By: Bears Butt


AHHHH!  The opening day of Utahs “any legal weapon” deer season!  Back in the day there was only one opening day for deer season and we would have upwards of 200,000 people combing the hills for that one big buck!  There were no rules on where you could hunt, except for the posted no trespassing areas and hunters all over the state would find their one and only best spot to be sitting come opening morning.  From my perch high up on the hill I could look out and see all the other hunters doing exactly what I was doing….sitting and watching for the movement of “my” buck.  The hills were dotted with blaze orange dots.  Every ridge, every point, every saddle….every where!  Some coined it as a “pumpkin patch”…..

That was opening morning back then.  But when Utah DWR decided we needed to separate the archers and muzzleloader guys from the rest of the pack, they made two additional seasons using those instruments of destruction.  I, along with many others opted to go with the muzzy gun, and then things changed….for the better I might add.  A change that didn’t really effect the deer hurd, but the change in the number of people in the field hunting.  Over time Utahs DWR have made a ton more changes, some good and some bad, depending on who you are talking to.  I have my feelings and thoughts on those changes, but unless I want to get off my butt and go to a bunch of meetings and spend my time and money trying to get things changed to how I feel about “it”, I have to just go along with what is decided and make the best of what is out there….or….I could just quit hunting all together….I ain’t gonna do that.

One of the biggest changes of late, and by late I mean the last 5 years or so…is to break the state up into a bunch of separate units, bounded by key roads, rivers and/or state boundaries and force the hunters to apply for one unit of choice.  Of course the best units are reserved for applying for “limited entry” into those areas for a special treat in hunting experience.  I’ve enjoyed hunting in a couple of those places and it was a treat for sure.  So, unless you get to draw one of those units, you have to apply to hunt with the rest of the “savages” who also like to hunt.  There are a lot of rules to follow and we all do our best to keep within the boundaries of those rules….best we can.

Well, one special rule in place today, is for youth hunters.  If you are a youth hunter in Utah under the age of 18 AND you draw an “any weapon” tag, you can hunt during the archery hunt using a bow and arrow to try and fill your tag.  Should that season end and you still have your tag in your pocket, you are then allowed to hunt during the muzzleloader season, using of course a muzzleloading rifle.  And like the archery season, should the muzz season end and you still have your tag in your pocket, you are then allowed to participate in the “any legal weapon” season and get to play with the remaining hunting savages in the state.  This is that day!

Let’s look at some stats from this year.  I won’t look up the archery tags for the area we are hunting because there are tons of those.  The thought process behind allowing a whole bunch of tags for every area in the state is that the archers can’t hit crap with their arrows and so let them have as many tags as they can muster up to share a camp with.  My thoughts on that are changing the more I get to know archery season and the state of the art equipment some of them are using.  That’s another story.  So, our unit is not one of the coveted units in the state but it does cover a lot of ground.  One of the largest in the state.  For muzzy hunters the state came up with about 1200 (rounded up) tags as the number to try and draw a tag from.  There were also about 2500 people who applied for those tags.  During that season we saw an abundance of hunters.  Like Crock said about his hunt last year….(not an exact quote)…”Ya, the DWR said when asked by hunters, ‘where can I find a place to hunt in this unit that isn’t posted’?   You go out to X place, look for the brown ford with 5 guys in it, park and stay close to where they are and you will surely see deer”!  To say the least it seemed like all the 1200 tag holders for our unit were camped and hunting at or near where we have been hunting for the last 15 years.

Well, Conner hasn’t used his tag yet and today is his next to the last day he can hunt this season.  We hope to repeat last years success, by seeing him use his tag today, but he will have to do it among the 3600 tag holders who drew the any legal weapon tag for this area.  Donned with our blaze orange (I hate blaze orange) vests and hats, we will be there among the pumpkin boys and girls dotting the hills.  Our problem is finding a point or hill top to sit on that isn’t already being sat on by someone else.  Someone who has sat on that spot their entire lives on the opening of Utah’s deer season.


put a picture of a pumpkin patch here when the software will allow….just sayin!

Wish us luck and there will be more to be said later right here on this very post….just look beyond the date and my name below!

Bears Butt

October 17, 2015

After the Day:

We got away promptly at 5 a.m., just like I like it.  Stopped a couple of times and made it to our area right on time.  The daybreak was perfect…partly cloudy skys and rather warm for this time of year.  But we know a storm is on its way.

On the way in we saw a fox run across the road in front of us…a headlight fox…nothing you can do but say…”Hey!  There’s a fox”!!!  And it’s gone.  During the day we saw a Great Horned owl, 5 or 6 moose and 38 deer!  One of which was a very respectable buck!

Conner spotted the buck high on a ridge and it was coming down the hill towards us.  At that point we were not sure it was a buck, but soon I saw horn and told Conner to load up and get ready.  Now here is a 14 year old, soon to be 15, who has only shot muzzleloaders his whole life…yes, he shot a buck last year with this same rifle he had in his hands this morning, but he just hasn’t had enough range time to know the rifle very well.  He had a little bit of a problem getting the bolt to go back far enough to chamber a round.  And then the scope covers were a trial.  Once ready for the shot he couldn’t find the deer through the scope.  The buck stopped broadside on the hill above us at about 200 yards.  Wide open and waited patiently for the shot and the ride home….but…it ran out of patience and trotted off.  How big was it you ask?  Well, we were not into counting points at that time, but I thought it was a smallish 4 point, while Weasel thought it a big 3 point.  Either way it had a spread about the width of the ears and just as high.  A very nice buck in most anyone’s book.  Oh and for you Dry Dog, it was just down the road from the riparian area!


So there you have the nutshell version of the days events….lots of deer…lots of people…pumpkin patch for sure.  A truck on every ridge, a man on every saddle…things have not changed in the 30 some years since I last spent an opener on the mountain.

A very interesting thing happened while we were hunting.  We saw two deer come over a ridge and come our way only to stop before they actually got across the draw between us.  There was a smallish patch of buck brush on that hill and they went into it but didn’t come out.  One was acting very “buckish”, and so we made our way in that direction.  Before we even left the truck, we saw two hunters come over the hill top from the direction those two deer came from and they were hunting their way down toward us.  We decided to just position Conner in a spot he could take a shot if one of the two deer was a buck.

ConnerPreparing to shoot

In the picture, the brush just over Conners head is where the two deer went.  The hunters came down the hill toward the brush and angled slightly to our right.  As they first came into view, one of the deer, a doe, busted out and went up the hill toward the two hunters and then stopped in a very small patch of brush to the side of them.  The hunters continued to decent the hill right past the doe.  She held tight and let the hunters pass…once passed, she booked it up over the top….the hunters had no clue.

As they continued down the hill in their slow decent, looking left and right, up and down, soon they were within 20 yards of the brush where the second deer was still hiding.  We could not see the deer, but we did not see it come out either.  I prepared myself to make the hike up to flush it out if it didn’t come out while the two hunters were there.

The hunters continued in a perfect pattern down and across the top of the brush…not 10 yards from the middle of the brush.  When they were about 10 yards to the right and above the brush the deer came out in one bound and stopped!  We glassed it intently, expecting to see antlers…but it was a fawn!  Dang it!  The hunters continued to move from our left to right and away from the brush.  Again, like the doe above, they had no clue there was a deer anywhere near them, and all the time the fawn stood motionless as they marched past it.  When the fawn felt it was safe, it bounded one time back to where it had been laying and laid back down!

I have heard of stories of big bucks doing that exact same thing, but until today, I had never witnessed it!  Sure it was a fawn, but it could have been mister Charlie Rack!

Shortly after this we were on a ridge above all of the commotion, with trucks parked next to trucks and guys out slamming doors and talking loudly etc. etc. etc.  And I looked down and there stood 5 deer!  Almost exactly in the middle of the may-lay!  Here is my take on it and I’m just as guilty as the next guy!

People are stupid….Deer (animals in general) are smart!

Bears Butt

Written on October 17th, 2015 , Hunting Stories

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    Bones commented

    Good luck today and if you go tomorrow, good luck then too. Hope Conner gets a nice buck.

    October 17, 2015 at 8:19 am | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.