Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Hunt Without Grandpa

Hello there friends!  Happy Thanksgiving!

We've got quite an amazing treat for you today.  I'm not going to give much of an intro on this one, as I do not want to distract from this one-of-a-kind story today.  This is quite honestly (in my opinion) one of the best hunting stories I have ever read.  Not only is it a tale of another great, successful elk hunt leading to a trophy bull, but this story is rooted deep in hunting tradition, legacy, and personal feeling.  If you have never taken the time to read a full story on our site before, today I hope you would take the time for this one from Falyn Owens, of Panguitch, Utah. 

This article is 100% her work, unedited by myself, and again, is one of the best written pieces we have had on here, if not the best!  I have to thank Falyn again for putting so much time and personal feeling into this, and for sharing it with our readers.  I hope you enjoy!

A Hunt Without Grandpa

I kept reading Facebook seeing so many of my friends posting the charge made to their credit cards notifying if they were “successful” or “unsuccessful”.  I was nervous as I opened my online bank to finally see that elusive big bull charge!!!!  First thing I did was call my dad, second thing I went to tell my Grandpa “PeeWee” Owens.  He was always one of the first people I talked to about hunting- I still remember his laugh and smile when I told him.  He was almost as excited as my dad.

The significance of this hunt started years earlier. I was lucky enough to be instilled with a love for fishing and hunting at a young age.  Hunting and Fishing are some of the greatest memories I have with my Dad, Grandpa and cousins while I was younger.  One of my most fond hunting memories I have in my life came while hunting an Antelope with my dad and Grandpa years ago.  From the time the sun came up to the time I shot was about 15 minutes long, but I will never forget the proud look on my grandpa’s face when the antelope was down.  He picked up my .243 shell and made sure I saved it.  I was asked to submit the story of my antelope hunt to a magazine. I wrote a story and sent a picture of my Grandpa and me- something he was extremely excited to see when it was published and talked about often.

When I learned I drew- the excitement continued as we found out my cousin, Zach Owens drew as well.  The downfall is we were now not only scouting for one big bull, but we needed two.   Zach, his brother Spenser, and their friends spend a lot of time in the mountains as well as my dad and one of my good friends, Jonie Barton and her family.  Everyone was now on high alert to look for some big bulls for the Panguitch Lake late hunt. 

In July my Grandma and Grandpa went camping to one of their favorite spots.  My 6 year old daughter Byntlee, begged to go roast marshmallows with them, something we did often when they camped.  My grandpa was full of life that day; he was in such a joking mood.  The next morning things changed drastically.  He got sick and had some difficulty breathing; he had been on oxygen for several years but this day was worse.  He just didn’t snap out of it.  One of the last things we talked about was my elk hunt before life-flight took him.  He said to me, “Falyn, can you believe these crazy doctors just told me I shouldn’t go as high as Panguitch Lake anymore that I can breathe better in a lower elevation.”  I said, “PeeWee does that mean you can’t go elk hunting with me anymore?”  He said in his crazy PeeWee way, “Bulls****, I will be there on your elk hunt, I promise”.  The next morning my Grandpa passed away. 

I was heartbroken and devastated.  We had always been fishing and hunting partners.  My Grandpa has taken a good portion of his grandchildren fishing or in the mountains.  He taught his kids the value of hunting, something they all still passionately do.  After things settled down I thought about giving my tag back; I didn’t want to bring a bull of the mountain without my Grandpa seeing it and getting to relive the story with him.  Instead, I asked my Grandma if I could take his orange coat.  The same orange coat he wore on every hunt he went with me on.  The oversized coat that always made him sweat, while everyone else froze and he wanted the heaters shut off.  I took it to my house, because my Grandpa made a promise- he would go elk hunting with me. 

Months passed and I accepted a new position at my job, one that involved a lot more travel.  My first international trip scheduled was to London departing in November arriving back into the US- 11:00 p.m. the night before my hunt.  While in London I talked to my dad and he told me he and Zach had found two worthy bulls and they had been watching them.  They knew where they would be the opening morning.  My flight left London,  a few hours into the flight the oil pressure began to drop drastically and the plane had to make an emergency landing in Goose Bay, Canada.  The plane was filled to capacity and the airport was small.  They didn’t have enough people to get the entire plane through customs so they asked our patience in just waiting until a new one arrived.  Four hours later- the new jet finally arrived causing everyone to miss their connecting flights for the night.  I had to call my dad and tell him it was impossible for me to get home, I was going to miss the opening morning of the elk hunt. 

The next morning I made the trek home. I was so excited when I got the picture of my cousin’s elk!!  He did it- he got a very beautiful, massive 360-class bull.  It was a great hunt for him.  I later found out he packed my Grandpas funeral program in his pocket for extra help.  My dad called on my last leg of my flight and told me he went up and watched the elk that he had been watching for days.  He was so excited most of the hunters were headed back in at 10:00 a.m.  He was still watching the elk- however the elk made a fatal mistake stepping out of his hiding spot as a hunter drove by.  The hunter was elated to pop down the 370 class bull.  My dad again- devastated. 

I arrived home late on the opening morning, got my bearings back- sat out my gun, my new camo, my tag and my Grandpa's coat.  When I woke up the next morning we headed out; my grandpa’s coat sat in the middle of the truck the entire morning.  We saw a herd of elk that my dad knew there was a unique 5-point bull in.   We quickly got around the mountain that they were coming down.  They were coming so fast, 200 plus elk.  I have always been a little afraid of an elk stampede so I was NERVOUS, my knees were shaking.  Several of the elk went flying up the other hillside, my dad reminded me to be patient, don’t shoot the rag horn six points wait for the unique 5 point.  At the tail end of the herd, the bull began to make his trek down.  At 80 yards from me I got a dead rest (I have no clue why I did that- I usually shoot better off-hand) and a deep breath squeezing the trigger.  I melted as dirt flew on the other side of the giant creature. 

 I ran down the road a few yards and pulled my gun up in desperation and shot again. He went into a grove of trees, and finally showed himself in a clearing.  I shot again and missed.  We waited to watch all of the other elk come out of the trees.  We never saw the bull he must’ve have went the opposite direction.  We walked up to the area and found the tiniest speckle of blood on a rock.  My dad is an avid lion hunter and his hound dog instinct kicked in.  He was looking at every track to find more drops of blood.  We walked up and down the hill tracking and searching.  He called my uncle and his son to come up and help.  Hours later after most people would have given up we were onto the track walking over the top of the hill one last time.  We could hear branches breaking and finally saw a big bull running through the bottom of the canyon.  Everyone shouted and I got ready to shoot, I was so nervous I jacked a bullet out and jammed the next bullet.  We cleared that mess up as the bull slowly started to run up the other hill.  I shot, later to find out from the mark on the bull I grazed his belly, shot again hitting his guts, one more time grazing the hair on his neck as he hit the skyline he took one look back and I knew it was my last chance or we would be tracking again.  I took a deep breath and squeezed, the bull hit the ground, rolled and stood up enough to slide about 10 feet and died.  The range finder said my last shot was almost 600 yards with my lucky .243.  I know there was a lot of luck involved in that hit, the bull walked into my bullet; my guess is my Grandpa gave him a little poke to help get him there.

My friends and other cousins all hiked up the hill to help pack out my kill.  Before they arrived my dad hiked back to the truck where I shot the first time and grabbed my Grandpa’s coat and brought it back up to me.  We took some pictures with his coat.  I could tell my Grandpa was just as proud as he was on my antelope hunt, I knew he was smiling at us I saved my brass and took it out and placed it on his grave.  It was hard taking the bull to show my Grandma and not having him there to relive the hunt with.  We took some more pictures with my bull and Zach’s bull on Grandpa’s front lawn.  Two epic hunts, two awesome bulls both dedicated to the same man, a man that taught generation after generation the importance of family and the value of hunting. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

30 Minute Muley Hunt

I want to start by apologizing my friends!  I know I promised this story on Friday, but I was unable to do so as we have had a crazy weekend of deep snow, which brought us 2 nights and 1 day of power outages!  The first snowstorm of the season was far from typical for Escalante, as we received about 20" of snow in town during a 2 and 1/2 day period!  I'm not talking powder, this is wet, heavy snow that has put our mountain snowpack far above average, and happens to be the 4th wettest water year by November 25th on record at one "Snotel" recording site!  That snow at that location amounts to 6" of water!  The good side to snow and power outages was I couldn't sheetrock the basement, so I was able to spend a lot of time having fun with my family, and able to get a few "fun" projects done that I have been too busy to do for a while.

Well let's get to it then!  If you read last week's post from Spenser Owens, you know that the Owens boys have a lucky streak of last day bucks going, and the centerpiece to that streak is Spenser's brother Zach.  In fact, Zach has quite often told me that you ruin a good hunt if you tag early on, it just means you have to go home sooner!  Well, when I had a text from Zach pop up before noon on opening morning telling me of his success, naturally I had to give him a hard time about tagging too early.  "What happened to holding off until the last day?", I asked.  His reply, "Well, I would have, but I figured I'd better get him before someone else did".  With a buck like this, I would have to say you did the right thing buddy!

Now let's hear the story!

Let me start by saying this was the shortest but most rewarding hunting season to date for me.

My 2013 deer hunt started last year when me and my hunting buddies located 2 great bucks in one of our honey holes, and as you read on a previous story on the site from last year my great friend Mike Marshall was able to harvest one of the bucks on the last day of the season.  It was a 29 3/4 inch 4x4 that scored 164.

So this is where my hunt begins.  Knowing there was still a great buck in that same area, I spent all my scouting time looking for that one deer.  On our first trip to that area in early July with my good friend Ryan Dastrup, we had only been glassing for a few minutes when Ryan located the buck.  After some discussion and knowing he was the buck I wanted to put my tag on, I spent the next few months with all my focus on that deer. 

We went back to that area several times with zero sightings of the buck.  I was starting to feel very skeptical that we would be able to locate him again.  On the first day of the spike elk hunt my luck changed while looking for elk as Ryan was able to lay eyes on the buck once again, only 100 yards from where we had seen him in July.  Knowing the buck was still there kept me exited for the upcoming deer hunt.  I returned a few more times with no sightings, but I decided I'd look one more time on Friday, the day before the opener.  Me and my brother Spenser arrived at our vantage point with 30mph winds and I thought there was no chance of seeing the buck, but as I set up my Vortex spotting scope and began scanning the hillside I could barely get the words out, "there he is Spens".  After an hour or so of watching and videoing the buck we headed home to plan our first day.  After some phone calls to my hunting buddy's we had a plan;  I would start the 2 mile hike in well before daylight to get into position. Spenser and his wife Laura would come in behind me after daylight as there a few good bucks in the country I'd be walking through in the dark.  Mike and Ryan would glass from the point. 

After a sleepless night, opening morning came and I started my 45 minute hike in in the dark. When I got to the ridge where I figured I would be in shooting range I sat up and began to glass. With only a few does and a small buck spotted, and the sun starting to rise, I was just about to move further up the ridge to see if the buck was on the other side when I heard Mike on the radio say there were 2 bucks on the ridge.  I informed Mike that it was a 2 point and a doe, But as I raised my binos to glass one last time there he was standing in a clearing where I had been glassing all morning.  With a quick range at 377 yards I got a solid rest over my pack, put the 400 yard reticle low on his chest, and pulled the trigger.  The buck humped up and with the sound of the thud I knew he was hit.  Not wanting him to get over the ridge, I put another one in him and down he went! 

After a few calls on the radio to let everyone know I'd got him, I waited for Laura and Spens to get to where they could see before I approached the downed buck.  When I got to the buck I was in shock, he was more than I expected.  He was a tall deep forked 4x4 that was 29inches wide and cored 170 inches. After the crew Ryan, Mike, Spenser, and Laura made the hike in we celebrated a bit, had some laughs, and took lots of photos.  We then got the buck quartered and caped for the 2 mile, very rewarding trek out to the 4 wheelers.  I couldn't believe we had taken 2 bucks over 29 inches within a quarter mile apart in 2 years.

I just want to give a special thanks to all my hunting partners for making this a memorable (but very short ) hunt.  I couldn't have done it without anyone of you, thanks again.  And stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for the story to my 2013 limited entry elk hunt where I am lucky enough to take a great 360 bull all on film.

Thanks once again for the great story and photos Zach!  We look forward to hearing the story of your awesome bull!  Congrats on a great season!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Patience and Persistence

About a week ago Tim Barney shared a photo of his awesome 2013 Utah bull elk on our Facebook page.  One look at the awesome bull had me asking Tim if he would share the story of the hunt and of course, more photos with us on the blog.  Tim was very gracious to do so, writing up the story in his own words and sending it out to me just a couple of days later.  What an awesome bull and story that contributes to our string of amazing trophies that have been flooding in over the past few weeks!  This is no doubt my favorite time of year for writing on here as I get to see all of the great photos and hear the unique experiences shared.

Do you have a story to share?  If so, we would love to share it with our readers!  Just send your photos, stories, or details to and we will make it happen.  Don't be critical of your own writing!  Many folks are, and we understand!  It can be nerve-racking having your work out there.  We can even arrange a phone call where you share the details and we will compile your story for you!

Well, on to the good stuff!  Let's get right to the story and photos of this awesome bull!

The story goes like this...

I had been gone for two months before the hunt working a job I didn't expect to get. I had a week before the hunt but had a lot to get done. I didn't locate a particular bull to hunt although I had three locations that I knew would have promising bulls. The night before the hunt I was getting the trucks ready for the morning, when a friend of mine called and said he had located a bunch of bulls in one area and wanted to glass it with us in the morning.

We located a couple bulls after about ten minutes of glassing,  but they were over two miles away. We packed up the glass and headed up the canyon a distance and then got back on the scopes. We lost sight of those two but located three more. The one we figured was a good six. We moved up the canyon a ways further and set up my dad and brothers on a scope just under two miles from them. We dropped in the canyon and started up on foot. It took close to three hours to get to the point where we hoped to get a shot. It was 900 yards to the bulls from that area. The bulls however had moved into the trees and we couldn't locate them from there. My brother told us where they had went out of view and that he thought he could still see antler from the big six in the edge of the trees.

We decided to make a move to the ridge to the north and work our way up until we could locate them. We located antlers at 370 yards and set up only to watch him lay and chew his cud for about a half hour. I sent my one friend up the ridge to locate a better view point or to get above them and bump him. After a bit he came back saying we could get a shot from higher. We moved up to that location and glassed him for a bit to make sure he was what we wanted.. I set up my rifle in the open at 300 yards while they glassed from cover. I moved back out and we decided to try and smoke him in his bed. As I moved back to the rifle he decided to make a move. I got my scope on him as he started walking up the hill and I had a guy on the spotting scope telling me he was our shooter and the guy on the camera telling me he wasn't on it so I was patient.

Finally he stopped again and we still couldn't locate him in the camera so I decided to shoot anyway. I decided to go for heart then; far shoulder to keep him from going down hill into the steep ledges and timber. I clipped the heart, both lungs and destroyed that shoulder. He stepped up the hill a little bit and then started to get real sick but was still standing, so I put one more in the chest hitting both lungs again. That was ticket. Another half hour hike to get to him and four hours to get him caped, quartered and hiked the mile up to the top of the mountain. We had our spotters drive the trucks around to the top of the mountain while we hiked to him and prepped him to pack out. We spotted him at 7:30 and got him to the truck at 5:30. We covered 3 miles of rough terrain and climbed a little over 2000 feet in elevation.

It was a great hunt. The bull ended up with an extra on one side making him 6x7 and he scored at 371!

Congrats on a great trophy Tim, and thanks again for sharing!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Last Day Buck...Again

It seems like just a year ago we shared a story here from Spenser Owens that you would think is identical to the one we are sharing now.  It is remarkable to me how Spenser and Zach seem to have a steady trend of last day bucks.  I'm not talking "just a buck to fill a tag".  I'm talking true trophies that almost anyone would be happy to find any day of the hunt.  These guys are a couple of the most positive, consistent hunters I have had the privilege to hunt with!  I hope you once again enjoy this story from Spenser. 

Thanks again for sending it our way my friend!

My 2013 Last Day Buck

As many of you might know the Owens have a little  last day luck.  Normally  not me!  Normally I am tagged out within the first couple days.  Not this year.  Myself, my wife, my brother, and another hunting companion, Mike Marshall all had buck deer tags on the same unit  so we knew it was going to be fun.   

   My wife and I had seen plenty of bucks throughout the hunt and we had helped my brother and Mike both get their bucks early in the hunt.  My wife had never killed a deer before and she didn't want to shoot a little one first thing either.
Laura Owens 2013 Buck
So we hunted hard every day that we could possibly hunt and I was starting to get nervous by the last weekend.  As the hunt was coming to the last day, we had decided that we were not going to hunt trophy bucks anymore because we needed at least one meat buck.  My wife said she would shoot the next buck that we saw, so I decided to take her back to where we had been seeing lots of bucks in the early mornings.  Lo and behold, we drove up to a small point at daylight where we could glass a small drainage that usually produced a few bucks in it and standing 100 yards out from my wifes door was a couple of deer and as she pointed them out to me I noticed very quickly that one was not a real small buck!  He actually looked pretty good so I started to tell her to get out and shoot it, and not to look at its horns.  While I was watching it in my binos. she bailed out, off-hand, and bang!  She had double-lunged him!  He took three steps and fell over.  She had killed her first buck ever!   Not knowing what we had we slowly walked over to find a better buck than I thought.  It was a 21 inch wide 2X3, her first buck ever.  
After getting it loaded in the truck and on our way home, I set myself a goal that after the buck was taken care of I was going to go up into my favorite deer hunting country and spend the rest of the day hunting, walking, and glassing the high country.  So off I went.  I spent most of my day walking ridge tops and I hadn't seen a deer.  I heard my phone ring.  It was my brother Zach calling to tell me he was going to come up and glass a few ridges until dark in the same area I was just a little ways away to see if he could find something for me to shoot also.  So the day was getting closer to the end, and getting back to my four wheeler not expecting to get a deer this year I then heard a voice come over the radio.  It was Zach calling me saying I needed to hurry to get over to him cause he had spotted a great buck feeding in some cedars in the same direction I already was headed.  I had a ways to go to get over to him, so hustled over to where he was at and got in contact with him.  He then said he lost the buck but he figured it was still on the ridge, so we slipped over the top and got set up with maybe 40 minutes left of light.  
We sat there for what seemed to be forever and no sighting of the buck.  I then asked my brother where the exact spot the deer was when he last seen it and I told him he might want to move down the ridge to see if maybe he may have sneaked out below us.  As my brother got over to where he could see, I turn and looked at him just as he jumped up to run to get me.  There was a herd of deer feeding out into the bottom of a canyon.  I  hurried over there, got ready again and no buck!  Just three does!  My heart sank.  Dark growing near and  nowhere else for us to go to glass from, I figured he was gone; just as Zach pointed to the last deer feeding out of the trees.  It was the buck!  My brother said to me, "that's him, that's him"!  With a dead rest over the pack, I let him get way out in the open.  In the back ground I heard Zach say, "shoot him in the spine so we don't wound him".  As the buck stopped I placed the cross hairs on his spine and squeezed the trigger.  Bang!  The buck jumped sideways.  I had missed, I over shot him.   So quickly I racked another shell in and put it behind his shoulder and whack, the buck dropped in his tracks!   With a little light left for a pic or two we ran to the bottom to find what I thought was just a nice buck was a big heavy 5x4 buck that was over my expectations for any last day buck!
Congrats on a couple of sweet bucks, and a great year of hunting success Spenser!  Keep that last day luck going!     

Friday, November 15, 2013

13 Year Itch, Part 2

Wow!  I was just checking out the stats from the 3 days the first part of "13 year Itch" was up on the blog and all I can say is amazing!  This is one of the most viewed posts we have ever had on here.  No wonder it is so when you look at the quality of the production!
Chet Barney, 2013 general season buck

It's been good to get back to work here at Southern Utah Hunt and Fish!  The last week has been phenomenal for me as I have seen a bunch of awesome pictures post to our Facebook page, as well as a few stories grace the email inbox that I am excited to share in the coming days and weeks!

2013.  For the superstitious you would think this would be the year to avoid when it comes to drawing and hunting.  But for many including myself this year was described by just one word; epic!  I was involved with the harvest of 2 great bull elk, scouted and hunted 2 more big bull hunts, watched my closest friends take 3 amazing bucks, my wife smoke a nice buck with all the kids there to witness and enjoy, and we still have a cow elk hunt to go!  I have to wonder if I personally will ever see such an action packed year like this ever again.  Well, I'm sure going to try!

For Steve Barker, I'm sure he would describe it much the same.  Steve had an amazing archery elk hunt (but I'm not going to give details as we await the video!) and he just told me about a great whitetail deer hunt to Canada where he scored another great trophy!  Hopefully we will see that story soon as well!  For now, we can enjoy part 2 of this incredible video, and anxiously await part 3, which is still in the works.  Good news is in the mean time we have a lot of great content to keep rolling out.

Here you go, part 2 of the "13 Year Itch".  I know you will enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Utah Elk; 13 Year Itch

 To start off, I'd like to welcome High Top Outfitters to Southern Utah Hunt and Fish as our newest sponsor!

High Top is a great source for a outfitter or guide for anyone hunting the southern Utah area.  These guys are the best in the area for elk, mule deer, bison, desert bighorn, pronghorn, and mountain goat!  Be sure to shoot me an email for more information

Well it's been a while!  I hope that the late summer and hunting season pause hasn't cost us our valued viewers.  I could go on for a while about why we haven't posted for a while here but it basically comes down to 2 things: time and family.  Fire season was crazy busy for me this year as I worked as much as I could to prepare to take time off for all the hunting that was planned for the fall.  I immediately transitioned from fire season to hunting season, going from hunting back to a busy work schedule as I took a 2 month opportunity that keeps me away from home 4 days a week.  I am by no means done here!  The fact is just the opposite, it has given me a lot of time to think and plan where I want to take this adventure and it's all coming together nicely now.  Hopefully as free time rolls around you can join me in seeing big changes here!

Enough of that, let's get down to business.  Back in August, my buddy Steve Barker sent me a link to the first of a 3 part series of his Utah limited entry elk hunt.  Steve is kicking off an exciting outdoor filming business called "Crossing 12 Creative".  He's invested a lot of time, money, and resources into getting started the right way.  Take a look at the first short video in his 3 part series, this one titled "Utah Elk, 13 Year Itch".  One look at this and it's obvious that this is beyond the amateur stage and Crossing 12 Creative has a bright future indeed!  Follow the link to view this awesome HD video!

Swing back by in a couple of days and we will feature part 2 of the video series.  Steve tells us that part 3 is still in the works, and when it is complete we will feature it here as well.  In the mean time, take a look at what else we have planned in the near future:

  • I will be sharing my Utah limited entry elk hunt in a 2 part post
  • Zach Owens has had some great success with a 170" buck and 360" bull.  What a year!
  • We will check out 2 more impressive bucks by Mike Marshall and Spenser Owens
  • We will take a look at Utah general season deer success
  • I have some awesome footage from our annual Henry Mountains mule deer rut trip
  • Ice fishing season is upon us!  Hopefully with a good freeze we will get some early season reports going.
We've also possibly got a few more big buck and bull stories in the works!  And you know it's coming, our annual "Bucks, Bulls, and Fins" photo contest is coming up very soon!  We are still finalizing some great prizes for that contest!

As we get back to business, I want to thank you all for your continued support.  I have been overwhelmed over the past couple of weeks by all the texts, Facebook messages, and run-ins with folks in the field asking me the status of the blog and hoping I would get back to it soon.  I can't tell you enough how much it means!  Honestly there have been times I have thought about giving it up as I balance a busy life, but I will keep at it as long as it is meaningful to you!