His first 2... A muley and a whitey... Thanks Big Fin

WYelker

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Feb 1, 2021
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170
Part 1

Got to give credit where credit is due. The last 2 hunting season have been incredible, in large part due to BigFin and his willingness to educate and share… It was through an old episode of Fresh tracks that I learned about the MT license system and apprentice program.

Since WY does not allow youth to hunt big game until they are 12, the last 2 seasons found us hunting MT NR deer. I and my wife applied each year. Figuring that if one of us drew the tag (without points) that we would just add his apprentice license to who drew. When the draws came out both years we were excited to see that I drew the NR deer tag each year.

For both seasons we hit the week of Thanksgiving. As a teacher, I do not have “Vacation Time” I get 2 personal days a year, as such the week of Thanksgiving is a chance for us to have a decent hunt.

2020 On our first year we had a blast, we rented a small AirBNB for the week. My wife, Daughter, and even my mom all joined us for the week. He and I hunted, the girls hung out, went sightseeing, shopping and slept in etc. Truth be told it was a great family trip and all of us got to see new place etc. On the second day of our hunt we hiked into a spot at first light with a goal of hitting a specific old burn. From the maps it looked like the only public access to this area was a little over 2 mile hike. We left the jeep a little later than we had planned, it took longer to drive out of town and we took one wrong turn etc. At 10 my son had developed an appreciation for hiking hard, covering ground etc. At lunch time we found ourselves just over 3 miles into our hike. We decide to climb to the highest point and eat lunch/glass. Just as we topped out we see our first deer of the day, literally in a spot that I E-Scouted and in the exact drainage that was our “goal” to hunt.

A mule deer doe, snuck out from below us followed quickly by a good buck and a dink… No shot available, we watched as they ran around the corner into the next little draw. The doe was the only one we spooked, the bucks were just chasing her. We stayed high on top snuck around the corner. We soon saw the doe and the dink below us in the trees, but not the big buck. We set up for a shot and waited, a couple second pass and the buck steps out. My son sitting on my lap shooting off the bog pod. He gets a shot and hit the buck hard. The buck spins downhill hard stumbles out of sight. We collect ourselves and head down to find his first big game animal about 40 yards below. Since we were 3 miles in, we debone the entire buck, I pack all the meat in my pack he takes the binos, range finder, in his… He insisted to carry the head by hand. It was a great day…

MT Deer 9 on top 3 miles in.jpg

101 hands on.jpg



The next day we get up and try a few small chunks public along the river looking for a white tail. We rattled in a few small bucks and eventually find a buck later afternoon. I took my first white tail with my son by my side. He was across the river so we had get the waders out and by the time we got him done it was well after dark.

102 My first white tail.jpg
 

WYelker

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Part II… 2021 we did the same thing. We found a new BNB in a tiny little town. Spent the week of Thanksgiving in MT hunting. This time my wife was on call for work, my teenage daughter stayed home and no grandma… It was just us boys. The day we arrived in MT it was mid day and we hunted a ton of little blm chunks on our way to the BNB. The difference in deer numbers between 2020 and 2021 was pretty dramatic. We ended the day without seeing a mule deer buck at all and way fewer whitetails. We knew drought, EHD etc. had hammered the area. But it was worse than I had thought.

The next morning we get up early and make our way to hunt the same place where he killed his buck last year. Unlike last year we were there way early and waiting for the sun to come up…

We hike across the tree line above the farm ground. About 30 minute into legal light we spot our first deer, white tails. They are well over a mile away out in the farm fields on private. We get set up and with our Maven binos we can instantly tell there is a shooter buck, but they are so far out and there are other places closer where they could bed. So we slow play the deer. We get into a position that gives us options to move under cover, we get the wind mostly right, and we wait. The deer at first are moving parallel to the private public border. The direction they are headed has a thick brushy bottom that would make an ideal spot to bed for the day. The bigger buck was following the doe pretty intently and sniffing some. The doe feeds north towards the bottom but hits a fence corner where she either has to jump the fence to the bottom or turn towards us, luckily the gate at the corner was open and she heads our way. By now the sun is up and the 2 were are watching are closing the distance. At about this time we have another 2 does whitetails show up about 150 yards out. My son has a doe tag and he considers shooting one but the buck was his goal. In fact he is kind of obsessed with whitetails. Growing up in CO white tails were rare, something he saw only on family trips. We saw mule deer daily and he had been with me as I had taken several good bucks… So he now has a good buck heading his way and no way would he opt for a white tail doe…

Now the doe has crossed the fence onto the public and is about 300 yards out and feeding our way still the buck keeps hanging about 60 yards behind her. He crosses onto the public but ends up about 80 behind her. She is close enough that any movement on our part would blow her out and the buck is barely in sight just over a hump. He manages to move quickly though the opening and does not present a shot. The pair are working a little depression just to our south when both are out of our sight we make a move to get a better position. As we move in spares tree cover I spot the buck right in front of us at 40 yards. All I saw were his antler tips in the trees. I drop down. We were too close. There was no way we could pull it off we waited a bit then slowly snuck up. The buck was not where I had last seen him. Instead he was about 120 yards up hill feeding away from us with the doe. In the shade of the trees we set up. Get my son on the bog pods and settled in. As soon as we set up bot the doe and the buck turn perfectly broadside. The sun was at our back the buck looked awesome in the sun and my son took the shot dropping the buck in his tracks. The doe stood around long enough for another shot but my son said he was too excited and too shaky to try a second shot. This time we were only ¾ of a mile from truck. We made 2 trips with quarters and meat.

William 21.jpg

William 22.jpg


The next day we decided to go for the ultimate repeat. His buck was in the same piece of public as the year before. So the next morning I went to the same little chunk of state land. We arrived just before light and park the truck next to a little pump house. We get out and are packing our gear to head to the river bottom. Above us on the private we look up and see a doe white tail and a big bodied buck in the skyline. We quickly forget about grabbing gear and get th gun and sticks. We set up on the back side of the pump house and wait for the deer. About 5 minutes later the deer cross the road and onto the state land about 30 yards from the truck and 30 yards from where we sit in nest to the pump house. We wait for them to clear the road and give a good safe back drop… Before we could see the sun we had the deer in the truck and heading back. It was thanksgiving day and in 2 days we took good bucks (recall this was only my second time ever hunting white tails)… We got into town and as we passed the local café we notice there were people eating inside. My son and I had Turley hungry man TV dinners in the freezer, but after 2 days of hunting and success we decided to try the café since it was open and we always like spending a little money at local businesses. Well when we went inside we found the Café had a full on Thanksgiving dinner, all homemade… We also found out that they were absolutely refusing any payments at all. It was their way of giving back to the community that supports them all year long.. It was a feast and a great way to spend the afternoon chatting with locals and other hunters and the food was awesome… Despite having doe white tail tags my son and I spent the next 2 days looking at different country and different areas. It was about exploring now and hunting was secondary.



Without Randy and Fresh Tracks, we would have never made this trip. We would have had some adventure but the ability for my son to hunt the last 2 years is something irreplaceable. We never know if we have another season or even another day, so when we get the chance we need to make the most of it..
 

WYelker

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Feb 1, 2021
Messages
170
Great stuff, congrats. The shot of your son with his first buck is a great photo IMO, one you can cherish for a long time
The mule deer happened fast. So he was still kind of shocked when we took those pics. The whitetail we waited a long time for the shot (long enough for all the anticipation to build etc) the end result is he got a lot more emotional when he took the white tail.

Forgot to mention the blood on the neck was all from fighting the night before. The shot was perfect behind the shoulder.
 
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