Hunting Washington Forum

Big Game Hunting => Deer Hunting => Topic started by: mburrows on December 04, 2020, 05:44:54 AM

Title: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: mburrows on December 04, 2020, 05:44:54 AM
I had three deer tags this year; Washington, Colorado and Montana.  I also had a Montana archery Antelope tag that went unpunched after a really fun hunt and a Colockum archery cow tag that I really didn’t get to hunt, that tag also went unpunched.  Ill do a quick write up on each of the deer tags as they were all really fun hunts for different reasons.

I started scouting for my Washington deer tag early.  Cameras were out in June trying to hone in on where I wanted to hunt. My plan was to chase mule deer spot and stalk but I ended up finding a group of seemingly out of place whitetail that have carved themselves out a small piece territory smack dab in the middle of mule deer country.  I found them in late July and actually found a couple bucks that I really wanted to chase. Nothing that would score much at all but two of the bucks were at least 3 ½ and likely older.  We found a shed from the buck that I actually took that was at least 1 year old so Im guessing he is probably 4  ½ or maybe even 5 ½. There was another beautiful 3x3 with good eye guards that is probably close to 20” wide with decent tine length who was target number one but after busting him out of a bed a couple days before season, he never showed up on the cameras again. 

Opening morning came, I had the area well documented and scouted. I had two blinds set up, one for me and one for my friend.  At first light I had a young 4x5 stroll by at 7 yards. He didn’t like the blind and I wasn’t in a position to shoot so he cautiously walked past me and ended up crossing past my partners blind, the buck was already on high alert and never provided a good shot opportunity to him either. About 20 minutes later, a 3x4 walked in front of my friends blind from the bedding about 150 yards up wind of his blind location. The buck strolled along the trail without a care in the world received a 420 grain arrow tipped with an Iron Will broad head through his chest at 15 yards.  We got his buck packed out by noon after sitting for another hour and returned to the blind. 

It was 1pm, about 90 degrees and my friend and I both huddled in a double bull blind.  I was in my boxers because it was so hot and although my friend wasn’t pleased with my attire he tolerated his unfortunate view. 7 hours crawled by without anything coming down trail. With 10 minutes of light left I said, "Lets call it" and my friend said “No”. I am so glad he told me that.  About 5 minutes later I caught movement down the trail and it was one of the bigger bucks, although, not exactly sure which one.  He was at 12 yards in a matter of seconds, and this was probably the first time I’ve ever been at full draw and had clear thoughts going through my head.  I waited for his vitals to clear through an opening in the tight 20-30 foot tall pine trees, I then had to crouch and lean forward slightly in the blind so my arrow would clear the blind walls.  I let my pin settle on his second rib and I pulled until my shot broke.

The sound of the 510 grain arrow breaking that rib was like a baseball bat hitting a car door. The deer wheezed/coughed instantly and briskly trotted away with his tail tucked. Unfortunately, I had no blood trail but I found the arrow covered in fat and short white hair but it was now dark.  I have lost a deer with a brisket hit and similar arrow description before so I was very nervous and did not want to push the deer, I let him lay until morning after a very quick analysis and short search.  I slept fairly well after thinking through the encounter and shot again.  The shot actually perfect, he was quartered towards me, downhill and I felt that I had hit him in the top half of lungs and the arrow probably exited behind the last rib about mid body.  My assumption was correct. He was dead within 35-50 yards of where he was hit.  The overnight lay did yield some lost meat (tenderloins and some rear quarter meat around the hip joint) but not more than 5lbs.  Next up was Colorado.
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: mburrows on December 04, 2020, 08:24:56 AM
This was my first time hunting Colorado. Another friend and I had wanted to incorporate Colorado into our hunt schedule for several years and we built up points dating back to 2015, the unit we chose to hunt required a healthy amount of points to even have a shot at drawing.  We applied and were excited to have been selected.  We didn’t have an opportunity to get out there and scout at all but we left nothing on the table in our e-scouting efforts.  Rolling into the unit itself was a serious gut check. Everything in that unit is steep, steep, steep.  We were physically and mentally prepared, guns dialed in and had the mindset that this would be grind and in the end is what I feel led to our success.

Camp set up the day before season, day 1 had us climbing up a steep basin that would eventually be where everything came together to punch my tag.  We found some deer day 1 however, nothing we wanted to go after.
Day 2 we went exploring and saw a great buck driving into the area we wanted to check out that day, he’s the buck in the headlights below.  That day it dumped snow, probably 6-8” up high and 3-4” mid mountain.  We were eventually forced to retreat off the mountain due zero visibility, high winds and snow. The day felt almost lost but we were able to cross another area off the list, there were just too many elk hunters in this area and we wanted to evade the pressure as much as we could. 

Day 3 came and went with zero deer sighted as we made our way back into the basin we hunted on day 1.  We couldn’t figure out why the deer were gone we had seen and what we were missing, this area looked perfect and received very little pressure if any.  The temps on day 3 were in single digits, everything was frozen from wet wipes to the legs on my tripod to the water bottles I had packed in.  We were still optimistic but began to re-evaluate where we should be looking.

Day 4 we started to dial things in with a little local knowledge as to where the deer tend to hang out. We started the day down in a valley that we had driven through several times but were only seeing does and smaller bucks.  After a few long glassing sessions we decided to move up the mountain a little bit via truck to glass and move as much as we could.  That afternoon as we began to move to a new glassing point, my friend gave the order to stop as he had just picked up 2 nice bucks down the hill about 400 yards way coming out of the thick oak brush.  This was my first experience with that tall, dense oak brush. That stuff can make a deer you’re looking at turn invisible with just a few steps even as you’re watching them. After an all-out scramble, my friend was able to make a good shot and lay down one of the bucks.  I had actually shot at the other buck and I feel that I made a great shot on him. Unfortunately, there was another hunter we did not see that had keyed in on our movements and began shooting at the same deer I believe I had just hit.  The guy shot after we did but he got to the deer before us. There was no arguing, the guy felt it was his deer, he got there before I did.  Frustrated at the situation and loss of what was a great deer, I congratulated the guy and we got to work on my friends buck. So happy for Josh, this is his best buck to date.  We were all smiles had no time to worry about losing the other deer.

Day 5 got off to a good start, we were in deer, decided to pass some smaller bucks here and there.  In the evening, I glassed up a great buck, heavy, wide and about 500 yards way.  The only problem was he was in the tall oak brush and the wind was ripping.  No opportunity for a shot, we moved in to try to make it happen and waited until dark but he never came out.

Day 6 was really what we had determined to be our last full day of hunting due to obligations back home.  We went back to last location we saw the buck on day 5.  He never showed, as we moved to the next ridge, I began glassing and instantly found a true giant at 400 yards in the perfect spot for a shot. I called Josh over, got a range and began to look for a spot to shoot. Just as I got the deer in my scope he moved into the oak brush. I was able to watch his tines move back and forth. Unfortunately this giant 4x4, probably 26” wide sporting deep forks never came back out, we watched for hours to no avail. Im guessing this deer to be close to the 200” mark, by far the biggest buck I have ever laid eyes on.  As the afternoon began to fade we ran into a really awesome group of older gentlemen from Utah on the road.  We exchanged notes and told them what we were waiting on as we likely wouldn’t be back beyond tomorrow morning. They explained to us how the unit really works, they have hunted it many times over the years.  They told me they knew where a few bucks were that I might be interested in shooting, they were holding out for real big deer and nothing less.  They gave a description of the bucks location and the bucks themselves. At this point, I was ready to shoot any deer that was of decent age, score was irrelevant. Two of the bucks they described were 4x4’s pushing 150”-160” and another big 2x3 that was an old deer.  They told us to think about it and meet them out at the spot if were interested. After a quick analysis, we hoped on my TW200 tandem and made the 7 mile ride out from where we were.  The guys were there and we instantly glassed up the deer about 2 miles away.  Here’s the kicker, the deer were exactly where we had been on day 1 and day 3, however they were hidden in a manner that you could only glass them from this spot.  We hustled across the 2 mile ridge and got into position.  Things got western as I was looking directly into the sun but after some rather poor shooting, I had the big 2x3 down with a spine shot and follow up shot to vitals but it was now dark and he was down below some seriously cliffy terrain we could not handle in the dark.

On day 7, I rode the TW in 10+ miles and made the 2 mile walk in across the ridge solo to retrieve my buck at daylight. Josh stayed back to break our wall tent camp down. I really wish I would have taken better photos but that morning was bit of a rodeo continued.  I got the buck broken down, zero meat wastage and I loaded my pack up.  The hike out was a pain I’d never felt before, it wasn’t far but the terrain was brutal. Lots of up and lots of down.

This hunt had it all, weather, big deer and we had to grind it out every day to fill both of our tags. Luck no doubt also played into our success.  The ride home was a happy one, nothing better than coming home with both tags filled. 
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: OutHouse on December 04, 2020, 08:34:54 AM
Great season! Thanks for sharing
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: Rainier10 on December 04, 2020, 09:28:49 AM
Oh heck yeah, great stories and photos.  Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: The Fin on December 04, 2020, 10:15:50 AM
Great season!  :tup:
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: mburrows on December 04, 2020, 10:54:31 AM
Thank you. Really was a dream season for me!
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: mburrows on December 04, 2020, 11:43:08 AM
Last hunt of the year;

After a couple weeks off the body was recovered and Ryan (bow hunting partner for the whitetail hunt) and I were off to Montana.  We both had a lot going on with work and things at home.  We were not able to leave until a Sunday so really only had Monday-Friday morning to hunt.

We strolled into an area we’ve been to a number of times now, each time we’re there we learn little bit more about the area however this year there was an insane amount of people around which added a layer of complexity.

Day 1 (Monday) we didn’t start hunting until about 10AM as we arrived about 4AM that morning to get camp set up. It was 60 degrees and balmy.  As we hit the field, there were guys everywhere so we adjusted our plan around the pressure. After a glassing session, we decide to move up to the next knob with the wind ripping about 30MPH. Not 10 yards into our move we jumped a doe 30 yards to the left and on her heals was a nice buck. I instantly started ranging for Ryan but the buck ended up going out to about 500 yards, unwilling to leave his doe before they back trailed trying to identify what had bumped them, they had heard us but never saw or smelled us.  After what felt like 20 minutes of watching the deer the wind finally died, I was in the best position to make a shot with a dead rest so I let it fly.  The buck dropped and we had one tag filled. Getting over to the buck and searching for my tag I realized my tag was not in my pack but I was sure I had brought it. I immediately called the game warden to explain the situation who took some notes and told us to carry on.  I eventually was able to locate my tag wallet back at camp, it had somehow fallen out while we unpacking. I’ve had a number of encounters with MT game wardens and they are always fantastic to deal with. When in doubt, always self-report to keep yourself out of hot water if you’ve made a mistake.

Day 2 was another sunny, 55 degree day. We followed up on a buck that we saw the night before prior to packing out my buck. We located a few does but went the entire day without seeing a buck which has never happened out there before.  A long day with lots of miles and no deer had us re-calibrating a bit.

Day 3 was yet another warm, MUDDY and sunny day.  We played the shuffle game with other hunters checking many of our regular spots and finding there were several people already in these areas. We did find a herd of elk with a couple nice bulls in the group.  We decided to make a huge loop and about 4 miles into the big long walk we found some bucks. A smaller 3 point and a basket 4x4 but the shots just didn’t pan out although we had a blast trying to make plays on them but ultimately no shots were fired both by choice and not ideal shot opportunities. About 2pm we relocated again to a spot we’d never explored which didn’t yield anything significant and then decided to take a drive to another portion of the unit.  Along the way we got some really cool footage of a badger.  As we drove along the private ground with some public mixed in, Ryan spotted a nice buck in a creek right on the boarder of private public. Ryan is a very, very ethical guy and doesn’t mess with anything in the grey area.  We pulled over to get a better look and the buck actually did a 180 and walked back up on the small patch of BLM.  I waited down below as Ryan made a play.  5-10 minutes later I heard a single shot and a celebratory yell and I knew we were tagged out in Montana. Ryan made a great 50 yard shot on the buck and he died where he stood.

Once again, persistence and hard work were key along with a little luck. We enjoyed a healthy amount of whiskey that evening and packed up the following day.
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: DOUBLELUNG on December 04, 2020, 12:10:46 PM
Great season!  Thanks for sharing your adventures and pictures.
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: jstone on December 04, 2020, 12:23:45 PM
Fantastic Write up Mburrows.!!
Way to kick some booty this year.!!
Well deserved.!!!!!
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: JakeLand on December 04, 2020, 12:27:29 PM
You had a great time and nice bucks can’t beat that
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: jstone on December 04, 2020, 12:31:49 PM
Badger Picture is cool too.!
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: bearhunter99 on December 04, 2020, 02:47:32 PM
Congrats on lots of success!  Great write up and pictures too!
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: mburrows on December 04, 2020, 03:42:33 PM
Badger Picture is cool too.!

That badger was so close to getting shot a number of times but we had too much fun watching him run around trying to catch prairie dogs
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: archery288 on December 04, 2020, 04:08:29 PM
Good work Bwood and Big Dog!  Slay'n!
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: mburrows on December 04, 2020, 06:11:33 PM
Good work Bwood and Big Dog!  Slay'n!

Thanks Jon. You guys sure had and awesome year! Hope Montana is treating you well!
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: jstone on December 06, 2020, 03:00:41 PM
Like a fat kid chasing candy bars
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: BIGDOG253 on December 07, 2020, 07:33:06 AM
It was an amazing season for sure! Excellent write ups, it was great to relive those moments. Can't wait for next year!  :tup:
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: Karl Blanchard on December 07, 2020, 07:37:06 AM
Heck of a season dude! Congrats!
Title: Re: Mburrows 2020 Deer Season
Post by: fishngamereaper on December 07, 2020, 07:51:32 AM
 :tup: :tup:

Heck of year.