Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 Utah Rifle Deer Hunt

What a year it was for hunters who took the field for the 2012 Utah general season rifle deer hunt!  Over the past decade, the hunt has been less than stellar as warm temperatures have seemed to keep the deer pinned up in the nasty timber of the high country, with the storm systems waiting until the week after the hunt to reveal the big bucks to us!  That all changed this year as a cold weather system pushed through the west dropping temperatures and a few inches of snow in early to mid October.  The buck I had been hunting during the muzzleloader hunt (that I could never find) made his appearance in town, 16 miles from where I had been hunting him a week before the rifle hunt!  No wonder I could never find him.

Zach Owens, Mike Marshall, and Spenser Owens with Mike's 2012 rifle buck
Muzzleloader success was somewhat low this year, especially for good bucks, and this seemed to be a likely repeat before the rifle hunt.  The first 2 days of the hunt were fairly warn and dry, but this slowly changed mid week as another round of cold weather moved into the west.  Central and Northern Utah were greeted with several inches (and feet!) of snow, down south it was just a few spitting showers and cooler temperatures.  That is all we needed to bring the big boys out, however! 

I want to share a little about my hunt today, and a few success photos from viewers of our site.

Camping: a bike race on kids bikes?  Why not!
Day 1: Depressing!  If this was to be a pattern for the hunt, I was in trouble!  All of the deer had left my honey hole!  The area had been filled with deer a week before now held not even a track!  The day closed with seeing only a handful of does, and very little sign.  I knew many deer went low already, but surely not everything.  Tomorrow I would go up under the rim to see if the big one I jumped on the muzzleloader had held tight.  It was the most quiet opening morning of a general hunt I could recall.  We heard 1 shot that day.  What a blast hiking and riding 4 wheelers with the kids though!  Camping was a pure relaxing joy, after a tough month of hunting elk already.

Day 2: Indescribable!  My morning started out with more of the same.  We loaded the kids up and went for a little ride.  Nothing.  Towards the end of the ride we finally jumped a fair buck, which the kids were encouraging me to shoot!  Trying to get an angle, the buck split!  But hey, day 2 and a good buck, things are looking up! 

What could have been!
Next came the news.  A text message from a friend confirmed what I knew would happen.  Someone in had shot my big, crazy looking buck from the muzzleloader hunt in city limits!  He had been hanging there for a week, I knew it would happen.  A lesson in what not to do, the buck was shot in city limits, within 300' of a home and building, and on land marked "no trespassing".  The buck was taken by law enforcement officers.  I can't believe I had spent 6 days looking for the buck, only to see him go out like that.  A massive brute, he was 31" across, and very unique.  The rest of my day would be filled with feelings of anger, frustration, and disbelief.  I needed to regain my focus.

So, I decided to head out for an afternoon hike where the big typical 4 point had been on the previous hunt.  Starting into the aspen stand it was only minutes before I was seeing over turned leaves from a few deer I was pushing.  The crunchy leaves were impossible to sneak through, and I had my doubts!  I moved out of aspen, and into adjacent mixed conifer, where I was able to ease along much more quietly.  Approaching small clearings, I heard the tell-tale sound, that  "thump, thump" of a deer bounding.  Holding up, I could see movement beyond the 1/4 acre clearing.  They had to be bucks.

Porter Evans with his 2012 rifle buck.  What a toad!
Easing to the clearing I could now make out antlers at 70 yards.  First glance showed a wide frame but no height to the rack.  Second buck wasn't big at all.  Buck number 3 was behind a bushy fir tree, I could only see his body, but by size I'm sure it was a buck.  He wouldn't budge, I didn't dare move.  I glassed back to buck number one.  What the?  What was I thinking, this was a VERY nice 26" buck, tall with great forks.  I don't know how I missed that the first time.  I raised the .300 WIN, placed the crosshairs on my Vortex Diamondback 4-12X40 scope and fired.  The deer was knocked off of his feet and hit the ground pawing with front legs trying to get away, rolling out of my view.  Surely he was down!

I shuffled another shell and approached the kill site cautiously.  Nothing.  He wasn't laying where he should be.  No blood, just nothing!  But I had knocked him right off of his feet.  Surely he was close.  I located where he had jumped up and joined the other 2 bucks.  He was running strong, no signs of distress in his pattern.  Over big white aspen logs for 1/2 mile and not a drop of blood or a glimpse.  Finally, I heard them bounding off again.  This buck didn't seemed to be hurt at all.  What had I done?

I have not missed a buck in years.  At this point, I felt everything from anger, despair, to a feeling of just wanting to cry.  There went my perfect chance at a trophy.  Chances like that don't come along every day during a general hunt.

Day 3, Out for Redemption!  After a rough night of replaying my nightmare from the previous day, I had finally raised my spirits, and rediscovered determination and optimism.  We loaded the kids and headed for another ride.  Daylight greeted us with two-2 points crossing the road.  A glimpse up the hill and there he was, a nice 24" 4 point.  This one is mine!  I jumped out, found him broadside at 150 yards, and fired.  My off-hand shot had missed.  Another shot on the run, missed again.  The buck was gone over the ridge.  What was going on?  I missed!  Again?  I picked up a small rock at 100 yards and fired, shattering the rock.  Oh, it wasn't the gun by any means, it was me.  The feeling was one of total despair and depression.  What was I doing?  I never miss!

And on to the End:  I spent the next few days trying to deal with anger and frustration, trying to stay optimistic as  the emails and texts of big bucks flooded my inbox.  I had blown 2 chances, I'm sure I won't have another shot at a big one.  Back to the the yearly ritual of shooting "Bambi".  The next 2 days were rough.  With the storm approaching I was sure I would see a lot more deer.  I had another big buck coming in perfectly, only to have my excitement spoiled by someone out on a horse ride for fun.  They booed up the 28" 3 X 4, I never had a chance.  Hunting in cold wind, rain, and snow I was seeing little.

Thursday brought around another morning road hunt, which we were quick to get into a small bunch of deer.  A buck was at the front, and while he was not big, he wasn't "Bambi".  With a nice lean on the door post of the truck, I was able to place my shot and bring him down.  Not the trophy I was after, but the relief of being "done" after one of the longest hunting seasons of my life, and regaining my confidence in shooting was so worth it.  Meat in the freezer, that's why we do it anyway!

Oh, The Lessons Learned!  I always look back on my hunts, jotting down some memories, and making plans for next year.  As I look back as always, I obviously did not hit my goal this year.  Was the deer hunt a failure?  Oh, by no means!  I'm 31, I've been hunting big game for over 15 years, you would think a guy hunting for that long would have it all put together.  My friends, there is always something to learn!  I heard so many veteran hunters say that deer didn't move as they normally do this year.  There are so many cards at play with hunting, there is always something to learn or improve on!  For me, remaining positive and finding little things to continue on will help me immensely in the future.  I learned a lot about getting around in dry conditions where it is hard to sneak.  I found that it's not just about the chase, I have missed out on so many little things hunting the past few years as I have become to "serious".  I've learned not to rush things, be calm, go through the motions, don't shoot too early, hunts can get better as time goes on.  If I had held out 2 more days, deer again started moving and a lot of big bucks hit the ground, some in my favorite areas. 

I don't care who you are, or how much homework you do, I am convinced that the game species and mother nature always have the upper hand.  That's why it is so important to hone skills, and to not be afraid to try new things when it comes to hunting.  A great deal of luck is associated with getting the big one, but honing skills will improve odds.  Money doesn't accomplish everything!  Great gear enhances the hunt, but if you don't get out there and use it, your money is doing nothing for you.

Mat and Randy Houston's bucks packed up for the trip home
I want to thank my wife who had seen very little of me all summer as I was on fire assignments, then put up with me being gone for another month hunting my hunts and with friends.  This has truly been my most memorable hunting season, and I owe a huge part to a very understanding wife.  Thanks for letting me do what I love, for putting up with me when I was frustrated and low, and for lifting me up, pushing me to be optimistic and helping me carry on.  Here's hoping to her having a tag next year, I missed her by my side through these hunts.  She shares the passion for the outdoors that I have, but sacrifices a lot of time to stay at home and raise our kids.  I love you girl!  As the kids now get older we will focus much more on her hunts for sure!

Thanks to good friends and good times throughout the hunting season!  The memories are awesome!  I look forward to next year, and many more next years down the road! 

Be sure to check out all the photos currently entered in our "Bucks, Bulls, and Fins" photo contest on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish

For complete contest rules, and to enter yourself, check out our new "Contest" page, the tab is located on the top of the page.  Or follow this link: http://www.suhuntandfish.com/p/contests.html

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Jessie Davis' 2012 Muzzleloader Hunt

The 2012 muzzleloader hunt seemed to be a little less than stellar this year, the photos and emails surely were not being passed around like last year.  The rifle hunt, however has been stellar this year!  I'm very excited to share big bucks and bulls with you all over the next couple of months.  It's great for me, material to keep things fresh around here until the lakes freeze over!

Going back to the muzzleloader hunt, Jessie Davis of Cedar City once again had a pretty good hunt, and I would again like to thank Jessie for sharing his experience with us.  Did you have a chance to check out his story from last year?  Jessie took one of the most amazing bucks I have seen for a general unit, be sure to check it out: http://www.suhuntandfish.com/2011/11/you-have-got-to-see-this-one.html

Jessie once again has been kind to write up his experience to share in his own words.  We need to get him writing on the blog more often, I greatly enjoy the way he writes.  Enough from me, let's get to Jessie's hunt!

Preparations for my 2012 deer hunt began this year when my brother, brother-in-law and myself took our first scouting trip during early July.  We knew right off the bat that this would be a very promising year as we saw buck, after buck, after buck on our way up the mountain that day.  By days end we figured we saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 bucks with the majority of them being fairly mature!  One thing really had me excited though... The beautiful buck that was buddied up with my 2011 muzzleloader buck was back for another year right in the same spot!  Then, as if that wasn't good enough another beautiful buck showed up with main beams that went on forever! 
Many hours would be spent between now and the general season muzzleloader hunt analyzing, pondering, and stressing out about how we were going to put these guys on the ground.  In the weeks to come we made many trips up the mountain and even though they would sometimes go a few times in a row without showing up we would see them more often than not.  We were able to get a fantastic look at this new duo through our vortex spotting scopes.  The buck from last year looked to be about 30 inches wide sporting 6 points on one side and 7 on the other.  He had a very unusual antler configuration but was strangely symmetrical for such a crazy looking buck.  The new kid in town looked to have a high 20's spread and was a 5 by 6 with hellacious main beams.  
After watching their morning routine a few times we decided on a place to hang our tree stands which was right in the same place I made my shot last year.  Our trail cameras picked up many smaller bucks in the area but we never were able to get a picture of the 6 by 7 on them and we didn't get a  picture of the 5 by 6 until about a week before the hunt started.  As the hunt drew closer and closer we still saw these two but they became much more mysterious and unpredictable after losing their velvet and becoming hard horned.  The opener of the muzzleloader hunt greeted us with a full moon that hung around throughout the majority of the hunt causing the big pair to seldom show themselves during daylight hours.  Though we paid our dues in scouting we never did get a chance to drop the hammer on either of these leviathans.  The sun would set on our season leaving us without their horns on our wall but a lot of great memories of pre-season glassing, a few awesome trail cam pictures of the 5x6, and knowing that we have them to look forward to going after all over again next year.
I did manage to score myself a consolation prize in a nearby area with a beautiful 24 inch wide 4 point with a dropping main beam.  I had positioned myself in a gully that we knew the bucks used as an escape route when a buck my brother and sister-in-law surprised in his bed, blew up and came running right in my direction with no idea that I was there.  I drew a bead on his brisket as he came running at me head-on and discharged a 425 grain conical that hit right where I was aiming and dropped him in a heap.  He wasn't near the buck we were after but he was a dandy nonetheless.  I'm already anxiously awaiting the events to come forth next hunt and realize with much angst and frustration that 2013 is going to be a very long year!

Maybe he wasn't the one that Jessie was after, but what a buck none the less!  Congratulations on another fine buck buddy, hopefully you can get that big fella next year!

Before we part, let's go ahead and choose a winner for the Shed Inc hat.  We had 27 entries, 26 from Facebook and one from the blog.  Mixing all entries together, the random number generator fell on lucky number 18, Trevor Frandsen.  Congratulations Trevor!  Be sure to get in touch and we will get this fine looking hat to you.

If you haven't entered yet, be sure to get in on the drawing for the Vortex hat!  We will draw Monday evening, contest closes at 5 PM MST.  Also, remember as the year winds down, we are also holding a Bucks, Bulls, and Fins photo contest for a pair of Vortex binoculars, as well as other great prizes.  Check out previous blog posts for details, or and visit our Facebook page as well, www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bucks, Bulls, and Fins Contest Entries

Dallin and Jackson helping dad find a buck!
Hey there my friends, I apologize for the lack of posts the last week!  I should have taken care of business on Monday and finished my hunt, but here I am again pushing my hunt right down to the last few days.  Let's hope that I can have the kind of end of the hunt luck with deer that I have with elk!

As I prepare to head back out to the hills today, I want to remind our viewers to get in on our "Bucks, Bulls, and Fins" contest.  Please follow the link for details on how to win a pair of Votex 10X42 binoculars! http://www.suhuntandfish.com/2012/10/a-huge-announcment-for-suh.html
We also have a Shed Inc hat up for grabs that we will draw for on Monday, October 29th.  The drawing will close at 5 PM.  See this post for details on how to enter for the hat: http://www.suhuntandfish.com/2012/10/surprise-drawing-1.html.

Back to the "Bucks, Bulls, and Fins" drawing, we have decided to open the eligible photo contestants up to those that also have "Fins" to enter.  So, send us your photos of bucks, bulls, or fish from 2012 to enter.  You may send more than 1 photo to enter, and also, we did not say that the pictures had to be of harvested critters!  Feel free to send in your scouting pics, shed hunting pics, you name it.  As the hunt winds down I will also try to get a few of these posted to our Bragging Board.

Well, so far we have 9 entries for our contest.  The odds are still good my friends, and you have until November 30th to enter!  Take a look at a few of these photos that have been submitted so far:

Trevor Behunin with a beautiful 4 pound southern Utah splake.  Splake fishing is just starting to heat up in the deep water lakes.  Trevor says this is his favorite time of year to fish his favorite waters.

Tim Tebbs took this awesome 4 point buck with a 300 yard shot from the iron sights of his trusty old .30-30.  Nice job!

Jeff Adamson sends us this photo of his son Nyle (left) and hunting partner DJ with their great 2012 general season bucks. Nicely done boys!
Albert Quackenbush with his Colorado archery bull.  Colorado is on my list for sure!  Good job my friend!
Be sure to check out all of our entries on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish
I will be getting all of our entries posted to our Bragging Board here on SUH&F very soon as well. 

Now, to keep the contest fun going, how about another surprise drawing?  You all know, I love Vortex Optics!  I am also a huge fan of Vortex apparel!  So tell me, who wants to win this hat:

This is one of my favorites, digi-camo in blaze orange!  If you would like to get in on the chance to win this hat, make sure to comment under the photo titled "ENTER HERE TO WIN A VORTEX HAT" www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish OR comment here on the blog.  Make sure you like our Facebook page while you are there, and the Vortex Optics Facebook page www.facebook.com/vortexoptics.

While you are on our Facebook page, be sure to scroll down to get entered on the Shed Inc hat giveaway, and our "Bucks, Bulls, and Fins" photo contest.  You may have to scroll down through posts to find the contest announcements.

With the hunts winding down, I want to tell everyone good luck!  Keep the photos coming!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Surprise Drawing #1

Do you love the Shed Inc?  Want to win this sweet hat:

Leave you comments on this post, OR head on over to our Facebook page www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish to get in on our drawing.  When I get a break from hunting next week we will draw for the hat!

Be sure to like our Facebook page, leave a comment under the thread titled "COMMENT HERE TO WIN A SHED INC HAT!"  Also, go visit the Shed Inc Facebook page, like them, and leave a comment telling them Southern Utah Hunt and Fish sent you!  www.facebook.com/shedinc

You can also find a direct link to the Shed Inc website by clicking on their ad (logo) located in the right sidebar of this page.

If you comment here, and do not have access to Facebook, your entry will still count.

While you are there check out the awesome apparel that Mat and Randy Houston have available from the Shed Inc.  Stay tuned, we have more surprise giveaways to come, including more Shed Inc gear, Vortex apparel, and Timberline Range Camps apparel!  This is just starting to get fun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A HUGE Announcment for SUH&F

11-11-11, that is the day that we began this adventure called Southern Utah Hunt and Fish (I never realized that was the date until now, cool!).  It's been quite a ride!  Honestly, there were times I didn't know if I wanted to continue!  It's been tough balancing work, family, and this "baby" that we have put so much work into.  I wouldn't trade it for anything!  I have made such amazing friends, been great places, had great adventures, and we've added some great sponsors that are a great support to what we are able to do here.

To me, this is a BIG deal!  Here we are, just shy of 50,000 views for a year, we have hundreds of followers on Facebook and Twitter, and I find myself backlogged with people's photos and stories that I still need to get posted from outings this fall!  I had to squeeze this post in tonight however, to announce some BIG news!  We want to celebrate our first anniversary to say thanks to you, our viewers for the success we have enjoyed.  This site is all about you!  Without your stories, your support, and your enthusiasm it the dream would have died long ago.

So, I'll get right to the announcement.  We will be holding a "Bucks, Bulls, and Fins" contest that will start tonight, and run through November 30th.  We want to see your photos and stories from 2012!  This contest will be a little different than most.  We are not looking for the biggest bucks, bulls and fish, although it could score points to the winner.  We will have a panel of judges choose our winners, and some of those judges will not go solely off of the sizes of trophies.  As well, many of our sponsors will be giving away apparel and accessories that can be won by random drawing, for those of you that may not have a photo to submit this year.

So, here are the rules!  First, when a prize from a sponsor is announced, participants must "like" both the Southern Utah Hunt and Fish Facebook page, and the Facebook page of the sponsor.  Make sure you like the pages, not a comment thread.  Please tell the sponsor that Southern Utah Hunt and Fish sent you.  To be eligible for grand prizes, you must also submit a photo for our contest, in addition to liking the Facebook pages.  Lastly, look for the comment thread on the Southern Utah Hunt and Fish for the item you want to be considered for.  Leave a comment on the thread to enter.

Sound complicated?  Follow our Facebook page and we will let you know what pages to like!  Check there often for updates, and check the blog often for updates, as well as for "surprise" drawings before the contest closes on November 30th.

If you are not on Facebook, you may also follow SUH&F on Twitter, as well as advertiser's profiles there.  If you do not have Facebook or Twitter, submit your photos by email, and let us know you do not have either.

Your pictures do NOT have to be from Utah!

To submit photos, the easiest thing to do is to post them to our Facebook wall: www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish.

You can also "tag" SUH&F in your photos, which will still allow them to be visible on our page.  You can also email photos to suhuntandfish@gmail.com and I will get them on the site and Facebook page. 

Now, to kick things off, let me introduce you to one of our grand prizes!  One of our photo winners will win a pair of Vortex "Diamondback" 10X42 binoculars!  How do you enter?  If you haven't done so, go "like" the Southern Utah Hunt and Fish Facebook page, look for the comment thread titled "COMMENT HERE TO ENTER TO WIN DIAMONDBACK BINOCULARS".  Next, go "like" the Vortex Optics www.facebook.com/vortexoptics Facebook page, leave a comment telling them that Southern Utah Hunt and Fish sent you.  Lastly, send your photo in!  There's still hunts to go, go ahead and like the pages, hopefully you will have that picture to submit before long!  This prize will go to either a bull or buck photo!

Just another heads up, Mat from the Shed Inc is also sending some apparel our way!  We will post the items as soon as they arrive, but go like their Facebook page to be ready for the action!  Check back for more announcements on those items as they arrive!  www.facebook.com/shedinc.

We are in the works of getting more prizes lined up from our other sponsors and potentially new sponsors!  Now the work is up to you!  Let's see the photos, and make sure you like the pages as well!  Our sponsors are the best, be sure to check out the fine optics of Vortex Optics and the Shed Inc.

Good luck to everyone!  We look forward to seeing your photos and entries!  Again, check back often for updates and announcements, and please share our site and Facebook page with your friends!

Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 Utah Spike Elk Hunt

Snow falling on the Boulder Mountain yesterday
It's good to be home with nothing to do for the day!  Let it rain, and errr, well, snow too!  That's right, 4" of snow now blankets the top of the Boulder Mountain, and looking from my back porch, I would say that snow level made it down a little lower than the weatherman predicted!  This is just what we need to bring on a great general season deer hunt, which begins next Saturday, October 20th. 

Today however, we are talking spike elk hunting.  Many of us started the 2012 spike elk (and general any bull elk hunts) waking up to pretty warm conditions.  Those lucky enough to have cold weather didn't report much of a change that would be enough to get the elk moving a whole lot.  Early success in the spike hunt was hard to come by this year, as the elk would draw back into the trees shortly after daylight, and didn't want to make another appearance until almost dark.

Zach and Mike glassing
Zach glassing a canyon

This year I had the great privilege to be invited along with my good friends, Zach and Spenser Owens, along with friends and family.  We were joined by the Owens' buys father, Doug Owens, brother Layden, Spenser's wife Laura, and good friends Mike Marshall and Ryan Dastrup.  Along with this group, we were quite often visited at camp by other great friends from the Panguitch area, some who found success in this hunt a bit earlier than the rest of us!  Way to go Kenny Tebbs' group, as I we watched from across the canyon as the boys got into some great shooting just after sunrise!  I understand some young guys, Daxtyn and Chandylr Tebbs (Kenny's nephews) got into the shooting action, and the group brought 2 spikes in on the opener.  Before pulling the trigger uncle Kenny asked the boys if they knew what they were getting into.  Kenny's brother David says that the boys got to experience the hard work it can be to pack an elk out of a nasty canyon!  Seven hours later the group had the bulls packed out, and were back to camp.  Well, hopefully it didn't sour the experience.  We hope to hear of more success from the Tebbs family in the future!  Congrats boys on a couple of fine spikes!

Cache with his spike
Another local hunter, and frequent visitor to our camp, Cache Miller of Panguitch, also brought down a spike just a day after I left camp to return home to work.  No doubt the "widest spike on the mountain", we also want to tell Cache good job on a successful hunt.

As for the rest of us, well, Wednesday evening I was able to put it all together and bag my first spike elk.  While I have been hunting spikes several times, I have to admit this was my first kill.  We headed up to an area where I have often seen herds dropping off of the top of the mountain as the weather turns cold.  With the approaching storm system, I figured that the time was at hand, as I always seem to have great luck with elk the day before or the day after a storm.  After work, I loaded the family for a ride up to a favorite spot when the elk are on the move.  Sure enough, we jumped a herd right in the middle of the road, but no spikes, only 1 big bull.  Back in the truck, and around the next turn we found the rest of the herd, and in a small clearing a spike!  After a short chase around a hilltop I was able to bring the bull down with 1 shot from 398 yards hitting him right int he neck and dropping him in his tracks, a spike by 2 (thank you Vortex Ranger 1000 rangefinder, and Vortex Diamondback Riflescope!)  We will have a review of the Ranger 1000 rangefinder coming to the blog after the rifle deer hunt in a couple of weeks.

My boys celebrating the kill
All packed up, ready to head out

The best part of it all, having my family along that evening.  What a blast hiking my wife and kids into the canyon to take care of my kill.  It's only a spike, but if you could have heard my boys you would have thought we had brought down a 400" monster bull!  It was dark when we made it back to the truck, and we had a good time talking about the experience all the way home.  I have to give out a big thanks to Gregg Christensen, for meeting up with me that morning, bringing along a good horse, and for helping me quarter and pack my elk out so I could get home in time for Dallin's birthday.  Thanks a ton Gregg!

The next day I received word that Zach and Ryan were also able to bring in 2 more long tines!  Switching locations back to a favorite spot, the boys had no trouble filling their tags.  In addition, they are out trying to find another one that they spotted last night.  Hopefully that will bring success to the rest of the Owens/Mike Marshall group!

The Viper HD spotter was a valuable tool for this hunt!
Ive got to say, I have never got into the hype of the spike hunt.  With tags in the past, I have spent very little time out scouting, hiking, or even camping really.  This was such a fun hunt, it will go down as one of my favorites.  What a relaxing time sitting around the fire in camp and swapping stories with old friends, and running into so many friends that I haven't seen in years.  I think I looked more forward to the down time in the middle of the day than the early hours of hearing the bulls bugling in the hills.  I've missed out on some good times in the past for sure, and I look forward to making this trip an annual event with great friends.  Thanks for inviting me for a few years now boys!  I'm glad I was able to finally put work aside for a few days and join you for an amazing hunt.  I've also been applying for a few out of state hunts with these guys.  Hopefully there's plenty more good times to come chasing big game through amazing country! 

As for the rest of the group, well, there's still almost a full week left to hunt, and the snow that is falling is only going to help things for them.  Good luck to all of you that are out there still trying to fill your tags.  Be sure to send some pictures our way!  You can email them to suhuntandfish@gmail.com or post them (or tag them) to our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish.

Amazing country, and great friends.  This is what the spike hunt is all about!
Thanks for all your support everyone!  As we approach our first anniversary of SUH&F, we are now nearing 600 Twitter followers and 500 Facebook fans!  Keep spreading the word!  Also, keep watching as within a couple of weeks we will have BIG news on an amazing upcoming round of contests/giveaways.  I hate to give out very many clues, but have you seen our list of sponsors?  Would it be possible they could be participating in the festivities?  Hmm...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Justin Christensen's 2012 Archery Bull

Justin Christensen with his 2012 Limited Entry Archery Bull
Hey there friends, I want to share an awesome bull with you all of this awesome bull taken towards the end of the 2012 Utah Limited Entry Archery Hunt.  I had been speaking with Justin Christensen of Escalante, Utah off and on through the summer when I ran into him about his upcoming hunt.  Justin was very excited about the upcoming hunt as his dad and his daughter also had archery tags on the same unit.

The beginning of the hunt was tough down here, late summer rains provided water sources everywhere that allowed elk to scatter.  In addition, like the 2 previous years the elk were slow to go into the rut this year, making calling difficult.

Justin told me of a few bulls that they were able to get in on, but either it wasn't quite what the group was looking for, or the opportunity just didn't present itself for the right shot.  That all changed late in the hunt as this bull made his way into a wallow that Justin had been sitting on.  And what a bull to finally provide that golden opportunity to fill the tag!

As for the rest of the group, the hunt didn't go so well, however it was a special day as 3 generations all shared in the joy of harvesting this trophy bull!  Congratulations Justin, and thanks for sharing this awesome bull with us!  I know Justin has been out on a great unit during the muzzleloader deer hunt, hopefully he has another great trophy to share with us soon!

 Here's a couple of bonus shots for you as well.  Josh Pollock of Panguitch, Utah shared these photos of a great bull with me that he was able to capture on film during the rifle elk season that ended a couple of weeks ago.  Josh tells me that he watched the bull for quite some time from pavement, and thought that surely someone with a tag would drive by and shoot this monster!  However, nobody came by, and the bull slipped back into the trees to live another day.  Who knows, maybe we will see a success story about this bull from a muzzleloader or late rifle season elk hunter.  It's nice to know there is still a toad out there!

And finally, how about this bull?  I know several discouraged spike elk hunters that would love to run into this bull.  A 6 point on his left side, the bull still counts as a spike as, on the right side, the antler that drops splits from the one that points upward below the ear.  Spenser Owens of Panguitch, Utah sends us this shot.  What a crazy bull Spenser.  Looks like life is rough for this guy as he probably can't see out of that right eye.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A LOT Happening in Southern Utah This Week

Hello friends!  I'm back at home for a short spell before I take off again tonight to join friends at elk camp, yes, again!  These last 3 weeks have been crazy with all the big bull elk hunting, and muzzleloader deer hunting.  The first weekend in October spells out a lot for those of you that love to hunt, and October is one of the finest months for fishing and hiking around here.  I wanted to focus this post on a few things going on in the area right now.

First of all, if you can't tell by the swarms of people, the 2012 any bull and spike bull elk hunts open tomorrow (October 6th).  These hunts are very popular in our area, second only to the general season deer hunt which begins on October 20th.  There are very few open bull units in Utah, most will be hitting the hills in search of spike bulls.  "Long Tine" hunters may have a bit of difficulty getting into the elk this year.  With temperatures above normal, and the vegetation dry and crunchy, getting into the elk can be a challenge as many herds have headed back into the thick timber under the rims of the mountain tops.  There are, however still many elk in the high country, and they are in great condition after all of the late summer rains.  The bulls went into the rut late this year, in fact I was in the middle of several screaming bulls just 2 days ago, and had no trouble calling the bulls in.  With the heat rising though, the elk are not bugling or moving around like they were with the rains last week.  A cold front will briefly drop temperatures for the opener, before rising again next week.  The possibilities of some showers mid week may be a silver lining to get the elk moving next week.
Remember: an "any bull" tag does not entitle you to hunt and kill any bull on any unit in Utah!  Every year people come into our area with an any bull tag after a big bull.  The majority of Utah's bull units are limited entry!  While you now can kill spike bulls on these limited entry units, there are very few "open bull" units in Utah.  Most are in northern Utah, and we also have Cedar Mountain (south of Highway 14) in Southern Utah.  Check the hunting guidebook to make sure you know where you can and cannot hunt!

Duck Hunting:  The duck hunt also opens in Utah tomorrow.  This year looks very promising for waterfowl.  Drought years usually provide good hunting, as birds have to congregate in areas more, as water is not as widespread.  Duck/goose numbers look good, and this should also improve as cold weather sets in.  Migrations have begun, and several people are reporting the numbers rising on their favorite waters.

He's still out there!
2012 General Season Deer:  The any weapon general season hunt begins October 20th.  This year hunters had to make the change from hunting broad regions to specific units.  Archery and muzzleloader success really varied from unit to unit, but sadly, overall success has seemed a bit lower this year than in years past.  During my hunting time, I noticed great numbers of young bucks, and the numbers of fair bucks (18-22" 3 and 4 points) also seems to look a lot better than in years past.  Hopefully we are seeing a rebound from the bad winter 2 years ago that took a toll on our herds.  As far as conditions, deer are very scattered with so much water available from late season rains.  Good bucks have been taken from the low country, to the high country, and everywhere in between.  I can't say I've seen more deer at one elevation vs another, however I will say the big bucks I have seen are just like the elk, holed up in nasty timber under the rim.  We should hope for cold weather and moisture, as it is about impossible to put a sneak on bucks in that thick timber with the dry litter beds and leaves everywhere right now.  Should we see cold weather and moisture, I think it will be an excellent hunt this year!  Also keep in mind there are a lot of deer lower this year, as the pinyons are full of pine nuts right now.  Deer are hitting these hard, as the acorns in the oak do not have a lot to offer for feed this year.

Check out this link for the Utah DWR 2012 hunting forecast, unit by unit: http://wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/news/118-big-game/929-2012-deer-hunt-preview.html

Also keep in mind that the dove hunting season may be over, but other small game hunts are in full swing.  Forest grouse and chukar partridge hunts are going on now, pheasant and quail seasons are right around the corner.  I always take my shotgun along on my deer hunts, we have quite often came across forest grouse on our deer hunts!

 October Fishing:  There's no month like October (well, except maybe ice-off) when it comes to fishing in Utah!  I've sampled the fall fishing in some local waters over the last week, and have posted a fresh report on our page: http://www.suhuntandfish.com/p/fishing-reports.html 

As the waters cool, and the warm water from the top turns and mixes with the cool water from deep, algae blooms, and fish go into a feeding frenzy that equals great fishing for a couple of weeks.  This should occur any time, usually the last couple of weeks of the month.  The great part, you can usually find lakes to yourself during that time, as few brave cold weather, or are out hunting.  Keep in mind that some species, such as splake are preparing to spawn, and this means great fishing for species that can go fairly quiet during the summer.

Be sure to share your success!  Remember, it doesn't have to be a record trophy, it just has to be your trophy.  We like to hear about our viewer's experiences more than anything.  Please share your photos and stories!  Email them to us at suhuntandfish@gmail.com

Good luck to all hitting the field this weekend!