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Showing content with the highest reputation since 03/03/2020 in Posts

  1. 50 points
    Thomas was able to harvest an unbelievable Buck this morning. Huge thanks to those who dropped everything and assisted this morning! Kevin, Shelvin, Blake and Cliff are first class! You guys are my heroes!!!!! Thanks for making Thomas's last day very special!
  2. 46 points
    My Archery bull .Unit 18A,public land. So I hired James Fleming to do this hunt with. I have been talking to him since before the draw.A few thought I was crazy burning 9pts on a marginal limited opportunity area. I went with a gut feeling and it paid off.James knows the area like no one else.Day 1 was slow with only a few elk spotted and no shooters. sat water for 8 hours in middle of day till evening with only javelinas coming in. Day 2 up at 4 and into another blind for barely an hour when I received text bull spotted. James picked him up at 4 miles away and it appeared he wasn't moving to another zip code. He then disappeared into a sea of junies . we estimated where he might be and made the trek. About noon we lucked out and he bugled. We had to assume it was him as they weren't active calling at all. we estimated him to be around 500 yards away so we moved in a couple of hundred yards where we would remain on the ground for 4 plus hours. Around 5 he bugled once and on went the sneekee feet and we closed to about a hundred yards. we hung the cow decoy in a cliff rose, I set up and James got behind me about 20 yards. 2 cow calls set him off tearing up a tree(sounded like a train breaking limbs).he did this for 15 minutes without bugling and stopped. I was shaking like a leaf. More mews and I could hear him coming in on a rope. Still having not seen him his swords appeared( knew it was him at that second )above a juniper in front of me. he turned to get around the juniper and downwind and as he was walking in to a 3 foot shooting lane I was drawn and calm. I was preparing to shoot him walking but he froze with vitals exposed to look at the decoy . I released arrow and center punched him at 30 yards. At this point I practically collapsed.It was very warm and I guess years of frustration and missed opportunity were coming into into my thoughts.The arrow was complete pass through 4 blade wacem. we waited about 20 minutes to start the recovery. quite a bit of blood at first...but it tapered off.Fortunately his tracks were easy to follow in the dirt. This beast made it 500 yards and expired. James was as excited as I was. after lots of hugs and high fives we set about the work. we carried what we could.hung the rest and got back to camp at 430 Am. we slept for a couple of hours then made the 3 mile trek to pack out the rest.
  3. 46 points
    Spent all summer scouting turning up a lot of good bucks. Went up for the hunt and was able to take this heavy buck opening morning. Big thanks to everyone who came up to scout and help out on the hunt
  4. 43 points
    My son and I scouted hard all summer, he named a buck that was coming in regular “eye guards”. After some tough misses on opening day, Saturday about 2:00 pm eye guards came strolling in and Tanner capitalized on him with one 50 yard shot, the buck ran 100 yards and piled up. He is still on cloud nine, I’m super proud of him. For those that care he rough green scored 111”.
  5. 40 points
    She had a blessed year drawing an unlikely tag her first try and then getting to take this bull with one shot of the 7MM at about 45 yards in self defense as he was coming to trample us:) This was 10/3 at 4pm in the afternoon. We never could find any rutting action and never saw a cow in the two days we hunted. We just had moved sides of the unit to try an old area for the evening and had hiked into a secluded area. My daughter is a good hiker and we were just cold cow calling every couple hundred yards and this guy let out a very faint quick half-a-second groan/sigh really, like the very very end sound portion of a bugle, at maybe 100 yards or so, I'm sure from his bed. I was pretty sure it was an elk, but expected it to be a spike or something, but within a matter of seconds we saw him coming, we jumped down prone and got her all set up. She is really good at finding things in the scope but this time wasn't much of a challenge haha. My father dropped back to continue cow calling during this time, and the bull never really stopped coming so I had to eventually tell her to shoot just him before he got too close. He went down in about 10 seconds, and she was a very happy hunter!
  6. 40 points
    I’ll bite! I was fortunate to take this great buck last Friday on the Bab. It was a tough year but there were some great bucks out there. This was the last night of my 14 day hunt.
  7. 39 points
    Hunter continued his quest to complete his AZ Big 10 last night. We hunted this bull for a couple days. He was a gladiator and kept injuring and running off bigger bulls. We were on him twice before without being able to complete a shot. To his credit he just wouldn’t shoot unless he was perfectly steady. When the moment came just before dark he made it count taking out the bulls front shoulder on the first shot. He went 30 yds and piled up. I have to say what an awesome experience from the great friends who made it possible when I couldn’t be there to start, and some others who came out to help late last night. You only get so many firsts and this one was awesome. Watching Hunter and his brother fist pump and high five was priceless. There are great lessons to be learned in the outdoors about persistence and strength and effort. So proud that he stuck with it and didn’t give up.
  8. 38 points
    Tessa was able to take this gladiator of a bull on Monday morning he was in tact Thursday when we saw him . This is what a few days of fighting will get you almost every bull was broke to pieces . Tessa actually found part of this bulls rack , if you look above his shoulder you can see a broke off point . Going to have to pay the Taxidermest extra to put this one back together .
  9. 36 points
    Had another frustrating, feet killing, back aching, hot, cold, rainy, dusty, fun-filled pronghorn hunt with Taylor last week. Had just about every thing that could go wrong on a hunt (as far as animals) happen. Had great times and success too. Drove out Friday AM early, on the road by 3:30AM. Got out to our hunt area by about 2:00PM. Drove around, and found a good buck that would be our #1 hit list buck for opening morning for Taylor. We watched him for a couple hours from about 1.2 miles away, making sure he stayed put. Met up with Brandon and Kyle (see Zeke's report), they got a look at the buck we were watching, and we went over game plans for each other's hunts. Hard to tell from the photos, nut he is tall, and pretty wide. Cutters are average, and so is mass, but a pretty good buck. At dusk, we headed for the hotel, and stopped on the way out, and glassed up Brandon's buck "Unicorn". I tested Brandon telling him, "You have got to kill that buck! He is cool!" Day 1: Opening morning found us back in the same spot we put the buck to bed the night before. And, the buck and his harem of 16 does were nowhere to be found. But I glassed up another harem of 18 does. Figuring there had to be a buck with them, I kept glass on them. Eventually, a very good buck (better than our #1 hit list buck by quite a bit) appeared briefly @ 1750. We got a plan together to get within about 400 yards, and were gearing up, when a truck came barreling down the road and spooked them over a couple small rolling hills. We put together a new plan to go after them, and started our first multi-mile trek of the hunt. Seemed like every time we closed to 600 or so, the does would be up and feeding over the top of the next hill. At 3/4 mile into our stalk, Taylor says to me, "I can hear mom talking." (My wife's voice carries a long way, not loud, just something in the frequency or tone). I turned around and glassed, and NMGFD was parked behind the 4Runner. I called her on the cell, and actually talked with the NMGFD officer. Super nice guy, I texted him photos our licenses, tags, and landowner written permission. He wished us luck, and back at it. After about 4 hours, we finally crept to the backside of the last hill, and glassed up does about 200 yards ahead and below us. Pulses quickened, as we started looking for the big buck. And looked. And looked. For about an hour, I glassed everything, the buck was gone. Eventually, the does spotted us, and trotted off, with one circling us and coming in behind us to 87 yards, before blowing out. A couple mile hike back to the truck. Stalk one failed. Drove over to the west side of the ranch, and glassed up a couple bucks. One at about 1300, and one a few miles out. Passed on the closer, smaller buck. Drove within a mile of the bigger buck, and got out to start stalk #2. Dropped down in a small wash, and got within 530 yards of the bedded buck. He was a good one, a shooter....but was about 100 yards onto public land, and we had private land only tags. Sat on him for a couple hours, hoping he would get thirsty and come to the water tank behind us on private, and give us a shot when he stepped onto private land at 400 yards. After a couple hours, he got up, and walked further onto public land to his does. Stalk #2 failed. Backed out down the wash so we didn't spook the herd. Spotted another smaller buck, and was within 450 for about 10 minutes, and Taylor kept asking if he was good, and since I kept saying "he is OK", she opted to pass on him too. Drove down to another spot I have seen good bucks, and spotted this guy just on public, but heading for private. Had him at 400ish, and he walked right up to the fence we had crept along for a few hundred yards trying to cut the distance. He had us pegged, and finally turned and hauled but, just 3' from being legal. Stalk #3 failed....or is that 4? Went back to about the only spot that the big buck that disappeared that morning could have gone. I stopped at a good glassing spot, and glassed miles of flat ground, and saw a bachelor herd of bucks up on the mesa. The group had 2 good, one average, and two smaller bucks. They were above where we wanted to check, so we drove around the hills to get closer to the valley they were above. As I pulled off the 2-track once we got closer to glass, literally, within 3 seconds, I see a puff of dust, and then hear a "boom" from a long ways away. The big buck is 360 yards away! And someone who did not want us to get a shot at him took a 1200ish yard shot at him in a desperate attempt at him. Needless to say, that buck took off with me being close, and some fool shooting at him from the next County. It would be the last time we saw him during the hunt. He stopped at 1455 from us, on public land, as the other guy just walked back to his truck. Probably 2500 yards from him now. Not really a stalk, but what could have been a great opportunity at the big buck failed. Found a few other bucks that evening, but nothing we wanted to go after on day #1. Heard from Brandon that Kyle had killed too. At the end of the day, we stopped by Brandon's hotel, and I got to lay hands on "Unicorn". Really unique buck. I would have shot him in a heartbeat too. Glad Brandon got the smoke his #1 buck on opening day. A bit jealous. Day #2: Started off passing quite a few bucks, nothing big. Went back to look for the #1 hit buck and glassed up 9 of his 16 does in the same valley they were in before opening day. Thinking the buck and other does might be further up the valley, we drove around and parked about 800 yards to the south. Geared up, and snuck around the back side to 233 yards of the herd. Glassed for about 2 hours looking for the buck, to no avail. Could not locate him, or the other does. Backed out very slowly, and stalk #1 for the day failed. Stopped and glassed the area the big buck was last seen, and also looking for the bachelor bucks. Saw 4 of the bachelors on the edge of the mesa, so we got in closer to within 600ish, and waited. One of the better ones was coming down to private, and we were ready to take a shot, but he would not quit moving, and eventually went back up top onto public. 3 others were working their way down, so we sat and waited. One good one, one small one, and the average buck. They literally got to the property line (according to OnX), and stopped. I willed them to take 5 more steps, but they turned back around, and eventually went back up top too. Stalk #2 failed. A storm was rolling in, and it got really windy. Windier than I figured. Driving to another part of the ranch, we saw the herd of does off the road, looking like they really wanted to cross, so we stopped to let them go across. Well, they eventually turned around and walked back into their valley. So we drove on........and there he was! 551 yards away. Jumped out of the truck, and got Taylor behind my 6.5 SS. I made a terrible wind call, and first shot "Hold .8MIL right......pew.....You are just left!" "Shoot again, hold 1.2MIL right....pew......just over him, shoot again." By now, he knew something was up and was moving out. Flat ground, no features, adrenalin, and shaky hands make ranging difficult. 770, one more shot by Taylor, "just left!". At this point, Taylor was pissed. She says, "You shoot him!" I jump behind the gun, and try and range him. 800? Pew. She says, "just under him!" 920 now? Pew. "Just left!" Over a rise he goes. Now I am pissed....and determined. Stupid wind, Taylor should have had him in the bag. I figured 10-15mph. Was probably more like 35mph. We run back to the truck, and instead of grabbing ammo, we grabbed Taylor's 6.5SLR. Drove up to the hill he went over, I jumped out with my 15s, her rifle, and hustled up the hill. As we topped out, he was standing right there at 200ish? He bolts L to R like shot from a cannon. Taylor yells, "Shoot him!!!" I threw up the rifle (thank goodness the 3-20 was set on 7X) and snapped off a quick shot that I saw kick up dust right in front of him. Spun him around, and he hit mach 2 instantly. I think my wingshooting and varmint hunting instincts kicked in. I worked the bolt while looking through the scope, led him, saw shot #2 kick up dust right behind him, worked the bolt as I followed him, said "this is stupid" as I touched of shot #3, hearing the "whop" and he never broke stride. Worked the bolt again while keeping him in the scope, touched off shot #4 hoping to anchor him, and saw the puff of dust right in front of him. Then.......huge cloud of dust as he cartwheeled. About 10 seconds, 4 shots, and one down pronghorn buck. I have never be a "shoot at a running big game animal" guy. Not sure what happened, heat of the moment I think. But, at 250 yards on a 50mph run, I had a buck down. I also felt bad about shooting a buck that was supposed to be Taylor's. But looking at Taylor, she said one of the coolest things I have heard from her. "I always knew you were an awesome hunter, but I think you may be the best hunter alive! No one is going to believe that shot." I think shot placement was spot on. You can see the entrance below. And the 6.5mm 130 AR Hyb sure do work amazingly well. The storm was rolling in, and lightning was getting CLOSE. I quartered him up and caped him out in about 15 minutes, just as the lightning got too close for comfort. Last strike as I was closing the back hatch was "Flash.....one one thousand, BOOM". We drove to the west side of the ranch hoping to get ahead of the storm and maybe get a chance at another buck, but Mother Nature chased us down and off the ranch early, about 4:00PM as the rain started to dump and lightning was closing in again. We opted to make a run for the hotel. Day #3: Taylor has stated, "I am shooting the first mature buck I see, I don't care if it is big, average, or even small." OK, should be easy, right? Right??? Wrong. First legal light, I stop at a small rise as we approach the ranch to glass. Taylor says, "There is a buck right there. I am going to shoot him right now." Get out, getting set up for a 600 yard shot, and he ducks under the fence and off property. So we watch him, and he crosses further down the fence line back onto property! Up and on top of a small hill looking to circle back around. So we drove up to the property fence, and get out and get ready. The buck picked up another buck, a bit smaller, and we try and get set up for a shot, but they crossed the road. So we get up, cross the road, and Taylor is prone, and the bucks stop at 431 yards, staring right at us. She dials, and I tell her, "the one on the right, wait fr him to turn, and put one in him" No wind. Staring contest lasts for about 3 minutes. Then, the bucks looks behind us as a truck drives down the road. Now, the 4Runner is stopped in the middle of the road, two doors are wide open, we are laying on a table top flat piece of ground off the road by 10 yards, I am standing behind my 15s on a tripod. You would think, YOU WOULD THINK, that the truck would have stopped as soon as they saw us. You would think. It kept coming. Bucks bolt and run for 27 miles or so. The truck drives up to us and stops, "Are you hunting?" As I turn around, probably with lasers shooting from my eyes as my skin peels back to reveal my bloody skull and flames billowing from my scalp........"Are you kidding me!?!" Needless to say, the truck left in a hurry without waiting for an answer..... Opportunity 1 of the day blown. So we drove up and start glassing at one of our usual spots. I glass up a herd of goats at 1500, and start to make a plan.....when another truck drives up...."Are you hunting?" As the herd runs off.......turns out, it was the ranch owner's Mother. Super nice lady. We talked for a brief moment, me seething under my smiling face. But, it is her ranch. Off she goes. We headed the same direction. Opportunity 2 blown. Drive down to the glassing spot, nothing. But some great mule deer that we had seen the day before too. 3 shooter bucks for sure, one big boy, one older buck on his way down that I have seen for 3 years in a row. All bachelored up together. One guy must like his own company... I drove out to glass the big valley with the bachelor herd of goats, but couldn't find them. But, I did find a good buck bedded all by himself. Called Taylor over, and he was 1650 yards out in the middle of a big valley. We had some cover of a small wash that would put us within about 700. No wind, doable. Well, he got up and moved 200 yards, then bedded back down. New plan, new wash. He got up again, and moved another 200 yards and bedded back down. Now, no cover within 100 yards. Try and form a now plan and come in from a different direction, above him.......and he got up again and started walking, bedded down another 500 or so yards, and totally out in the open, with no cover within 1300+ yards. Is he worth spending 3+ hours to try and get close without bumping him into the next property? Chances: Slim to none. He got a pass. Opportunity #3 kind of passed. THink about the big buck that was on the southwest side, and go look for him next. Glassed up a good buck when we got there. He was 1588 out, with two big cottonwoods between us and him, and they were 1150 yards away. Should put us under 400 yards of the bedded buck. And I mean bedded. He actually kept laying his head down as I watched him. Geared up, and started after him, keeping the trees between us to mask our approach. Halfway there, 500 yards from the trees, 900ish from the buck.........a truck is driving across the meadow he was overlooking. "Oh crap" I said.......same lady. Up goes the buck, and he trots off and beds back down, still on private, but almost off the ranch. So we continued on another 100 yards, and so did the truck........bye bye buck. Stalk #4 blown. Frustrated beyond belief, and having covered most of the ranch, I opt to try the one part of the ranch I have never hunted. It is seriously as flat as a table for MILES. Grass is 3-4" tall. But, I know there are two tanks on the corner of the property out there. OnX shows a 2-track on public land that crosses onto another ranch but runs along the fence line. So, we try it. I don't think a prairie dog can hide out there, and we actually find a small dog town. And a burrowing owl standing on a dog mound. That was cool. So anyway, we keep driving, and my wife is saying, "Do you think there will actually be any antelope up here?" Well, it is above where the bachelor herd was, and I have glassed up pronghorn up here 2 years ago, might as well check it out. I noticed a skull off the road, and got out to check it.....halfway to it, I look over, and a decent buck is staring at me from 300 yards, but on the wrong side of the fence. I say, "Taylor.....(whistle)". She looks over, and I point. She slinks out of the truck with my 25SST. Comes over to me, and I say, "He needs to cross that fence, and he is legal." No kidding, he ducks under the fence, and I see a 2nd decent buck standing looking at me, like he emerged from the dust. They walk off, and over about a 18" high swell. We follow, cross the fence and onto private ranch property. I can see the two bucks right in front of me, Taylor following me as we duck walk towards them in single file. She goes prone, but can only see the horns. I ask, "Do you think you can shoot off my shoulder? They are only 189 yards away." I get on my knees, and she rests the rifle on my shoulder. She says, "Quit breathing and I think I can get a shot." I hold my breath......and the bucks bolt. The bigger of the two never stops. Just off to the races. The other buck runs to 600ish, where a third buck stands up. Last ditch effort, I take my tan/white hat and start to flag him. Holy crap......here they come. I am checking my phone and compass, they are on private, but only by about 50'. Taylor is prone and on him. I am ranging....."Let them keep coming......500.......400......350.....331......they stopped, wait for the one on the right to turn........" 3 minutes of him just standing staring at us....."Shoot him right in the neck. You on him?" Pew (suppressed, so no more BOOM). He books, but I can see blood like pouring out a 5 gallon bucket of red paint pouring out of him. He went about 50 yards, stopped, teetered over without a kick. Blood trail that Helen Keller could have followed. I don't think the hole is actually an exit. I think that 131 Blackjack @ 3238fps MV just hit him so hard, the thin chest cavity could not contain the hydrostatic shock of the temporary wound channel. Blew out 3 separate ribs, hole right through the top of the heart, lungs were liquid, even had stomach content at the hole in his side. Devastating performance. Thank you to my wife for keeping us company, to God for allowing us the opportunity and health to pursue these amazing animals, and to Taylor, for keeping me hard at work. She kept me going, seriously. She is a tough kid (not really a kid anymore), and kept a good attitude, and worked hard for this buck. Couldn't be more proud of the young lady she has become. Thanks to Brandon too.
  10. 34 points
    I don't post stories/pics much. (In fact, I don't think I have ever posted anything hunting trip related, other than adventures with my kids.) Anyway, since not many folks get to hunt bison, I thought I would share. I put in on a whim when applying for deer 4 months ago. Just an afterthought, assuming that I would not get drawn, but I lucked-out and got one of 10 tags for the 9/25-10/7 12A cow hunt. Once I was drawn, I decided I would do everything I could to try to give myself the best chance at killing one. I reached-out to, and spent time on the phone with quite a few people who had previously had the permit, including Heat and Catfishkev. I also spoke with Flatlander a couple of times, since he and his son did the hunt in July. In addition, I exchanged messages with several others (couesdeerhntr, and others who are not on cw.com....). I also exchanged info with Jim Mullins, who was very generous with his information/assessment of the hunt. I owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to ALL who spent the time to give me information and perspective! In particular, Kevin spent lots of time with me on the phone/text/e-mail, and in fact sent me the key to a couple of his cameras and gave me the full go-ahead to utilize them for my hunt prep! Super, super generous!!!! Unfortunately, due to personal family commitments over the summer combined with the fact that I started a new job in mid-July, my time was very limited, and I could not spend the necessary 'boots on the ground' time I would have hoped. Finally, I also reached out to Russ Jacoby. Stating the obvious, there are many opinions of Russ and his crew (Just like there are many differing opinions of all of us! ). That being said, I found him to be helpful, professional, sincere, and SUPER passionate about the bison on the Kiabab! When I said I was going on a scouting trip in early July, he invited me to join his crew for a "ride-along" day or two to get to know the vibe and how they operate. That was very valuable time. I ultimately ended-up connecting with him for the hunt. So from here, I'll try make this quick! One of my best friends & hunting/fishing/camping partners drove down from Salt Lake to help me on the hunt. We met-up on Thursday evening and set-up camp. I connected with Russ, and made a plan to meet him early on Friday morning. My buddy decided to pass on the first day in the blind, giving me an opportunity to get the feel of the thing, and he would then join me in latter days. I met-up with Russ in the morning, and he made a suggestion regarding a tank I should sit. Well, 2 1/2 hours into opening day, after seeing several deer and lots of birds, I heard a noise and immediately saw black bodies moving through the trees making their way down the trail to the tank I was on. Within 10 seconds of initially seeing them, there were 12-14 bison of all shapes, sizes, and genders lined-up about 40 yards directly across the tank from me drinking away. I quickly focused-in on one of the cows, and as soon as she turned broad-side, I blasted her right in the boiler-room. As the other's scattered, she took a huge lunge into the tank, then took approximately 3-4 big jumps while turning to get out of the tank. I could see blood on her side as she got to dry ground and started to run/limp up the bank. I shot her again as she was running, and she fell. She started to get-up, so I shot her one last time and she slumped-down for good. From the time I saw them coming through the trees, to the time she was dead was likely no more than 30-40 seconds. DONE!! I walked around sort of dumbfounded and in disbelief for several days regarding the entire thing, specifically how quickly it happened! I went from not even really ever thinking about or considering putting-in for buffalo, to killing a 'once in a lifetime' animal just four months later. Unbelievable! Anyway, thanks again to everyone who spent time with me on text/email/phone to help with information. I'm full of gratitude!!!! S. She was big and old!! (Russ aged her at 10-12 years old.....)
  11. 34 points
    I've killed a few elk with my rifle, one being a nice bull that went on the wall. I've been apart of dozens of other rifle bulls killed, and cows killed. I've been apart of several archery bulls killed, and I've even had an archery bull tag myself about 10 years ago (Scouted 35 days, hunted 14, and went home with tag soup). Hunting elk with a bow is no easy feat. I scouted 15 weekends before my hunt this year. I also spent a full week scouting the week before my hunt. I then hunted hard for 13 days. On day 13 I finally was able to achieve the hardest thing I've ever done hunting........ Kill a bull with my bow. With all the scouting I did, finding elk was never a problem. I had plan A-Z, and then some. I was in elk every day of the hunt. The big problem was me. I was always able to screw it up some how. Lol. I've never been a super patient man. Well with every day that passed, I learned that patience is a very important tool to the elk hunter. I had opportunities every day of the hunt (most of which I blew), and opportunities at bulls much bigger than the one I ultimately killed. I had a standard of a mature 6x6 bull, score not being a factor. On day 6 of the hunt, I was able to make a shot on a very nice 315ish bull. He came in quartered to me, and I fought the urge to take the shot at 30 yards. He knew something was up, turned and started walking away. At the 40 yard mark, he was perfectly quartered away, and I took the shot. I hit exactly where I wanted. He took off like a bat out of heck, ran into a tree, and pulled the arrow. After tracking him for 400 yards, the blood was gone. My heart sunk. We backed out overnight, and began the search the next morning. After crawling on our hands and knees for another 200 yards, we lost all blood. We spent 2 and a half days searching for that bull, and I never found him. My only conclusion is, that I hit him a little too far forward, and only got one lung. I hope with all my heart, that bull made it. I spent the next half a day thinking about calling the hunt, or continuing on with it. I finally decided that I would continue hunting that area in hopes of finding that bull alive, or dead, and that I would only take another shot if it was a for sure thing. Once again I was on elk every day, and had more and more encounters. I had to stop myself from a few nice opportunities, on nice 6x6 bulls. I still wasn't over hitting the first bull. Fast forward to day 13. I get up a little bit late, but get into a spot that was close to camp, and had been abandoned by the rest of the other hunters. I hear 3 bulls going crazy, and I spent 2 hours shadowing the group, keeping the wind right, and the elk close. I finally get to where I can feel the bugles in my chest, and I can see elk feet. I let out a call, and my bull came running in like it was possessed. He ran in so fast, he actually over shot me by 9 yards. He was now quartered away, and only at 9 yards. I figured this was as good as it was going to get. I settled my pin 2 inches low, knowing my arrow would hit high at that distance, and sent one right through his heart. He ran less than 40 yards, got the shaky legs, and went over. 10 seconds later a 330 bull that I'd been after, comes walking right past me at a whopping 12 yards. He stops, he bugles, he pisses, he walks over to my bull, he barks at him a few times, and then he walks off like nothing happened. Every hair on my body was standing up!!! This will go down as one of my absolute favorite hunts!! It will go down as one of the hardest hunts (physically and emotionally) I've been apart of. It is also one of the proudest hunts I've ever been on. While I passed on bigger bulls, and saw much bigger bulls, I'm super pround of the little 5x5 I was able to harvest this year. I feel horrible about the one that got away, but I learned from it. ELk are big targets, but they're tough targets, and you have to be careful about your shot. While the kill zone is big, if you don't hit it right, you're doing yourself and the elk no favors. I could have left that bit out of my story, but it happened, and I wanted to be completely honest about my trip. I have a knew respect for how tough these animals are. Anyways, enough of my jabbering. Sorry for the photos, but I was solo, so I didn't have anyone to take them for me. I even had to do a selfie. Ugggg.
  12. 31 points
    After five years of multiple trips scouting and spending hours in the blind, it finally all came together even though it was not as planned. After a few trips to our spot this summer I quickly realized we were not going to be the only hunter in the area, as we have been for the last four years. There were four cameras and two blinds on the tank on Thursday before opening day. My hunting partner Shrek and I planned on trying to be the first one there, rolling out at 2am on Friday. We passed one hunter on the way that was headed to the waterhole, only to find a second truck with a flat bed trailer on the way, with no UTV. There was only one place he could have went and we confirmed he was ahead of us as we saw him about a half mile ahead near the waterhole. We can only assume he heard us coming as he did not take the time to put away his cot or sleeping bag. If you drive a tan new model Ford F250/350 and slept in the back of your truck Thursday night, PM me, I would love to talk. We did confirm he killed as we saw the boned out body on Saturday. With the main plan shot, we went to a waterhole I had mapped a few years prior. When we got there it had good water and the area looked great. Although the day was quiet with a bear and one doe coming in, Shrek was able to spot a mule deer coming in at 2:30 pm and made it quick work. Although not a giant we had a great time enjoying the success and relaxing. The next morning we thought to ourselves, we got beat at 2am, so there is no way we will get beat at 1am. Well, we rolled out of our camp and hit the first turn only to find out the hunter on the corner had slept at the waterhole. Respecting the fact we got beat, we rolled back to the same waterhole from the day before. The morning started off early with a 6x6 bull coming in and watering for a bit, with a couple barks to wake us up. The bull had white antlers just rubbing off its velvet. Then it got real western at 10:00 am. I stood up to use the restroom and when I turned around, I saw my buck next to the water and my buddy was telling me to stand still. Too late, the buck blew out. We must have moved at the same time for him to make it all the way to the water. After taking the punch Shrek told me he could see a mule deer walking around, so I crawled back to the blind. Shortly after Shrek told me the same buck was coming back in along with the mule deer. My buck got down to the water, I drew and was nearly on target, only to be busted by the mule deer buck walking over the hill from a different direction. I thought there was no way the deer would come back in until later in the day or the next. Well, about 10 minutes later Shrek tells me there was a doe coming in. I got set back up and she came down for a drink. After she reached the water Shrek told me my buck was coming in again. A quick shift of the wind blew the doe out and left the buck on the top of the hill to the water hill. Figuring it was my last chance and he was definitely not coming in it seemed, I drew, leaned out, and let one fly for the front shoulder from 40 yards. It was definitely not a comfortable position to shoot from but the pin was steady on his shoulder. We heard the watermelon pop and saw him go down about 60 yards later. After a five year wait we walked up to a deer I would have been happy with on any rifle hunt, let alone my first archery deer. I have had many chances and close calls over the last five years, it just never seems to come together. As Shrek always says, many animals are alive by inches or seconds. Well, today was the day and he was a stud. After some celebration we cleaned him up and got back to camp, enjoyed the night, and headed home. What a great trip!! When we got home the taxidermist rough scored him at 111" without all the tenths, so he will probably be around 113", with most of his score coming from his mass. Even though he was a good deer, the biggest feel of accomplishment was when my two boys and daughter were so excited about the deer, both the size and finally getting a velvet buck in the house. Next year it will be my oldest boys turn at the archery wheel and hopefully he can enjoy the success, since he already has a couple of rifle deer in the books.
  13. 30 points
    My son Dalton (affectionately called big D) drew an early rifle bull tag for the first time in his seventeen years on this earth. With a bear , cow elk, javelina , and coues buck under his belt he was ready for the big leagues according to him. I was able to get to camp 2 days prior to do some follow up scouting to lock a bull in be it being a limited opportunity hunt. My brother and I found some bulls that would push 310-320 so we sent him the pictures while he was in school and he's reply was dad I would shoot anything one of those. Thursday big d and his 2 cousin's 14-19 years old skipped school to be their early to scout the day and we found the one Thursday morning that he wanted to shoot. With the bull as far as we were concerned tied to a tree we were ready. Thursday evening we stayed out so we didn't bugger anything up in the mean time momma and my twins and one of the girl friends and another of Dalton's buddy showed up to help. That's right I had to figure out how to get this done with count them 7 teenagers um yikes. Opening morning came early for the kids as I rang the bell at 4am but to my surprise they all popped out of bed ready and willing. We all headed into to strategic positions with Dalton and Jacob with me and the rest to glass. My phone vibrates at 6:15 its my brother " I found him" And its a different bull one we hadn't seen before I look back tell the boys it's go time but the bull is on the other side of the fence by couple hundred yards not are unit. Well lets call so we did and brought him to within 10 yards of the fence but the bull I think knew what the fence represented. Finally he just turned around and walked off . According to some other hunters that were watching us they said the bull seen me when a was raking trees and calling. So we called the morning hunt with intentions that we would get him in the evening. Fast forward to the evening hunt my buddy (lionhunter on coues) showed up to help and we all went back to look for him with thousands of dollars worth of optics staring into the country were he was we saw nada and night fell with a long face Dalton was a little bummed. I said the morning hunt will prevail. Saturday morning back to the same spot with again alot of high dollar glass staring into the mountain's nothing. What the heck so Saturday midday during the heat we had some cameras on some water holes 4-5 miles south of the spot so we checked them and that bull was on one of them Friday night. Saturday evening hunt just changed up with relocating everyone into different locations again with lots of glass looking my wife calls and she found him and he was in unhunt able country thick and flat my dad would call it 30-30 hunting. Dalton and Jacob go after him while lionhunter and I stay back and the boys get within 15 yards with no shot so I told them to back out and we would get him in the morning in the meantime Lionhunter has a beautiful 6x6 320ish at 45 yards from him as he slipped off the backside of the hill to glass in which we had some pictures of that bull and Dalton said he would love to shoot that one. So onto Sunday morning everyone set up again we started calling and A bull responded not knowing which bull at this point we didn't care we ran right at him and ended up past him by about 100 yard so we started calling which he responded but I think he caught are wind and be boogied out of their. My phone vibrated and my my wife found him again within 5 minutes so we preceded to chase him around in the flat thick stuff for 2 hours with no luck and ended up calling of the morning hunt so we didn't spread to much scent in their. Sunday evening Lionhunter, the nephews and Trent had to get home for family so its just me and big D with the girls ,wife and brother on the glass for us. Again my phone vibrated and the wife has found the bull again this time he is close the some open country but in the same area. So Dalton and I slipped into the area with the wind in are face and the bull in front of us somewhere we started to call with no response I let out 2 or 3 bugles over a 5 minute span with nothing so switched to cow calls and the bull lit up and he was pretty close so I stayed on the cow call and set Big d up about 75 yards in front of me as the bull came in to are left I noticed that he couldn't see him and with ear protection in I couldn't get my boys attention so I started to chuck a pebble at him when I seen him lift he gun up and reposition it towards the bull. My view was impaired by trees but I could see the bull's legs as I'm watching the bull the gun goes off and the bull just walks off about 20 yards and stops so back to chucking pebbles so he could shoot again as I reared back throw I heard the gun eject and another bullet get loaded and when I looked back over at the bull he just tipped over. Dalton jumped up and threw his hand's in the air and ran for me for the biggest hug that a dad could get. I was so emotional at this point words can't explain. We had did it we hugged again and talked about the shot it only being 100 yards he said with the bipod he felt it was a perfect shot so we walked down the hill to look for the bull and there it was folded up like a lawn chair. He was so friggin excited and me too. So I called the wife and they couldn't' hear the shot and she's answer's "what up" my reply Turn out the light's the party is over. She holler's out he did it and I could hear the girls and my brother hooting and hollering. The best part was once i looked on my map on my phone to see how to get them to us we ended up being about 75 yards off another road so they came right to us. The end result was good family medicine for us spending time in the woods with the kids doing what we love enjoying the outdoors of America. Thanks for the read, Pete
  14. 30 points
    Love days like this! Opening evening, lots of action morning and then evening, bugling like crazy and 7 different bugles. Pulled this one away from cows and across a canyon in a bugle fest. Love having these experiences with my children. He wanted a branch antlered bull and to have a great call in experience rather that passing and waiting for a larger bull. Not always about the antler size but feeling great about the experience. Would not trade the hours in the woods with my man cub for anything in this world! Also picture of Daughters first elk, OTC. She was so excited! Love being with her on this hunt and look forward to many more.
  15. 30 points
    Some good news in the midst of things - After several of the busiest months I've ever had, I was finally able to bring my oldest out fishing for a daddy-daughter day. Roosevelt didn't disappoint. This angel fished from 8am to 4pm and wasn't the reason we had to come home. We caught and released well over a dozen of the recently stocked black-nose crappie - A few spiny yellows- And kept some slabs - After a decade, the outlook for Roosevelt is finally shaping up in my humble opinion. Stay safe and enjoy what you can, CWT!
  16. 30 points
    With all of the grocery stores being out of food. I decided to take matters into my own hands and challenge the feds on the taking of equines. I decided to go traditional and used my recurve. Perfectly placed behind the shoulder. He didn't go far very short blood trail! I didn't think it would fall that easily. They are truly magical creatures Tension breaker had to be done
  17. 29 points
    After 17 days scouting I made a mistake and shot the wrong buck opening weekend. Scouting went great lots of big and solid bucks. I had a huge hit list and it all went to crap as a group of bucks were coming into my stand the biggest buck was leading. At some point they switched spots and this buck led the group when I shot him at 12 yards. I had my duffel bag stolen from the back of my truck in the great city of Flagstaff. It had all of my hunting clothes, boots misc hunting gear and worst of all my 15s. Sometimes that is what happens.
  18. 29 points
    Have always really wanted to take a coues deer with a bow and in velvet. And while I’ve never been able to hunt the early hunt due to baseball, this year was canceled so figured I’d give it a go. Had multiple bucks on camera that were decent. Just wanted a branch antlered coues would be good with me. More than happy with this buck and best of luck to the rest of the hunters out there. Also glasses up a couple mature bucks Beating the heck out of one another. That was pretty cool to see. Cheers to a good start of the 2020 hunting season IMG_2424.MOV
  19. 29 points
    Got out Friday am and found myself in the right place at the right time, called a gobbler off the roost into two decoys and hammered him at 30 yards, done at 530 am and for breakfast and ad fresh turkey nuggets for lunch. Thanks
  20. 28 points
    I got the opportunity to help out my good buddy Dan for his archery 3a/3c bull tag this year. After 10 years of applying he was lucky enough to get one of the last tags available. Opening morning we went in to an area we have hunted in the past and as the sun came up we were greeted to a few bugles but nothing to really get your blood pumping. We tried a few intermittent cow calls and bulges but the bulls just were not ready to cooperate. Finally about 8am we got a bull fired up and were able to work into bow range of him and his 10 cows. Being the first day of the hunt we decided to pass on the bull and hold out. it was way to early to fill the tag with a smaller 5x6 bull and end the fun. That evening we moved to another spot and did some looking around and glassed a few canyons. Found a few waterholes that had water still and pretty good sign. We made the decision to hunt this area in the morning. The second morning we parked and started our hike into the area we checked out the evening of the first day. With no road traffic we figured the elk should be more vocal and receptive to calling. We were right about the bulls being vocal, we had 5 bulls going crazy bugling all around us. As the sun came up they continued to bulge and could hear one group splashing around in the waterhole near us. We called with no luck, they bulls were not ready to commit and come in to our set ups. we decided to circle around to get the wind in our favor and make a play on the 2 bulls we thought might be worth shooting. After an hour we worked our way down into the draw we thought they would bed in and got in front of a decent 6x6 bull (think this is the bull he ended up taking on day 7). That afternoon we decided to sit on a waterhole that was in the area the elk were in and had a good amount of sign on it, we had a bunch of deer and elk come in but no bulls that peaked out interest on day 2 of the hunt. the most excitement came in the form of a sow with cubs coming in for a drink The 3rd morning of the hunt was much like the previous morning, lots of screaming bulls all around us but could not seem to get them to interested on our calling. not sure if it was our calling or set up but we could not get them to commit. We again decided to just play the wind and move in quietly and try and get in front of them as they headed to their bedding area. With the wind in our face we slowly moved in to where we thought we could get a chance and everything worked out perfectly. Unfortunately this bull too was not quite what my buddy was looking for and he made the decision to pass, in a year or so he should be a pretty good bull. Days 4-6 were much of the same, the only day we really did not get much bugling action was day 5, not sure why but they decided to stay quite. made the decision that morning to call it a little early and head back toward the cabin making a detour over to Three Bears Cafe for a good breakfast to recharge the body. we did quite a lot of glassing as well as sitting water just trying to figure out if there was any type of pattern we could put together. Day 7 of the hunt we hiked in to our area to find the bulls screaming, we were able to get our eyes on three of the bulls and watched them all morning until they headed into their bedding areas. We could not make a play on them due to where they were bedded and the wind direction. We decided to hike back out and head back to the cabin for some breakfast and cat nap. We got to our parking spot and made the hike to our area. we set up on a finger leading down the canyon to where the elk were bedded. I glassed up the bull my buddy Dan ultimately ending up tagging bedded across the draw from us. We talked back and forth for a couple hours trying to decide if he wanted to make a play on him or not. He decided not to and wait it out, that is when things got a little haywire. About 4pm a bull down the ridge starting piping off pretty good. that is when the hole canyon became a bugle fest. we did some quiet subtle cow calls and had a bull coming running in from behind us. The bull stopped broadside at 43 yards but decided to pass as he was smaller than the bull across from us we did not go after. Dan and I continued to call and made the decision to get a little bit more aggressive. After a few minutes of calling the bull we had been watching across the draw made a bee line down the hill to the bottom and started up the ridge we were on. We could hear him crashing through the thick scrub oak, I told Dan to move around the other side of the jack pine we were sitting by and get ready just in case he changed his mind and wanted to take this bull. The bull kept screaming as he worked his way up toward our position. I got my camera out to record just as the bull crested the top of the ridge and stopped broadside at 32 yards. Dan told me he was going to take him and let the arrow fly, The shot was a little bit back but looked fatal. we called called and got him to stop at 57 yards and Dan was able to put a second arrow in him. The bull got wobbly and fell over just 10 yards from the second shot, we were thankful we would not have to track him. Unfortunately during this whole turn of event my phone did not record, i was bummed to not have it on video. I can only figure I forgot to hit record with all the excitement. When we got to the bull we paid our respects and looked back at the fun we had for 7 straight days. He was not the biggest bull by any means on the mountain but one Dan could be proud to have harvested. We got him taken care of and packed out, we were thankful to have some friends show up for the pack out. I am sitting on 13 bonus points and will hopefully be able to draw this tag next year and do it all over. for some reason the pics are turned and I cannot turn them
  21. 28 points
    Here is my 2020 archery bull, I believe they are still in the pre-rut. Opening day I passed on a 3x3, then Saturday I missed a 7x7 had to estimate his range and just grazed him. Sunday morning I was after a 6x6 that was with a 4x4 but they gave me the slip. A hour after that I let a spike and small 4x4 walk right past me at 18 yards. Wasn’t sure if I made a mistake on that one. Monday and Tuesday I headed home to fix my house air conditioner. Wednesday morning I headed back up. Got to camp and unloaded the quad to head back to a small water hole where I missed the 7x7. Got all set up around 5pm. Tried calling to locate the bulls and nothing. So I sat till about 6:10pm and from a distance I seen some cows coming, told myself there has to be a bull with them and sure enough he pops out and starts to bugle. Then from a distance another bull bugles. Then the cows come to the small water and before I know it the bull is there. I draw back while one cow is staring at me then the bull lifts up and looks at me. I release the shot and wasn’t sure if I hit him well. He runs and I’m cow calling him, he stops about 50 yards and in about 10 seconds he is down. So I call my 2 friends who where up there with me on opening weekend and give them the news. Now the fun begins while it’s starting to get dark. I finish about 10pm and back at camp about 10:50pm. Talk about a long cold ride back to on the quad. Thanks Austin Nagel, Steve Holowell , and James Guin
  22. 27 points
    Thought I would post him on the wall.
  23. 27 points
    Since we are now less than 36 hours from seeing card charges for this season’s sheep tags, it is probably time that I finally put pen to paper and share the story of my daughter’s hunt. My father-in-law had never hunted before I married my wife. He has since become a reliable hunting companion and it is something that we enjoy doing together. It has strengthened our relationship and helped us create some great mutual memories. When he drew a sheep tag last year, he was suddenly very interested in signing the tag over to my twelve year old daughter. His rationale was that he would get just as much enjoyment out of watching her fill the tag as he would if he took a ram himself, so why not seize the chance to spread the wealth and create memories for three generations. Seeing as she was the only grandchild old enough to hunt big game at the time, in his mind it was an easy choice. I hesitated for a while, knowing full well that I would never hand over my tag, but I eventually warmed up to the idea. Some may remember that my daughter went through some serious health issues in late 2017. On our way home from her first deer hunt she started complaining of abdominal pain and extreme nausea. Not long after that we discovered that she had a mysterious grown on her pancreas. We eventually learned that it was a softball-sized malignant tumor—a form of cancer so rare that the first specialist refused to believe what she was seeing because she had never encountered it in 30 years of practice. After several months of hospitalization, three major surgeries, and a scary amount of weight loss she seemed to come out of it as strong as ever—and so far she remains cancer free to this day. Given her history, I think her grandfather was also motivated by the chance to do something extra special for her. With the tagholder question decided, I set out to start my research. I knew of someone who had the same tag 10 years earlier and reached out to him. While waiting to hear back, I also did some stalking about on Facebook and was able to identify two other former tag holders. I contacted the first and he was very excited to hear from me. As it turns out, there are five or six former tagholders who have formed a sort of fraternity with each other whose goal is to help future tagholders on the hunt. Over the next couple weeks I started amassing text messages, field photos, maps, stories, tips, all of the helpful information a sheep hunter would want. Within two weeks I had spent time on the phone with six former tagholders. By the end of July we already had five guys I had never met committed to coming to sheep camp. This was a relief for me because literally every single one of my usual hunting buddies had their own elk tags they’d be trying to fill during opening day of sheep season. The wildlife manager for the unit was also very helpful. She gave me the run down on what she was seeing and the status of several of the water catchments. As I scouted throughout the fall, she and I kept in touch on sheep movements and catchment levels. The area didn’t get any monsoon rain at all until the last few days of September, so I had her on camera multiple times as she coordinated water trucks to provide supplemental relief. Outfitter Russ Jacoby also learned about my daughter and her tag. He reached out to me to see how he could help. He spend quite a bit of time on the phone with me answering my questions and filling me in on how he would approach things. He generously loaned us some extra equipment, and we had plans for him to join us in the field once some of the late hunts were over, but her hunt ended too quickly for that. I made several scouting trips in the dead heat of summer. I used those trips to set up and check cameras and to learn the roads because the conditions too miserable to do much else. I soon found that the sheep I would see on those trips were never far from water anyways, so until something changed, I might as well let the cameras do the looking for me. I didn’t want to drag my daughter out there when it was so hot (one of the consequences of only having half of a pancreas is difficulty regulating your body heat), so her hunt preparation was shooting practice and looking over trail camera photos with me. Together we learned what to look for in a quality Class IV ram. She liked “pretty” rams, which I learned meant “lamb tips.” Because of the lack of rain, the sheep stuck to the water, and we were able to identify several rams that she would be happy to tag. The unit is not particularly known for big rams. There have been one or two anomalies to come out of it, but even the biggest rams to come out of the unit lacked mass. The average size of the bases rarely exceeds 14 2/8”. So, if we could find her a high 150s ram that she thought was pretty, then that would be the ram she would take home. The last week of September one of our late monsoon hurricanes finally dropped some water on the northern part of the unit. The catchment with the most sheep traffic overflowed with water, and I never got another photo of a sheep at that spot. Not one. The rain had largely missed the southern part of the unit, however, and I continued to get sheep on camera well into November in that area. We made arrangements to meet up with the 2010 and 2014 tagholders, George and Gabe, in mid-November for a final scouting trip. My daughter couldn’t make it that day due to a regional orchestra competition, but my father-in-law came along. We spent a couple days glassing, checking camera, and hearing their sheep stories. Near the end of the first day my ranger threw a brand new tie rod. The son of a gun just came unscrewed. We were seven miles from pavement and I had forgotten my tool back. We hand-tightened it and limped ourselves out of there. Throughout that trip Gabe kept talking about how much he’d love to find a ram dead head someday, enough so that it became a bit of a running joke. When we pulled up to one catchment he spied a skeleton down in the wash, which got his heart racing, only to discover that it was nothing but a three-point mule deer. Interestingly, I had that buck on camera only a couple days earlier. He looked absolutely horrible, like a back of bones barely alive. By the time Gabe found him, the coyotes and birds had stripped him of everything but bone and antlers. As we drove down the road away from the last catchment at the end of the second day I caught a whiff of something dead. I immediately parked the ranger and we all bailed off into the wash. After about 20 yards I spied a dead ram. He was a broken ram that my daughter and I had followed on camera through most of the summer. His horns weren’t pretty, but he had always looked healthy. He was too far gone to tell what had happened to him, but I offered the find to Gabe if he wanted it. He quickly accepted. We cleared everything with the WM, and now, after some very smelly cleaning, the skull sits at Gabe’s place. Two things happened on that trip that ultimately had a direct impact on the hunt itself. First, we got trail camera photos of a new ram that was by far the best ram that had revealed himself thus far. He was gorgeous in every way. My daughter named him Thor because of his massive body size. He was at the same water every few days for at least five weeks through mid-November. Second, the unit veterans encouraged us to pay more attention to an area that I had largely overlooked previously. That area ended up being where the hunt ended. Thor: After our November trip it was obvious that the sheep were definitely no longer tied to the water. I had expected that, but they also did not seem to be particularly interested in being in any of the areas we looked. We ended the trip having spotted a deadhead and a handful of single sheep: several ewes, a small ram, and a very tight class IV ram. I was worried, but the veteran sheep hunters were 100% confident that we had nothing to fear, that it would all work out. The plan was to leave the day after Thanksgiving to set up camp. We would scout the second half of the day and then all day Saturday and hopefully have some sheep located before opening morning on Sunday. We didn’t get the horrible snow that the late elk hunters got that weekend, but the desert was definitely wet, windy, and quite cold. My buddy and his daughter joined us for Friday and Saturday, but they were going to have to leave Saturday night. George and Gabe came out that day, but opted to stay at the motel in town (can’t say that I blamed them). Damon, a guy I had never met but who had heard about her hunt on a sheep forum, drove in from California to join us that evening too. As we drove out I also learned that Jay (2001 tag) and Rick (2002 tag) were going to postpone an elk hunt due to the weather, so they’d be joining us for a few days too. After setting up camp we set out to do some late day glassing. Not one mile from camp the ranger another tie rod. This time, the rod on the opposite side broke in half. Thankfully, we were on a well-traveled dirt road and were able to get the trailer to it, but it kept us from doing any meaningful scouting before dark. I posted up about the frustration on Facebook and within 15 minutes I had two different friends offering up their machines. One happened to be headed out of town the next day and our camp was “only” going to be 90 minutes out of his way, so he generously offered to haul it out there and leave it for us the next afternoon. It was a frustrating day, but the scenery was nice, the company good, and my daughter was enjoying herself. The next morning we decided to send George and Gabe to the north end of the unit while we concentrated our efforts on the south end near where Thor had been prowling a few weeks earlier. Being down one machine, it made for slow progress in my truck, and I couldn’t get everywhere I wanted to get. We glassed at sunup and then Jay, my daughter, and I went to collect cameras. In the several months I had my cameras out, I very rarely had another person show up on film. I kept a little plastic tag on each camera with my phone number and a note that said it was for a 12 year-old sheep hunter, and the few people who did show up left them alone. Unfortunately, on that day I discovered two of the three cameras in that range had been taken. The one that was left was on a tank that was impossible to access without some pucker factor, so I believe that is the only reason it survived. The WM told me that a woman spending the winter in the area had called her earlier that week and was very concerned about one of the catchments and the welfare of the wildlife in that area, so I highly suspect my cameras went home with a couple of snowbirds. The cameras were cheap. I was upset at the lost data and wasted travel time. We spent the rest of the day glassing, but without much to show. The northern glassers picked up a Class III ram and a single ewe. We saw a few bucks, but no sheep at all. We covered a majority of the accessible portions of the unit, so again, I was worried. The veteran sheep hunters told us to have faith. My daughter’s friend and my buddy left Saturday night, so now she was the only lady in camp. Opening morning came and it was gorgeous. I was a nervous wreck. There had been no hint of Thor, and the area he had frequented didn’t have any fresh sheep sign at all. We decided to focus our efforts on the northern 2/3 of the unit and to split into three groups. I’d take my daughter, father in law, and Damon to the southern part of our focus area, Jay and Rick would go in the middle, and George and Gabe would go far north again. I took our group to a very green basin with a catchment that was not historically known to attract sheep, but two weeks earlier a deer hunter I met on a scouting trip had sent me photos of a great ram in the hills right above it. It was by far the greenest area we had seen the whole trip, but nothing panned out. Next, we drove up to a high point where we could look down into some amazing country. The sheep trails all up and down the mountain proved that the sheep are there some of the time, they just weren’t there at that time. It was at about that time that I got my first text from Jay. They had found a small ram high up in the hills between us. They were moving on to see what else they could turn up. About 45 minutes later Jay messaged me again to tell us that they had found a pretty Class III and a lopsided Class IV ram and were going to keep an eye on them. He sent me some photos and asked if we were interested. The rams were not the high 150s rams we had decided would be her goal, so I told him that we would keep glassing where we were. About that time Damon turned to me and said “don’t sheep in Arizona tend to hang out together like the do everywhere else?” My first reaction was to say “not necessarily, we’ve been seeing solitary sheep on most of our trips,” but then I started thinking back on the advice I’d been soliciting over the past six months and realized that that was, in fact, something that I had heard more than once. "Sheep are social." So at about 11am I finally queued in on Damon’s indirect advice and read between the lines of Jay's texts. We packed up to go find Jay and Rick, who were still sitting on the two rams to see what else might come along. I knew generally where Jay was, but there was zero cell reception there. Our only way to communicate was through the InReach, but the canyon walls where he was were so narrow that he didn’t get a reliable satellite signal either. At some point our groups managed to pass each other without realizing it. After a couple hours I decided to just stop on a high pass where I had a signal and glass from there until I heard from him again. After about an hour I got a message on the InReach and we were able to figure out that we were at opposite ends of the same drainage, and that the rams they had been watching were in the middle. About 30 minutes later we rolled up on Rick watching the two rams. It was now late in the day, and he had been watching them for many hours. No sooner did we pull up then the rams decided it was time to stretch their legs. They moved down the mountain slightly towards us, through the bottom of the canyon, and then up the other side were they decided to feed in the afternoon sunlight. We repositioned to watch the rams from a better angle about the time that Jay made it back to us. About the same time a caravan of razors and quads came up the canyon and passed us. They stopped about 300 yards up the canyon at a make-shift desert bar and started to party. The sheep didn’t seem to mind. As we watched the lopsided Class IV and the pretty Class III my father in law admired the Class III and said something to the effect of “if this were still my tag I would shoot that one right now.” I think we all looked at him in disbelief for a few minutes. I can’t remember if I actually said “well then I’m glad its not your tag anymore” or if I only thought that, but within seconds Damion announced that he “had another ram. A good ram!” Damon was free handing his binoculars and looking 90 degrees to our right. About 400 yards past the party going on up the canyon there was a nice ram skylined in the sunlight. I didn’t have time to judge him, because Jay immediately said “we need to move, let’s go!” I called George and Gabe and told them that we had a shooter and gave them our approximate location. They really wanted to be there for the action, so they packed up and started trying to find a way to our area. We moved up the canyon and past the party, stopping about 100 yards from where they were all gathered. We put together a plan and Jay, my father-in-law, my daughter, and I headed up a ridge that would put us within a couple hundred yards of where we had seen the ram. The remaining guys stayed down low to signal us if the ram moved, but when we were almost in place we looked back to discover that the others hadn’t actually seen the ram at all since we got there. Not more than 10 minutes had passed and he had vanished. We spent the next few moments catching our breath and picking apart the hill in front of us in case he was just out of view behind some brush. Soon we started hearing smacking noises. At first I didn’t pay much attention to it because I thought it was the party below us, but then it happened again and again. Something about the sound seemed familiar. It sounded like two 2x4s being smashed together. Jay looked back the way we had come and sure enough, there was the ram butting heads with the two rams we had just left behind! He had covered 700 yards as the crow flies like you or I would walk across the street. With the ram relocated we started running back down to rejoin our group. As we got near the bottom we started hearing a new sound. The partiers were now shooting .22s into the hillside, and they were between us and the sheep, which were about 400 yards beyond them! Thankfully, the sheep seemed totally accustomed to people partying in this spot, and apparently to target shooting too, because they bedded down completely unphased. We passed the party and made our way to the rams. They were bedded in the sun, and the big ram was in the open, but quartering slightly away. Jay noticed that the party was packing up and made the wise suggestion that we wait for them to clear out. We waited for several minutes as the caravan packed up and slowly moved passed us. None of the partiers had any idea that the sheep were there, and no one seemed to pay much attention to us. The coast was clear, and I had my daughter settle into a prone position. Her bipod was the perfect height. There was a soft spot for her to lay down. He rest was dead steady. I ranged the sheep at 210 yards. She had made this shot dozens of times. She settled in and found the sheep in her scope. She described what she was seeing and we confirmed that she was on the right ram. Jay told her to aim just in front of the back leg because the ram was angled slightly away from us, and she went from collected to totally freaked out. Everything she had killed to that point had offered a perfect broadside shot, and I had apparently been too insistent that she never shoot unless she is 100% comfortable. She pointed out that shooting it just in front of the rear leg was not what she had been taught, and it didn’t seem like I could convince her otherwise. I had her roll away from the rifle so that I could talk to her. I reminded her about the anatomy of the animal and the shot angle she had in front of her. I assured her that this was an appropriate shot in this situation, and that this was something that I knew she could do. At least that’s how I remember the conversation, Jay would probably say that I was not nearly that calm or patient with her. She rolled back behind the rifle and I told her that we were going to do a couple of dry fire practice shots, just to make sure she was calm and ready. She settle in, and click. “Did that feel good?” “Yep.” “Okay, let’s do it again.” Settled in, and click. “Good?” “Yep.” “Okay, it’s time.” Just then all three rams stood up and walked around the top of the hill. There was a two-track that circled the peak the rams were on, so we started walking it trying to get another angle on the rams. After a couple hundred yards we had them in sight again, they were standing, and for the first time seemed uncomfortable with our obsession with them. The vegetation and angle prevented her from setting up for a prone shot, so I set up the gun claw on one of my tripods. Unbeknownst to me, however, the plate on the bottom of the claw was horribly loose, so when she slid in behind it for a standing shot she was really unsteady. The ram we were after stepped out between two stands of ocotillos at about 150 yards. Her rifle was suppressed, so when she shot I heard the impact, but the ram didn’t react at all. At first I worried that maybe she had shot the wrong sheep because it sounded like a hit. I told her to shoot again, and she rushed a shot that clearly missed. Again, had I realized how unsteady her rest was, the hunt would have been over by then, she had never missed before. The group slowly walked to our left, and at that point one of the guys noticed that there was a small blood spot way back on the side of the big ram. He was hurt enough that he only went 20 yards or so before he laid down. His two buddies joined him, happy to follow his lead. She had filled five big game tags up to that point, and every single one of them was a single shot to the high shoulder and it was done. It threw her for a loop to have to shoot more than once, but we had to get in there and finish him before dark. Jay led the way as we slowly went up the slope. The whole time our pockets were buzzing as someone kept trying to call us on the phone. Finally Jay reach down and saw that it was Gabe, and without stopping to listen to what Gabe had to say he forcefully whispered into the phone “we are on a stalk quit calling us!” What we didn’t know at the time was that George and Gabe had given up on finding us. Frustrated, they stopped their truck and decided to glass the last few minutes of light when all of the sudden they saw three sheep bedded on the hillside about 800 yards off. One of the rams was “really big” and being the good friends they are, they wanted to stop us so we could go after that one. Because of the suppressor and the distance, they hadn’t heard the shots and didn’t know that we were already committed to a sheep. They also didn’t know that they were looking at the same three rams we were already stalking. Gabe snapped a photo of the three rams where they lay, moments before the final shot: When we were about 100 yards from the sheep the ram stuck his head up and we could make out the front half of his body. She set up for another standing shot off of the tripod and I told her to just take her time and squeeze, that this was a chip shot for her. My adrenaline was pumping hard and my mouth was so dry that I couldn’t swallow. She took a deep breath, held it, and fired one more time. This time the shot was true and here usual high shoulder shot anchored him. His head immediately dropped, and the crowd cheered below us. A few second later we heard hooting and hollering from across the valley as for the first time we realized that George and Gabe were with us (and when they saw the ram’s head drop they realized that we were with them too). Everyone was excited. My daughter was so much in fact that she cursed with a word that I had never heard come from her mouth (or mine). It shocked me so much that I snapped at her. I blame it on the adrenaline. I immediately felt bad for reacting that way and apologized so we could refocus on the amazing thing that had just happened (a valuable lesson for dad, reprimand in private and removed from the awesome experience). The "Family" - Four former tagholders on the back row. The Dad, Daughter, Grandpa, and Damon on the front row: We hurriedly snapped photos as the sun faded. It was all a blur. With all of the manpower there we decided to gut the ram and then carry him down the mountain whole about 300 yards to the closest two-track. It wasn’t until we had him in the bed of the truck that I realized that the ram was a lot bigger than I had realized. He also was not a ram that I had on camera. He was noticeably larger than the rams she had on her list. Back in camp we caped him out and quartered him. We did a very rough measurement. “Over 172” was the consensus. My daughter went to bed and we stayed up late into the night over a roaring fire telling hunting stories. I was thrilled that she had filled tag, but a little disappointed that it was over so quickly. The months of planning, scouting, driving, stressing, preparing, researching, had all come down to about 45 minutes of intense action. I have never worked so hard to prepare for a hunt, but every second and every penny was worth it. I am incredibly grateful to the sheep hunting community for all of the help and advice we received in preparation for this hunt. We felt like we were all part of a family of sheep hunters. I can see why sheep hunters are so passionate about what they do. I can’t wait to go on another sheep hunt, and I’m not going to sit back and wait for my own tag, I’m going to help out on others’ hunts. Honestly, for most people being a helper is probably the closet we will ever get got having our own tag. But also, drawing a sheep tag is a stressful in its own way. If I can help someone take some of that stress off of their shoulders to help their hunt be all the better, then I want to do that. I understand why the former tagholders were so willing to join us, and why they feel a bond towards each other. Game and Fish aged the ram at 9 years old. They were a little low on the score. After the drying period he was officially scored at 174 1/8”. He’s got great bases and carries mass all the way through. He is sort of the opposite of Thor, and I think very easily outscores him. He doesn’t have the lamb tips that she thought would be pretty, but she is very happy with him nonetheless. Initially I decided not to have any reproductions made, so the taxidermist skull capped him. I later had second thoughts, and thankfully the artist was able to recreate a full skull to go with the horns. They turned out amazing. We can’t wait to get the shoulder mount back in October. Here’s hoping you or someone you love gets a $300 credit card charge on Friday morning!
  24. 26 points
    My niece filled her poverty tag pretty quick this morning
  25. 26 points
    I want to give a shout out to Creekhiker (Derek) I had posted about needing help to fix a quad and he gave up his time to come over and help me out. He was super skilled and incredible stand up dude. Its guys like him who give hope that people are still kind and generous in this world. We need to recognize guys like him who go the extra mile not asking for anything but just because they like helping people. Derek is the real deal. appreciate his time, a nice cold beer, and the sound of an atv that purrs .. BTW he is ironworker and welder by trade, he owns his own business. If you are looking for work like that he is an honest dude. Derek...Creekhiker thanks again. In your debt my new friend .