MT Private Land Doe Slayers: Talk About Guaranteed

ajrcktts

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Or was it? Dun, Dun, Dunnnnn. . . .

As promised in https://www.hunttalk.com/threads/keeping-a-secret.309775/page-12#post-3279097 😁, here is the MT deer recap from my trip with my dad this year.

It was a short drive this year due to my move up to Maryville, TN. +/- 2,000 miles each way. We ended up somewhere around +/- 4,700 for the whole trip.

1638984305135.png

In order to make the driving easier, we split it up into a long first day (Sioux Falls, SD - +/- 17 hours), medium second day (Billings, MT - +/- 10 hours), and short 3rd day (Havre, MT - +/- 4 hours). This definitely ended being a good decision as driving gets really old by day 3. A buddy of ours, Scott, had recently passed away from a battle with Covid. He was born and raised in Sioux Falls, SD. We took some time to reminisce while driving out the next morning.

When we hit the road on Monday, 11/01 Dad was sitting at #21 on the deer alternate list while I was still somewhere in the 800's. Hope was in the air as we'd be pulling into town on Wednesday, 11/03 and we knew they have been updating the list on Wednesdays. Not knowing exactly how the system works, we kept hoping that he'd get an email stating a tag was available before it updated online. That kept the excitement up each day.

The drive was uneventful in general, just like I like it. Dad and I switched off with every tank of gas at about the 6 hour mark each day (thank you 36 gallon tank!). I took the last leg of the drive from Billings to Havre on 11/03. Around 11am, this happened:

1638985393239.jpeg
And dad promptly informed the ladies back home

1638985111165.png

In order to keep each post from going on too long, I'll break it up into a few posts. . . To be continued.
 

OntarioHunter

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Those tags went fast! I checked for one just after I shot my buck south of Havre, must have been around the 7th and they were already gone. Not that I particularly wanted another deer but the BMA landowner really wanted to be rid of more and at that time few hunters were showing up. He said may as well shoot the does as winter and no range grass due to drought would kill them anyway. Gad, he had a lot of deer on his place!
 

ajrcktts

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Now, here is the time to be real honest. With my move to TN this year, and how slow the alternate list had been moving, dad and I both had gotten really lazy about preparing for the season. We expected to make the drive, stay with our friends for a few days, knock down a couple does, and head home early. There is a little hint at that above where dad references that we were going to "reprint tags. . . " We both had forgotten, thrown out, whatever our Deer B tags that we'd bought as a back up. Lazy.

So now we're suddenly realizing that we might actually have to put in some work this year and we are totally unprepared but up for the challenge. I probably didn't realize how unprepared I was in reality.

Wednesday early afternoon we grab the shop key from the house we're staying at, reprint our tags at Stromberg's Sinclair (while shocking the cashier at the price of a non-res deer combo), and head out towards the property. Here is the first point where my unpreparedness showed up.

We stopped at a portion of the property we hadn't ever really seen deer to set up a target at 100 years and double check our rifles. Dad was on, I was off. Like, not even on the upright, rusted out, 50 gallon barrel we were using to hold the target. Readjust, change aim, shoot, look again. Turns out I was something like 15 inches to the right. I was able to get dialed back in by around shot #11 or so, but wasn't super thrilled obviously. I remembered later than my rifle had taken a fall (in a hard case) while we were preparing for our move which must have knocked the scope off. Unfortunately, I had neglected to shoot the rifle since the move which was definitely a lazy move which bit me in the rear.

Once at the shop, we offload some gear, and head out into the field for an afternoon hunt.

1638986182230.jpeg

We felt confident that we had a reasonable plan based on our experiences last year. We were heading to an area where we saw deer consistently, and missed some bucks last year (https://www.hunttalk.com/threads/fl-to-mt-2020.302464/page-2#post-3090014). However, in our excited, we neglected to realize that a whole bunch of the CRP had been cut this year due to emergency status brought on by Covid and significant drought. I'm embarrassed to admit that we were probably a quarter mile into our hike by the time dad looked at me and said, "Hey, wasn't this a lot longer last year?" Basically the whole area where we'd seen the most and largest bucks was cut down this year and hardly saw anything there except for some does and a young buck cruising right through rather than hanging out.

We spent the rest of the day checking the rest of the property. At one point, we saw a decent buck from the road nearby where we sighted in the rifles. A quick drive around the property edge to cut off where we thought the now running buck was headed didn't work out. On the way back, we saw him again as apparently he and the two does with him didn't run as far as we thought. The rodeo ended up with dad getting quick offhand shot off while standing within feet of where we sighted in just a few hours earlier. The shot was a clean miss. This whitetail buck and his two does would continue to pop up throughout the rest of the hunt, but not anywhere we could make a play.

Hunting day one ended up without a punched tag but some new information.
 

ajrcktts

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Day 2:
I'm going to preemptively apologize for the significant narrative and lack of pictures this year. Oh well, moving on.

We're staying with friends in town. We did the same thing last year which was a necessity due to the weather. This year it was planned due to how spoiled we were last year. Kory left for work at the railroad about the same we headed out to hunt. He made us breakfast and coffee every morning. Wendy cooked us dinner ever night, and even waited to eat with us no matter what time we got back. I did not lose weight on this trip.

The morning had us in a favorite glass knoll from last year. We ended up back here on several occasions but never saw deer nearby. However, we ran into a pile of antelope here last year and ended up seeing a few more this year. Whenever, MT decides we're worthy of an antelope tag, we have a good starting point.

From the glass knoll we spied a herd of does a couple miles away and make a quick plan to drive over and put a stalk on from about a half mile. By the time we got there they were already moved on. In general, we saw far fewer deer on the property this year, presumably at least partially due to a significant portion of the property being cut this year, including several bedding areas. So we re-scouted the property trying to come up with a game plan for the remainder of the hunt.

Dad and I are getting a little worried since he shelled out for the buck tag and we just aren't seeing deer like we did last year. So, we decide to do something different for the evening. We know of a BMA that we wanted to check out last year but never got around to it because of the weather and plan to head down there for the evening to see if there is anything worth chasing.

We get to the BMA, sign in, and keep driving to get an idea of the layout and topography. We notice some of it is planted winter wheat. On our drives (the property is about 40 miles out of town) we had seen a lot of deer in the winter wheat and figure it might be worth watching the edges but drive on to see more of the property.

"Whoa! There is a pile of deer there!" I hit the brakes and dad and I pull out our binos. There much be 30 mule deer in the wheat already with several bucks in the group, including one old brute. They are probably 1+ miles off the road, know that we stopped, and starting to mill towards the field edge.

Ok, back to the parking area and make a quick plan. We can drop down low and try to close the distance, but we'll have to hike straight at at them for over 300 yards before we can drop down. It's our option and there is only about 1 hour of legal shooting light left. We leave everything in the truck except the rifles, binos, and a knife and take off. They see us coming but aren't too concerned as they are still over a mile away at this point.

We finally get the chance to drop down and sidehill and really start covering ground. The next time sneak up top I get a range of +/- 450 yards while kneeling on a small cactus, from which I still have small prickers/hairs stuck under the skin of my knee. Dad doesn't want to shoot that far in the fading light. Plus, he's shooting off of a standing bipod and doesn't think he can get steady enough. It's also at this time I get a better look at the old buck. "Dad, one is a tank. . ." So we drop down again while making note of the knoll they'll be behind.

We cover another couple hundred yards and start to creep up the knoll. Before we get to top to see the group, two bucks feed out to the right of us which is almost straight downwind and we have to shift focus really quick. Two bucks turns into four bucks and a doe and we realize the group is probably headed that same direction.

The two bigger bucks of this small group definitely wind and start getting uncomfortable and start moving back the other direction. Dad and I both realize that he needs to see if any of these bucks will suit him because they'll take the rest of the group with them if they head off. Dad chooses the one he likes, the bigger of the four, and BOOM!

"You hit him far back, hit him again!"

But the buck passes behind the knoll as deer erupt out the other side and we scramble up to the top. Dad is already starting to beat himself up the first shot as we quickly glass the running group looking for his buck.

"Let's head towards that other knoll and see if we we catch him slowing down behind the herd."

We start walking again and top out on our current knoll when I grab dad. "Look, look! He's down there, standing. I can see the blood, that's him. Hit him again."

BOOM! and the buck drops. First tag filled, first MT buck for either of us, and dad's second best buck to date.

WhatsApp Image 2021-11-04 at 8.44.33 PM.jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2021-11-04 at 7.55.58 PM (1).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2021-11-04 at 7.55.58 PM.jpeg

To be continued. . .
 

ajrcktts

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Our unpreparedness bites us in the rear again.

This BMA is walk in only. We've left our packs back at the truck. And we've never tried the gutless method.

So we decide that dad will start gutting and I'll hoof it back to the truck for a pack, deer drag, water, and lights as it's quickly getting dark. The short route back to the truck with OnX tracking me this time revealed we were about three quarters of a mile back there which isn't terrible, but a fair drag for sure. Plus, dad and I both went into this hunt in poorer shape than last year due to the aforementioned laziness and pessimism.

This is the track of me from the truck, back to the buck, and then back out.

1638990386249.png

And here's dad starting the drag.

20211104_183833.jpg

We switched off at the top of the first knoll and then one or twice more later on. All in all I probably drug about 80% of the time which is the least I can do considering all of the help the old man has given me over the years. I wish I could have done more, but see my previous comment about poor shape. I've kicked myself for this several times.

We won't be dragging a deer again that's for sure.

We got back up to the truck in the pitch black, right as some 30mph or so winds picked up. From there, it was a 30 minute drive out to the shop to hang the buck, take a short break, and then back into town where Wendy had dinner waiting (and they had waited to eat with us. They are good people.).

We slept well that night.

Day 3 coming soon.
 

ajrcktts

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Day 3

1638991773632.png

I don't know about the exact legalities of this exchange via text, but it's what happened.

The first part of the day had been spent driving, parking, hiking, glassing, returning to the truck, and starting over. The deer just weren't really on the property this year. Except we had seen them on that reservoir (pond) on one parcel a couple of times. We'd actually passed on them once because it's relatively close to the shop and it was early in the hunt (I think day one).

Then I got this text as we're taking a break at the shop and am thinking, "Well, the buck tag is filled. We could pop one of these does and take it easy or even head home a little early if we wanted."

So, I take off on a short stalk, hiding behind old buildings and farm equipment, eventually crawling to about 85 yards away. At this point, The deer are bedded but have caught my movement but are on the other side of a small knoll while I'm kneeling. I wait for them to stand and start to walk out, pick out the biggest, and pull up off hand. . . BOOM!

Clean miss.

There were a couple things going on here if I'm honest. I was still somewhat nervous about my rifle since it was so far off. I also didn't carefully choose my aiming point and instead kind of went "NOW!" in my head and yanked the trigger. Poor execution on my part, and thankful for a clean miss.

Headed into town for dinner and sleep.
 

ajrcktts

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Day 4

Today was relatively uneventful. We looked for deer on the property and watched a small spike/forky come from over a mile and end up walking within 50 yards of us. We looked for deer on the BMA near where dad killed his buck but got skunked. But, we got dad's buck processed and I got a few pictures.

20211106_165924.jpg

20211106_165910.jpg
20211106_175252.jpg
 
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ajrcktts

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Day 5 - The last day

We basically figured either I kill a doe in the morning or not at all. We got out of the door late, but were seeing a bunch of deer on the way out to the property which gave us hope.

As as get to the property we notice that there are deer by the pond again, a group of six consisting of two young bucks and four does. The same four does that we'd see there before and elsewhere around the area. The same group of does that I missed a couple days prior. I get set up for a shot, hold dead on as we hadn't ranged it, and BOOM!

When I come back down the doe is gone down the other side of a hill and all her buddies are staring down there. Dad says it looks like I knocked her backward off the hill so we pack up and head over there to take a look. As we get close the rest of the group bumps out but doesn't head too far away which later proved to be good. We searched and searched and found no deer, no evidence of a hit, nothing. Of course, now I'm doubting my rifle even more as I felt really solid with the shot. We later went back and ranged the shot and it was over 400 yards. Clearly a clean miss for a rifle sighted in at 100 yards. How I didn't realize the distance is something I unable to explain or excuse. But again, glad for a clean miss at this point.

As I said previously, the group of deer has stayed in the general area and appeared to be working their way south of us, further into the property. After confirming no hit from the first shot, I scrambled to get in their path again. The deer worked their from the west to the east, on the southside of us, and I was able to get a shot at a mature doe. This time I was leaning on an old fence post and again felt good about the shot based on how I was holding and her reaction.

Long rodeo short, the hit was far back, we bumped her, she made her way to another property, we had to get ahold of our friend to get permission to finish her off, and even that wasn't clean. At least we were able to get the job done in the end. She presented the perfect opportunity to practice the gutless method. Thankfully that went relatively smoothly and we're planning to utilize that more often. No more dragging deer for sure.

WhatsApp Image 2021-11-07 at 12.00.21 PM.jpeg

I'm not proud of how I performed on this hunt recognize that my failure to prepare adequately was the single greatest contribution to those failure. I even stopped to check my rifle again before we headed home and was able to confirm it was pretty well on. There was definitely wind when I shot (probably 10-15 mph cross), and I think I underestimated the distance again. But those are all things I should have considered when I was getting ready to pull the trigger.

The day ended up with all meat in coolers, all bags packed, and the truck loaded to hit the road first thing in the morning. The drive home was uneventful again, this time going from Havre to Sioux Falls in day one, then Sioux Falls to Mt. Vernon, IL on day two, and then home to Maryville on day three.
 

ajrcktts

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Recap

Obviously, this was a fun trip and I'm glad to have had another year to hunt with my dad. But it had it's frustrations as well, beginning with not drawing two buck tags despite having one point each and a bunch of our buddies drawing with 0 points, including a cousin who killed this buck in eastern MT.

messages_0 (5).jpeg

We ended up seeing more bucks than does (that we could actually chase anyway), but only after we filled dad's buck tag. We were able to explore new areas and get more information for next year, and we're thankful to have harvested a couple deer.
 
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EYJONAS!

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I love how you made your dad drag the buck up hill🤣. Coming back down is that the 80 percent back but all down hill?

Nice work congrats and I'm glad you had a quality time with your dad that's awesome buddy.
 

ajrcktts

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I love how you made your dad drag the buck up hill🤣. Coming back down is that the 80 percent back but all down hill?

Nice work congrats and I'm glad you had a quality time with your dad that's awesome buddy.
I made him drag it up the FIRST hill, at his behest lol. There were a few more along the way.
 

OntarioHunter

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Sounds like the BMA I hunted. Forget the straps when dragging a buck like that. Back up to it, bend over forward, reach down with right hand, grasp the right antler ahead of brow time, pull up so nose is between legs, grab the other antler in same place, and start dragging. This fall I pulled out my buck about the same size as your dad's a little over a mile, mostly on the flat. I'm 69 and probably no better physical shape than either of you. The key is to keep the carcass moving so it doesn't stiffen up. That means don't stop ... but don't wear yourself too thin either. Slow and steady. It works. 1980 bull.JPG I pulled this bull elk down the mountain well over a mile back in 1980. Over the years I brought out a couple of deer bigger than that doe whole on my back. Make a pack out of them. It's messy but you can do it. And when you have, you'll be able to tell you're grandkids you did it ... the way the Indians did it.
 

Sytes

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Always enjoyable reading threads with family involved. Great read - cool pics!

Good stuff - Thanks for sharing.
 

rtraverdavis

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Good, solid time with your dad--that's a special thing. I appreciate your "warts and all" retelling of the story. Good stuff.
 

MTANTELOPEHUNTER

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Day 2:
I'm going to preemptively apologize for the significant narrative and lack of pictures this year. Oh well, moving on.

We're staying with friends in town. We did the same thing last year which was a necessity due to the weather. This year it was planned due to how spoiled we were last year. Kory left for work at the railroad about the same we headed out to hunt. He made us breakfast and coffee every morning. Wendy cooked us dinner ever night, and even waited to eat with us no matter what time we got back. I did not lose weight on this trip.

The morning had us in a favorite glass knoll from last year. We ended up back here on several occasions but never saw deer nearby. However, we ran into a pile of antelope here last year and ended up seeing a few more this year. Whenever, MT decides we're worthy of an antelope tag, we have a good starting point.

From the glass knoll we spied a herd of does a couple miles away and make a quick plan to drive over and put a stalk on from about a half mile. By the time we got there they were already moved on. In general, we saw far fewer deer on the property this year, presumably at least partially due to a significant portion of the property being cut this year, including several bedding areas. So we re-scouted the property trying to come up with a game plan for the remainder of the hunt.

Dad and I are getting a little worried since he shelled out for the buck tag and we just aren't seeing deer like we did last year. So, we decide to do something different for the evening. We know of a BMA that we wanted to check out last year but never got around to it because of the weather and plan to head down there for the evening to see if there is anything worth chasing.

We get to the BMA, sign in, and keep driving to get an idea of the layout and topography. We notice some of it is planted winter wheat. On our drives (the property is about 40 miles out of town) we had seen a lot of deer in the winter wheat and figure it might be worth watching the edges but drive on to see more of the property.

"Whoa! There is a pile of deer there!" I hit the brakes and dad and I pull out our binos. There much be 30 mule deer in the wheat already with several bucks in the group, including one old brute. They are probably 1+ miles off the road, know that we stopped, and starting to mill towards the field edge.

Ok, back to the parking area and make a quick plan. We can drop down low and try to close the distance, but we'll have to hike straight at at them for over 300 yards before we can drop down. It's our option and there is only about 1 hour of legal shooting light left. We leave everything in the truck except the rifles, binos, and a knife and take off. They see us coming but aren't too concerned as they are still over a mile away at this point.

We finally get the chance to drop down and sidehill and really start covering ground. The next time sneak up top I get a range of +/- 450 yards while kneeling on a small cactus, from which I still have small prickers/hairs stuck under the skin of my knee. Dad doesn't want to shoot that far in the fading light. Plus, he's shooting off of a standing bipod and doesn't think he can get steady enough. It's also at this time I get a better look at the old buck. "Dad, one is a tank. . ." So we drop down again while making note of the knoll they'll be behind.

We cover another couple hundred yards and start to creep up the knoll. Before we get to top to see the group, two bucks feed out to the right of us which is almost straight downwind and we have to shift focus really quick. Two bucks turns into four bucks and a doe and we realize the group is probably headed that same direction.

The two bigger bucks of this small group definitely wind and start getting uncomfortable and start moving back the other direction. Dad and I both realize that he needs to see if any of these bucks will suit him because they'll take the rest of the group with them if they head off. Dad chooses the one he likes, the bigger of the four, and BOOM!

"You hit him far back, hit him again!"

But the buck passes behind the knoll as deer erupt out the other side and we scramble up to the top. Dad is already starting to beat himself up the first shot as we quickly glass the running group looking for his buck.

"Let's head towards that other knoll and see if we we catch him slowing down behind the herd."

We start walking again and top out on our current knoll when I grab dad. "Look, look! He's down there, standing. I can see the blood, that's him. Hit him again."

BOOM! and the buck drops. First tag filled, first MT buck for either of us, and dad's second best buck to date.

View attachment 204589

View attachment 204590

View attachment 204591

To be continued. . .
NICE PICTURE AND STORY
 

ajrcktts

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Location
East TN
Congrats on the success both of you!

As a side note what type of scope and mounts are you running? I’d be concerned if your rifle moved 15” just from falling over in a hard case.
Vortex Diamondback 4-12 on whatever rings came on the rifle, a Remington 783 in 308.

In all honesty I've never been super comfortable with the rifle, particularly the fit, and am considering either getting ride of it altogether or at least putting a Boyd's stock on it. But it generally shoots as good or better than I can so it's a toss up. I need to find a range in my area and get some time in to make a decision.
 

cahunter805

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May 27, 2014
Messages
2,175
Vortex Diamondback 4-12 on whatever rings came on the rifle, a Remington 783 in 308.

In all honesty I've never been super comfortable with the rifle, particularly the fit, and am considering either getting ride of it altogether or at least putting a Boyd's stock on it. But it generally shoots as good or better than I can so it's a toss up. I need to find a range in my area and get some time in to make a decision.
The 783 is a decent budget rifle. If your not comfortable with the rifle that’s a problem. It should fit you and feel natural and build confidence for you. A Boyd’s stock would be a nice upgrade and there are many models to choose from.

I would recommend you replace the rings it came with though if you decide to keep the rifle. Usually they aren’t the highest quality. Talley makes their Lightweight rings for the 783. Great choice.
 
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