM
Better choice not to camp the dirt as this time of the year that leads to mud. :twocents:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Joeykon123 on September 24, 2020, 11:16:53 AM
Great story so far!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: trytough on September 24, 2020, 03:10:31 PM
Great story so far!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: jackelope on September 24, 2020, 09:51:55 PM
Hmmmm
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 24, 2020, 10:17:05 PM
As I mention before the buck brush on the island grew out over the stream. We crossed and had to squat and bend low to access the entry point. We inched forward into the maze of twisted limbs. Using every sense we had we moved about 30 feet into the brushline where we found a deer trail perpendicular to our path. We paused and looked to the floor of the island for any sign. I whispered " you go right ill go left dont go more than 15 feet". I had only taken a couple of steps when I heard a low growl  from the direction my son had taken. I spun around and took 3 steps to my left to clear a firing line. I saw that my son had taken a few steps backwards and was pointing his gun down trail. At that moment the bear became visible as he rose up 20 feet away and to the left of us in the brush. I yelled  "shoot him" as the bear let out a might roar dropped to all fours and charged. The bear made it within 15 feet when the concussion from my sons shot reached my ears. The bear plowed nose down in the brush. All I could see through the thick brush was a huge black shape as he came to his feet again. I fired three shots into the black shape at point blank range as fast as i could work my bolt. The bear went down and started to moan. I pushed my son back and out of the brush and we ran back across the creek. We both stood in the grass just looking at each other. The feeling was so surreal I panted for breath and asked my son how many rounds he had in his rifle. There were no high fives or celebration. A cold realization of the reality of what we had just experienced settled in my gut. My son had two rounds left and we went downstream crossed the creek into the grass. I glassed into the brush and could see the bear still breathing. About 10 feet inside the treeline. I realized the bear must have been bedded up there, when we made our first round of the island. The bear finally gave out his death moan his spirit departed and he took his last breath.
 We waited a while letting our nerves settle and then approached the bruin a large boar. I have to say he was intimidating even in death. We drug him from the brush and I was surprised at his mass. As i examined his body i found berries pouring from the original shot that had taken him mid paunch and exited just behind the ribs on the off side. My sons shot in the brush had broken his front right femur just below the shoulder which is what had stopped his charge. The other three shots had went through the chest cavity about three inches apart destroying heart liver and lungs. We have never shot a bear or been around one that has been killed. Dressing him out was so different than a deer the most surprising thing being is that there was no unpleasant odor even though he had been gut shot.

Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 24, 2020, 10:21:30 PM
here is our more than worthy opponent. Big white patch on his chest.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 24, 2020, 10:32:53 PM
Our adventure had started at 9 am it was 430 as we dressed him out. It was 930 pm when we finally got him back to camp.  We should have been dead beat tired instead we found ourselves wide awake eating mountain house and polishing off a pint of crown my son had brought in. I think he said it best when he told me that he loved everything about hunting except the killing. We sat in the dark and talked about the day and life and death I believe I have never felt so alive. As we crawled into our sleeping bags at midnight the rain began to fall.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: elkrack on September 25, 2020, 07:02:54 AM
Great write up! Thanks for the ride :tup:  heck of a tracking job too
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: 10mmg on September 25, 2020, 07:49:57 AM
Fantastic story and bear. Thanks for the outstanding tale. These are the stories that are passed down throughout future generations.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Rainier10 on September 25, 2020, 08:00:52 AM
Fantastic story and bear. Thanks for the outstanding tale. These are the stories that are passed down throughout future generations.
:yeah:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: ctwiggs1 on September 25, 2020, 09:03:18 AM
I think he said it best when he told me that he loved everything about hunting except the killing.

That's very well put.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Birdguy on September 25, 2020, 09:08:52 PM
Awesome story, so glad it ended well. Congrats to both of you on the bear, the memories and all of it! And thank you again for taking us along  :tup:. Sure looking forward to the rest of the series!!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 25, 2020, 10:16:29 PM
The next morning I woke to gunshots at 730 am. This was the first time in 8 years that I wasn't up before 5 am on opening day. One of the icecicle outfitter guys had shot a small basket 3x2. I got up made myself coffee grabbed my rifle spotting scope and binoculars and headed out to do some glassing. Over the years I have found some nice comfortable spots to set up with  nice views of multiple slide meadows. Out about a thousand yards i could see the icecicle guys working on their buck. The sun was out but the grass was still wet from the night before. Rain gear is not just for rain the proof of that is plain to see for anyone who's had to walk around with a wet butt.
The smoke was visibly less prevalent.  I was even able to spot  a marmot at 1500 yards. I glassed for about 4 hours when I decided it was time to get my son up to get him ready for his packout of the bear.
I headed back to camp and I could tell he had been up as the door to the tent was open. He lay snoozing on top of his pad.
He woke up easy and was way more motivated to start a double pack out than I would have been. He immediately started boning out the bear quarters trimming fat and taking the roasts  like I had taught him.
A little over an hour later he had a very heavy pack full of meat. He headed out immediately as he still had to come back for the hide.
I dallied around camp glassing in the early afternoon sun. I turned up 3 does but really not much moving.
Darrick was back in les than three hours to cover the 12 miles which is a record time and i marveled at how 8 years later I was the one holding him back when it came to covering ground. I hated on my old bones as the toll of yesterday's toils made me kind of lazy.
The bear hide was covered in hornets and I had pondered while he was gone the best way to avoid getting stung.
I let him rest for about an hour and get some food in him. Then I told him of my plan to use a long length of parachute cord to lassoe the hind legs of the  hide putting us a good 15 ft away. We then sled dogged it 150 yards across the meadow. Presto changeo no more hornets. We rolled up the hide and quickly stowed it in his pack. The plan was for him to hike out drive back the 4 hours to home get the meat in the fridge salt the hide then come back the next day and hike back in. We said our farewells and he headed out down trail.
I turned my attention back to the hill and began to glass in earnest.  Being as clear and warm as it was I spent most of my energy picking apart the shadows and dissecting the edges and treelines.
About 35 minutes after my son had disappeared around the corner I took a break from the spotting scope. I stood and stretched and looked up the hill. I raised my binoculars  to view the landscape of yesterdays adventure when ill be damned if I don't see another bear coming up valley. Same elevation a cinnamon red bear about half the size but as before moving with a purpose.

Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: 10mmg on September 25, 2020, 10:26:46 PM
Wait thereís more. Dang man you can spin a story. Tarantino has got nothing on you.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: 87Ford on September 25, 2020, 11:29:12 PM
I'm enjoying this..  :tup:
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 26, 2020, 10:45:56 AM
I pondered shooting another bear and why pay for a tag if you don't attempt to fill it. But first I grabbed my rifle strolled doen across the creek and hollered to the two icecicle guys. They came over and I asked if they had a bear tag and if the wanted to shoot a bear. One of them did have a tag but said his wife wouldn't let him shoot a bear. I radioed my son telling him I had spotted another bear and was going to set up for a shot. He told me he was dropping his pack and heading back. I replied that wasn't necessary that I would take care of it. What he was trying to say was that he had forgot his truck keys and had to come back.
I found a nice big flat rock pointing up hill at the bottom of the rockslide and got set up. My plan was to shoot straight up the hill at around 300 yards. The icecicle guys said they would film it and we sat there for about 10 min before the bear broke the tree line.
He came out moving fast but when he reached my 10 o'clock he stopped stood up and sniffed the air. I found him in my scope but it was an odd angle as the rock was not very wide. The bear came down on all fours and I squeezed the trigger. I could tell right away that I had screwed up. my elbow and butt of the gun came off the side of the rock and the recoil tweaked my neck real good.
The bear took off full speed from whence he had came and i racked anither round keeping him in my crodshairs. I had the lead perfect but as I squeezed the trigger the bear skidded to a halt then headed straight up the mountain. I lost my sight picture and by the time I regained it he was halfway up the cliff.  I didn't know a bear could climb rock face like that and he covered 600 yards of rock in like a minute.
I wasn't too upset but my neck and shoulder were. As I recovered my composure the icecicle guy let me view the video. My lack of a good steady base had my shot to the right and I literally missed just in front of his chest by an inch even catching the bullet splash on the rocks. What really upset me was how obvious my bald spot was in the video. Never forget your hat. Hard lesson learned if i had proceeded with my original plan i would have had a solid shot that was well thought out instead i ended up cross body on a too narrow rest. Live and learn, the good the bad and the ugly.
If anyone knows those icecicle hunters he said he was going to send me the video I really would like to see if i can photo shop my bald spot out.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Boss .300 winmag on September 26, 2020, 09:55:30 PM
Thatís hunting.🤣
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Joeykon123 on September 27, 2020, 10:55:14 AM
This is a real page turner! Keep up the great writing!
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 27, 2020, 11:28:55 AM
my boy showed up just after this and we shared a laugh about him forgetting his keys. Things like this happen and you can't get upset you need to save your energy for the task at hand. I told him the story about the missed bear and we both laughed at each other . Good times.
Once my son departed I was alone at camp and i headed up trail to glass some more. Time behind the glass does not fly it is hard tedious work that requires patience and concentration. I looked in all the pockets and holes edges and  draws hoping to see movement. My endeavor proved fruitless and as the shooting light disappeared I made my way back to camp.
Now extended trips with a partner are rarely boring but being in the woods by yourself is a different story. At this time I could hardly say I was alone as the number of hunters in this area fluctuated between 11 and 16 thats a lot for 2.5 miles of canyon. But I have been on two trips by myself alone in the wilderness as it were. Keeping focused and driving the boogeyman away are things that can wear on you. Don't overthink things. Of course your firearm gives some sense of security but it doesn't talk back to you. I went to the creek and pumped two gallons of water. Settled in camp and had a hot meal. Buy 9pm I was in my tent and found myself with 2 pillows. Small joys and I slept like a babe.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 27, 2020, 11:45:10 AM
5 am found me up and raring to go. It had rained again overnight but the sky was clear and the smoke almost gone. I made a xup of coffee and filled my pack with necessities. Wow necessities weigh a lot when you are by yourself. Spotter, tripod ,lunch, gloves ,hat ,2 bottles of water , knife, water filter, mid layer and rain gear. My stone glacier pack weighed at least 30 pounds as I headed up hill to get to my regular spot a place i had not yet got to this year.
It is just over a mile to the place that has become our regular hangout during this hunt. The man who gave us the info so long ago about this hunt even specified the rock by which to set up. Dawn tinged the hillside in subdued color and shadow as i started to glass. 20 min to shooting light and nothing was moving. Though the temps were mild by previous years standards I put all the clothing I had on to stay comfortable.
Glassing while you are chilled makes it very hard to maintain your concentration or to hold your glass steady.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: Bill W on September 27, 2020, 12:39:11 PM
how do you know he didn't make up the detail about the rock?
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: savagehunter on September 27, 2020, 01:17:13 PM
Ah Bill he was so kind hearted to have given us such a gift that there was no reason for guile on his part. Not only did he give us a rock he gave us an insight of years and years and miles and miles of exploration trying to decipher where the bucks came from and where they were headed. He gave us more than a place to start hunting. He gave us a place to cement my sons heart in the mountains, to lock a new generation to the spirt of the hunt. For that I will be eternally grateful to you. A man who saw my post and joined Hunt Washington to impart knowledge wisdom and experience.  No greater gift can be given. Thank you so much.
Title: Re: Lessons from the high hunt the good the bad and the ugly
Post by: jstone on September 27, 2020, 06:21:04 PM
 :tup: