A Chip and A Chair – My 2012 Deer Hunt Part 3
After a short lunch break we decided to relocate since we had surely spooked any game close by. It was late in the morning but I really wanted to hustle back up to “the point” to catch anything still moving around. It is a great vantage point to sit and glass from all day. You have a 360 degree view from this perch that is about 800 feet above the surrounding draws. When we arrived we pulled out the spotter and took turns napping and glassing for an hour. I was overlooking the draw to the south that I had seen the most deer in. Nick calls me over to tell me that he had found some deer. We rotated watching a small group of deer feeding way up in this saddle a good mile away. A shooter was identified and a stalk was planned. He looked to be a good size 3 point that was wide and thick horned. So we dropped down about 400 feet and began to make the 1,000 foot climb up towards these deer. There were three draws that ran from the NW to the SE. These deer were in the saddle above the furthest draw and feeding down into it.
Being as late in the morning as it was, surely they were headed to bed. About an hour and a half later we found ourselves peeking over the edge and down into that 3rd gully. Nick was convinced that it was one more draw away but I had marked it pretty well and was somewhat confident we were in the right spot. I wasn’t positive and Nick had spent more time on the spotter, so I took his word. Just as we stood up to keep hiking north, deer started erupting from the brush below us. Where we stood debating we were unable to see the deer bedded below us. I instantly got into a prone position. That buck was a good one. Nick sputtered the ranges as they trotted away, along with the words “He’s wide and really heavy.” Finally, when the buck stopped and turned back at 250 yards, as they notoriously do, he was faced dead away. I had a shot at the base of his neck and between his shoulder blades but my heart rate was much too high. My reticle was drawing circles around his entire body so I pulled down as he slipped into the thick timber 5 yards in front of him.
That was rough because it was easily the biggest deer I had ever had in my sights, or even been that close to, but I would have been lucky to hit an elephant in that condition. Buck fever was probably the main culprit, but I blame it on that steep hill. For the rest of that afternoon we sat and glassed the entire basin. We were in as good a spot as any to glass as far as we were willing to make a stalk. The rest of the day turned up four groups of deer, but nothing larger than spikes and a small forked horn. Under normal circumstances those are shooters, but not after the bucks I had seen in this basin in just 2 days of hunting. We slowly hiked down from our perch and back to the bikes. The two mile pedal back to camp was slightly down hill and the breather was much appreciated. Sunday morning found us being woken by four trucks pulling up to the gate. I do not like hunting near other people because it completely takes away from the experience. The day before was a perfect example. Besides our new company, we were excited to keep hunting. The other guys had gotten a head start but they ventured right at the split, down into the lower country. Without weather and because of pressure, I liked our chances up high. The plan was to make the same route I did on opening day. We left our bikes at the same spot just as it became light enough to shoot. Nick was ahead of me and we began climbing off trail up towards “the point.” A few minutes later Nick stopped dead in his tracks and said, “Get ready.”
By now I had the drill down pat and was prone over my pack looking for antlers. Doe, doe, spike, doe, BUCK! “Do you see him? He is 240 yards, wait for him to turn.” Turn he did and down he went. Stoked was an understatement because I knew he easily exceeded my expectations! Nick couldn’t determine if he was a 4 point but that he definitely fit the bill and was pretty wide, 26 inches or so. I was thrilled as we made our way up to him. After taking pictures and cleaning him up we wanted to get back to the truck before the storm hit.
Packing out this buck was rather interesting. Nick had a bum shoulder and the most he could carry was about 30 pounds. We de-boned the deer and somehow fit all of the meat, except one small game bag, into my large Kelty pack frame. Nick carried the gear. The 100 pound pack myth gets thrown around a lot, but I weighed mine at 91 pounds when we got home. Not bad for a 150 pounder! Luckily I only had to carry it a mile back to the bikes. We lashed our packs back to back and draped them over one bike, with each of us pushing a side. Don’t ever overlook using mountain bikes on your next hunt where possible!
All in all it was a great trip and I can not wait to go back this summer to scout there some more. The views were incredible. Next season I would like to pack a camp back in there for 4 or 5 days. My buck died literally 175 yards from “the point” that I had chosen on Google Earth to glass from. No pre-season scouting, no GPS coordinates, just a general tip and some good old fashion hiking. If your hunting spot burns down, don’t fret too much if you live out west. Often times we forget how lucky we are to have access to such enormous amounts of public land. Much of it even comes with over the counter tags for deer and elk, at least here in Idaho. Last but certainly not least, it sure pays to have friends that are as passionate about hunting as you are!