Archive for October, 2019

Friday, October 11, 2019

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

I took Chris hunting again tonight. I decided to sit him on the edge of a large clover field tonight that has oaks all along the edge of it. The deer have been feeding regularly in the field and along the edge.

We got caught off guard when a deer snuck up on us and made us aware of its presence by blowing. We almost came unglued, but we enjoyed the moment. Chris was jacked up but disappointed. The deer was no more than 25 yards away when it took off. We will keep at it and see what gives.

Thursday, October 10, 2018

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

I wasn’t going to go hunting tonight, but my buddy Chris texted me and asked if I wanted to go with him. Since he must use a wheelchair to get around, I decided I would take him out behind my dad’s house. I knew we could ride the 4-wheeler to a hedge row in an apple orchard that the deer use this time of year and set up with his stool in that place. His legs don’t work well enough to walk, but he can stand with assistance. He must shoot from a chair, so we set it up and waited.

We didn’t see any deer where we were sitting, so I decided to walk around the corner before we headed out to see if I could see anything. I spotted a small buck in the distance, so we got out of there as quickly as possible. I’m hoping we can go back tomorrow and possibly catch up to that deer.

I enjoyed not having my bow in my hands tonight. I would love to see Chris get his first deer. I got a much better appreciation tonight for how truly lucky I am. While I battle diabetes every day, at least I can do anything I want to do. Sometimes we take things for granted, and I must always remember to never do that. Things can change in a second, and we need to take advantage of every day. Here’s a picture of Chris from tonight’s hunt.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

Although the temperature has been hanging around 70 during the day, I decided to give it a whirl again tonight. I enjoy the evenings when the wind is relatively calm and the air becomes still shortly before daylight fades.

I spent the entire day thinking about last night’s missed opportunity. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t see my pins last night, but I answered that question quickly when I returned to the same place this evening. There wasn’t enough light behind the deer, and the pin got engulfed by everything in the area. The leaves and brush made the pins blend in with them, and the heavy canopy above me made it extremely dark. It’s still disappointing, but I feel better knowing what happened. I fixed the problem before going out to hunt today, putting a light on the sight to use if I run into the same problem again.

I took a different route to the place I wanted to sit than I took yesterday. As I was getting closer to the area, I noticed a lot of fresh rubs. Instantly, I knew the buck I saw last night was the one making them. As you can see in this picture, his antler tips hit the tree behind the one he was rubbing. That’s usually a good sign. He doesn’t have a big rack, but I’d still like to get a crack at him.

When I nestled into the blowdown, I wasn’t feeling “it.” I just didn’t feel like I was going to see anything. Some days, I’m beaming with confidence, and this day was not one of those days. Although I wasn’t feeling overly optimistic, I still thought something might happen if I hung tight. I seemed fidgety and couldn’t get comfortable even though I was standing. This is where I’ve been standing. I back into the V in the blowdown and stand there. I’m well protected on the backside, and have great shooting out the front. As you can see in the picture after this one, the deer come from the left, and I can draw my bow before they come into the shooting lane. I have perfect cover, and that’s exactly what the buck did last night. If he does it again, I’ll be ready.

Around 6:00, I felt like something was watching me. Scanning to the right, I spotted a small buck looking directly at me. I had been caught moving, and the deer was less than 20 yards away. I remained still, and the deer put its head down and began feeding on some acorns. It never felt at ease and eventually wandered off. It didn’t spook, but I could tell that it felt a bit jumpy.

Unsure if it was the same small buck as last night, I hoped the big buck might show up after that one walked away. I stayed until shooting light disappeared, then headed home. On my walk out of the woods, I saw another small buck that had a high rack. It was a good-looking deer.

It’s starting to feel pretty good being out in the woods regularly. It hasn’t felt like hunting season until now. Today, all of my medical records were forwarded to an orthopedic surgeon in Albany. He’s supposed to be one of the best in the country, and I will be seeing him when he schedules my appointment after looking at the data from my previous surgeries. Hopefully, he can save my shoulder and get me back on the right track.

I received the pockets for my Kuiu pack today. I ordered them a few days ago, and they went on it as slick as a mitten. I’m glad I ordered them. It will give me a perfect place to store some of the little things that can be bothersome to put in the main compartment. Here’s a picture of one of them.

Tuesday, October 8, 2018

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

While I’ve been out bowhunting a few times, I haven’t had time to update this, so I’ll start today. I’ve been hunting an area where I’ve watched deer throughout the summer, and I haven’t had much luck. I’ve seen a few people and the people have been doing things that don’t translate into good hunting. This had led to the deer sightings going steadily downhill.

Today I sat at work and thought long and hard about how I could approach things to possibly see one of the bucks I’ve decided to chase. Since the season opened, he has basically disappeared. My dad has spotted him a few times, but not with any regularity and not while hunting.

By the time mid-afternoon came, I had a plan. I would make my way to an area that housed a few apple trees and a few oak trees. The deer had fed all summer in a field about 150 yards from the spot, and I figured they had retreated to this area. Although they haven’t been coming to the field in the daylight, I figured they were probably feeding in this area and still going to the field after dark. The only way I would know would be to give it a whirl.

Instead of carrying a stand with me, I decided to sit on the ground. I found a huge fallen maple and decided to camouflage myself amongst the branches. Looking in front of me, I knew I would see any deer before it would have a chance to see me, giving me more than enough time to draw my bow.

At 5:45, I could see a small buck making its way up the hill. He stopped to feed under the oak tree, and my plan had worked to perfection. Although I don’t get much of an opportunity to bowhunt in my home area, I chose to pass on the 5-pointer. With him in front of me at 5:45, something in my gut told me one of the larger bucks would come in before it got dark.

At 6:30, I could see him coming. The big buck I was waiting for was coming on a string. I drew the bow and readied myself. When I tried to get the pin on him, I couldn’t see it. The pin had washed out, and I didn’t have a light on this bow. Instead of risking a bad shot, I chose not to shoot. I’m fairly certain I could’ve gotten him at 25 yards, but I couldn’t commit to the shot without seeing the pin. I was highly disappointed, but it felt awesome to have my plan work to perfection. I almost seemed like I knew what I was doing. The deer (both of them) did exactly what I though they would do. Every once in a while, I’m able to actually think I know what I’m doing, and this night was one of those times.

I haven’t hunted much because of the problem I’ve been having with my surgically repaired shoulder. I hurt it back in the summer, and it has gotten progressively worse. It appears I will be needing surgery after hunting season. While I can draw my bow and carry my backpack, it’s very painful to do either. I’m trying to save myself for my trip to Illinois and the time I will be hunting up north, which will require a lot of physical work. It’s going to be tough for me to get out there and go with the shoulder this year. I don’t want to hurt it worse so I won’t be able to go to Illinois, so I figure I better pick my spots early in the season and only hunt when I have a plan. I also didn’t carry a stand in tonight because it puts too much stress on my shoulder. I learned that quickly the first few days of the season. Although this isn’t the deer I saw tonight, this deer looks almost identical to the one I saw. This is what I’m chasing. I’ll probably give it another go tomorrow night before the rain settles in for the following two days.


September 19, 2019

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Today was our last day, and I wanted to hunt with Dad. As age has become a factor in our hunting together, I wanted to take advantage of an opportunity I haven’t had in the last few years. Since I began hunting with Brian in Colorado, I haven’t spent nearly enough time with Dad. He and I made a great elk hunting team, and I’m seeing the lack of results now that I don’t hunt with him on a regular basis. This year is the first year that Brian and I seemed to be on the same page. We got some good opportunities but missed out on capitalizing on them.

The elk began singing again this morning, and we decided to try to get in the middle of them. Once again, we couldn’t cut them off. Later in the morning, we made plans to hunt our way back to camp. Dad and I both had an idea about where the bulls might be hiding. I took the low side, he took the middle and Brian took the high side.

As I was still-hunting through a mix of aspen and timber, a big bull cut loose directly in front of me. He was no more than 100 yards, and I was certain I was going to get a look at him. He bugled a few times, and I bugled back. It was too thick to get a good look, but I could hear his diaphragm before each bugle.

After a five to 10 minute exchange, he gathered his cows and headed up the mountain toward Brian. Somehow the bull got between me and Dad without either one of us seeing it. Brian did get a look at him, and it was a big herd bull.

That basically put a wrap on my 2019 elk season. It was full of adventure, excitement and disappointment. If I get to go again in the future, I can only hope that I get a few more opportunities. Killing elk used to seem so incredibly easy, but luck has not been on my side in many years. I can remember killing elk every year or every other year with ease. I’m on quite the dry spell right now, and I’d like to rectify that. Only time will tell if I can turn things around.

September 18, 2019

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

We headed back to my favorite mountain today. Since we hadn’t hunted there much, we decided to see what it had to offer. When we crested the hill on the opposite side of the box canyon we had descended into, I looked at Brian and said, “I really wish this would be like the old days when I got to the top of this hills and bugles could be heard all through this drainage.”

The words barely finished coming out of my mouth when bulls began bugling. Within minutes, I heard four different bulls. Finally, we picked one to chase and went after it.

We were never able to get in front of him to serious challenge him, and he disappeared over the mountain in front of us. Deciding not to stir things up, we went in the opposite direction. We had high hopes that the bull might return in the evening.

We heard bulls in the distance throughout the morning, but never laid eyes on one. After resting for a few minutes in the early afternoon, we formed a plan and began walking. After less than 100 yards, we ran into three guys. We had heard them bugling earlier in the morning, but we went in the opposite direction to avoid them. After talking with him, Brian and I headed back to the area where we chased the bull around in the morning.

When we got in the timber, we spotted some elk coming our way. Within seconds, they were all around us. We tried to remain as still as possible, but a cow got to within 10 yards of us and began getting a little spooky. Finally, she trotted up the hill, arming the herd bull and satellite bull that had come in a little further down the hill. At 35 yards, they stood motionless and didn’t know what to do. I knew they were going to get out of Dodge, so I drew my bow. When they started walking up the hill, I followed the herd bull and began activating my release. When it fired, I saw the arrow on its way toward the hollow area behind the front shoulder. Seconds before it found its mark, I saw a small twig rapidly fluttering up and down and the arrow off its mark, just missing the ass of the elk. Although the distance was about 50 yards, I made an incredible shot on it, just like the shots I’ve made to win some big tournaments. I knew I had him… then it all fell apart. That’s how fast things can change when you’re hunting. Sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield. Unfortunately, I played the role of the bug on this day — this elk hunt.

Dejected, we made our way out of the woods and back to camp… one day left.

September 17, 2019

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

It rained all night last night, torrential rain at times. After listening to the rain pound off the tent all night, I knew I would need a small miracle to locate the wounded bull. Unlike deer, elk can go miles upon miles after being gut shot. I knew he would probably go a long distance since he followed the herd of cows. The only thing we could do was to go back and give it our best shot.

Dad, Brian, Jason and I headed out when the rain stopped in the late morning. When we got to the site, we split up and started grid searching for the arrow. Jason located it quickly, and amazingly, it still had a lot of blood on it. This gave us some false hope, but the hope quickly dissipated as we continued searching.

We ended up searching for the better part of the day but had no luck. I was irritated at myself and disappointed that I wounded such a magnificent animal. I felt especially bad since I knew the elk would not live. Animals cannot survive gut shots when the arrow goes through the middle section.

Dad and Jason split off from Brian and I at midday and decided to hunt back to camp. When Brian and I got back to the tent, they weren’t there. When we heard them on the radio, we learned that Jason had killed his first bull elk. I was excited for him. There’s nothing like killing an elk, especially when he’s bugling on his way in.

September 16, 2019

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

The morning dragged into early afternoon, and the rain pitter pattered off the aspen leaves. Brian and I took cover under some thick spruce trees and tried waiting it out. We were never able to escape the rain, and it made it uncomfortable. Eventually, we decided to head off the mountain and still-hunt back to the trail.

On our way through some thick timber, we spotted a herd of elk feeding up the ridge. Instantly, we spotted a herd bull in the mix. He wasn’t a monster bull, but he was a nice one, and he had a herd of healthy cows with him.

As he slowly made his way toward us, Brian and I got ready for a shot. Finally, he stepped in a shooting hole, and I got a shot off. Darkness was bearing down on us, and I rushed the shot when I saw that he was only going to be in the shooting lane for a matter of seconds.

Right before the bow fired, he turned toward me. The arrow missed its mark by no more than three inches, but when he quartered toward me, the miss compounded. The arrow struck him in the middle of the body a short distance in front of the hind quarters. I knew I had gut shot him.

He jumped and ran a few steps before stopping. I tried threading another arrow through some thick stuff but the arrow hit a branch. Disappointed, I watched him do the penguin walk up the hill. I knew he was hit hard. I figured if we gave him some time, he would bed down.

We marked everything with ribbons and headed out, deciding to come back the next day. It was an extremely long and tiring trip back to camp.