Eye-opening Experience by R. Cade Powell – Part 2

I hunted 2 more days looking for that big desert muley. Never did lay eyes on him again so I headed home to Wyoming to lick my wounds. My wounds hadn’t even scabbed over after three weeks so I made the decision to trek back to Idaho before the season closed.  I left after church on Sunday and only stopped once to give my buddy, Carson, a couple chips from HuntingGPSmaps.com. Exactly 12 hours after I had left Wyoming, I pulled into camp. I set up the cot and tried to catch some Z’s for a couple hours

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Monday I woke up to a light drizzle and much cooler temps. It was in the low 40’s that morn. I hiked out to my point and set up in the rain. I found a couple bunches of does and fawns but no bucks.

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By 9, I still hadn’t seen a buck. I decided to hike around the bowl I had been glassing to see what type of sign there was. By early afternoon, I had seen over 30 deer. I had glassed all of them in their beds and hadn’t spooked any. Finally, I’m on the opposite side of the bowl and set up on my Outdoorsmans tripod when I glassed 3 bucks. They got up and fed across a big sage flat to a rim of Mahogany. I recognized 2 of the bucks from earlier trips: a 24” 3pt. and a 22” 165 type 4×4.

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laughed at the thoughts of that 4×4 from 3 weeks before. I was 30 yards from him in his bed when a yellow jacket flew up his nose. He about came uncorked trying to figure out what happened. I’m glad I had already decided to pass on him.

Jake rolled into camp late that night to help for a couple days. Tuesday morning we were still 0-fer on bucks. By late morning, we decided to go look at another spot. He was only going to be able to hunt with me until wed night and wanted to show me another spot if I needed it on Thurs, Fri or Sat. We turned up 7 bucks that eve with a pretty good 4×4 that was only 20 inches wide, but had great height. He looked like a younger buck so we kept hunting. Same song and dance for Wednesday.

I had decided to hunt our big bowl Thursday morning and if I hadn’t turned up any bucks I would pull out and head south.

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I also had the Nov. rifle elk tag in that unit and wanted to see some of that country before I came back for that hunt. There would be deer in that part of my unit as well and maybe a change of scenery was in order.  Low and behold, that morning there were 3 bucks out feeding at first light: the decent 4x from Monday, the small basket 4 and a wider 4x. This wider 4x looked like a more mature deer and 24 or 25” wide. His fronts were pretty weak, but a respectable deer. I decided I would try for him, then go look at elk and still drive home to make my daughters volleyball games on Saturday. They fed and bedded in a great spot. I crept to 150 yards and dumped my pack and boots.

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Wind was in my face and the deer were bedded with sage blocking their vision towards me.

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After a 30 minute crawl, I was planted on my hiney, snuggled up on the shady side of the biggest sage brush 34 yards from him. My Heli’m was in front of me with an Injexion tipped with 100 grain shuttle T’s atop my Trophy Taker Extreme FC rest. It only took 30 minutes for the basket 4 to change his bed and lay down at 29 yards. 30 minutes later, the wider 4x got up and walked straight away before laying down at 44 yards. He never presented even a semblance of a shot.

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An hour later, the basket 4 was up again. I snuggled in tight to the sage and waited for him to go back to bed. He mulled around, fed on a mahogany and seemed unconcerned until he snapped his head to attention and tried to bore holes in me. HOW IN THE #&*! did he see me? He just seemed to sense something was about to run amuck and walked around for a minute trying to figure out what I was.  Finally, he turned and slowly started to trot away. The other 2 bucks were hooves in motion and actually beat him out of the mahogany patch and over the ridge…………. They didn’t even attempt to find out what was amiss. I was devastated. He’s not even that big of a buck that I’m trying to poke a hole through! How do guys like Ulmer do it every year on BIG DEER???? I consider myself a pretty savvy woodsmen and I was utterly befuddled and at a loss for words.

After 30 minutes under a shady juniper, I was ready to head out and look for elk. I laced my boots up, strapped on my pack and stood with every intention of giving up. After a few steps toward the truck, I turned around and hiked to the tallest knob around. I was not leaving this piece of real estate until I killed a deer!

2 miles and a couple hours later I found another buck in his bed – or so I thought.

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After studying him, I realized it was the same 3 bucks that had just stomped on my heart hours earlier. I couldn’t believe it. Some days in August I’d see 20 bucks along with 40 does in this country. This trip all I can find is the same 3 bucks? Are you kidding me?

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Well, it’s still game on so I formulate a strategy. About then the bucks were up and feeding. A herd of Angus came over the hill headed for water and walked right through that herd of bucks. I was camped in the shade of a juniper, sitting on my stool, outdoorsman tripod in front of me with my binos on top. Those deer spooked and started my way. At 100 yards I was thinking how ironic it would be if I killed him while sitting on my stool. They slowed and began feedingon the bitterbrush away from my direction. After 20 minutes they lined out and headed over the ridge to the west. As soon as they cleared the top, I loaded my gear, threw on my pack and gave chase. The sun was sinking fast and I knew it was now or never. I crested the ridge in time to see them quickly feed over the next little ridge 100 yards away. As soon as they were out of sight, I sprinted to the next ridge and slowed to creep over the top. This time they were 80 yards and feeding on some mahogany. They had picked up a forkie and he and the basket 4 were 200 yards away feeding to the south. The bigger bucks looked like they wanted to stay NW. After 10 minutes they slowly disappeared over the next ridge. I could see a tall patch of sage on the crest of that ridge in line with where they were moving. The sun was setting quick and shooting light would quickly change from pink to dark purple. I crept toward the sage patch but stalled a time or two when I saw tines over the horizon. It felt like forever to close the last 30 yards to the sage but I couldn’t shoot until I cleared the sage. As I peeked over the top, the wider 4 was in the back and instantly pegged my movement. The sunset was perfectly at my back so I stood as I drew, locked and released…………………. I lost the arrow in flight but the solid whack was music to my ears. He spun out twice trying to get his feet under him to sprint over the hill 75 yards away.  I exhaled as a new flood of emotions poured over me. I quickly went to where he had been standing and took off my pack for a marker. I walked out to the little rim of the small canyon to try and lay eyes on him. I sat down and after 3 or 4 minutes his buddy walked out from behind a Juniper 300 yards away. He was snorting, looking back and pacing back and forth. By now the light was really poor. He walked behind a Juniper and that was the last I saw him but I knew my buck was down. YES!

I went back to my pack, waited 15 more minutes then started on the blood trail with my headlamp. It took about 30 minutes to sort out the 200 yard trail. Arrow had passed through the edge of both shoulder blades and was lying 5 yards beyond where he’d been standing.

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I rolled a little video, took some really bad still pics and then started peeling quarters and filling game bags. I took everything out of my Outdoorsmans Optics Hunter pack and then put ALL 4 quarters inside. I poked the spotting scope and a couple shirts in an outside pouch and filled every pouch I could with the rest of my gear. I tied the head and cape on the top and cinched it down. Finally I tied my Heli-m on the back and was amazed that everything was on the pack but my video camera and one small bag with lunch and a few odds/ends. I then pulled out my GPS and hefted my bulging pack up and buckled in. I’m guessing I was pushing 130 lbs but didn’t get to weigh in. 1.5 miles as the crow flies took me a little over 1 hour and I rolled into camp at 11:59 PM. Another sweet night on a cot and then I got up and headed for home. I wanted to see my wife and kiddos that night and then make my 2 oldest daughters volleyball games Saturday morning.  Elk could wait til November.

I’ve tried to add up how many bucks I saw and keep coming up with over 100 different bucks in the 12 days I hunted.

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Best buck I saw was a 180+ 27” 4x with a cheater. I had him at 34 yards for 3.5 hours. Next best buck I saw was a 170 type 4x that was hanging with him. The buck I killed was the best buck I found on my return trip. I’ve fallen in love with hunting desert deer in both Wyo and Idaho with the bow and can’t wait to match wits again next fall. I’m not sure if it’s the deer that I love so much or the opportunities that have been opened to me since finally making good on my 10 year promise to myself to have a good tripod and some 15’s in my pack. I borrowed some 15’s for this trip. I ordered a pair of 15×56 Vortex Kaibabs from Outdoorsmans for this fall. They were delivered 2 weeks ago and have not been out of my truck since. I’ll let you know how they work for me this fall but so far it has been love at first sight!

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