2022 Son's Trip Report

Dougfirtree

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 27, 2016
Messages
2,924
Location
Adirondacks
Well, it’s cold out and I figure it’s time I contributed something to this forum besides just my wit and good looks…

This past fall, I took my middle son (who was just shy of his 13th birthday) on a hunting trip. < Now, after spending some time with 2022 drawing odds and comparing them to my memories of simpler times, I’ve decided that all out-of-state hunting trips I write up on the internet are henceforth going to take place in “Florida.” > So, middle son and I headed down to “Florida” at the end of September with a pronghorn tag and a cow elk tag in his pocket, none in mine.

We got thrown two curveballs just before our trip: First, they changed the rules on a publicly accessible piece of private land that figured heavily in our elk plans, so that we would no longer be able to hunt elk during the first couple days of our trip. Second, the whole family got Covid. I was the only one not sick and I kept waiting to be struck down, especially once we got within 10 days of the flight date. I was steeling myself for disaster. But amazingly, I never got sick and middle son finished his quarantine a few days before we left. Phew!

His antelope tag allowed hunting during our first days, so we switched the schedule and decided to do that first. The weather was hot and sunny when we arrived in our unit and having spent some time in “Florida” over the years, I was a little shocked by how few antelope we saw driving around. We were both just really happy to be out on the prairie though and I’m an unshakable optimist when it comes to pronghorn.

IMG_5847.jpg

Day 1: We started out at what seemed to be the best chunk of accessible land in the unit. Right off the bat, we saw a herd of about a dozen does and one buck off on a hillside about half a mile away. They were on public land, but to get there, we’d have to do a big semi-circle of about 1.5 miles. My son said that at least for day 1, he’d hold out for a buck, but didn’t really care if it was big or not. He had never killed any big game animal, despite a lot of time afield, close calls and even a wounded deer that we couldn’t recover.
We did our circle and the pronghorn were nowhere to be seen. Crap. After searching around for a while, we decided they must have run off a ways and so we went on towards a high-point that might have good glassing. When we got up there, we found a comfy spot that was out of the wind and before too long, glassed up two bucks about 1000 yards away, on public land. The approach would be another big round-about and it would be tricky. We decided to have some lunch, while we planned it out. We were munching away and chatting, when all of a sudden, I saw movement below us. An antelope had just come around the shoulder of the hill and was pretty close. We had a brief, panicked set-up as my son tossed the sandwich and got down prone with his rifle. I ranged it: 209 yards. “It’s a buck” he said. I confirmed that through the binos and then, “If you want him, he’s giving you a good shot.” He was ready and with me whispering (probably annoying) advice about good trigger pulls, he let one go. At the shot, the antelope hopped a bit, ran about 10 feet and pirouetted down just out of sight.

My son was really excited and it appeared that he’d made a good shot, but we gave it a little time, just in case. When we walked down, we found the buck lying right where we last saw it. The shot looked to have gone right through the heart. He’s no monster, but this was the boy’s 4th season hunting and I was just so happy that he’d had this success and that it went so smoothly! I was also very proud of how hard he's worked and what a nice shot he had made! We got right to work, as the sun was really out now and it was heading for 80 degrees. We quartered it up and ended up with about 2.5 miles of pack-out.

IMG_5849.jpg

IMG_5851.jpg

IMG_5836.jpg

Day 2: With the pronghorn tag punched and the meat delivered to the processor, we headed down to the elk unit. Because of the date change and the realities of busy meat processors, we’d only have 2.5 days to hunt elk, but we would get an afternoon of scouting. The first thing we learned was that the roads in his unit were a lot rougher than I’d anticipated. Flights and rentals had been so expensive this year, that I’d tried to save some money by renting a little Jeep Compass. It had 4wd, but I was worried about those tires… We drove around and pushed my comfort level for what the car could do, quite a bit. No elk were sighted that evening, but we were excited for the next day and had a general plan of where to start!

Day 3: That poor Jeep got us up where we wanted to be before light, and we headed out on a search for elk. Sign was plentiful and we did hear a few bugles, which helped point us in the right direction. We zeroed in on one bugling bull who seemed to be hanging out in one spot. Perhaps he’d have some cows around? After a careful approach, we bumped him off an open area at about 100 yards. All alone. I hit the cow call as he bounded away and he stopped, turned and looked at us. That was pretty cool for my son! We spent the rest of the day hunting through sign-rich areas, where we expected an elk to jump out at any moment. We saw a group of 5 bulls up on a hillside, but no cows. A thunderstorm blew through, which was making me pretty nervous about driving down the hill in the ol’ Compass. We got back to the car well after dark and bounced our way down the mountain. At some point a light came on about tire pressure, but I pretended not to see it.

IMG_5880.jpg

IMG_5884.jpg

Days 4-5: Something was definitely wrong with the tire pressure and we were in a remote area. It was also continuing to rain on and off, which was not helping. I got the tire re-filled using another hunter’s pump, crossed my fingers it would hold and we hunted lower down, in country that had elk sign, but did not seem like the ideal spots for this time of year. Between the tire and the wet roads, it just didn’t feel safe getting back up to where we’d seen elk. It was somewhat disappointing feeling like we weren’t really in the game, but we had a good time, saw some cool stuff and being in elk country is always a treat.

IMG_5909.jpg

We finally called it, with a full day available to fish before we picked up meat and got back to the airport. I’d absolutely go back and hunt that unit again, but I’d have a much more substantial vehicle to get around in (and a few more days to hunt).

I always bring a little travel fly rod on these trips and often can find some little streams to chase brookies in. This time, we decided to try a bigger river. My son had never fly fished before and so I did my best to get him started right. It wasn’t easy fishing with the water level very low, lots of gunk in the river and us not having waders, but we found some spots we could cast and the boy ended up catching his first ever trout on a fly road; an 18 inch rainbow. I wish we’d had a net, but he finally got ahold of it! Ol’ dad got in on the action too and I caught a gorgeous 20 incher.

IMG_5920.jpg

IMG_5925.jpg

All in all, a great trip was had. Thanks to the good people of “Florida” for their hospitality. I was a little worried about that pronghorn meat being packed out in 80 degrees, but it’s been outstanding! I hope, more than anything, that it remains a great memory for the kid and helps cement an interest in hunting. And, with at least 3 years until the next son is old enough to come along, I’m thinking maybe in 2024 I’ll return to the "deep south" with a tag of my own!

IMG_5941(1).jpg
 
Florida looking a tad different than what I envisioned it to look like!

Such a great adventure to have with your son. Congratulations to you both
 
Well, it’s cold out and I figure it’s time I contributed something to this forum besides just my wit and good looks…

This past fall, I took my middle son (who was just shy of his 13th birthday) on a hunting trip. < Now, after spending some time with 2022 drawing odds and comparing them to my memories of simpler times, I’ve decided that all out-of-state hunting trips I write up on the internet are henceforth going to take place in “Florida.” > So, middle son and I headed down to “Florida” at the end of September with a pronghorn tag and a cow elk tag in his pocket, none in mine.

We got thrown two curveballs just before our trip: First, they changed the rules on a publicly accessible piece of private land that figured heavily in our elk plans, so that we would no longer be able to hunt elk during the first couple days of our trip. Second, the whole family got Covid. I was the only one not sick and I kept waiting to be struck down, especially once we got within 10 days of the flight date. I was steeling myself for disaster. But amazingly, I never got sick and middle son finished his quarantine a few days before we left. Phew!

His antelope tag allowed hunting during our first days, so we switched the schedule and decided to do that first. The weather was hot and sunny when we arrived in our unit and having spent some time in “Florida” over the years, I was a little shocked by how few antelope we saw driving around. We were both just really happy to be out on the prairie though and I’m an unshakable optimist when it comes to pronghorn.

View attachment 257908

Day 1: We started out at what seemed to be the best chunk of accessible land in the unit. Right off the bat, we saw a herd of about a dozen does and one buck off on a hillside about half a mile away. They were on public land, but to get there, we’d have to do a big semi-circle of about 1.5 miles. My son said that at least for day 1, he’d hold out for a buck, but didn’t really care if it was big or not. He had never killed any big game animal, despite a lot of time afield, close calls and even a wounded deer that we couldn’t recover.
We did our circle and the pronghorn were nowhere to be seen. Crap. After searching around for a while, we decided they must have run off a ways and so we went on towards a high-point that might have good glassing. When we got up there, we found a comfy spot that was out of the wind and before too long, glassed up two bucks about 1000 yards away, on public land. The approach would be another big round-about and it would be tricky. We decided to have some lunch, while we planned it out. We were munching away and chatting, when all of a sudden, I saw movement below us. An antelope had just come around the shoulder of the hill and was pretty close. We had a brief, panicked set-up as my son tossed the sandwich and got down prone with his rifle. I ranged it: 209 yards. “It’s a buck” he said. I confirmed that through the binos and then, “If you want him, he’s giving you a good shot.” He was ready and with me whispering (probably annoying) advice about good trigger pulls, he let one go. At the shot, the antelope hopped a bit, ran about 10 feet and pirouetted down just out of sight.

My son was really excited and it appeared that he’d made a good shot, but we gave it a little time, just in case. When we walked down, we found the buck lying right where we last saw it. The shot looked to have gone right through the heart. He’s no monster, but this was the boy’s 4th season hunting and I was just so happy that he’d had this success and that it went so smoothly! I was also very proud of how hard he's worked and what a nice shot he had made! We got right to work, as the sun was really out now and it was heading for 80 degrees. We quartered it up and ended up with about 2.5 miles of pack-out.

View attachment 257909

View attachment 257910

View attachment 257912

Day 2: With the pronghorn tag punched and the meat delivered to the processor, we headed down to the elk unit. Because of the date change and the realities of busy meat processors, we’d only have 2.5 days to hunt elk, but we would get an afternoon of scouting. The first thing we learned was that the roads in his unit were a lot rougher than I’d anticipated. Flights and rentals had been so expensive this year, that I’d tried to save some money by renting a little Jeep Compass. It had 4wd, but I was worried about those tires… We drove around and pushed my comfort level for what the car could do, quite a bit. No elk were sighted that evening, but we were excited for the next day and had a general plan of where to start!

Day 3: That poor Jeep got us up where we wanted to be before light, and we headed out on a search for elk. Sign was plentiful and we did hear a few bugles, which helped point us in the right direction. We zeroed in on one bugling bull who seemed to be hanging out in one spot. Perhaps he’d have some cows around? After a careful approach, we bumped him off an open area at about 100 yards. All alone. I hit the cow call as he bounded away and he stopped, turned and looked at us. That was pretty cool for my son! We spent the rest of the day hunting through sign-rich areas, where we expected an elk to jump out at any moment. We saw a group of 5 bulls up on a hillside, but no cows. A thunderstorm blew through, which was making me pretty nervous about driving down the hill in the ol’ Compass. We got back to the car well after dark and bounced our way down the mountain. At some point a light came on about tire pressure, but I pretended not to see it.

View attachment 257914

View attachment 257915

Days 4-5: Something was definitely wrong with the tire pressure and we were in a remote area. It was also continuing to rain on and off, which was not helping. I got the tire re-filled using another hunter’s pump, crossed my fingers it would hold and we hunted lower down, in country that had elk sign, but did not seem like the ideal spots for this time of year. Between the tire and the wet roads, it just didn’t feel safe getting back up to where we’d seen elk. It was somewhat disappointing feeling like we weren’t really in the game, but we had a good time, saw some cool stuff and being in elk country is always a treat.

View attachment 257916

We finally called it, with a full day available to fish before we picked up meat and got back to the airport. I’d absolutely go back and hunt that unit again, but I’d have a much more substantial vehicle to get around in (and a few more days to hunt).

I always bring a little travel fly rod on these trips and often can find some little streams to chase brookies in. This time, we decided to try a bigger river. My son had never fly fished before and so I did my best to get him started right. It wasn’t easy fishing with the water level very low, lots of gunk in the river and us not having waders, but we found some spots we could cast and the boy ended up catching his first ever trout on a fly road; an 18 inch rainbow. I wish we’d had a net, but he finally got ahold of it! Ol’ dad got in on the action too and I caught a gorgeous 20 incher.

View attachment 257917

View attachment 257918

All in all, a great trip was had. Thanks to the good people of “Florida” for their hospitality. I was a little worried about that pronghorn meat being packed out in 80 degrees, but it’s been outstanding! I hope, more than anything, that it remains a great memory for the kid and helps cement an interest in hunting. And, with at least 3 years until the next son is old enough to come along, I’m thinking maybe in 2024 I’ll return to the "deep south" with a tag of my own!

View attachment 257919
Sounds like a fantastic trip and memories that will last a lifetime for you and your son! Thanks for sharing your story and the photos. This is such a great community of people.
 
Ollin Magnetic Digiscoping Systems

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
112,101
Messages
1,981,618
Members
35,485
Latest member
Tml19521
Back
Top