Friday, August 26, 2011

Utah Mule Deer Hunt

Well, I got back from Utah just in time to head right up into the mountains and chase some elk around for opening weekend here in CO.  My hunting partners missed a few nice 5x5's, and we had several other close calls.  A great weekend in the mountains!  I was fortunate enough to take a great muley buck in UT.  Here are a few pictures from my hunt, and a little on the story.  Hope you enjoy looking through them as much as I enjoyed taking them!

A view of the beautiful muley country I was hunting..

It took a few days to get the deer dialed in, but once we figured out where to look for the bucks we were seeing 12-15 every morning and evening.  Here is a view of a hillside that a group of bucks were regularly bedding on.  The next few pictures will zoom in on this picture.  

A little closer, you can see two of the bucks in this picture...

A big 2x2 in his bed.  The bucks were tucking in under any shady bush they could find on these west facing steep sagebrush hillsides...

This beautiful little trout stream ran through the bottom of the valley.  I should have brought my fly rod.  Guess I am going to have to go back!

This draw was a honey hole for big bucks.  

Here is where I ended up after my first stalk.  I was just 17 yards from a great buck with no more cover to get closer.  If you look closely you can see the top of the bucks rack on the right side of the tree, below my broadhead.  I sat right where I was in this picture for two and a half hours waiting for the deer to get out of his bed and give me a shot.  He stood up once after an hour and I got almost to full draw before he took a step and covered his vitals with that Mahogany tree, then he bedded right back down.

Eventually the wind shifted, and allowed me to painstakingly and slowly ease my way down the hill about ten yards.  I had to put my arrow right next to the trunk of the tree to get into the buck's vitals.  As you can see, I got a little too close to the tree - haha! My arrow hit that tree and deflected up and to the left, over the deer's back. He lit out of his bed unscathed, stopping only once at 75 yards to look back and see what the heck almost got him!

Here are some of the bucks we were seeing every day. I took these pictures with my cell phone through a friend's Swarovski spotting scope.  

This buck had a cool little bed under a giant rock...

We saw coyotes everywhere...

A huge 2x2 we saw a few times throughout the hunt, but could never get on...
This is the end of the stalk on the deer that I killed.  He was feeding his way up through this sage draw, and I was able to cut him off.  He had to clear one more bush, to give me a shot, and guess what, he layed down behind that bush! I sat him out for an hour, but with the fading evening light I had to do something to stand him up for a shot.  I tried whistling, grunting, and every other noise I could think of.  He would look around, but not stand up.  I finally chucked a rock down the draw, and immediately upon it hitting the ground he stood up and looked down.  I was already at full draw when he got to his feet, shortly after my arrow was on it's way.

The end of a great hunt!  I was hooked on Mule Deer hunting after my trip to Utah last year, I am even more hooked now!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Utah Mule Deer

Dan killed a great muley in Utah. So far we have only received a text message picture, be sure to check back soon as we will have the story and more pictures up as soon as possible.

Dan used a Rampart recurve and a VPA Terminator broadhead on this hunt.

Antelope Hunting

I drew a very good antelope tag this year. The chance of killing an exceptional buck were high, and if not for some bad luck that may have happened. It takes about 10 preference points to draw this unit, and it just so happened that a few other good friends were also sitting on a pile of points. So we all put in as a group.

Two weeks before the season we went up and picked out some water holes. Then set up mock blinds with t-posts and burlap to give the antelope a chance to get used to seeing "something" by their waterhole. Two days before the season we swapped out our mock blinds for our real blinds and then just waited...and waited, and waited, which can often times be the whole story when antelope hunting!

Another hunter in my group killed this buck

One of the greatest things you can do if you're going to spend time in a hot blind is lay down a carpet! It keeps the dust down, keeps the bugs out, and allows you to lay or kneel down comfortabley. It also tremendously helps you to move about quietly. I bought this carpet at Home Depot for $17.95. It turned out to be the best thing I did on this entire trip. When you're in a 100 degree blind for 15 hours a day you need all the comfort you can get!

There was an incredible amount of does and fawns coming in to the water hole.

I had antelope bedded within 50 yards for the majority of the day.

The wind was howling the first day. It was blowing so hard that water was coming out of the top of the water tank and pooling on the ground. Some of the spookier antelope chose to drink off of the ground, as far away from the blind as they could get. This turned out to be a problem, as you'll see in a little bit.

I had a better shot to one side of the blind so I put up a wire, hoping to drive the antelope to the side that gave me the best shooting opportunity. It didn't always work...

At the end of the first day this great buck came in to my waterhole. He drank out the puddle on the ground like the small buck in the above pictures. I had to get off of my chair and reposition myself in the blind, I had to shoot off of my knees, which is not a problem. I had taken off my boots and set them against the wall of the blind. I did not know that one of my boots fell off of the wall, and when I shot at this buck my bottom limb hit the boot. My arrow about did cartwheels and thankfully it missed this buck without wounding him. So I just watched him walk away.

I also had some other visitors come to water.

I rarely go two minutes without checking what's coming in, and I almost NEVER sleep. But on the third morning of the hunt I was getting tired. Before it was light enough to shoot I thought I'd just lie down for a bit and then get back up. Well I have no idea how long I slept for, but when I woke up I had this guy bedded down about 30 yards away. Did the big one come in while I slept??? I guess I'll never know.

Three days in a hot blind can do crazy things to a guys mind. With a busy archery store to get back to and a ten month old son at home I started to look a little harder at some of the smaller bucks.

When this guy came in to the water hole I asked myself if I would be happy to shoot him and the answer was a resounding YES!

So I shot at the 41st antelope to drink from my tank in two and a half days. 100 yards later there he lay.

This was my first antelope. I used a 59# Hawk recurve and a Snuffer broadhead. 200 grains up front, and 550grains of total arrow weight. My arrow passed through the antelope and never slowed down. The antelope only ran about 100 yards. I was pleased with my results.

Tracy was one of the other hunters that came on this trip. He had maybe the worst luck of all of us. For three straight days, 15 hours a day, Tracy sat in a 100 degree blind without a single antelope coming within 500 yards of him. On the fourth day, after everybody but him had killed a buck, Tracy went and sat on the waterhole I was on. About noon this great buck came in, and Tracy's long wait was over.
Tracy was shooting a Hummingbird bow by Ben Graham.

So there was this other guy, a friend of a friend type of thing who drew the same tag as us. He ended up sharing camp with us. It was a great surprise to see that Todd was a traditional shooter. I wound up immensely enjoying his company. We talked all sorts of bows, broadheads, you name it. Todd shot this on the 5th day of the hunt. Todd shot a Voodoo longbow, the riser was actually made out of an elk antler of all things.

On this first day of the hunt Brandon shot this great buck. He was the first in our group who was done, about 4pm on the first day. Brandon is one of the most accomplished hunters and best shots around. He shoots a Matthews.