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2020 deer hunting

BuzzH

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Jan 9, 2001
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12,454
Location
Laramie, WY
Been a pretty strange season with the pandemic and election and hunting season just wasn't quite the same. However, did manage to get out and hunt a lot of days this year.

Went to Montana to hunt with my Dad, Brother, and Nephews as well as a good friend of mine that I've hunted with a bunch in the past. The weather and conditions were very good when I showed up. We set up the wall tents and planned on hunting the last 12 day or so of the Montana season. First up was hunting with my youngest nephew since he didn't have much for school. We hunted the first day and had a couple close encounters with some whitetail bucks, but things just didn't work out. The next day, we woke up to rain...which meant conditions were going to go to crap once it stopped. I've always done well hunting deer on days like this. So, we picked a ridge that I've had good luck on in the past. Wasn't long and we started seeing deer. My nephew liked this one as it presented a nice shot at about 120 yards. He got a good rest and shot it with a 100 grain nosler solid base from my late grandfather's .243. The deer sprinted about 50 yards and cart-wheeled over.

Happy hunter:



While walking up to recover his buck, we noticed 7 sets of very fresh elk tracks (more on that later).

For the rest of the time in MT the conditions were tough, real crunchy snow making it tough. My buddy Brian showed up and spent a couple days, filling his tag with this buck:



Next up was hunting with my oldest nephew. We put in a couple pretty tough days, seeing deer, but the conditions just giving the deer the edge.

Hunting whitetail deer all day on public land in NW Montana will wear a person out:



We decided to move to a spot that I've killed a few good bucks in the past, providing a decent over-look at the junction of 2 major draws and a couple ridges that whitetail bucks like. We weren't there long when a small buck and a doe moved up the ridge we were sitting on but never offering a shot. Next I saw a doe walk out on the opposite ridge where I killed a really good buck about 10 years ago. She eventually fed off into the timber. Not more than 5 minutes later I look over and see a good buck walk out of the timber. My nephew got a rest over my backpack shooting prone. I ranged it at 383 yards and checked his drop chart. I told him if he was comfortable to hold about 8 inches over its back and slowly squeeze the trigger. He sent a 120 grain nosler ballistic tip from his 7-08 on its way and I heard the bullet hit. The deer ran about 20 yards down into a small clump of fir trees and never came out. We watched for a while to make sure and then made our way over.

Perfect shot right behind the shoulder with a great blood trail:



His best whitetail buck so far:

 

BuzzH

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Joined
Jan 9, 2001
Messages
12,454
Location
Laramie, WY
...continued.

Next I had the chance to spend a few days hunting solo. I was seeing bucks everyday and generally just having a great time. On my birthday, I decided to hunt a ridge that I've killed some bucks on, but haven't hunted in the last 5-6 years. Its a great place, but again the snow conditions make it tough as shooting deer on that ridge is a close quarters deal, rarely shooting more than 100 yards, and usually closer to 50-60. Its about a 4 hour hike to get there and with the most common winds I usually don't start hunting it until afternoon. About 2 PM or so I started easing down through the timber, moving as slowly as I could force myself to. I edged over a ridge in a mature doug-fir saddle, and right in the bottom was a nice buck making a scrape. He was close, so chose to shoot off-hand and shot him with a 140 grain nosler e-tip from my 7 RM.

I was happy to get the chance at this buck and when I made my way over to him, I sat down and remembered this was my 40th year of hunting this country with a rifle in my hand. I thought about all the hours, all the days, all the years I've been able to hunt, fish and trap there...and how grateful I am that this place will remain public into perpetuity.



Very happy to get the opportunity:



My nephew also had a deer b tag and he filled it the second to last day of the season.



That wrapped up our Montana season, and I have to say that its pretty cool seeing both of my nephews becoming good woodsmen and hunters.

Finally last week I made my way to Illinois to hunt deer on a friends property. I've never hunted deer farther east than the Black Hills in Wyoming so thought I'd give it a try. The property my friend owns is pretty neat with all kinds of hardwood trees. Spent the first half day there checking out the various tree species (forester in me) and trying to learn to identify them by the bark, leaves, etc. Had multiple opportunities to fill both my buck and doe tags. The first evening of hunting, I had a nice 5x5 buck come right by me at about 75 yards. I couldn't believe my luck...that quickly turned to bad luck when my muzzleloader hang-fired causing me to miss. My fault as I: 1. didnt shoot a couple primers through it first and 2. brought it in and out of the house. Pretty sure I got some condensation problems, live and learn. The last evening of the hunt I had a bunch of deer come out right at dark and took this buck at about 60 yards, this time the muzzleloader worked perfect. Deer didnt make it far:



If my friend will have me back, I'm going to continue to hunt Illinois, just very different than hunting in the West and I saw enough to know that big bucks aren't a rare thing.
 

BuzzH

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Joined
Jan 9, 2001
Messages
12,454
Location
Laramie, WY
Great right up! Any tree identification that gave you some trouble?
Yes, nearly all of them. I learned most of them when I took dendrology in college over 30 years ago. Its even tougher when they don't have leaves and some of the bark characteristics didn't seem too consistent from younger to older trees of the same species (at least to me).
 

EastTNHunter

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Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
594
Great post on a great season. Congrats to you and your nephews. They are very fortunate for the time and effort that you are investing in them. Great job!
 

schmalts

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Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
8,758
Location
WI
Yes, nearly all of them. I learned most of them when I took dendrology in college over 30 years ago. Its even tougher when they don't have leaves and some of the bark characteristics didn't seem too consistent from younger to older trees of the same species (at least to me).
It gets pretty tough on some of the bigger trees. I once tapped a damn basswood for syrup one spring and it ruined the whole batch! If I plan on logging I will paint a letter code on some of the trees when the leaves are still on. But most of the time they are pretty easy once you start to add in the branch structure in addition to the bark.
 

madtom

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Joined
Feb 2, 2017
Messages
1,143
Location
WY
Nice trip, trips..... but dude... you were east of the Mississippi, what the hell is a 5X5?? That be a 10 pointer der hey
In my experience, that line is closer to central Nebraska. Close to the line where “farmers” become “ranchers” I suspect.
 
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