Awesome deer! CongratsWell, we got back on Sunday after 7 days on the mountain for a high country mule deer hunt. I took my nephew in and my brother went back into a previous spot we had success in 4 years ago. We Hiked in Sunday morning and were in camp by 4 pm that day. As luck would have it, we found a stud 3x3 that evening and then again on Monday prior to season that was in a great area for a stalk come opening day. Unfortunately, we had a ton of company the first 2 days of season. Horse hunters stumbling through bedding areas, hunters lined up on the peaks and as luck would have it, a mountain goat hunter in the adjacent canyon. Even with all that, we had 8 bucks spotted in the same area on day 2. We put them all to bed around 9:30 AM in a perfect clump of timber about 100 yards below the crest of the ridge. Around 10:00 AM we were hanging out waiting for the thermals to switch so my nephew could get above them and wait for the deer to get out of their bed. Everything was perfect until “ Jim and Jim” showed up. This was a father son combo (50ish and 70ish) who really put a damper on our hunt. We told them that we had 8 bucks put to bed with the only good one being a really mature 3x3. We pointed out the clump of trees they were in and let them know our plan for the afternoon. That’s when the older Jim informed us that they were going up there and driving that patch of woods. I was dumbstruck. I had never heard of such a thing and they were clearly only going to push it because we had just told them there were 8 bucks in the patch. I tried to be civil and let them know this was my nephews first western mule deer hunt and that we had watched the buck for 3 days and that it would be great if they could just avoid that one section. Old Jim was obstinant. He went on about how his father had guided that canyon since he was a young boy and how his clients had shot 3 of the top 30 B&C bucks of all time from there..... I explained to him that there were no boomers and the only shooter was the big 3x3. Long story short is they circled up to the top and pushed that section.... and we never saw the big 3x3 again. Amazingly, a number of bucks did come back, but they bedded earlier, got up later and most of them would feed around the ridge into a very large/ thicker timber patch. I tried to set my nephew up above the area they were feeding, but none of the shooters ever came back in range over the next 2 days.
simultaneously, I met 2 hunters who were camped at the very top of the ridge, which essentially cut us off from about half of what we planned to hunt. It was definitely a bit frustrating, but amazingly everyone cleared out after the second day of the season. We had the entire area to ourselves for Thursday and Friday, although the deer definitely felt the pressure!
on the third day of the season, I was able to put eyes on a stud 4x4, but it was just out of range and I ran out of light waiting for him to step out of the timber strip he was in after a long stall. Luckily on the last night (Friday), a pretty good 4x4 with a weak split on one of the tops stepped out across the canyon. One shot behind the shoulder at 408 yards put him down and we were able to get some picks just as the sun was setting. A couple hours of cutting and deboning later and we got back to camp at midnight. The next morning the weather was brutal and we packed out the 8 miles from camp with heavy loads as the rain and sleet pelted u
Unknown to us, my brother was able to close the deal on a really great 4x4, while my buddy shot a 4x2 that was his biggest so far.
I’ve replayed the decisions over in my head a hundred times and feel bad about the fact that the one person I wanted to get a deer ( my nephew) didn’t get the opportunity to shoot a good buck. The good news is he is hooked and he has a lot more trips up the mountain than his uncles who are now 43.
All in all, it was a great trip, minus the Jim’s. I’ve lived about 5 hours away from my nephew since he was 5 years old and it was awesome to get that time together in a place that I absolutely love and to pass that love on to the next generation.
As an added bonus, I got to meet a friend from this forum (Snowy Mountaineer) before heading out of town who was nice enough to give me come canned elk. Great seeing you and hopefully I draw again soon, so it’s not another 4 years.
PS. We didn’t realize there was a spring up on top, so we spent the first couple days melting a snow pack next to camp for water. All part of the adventure!
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