Freezer full in Idaho

ardrhi

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
156
Location
Arimo, Idaho
I might have to call it quits after this year. Just a few years ago, I was a pretty lousy deer hunter. I had gotten lucky on several small bucks over the years, but I really had no clue how to go after the big bucks you usually see in posts. Forums like this, great hunting buddies, and hunting smarter have changed that.

My cousin (Devin), a brother-in-law (Luke), and I had a great opening weekend but honestly the second weekend of the season was even more rewarding for me so I'll start there.
I have some neighbor kids who come over to help out with my yard all summer just so I'll take them hunting. I know their father would love to take them out himself, but a debilitating illness had other ideas. The kids have taken turns hunting with me in the past, but this year they were arguing over which of the 3 hunting age kids' turn it should be. I knew that they all desperately wanted to hunt, but their arguments went something like this: "Take my younger brother because he hasn't gotten a deer (we did find him the world's stupidest cow elk last year)." "No, take my sister, all she ever talks about is how much she wants to go hunting again." "No, take my older brother, he's moving away so this could be his last chance to hunt with you." Finally, I said, "See if your parents will let me take all 3 of you on a weekend hunting trip to one of my old honey holes." I was really hoping they could get a doe or two, but 3 deer seemed like a stretch.

We left Friday afternoon and got to the spot in just enough time for an evening hunt. There was one other truck pulling in to the area, so I approached them to share hunting plans in hopes that we could avoid each other. I told them that I planned to hunt right on the private property line and had talked to the landowner and had permission to cross the line in pursuit or for retrieval but agreed to stay away from the fields where the landowner's family would be hunting. One of the hunters said he had also talked to the landowner and could hunt the private if they wanted (which the landowner claims wasn't true), but they confirmed that they planned to hunt further up on the public land. It did strike me when these adults said that it sounded like we "shouldn't be in their way."
Pretty soon, I had some deer spotted. There were a bunch of does and yearlings, as well as 4 medium sized bucks that I saw feeding toward us on the edge of some timber. I wasn't sure whether they would come through just above or below the property line. I set up the brothers on the private property and took the girl with me back up toward the public land. We were almost in position when I saw the other guys running our way. They started lobbing ridiculous shots at these bucks that surely would have come a whole lot closer with just a little patience. I wasn't upset about them busting our plan - it's a public resource after all - but I really wished they would have taken time to get a decent shot. Two of the bucks ran to a clearing about 200 yards above us and stopped for a decent shot, but she was pretty shaky after all the other shooting and neither bullet connected. Then they were gone.
I headed down to round up the brothers and head back to camp when I heard an engine. It was the landowner's son coming up after hearing the shooting. He parked and walked with us up to look to see if the other hunters needed help. We talked about how close we were to getting shots, but nobody complained and these kids' attitudes were that they were just happy to be hunting. We first found a lady that had been with the group at the truck, but she claimed to be "just out for a walk". Then one of the guys came busting out of the trees, rambled to the lady about looking for blood, needing to pick up dad in the truck at some distinctive tree that neither one could agree on or how to get to, and they took off without hardly acknowledging that the rest of us were there. I had been thinking about the valuable experience the kids would have tracking a blood trail and helping other hunters because that's what we do even if those hunters shot the deer we were after. I was a little dumbfounded that these guys had just snubbed several folks that would have liked to help make sure a deer wasn't wasted, knew exactly where dad was at and even knew how to drive right to him.
Once the other guys (I no longer refer to them as hunters) were gone, the landowner's son turned to the kids and said, "That's not going to happen tomorrow because you're hunting the farm." He told me that his own 10 year old son had already shot a 4x4, he still had a tag and the day off, but would rather see these kids get their deer.
We got a ton of help from the landowner's son. What really surprised me was every time one of the kids shot, he would show up in a razor about 15 minutes later to help. He insisted that we let him take the deer down to his walk-in cooler so we could keep hunting without worrying about the meat. The time that I spend with these kids at the range paid off in spades. Every deer was a clean one-shot kill, and they all went down within 50 yards of the hit. We spent 8 hours together on Monday butchering all the deer ourselves.
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It has been almost 2 weeks of wonderful deer hunting in Idaho. Last year, I spotted a pretty nice big typical buck and tried for 3 days to figure him out before shooting a smaller 4x4. When I was retrieving that 4x4, the buck I had been after suddenly appeared at around 300 yards. I've been consumed with settling the score ever since. I saw him again in November and March. I found one of his sheds. I studied the maps, pinpointed a small handful of places he could be opening day and impatiently waited.
My 2 hunting companions got to town Friday afternoon and we backpacked our camp several miles in to our spot. Its not really necessary to backpack in, but it saves us at least an hour every morning and evening and ensures that we don't get distracted by our outside lives.
Opening morning, I checked one likely spot, then another, and found my buck in the third. I got to 180 yards and shot as he fed up a draw. The next thing I saw was a huge rack running out of the top of the draw and back into another drainage. I put the crosshairs on him and almost pulled the trigger, but he didn't act injured. I knew my chances were better to pass on the hail mary and try to locate him again. Demoralized at missing the chance, I still walked up to check for blood. My buck was piled up right where he had been standing. The buck that ran out the top was indeed uninjured and I dropped to my knees realizing how fortunate I was to have passed up the hail mary.
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It was a warm opener, so I scrambled to get the meat cooled down. Around 10am, my buddies showed up to help bone and pack him out. I headed home to get my buck cooling somehow because it was just too hot to be sure the meat wouldn't spoil at camp. My loving wife promised to make sure the meat got cooled down by making an impromptu cooler out of plastic sheeting and a chest freezer in the basement so I could head back out to help my buddies.
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Luke got a 26" buck that evening, just as I was getting back to help spot deer. The next morning, we spread out along a long ridge with Devin and the last unfilled tag in the middle. We could see each other, but were far enough to glass different areas. Each of us had spotted some medium sized bucks, but nothing too exciting. Then I spotted my buck's buddy. He fed right past my gut pile and cleaned off rib cage - within 20 yards. I called Devin and told him I thought it was a shooter. I was perched above him, with a great vantage from about 1500 yards away but I was too far to judge the rack. I got my Devin to 250 yards, but the buck had fed into some quakies. I could just make out the buck, but only because I knew exactly where to look. I figured that Devin should be able to see the buck from where he was if he looked long enough and told him that shouldn't risk getting any closer. It seemed like forever, but finally I hear, "I see him." Then silence. I saw the buck jump and could tell it was hit, but it disappeared into the trees. Then, the sound of a gunshot finally made it to me.
When I got to Devin, he asked me how good the buck was. Really!?! I was 1500 yards away. I only said he was probably a shooter and worth taking a closer look. Devin said he saw a big bodied deer, caught enough glimpse of antlers to confirm it was a buck and took my word for it. We walked over to the trees to start blood trailing. We were hopeful, but worried. At first, Devin said he would be happy as long as we found the buck and it didn't go to waste. Then he piped up that he hoped it wasn't just a big bodied 3 point. We got to the point of impact and didn't see any blood. Devin looked at the ground for blood while I scanned the trees for a body. There it was, 50 yards away, a 3 point rack laying amongst the trees. I told Devin the good news - I could see it - and the bad - it was just a 3 point.
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As we approached we could see that it hadn't been a mistake to shoot this buck. The thing wasn't just a 3 point, it was a monster. Both sides had great kickers and eye guards, making him a 6x6 if you count everything. His main beams didn't curl back in, so his inside spread tops out right at 30". He's 33" wide with kickers. The next day, Devin texted me that his buck scored 196" and wondered what mine was.
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I didn't measure my buck. I rushed him to the taxidermist to make sure the cape didn't slip in the heat. Honestly, I was halfway split between not caring and skeptical of my ability to field judge. I had told a couple people that I was hunting a buck that was right at 200, but I figured he could be as low as 180. It seemed like everyone was asking so I texted the taxidermist and asked if he wouldn't mind sending me the score. Apparently, it taped out 202, and 193 after deductions.
Idaho has one weekend left of deer season in most units and there are still some great bucks out there. I went out this morning to spot for a friend. We saw several 150-160 class bucks and a giant 2x3, plus several smaller bucks, but no shots fired. If you took the time to read this story, I hope to give you the motivation to close your computer right now and get packed up to go get ya some.
 

kansasdad

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 30, 2011
Messages
4,973
Location
Wichita
Great adventures with the kids! Fantastic helping by you and the landowner with your neighbor's kids, and fantastic trophy deer. Congratulations all around
 

elkrchr

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 26, 2010
Messages
1,138
Location
Three Forks, MT
Fantastic job taking those neighbor kids out and mentoring them! Nobody will forget those moments. Congrats to you and your buddies on some great bucks!
 

Baerman

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 3, 2008
Messages
1,396
Location
Boy-see
Good golly miss molly! Looks like you are having a banner year. Congrats!
 

TRS_Montana

Active member
Joined
Nov 19, 2014
Messages
693
Location
Helena
Man, I love seeing stories about helping kids get into hunting. Your first story is definitely more impressive to me than your second, but man that is a great buck! :)
 

Randy11

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 12, 2009
Messages
6,109
Holy crap, two amazing bucks. What an awesome year for the whole family.
 
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