2019 Live Hunt Elk-Ibex-Deer-Antelope

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TheCougar

TheCougar

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Day 3:

So yesterday I told my son that glassing from the tops seemed futile, since all the deer were in the bottoms, but my buddy who is familiar with the area encouraged me to try it one more time. Day 3 was our last day of hunting, so it was an all or nothing proposition. My son, being a total trooper, agreed to give it a go and get up even earlier and hike into the same area as yesterday. This time we hiked to a lower peak and had the sun at our backs, so we had a different view of the ridges. Shortly after first light I glassed a doe... another doe... a spike... and holy crap, a legal buck. We “quickly”, which is relative when youth hunting, descended our peak into a saddle and got eyes on. The sun had been up for 30 minutes and they were on their way to bed. It turns out there were about 10 deer, and 4-5 of them were bucks, including a nice 3x3. Long story short, I ranged the deer, dialed the rifle, and tried to calm my son’s nerves. I kept repeating “slow steady squeeze”. Blam! Miss, I’m pretty sure. He asked which buck to shoot, and I responded “pick one”, which seemed appropriate given the time constraints. The deer all scattered 10 yards and held tight. None of the deer were hit (and a couple actually started sparring), so I told him to shoot agin at the bigger 3x3. Blam, miss again. The deer all scattered. The bigger, smarter deer all scattered. This time I saw it just miss high. I checked the dial and it was set 1 mil high, so fixed that and tried to give him a pep talk. I figured we were done. He had tears in his eyes. He was devastated that we had worked so hard for 2 1/2 days and he missed the only bucks we had glassed up. I glance at the hillside and as natural selection would have it, a smaller. 2x3 was still standing in the ridge. We get set up again, I give him a pep talk and blam! The deer was pretty hard quartering away when he shot, and he ended up hitting just a little aft of desired, but I knew that shot would be lethal eventually. We were also running low on bullets at this point, and the deer was all hunched up in the bushes at 350 yards. I walked him fall into a bed, and I swung around to get eyes on. It was clear he was immobile and mortally wounded, but also in for some prolonged suffering. We picked up our gear and started our way towards him. We snuck to within 50 yards and Riley made a good shot to put the deer down. We made quick work of breaking the deer down, loaded the packs and started down the hill... but not before Riley stepped on a yucca spike that went through his boot sole and went an inch into his foot. Dad fixed that with a leatherman and a pep talk that started something like, “the spike is broken off in your boot sole and still stuck on your foot. I’m going to rip your boot off and you’re going to feel a pinch...”. He kept blood covered spike, once I removed it from his foot and boot. It made a daddy proud to have my 11 year old son hike out the head and hindquarter after a yucca spike went through his foot! I am so proud of my son for having excellent attitude and effort during a very frustrating and difficult hunt!



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TheCougar

TheCougar

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Musings from a youth hunt:

How can a little boy’s feet smell that rancid after 3 days?!? Seriously!

“Dad, I’m so tired. That was a long day. Can I go to bed?” This is as he is hopping around from one foot to the next and generally imitating a perpetual motion machine.

“Dad, I’m tired and cold, can we go to bed?” 10 seconds later, “Dad, I’ve got a great idea, let’s run laps around the tent to warm ourselves up”. Me: “Son, that’s a terrible idea. Let’s just go to bed and warm up that way”.

Me: “Riley, where were you?”
Riley: “Going to the bathroom. Number 2”.
Me: “Did you wipe?”
Riley: “yes, with a some fuzzy leaves”
Me:... “here’s some wet wipes and hand sanitizer. Why don’t we try this again...”

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TheCougar

TheCougar

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I hope this thread has been somewhat entertaining and possibly even informative. I’m stuck on a 9 hour flight, so I figured now would be a good time to do some gear reviews for some of the items I have used. I have some new gear this year, and some old gear that got put to the test. Lately my gear changes have been more “tweaks” than anything major, although I would consider new boots to be a major change.

In no particular order, while I crush this bottle of airline booze and try to forget that I am sharing an airline cabin with 200 of my closest friends…

Boots: I switched from Meindl Perfekt to Crispi Nevadas, as my Meindls had started to come apart and are no longer waterproof. I had broken in the Nevadas on a few hikes and they seemed comfortable, although heavy and hot. I’ve got to say that so far I am impressed. I was worried that there was unwarranted “Crispi-hype” since all the cool kids wear them. They really got put to the test on two days of freezing rain and sleet. The two guys I hunted with wore a brand new pair of Kennetreks (literally out of the box the day before the hike) and some other brand I don’t remember. I was the only one with dry feet at the end of the day, which really impressed me. My only complaint is they hurt the outside of my foot sidehilling more than any previous boots I have used, but then again, I have never had a big old rand on the outside of the boot, so I don’t think this is a design flaw – I am just not used to it. They cleaned up pretty well after season using NikWax boot cleaner and some wax based leather sealer. The rand has moved about a millimeter on the boot leather; I’m not sure if that is normal, and the soles seem a little more worn than I would like after about 150 miles in them, but that hasn’t affected their function. If they keep going strong like this, they will actually be worth the price tag.

Rain gear: Wow, what a surprise… The aforementioned days of rain really defeated all the rain gear we had. I wore FL Boundary Stormtight (2-3 years old), another guy wore Kuiu Chugach, and another guy used Arcteryx. We all got soaked to the bone and I was particularly disappointed with the DWR on everyone’s gear. The face wetted out pretty quickly. I have used my gear very little and I clean it and treat it yearly with Nikwax cleaner, DWR, and re-waterproofing stuff. I would say I got the worst of it, particularly on my sleeves and pant legs. Lesson learned, next time I will double up with gaiters. We all were wet after hiking 3 miles in the rain and doing some hunting, so some of the moisture might have been perspiration and some of it may have been just exposure to the elements while we were hunting and moving through the brush. Frankly, I’ve done very little hunting and hiking in the rain, so there may be some lessons here for me to learn from, rather than blame it on gear, considering we had some of the best money could buy.

Bino Harness: Switched from Kuiu to Marsupial. The marsupial is more comfortable and well-built, but definitely lets in more water and dust than the kuiu. I heard that Marsupial is making a new version with full coverage, so I imagine I will trade up after season. Also, the front pocket is only good for maybe diaphragms or a lighter. It is very tough to get my fingers in there to fish anything out.

Headlamp: BD Revolt to a Zebralight MkIV. I already love the new headlamp – I’m never going back. Unfortunately, I lost it on the mule deer hunt with my son, so that sucks... I also got a Fenix H-something 60 (it’s the one powered by the 18650). Nice light, but waaaay too heavy. It won’t be replacing my ZL. The little Fenix CLR30 lantern is pretty sweet though, and I recommend it.

Archery: Put 80lb limbs on my bow and added 60 grains to my arrows (482gr at 290fps, about 78-79# draw weight). I was planning on using the SEVRs , but I also brought the 125gr Exodus along as well. On this hunt, I never actually used the SEVRs. I was so busy calling and the shots were short enough that I didn’t want to worry about a mechanical. The Exodus put the bull down in 10 seconds. The blood trail was poor for the 50 yards he ran, which I have become accustomed to, but still – that makes the Exodus 4/4 on elk killed over the past 2 years. The new archery hunter I took out was shooting 380gr arrows compared to my set up, and he never got penetration beyond 2/3 shaft. I warned him, and he didn’t believe me. I was jealous of his “baby-Hoyt” carbon bow. I think his bow weighed half of my mine, or at least it felt that way. Still, my Centergy did well getting drug all over the place through the brush and rain; it may be weigh alot, but it gets the job done. Arrows: I’m shooting BEA Spartans and they continue to do well for me. Jeff was shooting Victory TKOs (I think they were TKOs) and wow, they are total garbage. He had actually called Victory and had the first dozen replaced due to breaking when shooting into the target. The new ones did no better. If he shot an arrow, there was a 100% chance it was broken when we found it. Shooting grouse, shooting stumps, a miss on an elk, and arrows that hit elk – 100% of them broke. I’ve never seen anything like it. Total trash.

Misc: Swapped out the Katadyn hiker for a Sawyer Squeeze. Big, big fan of the Squeeze. My favorite part was filling the dirty bladder with water and letting gravity refill my clean bladder inside my pack while I ate a snack. Jeff used a Steripen and it also worked like a champ. It was my first experience with either and I came away impressed. Added an inReach Mini and it did okay. It takes a little while to send and receive messages, and I had issues trying to figure out how to message another inreach. My wife sewed a 5.0 Apex Woobie for my son to use on his deer hunts and that thing is RAD. She is going to sew another one. Jeff brought along his little JetBoil and I was totally impressed by how light it was and how quickly it could boil water. A JetBoil or similar setup is now on my list of items for next year.

Shelter: I swapped out my tent for a Borah Bivvy and a SO DST. I really like the DST despite barely using it, although it arrived a solid 2.5 ounces heavier than advertised, and that was before seam-sealing. It is just heavy enough that I didn’t carry it daily. I think I might try and get a smaller lighter shelter for emergency use, maybe something in the 9 ounce weight range.

Kenai Gunfighter holster: Jeff let me wear his 10mm Glock and the Kenai when we were in Grizz country. I wore it high, up under my bino harness. It is great gear and very comfortable, but I don’t think it is for me, on account of two reasons: 1. I am not trained for a chest draw and unless my hand happened to be resting on the pistol when we walked up on a bear (happened once), my hand instinctively went to my right hip. I’m not sure if I can overcome that. 2. I wear my LRF on the right side of my bino harness, right were the pistol grip sits. The LRF pouch definitely impeded my hand when reaching for the pistol and would absolutely affect a clean and quick draw. There is no way I’m changing my chest rig set up to accommodate the rare chance I need to draw a pistol. It looks like investing in a belt holster for my pack is the way to go.

Long post, but hey, I’ve got all the time in the world while I’m at 35,000 feet. I’ll be back home in 5 days, then I get 48 hours before I leave for Wyoming one week from today. Happy Hunting to all of you who still have tags in your pockets. Cheers.
 
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TheCougar

TheCougar

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1600 miles and I’ve got the head and most of the meat (I left about 30 pounds in the freezer for my awesome hosts). Another few hours and Me and Teddy will be hunting in Wyoming!




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TheCougar

TheCougar

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One antelope doe down! I had a shot at a couple of smaller whitetail bucks this morning and passed on them. I should have punched my second antelope doe rag, but I grazed the doe somehow... I say somehow because I was really close. I still don’t get it...

I saw lots of deer and a few smaller bucks. We saw one nice mulie buck, but he was just over the fence on private and that was that. It was pretty dang cold today. Temps hovering around 12 degrees with a solid wind and some light snow. At least the mud is frozen. The mud out here is crazy. It’s incredibly sticky and immediately cakes your tires and boys you down.






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TheCougar

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Day 2 was a ball buster. I did several miles of bushwhacking in the snow and saw a number of deer, but no bucks. For the evening, I bushwhacked again down a ridge, into a canyon, then climbed one of the highest peaks in the area I am hunting. It sounds higher than it actually is! The climb wasn’t the problem. The snow was an issue. It required snowshoes in some places, which was a first for me. I had seen a large group of mule deer hanging out on top of the peak the previous evening, so I climbed up there tonight. I got the drop on a group of mule deer does, but a buck never showed up, so I got to do the looooong bike of shame back to the truck. I’m not a fan of powdery snow. Even with snowshoes you end up to your knees! I’m cutting the trip short as I just found out I have another work trip, so I’m leaving a couple of days early to see the family. I’ll do a little antelope hunting on the way out of town, but expectations are low. Even if I don’t get anything else, I had an opportunity to fill every tag in my pocket and either passed on animals or, in the case of the antelope doe, managed to miss a slam dunk shot.
 
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TheCougar

TheCougar

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I hunted this morning before I started the drive back home. I turned up a bunch of does in a wooded draw, but there was no buck with them. I checked out another area, the same place I shot the antelope a couple of days ago and glassed up a couple of herd of antelope a mile away. I put the sneak on them but ended up running out of places to hide at 450 yards. I took my time and waited for a good shot and missed - where I don’t know. I was annoyed at myself. So I decided to put on my bowhunting hat and waited until they moved to an area I could get closer. I sprinted and snuck to the top of a ridge right above them and waited for a doe to step out. When she did, I shot her at 70 yards. I’ll just stick to what I know, which is being sneaky sneaky. I also turned up about 15 mule deer does being chaperoned by a decent mule deer forkie, but he was not the kind of deer I wanted to shoot. Give home another year. Besides, He looked like he was having too much fun being the Don Juan of the herd.




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RyanG505

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Really enjoyed this! sorry I never get on here hardly! Between that Aeronautical Engineering and killing things I forget to get on here. Sorry I ibex didn't workout but there will be another time for sure I promise you that! Loved to read the whole story on Rileys deer hunt and glad that it all panned out perfectly for him to learn the grind!
 
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TheCougar

TheCougar

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I’ve been gone so much recently that I haven’t had much opportunity to hunt after I returned from Wyoming. I took the family camping and Riley and I did some light hunting from a ground blind. We didn’t see any deer or pigs, but he did shoot a coyote. We found hair, but no blood and never found the coyote. I think he grazed it. Then today... we went to a piece of private and set up in a box blind. The camera didn’t show much promise - just some does and a few small bucks that showed up sporadically. Imagine my surprise when a nice buck came out into the field pushing a couple of does like the rut wasn’t a month ago. The buck pushed the does within 25 yards of the blind and Riley took a shot when it was full frontal (I told him too - any closer and it was going to walk under the blind and he couldn’t see). It was a slam dunk, yet he yanked the trigger and hit the deer in the upper leg and shattered the bone. I could see the leg flopping as the buck took off. I was pretty sure that the deer was going to bed down close by, so we climbed out of the blind and followed the trail. After I spotted the does a ways off through the trees, I started looking closer and lo and behold, I see what looks like a deer rump in the thick stuff 20 yards away. It’s the buck, bedded down at 20 yards and I’m assuming he knows we are there because kids aren’t that quiet and we are really close. I made a critical mistake here. I could have shot through the bush and killed the buck, but instead I wanted Riley to do it, so I sent him to the blind to retrieve the shooting sticks. I’m poised and ready to shoot if the buck stands up. I take one step to my right to get a little better angle and the buck’s head whips around and he launches out of the bed before I can even pull the trigger. We continued on the trail until it hit the fence line and I busted through the bedding area without success. I am really disappointed in not only my decision making, but also in my inability to get Riley to control his shot mechanics when there is a buck in the scope. This is the kid who hit steel 9 times out of 10 at 300 yards before we went to NM, yet he shanks a shot at 25 yards?!? I need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get him to make a good shot on a animal. Between last year and this year, he has shot at 7 animals: 2 were clean kills inside 50 yards, 3 were wounded inside 100 yards, and 2 were flat out misses at 150+. His shot on the NM deer was 250, but there were several misses prior to that shot. We do dry fire practice with a laser on the end of the rifle, shooting at animals on hunting shows and he can pull the trigger without the laser moving. We practiced prone and seated and shooting from sticks. I make him shoot and immediately reacquire his target for follow on shots. Everything went well, except for when there is an animal in the scope. I need to figure out a more effective way to teach him! Besides that I’m exceptionally pissed at my poor decision to hold my shot at a wounded, bedded buck at 20 yards. I had a tag in my pocket and my desire to have Riley shoot again overcame my common sense and experience. I have no excuse for such an asinine decision that resulted in a wounded animal escaping.
 

pennidahoutard

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This whole thread was great, and I especially liked the gear review post. As far as your last post on this thread, I think you are being too hard on yourself, and in turn your son. First of all, you are doing an excellent job of teaching the fundamentals of shooting and getting in lots of practice to develop his skills. From that standpoint I think your son is lucky to have such a great dad, who takes the time to teach him what you have, which is far more education and practice than most new and young hunters get. I think he has a real bad case of buck fever and a lot bit of anxiety that he going to disappoint you by missing or wounding. I know I went through the same struggles as young kid learning to hunt and shoot.

Probably the best way to overcome it is to keep reinforcing good shooting habits and getting him as many opportunities to succed on game as possible. I think what you and your son are experiencing is the realization that it's different ball game when it's the real deal versus the practice range.

All in all, a great thread and you're doing a great job as a dad!
 
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TheCougar

TheCougar

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Closing out the season:

A few weeks back we put the smack down on a herd of pigs. Riley heart shot the biggest boar at 25 yards. I charged in the brush a shot a few more. Even after putting 4 on the ground, there were probably 30 more pigs running around. Yes, I’m wearing latex gloves. Don’t judge me. Those were the filthiest pigs I have ever seen, and those two sows had thousands of ticks, without exaggeration. We completely changed out of our clothes after cleaning them.




Then on a whim, last Friday it was raining and I decided it would be a good night to teach him how to still hunt, with the poor visibility and rain making sneaking easier. We had scarcely started when we spotted a small buck at 50 yards through the brush. He blew out before we could get a shot, but he only ran 100 yards. There turned out to be about 10 deer in the woods, including a few bucks, one of which was pretty nice. We played cat and mouse for 30 minutes trying to get Riley on the rifle with a good sight picture and a clear shooting lane. Finally, as we started to run out of light, a bigger buck stood still long enough in a narrow shooting lane for Riley to take a shot. He drilled the deer in the perfect spot. The shot was about 125 yards, standing with a tripod rest, through a 2 foot gap in the trees. He was thrilled and I was super proud of him sticking it out while we tried to make it happen! That’s all the hunting until turkey season!
 
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Shrek

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Congratulations Riley and Dad ! I wear gloves to clean just about anything anymore. I buy the true fitted surgical gloves. They’re tougher and help grip the meat.
 
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