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Author Topic: Pics of your backcountry camp  (Read 201554 times)

Offline Shawn Ryan

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #570 on: October 14, 2019, 05:12:44 PM »
2019 camps. A bit snowy this year up high.

What shelter is in that second pic?

Go-Lite Shangri-La 4. Circa 2009. 

I don't bring a trowel, but have ditched around my floorless shelters with sticks and boots when real wet.

Offline huntnnw

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #571 on: October 23, 2019, 10:20:48 PM »
Idaho 2019

Offline X-Force

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #572 on: October 23, 2019, 10:46:18 PM »
People get offended at nothing at all. So, speak your mind and be unapologetic.

Offline farmin4u_98948

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #573 on: October 29, 2019, 06:34:57 PM »
Same gear. Different year. Took advantage of an old abandoned campsite. 
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Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #574 on: November 08, 2019, 10:13:04 PM »
Idaho 2019
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline nwalpineguide

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #575 on: November 27, 2019, 01:28:26 PM »
GPW high-buck camp (above) and August bear hunting camp (below).
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 01:53:16 PM by nwalpineguide »

Offline CoryTDF

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #576 on: December 01, 2019, 06:25:43 PM »
Spike and Base Camp from Idaho 2019.
CoryTDF

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Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #577 on: December 16, 2019, 05:10:20 AM »
Are you cooking the head of that buck? :chuckle:

Offline nwalpineguide

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #578 on: December 16, 2019, 09:05:52 AM »
Are you cooking the head of that buck? :chuckle:

It's all for show Keith. That's all that or any head and horns I hang on a tree is any good for! :chuckle:

Below is that backcountry write up I told you I was preparing, about a hunt I did a few years ago. Hopefully you and other's will get something out of it. I did. ;)



Find and Kill High Country Wilderness Bucks
With Attitude & Willpower


Many successful DIY high country hunters know the REAL difference between finding trophy mule deer bucks and killing them frequently comes down to maintaining a positive attitude and exerting their will. This distillation from personal experience comes from years of pursuing big bucks in the Glacier Peak and Alpine Lakes wildernesses, as well the Sawtooth’s in Idaho where I took my first record book mule deer on a grueling yet rewarding solo trip in 1995.

A 35 year history of successful backcountry mule and black-tailed deer hunting adventures (black-tailed deer in the Olympic Mountains) has required a certain mind-set. This involves mentally preparing for those hunts by visualizing how to first find, and then kill one of North America’s most challenging trophy animal to take these days. I may be wrong, and in all likelihood I am, but anymore killing one of these bucks just doesn’t happen by chance alone. Sure, plenty of planning and organization is required, but more importantly; maintaining a positive attitude and exerting your will while hunting.

Attitude & Willpower
 
Positive attitudes build character and are forged with a good measure of mental and physical preparation. The same can be said for willpower. Both grow with a desire to achieve. Next comes the suffering and being rewarded for it. It’s attitude that makes for high-country hunting successes. What’s more, to achieve the coveted goal of killing an eye-popping mule deer buck the odds must be stacked in ones favor. A good way to stack those odds is to remain positive about goals with the recognition that some inherent lack of control comes with high country hunting. Accept this verity and focus on applying acquired skills to the hunting situation you find yourself in. Besides, it’s hubris to think anyone can control every situation in the mountains.

I have a yearly longing for solitude. The kind found in high places mega mulies call home. This longing compels me to head out as often as time permits to hump a heavy backpack up to the top of and then back down some nameless wilderness mountain in pursuit of my quarry. Some (like my wife) consider this an endless and futile task, much akin to Sisyphus rolling a rock nearly to the top of a hill just to have it escape his grasp before reaching the top and rolling back down -hauntingly similar to the up and down pursuit of mule deer in wilderness. However, I consider this pursuit both an expression of the indomitable human spirit, as well as exercising freedom to pursue worthy goals. Besides, honest exercise in alpine surroundings is such welcome relief from the confines of a lowland exercise room.

Alpine Summers

Many of our migratory mule deer benefit from living in sub-alpine and alpine zones during the height of summer. Some migrate slowly up to these zones passing through several habitats with differing vegetation types to take advantage of the nutrients they contain.

And I think it’s safe to say many an alpine hunters character has benefited from frequent visits to the same summer localities tanker mulies call home. Alpine habitats are both regal in appearance and provide good conditioning grounds for experienced backpack hunters to enjoy. As for mulies, alpine habitats provide excellent nutrition for bucks with fast growing antlers. The only other place that comes to mind that’s just as good, perhaps even better if the right concentration of minerals is present, is a recent burn. Indeed I’ve observed that bucks from one mountain range don’t grow the jaw dropping racks that bucks from another range do. The reason probably has something to do with precipitation patterns, types of vegetation and the types of mineral in the soil each mountain range contain.

As with productive alpine habitats, recent burns also contain excellent nutrition for furtive trophy bucks. Higher than average precipitation levels which we experience in Washington combined with plenty of sunshine and cooler temperatures -cooler than say where mountain foothills meet the sagebrush steppe -causes alpine forbs to grow profuse and quickly. And trophy mule deer know exactly where to find them. High country hunters should too. It’s patently obvious to the observant among us that when we find the mule deer bucks, early and late in the day, we’ll find the forbs they’re feeding on as well.  Once summer gives way to fall however, mulies will gradually switch to a diet predominately made up of alpine shrubs. These grow in mosaics across the alpine landscape and consist of slide alder, vine maple, service berry, mountain mahogany and willow to name a few. In other words bucks don’t necessarily need to leave their high-country haunts because the forbs die off. At least not until snow covers their forage and the urges of the rut prompt them to descend to lower localities for other activities.

Trophy Bucks Are Different

It’s important to understand that older age class mulies, those between say 4 ½ and 9 ½, are scarce. Like the scarcity of an honest politician these days. These bucks make up a tiny percentage of deer herds. They’re also smart and wary, especially trophy class representatives of that age group. They become that way because they’re quick learners. I suspect some of their negative learning experiences throughout the year involves humans. During summer when high country trophy bucks are living in core habitat areas they might tolerate some intrusion and disturbance from both two and four legged predators. Yet I doubt they’ll tolerate much from repeated disturbances by the two legged variety with pack slung over their back. Accordingly, watch them from afar with binoculars and spotting scope!
 
To reiterate, if you value the experience of searching for and finding mega bucks before the hunting season, and have located an annual source of big racked mulies, leave that place alone until opening day. Mule deer bucks demonstrate high fidelity to a particular summer range year in and out, yet if disturbed they’ll clear out to a secondary range or become nocturnal in the area you found them in. Regrettably neither you nor anyone else will see them again that season. Left alone however they’ll remain where they’re comfortable and have access to feed, water and security cover.

Indeed, their daily routines will be predictable also. I can set my watch by them and I have for days on end. Now, if you suspect that bucks you discovered during mid to late summer scouting trips have been disturbed just before or during your hunt -because diligent searching for them draws a blank -look lower down the mountainside. Move below where you earlier observed them and look into the heavier stands of pines and firs for them. These pines often adjoin avalanche chutes, rocky gulley’s and high growth brush fields made up of alder or maples.
If you still can’t find them you may have to hike into an adjacent basin that sees little or no pressure. And don’t neglect those areas that adjoin burns.

If you still can’t find them, the bucks you spotted earlier haven’t left the region. It’s just that as mule deer bucks go, trophy bucks in particular are smart and adaptable and they’ve simply adjusted their routines, or moved to places where they are no longer pestered. Another way to look at this situation is this: since you’re fit, and have the time to keep searching for them and always maintain a positive attitude while doing so, keep searching for those bucks. Exert your will and you’ll eventually find them!

 I’ve noticed frequently enough that the very best bucks I find in alpine country are loners. A few, less than a handful in the last two decades of scouting and hunting for them, did hang around a single cohort they used as a decoy, lookout or perhaps sparring partner. Most though simply kept to themselves. If your search for alpine mulies is turning up good numbers of bucks where you hunt (it is not uncommon for some areas to have many) yet you’re not spotting any trophy class bucks, scarce as they are, keep looking because odds are there’s a smoker buck nearby. He’s the buck on the mountain that’s an expert at eluding predators and most hunters packing rifles. He’s the one as good at avoiding you -as you are at hunting him! A razor’s edge difference.

A Narrative

During a recent summer and fall I backpacked several times into a few of my favored rugged alpine wilderness basins scouting for superbucks. Eventually, two weeks prior to the general October season, I located a buck worthy of my efforts. Most of the thoughts that consumed me during that two week delay were my desire to kill that mule deer, as well rehearsing in my mind how I could achieve doing so. It was crunch time and my mental and physical preparations that year were about to be realized and rewarded. I just had to wait, patiently, and then find a way (by skill, guile perhaps, experience and exerting my will) to achieve success.

My mental checklist included assessing my own strengths, weaknesses and the skills I had honed over the years. I also knew that buck had weaknesses. Unbeknownst to him I had determined where he fed and where his bedding area was. Essentially where he lived. I also found it interesting that he was staying in such a small restricted area. Not an uncommon behavior I later discovered for large bucks during that time of the year. With this knowledge I had tilted the odds in my favor by capitalizing on that buck’s number one weakness: sooner or later he would expose himself while feeding. I knew his escape route as well which was located in a narrow pass at the top of a steep alpine gully. I had a plan, and if all went well a way to realize it opening day!

With confidence that comes from certain knowledge, and judgement from experience, I again found the buck two weeks later on opening morning, and not thirty yards from where I had seen him two weeks previous.

However, to get to the buck with any hope of success, I had to climb down almost a thousand feet of elevation into a basin and then back up another thousand as well on the far side of it. Next, I had to close the distance between us. My approach and stalk utilized the backside of a ridge that kept me from exposing myself to the buck and several other deer several hundred feet below him. He was alone! The ridge would provide excellent cover for my approach. The opposite side of the gully led to an escarpment that afforded little if any escape to the buck, so he could only head up to the pass (I hoped) or straight down and away from me out of sight. Not a comforting prospect if I disturbed him and he caught my scent.

From my spotting station across the basin from the buck I gave myself about a 50% chance at an opportunity to kill him if he didn’t head downwards into the basin. Those aren’t terrible odds in this game of chance. So off I went to get into a position to kill him.

After a couple of hours spent climbing down into the basin then upward to approach the buck, I finally made it to the same elevation I had last seen the buck at. He was somewhere in his small but secure bedding area. Still in the thick maples I had seen him within two weeks previously, as well this occasion. Next, I climbed an additional hundred feet higher before crossing and committing myself slightly into the gully the buck was in. Again, just barely. Fortunately the thermals were rising and carrying my scent up and away from the buck. Moreover, I had some cover and a good view to where I suspected the buck was.

By climbing that extra 100 feet higher I had ensured that the thermals of warm air and the prevailing wind would send my odor above and away from where I suspected that buck was, still lying nearby, slightly below and across from me. He was secure inside a rank tangle of alpine forbs, vine maple and slide alder surrounded by mountain escarpments with small clumps of sub-alpine fir nearby. But I still couldn’t see him!

Unfortunately, ol’ Murphy reared his ugly head in the form of a nearby bobcat I spooked just as I crested and straddled that ridge. Nevertheless, I maintained my positive attitude figuring that if I had been able to sneak within 20 yards of that perfidious cat in his terrain then all was well and I wouldn’t be busted by the bedded buck below me! I kept moving on my butt skidding into a better shooting position and drifting quietly like camp smoke into the shooting position I demanded of myself. I exerted my will, bobcat be damned!

Meanwhile, I thought about events that led to this moment. My hunting partner and I had left the vehicle at 4:30AM this day, and the time was 1:30 PM when I finally reached my shooting position. I had been at this for 9 hours now and figured if all went well we wouldn’t be back to the vehicle until around 6:00pm. Just at dark. We then had a river to cross.

Despite the fact it was hot sitting exposed in the October sun, with lances of variegated sunlight piercing parts of my body with intense heat, the excitement of the moment (adrenaline rush) was what I was enjoying most. I was living in the moment! On the other hand thinking about how much scent I was giving off concerned me also. I began to rack my brain for a way to hurry things along knowing that mountain winds are notoriously fickle giving away a hunter, and previously ruining well executed climbs and stalks in years past.

I had worked too damn hard the last few months to squander this moment and let it slip away. I was determined to succeed and subsequently wanted to be rewarded for my efforts. Mr. Murphy had already made an appearance. I wouldn’t abide another.

Since I didn’t want to sit in this spot until late afternoon or evening and then be forced off the mountain and undergo a helmet lamp exit out of the basin, I forced a clear alternative and I exerted my will by being resourceful. I pulled my predator call out of my pants pocket. It had been thrown in my pack the prior evening as an afterthought and I had transferred it to my pants when I set off for the bedded buck. Considering I’ve called bruin to me with the call in past, and had an unused bear tag with me, I’d always found it worthwhile to carry this call with me on these extreme hunts.

After placing the call with lanyard around it over my head and around my neck I then carefully arranged my pack, and lay my rifle, a Remington 700 in .300 Weatherby across my outstretched legs. Then, I cleared my mind took a deep breath of alpine air and situated myself for action to come. I was about to  EXERT my WILL on this buck.

Just a few seconds blowing into that dying rabbit call was all it took, and before I could inhale for another squall, I heard that buck rocketing up the far side of the gully out of the tall maples he’d been in as I suspected. Still, he had been closer than I assumed and boy-howdy was he carrying the mail.

Automatically dropping the predator call (secured by the lanyard around my neck) I smartly lifted the rifle to my shoulder and pointed the muzzle directly across from me. Fortuitously I had earlier thought to dial the scope power down to a reasonable 3.5X times magnification. And when that buck was picked up by my eyes through the scope, swinging onto him at a mere 40 yards I was glad I had, because brother, he was damn CLOSE! It was a challenge to find the crease behind and about a third the way down his left shoulder as he climbed upwards via his escape route to the pass… and luckily the buck and I were at the same elevation. KA-BOOM!!! The magnum roared and knocked me back slightly.

The buck then wheeled to his left and towards me as the handloaded 180 grain Nosler Accubond perforated both his lungs and continued into the rocky mountain slope beyond. In addition, when this first bullet found its mark it caused the buck to turn in a slow arc leftwards additionally causing him to turn down the gully which presented his right shoulder to me. KA-BOOM!!! The magnum barked again! This time however it was a handloaded 180 grain Swift Scirocco II that found the shoulder crease and transfixed a hole through the buck. That slowed him some. Mere seconds later he crumpled into the center of that gully, slid, rolled and flounced a few yards as his nerves twitched, and finally ended up in the bed of what now revealed itself to be a dry wash in the center of the gully. I had done it!

Conclusions:

The buck was a good one. Good enough to quickly forget recent memories of hardships endured to find and kill it. That buck’s rack now adorns a spot above a shed entrance at our cabin on the Chiwawa River. Furthermore, it is a constant reminder that a strong will to succeed comes from recognizing desires and goals and enduring whatever it takes to accomplish them. It also enters my mind that suffering in mountain wilderness provides opportunities to develop character, as if nature has reserved one of her finest North American game animals for those who by fair chase take the trouble to honestly earn one.

-The more I read and learn about trophy mule deer hunting, the less the hold the tyranny of ignorance has on me.

-Oh, and by the way, my knee surgeon says that I’m a great candidate for knee replacement someday! Gee for the life of me I can’t figure why (grin). And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hope ALL enjoyed this. It was a pleasure to experience the adventure, write about it and share it with you.

Some passable images captured on this hunt attached
« Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 09:21:24 AM by nwalpineguide »

Offline jstone

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #579 on: December 16, 2019, 09:54:40 AM »
Great story and pictures
I love those back country bucks

Offline Fl0und3rz

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #580 on: December 16, 2019, 10:07:11 AM »
Sweet story and great pics.

Offline WildlifeAssassin

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #581 on: December 16, 2019, 10:09:43 AM »
Great story and pictures
I love those back country bucks

+1 really enjoyed the write up

Offline vandeman17

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #582 on: December 16, 2019, 10:39:16 AM »
I have been following this thread off and on and can't remember if it has been brought up but does anybody have any experience with Luxe tarps? The hexpeak xl with nest seems like a pretty cool set up. I had a megatarp a few years ago, camped in it a few times but never got to use it on any hunts or anything. Ended up selling it to fund other things but looking at getting something similar again.
" I have hunted almost every day of my life, the rest have been wasted"

Offline WapitiTalk1

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #583 on: December 16, 2019, 11:28:42 AM »
Backcountry digs this past September.  This is the second year my buddy and I have used the Luxe Outdoor Megahorn tipi. A bit on the heavy side, but, it is bombproof and works well.

 
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Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Pics of your backcountry camp
« Reply #584 on: December 16, 2019, 11:54:22 AM »
Nice write up Mike, watch the landmark pictures.

 


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