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!