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  1. C.C.Cody171

    2018 Rutting Coues Video

    Awesome footage, great job! I have an elk tag in sept, yet still can't help but dream of January. Thanks for sharing!
  2. C.C.Cody171

    On top of the world at 5700 feet!

    Thanks everybody. I appreciate the kind words, this buck is something I've always dreamed of for sure. I still can't believe it worked out the way it did. Thanks Creed, I learned from the best! Thanks again for passing this buck. Yes, both his main beams are 19 2/8"! Basically over a 100" main frame two point (bucket list) with some extra stuff and crazy character putting him over 110, I can't get over it. I would sure love to find this deer's sheds from the last few years. Thanks again everyone.
  3. Another January has come and gone, chasing coues deer with a bow around southeastern Arizona. I'm already planning eleven months ahead and imagining how it may go. I had so many plans for this year that just didn't happen, although I can't complain considering the way it turned out. There's always seems to be too much to hunt and never nearly enough time. Unfortunately, some of those canceled plans included hitting the hills with some great friends but I was fortunate enough to spend a little time in the field with my wonderful wife. She joined me on the first day of a three day backpack hunt. I had previously stashed water on the mountain, while accompanying my dad on a lion with my daughter along as well, always a pleasure. All in search of a big buck that barely escaped me last year, on January 1st. Unable to locate him again and having a failed stalk, on a different deer, behind me. I moved down my list of places to hunt. Due to an old neck injury flare up and a broken bow sight in December, I found myself going through the motions and wandering through the woods with a general lack of confidence. Since I wasn't able to shoot as much as normal. I did see some great bucks though and was elated the day I relocated a buck from two January's ago. A buck with split g2's, split g3's and as much gnarly character as I've ever seen. Another really awesome buck I spotted during a storm a couple days before finding my buck. Some great bucks for the future. My buck when I first saw him again this year. Back in 2016 when I stalked this buck, my friend Creed watched from just above a small saddle that overlooked the bowl. The wise old deer busted me well before shooting range and beelined it for the saddle next to Creed. He saw what was happening and hustled to reach a good position. They about ran into each other and both momentarily froze. After drawing on the buck, Creed responsibly refused to rush his shot and it was nothing but a close call. The deer took off and never slowed down until he was out of sight over a huge ridge, far to the northwest. From then on, I referred to him as the buck that Creed passed, always receiving a look and comment in return. Within a few minutes of studying him, this year, I had no doubt I had turned up the same old bruiser. He had lost quite a bit of tine length and body size but his frame with downward turned main beams was unmistakable. We reviewed some pictures and videos later and became more convinced of his identity, with the same color tail as well. So, this time he was about a mile away and the stalk to get around in good position would take hours through rough, thick country. I was pleasantly surprised as I reached my landmark above the draw he shared with a few does, when I immediately spotted him. I had plenty of time and the conditions were doable with extreme care to go slow and quiet. As I was moving forward, I noticed a doe to my right, staring at me. She wasted no time vacating straight towards my target and taking everything with her. I made it to 170 yards and then rushed the final stalk, dummy! A long discouraging walk back to my truck. After turning the place upside down, I couldn't believe my eyes nearly a week later. I watched the same buck disappear over a small rise, right at daylight. Moving into the next big canyon had the result I was hoping for but I had to dog trot up a long ridge to hopefully find him, yet again. I gasped for breath almost an hour later, while admiring my new perch. I could see everywhere he should be, I patiently sat right there for about the next ten hours convinced I'd turn him up any second. Every deer I saw was a heart rush to only be let down that it wasn't him. At least I witnessed some awesome rutting activity form there. I left most of my stuff behind and began the dark climb down, knowing I needed to return before daylight the next day. I felt some hesitation leaving my bow, binos, spotter and everything else for a lone night in the wild but didn't want myself getting lazy the next morning and settling for a lesser glassing position. Also I think it's funny that I left my lunch up there to eat the next day too, focusing on looking for my buck I completely forgot to eat it. Well, it's all about ups and downs and regardless of effort, the next day was a bust. My wheels were turning, I had to figure this out and make some decisions for the next day. Some bucks I saw while trying to relocate my buck. Still not knowing what to do, racing against time as the sky lit up, I moved up the familiar ravine towards multiple glassing options. I decided to move back west where I had originally saw him. It wasn't far for a rutting buck to cruise and it had been a couple days so who knew what else may show up. Agonizing over which spot was better, I finally started out of the ravine to my left. Climbing through the scrub oak and mesquites, doing my best to navigate correctly. I chose the more ideal spot to see more country vs. the better position to stalk from, once and if I had a deer spotted. After a slow morning, I finally spotted a couple does exactly where I had stalked him the week before. My heart took the abuse as I searched for his grand presence, no luck. Getting lost in my binos, I continued to scan. Holding my breath for a break, picking apart every shape. Suddenly, I couldn't have missed him. After having looked a dozen times, there he stood! I began to shake and did my best at a quick,hand held, phone video through my spotter. He was about 600 yards away but, I carefully packed up and snuck backwards out of sight. Knowing I'd be blind for at least thirty minutes I tried to hold a steady pace. Working down the backside of my hill, I reached the ravine and circled toward the other spot I had almost started at that morning. I would have been only 300 yards away and in a better position to begin my stalk, oh well. Stepping above the privacy of the thick cut, I realized he was where I had left him with a quick glance. Showing the patience of an old buck, with his doe a short distance away. I returned to the very bottom of my chosen traveling corridor and eased my way up, closing the distance. I would be below them but the wind was good and if anything, they were slowly working their way towards me, on the thick north facing slope. I checked my position by poking into view a few times and trying to see him again. A couple of the times I got no reassurance but continued on. One last check, a sky lined doe was about 200 yards up the hill and I heard several grunts! I picked out his rack through some mountain mahogany. After careful advance, I found myself in the brush with them. Things weren't really looking good but I had no good reason to believe they had left. With each small, slow step I dissected the vegetation through my binos. I found a doe nibbling the leaves off a scrub oak and my heart started racing. Around fifty yards and she had the same distinct white spots below her ears. This was it! Pounding hooves stole my attention as a doe raced up to my right, with a buck on her tail. She looked right at me and spun around, darting away. The buck remained oblivious as I could possibly have arrowed him. I looked back and the other doe seemed unbothered. She was coming down hill, closing the distance for me. She angled to my left and I picked up movement behind her. As she moved through a slight opening I ranged the best I could and hooked up my release. The movement was him! His rack was all I could see, literally. Floating above the shrubs ten feet behind his doe. I was drawn and hoping he didn't stop and look because there was no shot yet. To my dismay, he stopped in the opening. I split my 30 and 40, my bow jumped! I was waiting for that one thing to go wrong but knew it was over as my arrow disappeared in the sweet spot. Wow!!! All the emotions, hard work, pain, discomfort and everything else suddenly piled up and I thought I might collapse, I was exhausted. He was out of sight right away but I had no doubt he was laying a short distance away. I was standing no more than fifty yards from where Creed stood the day he "passed" this buck two years ago. Haha I found him right away, he had gone about forty yards. I was in disbelief and I still am. An old mature giant of the coues country, in my opinion. This deer was as much as thirty percent bigger bodied when we saw him before. With teeth worn down flat and some missing, I have no doubt he was near the end. Possibly may have been his last January anyway, had he slipped past me. Hopefully I have many more to come. This wouldn't have been possible without the support from my wife. I've said before, the amount of patience it takes to spot and stalk coues deer with a bow pales in comparison to the patients it takes to be married to me. Thanks for reading and good luck scouting!
  4. My wife and I have been married for just over nine years now and many amazing times have been shared. Ups, downs and in betweens, as with relationships of any kind. From the days each of our four kids entered our world, to the days we've rushed them to the hospital over the years. From days like our engagement and our wedding, to days that can leave one wondering about the future. It's a lot like hunting, it can be tough but it's all worth the good times! To combine hunting and marriage has been a special experience that I feel fortunate to have shared with the love of my life. To briefly recap over the last decade that led to our latest fall adventure, you will realize this huntress is tough as nails and really something. A couple weeks before our wedding, Alex joined my dad and I, hours before daylight, in preparation of her first lion hunt. Although saddling equine was within her knowledge, collaring hounds and taking off into rough mountains before the sun was all new. Embracing this, she kept up and was intrigued by the personality of each dog that can keep a positive thinker in stitches. After a few scrapes, scratches and steep climbs that day, we were facing down a tree'd cat. My fiancé brought the lion down with a pistol and put meat in our freezer for the first time, the beginning of her hunting career. A couple months later, we were living in a desert ghost town RV park, as I was a welder on the border fence. As armed newlyweds, we were cruising two tracks on my day off, with nothing particular in mind. That's when I discovered the true level of her natural ability to shoot! The seemingly unlimited population of rabbits and birds stood no chance. Again providing meat for our dinner table. Between wildlife encounters she'd ask me to pull over for a round of vomiting, due to her newly acquired morning sickness. I felt terrible but, she'd jump back in and say "alright let's go!" Once we were settled back in my home town in Southeast Arizona, we found ourselves on top of a small hill. Waiting for the sun with her first deer tag to fill. As I explained each step of what we were doing there, we began to glass the surrounding plains for desert mulies. Although, Alex's main concern revolved around the fact this was her first day away from our second child. It wasn't long before she casually mentioned "I see some deer, they have horns." I glanced at her and followed the direction of her optics to some distant mesquites. Excitedly, I found the two bucks walking broadside, way beyond shooting range. After retreating down the backside of our lookout, with my mind strictly studying the necessary steps for a successful stalk. I was taken by surprise needing to suddenly shift mental gears. Because she was an actively nursing mother, we absolutely had to postpone our pursuit of the deer right then. On top of that, we needed to return to the truck where everything she needed was left. I just wasn't used to considering these variables but, obviously there was no choice. Once pressure was relieved, I put the things we may need again in my pack and off we went. After skirting around our original hill, we gained enough elevation on a different hill and relocated one bedded buck. I could see his antlers, the 2x2 showing above the yellow grass in the distance. Not knowing where the 4x4 went, we circled down wind and crept within shooting distance across a shallow ravine from our target. After he stood up, Alex sent the bullet. At about 150 yards, she dropped her first deer back into his bed. Her tag was filled and she was anxious to return to our baby. Fortunately always her top priority. One bullet, one deer! Alex's next hunt was also for mule deer. A couple days in, after some long walks, we were set up on two feeding bucks at 300 yards. She squeezed it off, placing a perfect shot behind the shoulder of the bigger two point. He went down within twenty yards. Interestingly, this deer wound up being a hybrid! Two bullets, two deer! Finally, to my relief, she wanted to give coues a shot! We had friends and family along in deer camp for this one and our ten year old nephew, Ryder, and our good friend, Kendall, harvested their first deer! With limited time that fall and many tags to fill, we never located a deer Alex chose to pursue. The next year, her and Kendall drew the late hunt in a unit I had never rifle hunted for whitetail before. They would both be near the beginning of their third trimester for this hunt and my wife tends to be very sick throughout her pregnancies. We glassed from roads almost every day after work and hunted the weekends, with the help of friends and family to babysit our three kids. Number four being in the oven, along for his first hunt! Kendall tagged herself a buck, shooting a further distance than I've ever killed anything, around 550 yards. Alex proved her toughness day after day of this grueling hunt, stopping to puke and dry heave periodically. Several days, I had to insist we call it and head home. She badly wanted to get a mature deer but I couldn't take her discomfort as well as she could. We went into one of our last days with 47 buck sightings behind us, not a single one appearing to be over three years old. We four-wheeled to a dead end road where we had previously seen one of the biggest bucks so far. Alex seamed as sick as ever so I asked her to get a little more sleep. I'd only be a short distance away glassing. I took off for the nearest peak, where I could still see the truck and have a decent vantage into some prime coues habitat. As the sun provided visibility, I located the same buck as the week before from this perch. I glanced at the truck to see Alex throwing up violently. I cringed and picked everything up to rush down. By the time I got to the saddle between us, she was there having a snack. She explained that she felt better that day. I was skeptical but informed her of the buck. Her attitude was positive and she wanted to get him so we moved up the hill on the other side of the saddle to have a look. We carefully navigated along a hogback ridge to get an optimum shot angle. Once set up, Alex couldn't believe her eyes at the intensity this buck chased a doe all over the hillside. I have witnessed this many times during the archery season but it never gets old. The most exciting part for me was watching the thrill my wife was getting out of this show. Never offering a clean shot, the deer moved into a hidden cut in the steep mountainside. We considered all of our options and decided to head back to the truck and take a different road around, to the canyon below where he had disappeared. After a twenty minute drive and another twenty minutes on the quad, we were in a better spot to stalk from. We grabbing everything we needed to hold out until dark and quietly made our way up the thick hillside. We had to find the only small clearing we had noticed from the hogback across the canyon. We reached it, realizing it was a piece of old mining road and a perfect shooting bench! As we set up, I occasionally glanced at the draw across from us, about 250 yards away. Catching some grey movement, I threw my glasses up. "That's a buck, that's him!" Trying to stay calm, knowing the deer had already pegged us. We did our best at achieving a steady rest, manipulating rocks and packs for a pregnant prone position. Alex was shaking pretty bad. After a brief moment, she had the buck in her sights and I was ready to watch the shot. As he was still staring at us, those few seconds drug by, knowing by his stance that he could bolt at any moment. The rifle erupted and an instant later I saw the signs of a perfect impact right in his bread basket! He jumped hard and expired within seconds into some bear grass, out of sight. She freaked out at my sweet words, "he's dead, you smoked him!" After a celebration and big hug, she didn't seem sick anymore and was ready to get over there. Reminding her to pick out land marks to find him, we packed up and she took the lead to her buck, all smiles! Three bullets, three deer! This year, Alex and Kendall drew a muzzleloader whitetail tag. I had zero experience or knowledge with muzzleloaders. Since I was drawn for archery elk this year, there was no time throughout the summer to scout for anyone's deer hunt. Fortunately, my wife's brother, his wife, their two sons, my sister and two of her daughters drew whitetail tags in the same unit before the muzzleloader hunt. Helping everyone I could, would be the only time I would get to spend in the unit prior to my wife and Kendall's hunt. I got to be along for three days, four shots and three deer down! Two of those days, my eight year old daughter and six year old son were able to join in the fun, they loved it! This allowed me to check a couple of my go to spots off the list, considering all the recent commotion. Our good friend Jeff, Kendall's husband, planned to be with us for the three days we had for the hunt but important family matters called for his attention on short notice. Alex, Kendall and I moved into the desert darkness well before sun up, on our first day, to reach our glassing hilltop in the rough country. Weighing heavily on my mind was worry that the hike was too difficult. Any sudden change in my wife's day to day has negatively effected milk production in the past. It may be strange to mention but this variable played a major role in every decision of this hunt. On top of that, just her stress of being away from our baby boy for the first time, may have an effect. She's not a mother who easily leaves her babies, something I love about her. About an hour and a half later we were scanning the beautiful scenery, trying to pick out shapes through the dim light. Over the years, their glassing abilities have improved greatly. They both spotted several deer, coyotes and javelina on that cool morning. Also, the sightings of deer shaped logs, rocks and cactuses have decreased greatly! Alex may have even outgrown her nickname "Blind Squirrel", maybe... As for Kendall's new nickname, I will get to that shortly. My brother, Caleb, drove in to glass the morning in a nearby spot too, hoping to find a shooter for us to come running at the word. As the morning evaporated, I had only spotted one bachelor group, about two miles away. The five bucks had gone into a shaded spot on a rolling hill, a place we figured they would stay. Searching in every direction for a couple more hours didn't provide better opportunity so we packed up and headed toward the group of bucks. It was far away for seeing details but there appeared to be a few three points, a spike, and a mule deer spike, surprisingly. I had actually borrowed this muzzleloader from a friend and had shot it just enough to know it was on and to get acquainted with this intriguing weapon. We wanted to get within 250 yards and have plenty of time to set up, undetected. We hiked down the backside of a long ridge towards our new destination, peaking over often enough to maintain correct bearing. As we poked over enough to see, the last time, we were at 260 yards. Sneaking single file, we reached a good size rock to shoot from, now at 250 yards! From here we could only find one bedded buck and after some consideration my wife decided she would like to take him. A short discussion formed our plan. Once Alex's deer was down, Kendall needed to move into shooting position right away while I reloaded and we all needed to look for another COUES buck to show himself. I'd then range him while Kendall found him in the scope. What a plan, trying to get a double with a single muzzleloader, haha! I placed a primer, instructing Alex to pull the hammer back when she was ready, finger off the trigger. She began to tremble behind the scope as she focused on her bedded buck in the crosshairs. We had all the time in the world because the deer was calm, I reminded her of that fact more than once. I tapped her leg and told her to wait several times. She was visibly shaking and even hyperventilated a little bit. I later learned that her ear plugs were causing her heart beat to be quite the distraction. This is one of the coolest thing I can witness because I can relate. I love when anyone I'm helping bag a coues deer starts feeling it to this degree. Giving her a few moments to just watch the deer and gain control of herself made a big difference, she was ready. I stared at the deer, waiting to catch any info I could from the shot. BOOM! "He's dead babe, you freakin smoked him! You shot him in the neck but you smoked him!!!" These killers stuck to the plan better than I did. Alex excitedly sat back but literally became sick as her adrenaline rush came down. After a brief hesitation, I rapidly poured powder and forced a bullet down the barrel. I felt scrambled and nobody was really looking for deer. Before long we were setup again, the hillside was motionless. Nothing moved so I started glassing, still no more deer were visible. I decided to slowly stand so I could see deeper into the gorge. There was another bedded 3x3 twenty yards below Alex's deer. Chewing his cud without a worry, we were money. Without any way to shoot, besides off hand, we needed to find a shooting lane through the brush. I grabbed the few items we might need, including the gun. Kendall followed, duplicating my crouch, cautiously gravitating left. After about eighty yards, we found a great spot but it was crawling with red ants, we kept moving. Another twenty yards, this spot would work. We were still around 250 yards. As she got comfortable, I crawled along carefully snapping weeds and small mesquite branches in order to clear a canal in the vegetation. To allow visibility through the scope and a clear path for the 50 caliber bullet. Everything was set, Kendall was on him and I was waiting for the shot. Studying the buck through my binos, his ears shot up as dirt exploded into the air above his back line. Kendall's nerves went nuts, as did mine, I rushed to reload. She remarked that she may have pulled it. So, this is where Kendall earns her nickname, "Battleship", haha. Miss, miss, he's up, hit! Oh no, liver shot. He laid down, miss, miss, let's get closer. At 160 yards, he's back up, he laid down again, hit! Alright he's done! Reloading as fast as I could every time made me feel like a one man pit crew trying to keep us in the race. With our last bullet, her buck was sunk. I've rarely been so relieved. We returned up the hill, gathered everything and the three of us made our way to their deer. Once we were about twenty feet away, a third 3x3 jumped up and looked at us for a few seconds before running away. We could have easily tripled with another tag... and some more bullets! Another exciting hunt, I wouldn't trade moments like this for anything. Cutting up and carrying two deer out made for a long day into the night. It also resulted in the heaviest pack I've ever carried, should have made two trips! Alex is already talking about hunts to come and our kids are too. Meat and good times should never be in short supply! I'd like to thank anyone who has babysat for us over the years, allowing us to partake in these hunts. I appreciate Caleb for coming all he could, to lend his eyes in the daylight search. His wife and son came along too, very cool. A huge thanks to John, for loaning me his muzzleloader and giving me the crash corse that allowed our success to be possible. Also for using precious time off work to make all that happen. Always thanks to my dad, along with so much more, he taught me the importance of passing on knowledge and investing time into the youngsters and new hunters around us. I doubt I would have assisted in as many hunts without his example. Over the last several years, I've had the opportunity to watch many friends and family get their game, their first deer in many cases. I'd like to thank everyone for letting me be a part of these moments and take my verbal harassment with good nature, as it's intended. Also for being generous with cuts of meat here and there! Nobody seams to fight me for the heart, liver and caul-fat, although considering I'm always in on the field processing, it is odd that some of these deer were born with only one backstrap... Above all, I'd like to thank my wife for being herself and for being happy with me. I'm looking forward to many years and hunts together. Four deer with four bullets! What a women!
  5. C.C.Cody171

    Promise to Jeff

    Great write up of a special story. I never had the pleasure of knowing Jeff but have had the chance to talk hunting with Marvin on several occasions. His love for it is obvious, no doubt, one of many qualities handed down from his dad. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to be a small part of this and also to have met the whole deer camp of great people. Caleb and I were ecstatic to hear the news the day Marvin got that awesome buck, knowing what it meant to him and everyone involved.
  6. C.C.Cody171

    Boothill backcountry bucks

    Great write up Creed. Makes me wish even more that I would have been able to tag along for this one. A double main beam! My first thought when you sent the live pic at the time was "that's a dead deer!" Good job to both of you and congrats. Well deserved success!
  7. C.C.Cody171

    Swarovski BTX with 65mm

    Pm sent
  8. C.C.Cody171

    Archery NM Barbary Sheep

    Thanks, I appreciate that! Well, I've sense changed my arrow setup but at that time I was shooting Easton Axis. An innerloc shapeshifter broadhead. Hoyt defiant bow with a 5 pin slider. I've gone to black eagle arrows for now, 402 grains plus 100 grain broadhead at 280 fps. Lots of energy and great in wind!
  9. C.C.Cody171

    Archery NM Barbary Sheep

    Thanks guys. I encourage anyone looking to hunt something new to give it a try. They're really cool animals! Although, if we get drawn again, I plan to put in some serious scouting.
  10. C.C.Cody171

    Archery NM Barbary Sheep

    Wandering the new and wide open grounds of what seamed like endless desolation with my brother, Caleb, wasn't similar to any hunting I've done. We had already been walking for days, occasionally reaching enough of a rise in the rolling topography to see a few more miles of the same color rock and sparse vegetation. Although, snaking through it, here and there, were cliffs made up from many years of water flow in washes and what the maps refer to as "rivers", even with the absence of water for a majority of each year. Along with each new vantage, earned by sore feet and legs, came the hope for a sighting of our nomadic prey. Of this foreign animal we knew very little, basically just what we came to believe through word of mouth and limited research. We had a decent amount of information going into this hunt but like any other subject, there's plenty of info, the trick is separating accurate from false. The only consistent way we have found to achieve this is with boots on the ground and eyes behind the glass. Late nights walking back to camp or the truck, hours after dark. We were beat, how could we go so many days without even laying our eyes on a New Mexico Barbary Sheep (Aoudad) and expect Caleb to fill his rifle tag and take one home. After laying down one night in the freezing temperatures with nothing but a breathing channel exposed to the night air, I was held hostage by my hunting partners night howling that I've been pestered with since childhood. Always jealous of Caleb's ability to immediately be asleep and snoring, I remained awake. Without motion, going over this hunt with detailed consideration. It was time for a change in landscape. We discussed our options, hours before daylight, the next morning and high tailed it for different country. The several combined units for this hunt makes up an absolutely massive chunk of real estate, scattered with private land. We had to avoid the often non fenced, non posted, private land with extreme care. In NM, it's each hunters responsibility to be capable enough with a GPS or map to stay out of court for trespassing. A serious offense, especially if you've dropped an animal. So, now we found ourselves in habitat the opposite of what we had been hunting. Most of this maze of deep canyons clustered with sheer cliffs was impassable for humans. We carefully navigated along the ridges from the top of the mountain where, fortunately, a rough road granted us access. We both glassed until our eyes were burnt from the intense wind that apparently never rests in this area. Two days later we were in awe that our efforts to provide Caleb with a shot were still without reward. No Barbary Sheep were found. What the "heck" can we do!!!Another night spent away from home and my warm bed. Once again laying in the pitch black. Too tired, thirsty and confused to sleep. Listening to the consistent inhale of my beloved brothers nasal situation. We had both, long since recognized my good fortune on opening day. Now, I recall those unbelievable and exciting events in my minds eye. Accustomed to hiking, glassing, spotting, stalking and killing coues deer in Arizona, we topped our first hill of the hunt with long awaited excitement. Soon realizing this wouldn't be the meticulous, picking apart, type of glassing we were used to. By 8:00 we were already aways from our trucks, surveying from our third hilltop. I spoke up about some sheep I discovered, they looked about a mile away. We studied them for a little while, this being the first either of us had ever seen in the wild, it was interesting to note their behavior. There was eleven in the group and possibly a couple were rams. We had rifle tags for either sex but we had agreed to hold out for any ram. Both females and males grow horns and from a distance it can be difficult to tell the difference, for beginners especially. Hearing from other people that these crazy looking things were extremely flighty and had incredible vision. We decided to carefully retreat from our lookout and circle around in order to advance while out of sight. After covering nearly a mile we realized Caleb's range finder still wouldn't reach half way to our destination. It's advertised as a 1600 yard tool. To say the least we were terrible at judging distance in this barren place. I've never even hunted antelope and their typical range would be the closest example of our surroundings. We navigated through several gullies and modest changes of elevation trying to remain hidden. As we reached our new goal we slowly gained vision over the horizon. We were now positioned with a deep rocky gorge between us and the sheep. It was impossible not to spot them with our naked eyes at this distance. A quick check, it came back at roughly 400 yards. A chip shot for Caleb with his 7mm mag but, still a bit outside my comfort zone with my stick flinger. Knowing we had the entire month of February to return to NM on the weekends, after our initial week long trip. I had decided to give it a chance with my bow for the first half of the days I could hunt. Everything I could find to read or watch about Aoudad hunting wasn't encouraging of this challenge. As Caleb set up to shoot, I studied my stalk options and came up with a plan. We checked the GPS one more time to confirm we were still within the fairly small section of public land. I told him not to hesitate to fill his tag with what turned out to be only one ram in this group, if I bumped them during my attempt to get within range. Although only about 400 yards away, it was necessary for me to back out of sight again and follow the landscape way around for possibly over a mile walk in total, to get all the variables in my favor. Caleb patiently waited for me to appear from over the rocks along the opposing ridge. If these Aoudad began to move off at any point he was game for putting this ram in his freezer but later he would share how excited he got when my head suddenly floated into view on the horizon above the sheep. I started creeping down hill towards the wary critters. At this point I was glad to see my landmarks had served me well for the blind approach. I came over, slowing exposing the hillside below me and started to see the yellowish/orangish shapes through the short shrubs and grass. Some were bedded and I couldn't see the ram so I continued forward. I had assumed this stalk wouldn't work out when I started but figured since we found the opportunity so early in the hunt, there would be more chances often. As I closed the distance I spotted my shooter once I was about 130 yards from him. Some of the ewes were bedded and the rest were lazily grazing, all in close proximity. Constantly scanning each animal, I inched closer for a long while. There was minimal breeze but it was in my face and I had elevation in my favor as well. The only problem was a complete lack of cover. I worked to get close for probably an hour and was disappointed to realize I was still over 100 yards away. Unfortunately, the sheep were also slowly working their way down hill. I had practiced more than ever for a long shot in preparation for this hunt, due to their elusive reputation and the possibility of open terrain. I ranged the ram, he was standing quartered away at 102 yards. I observed that I was having no issue with buck fever. The wind was basically dead and what remained was straight in my face. I glanced across the ravine at the statue behind his glass on a tripod. Little did I know, Caleb's heart was racing. I'd been smoking my target beyond this distance at home, with my broadheads. My live target in that moment stood his ground, completely unaware of my contemplation. I subconsciously went through my mental checklist and felt a flutter in my stomach. I studied the ground between us and knew there was no getting closer. With 22 elite eyes doing their best to survive predators, I wondered how I even got to where I was. Delaying my next step was coming to an end. A few ewes took small steps, they were moving away. I was convinced I could make this shot but I'll be honest. I'm a skeptic for long shots, on living creatures. My prey was clueless, soaking up the sun in the wide open. Although, in my experience, being in the open exposed to this many animals, getting busted is only a matter of time. My chance was evaporating every second. The ram took a few steps away and then turned broadside, looking downhill at his ladies that were becoming distant. I thought "ok 104". Caleb about lost it when I rose from my position and drew my bow. Settling my last bit of movement, my pin sunk into his bread basket. Everything was perfect, I felt I could responsibly send the deadly arrow. My bow suddenly sprang and I was almost shocked to see my arrow way above the ground, arching onward! It traveled so far I lost it in flight but the ram stood for impact. I glimpsed fletchings bouncing along beside his body as he rapidly disappeared over the crest. I was suddenly aware of my pounding heart and felt nervously sick. I stood still and put in another arrow. The rest of the sheep hadn't run, they jumped around a bit and stared in all directions trying to figure out what happened. They moved uphill, toward me and came to within 70 yards! I watched for the ram but counted only 10 heads over and over. Caleb was doing the same thing, the ram had darted into the draw out of view but it happened so fast. We weren't sure if he had returned to the others. They finally spotted me and wasted no more time. Those animals move amazingly through anything. They were across a cliff that skirted the deep, narrow canyon and out of sight within seconds. I took a deep breath after once again counting 10 animals, as they disappeared. Caleb and I each examined up and down the gorge that separated us, carefully from each of our positions for about 30 minutes. No movement. He gathered his gear and snuck my way. I slowly crept toward the point of impact, reaching it provided zero satisfaction. I moved in the direction of the rams exit, no tracks, no blood, no sheep, no good. I was disappointed in myself but there was still a chance. We both saw the arrow in his side but were unsure of its exact location. Caleb was coming across the very bottom of the deep rocky cut as I went to meet him. Now at only a short distance, we traded enough info to learn we were both unsure of my shot results. He excitedly exclaimed about being able to see my arrow through his binos coming toward the sheep from the opposite side. He said it looked like I smoked him but it was hard to tell because the ram immediately ran down, out of sight. Caleb had barely been peeking over his ridge, in fear of spooking them. Hope was dwindling as I cautiously worked down through the rocks for the last bit, to reach the bottom. Both our mental states of mind did a 180 and a couple back flips when I noticed the dead ram in some bear grass a short ways ahead! I erupted and Caleb almost hurt himself getting through the terrain to reach me. After some big hugs and coming back to earth I yelled "Dude, I just killed a Barbary Sheep with my bow!" We soaked in the moment, exchanging details of the whole ordeal. I've been fortunate to harvest a number of big game animals with my bow over the last few years. All in the same spot and stalk fashion but usually it has happened while solo. It was so very special for me to share this experience with my brother and not only that, he actually got to watch the whole thing. We decided to carry the sheep, out of the canyon, to get pictures showing the land we were hunting in. Major chore, they're heavier than they look. Then we worked quickly carving meat and packing up. We were both exhausted once we reached the trucks several miles away. With some relief, we figured, surely we could find Caleb a sheep right away and head home. There was no camp, we had simply parked on the shoulder of a county road at 10:00 the night before and gone to bed. It was our first time in the unit because, regrettably, our work schedules and prior commitments made scouting impossible this time. We just knew there was a section of public land in one direction, that hopefully held some of these mysterious Barbary Sheep! I woke up later that month still shaking my head with disbelief and realized I was quite cold. Caleb was getting ready for another day of trying to grind out success. I rolled out of my sleeping bag to prepared our oatmeal. We hunted the rest of the days we planned but never fired a shot. One time, Caleb spotted two running sheep about five miles away for just a few seconds. That's the only other sighting we had. Besides the impressive herd of mature rams we got to observe right in the middle of our hunting area, on the other side of an eight foot fence! At only a couple hundred yards they paid little mind, we could have blundered within bow range of these pets. All this took place back in February of this year. Seven months later I was sitting around with my kids telling stories and they insisted to hear about the cool looking euro mount once again. Grabbing it off the wall brought back all those memories and I couldn't help but write something up, after all. I'm not necessarily for long range shooting at animals, that's what has kept me from feeling as good about that hunt all this time. I'm glad it worked out for that amazing animal to not have suffered but it's a lot of arrow flight time for one step to cause a bad hit. As it was, the double lung dropped him within 80 yards! As always, I was able to enjoy this hunt to the fullest knowing I had the support of my amazing wife and would like to thank her for everything. Her whitetail hunt in AZ is next, wish us luck! Thanks for reading and if anyone is planning an Aoudad hunt, I wish you the best of luck!
  11. C.C.Cody171

    Topped last year. (Updated with Video)

    Congrats on an awesome bull! Good job. I enjoyed the story and video as always.
  12. C.C.Cody171

    A Walk In The Park!

    My brother was able to get it done in NM on the day 6! He showed up a week early to scout and worked his butt off for this bull. I was able to hunt with him for four days but after numerous close calls, I had to return to work. He slipped in and smoked his bull at 61 yards with a perfect shot the morning after I left. I wish I could have been there for the beginning of his archery addiction. He's rifle hunted a lot but he told me watching that arrow hit its mark was the coolest thing he'd ever seen!
  13. C.C.Cody171

    A Walk In The Park!

    Thanks everyone! It was definitely high quality fun I'll never forget. I can't wait to have a tag again. Possibly in another state. Too easy to grow old waiting for elk tags in AZ. At least pretty soon my kids will be putting in too! Headed back to NM for my brother and bro in laws hunt this weekend, wish us luck. Crazy low odds we drew at all, let alone separately! Thanks again and good luck to everyone in the field.
  14. C.C.Cody171

    A Walk In The Park!

    The anticipation of a hunt with a rarely drawn tag is near the top of the list for torture of a common hunter. Months of this treatment passed during detailed preparation and I felt as if my insides were going to boil from anxiety. In the small gaps of a busy and active life, there was research and practice to the umpth degree. Every piece of gear tinkered with, red eyes from staring at google earth and maps late into the night, countless arrows sent down the driveway into several worn out targets. As much as anything, the challenge it turned into for me to become at least decent at talking to elk with various calls. This particular adventure involved extra aspects of packing in with equine and the planning of getting meat out when the time came. Improving and maintaining health before and during can not be over looked. For me, a highlighted question during the pre-hunt process is, "what's gonna cost me?". What's gonna stand in my way of success. Preparing for an elk hunt was less comfortable for me than other game animals I'm used to pursuing. I live in the desert, many hours drive from elk country. I've had a September archery tag in the past, in my home state of Arizona. At that time, immaturity blinded me from realizing I wasn't ready, when the sun came up opening morning. Now, several years later, I was at least capable of seeing the learning curve there would be for me to find what I was looking for on this journey. Along with my hunting partner, Creed, we gathered as much information about this new area from anywhere and anyone we could find it. Breaking into the vast Gila Wilderness of New Mexico has become a story of its own and the excuse to do so has also been its own great reward. Out of at least a dozen close competitors, our tack was finally driven into one specific place we would hang all hope on. A place no person could ever forget after spending any amount of time there. An absolute paradise that riding or walking into is as much a surprise as is it a lush habitat for wildlife, including the infamous screaming bull elk of September! As we explored this newly found playground, we discovered it was roughly five miles across in all directions. This may not sound like very much country but, believe me, its more than enough to walk yourself into a dither. Especially while fixated on a majestic quarry. Surrounded by completely opposing landscape, it would remind you of a park created in badlands. Along each border are steep rock formed upward and downward slopes, with a few select possibilities for exit or entry. We also planned on hunting into this rough stuff, in every direction, adding to our hunting grounds considerably. Our several trips into this country ranged from six to nine hours astride our saddles. Arriving at our predetermined camp location four days before opening day, I could hardly contain my excitement, it was time to stiffly dismount. Already having visited The Park a few weeks before to figure out our best path and set a handful of trail cams, we had become somewhat familiar with the area. These scouting and packing trips along with Creed and my dad were completely dependent upon the mules of this story. My rambunctious youngster, Beaudean. A couple of my brother Caleb's mules, Peaches and Clyde. Also part of my dads impressive herd; Wanda, John John, Emma and Sullivan. Without the donation of these animals and my dad along for the work involved, none of the following would have been possible. Creed would not arrive for a few more days, on the night before opening morning. However, my dad and I picked up a friend and fellow hunter on the drive in that had traveled all the way from Michigan to join in the chase. So on this Monday evening, Emmet, crawled from the back of the first mule he'd ever ridden, to regain feeling in his legs. My cousin, Travis, also tagged along for the pack in. The four of us worked together caring for the animals and putting camp together, home sweet home for possibly the next 20 days! With the countryside painted in dew soaked green grass, at least as high as our knees, we were grateful for waterproof boots. Mostly taking it slow and easy on those days leading up to having valid tags. Emmet and I checked cameras and drooled over the info they obtained. We perfected our high line system to hitch Sullivan, in accordance with the rules of the Wilderness area. We also enjoyed the different sounding bugles and close encounters with bears, deer and various wildlife. We even read a mushrooms for dummies book and took some semi educated risk to enjoy the native cuisine. Something I could see becoming a hobby in the future. I figured out the use of my new hammock and also continued to shoot my bow every day as I had been. My dad and cousin didn't stay long, they returned home with all the mules besides Sullivan. Creed would have to go pick up Peaches for his ride in on Thursday, "Peaches and Creed". I laughed at Creeds recollection of Peaches doing her worst to join the elk they passed on the way in. She's a bit heard bound and apparently thought they were mules! We ran through the highlights discovered on the trail cams and then we all did our best to catch some sleep. The air was cool but our lunges and legs felt a slight burn as we quietly moved out of our canyon towards the elk. Legal shooting light was closer than I'd hoped but that didn't matter to the sun, here came opening day. As the morning progressed, our camera man, Emmet, shadowed Creed and myself through the tall pines and forests of fern that grew to our elbows. We captured some footage of a couple good looking bulls that didn't quite have the maturity we'd been dreaming of. With fourteen days ahead of us, we saw no reason to quit the fun and start the work with an immature animal that hadn't had a chance to run his own harem yet. We kept moving toward the gnarly bugle that had occasionally echoed in our ears throughout the last several mornings. Each time, we would all glance at each other raising our brow and grin. Suddenly from behind us about forty elk came stampeding by, along with them was a nice 6x6 we had already passed on. Never knowing for sure what caused this, we briefly followed through with our stalk to discover the running group had swept the owner of the impressive bugle away from us. We had more close encounters with elk before mid morning but no bows were drawn. Circling past several trail cams and learning more about the country, we kept on the move most of that day. At one point, we walked within shooting distance of a younger 6x6 and decided to give him more time. We had the first day, several opportunities and about twelve miles behind us. Feed and water Sullivan and Peaches, prepare packs, eat, drink, sleep, feed and water again, eat and take off. The second morning we moved out of camp in a slightly different direction, going up the canyon bottom for aways. We ran into a good 6x7 and got some of his bugles of video. We let him work his way out of our path and continued on. We had discussed the night before, that we would go after different bugles to see as many bulls as possible. Emmett joined me to the left, to run down some distant whistling, Creed continued up the canyon solo. After working our way into the action, we laid our eyes on a shooter that I started calling "Cowboy", because he was hearding cows like a pro! We dogged this group for a couple of miles, slowly closing the gap, waiting for the right opportunity to slip in. After all my practice, I lacked the confidence to try any calling. I knew I could provide myself a shot with fast stealthy movements as I do with other game, with my bow. For me, playing it safe seamed to be my best option in this scenario. We barely missed an intense fight between this bull and another bull we never quite saw. A slight rise blocked our view but what a ruckus! The mystery bull retreated to the left. As we advanced the demeanor suddenly altered within this heard. Another bugle sounded off very close to our right and Emmett and I thought this may mean another clash of massive antlers. We carefully moved forward a bit more. We were getting close, something was about to happen. Scan the vegetation from left to right. There's the bull! No shot yet but they were no longer on the move. We could see most of the cows staring toward the bull we heard coming in from our right. We kept our slow and steady pace undetected, something was making them nervous. We moved a little closer. In a time like this it's very obvious when the gig is up. Especially with the vocalization of elk. Off they went with loud and disheartening barks, goodbye "Cowboy". I was watching their exit when Emmett angrily said with that Michigan accent "Dude, there's a hunter! Dude, that's Creed!" The bull coming in from our right was a very realistic sounding Creed. It turned out he was moving in on the same elk and almost made it happen as well. We walked over, he was just as surprised to see us. After an exchange of info pertaining to the encounter, we came up with a new game plan for the rest of the day. Emmett and Creed would make a big loop to the right as I did the same to the left, meeting in camp some time after dark. Wanting to get video of each of us, it was my turn to go solo. I also needed to retrieve my bugle tube I had lost the day before, so I hoofed it to where we had been, a few miles away. A few hours and a couple distant bugles later I had my bugle tube and was doing my thing. An occasional locator bugle and a little cow talk here and there. To my surprise I received a text through my garmin inreach that Creed had shot a bull! I thought, wow he shot a bull on the second day. After some clarification between shot or killed, I needed to know where they were. Knowing Creed, I assumed it was an impressive animal, which was a correct assumption. I was several miles away and at first was gonna continue hunting but I couldn't think of much else, so off I went to the opposite side of The Park to lend a hand and see his bull. A short while later I received their coordinates. I sat down to rest and grab a quick bite while determining the best route to take. This was gonna take me a few minutes so I figured I'd rip off a bugle with a variation of some stuff I learned on the internet and see what happened. Shortly after, a bugle came echoing through the woods and it was a deep, growly, mature sounding voice! My head popped up to help pin point his direction. Within a minute there it was again, quite a bit closer! Realizing I needed to move to my left, I scrambled to get my stuff together. Also nearly biting off my own fingers frantically finishing my lunch as most of it was wasted onto the ground. I hurriedly moved to the shoulder of the ridge I was on, to reveal the draw below. I spotted elk moving single file through the vertical gaps between the ponderosas scattered between us. About half the elk at any given time were standing still in survey of their surroundings. With no under brush as cover and watchful eyes from my eleven O'clock to my two O'clock I decided to stay put and assess the situation from where I was, about two hundred yards away. The wind was on my left cheek and the elk were coming up the draw moving from right to left so that was good news. Another hair raising growl let out, scanning through the trees I caught a glimpse of the culprit. I could only see the very back end of him and I was strongly considering continuing towards my hunting partners. Letting down my binos I noticed more elk out in front of the heard, up the draw to my left. There was about thirty elk, including a handful of small bulls. Now at a steady walk, I let them file through my binos as they disappeared up the draw. I was takin aback when the heard bull, bringing up the tale end, entered my view. Wow! It was the same bull I had seen but now I could see everything much better. I was blown away by my initial misjudgment. I also recognized him as a bull we had on camera with amazingly long thirds. I sent a message saying I was on elk, my chase began! Similar as in the morning, I was playing it safe and waiting for them to reach their bedding area. Unfortunately, I messed up and bumped the big bull and a few cows at one point and it became very difficult to keep up for about a mile. If it wasn't for their tracks I wouldn't have guessed correctly on which direction they fled. I caught a glimpse of elk and started closing the gap between us, once again. Their convoy moved over a rise out of sight, allowing my rapid advance to that point. I repeated this move a few times just in time to see the the stragglers topping the next rise. After a little over two miles their pace let up, I followed suit. Knowing I had to be more careful, I studied the wind and cover for stalking possibilities. I was several hundred yards away so I crept forward, constantly doing my best to monitor about sixty eyeballs. Because of the wind, I had to move through an area with zero cover for one hundred yards or so. Literally not even grass. Additionally, I was below them. An advantage I avoid gifting my prey when possible. They had gravitated toward barren land at the edge of The Park, during the chase. As I closed the distance, they were slowly working along to the right, away from me. Twice, a cow nailed me and I couldn't budge for long periods of time. Holding my breath she wouldn't ruin my chances. As they rounded a steep ridge once more I covered more land and was almost within shooting distance as the last elk disappeared. At last they were calm and the bull was screaming back and forth with another mature sounding bull, further away up the mountain. Now I was on the same hill as them but I needed to move through a very noisy looking draw in order to regain visual contact. I knew the elk were close so I couldn't risk it, knowing they could step back around and bust me at any point. I decided to risk my calling after all but to stay conservative. I sent out some cow calls and stood silently for a few minutes. I could hear the bulls and cows continuing their racket so I repeated the system. I was intently focused on the crest of the ridge and I couldn't believe my eyes. My target came slowly strutting back towards me, slowly swaying his impressive head gear! He moved downhill onto a flat bench at the same elevation as me but the draw was still between us, full of loud debris. He displayed the destruction of a five inch thick pine for the next half hour. When he started, I was outside shooting range. Every chance I got, I wiggled through the obstacles between myself and success. He spotted my head poking into view at one point so I slowly backed into hiding and let out some very quiet and soft cow talk with my mouth reed. After regaining his trust, I continued my advance with unnoticeable motion. I was within shooting distance for a few minutes, just getting closer and closer because he only offered a front angle with that poor tree right in the way. My bow and nerves were begging for action but it wasn't time just yet. They got their wish, his feet shifted and before I knew it, covered ten feet to my left. All at once; I drew, stepped out from behind a burnt stump that had been my visual barrier, settled my anchor automatically and broadcasted from my mouth reed one more time. He came to a stop as his massive antlers turned in my direction, I felt dead steady. The appropriate sight pin was unmoving, buried in the kill zone. I squeezed it off and concentrated on the flight of my arrow, it was looking good! For the last portion of flight the arrow entered the shade casted by the canopy of trees where the bull stood. From the transition of light to shade it became invisible and caused a concerning confusion for an instant. The optical illusion caused me to believe the arrow sailed over my targets back by almost a foot. An instant later I witnessed as my arrow darted into fur and flesh. All this happened in about a second but my mind was flying out of control! This absolutely huge animal had no problem being out of sight immediately, it sounded like a locomotive rumbling through the wild as he retreated at a dead run. I tried to replay the events, in my head, for the next half hour. I was only about ninety percent sure I had smoked him. I retraced my steps to my pack and tried to kill some time with a snack and some water, I was too on edge to eat. Then, creeping over, I found his tracks where he had jumped, due to an arrow smacking into him. My eyes followed along for a moment and noticed a spot of blood about ten feet away! I sat down and continued trying to send out the message that I had shot a bull. Creed and I never figured out how to message from Inreach to Inreach so my wife and brother took part in all communication. We would message one of them and they would forward the message on. Another half an hour had gone by so I decided to investigate his path. Blood was never in abundance but it was easy tracking. With huge hoof prints, broken branches and rolled over logs you couldn't miss where he crashed along. After about seventy five yards, due to lack of blood, I almost pulled back to return the next morning for tracking. My mind was taunting me with failure. Failure to myself and to this animal for the possibility of delivering a bad hit, it's torture. I studied the lay of the land and decided to only continue to the edge of the small bowl type ravine I was in. After progressing for about thirty yards, I lost my mind at the sight. My bull was on the ground, unmoving, he had expired in less than one hundred and fifty yards! Out of habit, I finished out the blood trail partially because I was too nervous to approach what had been on my mind around the clock for months. I walked up as I started to lose it. Wow, unreal! I got the word sent out and did my best at some self photography with my phone wedged between a couple branches. Once again, failing to capture anything to the fullest. I had invested in a high quality camera prior to this hunt but, as I previously explained, Creed and Emmett had it at that time. Which turned out to be awesome because the harvest of Creeds bull was all caught on tape, very exciting! By this time they were finishing up hanging all the deboned meat from his bull in game bags. With coordinates I sent out, they grabbed Peaches and Sullivan from camp and headed my way. Upon their arrival around 9:00 that night they were depressed to hear I had only gutted my bull. It was impossible to handle such a big animal by myself. Only to be relieved a moment later that I was joking, haha. I had removed the quarters, deboned everything else and caped him out. While dismantling the carcass I was pleased to discover my worries over the shot were unwarranted. It was a heart shot! I tend to aim above that so it was a bit low after all but, I understood why. When he had turned to walk I thought he was perfectly broadside. When I studied his tracks, later, I realized he was slightly angled away causing an extra four yards between us. I didn't take that into consideration in the heat of the moment. I've hardly hunted anything bigger than deer and when I have killed elk I had plenty of help. I have to admit, field processing an animal of that size by myself was more difficult than I would have imagined. I'm proud to say I didn't waste any meat and none of it hit the dirt. This wasn't easy but after almost five hours of working hard, I was more proud of that accomplishment than I was of harvesting this bull to begin with. Hundreds of pounds of excellent food for my family and friends to enjoy for many months to come! After Creed and Emmett passed a saddling inspection with flying colors, we worked together loading everything up. We took turns carrying the antlers by hand to avoid any wrecks in the dark and headed for camp. We didn't get to bed until after 1:00 in the morning and got up first thing to retrieve Creeds bull. From the time we squeezed the trigger there was constant hard work for days getting everything packed out, twenty miles to our vehicles. It was all worth it. I used both mules that day to ride and lead, getting Creed's meat hauled out and put in a freezer at a friends house who lives nearby. My dad came running, from back home, when he heard the news and was anxiously waiting at the trailhead upon my arrival. We spent the night there and headed to camp the next morning. While I was gone, Creed and Emmett deboned the quarters from my elk and got camp ready to pack out. We kept my meat cool by submerging it under the running water of the cool mountain creek that flowed by our camp. This worked wonderfully, the meat is excellent and stayed cool to the touch. Never even emitting a questionable smell throughout the eight hour haul. On the fifth of September, we got up early for the long day of getting packed out and going home. I had become very home sick and couldn't wait to see my wife and kids. Show them my bull and tell them stories about the adventure. They can't wait to go on the more serious trips like this one. I also realized I had hardly eaten sense tagging out, I simply forgot to. Emmett also forgot to drink water. On top of dehydration, being from Michigan and not used to our climate, he found himself in a dangerous spot. On the way out, still several miles from the truck, his body literally started shutting down and worried us all very much. My dad started forcing water into him and he recovered well, to all our relief. Paradise or not, wild country can be non forgiving and harsh at any moment. We'll all miss it until we hopefully are fortunate enough for another visit. Possibly with a rare tag in someone's pocket once again. Until then, we can dream of a walk in The Park, in the depths of the Gila Wilderness! I'd like to thank my dad. We couldn't have done this without all of his help and willingness to do what's needed for such an amazing experience. He prepared in various ways, some of which I'm probably not even aware of, so everything would come off as planned. Also, a huge thanks to Emmett, he drove for days sleeping in his pickup some of the way to be there for Creed and I. He was great company and is welcome in my camp or home any time. Many thanks to Creed, he is a great hunting partner and I'm lucky to have a friend with his character. He has an unwavering appreciation and respect for the wild critters we hunt and wildlife in general. I'm thankful to my brother Caleb, for the use of two of his mules. He was going to ride in and hunt with us for a few days but we both tagged out before then. He drew the second hunt in NM this year, in another unit, that I'll be joining for a three day weekend. I can't wait! Above all, I would like to thank my wife for all her support. I have often seen hunters that had a spouse or someone in their life that handed out grief, concerning their way of life. Not understanding their natural draw to wild places. I couldn't imagine obtaining the happy success I experience under those tense conditions. Also, her and our kids always enjoy jumping in to help process meat, which I think is awesome! Thanks to everyone for reading, I hope it was enjoyable. Good luck to everyone with your hunts, stay safe and shoot straight!