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Author Topic: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!  (Read 4361 times)

Offline chukar hunter

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #30 on: October 17, 2019, 08:09:36 AM »
DAY 5: OPERATION ELK

Knowing it was tail end of the rut and wanting to let our honey hole canyon cool from the wolf infestation, we decide to do something we hadn’t done before and re-hunt the same elk area.  C has a running joke that I like to “hunt harder, not smarter”.  Thinking some cruising bulls might decide to stick around a harem of cows that didn’t have a competitor now, we make a plan to get on the same elk herd and hunt the “elk area”.  Like a well written play, we’re at elevation at daybreak in the same draw we shot the bull 4 days prior.  In the pre-dawn light, we see cows milling around on the opposite hillside in the same jack pine thicket where they were before.  Less than 400 yards away we scour every inch of the thicket for two hours, freezing our butts off.  We call, and get zero response.  Nearing hypothermia, we send Bro above and around to cut-off the exit point and C and I play bird dogs working across through the thicket pushing the elk his direction.  It couldn’t have gone smoother as the herd exited as planned and slowly walked in front of bro at 200 yards…..problem was no bulls had joined the herd.  Well crap…. mid morning……no bull, what to do but hike!  We decide to explore new ground, a peak where we had seen bulls and cows go before but never attempted to hunt.  We climb for 4 hours and reach the summit, just shy of 9000’.  We wrap around the peak exploring a few bowls, but the area is a wasteland.  An old burn 10 or so years ago had ravaged this peak and the windswept hillsides had little to hide.  About 4pm we make the decision to head straight back down navigating some of the nastiest rock slides and felled timber choked draws one could imagine.  A brutal 15 mile day with little to show but 11 elk and 4 does.  Great scenery, but a possible low of the trip.  First halfy gone, broke into the second….

Offline chukar hunter

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #31 on: October 17, 2019, 12:08:41 PM »
DAY 6: TACTICAL GROUND ATTACK & GRAB SPIKE!

Slightly disturbed at the amount of animals we’re seeing, or lack thereof, we decide to split up doing a massive push from base camp, to the honey hole canyon, with a rendezvous mid afternoon at the summit of previous mentioned mountain we’d seen the wolves from a couple days before.  Maps scoured, we each establish a route hitting strategic cover, water, wind concealed topographical hideouts; we’re in full seek and destroy mode.   We each have our own experiences throughout the morning and early afternoon bumping dozens of deer each, but no big bucks.  Meeting mid afternoon we execute one final push on the backside of the mountain, farther up the migratory route.  With each step I mentally struggled with the excitement of new territory/opportunity vs the dreaded realization that this is a LONG way from camp and the truck.  We bump a handful of does and a decent 2 point that had a death wish, just not the type of buck we were looking for on this trip….

Eventually turning back, we make our way to spike camp just before dark.  While seeing in excess of 70 deer today, 7 bucks, we’re slightly deflated in the lack of mature deer sightings.  This is by far the hardest I’ve ever worked for a mule deer and the pressure begins to rise with 3 days left in the trip.  The last words my dad mentioned to me before we left, “get your brother a deer”, keep rattling in my mind.

While feeling in some of the best hunting shape of my life, the body is beginning to take a toll with the long days, double digit mile days, and the shear ruggedness/vertical nature of the country.  Nothing some whiskey and ibuprofen can’t handle though! 

Offline pianoman9701

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #32 on: October 17, 2019, 01:13:17 PM »
 :tup: No pics of the whiskey then?
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Offline chukar hunter

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #33 on: October 17, 2019, 01:40:49 PM »
:tup: No pics of the whiskey then?

Naww...it would have reminded us we should have packed in more!!!  Rationing is hard, especially when we planned for a total of 4 spike nights. 

Online bracer40

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #34 on: October 17, 2019, 02:54:51 PM »
Great story telling! AND pics!

Thanks for sharing!
“Just give me a comfortable couch, a dog, a good book, and a woman. Then if you can get the dog to go somewhere and read the book, I might have a little fun.”
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Offline chukar hunter

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #35 on: October 18, 2019, 07:48:57 AM »
DAY 7:  VIRGIN TERRITORY, BLIZZARD, AND BUCKS!

A major storm system rolled in through the night and ravaged the region.  A torrential downpour with high winds just after dark made us feel like we were in a car wash.  The flat spot we had chosen for base camp was quickly a pool of standing water and we had doubts of a dry camp from this point forward.  With all of our “go to” spots thoroughly explored we had discussed over dinner exploring a new area closer to the truck about 4 miles.  A whole new river drainage system with larger peaks that may get us closer to the migratory routes of the animals we sought.  We discuss a spike camp for 2 nights as we’d like to give the drainage a good thorough check.  About 10:30 we kill the lights and the battering rain slowly begins to subside.

Pre-dawn we wake up loaded for spike and zip open the tent to be greeted by a blanket of snow.  Thinking, crap, we don’t want to be huddled by a fire in this crap after a long wet day, we decide to just hike the extra miles to base at the end of the day.  With high hopes, we hit the trail.

Just after sunup we hit the unexplored river drainage.  Whether it be sleep or energy deprivation, everything was a comedy today.  We pioneered the valley, glassing every vantage point and draw we came across.  About 3 miles in, we come across 3 river otters foraging the stream.  Pretty cool to see them work together and eat fish, freshwater crustaceans, and whatever else they got.  I kept thinking, holy cow, how do those little buggers stay warm!  A mile farther, the river canyon offered it’s only flats and abutting it was a steep open sage hillside.  I spot a doe bedded high on the ridge and after a few minutes pick apart the landscape to find 6 does and 2 bucks.  A small 3 and a forky.  Not what we were looking  for, but the bucks seemed in pre-rut mode.  We press on and decide the next draw is the access point to the mountain that we want to explore. 

I’ll fully admit I picked the wrong area to hunt as what looks good on the screen of a cell phone with imagery and topo lines isn’t representative of what we were about to encounter.  A series of finger ridges with sparse timber on the map, turned out to be the steepest terrain of the trip with rock outcroppings and shale slides.  Add 12” of fresh snow and I don’t believe anyone thought we were being productive.  I’m not the type of guy to quit, so we press on gaining elevation, thinking what about the ravine on the otherside of this rock….we did encounter 8 more does, but did put us in a few treacherous situations.  After many hours, we finally reach a point above the rocks, a large plateau.  We cross a few large single tracks headed off of the mountain in the now knee high snow, but soon realize it’s much closer to dark than anticipated and being 10 miles from camp, it’d be safest to start heading back.  C has a funny video complaining of me leading us straight up the mountains, just to turn around and head straight back down….”hunt harder, not smarter” right!  The decent was fast and almost like glissading except we skied on our feet. 

Picking different ridges to descend, we rendezvous in the same flat area we had seen the deer in the morning.  With about 30 minutes of light left, Bro takes the lead, though it’s apparent we’re deflated from yet another disappointing sightings day.  Before exiting the flat I make one more glass of the steep open hillside and spot antlers.  2 bucks and 4 does were in almost the same spot from the morning.  I get the guys, set up the spotter and quickly identify the larger buck as a decent 3 point.  680 yds. Bro’s minimum was a 3x3, so he makes a quick confirmation and we decipher a plan on how to get closer.  There’s a tree halfway to the deer, though the rest of the hillside is entirely exposed.  We tell him to put the tree between him and the deer and get his a$$ up there as quickly as possible as lights fading fast.  10 minutes later and he’s in position.  340 yards.  C and I stayed in the bottom with spotter and got the next series of events on video. 

We radio back and forth making sure he’s on the right buck.  He responds back that he’s ready….buck steps broadside….CRACK, buck kicks and runs left sidehilling.  CRACK again, buck doesn’t react.  At this point all of the deer are milling around each other and in the fading light we communicate/confirm which one is his.  CRACK, buck makes a mule kick and immediately heads downhill.  Stumbling for 15 or more seconds the buck stops and then begins a death roll down the steep hillside.  Out of control, the buck tumbles more than a 100 yards down the hill and finally stops when it slams into a mature sage bush.  Buck down!  Way to go bro!  In review of the video, the first two shots missed, but the third one hammered him. 

C and I hike up from the bottom and meet bro at the deer.  Take pics, gut him and drag him the 500 yards down the mountain to our packs and level working area.  Snowing, bitter cold, we start a nice fire and begin the process of breaking him down.  8 miles to base camp, we didn’t get back until 12:30am, quick dinner, whisky, ibu, we hit the sack at 1:30.  21.6 mile day.  Sore, bruised, wet and tired, a well earned buck, harvested at mile 86 of the trip!

A lesson learned here is to check batteries.  An in the box, extra fresh set were duds for me once my headlamp was drained.  Thank god for the flashlight app on my phone, it was the only light I had for the 8 mile trek out…

Offline MacAttack

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #36 on: October 18, 2019, 08:14:18 AM »
Awesome story! Thanks for sharing.

Offline Odell

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #37 on: October 18, 2019, 08:14:43 AM »
Holy smokes thats a tough day especially on day 7??? Nice work and nice buck!
what in the wild wild world of sports???

Offline X-Force

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #38 on: October 18, 2019, 09:11:48 AM »
Great story so far
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Offline jackson7

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #39 on: October 18, 2019, 10:43:27 AM »
Nice to see true hunting. Great story, great pics, and much appreciated! Thank you.

Offline TheStovePipeKid

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #40 on: October 18, 2019, 11:43:21 AM »
My dad always ribs me about buying cheap batteries and not bringing extras on trips. I finally brought a full set of extras fresh out of the box and like yours they failed. Thank goodness for cheap led lights in every phone. Great experience so far. What a hunt.
I laugh in the face of Danger. Ha ha ha Danger Face!

Offline pianoman9701

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #41 on: October 18, 2019, 11:54:29 AM »
 :tup:
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Online Brushcrawler

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #42 on: October 19, 2019, 03:05:15 PM »
Great adventure, thanks for sharing it!
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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #43 on: October 19, 2019, 03:18:42 PM »
 :tup:
You sure you know how to skin griz pilgram

Offline chukar hunter

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Re: 3 Guys, 9 Days, 116 Miles....Backcountry Adventure!!!
« Reply #44 on: October 21, 2019, 07:29:34 AM »
DAY 8: BITTER COLD, BLUEBIRD DAY AND BUCKS!

Getting a weather report from the inreach the night before, the next few days were going to be cold and clear.  A low of 7 and a high of 27, I knew the deer were going to be out in full force the next day and that the heavy snow had likely stimulated some of the migration.  With the pressure off of getting bro a deer, I had two days to get it done.  I opted to let my buddies sleep and snuck out of the tent an hour before daylight, getting 4 hrs of sleep.  In effort to stay warm and be in a good position at daylight I went straight for a vertical workout gaining a couple thousand feet of elevation.  Plan was to work a major ridge and zig zag the top picking apart both sides as I worked towards our honey hole canyon. 

Immediately upon reaching the top, there was a super highway of tracks.  Optimistic I slowly pressed on.  Around the first knob to my surprise I came across a herd of bighorns with a small ram, in which since the biologist has confirmed was rare for this area.  A couple cool photos and onto hunting.  Like predicted deer where everywhere.  Small bucks, does, they seemed to be out in droves trying to stay warm like me.  By 9:30 my deer count was approaching 50, though no signs of Mr Big.  I change sides of the ridge and begin glassing the other side, when my eyes catch movement.  Big Buck!  I set up the spotter to confirm shooter and he’s a solid 4x4 feeding on a ridge below me at 408 yards.  He’s concealed by some burnt trees with no clean windows so I take some video and pics of him.  He’s feeding in the direction of an opening.  Wanting to get the shot on film, I’m farting around with the camera angle, look back down and he’s gone!  Wind good, my position is concealed…where the heck did he go!?  I had to go back through the video to see that he’d fed across the opening without stopping amidst my dinking around.  Crap!  Did I just miss out on my deer opportunity of the biggest buck of the trip? 

Not giving up, I sidehill over to the ridge he was on and begin dropping elevation.  I walk slowly, expecting to see him in the other ravine.  Preemptively dialing back my scope from 400, then 300, then 200.  Working my way slowly down the ridge I cut some extremely fresh large deer tracks headed up the ridge, opposite direction I’m going.   I begin to second guess my decision thinking he scooted out ahead of me as I was messing around with the camera.  Ahead of me a rock outcropping that then dropped onto a bench about the elevation he was at.  My instincts tell me he’s still down there and the tracks are from something else.  I decide to give it to the next saddle and if nothing, high tail it out to follow those tracks.  Dropping around the rock outcropping, I’m slipping and sliding on the steep terrain.  Working my way back to the ridgline I bend to go under a downed tree and see antlers.  It’s the buck, looking directly at me.  I take one more step and he’s completely exposed broadside, 55 yards.  I raise the gun, settle the crosshairs on his chest, exhale and BOOM!  He immediately hunches up and slowly turns 180 degrees to face the way he had come.  BOOM, he hunches up even more, tail wagging frantically and takes two more steps, BOOM!  Falls over out of site.  I hear the unmistakable sound of sliding and crashing down the steep hillside.  Buck Down! 

I radio C and Bro and fortunately they had began working up the mountain for some time and were shockingly only 20 minutes from my location.  I wait for them to arrive and go in search of the buck.  He’d fallen where I last saw him and slid down a greater than 1:1 slope for more than 100 yards.  Piling up in some logs and buck brush, I’m shocked he didn’t break anything off.  Pics, quartered him out and began the pack up and out and then 5 miles back to camp.  Buck at 101 miles!  Century club!  Back to base camp by 4:30, the only time we’d seen base camp in the daylight since Day 1! 

 


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