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T Bone
10-21-2010, 12:58 AM
Idaho 2010 deer hunt. This is my only big game hunt this year so this story is full of more pictures and false truths than normal.....

Since moving to Montrose, CO this summer I find myself a nonresident of every state of the union, so I called my original hunting partner a month ago and asked if he wanted to take a trip down memory lane and hunt some of our old haunts in Idaho.

He was hesitant in answering yes because he has developed some major back issues in the last year. His back problems started some 40 years ago when he ejected out of his aircraft at tree top level over Laos. The ejection and the pinballing through the trees did some damage to his lower back. After a lot of titanium and stainless hardware, his back has deteriated to the point where he's in pain all the time and is losing feeling in his right leg. The result is he is limited in quantity and duration of physical activity. Packing any amount of weight is out of the question. He was hesitant in going because he felt he'd be an anchor to my efforts, but I was excited when he agreed.

Unit 50, Antelope creek drainage was our target desination. In it's heyday in the late 80's and 90's we pulled many good elk and deer from that area.

Day 1 Travel Day. After getting off of work at 6:30 am, I sleep a few hours and hit the road. I meet Dad who now lives in St George, UT at the Cabelas in UT at 6 PM. We cram all his stuff in my 4runner and we're off. At 11 PM we reach our top secret destination and were too tired to set up the tent so we throw out the matresses and bags and sleep.

Day 2 Dad will hit the low country and I will head toward the high stuff. I leave camp a couple hours before dark as I have many miles to go before it gets light. In the dark I can hear distant elk bugling.....As light shows, there are elk screaming non-stop. Here is a pic of the higher country.
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f302/jennifer9024/PA166610.jpg

And if I turn around 180 degrees this is what the lower country looks like. This is the stuff Dad is hunting.
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f302/jennifer9024/PA166603.jpg

I'm amazed at all the elk I see near and far. They are rutting like it's mid September. Every herd had a number of decent bulls in it. How I wished that archery season was on and I could swap my 30-06 for my bow!

http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f302/jennifer9024/PA166608_edited.jpg

From the numbers and quality of elk I'm seeing (during a controlled cow and bull hunt), it appears the ATV restrictions are working in this particular area. We stopped hunting this area in the early 90's because of the fat-assed ATV hunters breaking the motorized vehicle access laws. Maybe I'll have to archery hunt this place again.....

Anyhooo, I'm deer hunting. I looked all day, covered a lot of ground and finally found 3 deer. One doe, one fawn, and one spike.
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f302/jennifer9024/PA166614.jpg

The sun starts heading down and the elk start ripping again. What fun to sit and watch. I snapped this photo at last light of this decent 6 point.
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f302/jennifer9024/PA166629.jpg

A couple hours later I meet Dad back at camp and find that he only got into elk.

We fire up the grill and have bratz covered in beans. Farts are always funny!

We set up camp and sleep very well.

T Bone
10-21-2010, 02:06 AM
Day 3: Relax, Recon, and Relocation.

Dad couldn't bend at the waist more than about 140 degrees, so he stayed down for a while. I slept in late as well. As he slowly got up and about, we discussed our findings. We were both excited to find the elk numbers back up, but the lack of deer was very evident.

About 9 AM as I was glassing a distant herd of elk through my spotter a Tahoe pulls up and two hunters get out and ask if I we've seen any elk....."ummmm, yea take a look mister". They get excited but decide that the elk may as well be on the moon because there is no way to get an elk from there to here.

"Hey mister, how bout you sit here and eat my food while you give me your elk tag?" I didn't really say that, but sure wanted to. I was sure I could've had a nice bull down within hours. Oh well, to each their own.

Dad and I decide to go look down in the lower country. After glassing and seeing nothing but elk there too, we head back and stop in the campground to gather info on what others are seeing. Most hunters in the campground are the ATV crowd. Most appear to have brain damage or are blind because they can't find elk... Then, we talked to one guy from Idaho Falls who is a real hunter. And he's spent the last 9 days hunting deer. He's been hitting it hard and from the places he tells me, he's been putting some miles on and it appears he knows how to glass from the gear he has. He found one good mature buck, but couldn't close the deal. He was out of vacation time so he tagged a forky on his last day and he was packed up and heading home.

We also talked to a F&G officer who reports the deer numbers are way off and the warm weather has them scattered far and wide.

Dad and I take the info and scheme a new plan. We decide to adapt and head to a different unit down in Southern Idaho near the UT border. This place was at one time the Holy Land of Idaho deer hunting. Big bucks were common and huge bucks were seen every season. I think I noticed a little skip in Dad's step as we packed up camp and hit the road. He owned this place, he took big deer out of this unit very consistently....albeit some 25 years ago :)

We broke camp and hit the road.
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f302/jennifer9024/PA166617.jpg

We arrived in the dry open country with enough time to park and go for a quick evening hunt. I threw my pack on and started climbing. I was about 3/4 of the way to the top when I started slowing down and start glassing.....and literally in the first few minutes of glassing there was a bedded buck about 600 yards out in the shadows the brush pocket in the pic.
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f302/jennifer9024/PA176633.jpg

I watched him and he was drilling me in return. We watched each other about 10 minutes, all the while he remained bedded, but he for sure saw my orange Boise State hat peeking up behind that finger ridge. The best I could tell he was a smallish 3 or 4 point and it was too early to get serious on this buck. I pulled back out of sight and spent the next 2 hours glassing intently and found not a single deer. Not a buck. Not a doe. Not a fawn. Not even a large four legged animal. The place seemed sterile. My thoughts drifted back to the buck in the brush pocket.....would I take him on the last day? You betcha. I decided if he was still around, and I could get a decent shot, I try for him. The hunt was on!

I back tracked and peeked up over the ridge. No buck.....wait there he is feeding in the upper part of the bowl. He again zeroed in on my orange hat.....I glassed him and now he was in the open could see he was a 3x3. He took 5 pogo hops for the top of the ridge and stopped at a sharp quartering away angle looking back at me. I threw down my pack, quickly chambered a round and settled into a prone position, trying to ignore the cactus spines poking me....I guessed him at 350ish yards, the crosshairs settled on his backline and the rifle roared, the buck jumped and ran over the ridge. The shot felt good. The trigger broke clean...and I think the deer's rear end kind of did a weird cork-screw twist as it disappeared over the ridge.

I hustled over and peaked over the ridge and there he lay, piled up just on the backside of the sharp finger ridge. Cool! I had my buck.

http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f302/jennifer9024/PA176641.jpg

Since I had done no shooting in the last year, it was a lucky shot. Placement couldn't have been better had it been 20 yards away.

I boned out the buck and capped it and got back to camp right before Dad came shuffling in. He hadn't heard the shot, so I waited to see how long it would take before he noticed the pack with the antlers sticking out of it.....he didn't notice, as he was in bad pain. We got dinner rolling and camp set while I broke the story.

Day 4: Dad's day

Despite taking a long time to break more that 160 degrees at the waist in the morning he got out of bed before sun up in the morning. I carried his gear and rifle while he carried water in his fanny pack. Today was the day we'd hear his old Weatherby roar. He had broke the stock in his Mark V last year in a fall, and he'd just completed bedding a Bell and Carlson stock to the action prior to the hunt. We picked up a long white rump patch in the pre dawn glow....it's gotta be a buck! Nope, a single doe. Weird.

We continued all day covering the country with two distinct styles of hunting. My style was glassing, Dad's was chucking rocks into the pockets. When we came to a pocket we'd circle to a good glassing vantage point and spend an hour picking it apart. Nothing appeared, so we'd go above the pocket and start rolling rocks. Nothing showed. Not even any tracks!

Finally at the end of the day, we heaved a rock and the brush started rumbling. I handed Dad his rifle, he got set up as the brush crashed. Out the bottom of the pocket came a bull moose, not the bruiser buck that we imagined....bummer.

We glassed and chucked rocks until the sun went down with no luck.

Here's a pic of Dad with his Weatherby. In that little quaky pocket by his scope, he killed the biggest bodied buck I've ever seen in about 1984.
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f302/jennifer9024/PA186648.jpg

Dad was a trooper that day. There was no doubt he was in bad condition as we descended down the mountain. That right leg was dragging and his face was pale. Tough guy Dad is.

Day 5

In the predawn darkness I ask Dad if he's up for another day of hunting. He answers, "No, but I can do a half day" We're up and going. We drive for 10 minutes to the other side of the range. More gentle terrain on this side.

We start gaining elevation, and we crest a small ridge to find 4 deer in front of us....Doe, fawn....Doe and fawn all at 100 yards. We couldn't grow an antler no matter how we tried.

At least we're seeing deer!

20 short minutes later, it happens. 3 bucks! All two points. We manuever into range. The next 2 minutes were hilarious to both of us as Dad can't bend at the waist to sit and get steady. In trying to do so, he hits the button on the floor plate of the rifle and dumps his magazine....we are digging around in the brush to find his ammo....mean while the 3 bucks politely wait.....Finally, ammo is located and brushed off. A round is chambered, I hear him safety off......and the Weatherby roars.

.
.
.
And misses.
...

The three musketeer bucks run towards us....what fun.

Dad slowly and deliberately works the bolt and settles into the shot the best he can, Boom! Another miss. The deer run off. My heart sinks for Dad. But he turns and is grinning ear to ear. He seems to be very much thrilled with the outcome of it.

He was done, couldn't walk anymore, couldn't drag that leg around anymore, so we broke camp and called it a hunt.

I think his greatest moment of the hunt was knowing that he could still get out and do it.

Glad I could be part of it again.

Next year, we're thinking Wyoming antelope. Dad, myself, and my two oldest boys. Doe or buck, it doesn't matter.

Smokepole
10-21-2010, 07:57 AM
Great story, well-told, sounds like you and you r dad had a great hunt. And your shot didn't sound "lucky" to me.

Take-a-knee
10-21-2010, 08:20 AM
Thanks for sharing. Cool 4 runner. Thank your Dad for me for his service.

mgutman
10-21-2010, 09:15 AM
Thanks for sharing. Great write up and pics.

mark s
10-21-2010, 10:41 AM
Cool! I liked the part with your dad grinning ear to ear. Next year CO resident hunts.

snakey2
10-21-2010, 10:55 AM
T-bone thanks for the story it brings back many memories of hunts with my dad in the very same area. It doesn't get any better than that!! Though there have got to be a thousand places in So. Id. that look just like it, I would swear I have camped in the exact same place as your truck is parked. What fun and a buck to boot you are a lucky man!!

Scoutin' Wyo
10-21-2010, 11:39 AM
I always look forward to your stories. Thanks for posting up another great one.
Congrats to you and your dad for what appears to have been a great trip.

evanhill
10-21-2010, 11:42 AM
This must be one of my favorite hunt stories of the year. Thanks.

Ken
10-21-2010, 07:15 PM
Great story!

Glad you and your father got out and had some fun in the Mnt's.

That's some pretty neat looking country. Not exactly what I had in mind for Moose, but they are where you find them.