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Calif. Hunter

Active member
Dec 13, 2000
Apple Valley, CA, USA
'cuz there ain't no picture of me with a buck this year. I got back from New Mexico late last night, empty-handed. I could have shot a buck any day in the past week, but there was nothing that met my goal. It wasn't that lofty a goal - just a 24-inch or better buck, with good mass and some height. I saw dozens of spikes, does, forkies and small 3x3s each and every day. Just no big boys in my sights.

Day one - Moe missed a pretty heavy 4x4 - 3 times. First at 100 yards and last at 20 yards. Yep, I was pushing the herd ftom another draw and the buck was too busy worrying about me to watch where he was being shot at. I got busted by an old doe and she led the deer back around the tip of the ridge I had been working. I never saw the buck, but Dave and Moe did. A nice day. I hiked hard and covered about 6 miles of hilly country, despite gasping for air. It is hard to go from 50 feet above sea level to 6,000 feet. I was pleased, so far, with my ability to cover ground.

Day Two - rain. All day. I spent the first two hours sitting in the rain, watching a dirt tank area that has shown a lot of activity, by all the sign. I gave up on that and started working the draws and ridges at 8:30 AM. High temp of about 49, but hiking is hard work. I was soaking wet inside ny "breathable" rain gear. Covered 12 miles, just saw a few does and forkies. I was thankful that I had brought an old cowboy hat to wear, as it kept the rain off the back of my neck and off my glasses.
A couple valleys and several miles from me, Jorge missed a running buck at about 150 yards. Of course, it was the gun's fault.

Day three - occasional cloudbursts, intermingled with heavy fog. A terible day for hunting. We could only see about 40 yards at best. Needless to say, not much sighted despite a lot of walking.

Day four -Better visibility after 7:00 AM when the fog lifted. I saw a few does, forkies, spikes and small 3x3s, but nothing I wanted. On another ranch, Jason (a ranchowner we had met) was driving Jorges 4-door F-350 4x4 truck with Jorge in shotgun and Mike in the back seat. Jason thought he saw a deer and pulled out his spotting scope, pulling over by the side of the dirt road. At about time, a Ford Fiesta, full of drunk teenagers, doing 60 mph, t-boned them on the passenger side at the rear door. The kids all bailed out and started running like a covey of Chukar. Jason grabbed Jorge's rifle, thinking "I might have to kill me a couple of them." Jason thought they might have been going to jump them. Fortunately, the kids all stopped when they realized that there was nowhere to run to for about 15 miles. The Fiesta was full of rifles and beer cans. They took off the rear axle of Jorge's truck when they hit it, but thank God, no one was hurt. If they had been driving Jason's truck, the kids would have been killed. Jason has a 0ne-ton Dodge cab with a half-inch plate of steel welded on the frame as a flatbed. it wpould have taken the top of the Fiesta off, along with the kids' heads.
By the time the Highway Patrol gets there two hours later, the kids have gotten their story together. The one they say was driving wasn't, but he passes all the field sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer. The kid gets cited for "open container" and a ride home.
We are all just glad that nobody got hurt.

More on following days later today or tomorrow morning.
Sorry you didn't get to pull the trigger on a good buck or at least a teenager....

Glad none of those goofballs got hurt.
Day four, continued. - Mike, Moe, Dave and I go back to the area where Moe missed the buck. Mike, just along for the vacation and not hunting, goes down one ridge between the ridges Moe and I are working. We see about 40 deer, but no nice bucks in the valley. We cover about 5 miles, per GPS. I play cat and mouse with a deer that I cannot see but can hear. I move, it stops. It moves again, I try to move. I just know it is a nice buck! It is in a heavily brushed canyon bottom. I have all the exits covered from the side of the ridge. We play this game for two hours! I no longer know where anyone else is, and I don't care. Finally, I am no longer able to hear anything, no matter what I do or where I go. I explore the canyon bottom, to find fresh steaming deer crap and 3-inch long buck tracks, back and forth along the floor, and finally a spot where the buck drug himself along the ground on his belly through a low patch of brush that I thought was too sparse to hide him. God, that was fun!
Now, where is everyone else? I find Moe and Dave a mile or two away, but Mike is nowhere to be found. Mike is my friend. He has been since we were 7 years old - 43 years ago! I invited him along for the hunt, just as non-hunting guest, since I figured he could use the vacation. He isn't much of a hunter, really, but a gun-nut. He does go on quail hunts and varmint shoots with me, but smokes too much and is a typical over-weight 50 year old. He doesn't hike much. When I can't find him, I begin to panic. Maybe he's had a heart attack. He's dressed in camo, how will I find him? I walk back to the truck, after he doesn't show up at the meeting place at the bottom of the ridges. He's not there! I haul ass back up the ridges, covering a couple of miles in a half hour or less. This is hilly, ridged country - not like walking around La Palma! I yell, and probably scare very deer out of the area. I walk some more, re-tracing the route he was supposed to take. I can't find him. I race back to the truck, having covered several miles in 1 1/2 hours. God, I'm going to have to call Gwen and tell her that I've killed her husband. I'm dripping sweat like I have just stepped from a swimming pool, literally. I get back to the truck, and he's there. He walked clear around the hills, 4 miles, because he didn't want to go back up the ridge - it was too steep. I feel like kicking his ass, but I am both too tired and too relieve that I don't have to call Gwen. He offers me a cigarette, and I punch him, hard, in the shoulder.
By then it was too late to try another area.
A couple of other hunters have bagged two nice bucks - a nice 3x4 with a 28 5/16 spread and a really heavy 5x4 with two brow guards on one side.
I still haven't seen anything big.

Last day - Mike sleeps in.
We cover a lot of ground. I try to head off a small herd of bucks that I see, but with a mile head start, they make it onto provate land tha I do not permission to hunt on. I glass, and I think I see a Coues deer! Nope - that white patch 500 yards away (per rangefinder) is actually two bobcats "making babies." Do I ruin their interlude? Naw, it might scare off any deer and I don't have a tag, even though the rancher had told me to shoot any predators I saw. I find several lone does and a couple of fawns. I watch a spike look at me from 100 yards and urinate. I watch a herd of does and forkies with him crap and eat... still no bucks. I head higher. No luck. There is a lot of target shooting going on somewhere, a couple of miles away. I climb several hundred feet to the top of a lone mountain, overlooking several miles of rolling country. Nothing moving but javelina and antelope. I have time to push one more canyon. A beautiful New Mexico sunset ends my hunt. Most of you will disagree with me, but I simply don't care all that much for venison, unless it is made into sausage or jerky. So I had no desire to bag anything but what I wanted - a mature buck. If I had bagged one, I would have used the meat, of course. But it ain't high on my list of "must haves."
We had a great time. We met a bunch of nice people, and made some contacts for future hunts. When I finish the roll of film and get the pictures back, I will post the ones of the other 2 hunters' bucks.

Jorge rents a U-haul trailer to haul behind my truck after his morning hunt. Moe didn't get another shot, and decided not to bag a forky for meat. Good thing I bought that 4-door crew cab F-350. We can all ride home in it. Jorge had brought enough stuff to outfit a party of 5 - 5 rifles, ammo, snow gear, etc. Moe had a one big bag and 2 rifles. I have to admit that I was in the middle of the two of them as far as amount of gear goes. I figured that I had room in the truck, and better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
I takes 12 hours to drive back to California, drop Mike off at Apple Valley, then me to La Palma. I let Jorge take my truck home with the trailer and drop Moe off in Redondo Beach. He'll bring it back in a few days. (This way, he gets to wash it!

We had a great time, and I haven't laughed so much in a year. Next year, we will be applying for Unit 16-B, and hopefully do a pack-in elk hunt. But I am still looking for that trophy buck for my wall...
Welcome Back Rick.Glad you had a great time with good friends,sounds like you did your part on the hunt just too bad the right deer didnt present itself.
Sorry about the no go on the animals this year, but it still sounds as if your trip was very eventful any way...

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