2019 MT Deer/Elk Trip Report

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Netherman

Senior Member
Joined
May 24, 2016
Messages
229
Location
Michigan
Day 7:

With a revenge tour planned we decided to repeat our loop from the previous morning and look for elk. As we circled the ridge looking for elk we made two passes stopping to glass for 10-15 minutes at a time. By 9 we still hadn’t seen an elk so we decided to make our way to the “elk spot” and were met there with silence. Thinking that they must be in one of the other open areas we started hiking that way. Up on a rock wall overlooking a large burn we ran into a group of two hunters. They hadn’t heard or seen anything yet, but had heard a bull bugeling last night. Wishing each other luck we headed to the last area we wanted to check. Once there we saw nothing but another pair of hunters. They were with the other two and were also looking for the bugle they had heard the night before.

Cold and tired we stopped for lunch and made a small fire. Fire may be man’s greatest invention as it quickly re-energized and lifted our spirits. Eating we felt the start of rain and looking to the west saw a wall of black sky headed our way. Without tire chains and our flight scheduled for the next morning we begrudgingly decided to pack out and get to the main road. Pushed out of our elk hunting grounds we decided to try and evening scout trip and deer hunt. Driving to a few spots we thought might be good we glassed for deer. Most spots held deer with a few looking promising for our return trip.

We finished out our night stopping at the local bar for pizza and beer. Something about hunting trips makes me crave pizza and their pizza didn’t disappoint.

Lessons Learned: N/A

Questions: N/A



Trip and Gear Report

Trip Thoughts: Archery hunts are an exercise in misery. On the plane ride home all I could think about was why do I do this to myself. Rifle hunts are so much easier and more fun. Back home I’m already thinking about where I can go archery elk hunt again. I’m either a glutton for punishment or just have a really hard time accepting failure. I think we needed to do more still hunting and thinking. Ahead of season I need to be doing even more shooting and ranging / 3D shoots to be better prepared. We had multiple shot opportunities that we need to capitalize on.

On a positive note we'll be headed back in 7 more sleeps rifles in tow. Gonna be a blood bath.

Because Rokslide:

Noteworthy Gear: The steripen (ultra) was a welcome addition to our gear list and will be continually carried going forward. A rechargeable headlamp was cool as I was able to top it off most nights back at the truck. In previous years I always ended up with a bag of AAA’s in various states of charge because I wanted to start with a fresh set. The Seek Outside DST was perfect for mobile truck camping. Setup and takedown of our “camp” was less than 15 minutes each night/morning.

Disappointing Gear: Crispi Summit boots. Pulling out a lace hook was annoying and I was underwhelmed with their customer service. They responded quickly and had me send them in for repair. Round trip took just under two weeks, I just felt like I shouldn’t have had to pay the return shipping as this seemed (to me) like an obvious defect rather than abuse.

Gear to Buy/Consider: Not much. I’ve been wanting to buy some 10x42 SLCs just need to find the dollars justify spending them (wife thought a deck was more important this year) and. I’m also considering a kifaru slick bag for confidence in wet conditions. We didn’t get much rain, but seeing more tarp nights in my future I think it might make sense. The last thing I’m thinking would be nice is a soft sided cooler for flying food out and future food home. I’ve heard good things about the polar bear coolers and mention of a buy one get one deal (need to do more research here).
 

Montana Slim

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2019
Messages
49
Yeah I struggled with this post for a few days. It didn't read like a joke but if so my hat's off Steve, you got me. I didn't come on here to bicker with anyone but on the other hand my latin teacher used to say "qui tacet consentit." I don't consent. In fact, I struggle with my bowhunting adventures already because there is such a fine line between wounding and killing. Much wounding/lost game happens by careful, ethical hunters without this cavalier stance.
Careful, ethical archery hunters don't shoot 'hail maries' at running animals... yikes man - reevaluate what you're doing. That post reads REALLY BADLY.
 
Joined
May 8, 2018
Messages
54
Careful, ethical archery hunters don't shoot 'hail maries' at running animals... yikes man - reevaluate what you're doing. That post reads REALLY BADLY.
You think I shot at a running animal with a bow? Maybe i should reevaluate my wording.Every time I shot I expected an animal to die,I didn't actually just point and shoot in the general direction
 
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Netherman

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May 24, 2016
Messages
229
Location
Michigan
Part 2 Return Trip with Rifles

Day 0:

We ducked out of work early Thursday afternoon and headed out for the revenge tour. Michigan to Montana is about a 26 hour drive and I was able to sleep for about an hour of it. Excitement and caffeine kept me going. We arrived at 2pm to sunshine and weather in the 60s. great for unpacking, but not so sweet for elk hunting. But with a cold front expected for the next morning we’d take it. My friends two cousins had arrived earlier than us and already had the wall tent setup. So, after quickly unpacking we went for a quick scouting trip and spotted two herds in our planned hunting area (gonna be a good day). Once darkness settled in we headed back to the tent ate some boiled meals and were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

Lessons Learned: E-Scouting and archery scouting trips pay off.

Questions: N/A

Day 1 Part 1:

We suddenly woke to loud flapping at midnight and started the fire drill exercise of re-tightening and staking the tent. Once we were re-secured, we nervously went back to sleep hoping we wouldn’t wake up without a roof over our heads. About three hours later we woke up to more flapping and two inches of snow covering everything inside the tent. Shit! The wind was worse and look like it was close to buckling the conduit frame. Groggily we all got up and got to work. We had two guys holding onto the frame and the other two shoring up the gaps and holes that the snow was pouring thru. For the next few hours we rode out the storm and by 7 am the winds began to calm.

Not wanting to miss out on the rifle opener we quickly re-re-tightened the guylines, added a few stakes, and headed out. Surprisingly we saw no empty truck on our way into the mountains. With 20-30mph winds everyone seemed to be waiting for the weather to break even further before getting out there. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about opening day hunts it’s that “you need to be on the field, not in the stands”. We decided that we would follow up planned route from the previous day while making sure to pay particular attention to the leeward slopes and pockets.

As we made out way into the mountains, we crossed some elk tracks. With fresh snow and strong winds, we knew that these tracks must be fresh. With a good wind we began following them. After a few hundred yards we came to a windswept opening and lost the trail. Having been in the area previously we know there was a steep cut that made its way up to a high point we had seen elk feeding in before. Thinking that they would continue up in that direction we decided to walk the parallel slope watching for the elk. As we were nearing the top, we spotted a group of bedded elk with a really nice 6x6 bull. Since I had won the coin toss on the drive out, I was the shooter. We got prone and I lined up on the bull 170 yards away. Crack! I fired and the hillside exploded with elk running everywhere. A cow stopped to assess what was going on and my friend didn’t hesitate. Seconds later we heard a single crash and began our walk to the other side. On the other side we quickly found the cow but didn’t see any blood where the bull had run. Working our way to his bed we found hair in the snow, but no blood. With no blood we began following his tracks hoping that the blood would show up and that I hadn’t just given him a haircut. After a few hundred yards, no blood, and his tracks merging with the herd my friend split off to work on his elk. Disappointed I continued after the elk hoping for a shot at redemption.

Lessons Learned: Take a moment to think about the shot if you’ve got time. My first shot at the bedded elk felt good but taking a moment to think about my ballistics. I sighted my rile in 3” high at 100yds to have a point-blank range of 400yds where the bullet will never be higher than 4.5” or lower than 4.5” giving me a 9” spread to fit within the 15” vital area of an elk. By aiming at the center of the vitals while the elk was bedded (smaller vital area) I set myself up to be high and a little twitch/flinch likely caused me to end up over the elk’s back.

Questions: Any advice on setting up on side slopes? I ended up lying next to a tree to support myself and get steady, but don’t know what I would have done if there were no trees or solid object to rest against.
 
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Netherman

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May 24, 2016
Messages
229
Location
Michigan
Day 1 Part 2:


Not long after I spotted a few cows feeding on the opposite side of a burn on the leeward hillside. At two hundred yards I began to get set for a shot. Thinking I had blown my chance at a bull and with an empty freezer at home I lined up on a cow. As I was settling in for the shot a bull popped out from behind a pine. Bonus! I was set up with my gun resting on my vertical pack and as I swung to line up on the bull my bipod clinked against the pine tree next to me and spooked the already on edge herd.


With the fresh snow and wind in my favor I began following the elk again. After two more hasty setups and watching the elk move away, I made it to an open burn and about 100yds away from the elk. They were feeding on the treeline out of the wind and slowly moving over a hill. Exhausted from the stalk I saw a shot at a smaller bull who was standing broadside. Without thinking I took the shot standing and the whole herd jolted forward, but quickly slowed (maybe they were a tiny bit tired). Did I hit him? He didn’t look hit, but neither did the cow my friend had shot earlier. He was headed into a group of pines and paused quartering away. Boom! I shot again and this time he fell down but got back up and ran out in front of me with the rest of the herd. With too many elk in the background and not wanting any collateral damage, I held off on the shot. Finally, the chaos cleared, and the bull was left standing there by himself. Not sure if he was hit well or not, I took another shot. I think I missed and with no more bullets in my rifle I reloaded. During the reloading process I realized how dumb I was to be shooting standing and quickly got prone and delivered three broadside shots right behind the shoulder. He stood there and took each shot.


Now out of ammo I had a moment of panic, but that quickly faded as he laid down. A quick hundred yard walk up to him and he was dead on the ground. Holy Shit! I had finally killed an elk. As I stood there marveling at the size of an elk, I thought back on the shots I had taken. Looking over his body I was able to find the prone shots, but no evidence of the quartering away shot. Did he just slip and fall on the second shot? Could I have shot a different bull? I ran over to the spot of the second shot and could see the imprint of an elk in the snow with no blood. From there I followed the tracks and saw no signs of blood. With a sinking feeling and an elk on the ground all I could do was hope that I didn’t shoot two and that if I had it wasn’t a fatal hit. Back to the task at hand.


As everyone will tell you once you’ve got an elk on the ground “the work begins”. With my friend and two cousins working on his elk I knew I’d be on my own quartering out my elk. It took me three hours to get him quartered and hung in bags with the occasional fire tending break thrown in. As I was loading up my pack for the first trip my friend and one of his cousins showed up. Apparently, my friend’s dad and friend has walked up and were helping the second cousin pack out the cow elk. With two additional people we decided to pack out my whole elk in one trip. After a quick reorganization I was loaded up with the front shoulders and backstraps/bonus meat. My friend and his cousin both took a back quarter each. We all took turns carrying the head over our shoulders as we went. After a grueling one and a half mile packout we were back at the truck headed to the wall tent. Beat and with the wall tent in shambles we decided to stay in a local motel about 45 minutes away and deal with the tent in the morning.


Lesson Learned: don’t talk unsupported (standing) shots unless you have extensively practiced them and are 1000% confident in them. I think I took this shot out of excitement and fear of missing an opportunity don’t think I hit one shot I took while standing and definitely did not have a good one. Two trips might be better than one. I think the 1.5 miles was about the edge of how far I could carry a pack that heavy. two trips with lighter loads might have been better.


Questions: Does anyone have some good advice on balancing the need to be slow and methodical with a shot without missing opportunities? Are there any tips/tricks to calm yourself down prior to a shot?
 
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Netherman

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May 24, 2016
Messages
229
Location
Michigan
Day 2:

We slept in after our limited sleep and exhausting packout from the previous day. We then headed to the wall tent to assess the damage and get everything back to usable. Overnight more snow had blown in and was covering everything. We cleared everything out, swept the snow out, got the wood stove going, and began rebuilding. Apart from a few small holes in the canvas we were looking good. As we were working, we received a phone call from one of the cousins. He had shot a cow and was looking for help. We quickly finished with the tent, emptied our packs, and headed up the mountain. Once we arrived, he was just about done quartering and bagging. We finished up the job loaded the packs and headed down to the truck. This was a much easier packout, less distance and less weight.

Back at the wall tent we dropped off the meat and headed out for an evening river bottom hunt. One we got to the river me and my friend split up and planned to meet at the truck. I slowly worked my way thru the bottom keeping an eye out for deer. I jumped a few does that pulled a small 6pt whitetail with them. Along the way I also watched a wild cat smoke a small bird, jumped a few pheasant, and busted some smaller group of birds that must be game birds based on the flush and size (maybe quail?). About an hour before sunset I heard a gunshot with a quick second. Peering out from bottom wood line I saw two hunters up on a ridge next to a road. Not that I should be judging after my elk, but I couldn’t help but think that they must be shoot at over 600 yards. As I watched them gather their things and head back to the truck, I sure hoped they missed. Wishing I had a blaze orange suit and some flashers I continued on. Shortly after I saw the guys and truck from before heading my way. They were driving along the ranch road following the bottom that I’m pretty sure is closed to vehicle use. Maybe they had special permission or were part of the ranch…

Luckily the road turned away from the bottom, so I still had some fresh river bottom to explore. Soon I spotted a bedded spike and another deer behind him that was too dark to make out. Hoping it was a bigger buck I began cautiously working my way over there. Not long into my pseudo stalk I heard a car door slam and then another. On the other side of the marsh two hunters were getting out of their truck about 300 yards from the bedded deer. They began walking into the drainage and the now identified bucks took off further down the bottom and onto private land. I doubt the interlopers ever saw them.

With shooting light passed I headed back to the truck. Turned out that my friend had a better time than me and had seen quite a few deer including a basket rack 10 point. Even he couldn’t escape the hunting pressure though and watched as another group of hunters shot a smaller buck in the group. As we headed back to the wall tent for dinner and bed, we got a call from the cousins. The winds had picked back up and the tent was filling with snow. Again. When we arrived back at the tent, we ate our boilable dinners and decided that while we could survive the night in the tent a second motel night sounded much better. We did all we could to tighten down the tent, placed our cots to block the snow, and headed in to town. On our way back to town we decided that we had wasted enough time with the wall tent and for about $100 per person we could should just call it and stay in town for the rest of the trip. I liked being closer to our hunt area, but the questionable sleep and seemingly constant maintenance wasn’t worth it.

Lessons Learned: Don’t set a wall tent up on a ridge with no wind break. I think the reason they had chosen that spot was that they were concerned about making it back up the trail if the weather turned.

Questions: Does anyone have any tips suggestions for preventing a wall tent from twisting on the frame? As the wind hit it the wall was sliding up on the wind side and creating an opening on the bottom that allowed the snow to enter.
 

cgasner1

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2015
Messages
177
Been a great write up are you gonna post some picture of the hunt?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

lyle_destroys

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2018
Messages
347
I hunted montana a week and shot at 5 bulls.first two hit branches,third was a hail Mary running after a herd,fourth I walked into a herd passed a 5 waiting on the 6 and the herd smelled me and exploded,I barked to stop him and guessed 60 he was 50.5th shot was a frontal coming straight at me, at 15 yards he paused for a half second and I shot.as i shot he started forward again and his head went down as he did and caught the arrow on the nose.the previous 6 years I was 6 out of 6 and I believe in taking every shot opportunity i get even if it's not perfect.
I believe that's shit advice.
 

WillB25

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2019
Messages
18
Awesome post would love to see some pictures of you have any. Planning on making my first trip out west next year!
 
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Netherman

Senior Member
Joined
May 24, 2016
Messages
229
Location
Michigan
I've been lazy and still haven't got the pictures off my camera. I'll post a few that I have on my phone.

Day 3:

The next morning, we decided to hunt some coulee country closer to town and look for mule deer. As we began hiking in we ran into three deer in the darkness. As the three clearly not giant bucks worked closer to figure out what we were able to identify them as two spikes and a fork. Not what we were after, we pushed on down the coulee. We reached our planned glassing point just as the sun was hitting the canyon floor. We immediately spotted no less than 10 million antelope with quite a few good-looking bucks. Were Montana to have a similar tag system as Alaska I might have burned my deer tag on one of them. Oh well, back to deer. Next, we spotted a group of deer behind us with a 3x3 pestering a group of does and some far off deer at the bottom of a long bluff that looked to have a buck pushing the group but couldn’t tell from about a mile out even with a spotting scope on 45 power. Not excited about the 3x3 and with no other promising deer leads we decided to make the long walk to get a better look at the yet to be identified group.

On our way there we had to cross a herd of cattle probably 100 head. As we crossed the fence the cattle began to gather around us. Nervously, we parted the sea of cattle holding out trekking poles as if they were cattle prods (surprisingly effective). Once we got to the bluff, we began working our was along keeping off the skyline and glassing as we went. Having turned nothing up and with a snow squall moving in we were getting ready to head back to the truck when we spotted a group of three deer back on the other side not too far from where we had been looking. Something about them looked bucky, maybe it was the way they were moving, the fact that there were just three of them, or that we had nothing else going on. On our way closer we bumped a group of antelope with a monster buck in it. What could have been… Out of nowhere we were 300 yards from the group of deer we were after. We quickly laid down and began glassing but couldn’t focus well enough to see antlers due to the building snow. Catching a brief lull in the storm we were able to confirm that they were all bucks just not very nice ones. We watched them for a few minutes and continued our way back. Once we got into our original coulee, we were out of the wind a bit and ran into another group of small bucks. We crept closer to see if any of them would grow with no luck. They fed within 50 yards of us and never got any bigger. I stood up to take a picture that seemed like it would turn out great. When reviewed that night it just looked like snow.

Back at the truck with low visibility we decided that this would be a good time to take down the wall tent. We got everything packed up and loaded into the truck then began the painful task of taking down the tent. Once we got it all down and wrapped, we began the tedious process of removing stakes from the frozen ground. In the darkness we got fully loaded up and headed back to the motel. Excited, that we would no longer have to mess with the tent and huge time suck.

Lesson Learned: Not really a lesson but we were disappointed with our optics and ability to identify bucks at longer ranges. Currently I have vortex diamondback 10x42s and a vanguard 15-45x65. I’m even more interested in picking up some better glass after days like this.

Questions: Does anyone have a good stake (rebar) pulling method? We ended up using a map gas torch to thaw the ground and a small axe to dig them out (brutal).
 
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Netherman

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May 24, 2016
Messages
229
Location
Michigan
Day 4

This morning we decided to take the old guys hunting as they had claimed to not have seen a deer the past three days. My friend took his dad to some coulee country and I took his friend to some river bottoms that I had e-scouted but had never actually seen. As we were getting out of the truck, I spotted a deer walking into the bottom, but it was too dark to make out antlers. Behind him were two more deer that based on body size seemed to be a doe and fawn. Heading down into the bottom we cautiously worked our way thru the bottom and peering into the openings looking for deer heading to bed for the day.

We made it about a mile down the bottom without seeing a deer and then we got into the cattle. Cattle as far as the eye could see. Not that we couldn’t have turned up a buck with so many cattle around but the odds of seeing one without cattle in the line of fire seemed low. We headed back to the truck to check out a new area. On our way back walking along a ranch road hoping for better luck at the next spot I spot antlers moving thru the bottom towards us. It’s a nice whitetail buck probably 100 yards away and closing. We get down and I make sure he gets a round in the chamber (he already had since we left the truck). He still hadn’t seen the buck and knowing that he really wanted to shoot a mule deer I told him that if he didn’t want to shoot it I would. That’s the kind of nice guy I am… He wanted to shoot it so he got set on his shooting sticks and we eased over the edge looking into the bottom. Now at 70 yards he spotted us and stopped looking. Thinking he was about to run I started to say “sho-CRACK. Down he went the 270 at 70 yards nearly flipped him over as the bullet hit his neck and dropped him dead on the spot.

After a few high fives and conversation about how quickly it had happened, and we were caping and quartering him out. My friend and his dad showed up to check him out and help carry the deer out. Bragging about my guiding abilities my client asked where their deer was. Turns out they had seen a few mulie bucks but nothing big. With one tag filled we headed in to town for breakfast. On the way we figured out why they hadn’t been seeing deer as they were regulars at the breakfast place and had been to every bar within a hundred-mile radius. “looking for intel” as they put it… The celebration was cut short when we got word that the other cousin had shot a bull and needed help.

He shot the bull in an area that we had hunted before and had received permission to drive thru to retrieve a deer. We stopped at the ranch house and asked to make sure it was alright and then the four of us began driving out to the elk. Once there we began helping cut up the elk and heard the story. They spotted the elk and it seemed to be having a tough time walking. This enabled them to chase it down and take the shot. While quartering it out we noticed a bullet wound in his right rear leg that seemed to be a few days old. My mind went back to my elk and the doubt in my mind over whether I could have shot two separate elk. It was possible and a shot in the right rear could align with the steep quartering away shot that I had taken. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I took some level of comfort knowing that at a minimum this elk was no longer suffering with a potentially fatal hit. Having parked so closely to the elk we didn’t think to bring our packs and ended up carrying the quarters over our shoulder the 500 or so yards up hill to the truck. That sucked.

Lesson Learned: Always discuss with others what your expectations are regarding a chambered round. We try and keep guns unloaded until we need to shoot as we are typically moving thru rough terrain and over fences. I was surprised by the fact that he had a round loaded all morning.

Questions: N/A.
 
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Netherman

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May 24, 2016
Messages
229
Location
Michigan
Day 5

Wanting to help his dad get a deer my friend took him to a whitetail spot that he had seen a nice 8 point and a smaller 10 a few days ago. I took the friend with me and we planned to walk a new river bottom. When we got there, it was much dryer and with less green vegetation than expected. It felt like mule deer country. Working our way along we spotted a lot of good-looking bedding and some old sign but no deer. After two hours of looking without seeing a single deer we decided to head back to the truck and shoot the deer that must be waiting for us on the way. It didn’t play out that way this morning, so we were headed to a new area across the road from where my friend had gone with his dad. As we got to the parking spot, we saw them across the road and looked like they were cutting up a deer. Not wanting to miss out on the fun we headed over to help. His dad hasn’t been known to pass on deer and the small 6 point he had shot didn’t do much to change his reputation. There were a lot of guide and deer quality jokes that went unsaid. I think he just wanted to get an animal down as he was the only one left that hadn’t pulled the trigger. With packs on we didn’t even think of loading them and just hand carried out the quarters.

With both their deer tags filled we passed on brunch and headed to so more challenging terrain in search of a big mule deer or two. A we started our initial ascent we quickly realized that this windless 20-degree weather was a relative heat wave. Losing about 50% of our layers we continued our way up the ridge into deer country. As we peered into the first cut, we spotted a big group of mule deer all doe and one forky. At the head of the drainage we spotted three deer bedded. Even with the spotting scope we couldn’t make out what they were. As we moved further up the cut, we found out it was just a doe and two fawns. With a direction chosen for us we continued up the drainage only to spot a group of over 20 deer at the mouth. Good thing we like walking… We decided to look into the next cut over and then work our way down to a better view of the deer on the bottom. As we glassed over the herd of deer below, we spotted a few little bucks and a 3x3 that seemed to get bigger and bigger the longer we looked at him. Until I mention that with two days left maybe we shot go take a closer look. With my miss earlier in the week my friend has first opportunity to shoot. He said that he didn’t want to shoot it, but that I could if I wanted. Watching him for a bit longer he and a group of does headed up another cut and disappeared behind a small cluster of pines. Looking back over we saw the buck bed down under a pine. Seeing an opening I decided that we needed to start the stalk. We needed to drop into the bottom move over two cuts and hopefully pop up on a hill with a shot at the deer. Halfway there my Native American said that he wanted to try out this whole Indian giver thing. Guess he kept growing in his mind as we walked. At the bottom of the final hill we dropped a few things and crept to the top. I had my pack, rangefinder, and binos and he had his rifle. At the top we spotted the buck about 250 yards away still bedded. We had one problem though, it was a different buck and this one was bigger. Using my pack as a rest my friend lined up on the deer making sure to double check our ballistics. Boom! The deer never got up and had laid his head down for the last time. As we were high fiving the group of does and the 3x3 ran out into the clearing to see what all the commotion was about. Chaos ensued as I grabbed my friends rifle and awkwardly racked in a new round (Lefty using a righty gun). My friend started calling ranges and making loud bleat noises to try and get the deer to stop. He stopped once, but I couldn’t find him in the scope. I thought I was looking one ridge over as all I could see was snow. After a few naked eye to scope transitions the deer had had enough and ran into the big timber. Turned out my friend has a Hubble telescope on his rifle and had it dialed to 20x. The far away ridge that I had been looking at was likely the snow next to the deer.

With the missed opportunity for a double we got to work quartering out his buck. He wasn’t quite as big as we had initially thought but was a decent 4x4 about the same size as the 3x3. Once we got him loaded, I ran down to the bottom to take another look at the bigger heard but only saw the same does and little bucks from before. His cousins were hunting close to us so we decided to give them a call and see if they would pick us up at a different road that was really close. Otherwise we planned to hike there drop our packs and then loop around with the truck. They couldn’t come get us as they had also shot a deer and were trying to find it. Luckily, our clients were available and about an hour away. As we started the hike, I joked that once we popped over the ridge there’d be a buck for me to shoot. As we crested the hill, we spotted a coyote on the opposite ridge. Thinking it would be cool to have a deer and coyote when they showed up, I briefly thought about taking a shot. Those thoughts faded as a buck stepped out into the open. Thru my binos I was able to tell that it was the same 3x3 from earlier. I quickly got a range and went prone. He stopped, but there was a pine tree in my way. I moved for a better angle and he started walking again. My friend made a doe bleat and stopped him. He was quartering towards us, so I settled in on his inside shoulder expecting an exit on behind the off-side shoulder. I squeezed the trigger and he nearly did a backflip he kicked so hard. Two steps and he was down.

We were so close to the road that we decided to gut and drag him out. The cousins still hadn’t found the deer, so we headed over to them. I’d finish quartering my deer and my friend would help them look. 10mm on my hip I couldn’t help but think about the bear snare warning sign I had seen on our way in. Constantly scanning I methodically got the deer into game bags and into the cooler. Just as I was finishing everyone showed up without the deer. It sounded like they got confused with a second blood trail. The plan was to wait for daylight and resume the search. Tired after a long day it was easy to fall asleep.

Lesson Learned: Always keep your scope dialed down and check the setting when trying to locate an animal. After a shot drop a pin from the shot location, range where the animal went down, and try and drop a pin the same distance away.

Questions: N/A.
 
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