2022 Hunting Adventures Recap

Desk Pop

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I thought I’d do a year in review, as 2022 was a good year of hunting. I did a 2021 thread, and it was kind of fun.

There is a moose and bighorn involved, so I stuck it here.

January – A friend from out of town drew a non-res hound permit. He had a dog he wanted to work, so he came out to run together. He was to arrive on a Thursday night, and it hadn’t snowed in like three weeks. I told him when he left from the Midwest that it would be kind of tough due to the conditions, but that snow was in the forecast. When he showed up that Thursday, it was snowing. We went to get dinner, and I told him how lucky he was to have the snow. I wouldn’t be able to come the next day, Friday, due to work, but my hound hunting buddy, C had a friend in from California he wanted to show a lion to so he would take them with some of my dogs…then I’d come for the weekend hunts. While we were sitting in the restaurant, my phone blew up. Work for the next day was cancelled. Not due to snow, but due to so many people calling in sick there weren’t enough substitutes. Sweet.

We found a snowed-in lion track at about 4am (it snowed most of the night.) It was a wandering cat that crossed the road several times and it took me about an hour of bee-bopping around to make heads or tails out of it and find the out. We cut the dogs loose at daylight. In a few hours, they came up treed. It was a female so we took some photos and headed to the local Mexican joint for some super macho burritos.
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The next day we took a hike into a roadless area instead of driving for tracks. We spilt up and one of us found a track. We hiked over, turned loose, but the lion went high and into the deep snow. The dogs eventually got the cat put up, and it was a pregnant female, which is always nice to see. We took photos and filed off the mountain.
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February - I continued to cat hunt. Caught some, didn't kill any. My Drama dog that got torn up in December in the cave incident (in my 2021 recap) was ready to roll. I got her on a lion before the season ended.Screenshot_20230413-185048-790.png
 
March - Marmots in the pasture...and the kids did good at one of the local ponds.
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I also found a stud dog for my Brittany breeding program. My stud, Smoke, has 9 AKC field trial placements and 6 points, but is aging out. I got Rocky from a bird dog friend of mine that had some breeding I liked and have trained for client dogs before. And I knew he was good, because the guy knew what I was after and knows what an excellent dog is. Through some crazy circumstances, Rocky made his way back to him after originally selling him as a pup...and then to my kennel where I'll hunt the hell out of him and add him to my program.Screenshot_20230413-191837-524.png
 
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April- For my Feb B-day, my wife paid to fly me back to St. Louis to see a Blues game with an old hockey buddy of mine. The Blues won, clinched a playoff spot in a 6-5 OT winner, and we had a ball watching our childhood and lifelong team. We hit up a pick-up hockey session for old times’ sake and played together for the first time since college. It felt great. Then I headed out to for the local turkey opener with my dad and brother and nephew. I decided not to actually hunt due to time constraints, but just accompanied them. My dad passed a jake, we dinked around camp and shot .22s, then I headed back to catch my flight.
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I got back to Idaho and went out for turkey. I called in a bird my first morning out in an area I’d worked birds before, but had never closed. I worked the terrain a little better this time, got in really close to a gobbling bird, and pulled him in for a shot...because unlike my dad, I do not pass jakes. Then I buzzed out of there to get to kids' soccer and volleyball games.Screenshot_20230413-202024-582.pngScreenshot_20230413-202125-116.png
 
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May – I went out with C to chase turkey. We spotted a pair of males in a decent position to stalk/roll over a hill on and made a plan. When we rolled over, we bumped one just out of range. We took off after it, hoping it would stall on the other side of the rise. When we got there, it was gone, as expected. We sat down for like ten minutes and regrouped. We both wondered about that other bird and why we hadn’t seen it bust. We figured if we didn’t miss it, maybe it had held up in the sage brush.

So we walked through, and the thing busted like three feet in front of me. I shot him at like eight feet. We had to pull feathers out of his body and put them on his neck to cover where I’d hit him…pattern is pretty tight at that distance and it hadn’t left any feathers there.Screenshot_20230413-221408-873.png
 
June: As best man for C’s wedding, I got to plan his bachelor party…so I went with the traditional Arizona boar hunting option. I looked far and wide for some type of adventure we could do. All three of C’s brothers lived in Phoenix at the time, so it was easier to get down there. I found a ranch that offered hog hunts, and C, and our buddy G flew down and met up for the hunt. We had a good time, ate steak, drank a little whiskey and C got a big pig. I wouldn’t call it a strenuous or difficult hunt, but we had fun....and I got C a great t-shirt.Screenshot_20230414-201402-592.pngScreenshot_20230414-201304-201.pngScreenshot_20230414-201324-988.png
 
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July: I was able to make a trip to the islands with my dad and buddy J. We hunted axis and sheep.


We arrived after a loooong day of travel, sighted in, ate dinner and got ready for the morning.


“When are we waking up?” J asked. Neither he nor my dad had been to the islands hunting.


“Three,” I said. “I don’t want to get beat to this spot.”


Then he said, “you are the devil,” and went to bed.


We drove in, then hiked. We got about 800 yards from where we parked to set up. Just as J and my dad were asking me why we had to get there so early, a pair of truck lights pop up in the distance. They make their way to where we’d parked. I shined my light at them, and respectfully, the guy went to find another area.


J and my dad had to register their rifles around noon and had an appointment at the police station. The islands are a neat place with wonderful people, but the place functions as a third world country in many respects. Gun registration is one. I’ve hunted in quite a few countries. Getting a firearm there if you stay more than five calendar days is more of a hassle than any of the other countries I’ve been to. Anyway, so the plan is for them to shoot the first doe or ewe they see, then head back to camp. My plan was to hike deeper into the roadless stuff knowing they could come and pick me up in the afternoon if needed.


Daylight hit and there was a herd of ewes near us. Jared got one, and my dad took off after another herd and I went for a hike. I went a few canyons over looking for a good ram and rolled over a hill and saw the head of some axis deer. They were about 80 yards away and hadn’t seen me. There were several bucks. One was decent, I thought. I’d gotten a good axis deer the prior summer and really wanted a big ram first. I got out my camera and took some photos, debating. He looked decent, just not great. So I set up my camera on a tripod. I decided if I could get a cool video, I’d kill him, as sometimes you have to take what the island offers. I settled prone and got the video going. He was close, so I shot him in the neck and dropped him. When I walked up, I realized I’d under-judged him. He was a 29 1/2 inch buck, very solid, and I was glad I shot him. I was also glad because in the next four days of hunting we didn’t see any bucks as big as him. Deer numbers were down compared to normal due to a drought. Screenshot_20240202-175749.png
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I got back to the truck and the other two were finished butchering their animals. On the way to town, we made a short stalk on a ram, but unfortunately J missed. He was beautiful ram with horns that had amazing shape. It was a rushed situation, but he just didn’t connect. He said he was kind of glad, because he wanted his sheep to be more of a hunt than that.


That evening, the three of us headed out from the truck. My dad and I quickly ran into a ewe. It ran to the top of the canyon and stopped. I confirmed it wasn’t a young ram, and my dad dropped it. We could get unlimited ewes, but only one ram. Ewe’s are tiny, rams are small. Not a lot of meat. After the shot on the ewe, my dad got up to start walking towards it, and I told him to wait for a minute. Often there are animals at the bottom of the canyons that pop up after a shot. It is hot, and the deep canyons offer shade, so they are often down there where you can’t see them. Five seconds later a mature ram ran up from the bottom of the canyon. Two shots, later, my dad had it down 40 yards or so from the ewe.
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J walked over and said he’d seen the whole thing and thought it was awesome. We went and looked at my dad’s ram together. It was a great moment. It was a solid ram and my dad was happy. You only get so many hunts with your dad, and this one was special.
 
I left my dad to work on butchering his sheep. I went lower, J went higher. I was looking at some axis does deciding whether to shoot or not. Just as I’d decided against it (I wanted to get a ram first) I got a text from J. He had a ram down, and he said it was really big. I asked if he needed help, he declined, but said it would take him a while to get to the sheep because of the terrain…he’d be back way after dark. I waited until close to dark to head back but hadn’t seen any rams other than banana rams. Halfway back to the truck, I spotted some ewes that I’d seen on the way in, made a stalk, and put one down. I got it butchered and made it back to the truck where my dad was waiting. A while later, I saw J’s light come into sight in the distance. I go meet him partway. I look at the head of his ram on his pack and my jaw dropped. It was enormous. Just a beast. He said the miss earlier that day was the best miss in the history of misses. We all agreed.Screenshot_20240202-180228.png
 
I got my ram the next morning, and we had a hell of a time the next few days hunting and filling tags.
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We took Cam Hanes advice and kept hammering. 18 deer and sheep animals later, we headed back to the mainland. We all got nice rams, but J’s was an absolute monster.


Tip: when traveling with frozen meat, bring a $7 Walmart cooler bag. Fill it with frozen meat and take as your “personal item” on the plane. At the gate, when they ask if you would like your bag checked to its final destination to save room in the cabin, graciously offer…just tell them they should really lift it with their legs because its almost 50 pounds.
 
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August – My friend S drew a sheep tag in the Frank Church. He’d drawn goat two years prior in 2020 and I’d been able to be there when he connected. He’d scouted all summer. He waited until late September to actually hunt. He was literally like, “so the big billy comes over that hill around 9:00-9:30am.” At like 9:20 the billy crested and he killed him. Scouting to perfection.


On the sheep hunt, the surrounding areas had had some fires, so it was a deal where he was confident the hunt would be rain-checked. He’d done a little scouting when he could access the area, but sometimes couldn’t. Scouting hadn’t produced any ram sightings. By the weekend before the hunt (Tuesday opener) it seemed the hunt was on, which he was a little surprised by. He asked some friends to come and help him locate a sheep. My good buddy, I-man came along. Me and him decided on a hike, while S and his other two friends did another. I went with I-man and we went in 12 miles before we set up our tents and began serious glassing. We found a banana ram, and some elk and deer. The next morning, we were walking down a little crest and I set up to take some photos of some velvet bucks. I hear my buddy say my name. He was like 20 yards away just over the crest. I walked over.


He pointed and said there had been a band of rams like 25 yards from him. I was like, “where they bust off to?”

He said, “they didn’t, they just walked away.” We walked another 30 yards to see over the rise, and there were four rams standing there 80 yards from us that started to nervously walk away. I’d have shot three of them on that tag, as they were mature, but the lead ram was a very good sheep.


We hiked back out and went back to camp. We let S know the situation. He and his buddies were hobbling around like the entire defensive line of the Seattle Seahawks had done bad things to them against their will. They were pretty sore. They hadn’t seen any sheep. We gave S the rundown: the rams were in a good spot (to hunt….not easy to get to, however) hadn’t smelled us, and didn’t really seem to be too afraid of humans. One was a giant for the area. He was nervous about the hike. Thinking the hunt would be rain-checked, he hadn’t gotten into that great of shape. The state didn’t raincheck. He had ten days to hunt before a month of POST training, but only hunted two days before heading home. Smoke was an issue, among other things.

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On the Aug 30 opener, I took out my 8-year-old daughter, A to accompany me for archery elk. Had a great two days and called a 5 point into 20 yards, but just wasn’t able to make it happen. She thought it was pretty cool though.
 
September – My dad and buddy F came in from Missouri to hunt Wyoming antelope. We’d burned 6 points and had a good hunt. My atv went berserk and stopped working, but other than that, we ended with three bucks we were happy with. F used my rifle to take his because it was far away. I dialed it up, and we knew the windage, and he made a really nice shot.
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I got a cool velvet buck with my bow near the house that had taunted me all summer.

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In late September, I took my other 8-year-old, K out for elk. She and A are twins. First thing in the morning, after an hour hike in the dark, we were into a herd. I pulled a cow out and killed her. K thought it was awesome. We messed with the bull and got him in close after I killed the cow just so she could experience a pissed off bull. We also found the 5 point I’d missed on the opener with her twin. He was chilling across the canyon at about 200 yards off on the way out. I was very happy to have gotten the cow.Screenshot_20240202-181025.pngScreenshot_20240202-181045.png
 
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October – October started off awesome. The day before the M/S/G deadline back in April, a good buddy (L) called and asked me about moose units, for him and another good buddy of ours (also L). I told him that there are two types of moose hunts…the kind you drive around, drink coffee, glass from the road and shoot a moose. The unit I recommended is a couple hours away. Or, the kind you hike into the nasty backcountry and it sucks getting them out, which is the unit I live in. My buddy was a Hotshot firefighter, and is now a firefighter for USFWS. I was pretty sure he’d do the challenging one. He did…and he drew. I’d gotten my moose in this area. I told him to wait until October. The moose are timbered up. Everyone told me this for my hunt ten years ago. I didn’t listen. I hunted eight days in September on my hunt, and saw zero moose. I killed in October.


October 1 was an interesting day. It was that day in the forecast that had rain and snow in it, but was surrounded by days with sunshine, no clouds and 60 degree weather. Whatever. That was the Saturday we could all go.


I was worried about the low cloud ceiling, because to hunt this area properly, you have to hit one of the highest peaks to start from, and you need to be able to see far.


So the three of us, L and L and I, hiked in to the peak at dark. It was raining, and in the low thirties, but the cloud ceiling was high enough. On one side of the peak is the drainage I killed my moose. It sucks, there are no roads, and you can’t even get a horse in there. The other side is better terrain, and has a little road access on one side. I glassed both sides. I found a bull chasing (and mounting) a cow over a mile away…and it was on the good side. I called L over. I told him he was a decent bull, but this distance in the semi-low light, you can only see paddles and not points off of paddles. He decided we should get a closer look.


L and L are in good shape, so we took off. It was wet, and going through the buckbrush and thicker areas sucked. We were all completely soaked. We popped out, and relocated him about 800 yards away. We took off again. The bull was chasing all over these hillsides, we did the best we could to predict where he would be. We were working along a ridge, slightly below the ridgeline, eyes peeled for the bull. Then L (non-shooter L) pointed ahead of us. I looked up and saw the bull’s antlers like 40 yards down the ridge. He was moving toward us. Holy crap. He’s right there. The wind was good. Then his body came into view. I had the camera behind shooter L. The bull put his head down and we stepped forward. The he moved and looked at us, displaying his rack.


He asked me what I thought. I told him the bull was good and I would shoot it. (I didn’t tell him that I’d hunted this area for the past 14 year…deer, lions, elk, upland, predators, etc…literally hundreds of days afield, and had only seen two bigger bulls.)


He raised his 6.5 cm and shot him offhand.

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I told him to run after the bull. They don’t always leave good blood, and maybe he could get another bullet into him. Mostly, we needed to see where he was going as the rain was going to make trailing tough. We ran about 100 yards down the ridge. Below us, at the bottom of the canyon, I heard him breathing really hard, like he was gasping for air, then silence. We waited. I was pretty sure he was down, but if he wasn’t hit well and we bumped him, I wanted to make sure he would bump into a place the L could shoot him.


Non-shooter L and I walked down, and I spotted him in the bottom of the canyon. I motioned for shooter L to head down to us. He did. He kept the rifle on the bull, and although the bull died laying down, he looked alive the way he fell. He wasn’t.

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The bull was a nice one for the area, and he wasn’t on the hell-hole side of the mountain, so I was really happy.


On the last load out, the sun came out and warmed our wet bodies. It had been an awesome hunt, one of my all-time favorites.
 
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My homeboy, C, came in from across the state where he’d moved with his new bride. He brought his lovely wife and we headed to Montana to hunt doe antelope with my daughter Hope. We had three tags. I got a bonus coyote, C got a doe, and I also got a doe after my daughter missed one. It was a long season, so I would be back again with my daughter H.Screenshot_20240202-181117.pngScreenshot_20240202-181131.pngScreenshot_20240202-181103.png
 
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While I was on the MT antelope hunt, my buddy who I scouted for in the Frank Church, S, went out on a hail mary last day of the season hunt with the guy I hiked in with, I-man.

Miraculously, they spotted one sheep, and killed him. He was a really good sheep for the area.

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For general deer, I took my daughter, H out, but never connected on a buck. One evening during the season, we were all sitting around the house, thinking maybe a buck would come into our pasture that my wife could get. One did, but only briefly, and there was no safe shot. Then she said we should go for a drive. We got everyone together, headed out, found a buck and she promptly made a stalk and shot it.
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On the last day of October, I woke up and my back was giving me a bad fit. I have a herniated disc in my lower back (and two in my thoracic and two cervical)….my back sucks. The lower disc is a more recent injury, the other four are from high school. It was bad news. Took about 20 seconds of just standing next to my car before I could walk. Constant pain and inflammation. Carrying water to water my dogs was hard. I couldn’t really bend over forward. I got some oral steroids, but couldn’t get in for an injection until the end of November (due to the guidelines around frequency of injections).
 
November – My back was still not feeling good. I took H back to Montana and she made a nice 200-yard shot on a bedded doe.
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I also took my daughter, K on a hunt in Utah for antelope doe. We found some, but I wasn’t able to make it happen.


Towards the later part of November, I woke up one morning before work. I went out to feed my dogs, collapsed, crawled inside, and called my sister-in-law to take me to the ER. My nerves worked, but it was too painful to walk.

I came home that night, but was in so much pain I went back and was admitted a few days.
 

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