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It's very discouraging to be out in the wind. We have, however, had success in it...at least during the rut. A few years ago, we actually decided to pack it up and head home because it was so windy. After driving for about an hour I thought "what the heck are we doing" and we turned around. Ended up shooting a 160s typical 6x6 that evening. This was a place that was in a hole and as much out of the wind as we could possibly find.
Thursday morning I hit the bottom land again. Had a 5pt downwind as soon as I got there. Called in a button buck to 30 yards. He came in grunting the whole way.
Thursday evening the winds switched to NNE but it was my last night so I leeroyed into my stand anyway. It was a pretty good evening with multiple deer directly under my stand, but the two bucks, the heavy fork I passed on earlier and the short tined 6pt came out together, both 40 yards directly down wind. The hung around for at most 2 minutes, edgy the whole time, before heading back into the brush. I would have shot the 6 at that point, but I never had the angle, nor do I like shooting at edgy deer past about 25 yards.
I'm now headed to Eastern CO for a last day Turkey hunt, and meet up with FireTiger for her plains deer tag starting in the morning.
More thoughts on the Nebraska trip when I'm not on my phone.
Dad and I woke up Friday morning, made breakfast, packed up camp, pulled stands and bid each other adieu. I could have stayed for another couple days but it just didn't feel right without Dad there anymore. I thought FireTiger would appreciate getting together and also taking advantage of the opener for her deer tag, since so far she's big game hunter for approximately 5 hours so far this year. I had a turkey tag for the same unit where she is whitetail hunting, so I headed that way and met her for camping that night.
I showed up at the parking area just after noon. This meant I had about 6 hours let in the season, so I wasn't going to be picky. It took me about 3 minutes to find a loafing group, so I grabbed my shells, gun and bino pack, and took off after them. Well, I don't know what I was thinking exactly, because I completely lost them once I actually hit the ground. I returned to the truck, put together a real day pack, tried to find those turkeys again, gave up, and decided to go look for more.
I was glassing for turkeys when I stopped and noticed this guy working down the dry bed. He kept getting sandspurs in his paws and wasn't really paying attention. I called him to about 6 feet even after this, where he seems to notice me.
The next 3 hours was some of the most fun I've had hunting. It was a mixture of still hunting / spot and stalk / cat and mouse. I actually missed a shot still hunting where the turkey was further than I was thinking. I was using my upland O/U instead of my usual full choke turkey gun. There were many times where I had small flocks within range on the over side of the russian olives and when I zigged, they zagged. Eventually, I called uncle on that game when I was getting busted by other flocks of turkeys out in the open. Turkeys were calling all around me, so I decided to slip under some bushes and wait it out.
After about an hour, the wait paid off and a flock of about a dozen started working their way towards me. I was watching them through my binos when I panned right and my field of view completely filled with feathers. Tunnel vision! I was lying prone behind a bushy tree and apparently a different group had come right in. I was totally busted as they were only 10 feet in front of me, but behind a limb. One hung around about 40 yards out, giving the warning call, but the flock I was watching did not care.
I could tell they had finally made up their mind to head out of the open, and they were making a beeline to me. This was pure luck, as they could have gone any direction. As they were approaching range, I could hear something VERY close off to my right. There was no way I could move without busting the incoming flock, so I hope it didn't bust me. The flock kept coming and I picked out the lead, largest hen. They literally came straight in, and I made a ridiculously close shot. Apparently the rest of the flock was then unsure what to do, as they moved off 10 yards but could not agree on where to go.
There was still noise right next to me even after the shot.
I turned to find this guy about 4 feet from me. He was probably the smallest porcupine I've ever seen, and completely uncaring about my presence.
Pretty good for a hen, as she weighed in at 14lbs.
After the turkey hunt, I met Forrest at our camp location. It was good to get a little cuddle time after 7 days solo, and I'm lucky to have a wife who doesn't think of things like "when was the last time you had a shower?"
Saturday morning we drove to the hunt area and were not the first to arrive, but were the first at the parking are we wanted to hunt from. We were a few minutes behind schedule due to a few packing snafus, but there was nothing saying we had to be in a specific spot at daybreak. After my experiences in this unit the last couple of years, FireTiger wanted to hold out for a "better than our average" buck. I wasn't going to argue, as I had definitely seen them the last couple of years.
The early morning was pretty slow. We had seen a few does on the prairie but nothing moving down the bottom. At some point, Hank got tangled in his leash and I bent over to help him out. As I was doing so, FireTiger said "Here comes some does!" and watched them file past at 30 yards. She was watching the does and I finally finished helping Hank, started to sit back down, "Buck buck buck buck!". We didn't have a lot of time to look, but he appeared to be a younger 4x4, so she decided to pass.
I left her to take care of some business and on my way back ran into two young deer between us.
We sat there the rest of the day, but only saw turkeys. As evening approached, a storm was moving in and the wind started cranking. FireTiger decided we should ease our way back to the truck, scanning along the way. Sure enough, with 5 minutes of light left we found a buck feeding on an edge. She quickly cut the distance, with the wind covering our noise. He had a taller rack than the buck earlier in the day, and was definitely inside his ears. She opted to let him walk.
Sunday was much colder, and the forecast was threatening. It would be our first major storm on the front range this year. This had me excited but FireTiger wanted to do the reasonable thing and drive home before the roads became dangerous, so we bailed on hunting Sunday.
Ironically, after we were home she was out running some errands and got slow-speed T-boned. Everyone is fine, but the Subaru is out of commission for the rest of the year.
I did manage to get a camera up while we were hunting last weekend. I've not really used them for hunting, more as a curiosity tool. The results were not quite as exciting as I was hoping, but I think there are two things playing into it.
1.) This is the rifle season ( ending in two days )
2.) The rut is just now starting. I really feel the bucks do not live in this area, but rather start traveling through looking for does.
We averaged maybe 3-4 deer per day, with no repeat bucks, and only one mature buck, though there is a night photo that is either a double exposure or a pretty nice buck.
We were back in action with high expectations due to the awesome forecast. Good wind. Cold, crisp morning. Early November, rut action?
I pulled that camera and we were mighty interested in that broken up first buck. He looks so similar to my buck from two years ago! Around 7:30am we could hear a deer moving through the brush. I caught a flicker of a butt. It was getting close to our scent, so we tried the grunt tube. This seemed to have a reaction, but after a few minutes it trotted back from where it came. We never got a look at it.
Action was slow, so around 9am we decided to move about 1/2 mile. As we were about to set up, a tree branch fell. Looking more closely, we spotted a guy cutting limbs from the live tree (1). He wasn't wearing any orange (2) so we hadn't seen him. Maybe he's an archer prepping for after rifle? We turned and went back.
A couple more hours and we decided to head back to the truck for lunch and a nap. Treestand guy was gone. The weather had been cold in the morning but it was sunny, blue and warm now.
For the evening, we decided to try intercepting deer on the way to food. There was a freshly harvested ( that day! ) corn field nearby. Right before we left, I saw someone pull up at a different lot. Two people headed into the hills with rifles and no orange. Argh. We made our way towards the corn and literally where we were going to hunt we could see a hunter sitting. There was nobody parked at either of the two closest area ( except the no-orange folks ) so I was scratching my head about where this guy came from. We decided to sit a pinch with great visibility.
Not long after sitting down, with maybe an hour before dark, the guy who was sitting by the corn got up and worked directly past us. It was too late for us to move, and kind of a bummer as he was walking in the wide open on one side of us. We saw a doe on the other side. Shots rang out, and I looked to see a truck on the access road, with two people standing in the back shooting from the bed of the truck (3) using the cab as a rest.
We were the first to arrive and knew we wanted to set up in the spot near where the guy was putting up the treestand the day before. As we set up, I looked and wouldn't you know it, he's already up there, this time with rifle ready, not wearing orange again, but where the heck did he come from? Sure enough, he had driven through inaccessible government land (4) and down the closed road (5) on the other side of the property. Grr... Fine, back to spot A.
Nothing. We stayed all day and saw nothing except turkeys.
On the way back, right at dark, I glassed at exactly the right moment and saw a great buck cross an opening near that treestand. It was about 600 yards away and the very last minute of light, so there was nothing to be done, but at least I know there's a great buck still out there.
We're staying positive on the whitetails though and this upcoming weekend we'll probably be back in the same spot, but with a bow in her hands. In the past, I've seen nobody there during archery, and the bucks were cruising well. Her standards will be significantly lower though as she's only taken one animal with a bow. I still have my Nebraska tag and would love another crack at it before the rifles get out there, but I had the entire early season to hunt - now its her time.
We got some news today that may force us to cancel FireTiger's 4th season elk hunt. Bummer, especially considering we had to cancel her first season cow hunt. I don't know what's going to happen with that time yet. I have 3 days PTO scheduled but I'll probably cancel it.
The calendar is looking extremely blurry for the rest of the year. Just too many unknowns at the moment.
Welp, we just can't seem to win. Cold fronts on either end of the weekend, but it was 74 degrees on Saturday. I got a lot of reading done.
Very slow with 3 does and 1 spike on Saturday. FireTiger held to passing on the small buck. He hung around for a solid 3 minutes just asking for her to shoot him. The wide angle makes him look further than he is, as he passed within 15 yards of us.
Back at the parking lot, there was a second vehicle there. I never saw anyone during archery the past two years, so I was surprised. The other hunter came out just as we finished packing up. We started discussing deer movement and noticed a trend; we had seen the exact same animals. We started to ask where the other was hunting without getting too specific, until it was obvious we were hunting very close to one another. Sure enough, his treestand was inside 70 of us. Neither of us knew the other was there the whole day. I've definitely never seen anyone near where we were hunting, but I can't blame the guy either as some map study shows an obvious rut funnel.
Sunday we tried a different area and turned up one mule deer doe.
There was one really interesting part of the trip. On our way from camp to hunt area Saturday morning, I saw an antler sticking up on the side of the road. It looked interesting, so I did a quick 360 to investigate. Holy Mackerel! Unfortunate way for this beast to go! This is by far the largest buck I've ever seen NOT taxidermied.
We made a plan to call the game warden if he was still there that evening on our way back. Unfortunately, someone took a sawzall to him before then.