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Back From Out West

Discussion in 'Hunting - Trapping, Deer, Gator, Hog, Turkey' started by Rich M, Nov 5, 2019.

  1. Rich M

    Rich M Mate
    Thread Started By

    I just got back so will share some




    pics and worry about story later.
    Nautical Gator and mak like this.
  2. mak

    mak Moderator on Deck Staff Member

    Very nice deer! congratulations!
    Anxious to here all about your trip. Awesome1::1
  3. Bossman

    Bossman Moderator on Deck Staff Member

    That's a great looking muley Rich! Looks like it was a cold trip also.
  4. Rich M

    Rich M Mate
    Thread Started By

    When I went to pick up the rental pickup for the trip they handed me a 300 mile new Tacoma TRD 4x4. Dad affectionately named it the turd, we finished loading it to the gills and we're off.

    The 24 hr drive took more like 28 (30 if you count the 2 time changes). We hit a time warp in Texas where we actually lost time driving toward the destination. We stopped for a nap at the Texas welcome center and grabbed about 4 hrs awakening to heavy rain and being in the heart of a tropical system. Checked the weather, saw a gap and went for it, squeezing out of the storm and into Dallas for the first portion of rush hour but nothing crazy.

    Arrived at camp site around 5 pm and got cracking on getting the wall tent up and dinner cooking. NY buddy shows and we look at some maps for the next morning. Pretty camp site!

    Opening morning we're up, fed and out as the sun rises. No sense heading in blind in the dark. One truck at parking place. Split up and head in. The terrain is like rolling hills that end up in drainages against a large plateau.

    I went wide for the top and NY guy went for the center to the opposite end of the ridge couple miles away. As with public land, we found ourselves quickly outnumbered with about 6 other guys in the area. I watched one go running across the top and drop into a drainage and stop. The deer didn't go that way and had avoided him. I never saw the deer but the 10x glass would have shown it. Guy is running here and there and I adapted, covering more of the lower cover and then looping around to the top from a diff angle. Glassing numerous drainages.

    NY guy was surrounded and even had folks driving thru the “no driving” area.

    We gave it a good effort. NY guy did 6.5 miles and I did more. We drove that piece of public and saw multiple vehicles at the parking spots. So much for the reported low pressure there.

    Decided to try and see some more land before everyone else and hit the lack of pavement. Saw some real flat and barren land and some seemingly nice canyons.

    Tally for day was 6 turkey, 1 skunk, 1 rattlesnake, 1 gh owl, and some Sandhill crane and snow goose flocks.

    Decided to swing for the fence on day 2. Headed to the “dreaded canyon of no return”.

    Looked low and found lots of sign including some large running tracks that were as wide as my gloved hand and screamed big buck. Dove further into dconr and did a couple 2 man assaults on some beautiful drainage features. We never cut a track up high.

    Decided to head across to a walk in area adjacent to the dconr. Saw 3 bighorn sheep rams but nothing else. Those critters are girthy. They crossed from one mountain to another and just bedded up on the rim rock. Pretty cool.

    Nothing else but some quail seen.

    Went into shotgun mode for day 3. Started hitting smaller pieces and just plain covering land.

    Found our first Mule deer on a small piece. Saw couple does and stopped, then a 2x2 stands up out of brush/sage and another 6 or so does. We had the “should we shoot him cause we might not see another one” discussion and decided to pass.

    Went back to the canyon and split up NY guy set up high over the bottom with sign and dad and I went up and over w truck.

    Ran into a couple guys who were whitetail hunting. They told us about some mulies over at public land no. 1. So we headed that way and I saw 7 does, 3 at about 30 yards when they walked up on me as I was waiting for a 2x3 buck to show up with 4 other deer that were feeding. The 2x3 buck he mentioned was a no show.

    NY guy saw 3 whitetail does and a 3.5 yo half rack with a large 4 or 5 pt half. He said it was big enough to shoot like that.

    Day 4 the whitetail guys go skidding to a stop in front of us, have a confab about a big mulie they saw. We tell them about half rack and get the location of the big buck. Off and running back to the canyon of no return. Way, way back and as we get close another truck comes out... LOL Can’t make this stuff up.

    We went in anyway. Dove by an old settler shack and parked where the road ended, just like in the movies. I went high, NY guy stayed low and we worked 2.5 miles into that drainage. Then cut the slope in half and headed out. Ended up inside a field of rock pillars. Very cool.

    Got out of there and went for gas at an old style gas station truck stop auto repair etc. Began talking to 2 fellows sitting in there and one starts explaining how we need to hunt and what kind of cover to focus on – the canyons and drainages were not it. Then he up and tells us to go hunt his winter wheat field... Get going, the deer will be in it now.

    Off and running again... Get there and 2 similar fields 200 yards apart. One has 12 does, one is adjacent to public.

    We split up and went to glass public cause the cover matched. I saw 5 deer head towards NY guy. He saw a big 4x4, 3x3, other smaller bucks and does. He stopped counting at 20 deer. Some crossed from public to the field, others were on private the whole time.

    This is the night of the snow storm.
  5. Rich M

    Rich M Mate
    Thread Started By

    Day 5. Got 2-4 inches of white stuff.

    NY guy went back to the public from night before but had a flat and was assisted by 2 locals before he could help himself.

    I went into an area of canyon and draws near some ag. Tested a property boundary and covered juniper hillsides and brushy draws without cutting a single deer track.

    Back to camp grabbed a nap and NY guy shows. We decided to hit the public near the ag again. Had doe fawn and small 2x2 as close as 20 yards. Hoped that passing the 2nd legal buck was the right thing to do...

    This is the cold night. Was 5 or 7 degrees (temp gauge couldn’t make up its mind) when we got back to the tent.

    Day 6

    What a miserable night. Even with buddy heater on high. Got up and headed out to glass, nothing but a coyote. Grabbed dad and off to hotel for him – he was worn out by the continued cold and endless wind.

    Then back to hunt. Needed gas so stopped and this time asked a local lady which field was which. The one adjacent to the public was the one we had access to!

    Had a debate over what time to arrive and I won. 4 pm there and heading in. I played wind and he went in upwind. Could see each other. Wave. Sit down and there are 6 does in field already, more deer in grass on other side of road, heading this way.

    I'm watching 20+ deer and 1 visibly racked buck at about 600 yds trying to decide if it is time to belly crawl the field but sit tight and hope. They might work into the wind and closer to me.

    Truck comes by on a nearby road, all the deer run 200 yds closer to me when truck stops. Then truck goes and the deer run to leave field 215 yards down wind of me. 3 antlered bucks, does everywhere.

    Then the biggest buck stops. I've got elbows on knees and rifle in shooting stick, put tight on shoulder and touch off. He tucks up front leg and starts peg legging towards property boundary. Stops after 25 yards or so, I aim a little further back and he drops at the shot. (was hit w high shoulder shot from 243 and it wasn't enough energy to dump him DRT - tough deer)

    Deer are running in every direction, the place is in pandemonium.

    Walk over to buck and am awed more by his body size than rack. Man he is big.

    Buddy shows and we try dragging it. Gave up and got truck. Brought deer to nearby public land and cleaned/quartered it there, took to cwd test station and to show dad.

    Day 7

    Back on the drive and walk circuit. Basically killing time til field time.

    Wind was blowing and we took wall tent down.

    Hit field. I'm watching from truck, he went upwind again.

    3x3 and doe show, get nervous at truck and head onto public, leaving. NY guy heads to cut them off. Had 120 yd shot and safety on. 150 yd shot, rushed and missed.

    I saw another buck, 2x2.


    Grab dinner. Tomorrow is another day.

    Day 8

    Went and picked up cook tent and truck full of supplies.

    Tried to get NY guy to shoot gun at range and get a big no. Can you see where this is going?

    We get to field at 330 and discuss options. Do range finding etc.

    He heads back to where he was yesterday and I go park down the road and take a nap in the sun.

    About 10 minutes after sundown his gun barked at a 2x2 at 80 yards. Shot went high, deer stands there. NY guy short strokes it and then overcompensates and has 2 live rounds clustered in bolt. He clears it and deer is just looking at him, then moves off. Gun is then cleared and 2nd shot did not happen.

    End of day 8. NY guy says not gonna hunt evening of day 9. So, essentially trip is over.

    Drive home took 31 hours.
  6. mak

    mak Moderator on Deck Staff Member

    Man, you really worked hard and covered a lot of ground for that deer. All that pre-hunt prep and practicing with your hand loads paid off too. It’s really great that the locals were willing to help you out like that.
    The big problem with the public lands is all the other hunters you can run in to like that. Only option for us regular guys though. I guess sometimes it can be a real pita and other times it may work to your advantage and push the game toward you.
    5 degrees overnight?? damn! What were your daytime temps? I love being in the super cold overnight with a warm bag, but out in it all day hunting will really wear you down.
    Really glad you got such a nice one. Congratulations again.
  7. Rich M

    Rich M Mate
    Thread Started By

    Thanks, Mak

    Public is a tough game to play. The guys who know what they are doing and have a good plan usually make out well.

    It is all about being the first guy to a given area, once the deer spook they are pretty much gone for a few days. We also saw more deer when we sat and waited for them to do their thing as opposed to covering ground looking to catch em on their feet.

    We had a couple days with 20s and one day with 17 and windy.

    It was as cold as it looks.

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