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chuckster

17A

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For the first time in 10 years I decided to hunt muleys.  I got lucky and drew my second choice, Unit 17a.  I have archery hunted the north side of 17b and spent some time exploring in 17a.  I took two trips up this summer to check out some areas and familiarize myself with the roads.  I arrived to my camp just of FR 95 on Thursday around noon and quickly set up camp before heading out to glass for the evening.  I didn't turn anything up that night but I was pretty optimistic about finding deer the next morning.

Opening day was windy most of the day.  Didn't glass up a single deer that morning and all the sign I saw was old.  The area had a small tank with plenty of water but didn't look like the deer were hitting it.

The next morning I took a drive up to the top of Juniper Mesa to glass an old burn.  The area looked great but the road hunters had it on their radar.  I probably should have gone deeper but my frustration got the better of me and I abandon the area.

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The next day I got on deer.  It was only a single doe but I had found a remote tank that had water and a deer sighting.  So I was optimistic.  I hiked back in the next morning and spent all day perched ~300 yards above the tank.  The area looked fantastic.  But other than a flock of turkeys, and a few elk rubs, the lone doe was all that I glassed up. 

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After an uneventful Sunday morning my dad joined me for the evening hunt.  We decided to head back to the tank I had seen the doe.  However someone had beaten us there.  The trail back to the tank was seldom used and seemed sketchy for even a SXS.  However this hunter decided to drive his 3/4 ton quad cab long bed up the trail.  I recon he had to stop about half way up when he saw how steep and narrow the trail got.  IDK how he backed his truck down the trail, but I bet It sounded like carnage and was no small feat in the dark. 

 

We headed on down the road an hiked into a canyon that opened onto the O RO ranch.  It was windy but the canyon looked great and I was sure we'd find a buck.  As luck would have it a large boar was the canyons only occupant.  IDK muck about bears but I gather they scare off the deer.  This guy was in prime shape for the winter.  His belly appeared to nearly drag on the ground as he walked.

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Monday we hiked in along Hitt wash out to Goat Mtn.  We bumped into a skunk as we hiked in the dark, luckily none of his stink was deployed.  We glassed up some Javelina but the deer were nowhere to be found.  My dad left for home and I headed to some lower country near water along Williamson Valley road.  I hiked up a long ridge to a vantage point and spent the next 3.5 hrs studying the distant hillsides and ridges.

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I thought this place surely held deer, but once again I was proven wrong. 

The new burn looks like it'll be good in a year or two.  A lot of it burned pretty severe tho.

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Tuesday morning was my last opportunity of this trip.  I was pretty tired and decided to take it easy and hike in behind walnut creek and see if I could find some deer coming off the ranch pastures.  That morning produced more javelina but no deer.

I packed up camp and took a drive up past Camp Wood and the Yolo ranch.  I managed to pass 9 doe before I turned around at Connell Gultch. 

I thought for sure that finding water would be the hot ticket but never really found fresh sign at any of the tanks I checked. 

I'm heading back up Friday morning and I think I'll try my luck in the pines around camp wood and in the more open country near Antelope Tank.  I need a break from the juniper jungle and manzanita tangles.   At this point I just want a buck so I can smoke some summer sausage for Christmas. 

Next year I'm sticking with Coues.

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Looks like you had a good time.

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1 hour ago, AZHunter1 said:

Looks like you had a good time.

We certainly did.  Game on after I take my little one out for trick or treats!

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My son drew this same hunt but had to turn tag  in to game & fish because he had a work change.  I scouted it a couple weeks ago and my experience was much like yours.  In 2 1/2 days I saw a total of two deer.  A single spike along walnut creek jumped across the road in front of me as I was leaving to head home and a quick glimps of a deer in those private pastures along walnut creek.  All the real fresh sign I found was right along the creek.  This unit is my old stomping grounds and where I cut my teeth deer hunting back in the late 70's.  17a was our go to unit thoughout 80's and 90's.  Very disappointed in what it has become even with the new management plan in place.   See way more bear & elk sign than I ever used to.

I have walked up top to juniper mesa from the south and from the north but I never knew there was a road you could drive on to get up top.  I thought it was wilderness and no motorized vehicles allowed?  The first two elk I ever saw in 17a was around 1986 on top of the mesa.  A calf elk had gotten in one of the cattle catch pens and couldn't figure how to get out.  Mamma was pacing on the other side trying to get it to come over two her.  We were on horses and rode right up to them.

Good Luck!

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1 hour ago, MT_Sourdough said:

Man, I saw so many nice bucks in 17a .during my elk season this year.   I'll message you.

PM received, thanks for the hot tip!  

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How did you end up doing?

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The rest of the story is pretty bleak. I went back up on Friday morning.  After I set up camp i hiked to the highest vantage point I could find that overlooked a ridge MT_Sourdough had seen a nice buck. Glassed from 130pm to dark and didn't see any deer.  Did hear 3 shots. The only three shots I heard in 7 days.  They sounded like the same gun from the same area. 

Hunted all day Saturday.  Spent the day walking rims and glassing canyons down into thick stuff and timber.  Saw way more elk and javelina sign than deer sign.  Ended the day glassing a large expanse of the SW corner of the unit.  Saw one doe that evening. 

Sunday am the wind was good to sit a ridge MT_Sourdough suggested.  Had a few ATVs come through a little after daylight.  They weren't carrying guns, but looked like hunters.  Maybe they were scouting early for late elk.  Kinda makes sense because on Saturday night 4 trailers got towed up past my camp just east of Yolo ranch, two more left for home. Sunday AM I glassed from a high point hoping I could find a buck to put a move on.  Didn't see any deer but did glass up a small herd of elk.  I picked up camp around mid day and hunted just east of camp Wood that evening. 

Seven days in the field and no bucks sighted.  Can't blame it on hunting pressure; I never saw another hunter in the field.  Also didn't see enough camps to account for 174 other tags.  My bad if all the bucks were in the north of the unit, that's about the only area I didn't look.  I like to squeeze the trigger so woulda been nice to squeeze the trigger on something even a small buck.

It's a beautiful area, but I say that about most of the places I've hunted. In the future might give it a go for turkey and Javelina, glassed plenty of them.  It'd feel good to go back and tag a buck. I dusted off the bow this evening and I'll be up there around the holidays, might see if the bucks come out of the woodwork then, but hard to justify applying for another tag.  Seems like all the bucks got lost before this hunt. 

I spoke to one other hunter while I was up there.  He pulled into my camp as I was packing up on Sunday.  He'd been there the entire season and had only spotted one buck...a spike.  I've not hunted there before so I have nothing to compare it too; but I think I could have seen more deer just about anywhere else.  

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