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YoungHuntr

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About YoungHuntr

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  1. Bit of a long story on this belated hunt report from the beginning of November, read at your own peril. I thought of trying to trim it down, but that wouldn't do justice to what this deer and this hunt mean to me. If you want to skip the soliloquoy and get to the coues hunting report, go to the first bolded section. Or skip to the second bolded section for the titular story. My first taste of big game hunting was with my grandfather and uncles, going down south to the border of Arizona and Mexico each year to chase coues deer. I started going long before I could actually hunt them myself, but it was more than hunting- riding around in our family jeep with my grandfather, waiting anxiously for steak night and his handmade dutch oven cobbler. It was a time of year I looked forward to more than anything, gathering with friends and family and enjoying the outdoors. My grandfather was an amazing man, and he taught me a lot during those times in the deer woods, lessons that would continue to ring true and help me in my life for years to come. Among those was the simple truth that hunting wasn't about a kill- it was about time spent with family in the outdoors, away from the stresses of everyday life. It was a lesson I wholeheartedly believed in, and one of the reasons I prioritized our yearly deer hunting trips despite the fact that my hunting partner, my uncle took a more billy goat approach to hunting coues- moving around a lot, glassing little, and trying to kick something up. I didn't mind this approach, despite knowing it would have been beneficial to let our eyes do the walking- these trips were about family, and killing a deer was secondary to that. Over the next decade I diversified my hunting exploits, chasing elk and archery hunting deer. As I grew older and could drive, I augmented family trips with extra days in the field chasing coues by myself. During these times I tried to hone my hunting skills, with some success- I found and shot at two good bucks during two different seasons, missing both- the first due to user error estimating range, the other due to unfortunate equipment failure. One could say I had a tumultuous start to my hunting career- I also dealt with multiple bad circumstances that led to me failing to recover two elk over three years that I had hit. Each mistake and circumstance was a valuable lesson, but I might have given up or been driven crazy if I hadn't been able to talk to my grandfather about each one and remember that hunting wasn't about a kill. Fast forward a decade from my initial experiences hunting coues, and a lot has changed. I live in Colorado now, and work full time as a nurse in a level 1 trauma center ICU. It's a stressful, but incredibly rewarding job, and one of the perks is it affords me the opportunity to hunt and enjoy the outdoors now more than ever. A lot has changed in the interim- I've had multiple successes with big game, my first coming with my bow, spot and stalk on desert mule deer not far from my hometown of Coolidge, Arizona. It was great to realize success on a deer hunt, but it just punctuated that lesson my grandfather taught me- though I enjoyed the experience and certainly enjoyed the venison, it hadn't changed how I felt about hunting or myself- truly the kill was unimportant in the grand scheme of things. My grandfather had passed before I took my first deer, and hunting, both yearly with my family and by myself, was one of the ways I remembered him and some of the best memories of my childhood. I took my second deer, a Wyoming whitetail doe, just last year. This season, my first full year in Colorado, I had multiple hunts planned, and each one was a blast. I backpacked above treeline for seven full days in the mountains of southwestern Colorado, chasing deer and elk with my muzzle loader. Never have I had a more magnificent or grandiose backdrop to a hunt, the amazing and rugged Rocky Mountains framed by golden aspens. I didn't take an animal on this hunt- I put two stalks on wary mountain bucks, and had one of my most amazing experiences somehow, against all odds, crawling within range (150 yards) of a herd of some 100+ elk above treeline, but never took a shot. I was within range of a nice 5x5, but the herd bull, a truly gigantic 6x6 was just out of range and I wanted to be patient and see if he would present an opportunity (plus I didn't really want to pack a smaller bull out of the back country, six miles back in rugged terrain by myself). That wary old herd bull never came down to where the rest of his herd was, instead choosing to sit on top of the hill and watch over his many cows and satellite bulls. I made a move as the sun set, but to no avail. Still, that hunt was incredible, and being in the middle of a herd of that size, multiple bulls screaming their heads off all around me in some of the prettiest country on earth, will not ever be forgotten. I remember thinking how happy my grandfather would have been to hear about that hunt and what an amazing time I'd had. My next hunt this season took me to Wyoming, where I had both a deer and and antelope tag. I wrote extensively about this in another thread, so won't go into details here, but I filled both tags. I took my largest buck to date, small by many standards but perfect in my eyes, a pretty 4x4 mule deer. I then took my first ever antelope, a wonderful representative buck. And most importantly, had a great time hunting with great friends. However, by far my most anticipated hunt of the season was returning to my home state of Arizona, chasing the deer I had grown up on. The first part of the hunt would be with my two uncles, doing our normal routine of going up on Thursday and hunting together Friday through Sunday. This year, however, I'd invited a good friend and hunting partner of mine that I had made through work to join me for the second part of the hunt. Andy is an excellent hunter, far more experienced than me, and I reckoned even if I didn't take my first coues buck on my family hunt we could get it done with four days to hunt. We planned on driving in to a remote access spot and backpacking in even further to find unpressured deer and hopefully a couple bucks for us to kill. My family hunt came and went in a flash. It was my most anticipated weekend of the season and it didn't disappoint. The mountains and hills of Arizona hold a special place in my heart, and nothing, not even the grandiose Rocky Mountains can ever replace the terrain I grew up hunting deer with my family in. The colors of fall were amazing, oranges, reds, and yellows in the creek bottom creating an amazing scene in the canyon we camped in. It did not take long to have my first coues encounter, either. We were pretty disorganized, and as a result didn't get camp set up until around 0200 Friday morning. As a result we slept in until almost 0830, neither by purpose or by accident. My uncle was the first to awaken. Literally still in his bed in our shared tent, zipped up in his sleeping bag, he opened the tent door and stared at the hill behind our camp. "Colton, get up, there's two deer on that hill right there, both bucks." "What? You're kidding me. Where?" "Moving left to right next to that big green mesquite." And so began a mad scramble to stealthily, yet quickly, get out of the tent and onto the two bucks that had wandered into shooting range on opening morning, that my uncle had somehow, by some fluke, spotted as they moved across the hill less than 100 yards from camp. A part of me thought I might still be dreaming. I walked over to my jeep in the direction of the deer, in my underwear. "Don't open your jeep, you'll scare them." "That's where my gun is!" I whisper-shouted back. "I saw two bucks, on of them I think is a good one, a 3x3, both have antlers." And so there I sat in the dirt and leaves of camp, in my underwear, trying to spot the two bucks on the hill above. Thankfully no one wandered by, as the sight of three grown men in their underwear, rifles out, might be alarming to some. We ended up going up the hill after them, having lost sight of them and unsure if they were even still there. In retrospect I should have just set up on my tripod and glassed, but we had no clue if they were still in the same zip code. As I approached the last location, a quick glass revealed nothing, but two more steps and both bucks busted. I never had a shot, but was able to tell that the larger of the two was indeed a nice 3x3 as he ran away from me back-lit by the sun. After that wild experience, the next few days produced a lot of does but no bucks. Regardless, this was the vacation I needed. Nothing melts worries and stresses like time spent with family outdoors, and always on my mind during this trip was the many amazing experiences and stories I had of hunting with my grandfather. No shots were fired, but this weekend lived up to my expectations fully. (Taco night and steak night weren't too shabby either). The family jeep: Next, I drove into our chosen backpacking access in the dark and met Andy. Monday morning we glassed the hills around and turned up a plethora of deer, and multiple bucks, none of them large but tempting still as neither of us had taken a coues. We elected to hold off on the two spikes/tiny forked bucks we found and instead proceed with the game plan to backpack in fully. My pack was heavy but compared to carrying the same weight two months earlier at 12,000 feet the walk in wasn't terrible. Our creekbed cliffed out and we ended up going up a different finger than we planned. This proved to be a blessing in disguise, as we topped to finger and tried to stay hidden we immediately started finding deer. Not an hour into our glassing session, Andy had his eyes on a group of does and excitedly told me, "There's two more deer just to the left near that juniper, both have antlers!" My 15s were already set up on their tripod, so I swiveled over. "Holy crap, that buck in the shade of the juniper is an absolute dandy. " That was all we needed to know. We were around 450 yards away but wanted to close the distance. Our finger was decently wide and grassy and extended further out towards the ridge they were on, so we belly-crawled towards them. My stomach dropped a bit when Andy told me, "They're running. Must have got out wind. Well, trotting." Thankfully they settled down and fed again. We cut the distance to about 375 from their new position, having difficulty finding spots where our bipods would clear the tall grass. Eventually we did, and I was able to determine the bigger of the two bucks was the most uphill. Andy and I decided to both shoot at this buck, as he was clearly the larger of the two and we didn't want to chance him getting away. Both of us were comfortable at this range and had spent extensive time with our rifles. We counted to three and both fired. I was able to find the buck again in my scope and saw as he ran, clearly hurting, uphill less than 25 yards and fell over beneath another juniper. I excitedly exclaimed, "He's down, we got him!" Having not seen him fall, Andy was skeptical, but I knew our trek down and back up would end with a downed deer. Sure enough, he was right where I though he was. The buck turned out to be a 3x3 with good eye-guards and a little nub on the left side where he was trying to grow a fourth point. There was only one vital hit on the buck, a perfect shot that took out the top of the heart and a lung. After extensive examination I concluded he was Andy's to tag. He was shooting a .300 win mag with barnes LRX. I was shooting my .25-06 with 115 VLDs. The size of the entry hole, and lack of jacket fragments in any of the wound cavity were enough for me. Still, I was ecstatic to have been part of the hunt for a really nice, mature coues, and was happy for my hunting partner to have taken such a great deer on his first coues hunt. We had to go back up to the ridge where we shot from to get our packs. Once there, we took a few moments to glass as it was prime time. Andy turned up a decent 2x3 with eyeguards two ridges over, as well as a smaller 2x2 with eyeguards just on the other face of the ridge we had taken that 3x3 off of. The shot would've been just a bit far and with the allure of a better buck we could hopefully get back on in the morning so I elected to pass. So we journeyed back down our ridge and up to where the buck lay as the sun set. We cleaned and caped him by headlamp, where I had quite the fright as marauding little striped skunks convinced me we were under attack from a mountain lion. After a bit of conversation regarding game plan, we elected to hang the deer by a nearby juniper, hike up the ridge, find a camping spot, and glass the next morning. Thankfully, it was unseasonably cold late in the hunt, and the daytime high was going to be in the 60s with an overnight low freezing at our elevation. He would hang perfectly. We were downright exhausted after the early start glassing, long pack in, multiple trips up and down the ridges, and extensive time spent cleaning and caping. We trudged up the ridge, set up our tents, downed a few mountain houses, and went to bed. The wind overnight was atrocious, the temperature cold, and despite my 15 degree down bag I was barely comfortable in my tent. I did wake up before the sun rose, but figured with the tiny sliver of moon overnight, cold temperatures, and persistent wind, the deer would be even less gung-ho about getting up early than I was. Perhaps this delusion was simply a defense mechanism as my brain tricked me to stay in bed to avoid sure hypothermia, frostbite, and death, but regardless I slept in. I was in a state of semi-consciousness as I heard a voice tell me "I've got that 2x3 spotted in shooting range if you want to get up and come shoot him." It was Andy, the intrepid hunter who had selflessly taken one for the team, awoken at the appropriate time for a serious hunter (which I have never claimed to be), braved near-arctic conditions, and spotted the 2x3 we had seen as the light waned the day prior. What a pal. I figured I could be bothered to walk 50-100 yards to shoot a buck, so dressed quickly and made sure there were four rounds in my rifle's blind magazine. "Might want to take your optics, just in case you decide not to shoot him." "Andy, I don't think there's a chance in the world I'm not shooting a 2x3 with eyeguards within shooting range, sounds pretty ideal to me." (I did take my optics though). It was a short walk up to the top of the spine of the ridge, where Andy was set up. He found the feeding buck within a minute. One look at him was all I needed, he was a fine buck, a heck of a first coues. I set up the bipod and got comfy behind my rifle as Andy ranged him. "325 yards." I was steady as a rock and had this deer dead to rights. I was focused, calm. The cross-hairs rested just behind his shoulder as I squeezed the trigger. BOO-WHAP "Missed I think. Right of him off his brisket and high." I was flabbergasted. I had shot sub 0.75 MOA groups out to 300 yards with ease from this exact shooting position just a week earlier. I should have been dialed in. There was no wind. Thankfully the buck, confused, turned around and walked just a few yards up the side of the ridge. BOO-WHAP "Missed again. Same Spot. Aim for his butt." "His butt?" "Yeah, his butt." "OK." I was confused. Just a month earlier I had taken a deer and an antelope with one shot apiece, the antelope at this exact range. In the back of my head, I knew my rifle had taken a small spill, albeit from less than tripod height and pretty gentle, onto the sunshade of my riflescope just the day before. I had also been riding around in my family's jeep on bumpy roads for three days, but I didn't think either of those events had produced enough shock to alter my point of impact on my vortex viper HS. Normally, I would've shot the rifle again after the fall onto the sunshade, but we were deep in coues country and it was just hours later so I hadn't had the chance to even think of it. I trusted Andy as a spotter, so aimed for the very confused buck's hindquarter and touched off a shot. "He ran out of sight but there was blood behind his shoulder, maybe a little far back but it looked good." We watched the patch of manzanita the buck had disappeared behind but he never came back out. Andy stayed behind to guide me to where the buck had disappeared as I went around the top of the creek bottom that separated the two ridges. Andy guided me to where the buck had disappeared, but he was not there. I did, however, quickly find a drop of blood. The trail was sparse at first, but within a few yards the buck was dumping blood. I knew I had him. He had taken a death run about fifty yards downhill, and was wrapped up in a bush. I was ecstatic. The buck was not a trophy by most standards, but certainly a beautiful deer, and my first coues. The shot ended up being perfect, just behind his shoulder, double lunging him. As I waited for Andy to reach me, I admired this amazing creature. Delicate and dainty by most standards, these coues deer always wow me with their ability to survive in the harsh Sonoran Desert. A perfect miniature whitetail. I thought of my grandfather, and wished he had been there with me. I thought of a story he'd told me, of a little weathered man he'd met down south near the border with a tiny spike hanging in his tree. He'd told me when he met that man he'd been beaming. He'd hunted coues for many years and that was his first buck, It was a trophy in his eyes. I looked at my buck. I couldn't have been happier with him, he was gorgeous. I decided to cape him. I wasn't certain I was going to have him mounted, but I wanted the option. Andy and I cleaned him and I packed him back to camp. We walked down the other side of our ridge and picked up Andy's deer and packed up camp. We ended up deciding to pack everything out in one go to avoid multiple trips. Thankfully we were just two miles back, but my wiry (that's being polite) self isn't made for carrying a 100 lb pack down and up out of a place like that. (Note to self: get a smaller tripod and lighter head). Despite the torture, we made it back to our vehicles with daylight to spare. I was incredibly grateful for the amazing hunt with a good friend and my first coues. We ended up taking two nice bucks in less than two days, just 14 hours apart. My family was excited by the news. I spent the next two days I had planned on hunting visiting my grandmother and mom, and then pointed the jeep north back to Colorado. A spectacular AZ sunset reminded me of how much I love Arizona, and no love affair with Colorado will ever change that. I took it easy heading back, stopping overnight in Albuquerque. As I finally reached home in Colorado Springs and dropped my meat off at the processor, I pondered what to do with my cape. I thought of all those years spent chasing deer with my grandpa and uncles. I though of the lessons I'd learned and the stories we shared. And then I realized it didn't matter what my deer scored, whether he was a trophy by general standards or not. What matters is that every time I look at this deer I will remember those times in deer camp, those treasured memories, the excitement of turning the calendar getting ever closer to that November weekend, and an amazing hunt spent with friends and family. I'll think of my grandfather, an excellent hunter in his own right, and I'll think of that man with the spike he met down south, how he was beaming, and I know I'll smile in much the same way. Screw it, I thought, this one's going on the wall.
  2. YoungHuntr

    Fun time in Wyoming- Deer and Goats

    Thanks. You recognize that rifle? It's got a different stock of course but that's the Remmy 700 25-06 you sold me. Great shooting rifle, took its third big game animal in two years on that trip.
  3. YoungHuntr

    Fun time in Wyoming- Deer and Goats

    I drew my general tag with zero points but its not a prime region and I actually got fairly lucky. I would recommend buying points as one or two will guarantee you a general tag in a decent region and if you save up there are some great tags- either a slightly more choice region or a limited entry hunt.
  4. A little delayed in posting this but I've been busy since getting back. Just spend a week hunting northern Wyoming with a general deer tag and any antelope tag. Having ran out of last year's Wyoming whitetail doe, this hunt was more about filling the freezer than finding a monster, but I was still aiming at taking a personal best mule deer and my first antelope buck. I drove from Colorado Springs through the night of October 4th-5th after working my three night shifts at the hospital, and on my way encountered unseasonably cold weather and a snowstorm that actually deposited a few inches on the Wyoming landscape. My first afternoon was a short one, taking time to sight in the 25-06 while getting covered in heavy, wet snow flakes before getting my hunt underway. I was expecting a friend and excellent hunter to come up and join me in a few days who had the same antelope tag that I did. Though our antelope unit was within my region for hunting mule deer, my friend did not have a deer tag and the antelope terrain was not the best for mule deer, so I focused my attention on finding a deer. Hundreds of deer filled the private fields as the shadows grew long, including a few nice whitetail bucks I would have gladly taken had they been on public land, but no mature deer showed itself on public land. I did spot two small 3 pointers on public land but decided to pass in hopes of a more mature deer. The next day was the last warm, sunny day before rain and snow were forecast to move back in. I began the day working small chunks of overlooked BLM, finding relative solitude as others road hunted and crowded into the very front of the larger sections of public land. I saw plenty of does but no bucks. I decided to walk into a chunk of public land that had two creek bottoms, one shallow and covered in cottonwoods, the other screaming buck habitat with steep hill sides covered sparsely in juniper. The original plan was to walk up the steeper bottom first, but the wind was not favorable so I opted for a long loop up the shallow creek bottom and then into and down the steeper section. After seeing seven does in the first drainage but nothing with antlers, I couldn't resist a short nap on top of the rim as it was a beautiful, mid 50 to 60 degree bluebird day. I begrudgingly awoke from my slumber, suddenly remembering I had two big game tags to fill. As I walked down the creek, I began to contemplate what my next move would be when I did a double take, seeing a deer's outline on the opposite slope of the creek bottom. Bingo. He had antlers I could identify from around 150 yards away, and a closer look through the binos told me all I needed to know- he was a shooter, monster or not. I dropped to a sitting position and touched off a shot. The buck dropped in his tracks, twitching momentarily but becoming completely still in a matter of seconds. As I walked up on my buck I was immediately thankful for the opportunity to fill my tag in good weather on a mature, healthy deer. The layer of fat on this buck was unreal. He was no monster, lacking width and depth of forks, but he was beautiful, a personal best, and would eat nicely. Two trips back to the jeep and I headed back to the motel. Our first day hunting antelope was tough. One to two inches of snow overnight left the Wyoming landscape blanketed in white- hardly ideal for spotting antelope. The high was in the mid 30s, so just enough snow melted to leave the prairie a sea of white pockets against brown. The melting snow turned the dust into a thick mud that stuck to our boots and weighed them down further with each step. Complete removal was impossible as the dead grass intertwined in our boot tread to form an adobe-like mixture of mud that might as well have been a brick on each foot. By the time we were back to the trucks, my hips hurt from carrying around cement slippers all day long and I was discouraged from the paucity of antelope on public land. The next day brought more snow, but little stuck where we chose to hunt. We consistently saw hundreds of antelope on private land, but being the second week in the season they had been shot at and pressured enough to be pushed off public parcels. Our game plan was to hoof it back into a huge chunk of BLM and state trust, hoping to find unpressed antelope in the back. Just as we crested the first major ridge away from the road and the parked trucks, Andy turned to me and said "Antelope. Crossing the road forty feet from our trucks onto public land from the private bottom." I rolled my eyes. Typical goats. A fast dip into the bottom and attempt to close the distance didnt work as two other bucks crossed the fence onto public and had us pegged. As we attempted to stay out of sight, we looked back up on the ridge we had just came from to see the first group of antelope had circled around and were now just a hundred yards from where we stood as we spotted them. They were moving but not spooked. Cutting the distance, I snuck up on the bank and rested my bipod. "330 yards" Andy whispered. I waited for the buck to clear the does. Rock steady, I squeezed the trigger and saw the buck kick as he began his run. I was confident in the shot, and he fell over less than fifty yards later. cu My first antelope was a fine, representative specimen of a mature Wyoming public land goat. I was thrilled to have punched both of my big game tags in five days and taken my first antelope, despite their contrary nature and the constant game of tag. The snow capped mountains served as a magnificent backdrop to a wonderful hunting trip and vacation from the stresses of working in an ICU. Most importantly, I had secured some prime game meat to share with family and friends and to eat over the coming months. A personal best deer and first antelope on hard pressured public land all in five days, with two well placed, clean shots. Not too shabby. Next up, a return to Arizona to chase coues deer in November. Hope you all are having an awesome hunting season!
  5. YoungHuntr

    Unit 33 Road Conditions?

    Thanks for the info. Not super concerned about where we hunt, I know the unit has deer all over the place and we are definitely willing to put in the miles to get away from the roads. More concerned about finding a decent camping spot. Will there be areas to camp off the control road/offshoots of the road or is the north side of the Catalinas just gonna be a zoo with few options?
  6. Hello all. Though I recently moved to Colorado for work, I'll be down for the annual family deer hunting trip for the November hunt in 33. Still trying for that first Coues buck. We put in for 33 for the first time after having a few difficult hunts in 32.. I have some general ideas of where I'd like to hunt, and will for sure get way off the road and glass a ton, trying to avoid the masses and road hunters. If you'd like to share any advice via PM I'll take whatever words of wisdom you have. I know there are a million threads on unit 33, but I'm specifically wondering about accessibility. Normally I'd scout a new unit like crazy but I applied for this hunt not realizing I was going to move to Colorado, and work (RN at a hospital ICU) keeps me quite busy, so I likely will not be able to come down (12 hour drive) to scout before the hunt. We'll be heading up Thursday right before the hunt. My question is this, we'll have a Tahoe and will be pulling an old 4wd jeep. We don't mind camping lower down wherever we can get to and taking the jeep in early to access hunting areas. I am just wondering how far we might be able to comfortably get in on the gap road, and if there will be any decent camping spots left or if I should expect the place to be a zoo. We don't need much, just room for a couple vehicles, a tent, a few tables for cooking. I have a few backups in mind, but was just hoping for a general idea of how far we should be able to go and if camping will be available in this area. If nothing else, just looking forward to seeing some beautiful country and having a nice vacation with family. Thanks for any advice, and feel free to PM me.
  7. YoungHuntr

    Anyone ever up and quit a good job?

    Haven't had many jobs, but I did quit one job (with two weeks notice) that paid well fairly recently. It was on general principle. I was moved to a completely different unit with no support around me at night with literally no notice and expected to take a pay cut to do it. Also got about 15 minutes of training for what was, in essence, a completely different job. Wasn't about to risk my nursing license in that working condition. Long story short I recently got my RN license and definitely aint ever going back, currently looking for a good full time new graduate job (easier said than done lol).
  8. Sign me up for scoped. Go easy on me, I'll be using a new, bone stock CZ 452 American I just purchased and haven't even fired yet (Weaver v24 scope). It's been a long time since I've shot anything other than my big game rifle or bow.
  9. YoungHuntr

    How to Find ELK in Unit 1?

    It is a reasonably accurate assessment. I used to spend a week in 1 & 27 each year for archery deer & turkey before the Wallow fire. However, please don't drive there with your eyes closed so you can open them when you get there. Be safe and let someone else drive. One thing you are going to need to pay attention to is where the badly burnt areas are. If you have never had to move through a maze of dead trees that have fallen criscrossing each other I can assure you it is tough going. I may still have a copy of a map that indicates how severe different areas were burnt. I will look for it if you are interested in a copy. Oh my goodness the memory this brings back. Several years back hiked up a steep hillside and somehow found myself on the backside of a steep ridge in the the 7E peaks hunt area, by myself on a cow hunt. It was a burn and hundreds, if not thousands, of old, fully mature ponderosas littered the ground like matchsticks, and stood between me and the truck. Not sure how I wound up there but guarantee you I'll never go back. Had to crawl under, around, and over giant deadfall so many times, including dealing with little washes. Seriously contemplated letting the vultures have their way with me. Even saw two cow elk (they were scarce that trip) and did not attempt to get close enough for a shot, packing them out of there solo would have been impossible for me. I was in new boots I stupidly hadn't broken in before the hunt as well, gave myself the worst blisters of my life. By the end of the day I was begging for mercy. Long story short I agree with that! lol. Also pretty sure the OP is joking.
  10. YoungHuntr

    BEEF Calves

    SSS.
  11. Technically my one and only deer but he belongs in this thread! Took him on December 28th 2016, unit 37B just 30-45 minutes from my house. Considering I could only hunt until the 29th and the calendar year was about to reset, I was super stoked to get a shot at this guy. Just made some ground venison chili from him the other day, it was tasty. Though he may be dinky, that doesn't stop me from seeing him as a trophy and being enormously satisfied at taking my first deer after years of trying, and with a bow at that.
  12. Hunting has been a passion of mine for some time now, and I've always kept in mind the basic principle that why we hunt is not to kill something. It's about spending time outdoors, getting together with friends, family, and eating good food (my grandfather was perhaps the best cook I ever knew). Getting some game meat is just a bonus. My late grandfather, who I learned a lot from during the annual family hunting trip, taught me that. I looked forward to the annual deer camp more than any other event throughout the year. Taking a deer is always secondary to getting together with family. That being said, having never taken a deer before today, it definitely was a goal of mine. Eight years of coues hunting without a buck has lead to the running joke in my family that we go "camping with rifles". I've had some unfortunate encounters rifle big game hunting on my own, including two hit but not recovered elk, and two shots at nice whitetail bucks that didn't connect (one was my fault estimating range, the other an unforeseen problem). I took up archery hunting last year to augment the once a year rifle hunt, and I've stuck to unit 37b as it's close to home. I was able to take an archery javelina earlier this year. After failing to connect on my rifles coues hunt I knew I'd have to focus on mulies close to home. Between work and finishing up the semester, I didn't have much time until this week. I hunted Monday and Tuesday and saw a total of two does, but had some close encounters with deer I didn't see. Today started off differently, immediately getiing up close and personal with a forky buck and his two does. The does busted, and the buck never gave me a shot, standing behind a palo verde not 30 yards from me for a couple minutes. After doing some hiking, me and a friend who's never hunted (who I took out to show him some of my favorite country) made a stand off the road aways. The wind had switched, forcing me to a section I have never hunted before, so I didn't know what to expect. But after a few minutes of calling, we began to hear footsteps. Suddenly, I saw antlers as a lone buck made a beeline towards us. He stopped about 25-30 yards away, between two cholla. I waited for a moment, and decided I could easily get an arrow between them. I drew back and put the pin on his vitals, and released. I heard an unexpected, foreign noise, and knew an unseen twig or branch had made contact with the arrow. I thought I had missed, but turning back to my hunting partner, he told me he thought I had hit the buck. I walked around, looking for the arrow or blood, and my friend pointed behind me. Sure enough, the buck was still around, and had been hit hard. As it turns out, the arrow deflected upwards and to the left, hitting him in the forehead. I took a follow-up shot but rushed the it, and hit too far back. I took a deep breath, settled my nerves, and put one right where it needed to go. I waited for thirty minutes, but my deer was right where I had left him. It wasn't perfect. I made some mistakes, failing to account for brush between me and the buck. I rushed the follow up shot, wanting to make sure the buck was down cleanly. I've made plenty of mistakes in my short time hunting, but I try and learn from each one of them to become a better hunter. Ultimately, I had my first buck. He just minutes after the first shot, was field dressed within 45 minutes, skinned and to Miller's for processing in under 5 hours. It was a bittersweet moment. I had my first deer, a fine young buck, on the second to last day that I could manage to hunt for the year. It wasn't picture perfect, but these wily desert deer are always teaching me something. He's no monster, but a real trophy to me. These desert deer are tough to hunt, especially with a bow. I had just a few days to fill my 2016 tag, and though I'd take this buck any day of the year, I was especially happy to have the opportunity to get some meet before January 1st. Ultimately he'll make some good eating, and I think grandpa would be proud.
  13. YoungHuntr

    double post, please delete

    Double posted for some reason, please delete.
  14. YoungHuntr

    Thinking about a new bow string

    I just ordered a pair of strings (BCY-X) from 60X for my PSE decree, the factory ABB set on it is starting to look a bit ragged. Will see how I like them in a few days.
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