By: Bears Butt

As some of you know, several years ago, I went on a crusade to convince the Utah DWR to allow hunting antelope in the Randolph, Woodruff area during the same time as the muzzleloader deer hunt was going on.  My reasoning was two fold.  One, we didn’t have a Limited Entry muzz antelope hunt in Northern Utah and Two, I had seen several nice buck antelope during previous muzz deer hunts and thought it would be nice to be able to take one home, should the occasion arise.  I spent the best part of 3 years gathering information, preparing speeches and going to RAC meetings etc.  And finally ending up at a Wildlife Board meeting where I presented one last time, my arguments for having such a hunt.  Eventually the Wildlife Board had the DWR create a Limited Entry Antelope hunt in this area.  In fact they made the area such a large expanse that it would be hard to cover it all in one day.

Sadly, the total number of tags for this area is only about 17 or so.  Last year, 2017, the success rate for the hunt was only 80%.

At any rate, I drew a tag this year!  2018 and my friend, Johnny “Crock” Riley had a shirt made for me to wear during the hunt.  The shirt is a take off from when a group of us drew the coveted Crawford Mountain Limited Entry Mule deer tag several years ago.

It’s hard to read, but at the bottom of the picture of the antelope it reads, “I was chosen”!  Thank you Crock!  I love it!

So my goal this year and for this hunt was to tag a buck antelope that looked at or near to the same as the one printed on the shirt!

As you can guess, I trained hard for this hunt.  I studied the internet, watched Youtube videos on how to field judge antelope horns and such.  I learned that they were not easy to bag at close distances and of course all my study gave me new appreciation for those bow hunters who actually bag and tag an antelope with their bows.  I’m not sure I want to attempt that and think I would be a total failure in trying to accomplish a task of that magnitude.

Well, the  hunt began as usual, mostly being one for hunting muley bucks and not necessarily antelope.  I knew going into it, I would be on my own for a good portion of the hunt and I was OK with that.  After  all, the other guys and gals had deer tags.  I was the only one with an antelope tag.  And so, when the hunt began, I would choose to drive the guys around who wanted to go with me and I would split my time in areas known to hold antelope, but mostly deer.  Again, it was alright with me.  At least I was with others having a good time and trying to fill tags.

We camped in our normal area where it would be very much possible to see a buck deer right out of camp at any time of the day.  Not so with antelope, however.  But a short drive down the canyon would put me into antelope country and still give the muley deer hunters a chance to see their buck.  After all, sometimes, you will find that BIG OLD BUCK where nobody else is looking and what better place than in antelope country?   We were up early every morning, hitting the spots we thought the critters would be holding.  We saw tons of deer, even a few antelope, but I couldn’t get close enough for a shot on the antelope.  Most of the deer we were seeing were does and fawns as well, but occasionally we would see a small buck.  Enough times that it kept the interest up for the hunters with deer tags.

We did keep seeing one antelope buck in a specific area, just off of private ground and I told more than one in the group I’d shoot that one if I had the chance.  He wasn’t a “Booner”, but he wasn’t that bad.

I think it was on day 3, I decided I would go off on my own looking for just antelope.  Of course none of the deer hunters wanted to waste their evening hunt going with me, which was just fine.  This way I could go where I wanted and not worry about them.  I found myself miles from anything that remotely looked like mule deer country.  I even found a buck antelope that looked like a good one.  Again, not a Booner, but still nice.  I put my best “in the vehicle” sneak on him and when I crested the hill where I knew he would be standing, he was no where to be found.  I looked and looked to no avail!  OK, maybe tomorrow I said and off I went to make a circle in my route back to camp.

As I came down a well know road to another well known road, a split in my route back to camp, I saw a side by side vehicle blocking the road ahead.  I was up hill from it and so I stopped and began to glass.  Soon I saw a young man with a muzz in his hand, followed by another guy.  I assumed it was his father.  They were sneaking over a small hill from where they had stopped their side by side.  I glassed and soon picked up a small buck in my binoculars.  That was the buck they were after.  It didn’t take the young man long to finally see the buck and pull up the rifle.  I watched intently as the young man carefully aimed his rifle and soon, I saw and heard the distinctive “bark” of a muzz rifle going off.  The smoke rose in the calm evening air and then I heard the “Whack” of the bullet striking the buck.  All of this was in my view through my binoculars and I saw the buck jump and head down the hill away from the young man and his father.  I continued to watch the buck as it went down hill and finally where it laid down.

I stayed in my spot until I was sure the buck was not going to get back up and run off and then I moseyed down the road to the side by side.  The father (Dan), came over to move the rig out of the road.  I told him it was just fine, I was not in any hurry and he had a deer to deal with, but he moved it anyway.  While we were together we talked about the shot his boy had made and neither of us were sure it was a killing shot or not.  We decided I would drive down below the buck and get ready to shoot it should it jump up and run.  And he and his son would slowly go to where it was laying, hopefully to find it deceased.  So, that is what we did.  I drove down about 50 yards beyond where the deer was laying and go my gun ready to shoot the deer should it try to escape.  They made the slow decent down to  where they thought the deer was laying.  After awhile, it was way too dark for me to see my sights and so, I put my rifle back into the truck and drove back up the road to a spot closer to where the buck was supposed to be laying.

Dad and son had not found the buck by this time and so, using my flashlight, I helped direct them to where it was laying.  The young hunter had to put a killing shot into the buck at close range, but still, it ended happily for the young hunter and his father!  To say I was anything but elated would have been an understatement.  I was beside myself to witness such a wonderful site as a first time hunter, with his father, tagging out on a fine buck deer.  The young man introduced himself as “Hunter”, to me as his father went back to move the side by side closer.  I took a “not so good picture” of him with his buck and then we dragged it down toward the road.

Down at the road, his Dad, Dan, insisted that Hunter, gut the animal.  Again, I was very pleased to be a witness to this and watch his dad walk the boy through the process.  They even gave me the liver!  Thank you guys!  I can’t believe people don’t consume deer liver, to me it’s almost the best part of the animal.  But what tickled me the most was how great-full this young man was to think I would stick around and help them get it ready to transport back to their camp.  Dan, you have a true sportsman on your hands!

Thank you for letting me be a part of all of it and again THANK YOU FOR THE DEER LIVER!!!

I arrived back at my camp rather late, actually later than I wanted to be, and I thought they might be worried about me.  I even travelled the “long way” back in case they were looking…but…they knew I’d be ok and were enjoying themselves in normal fashion around the camp.

Of course this picture was taken before dark, so you can surmise it wasn’t taken after I got back to camp.  Actually, it was past bedtime when I got back, so it was nighty-night for me once I arrived.  (I guess I’m getting too old, I used to stay up till after midnight at deer camp and still get up at 5 a.m. and be ready to hit it again…day after day after day.  Now it’s a late night if I see 10 pm).

Well, April and the Kids came up on Thursday evening and joined in the festivities.  I even fried up some Chicken Skins….WHAT?  You have never heard of fried chicken skins????  Do you like Chick-er-ones?  I don’t know how to spell it…Mexican fried pig skin.  Well, these are Chicken-rones.

Cut the chicken skin up in 1 inch wide strips, and deep fry in oil.  Nothing special, just fry until they are crispy and brown.  Then salt them, put them on a paper towel to drain a bit and enjoy them.  Once you try them, I think you might give up on Pork Rinds.

They are quite tastey!

Well, with April and the kids in camp, things changed quite a bit.  Some had to settled down a bit, but not so much they couldn’t still have a very good time, but not quite like they were before women and children came into camp.  It’s all good folks!  Right Gattlin?

And of course it wouldn’t be the muzz hunt if Dry Dog didn’t send up some “Apple Pie”.  Well, at least one in the camp enjoyed it.  Thanks Dog!

 

 

The sequence of pictures if for you Dry Dog!  Salute, Swig, Kiss!  OH MY!

Well, as the hunt progressed, we did have an official naming.  You see, Gattlin and Shawn went off hunting in Shawns rig one evening.  Gattlin started calling Shawn his Chauffeur and of course a chauffeur is usually of English descent.  Over the course of the evening (and a few imbidements) Gattlin started calling Shawn, James.  You know…”Home James!”  Which interprets as “Take me home, James”..when James, the driver would take his “master” home.  Before long, he was calling him “Sir James”.  A good Englishman must have a proper sir name, we all know this and by the time the evening was done, we had to have an official re-naming of Shawn…From now on, wherever mountain men shall meet, you shall be named, “Sir James”!

AND, not to make light of the fact that Gattlin shot a buck this evening, his first in probably 15 years, I present you with Gattlin and his buck!

The camp was very happy to see this and the story that went with it!  To say Frank “Gattlin” was a happy boy is an understatement!  Congratulations Frank!  Nice buck!

Frank even gutted it…as you can see by his watch!

What time is it Frank?

The kids had a pretty good time as well, and I regret not being with them more and taking more pictures, but my head was on antelope by the time they got to camp.  We did manage to pass by Kenzie Tree.

And our game plan was to make another tree carving dedicated to  Squirrel and Flash Pan (Conner), but neither of them happened this year….let’s do this next year folks!

Our last full day of hunting was decided to head on over to “Big Creek”, an area between Randolph and Woodruff.  There is a whole lot of “nothing” between the beginning of the trip and the end of the trip, but to me there is a whole lot of promise.  Both for deer and antelope.  So, Robert, Conner, Kenzie, Addie and I headed that direction.  It would be a long drive with not a whole lot of action… however, we did see a couple of bucks and it was a great time.  Here is what happened in part of the trip.  I spotted a couple of deer down in a draw as we proceeded up the road.  We stopped and glassed.  I thought I saw antlers on one of them.  So we drove a bit farther to a point we could be closer to them.  Sure enough a buck was in the group.  But they ran over the hill.  We continued up the road and got out to check.  Some went left, some went right.  We  hadn’t gone far, when we heard a shot farther up the road.  I thought that maybe Conner or Robert had shot.  So back to the truck we went.  Well, neither of them had shot.  So we continued up the road.  Just over the rise, we came to a truck plugging up the road with his truck and 4 wheeler trailer.  To our left was a father and son next to the buck his son had just harvested!

The young man had just taken his first ever buck deer!  YES!  Again, I was excited!  We pulled over as far as we could even though I knew nobody could get past us and parked the rig.  Let’s go help them, I said!  And the truck emptied out.  Everyone was excited to go help them gut and drag the deer to the rig.  Well, maybe not Addie.  She nearly lost “it” as they pulled the internal organs from the animal.  They father and son were happy we were willing to help them as it was a pretty good climb up out of the draw the animal was in.  Actually, Ricochet was helping with the front quarters, along side the young man who shot the animal, while Dad and I dealt with the rear quarters.  It didn’t take long to get it to the truck and loaded up on the trailer with the 4 wheelers.

This was Tony’s first deer and his father Theron was very happy!  What a great day!  Heading home from a great, but unsuccessful hunt and suddenly…God presented Tony with a great buck!  Congratulations Tony!  Nice buck!

You know, it doesn’t get much better than that!  Seeing successful hunters and getting to help them with their harvest!  Thanks to Addie, Kenzie, Robert and Conner for the help getting this buck to its home!

SO!  That was pretty much the end of the “regular muzz hunt”.  We did see more bucks, but only April got a shot and missed.  DANG!  Another dollar donated to the biggest buck contest.  Why Conner and Kenzie didn’t shoot is beyond me.  I wasn’t there, so I can’t say, but that pretty much ended the hunt.  We packed up the camp and came on home after Sunday morning hunt.  Everyone in a great mood.


The next day, Monday, I was on Facebook, thanking one of my facebook friends for telling me where to look for a great antelope buck.  I looked during the hunt but didn’t find it.  He wrote back immediately and said, If I could get back up there, he was watching a nice buck laying out in his meadow.  It would be easy to tag him, as he had never been hunted before and that today was the only day he could give me permission to hunt.  His future father in law owns the land and as long as he was there, he could grant permission, but that he had to leave later that day and could not give me permission to hunt after this day.  I quickly called Weasel to see if he would like to go back to maybe bag this antelope.  Of course he wanted to go!  We were back in the area within 2 hours!  There is something about hunting that drives a hunter to do what he has to do to get things done!

Well, at the ranch, we made a plan, none of us had a clue as to how to approach this buck.  He was laying out in an open meadow, with 6 does just a few yards from him.  If we were to get to a hiding spot to the south, and my facebook friend could move the animals with the 4 wheeler, they might just come close enough for a shot.  Well, that was the plan.  As soon as Weasel and I were in position we messaged my friend and he started the 4 wheeler and made a big circle to the other side of the buck.  All the antelope got up and moved toward us.  BUT…as antelope will do, they knew something was amiss, because we had spooked some cows off the hill we were hiding on when we arrived.  They would not have anything to do with the hill we were hiding on.  They came a ways and then turned and high tailed it straight away and jumped the fence to the other land owners property.  Meanwhile the buck came as if he would be right in our lap, suddenly he too turned and went straight away to our right, and circled us…his route took him far beyond the ranch and then down among the cattle and back to where he was laying when we jumped him.  I quickly ran to the end of a fence and found a nice hiding spot, but the buck suspected foul play and ran straight away and over onto BLM land, never to be seen again!  DANG!  (I’m saying that alot).

By  now it was about 3 pm, only a couple or 3 hours until dark.  We decided to take a long route back to where we had been seeing the “smallish” antelope buck during the muzz deer hunt.  Weasel saw some country he had not seen before, but it was all antelope country and not anywhere any respectable muley buck would visit.  Upon arrival at “the place”, we immediately spotted a sizable muley buck on the ridge.  The buck went into some brush and layed down.  But what was that just below there?  Sure enough that same antelope buck and two does we had seen several times before during the muzz hunt.  We decided to put a sneak on them.  My plan was to go straight at them and see what they would do.  Sure enough, I was about 300 yards from them when they ran up over the top of the hill and out of sight.

Back at the truck, Weasel suggested we go up a 2 track road up toward where we last saw the antelope.  Good plan.  Up we went.

 

As we approached the top, we spotted the buck and two doe.  He was busy trying to keep the two does close but they had other plans and ran over the top.  We continued up to the top and then decided I should grab my gun and walk over to the edge and look down the hill.  Maybe, just maybe they would be within range just down the hill.  So, with that plan, I slowly walked forward, constantly looking down for any sign of an antelope.  When I was in a position to see almost to the bottom of the hill, I spotted one of the does.  Then the other.  Where was the buck?    They were about 250 yards down hill from me and I scanned the valley looking for the buck.  Just like spotting the does, suddenly, there he was standing looking toward the does.  I don’t know for sure, why the does had not spotted me, but I suspect because I had my full “leafy suit, with head gear and mask” on, that maybe they just didn’t see my outline, maybe it was the sun at my back, and perhaps a combination of both of those, but they didn’t even know I was there.

I ranged the buck…194 yards!  Dang!  Thats almost twice the distance I like to shoot.  I thought seriously about the whole hunt…the distances I had been to this same buck several times before.  This was the closest I had been.  I thought, my friend Dry Dog shoots this distance all the time at deer and he brings them back to camp a lot of times.  Yes a few wounded ones as well, but am I better than him at these ranges?  I just don’t know.  I’ve never taken this long a shot before.  After battling it out in my own head for a few minutes, I decided, If I could get to this “one spot” and sit down, with a good rest, I would take the shot.  I inched forward to a point where I could sit, and rest my rifle on my knee.  Neither the buck nor the does moved as I sat down and readied for the shot.  I pulled my binoculars up one more time to verify it was the buck.  And then the range finder to verify the distance.  194 yards on a 19 degree slope.  My mind raced, should I aim right where I want to hit?  Do I aim high?  Do I aim low?  I’ve not been in this situation before.  The distance had me really thinking.  Well, I finally decided the angle would compensate for the distance and I should just aim where I wanted to hit and let it fly.  So, with the most careful shots I’ve ever taken with a muzzleloader, I put my open sights on his front shoulder and squeezed the trigger carefully.  The hammer falling actually surprised me and the gun going off was a smooth transition.  I heard the bullet strike the buck, but it wasn’t where I wanted it to hit him.  Quite a bad shot actually, and I hit him in the right hip, breaking his leg.

He ran about 100 yards, his leg flopping side to side…I was sick and stood there watching him through the binoculars and praying to God he would drop.  He stopped and laid down.  I stood there with binoculars to my face, not believing what was happening.  He should have gone right down with that shot.  But the shot was not where it should have been.  Then thinking back to when I went to the range and tried the Powerbelt bullets.  I was left about 3 inches at 100 yards with all 3 shots.  Sure, 200 yards would put the bullet at least  6 inches left at 200 yards and that is about where it hit.  Damn!!!

Weasel came down to where I was at and asked if I had hit him.  I said yes, but it was not a good shot and that the animal was laying “right over there”…he looked with his binos and saw it laying there.  I began to reload at that time.  Something I would  have done immediately on any other shot.  I was in shock.  And my mind was in unbelief  that I didn’t just plain out and out kill him with that shot.

We made a plan that Weasel would go back to the truck and work down toward the buck, while I inched, quietly down the hill toward where it laid and should it get up, I’d shoot it again.  That was the plan and as Weasel came down the hill with the truck the buck did eventually stand back up and I placed a finishing round between its eyes.  Again, I thank God for giving me this opportunity and providing me with this fine animal.  Thank you to  All those who helped me harvest this animal and the DWR for allowing this hunt to take place.

 

Almost like the picture on my shirt!  I’ll take it!  Thank you EVERYONE, who supported my hunt!  I love you guys!

Bears Butt

October 18, 2018

Written on October 18th, 2018 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

2018 is a year to remember, especially the hunting seasons.  Let’s start with the archery hunt.  As usual it takes 365 days to arrive, but seems like 2 days to end.  Even though I spent 27 days in the woods hunting between the archery hunt and the muzz hunt, the time slipped by so dang quickly it wasn’t even funny.  My poor puppy at home would have another thought on that, but I digress.  As the year progressed, Utah’s weather just wasn’t normal.  I think we had a total of 1 inch or rain from April through September and then the rains made up for the rest of the year.  But, the archery hunt begins in August around here and so it was very dry and dusty in the mountains, as you are about to see.

Weasel and I had made our plan to take Cody “Squirrel” and Kenzie “Ricochet” up and hopefully get them some shooting and maybe even a buck or two.  They certainly had earned the right to be there and had been practicing hard all summer long.  Both of them very capable of a 20 yard shot with their bows.  Even possibly out to 25 yards if needed.  Unfortunately for me (and ultimately, you), I was trying to free up some space on my iphone and deleted all the pictures I had taken during this “first bow hunt” of the season.  I lost some very good pictures of the two of them in various pictures and situations.  I am sad.  Since then I have created a permanent  backup system to prevent that from ever happening again!  Here are all the pictures I have of the two of them during the hunt.

We had seen a two point cross through this area and they were in hot pursuit.  The deer was never seen again, however.

I can share with you a couple of stories that happened during the hunt:  Weasel and I had decided to split up, one to take Squirrel with him and the other to take Ricochet.  I ended up on Ricochet’s team.  Being as August is the month the Archery hunt begins in Utah, it is also the month School begins for the year and Ricochet had to come off the mountain to attend some important school function.  She missed a couple of days of hunting because of that.  As a result, the weather was showing signs of maybe raining, a welcome thought and if it was to actually happen we would be most appreciative.  I think the animals thought the same.  I had to leave the mountain and travel down to pick up Ricochet at the Hardware Ranch one evening as the storm front was approaching.  It would not rain until the next day, however, but at least we had clouds and cooler temps.  As I was driving down the dirt road to pick her up, I had two different groups of deer cross the road in front of me.  Both groups had bucks in them.  I was running late however and only stopped to take a couple of pictures of the deer.  I could have shot them, as they were not scared and only about 15 yards away.  I hurried down to get her and hoping the bucks would still be in the area when we went back up the road past where they were.  No such luck.

It was a good hour long drive from the Hardware back up to our camp and I was pushing it to get to our chosen water hole before it got too dark.  As we proceeded up the road, we were seeing a lot of wildlife, just no bucks.  Arriving at our water hole and the blind we had prepared earlier, there were two small bucks on the hillside above the water.  Ricochet got out and made a play on them, as I continued down the road to hide the truck.   As I walked back up toward the blind, I could see Ricochet working her way out of the trees and coming down toward the blind.  We both got to the blind about the same time.  She told me she had a really close encounter with one of the bucks and almost got a shot, but it didn’t work out.  We settled into the blind and had about 45 minutes until it would be too dark to shoot.

I wear hearing aids and turned them up full blast (max reception).  With a cow elk tag in my pocket, I was hoping a cow would come down the trail to the water hole and I’d punch my tag.  There was lots of sign of elk in the area, as well as buck deer and other critters, some I hoped would not show their faces (cougars/bears).  Suddenly I could hear something coming down the trail behind us and to my left…could it be an elk?  As the noise of its foot steps got closer and closer, I could tell it was a sizable animal, but most likely not the size of an elk or moose.  Suddenly it snorted and spun around and bounded back up the trail the way it had come.  I spun around, bow being drawn as I did only to see a nice sized buck deer bounding off into the trees behind us.  It had been only about 10 or 20 feet behind us when it smelled us.  I highly doubt it saw us, just the way the blind was set up.  It continued up into the trees and then started making a circle around to our right.  At one point it was skylined and we could see it was a nice buck, maybe a 3X4, with tall tines.  When it got to the point of the trail on the hill, it turned and started down our way!  I was excited and I’m sure Ricochet was too, as it came closer and closer.  It was less than 20 yards from us when it stopped and stood in the trail, looking toward the water hole.  The water was down hill from us and to our left.  Suddenly a doe, came running out of the trees behind us and straight down to the buck.  The two stood there a minute conversing (or whatever wild animals do to let each other know what is going on).  Then she sniffed around and looked our direction.  Then she bounded back to where she had come from.  The buck then looked down the hill to his right, which was straight ahead of us.  There stood another buck, not as big as the one on the trail, but still a buck.  The bigger buck, then decided to leave and go where the doe had gone.  As he did that, the smaller buck came up and stood on the trail where the other had just been.  I just knew, he would continue to the water for a drink and it would give Kenzie (Ricochet) a perfect broadside shot at 10 yards.  The buck stood on that trail until it was too dark to shoot.  When she knew there was no way she would be able to see her sights, she leaned over and whispered to me that she would not be able to shoot.  So we stood up and that buck almost turned itself inside out getting out of there!

We walked the 500 or so yards back to the truck and proceeded back to camp.  A fine evening hunt under our belts.

Meanwhile, Team Squirrel was sitting on their favorite water hole and had a 4X4 buck coming in.  The animal had to do almost what Ricochet’s buck had to do and that is, cross in front of the blind as it went to water.  Squirrel would have about a 10 yard shot if the buck continued on the trail it was on.  The problem they had was a domestic cow was also getting a drink from that water hole and thought she owned it!  Long story short, it ran that big buck off, 4 times.  It never got any closer than 40 yards and Weasel told Squirrel, “If it comes back a 4th time I’m going to shoot it”!  Squirrel agreed and encouraged his dad to do just that!  It never came back.

And so, was the fact that there were so many animals out and about this particular evening because of the barometric pressure of the upcoming storm?  Was it just because we had a day of cooler, cloudy weather?  A combination of the two?  I don’t have the answer, but it sure was exciting to see critters so very close and almost getting shots!  Those were the two closest encounters for these young hunters during their season.  As their grandfather, it was exciting to be with them in camp and in the blinds.  They are troopers and good hunters.  I hope I have MANY more days in the field with them.

Well, we call that archery hunt number one.  We had a family/friends rendezvous back home, so we packed up and headed down the mountain for a week to enjoy that happening.

Archery hunt number two, began the following Thursday, and Weasel and I had two more evenings before the elk hunt ended.  Both of us hoping we could at least fill one of the tags we had.  Elk is SOOOO good eating!  We checked trail cameras and made our plans to hunt a particular water hole the first of the two evenings.  We chose the one where the 4 point had come in just in case it came back.  It was a good plan, but nothing came in that evening.  A couple of does and fawns is all, but it was still a good evening to be out.  Clear and cool, with a slight breeze (however it was blowing in a direction that didn’t help our cause and actually chased off the animals coming in).  We heard them snorting and stomping as they went up and around us.  That’s hunting.

The last evening, had me sitting on a water hole where I had found a “new to us” trail coming in from a dense stand of pines, so thick you can’t see 10 feet inside of.  The trail was tore up with fresh elk track.  I donned my “leafy suit” and made myself at home watching that trail.  Anything coming out of that stand of pines would be about a 20 yard shot.  I even took a selfie of myself being so sneaky.

As Gattlin would say…”I can see you, but you can’t see me”!!!!

It was getting dark, but I could still see quite well to put an arrow in a critter out to 20 yards, when suddenly down that trail came the sounds of several elk.  My heart rushed into my chest especially when I saw the movement of a cow elk coming my direction!  OH boy!  I readied my tab under the nock of the arrow and tightened up on the string a bit!  The cow came to the edge of the timber and then turned and went down the edge just inside the tree line, down and to my left.  She had two calves with her that came to the edge and stood looking down her way.  The calves had done what I needed the cow to do.  I could have shot the calves, but I was in no mind set to do that.  Besides, had I tried to get one, I’m sure a pass through would have gotten the second one which was standing broadside along side the closest one.  She went down and stopped and it was then that I noticed the breeze was taking my scent directly in her direction.  She suddenly snorted and turned, ran up through the trees the way she had gone, ripped past the calves and they joined her up and over the top to wherever scared elk go, never to be seen again.  DANG!

 

No action for this VAP .166 tonight!

Just as suddenly as she had bolted out of there, the sounds of a very irate bull elk on the hill to my far left, began to ring out into the very late evening air!  He was snorting, bellowing and tearing up some trees and bushes with his antlers.  He was not acting very friendly at all.  He wasn’t bugling, but almost to that high pitched sound.  He continued to raise hell for several minutes, maybe even a half hour.  I decided I might as well make my way to the truck, as it was getting darker and darker.  I had about 500 yards to go to the truck.  I put my pack on and slowly made my way down through the pines toward the road.  I was almost to the road, when suddenly I saw the outlines of 6 cow elk standing on the other side of the road, about 40 yards away from me.  They were all looking up toward the bull elk still tearing up the hillside.  I froze, like a dummy, instead of trying to close the distance and getting a shot.  My thought at the time was, why wasn’t Weasel with me, he could have taken this shot!  40 yards is nothing for him.  I’ve seen him hit the bottom of a beer can, consistently out to 60 yards!

And so ended our archery elk hunt for 2018 !  Exciting, but no meat for the freezer.

You know, it isn’t about the harvesting of animals, it’s more about just being out in nature.  Being with friends and family and enjoying time away from the every day and the modern stuff.  Even though we still rely on trail cameras, iphones, gps, 2 way radios.  We also get to see the beauty of this world and what God has created.  The animals in their natural environments, doing what they need to do to survive. 

 

 

Seeing what was left behind as they traveled the trails trying to survive.

 

 

The clear sky’s filled with stars that city people just don’t get to see unless they leave that environment to see it. 

 

 

The dust that accumulates because of the lack of rain 

The sounds of coyotes howling in the night that sometimes keeps you awake and sometimes acts like a yoga chant that lulls you to sleep.

The sights of animals a lot of people will never see in their entire lives, and we take it for granted all too often.

Just being there!  Getting dirty along the way and then cleaning up as best as you can, given what you have.

YES!  I sure hope I have a lot more days like these!  And let’s not forget why we get up early!

And if that isn’t enough!  Sometimes, God smiles down on you with the bounty of the land that insures you can share with your friends and family.  I thank God each and every day for this success!

And Yes, it is the biggest the mountain had to offer.  One shot, that’s all any of us can ask for!

Bears Butt

October 18, 2018

Written on October 18th, 2018 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

I recently posted a story on my cow elk hunt in which the title says “…..be certain of your target”.  I’m sure a lot of you wondered about that title because the story didn’t have anything in it about that. Well, here is the rest of that story.  I couldn’t tell it at the time because of all the “on goings” surrounding the story you are about to read.

Tracker and I headed out early in the morning to try once again to fill my cow elk tag.  It was a very cold morning, cold enough to freeze the water in our hydration packs long before we got to where we thought the elk were.  I wanted to be in a certain spot when it got light enough to be able to shoot and with a nearly full moon the hike in would not necessitate the use of any artificial light source. It was a beautiful but cold hike.  About a mile up the trail we came to the spot I wanted to be and we started seeing deer as it got light enough to be able to shoot.  A small 2 point was well within shooting distance and it was soon joined by another that was much bigger…still a 2 point, but an older deer for sure.

As we stood glassing around the area, I soon spotted my cow!  High up on the hill next to an oak brush pocket.  I pulled my range finder out and tried to get a reading on it.  Either it was the cold that kept the rangefinder from working or the animal was farther than 500 yards away, either way it wouldn’t read the distance.  But after a quick discussion, Tracker and I decided we could get closer than the distance we were from it.  There was a lot of terrain and brush around to keep us hidden from the cow and so we made our move.

At just over 400 yards, the rangefinder did it’s thing.  Still too far for me on this cold morning to take that shot.  I put my binoculars on the animal and verified it was indeed a cow elk and all by itself on the hillside.  Looking around at the terrain, we decided we could close the distance by half, if we travelled up a shallow drainage to another stand of cedar trees farther up the hill.  We moved quickly, as I didn’t want the animal to run over the top and out of sight.  This was the first time all season I had a cow elk close enough for a shot and I didn’t want to blow it.

We arrived at the cedar tree and the cow was still standing exactly where it was when we last saw it.  Broadside to us, facing to our right.  I had to duck below the cedar tree limbs in order to get a ranged reading on it and the rangefinder said it was a bit over 200 yards away.  A perfect shot for my 7mm Mag.  Using a limb from the cedar tree, I settled the cross hairs on its back and slowly squeezed the trigger.  At the report I figured I would see the elk drop in its tracks.  It did nothing.  Just stood there.  I asked Tracker if he had seen where the bullet hit and he hadn’t.  He was taking his normal video of the hunt and had it focused in on the animal at full zoom…60 power if I’m not mistaken.

My rifle is a single shot and so I popped out the spent cartridge and pushed in a fresh round.  Again, I settled the cross hairs on the top of its shoulder and pressed the trigger….BOOM….nothing!  Tracker said he saw the bullet impact near the animals head and behind it on the hill.  That is when I realized my rifle is sighted in for 200 yards and by holding on top of the back it would be going over it!  What a dummie!  I again ejected the spent round and slid another in place.  This time the cross hairs were settled in the middle of the animals chest and again the report sounded through the clear and crisp morning air.  The cow dumped in its tracks and slid down the fairly steep hillside in the snow.  I chambered a follow up round just in case, but she  laid there dead as dead could be after that last shot.

Tracker had bumped his camera before that last shot and when I said, well, now the work starts!  She is down.  He questioned that to me by saying “Down?  Down?  It’s still standing up on that hill!”  No it’s not, she is down in a heap right where she was standing…was my reply.  Then again he said, well I can see it in my view finder and it’s standing right up there.  He pointed in the direction of the second animal.  I pulled up my binoculars and sure enough there stood a calf elk.  A bit higher on the hill than where my dead cow elk was laying.  Well, I guess I just shot its momma, was my reply to Tracker.  But then I said, let’s get up there and take care of her….and with a slight snicker, I added…I hope it isn’t a bull I just shot.

We hiked up the steep hill to where the elk lay dead.  It took us awhile to get to it because it was slippery in the fresh snow and the steepness of the hill and the yellow grass that was laid down with the snow.  When we got to the elk, my heart sank big time….there lay a small bull elk.  A spike with horns about as big around as a grade school pencil and maybe 18 inches long.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  My mind raced back to our first spotting it.  I was certain it was a cow I saw through my binoculars.  At the 400 yard area I was sure once again it was a cow.  Through the 12 power binos I did not see any sign of horns on top of its head.  But then at 200 yards, I didn’t put the binoculars on it.  I put the 6 power range finder on it, but only to get a distance reading.  I wasn’t looking for horns at that moment.  I already “KNEW” it was a cow.  Even through the scope, my concentration was on the cross hairs and the chest area of the animal, not it’s head…again I “KNEW” it was a cow elk.  And after it was down and Tracker saw the calf, I “KNEW” I had just shot a cow elk.

Oh boy was I in a state of deep depression.  Probably the smallest spike elk on the mountain was laying there dead as dead could be and all because of me.  All because of me not pulling up the binoculars at 200 yards and looking closely at its head for any sign of antlers.  All because of me being in a hurry to fill my cow elk tag.  All because of me NOT doing what I have ALWAYS done and that is verifying my target before taking the shot.  Oh well, I did it and now I have to pay the consequences of my actions.

Tracker and I tried to pull the animal around so I could clean it out and we could begin the task of taking the meat back to the truck.  In so doing, we saw some hunters on horseback coming up the trail.  I asked Tracker if he would mind going over and intercepting them to see if they had a spike elk tag and would they like to tag it.  He did so willingly and while he was gone I proceeded to gut it.  Even a small spike elk is a big animal but I managed to have it cleaned when Tracker came back with word that they did in fact have two spike elk tags and they would use one to tag the spike I had just killed.  I was somewhat relieved by that.  We moved the animal into the shade of the oak brush and marked it with Trackers blaze orange vest so they would be able to find the elk later in the day. I also zip tied one of my Bears Butt calling cards around an antler.  I did that because I thought, what if they don’t come and get it and then someone else comes along, sees the vest waiving in the breeze, investigates and finds a spoiled carcass of an elk…I am the responsible party here.  I will need to face the consequences of my actions.  It is my fault and if they don’t come and take the animal I am the one who caused it to lay there and spoil.  I’m not trying to hide anything.

Well, with the animal cleaned out, the cavity propped open with a stick, tucked away in a shady spot, Tracker and I headed back to the truck.  My cow elk hunt is over.

All the way back to the truck…up to Tracker and Bones cabin for some last minute winterizations… and the long drive home, my mind was racing and spinning about what had happened this day.  I mulled it over and over and wondered why on earth I had not taken one last look through my binoculars to try and put antlers on that elk.  I always make sure that what I’m shooting at is what I have a tag for…ALWAYS….but not this time.  My failure to follow through one last time…one last look.  At home, over a cold meat sandwich I made my mind up that I needed to call the poaching hotline and turn myself in.

Sure, I had made a mistake and didn’t identify the animal.  I shot a bull instead of a cow and then found someone who would tag it and take it home.  The animal will not go to waste.  I was done, no harm, no foul…..The DWR won’t know it even happened…everything will be alright.  BUT, in my mind, I would live with that decision the rest of my life.  That is not the right way to do things in this world.  Not the right way at all.  I had the number for the investigating officer in my phone and I made the call.  Matt, I have a confession to make.  This morning I mistakenly shot a bull elk while hunting for a cow.  No, the animal is being tagged by someone I don’t know who has a spike tag.  The animal will not be wasted.  I’m sure they have taken it off the mountain by now.  No, I don’t know who they are.  Yes, I’ll be home this evening, you can come and give me a ticket.

The conversation went something like that over the phone.  Later that evening he pulled up in his truck and came into the house.  He thanked me for being honest and then proceeded to tell me some of the laws of the State of Utah about what I had done.  His words hit me hard as I was unaware of some of what he said.  Shooting a big game animal that you do not have a tag for is a Felony in Utah.  Fines upwards of $10,000 can be enforced.  Loss of hunting privileges for up to 5 years.  Possible jail time and court fees.  Loss of equipment used in the taking of that animal.  AND besides all of that, the animal belongs to the State of Utah!  You can not go around shooting animals that belong to the people of the state and then give them away to someone else!  That animal did not belong to you to be able to give it away like you did!  The person who tagged it and took it off the mountain is also at fault for receiving property that did not belong to you!  That person committed a felony as well.

Oh my hell.  What have I done?  Not only am I in trouble, but I involved a complete stranger in my stupidity.

He didn’t give me a ticket at that visit but insisted we keep in touch and that he would issue a citation after talking to his supervisor and doing a bit more investigation.  He wanted to see any pictures that may have been taken and we went to Trackers house and looked at his video of the scene.  Tracker was more than helpful to give them a copy of the shooting, but in it, there was no hard and clear evidence that I had indeed killed a bull elk.  You could see the missed shot hitting the dirt behind the elk (my second shot) and you could clearly see it was a small spike elk, but Tracker had bumped his camera and by the time I shot the third shot, he was zoomed in on the calf elk, farther up the hill.  The next scene was me standing over a dead elk, but you could not see the head and antlers.  There was NO proof positive that I had shot a bull elk.

Later, Matt confessed that his supervisor told him to drop the case, as there was no evidence.  But it was my insistence that I had indeed shot a bull and that I needed to pay the consequences of my actions.  I would have been fine with it all because I did turn myself in, had he not cited me, but he did.  On the ticket, he stated there was a $0 value to the animal that was taken.  That meant to me that he was very grateful for my action to turn myself in and that more hunters should take responsibility of illegal actions in the field.

I had to wait until yesterday, November 28, for my court appearance.  I met with the State prosecuting attorney and told him my story.  He called Matt and the two of them discussed what should be done in my case.  We made a plea agreement and the judge ultimately concurred….I will pay a $200 fine to the Poaching fund and tell my story to a Hunter Education class in either Box Elder or Weber Counties.  (If someone has a class going on and wants me to come and tell my story, leave me a message on here).  After sentencing, the judge too commended and thanked me for my actions and taking responsibility for what I had done.  He too wished more hunters would be responsible Sportsmen.

Talking to the attorney, he said that minimum charges for a case like this is $500 for the court fees, $1500 for the animal taken and $1500 for giving away state property.  And that my punishment was extremely small, but because of all the circumstances and for me turning myself in, when I could have just walked away, was the reason I was given what I was given.  Let’s not punish the ones trying to do the honest thing.

Well, there is the story.

Lessons learned:  ALWAYS MAKE CERTAIN, BEYOND ANY DOUBT, THAT THE TARGET YOU ARE SHOOTING AT IS WHAT YOU HAVE A LICENSE TO BE TAKING

ALL ANIMALS IN UTAH BELONG TO THE STATE OF UTAH.  UNLESS YOU HAVE A LICENSE TO POSSESS THE ANIMAL YOU HAVE JUST TAKEN, YOU DO NOT OWN IT                                     AND CAN NOT GIVE IT AWAY, OR CAUSE IT TO BE WASTED. (Side note:  You can NOT give your dead deer or any animal away while in the field.  You can only give that animal                                    away at the recipients residence, a butcher shop or at your own residence.)

YOU CAN NOT TAKE POSSESSION OF AN ANIMAL THAT HAS BEEN ILLEGALLY TAKEN BY ANOTHER.  WHETHER IN THE FIELD OR ANYWHERE ELSE.

Those are the lessons I will be sharing with a class taking hunter education.  You see, there is more to hunter education than being safe while hunting.  There are laws that govern ethics.  I feel a whole lot better now that you all know the story.  It’s been a long, long month of trying to keep this a secret.  But I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag before I knew the outcome of the entire process.  THERE…I can sleep better now.

November 29, 2016

Bears Butt

Update:

Tracker started feeling like he was part of my issue and asked me to do him a BIG favor.  Of course I will do him a BIG favor.  He handed me $100 to pay half of the fine to the Poaching Hotline.  I didn’t want to take the money and I tried to give it back, but he insisted, so I took it.  He feels like because of him going and talking to the other hunters who eventually took the animal that he should be involved with the fine as well.  At any rate, his conscience is clear.

Last night I went to a hunter education class in Roy and told my story to the 40 some students in the class.  As I spoke to them a couple of them were cringing in their seats (I’m not sure why) and there was one lady in her 30’s with tears before I was done.  There was nothing to be so emotional about, at least in my mind, but she was taking it pretty hard.  Some of the really young kids didn’t seem to be understanding what I was trying to tell them, but the bottom line I repeated at least 3 times were the “lessons learned” in my story above.

When I was done, I fielded a few questions from the audience and then the instructor asked me a question or two.  I thanked him and the class and then came home.

I had a very good feeling as I told my story and after I was heading home, I even felt better about it all.

I will GUARANTEE you that I will NOT take a shot at an animal that I can not ABSOLUTELY identify as one that is legal to take with the license I have in my possession.  If I do make this type of mistake again, I will quit hunting all together.

Bears Butt

It’s March 2017,  I made my way up to Logan to the 1st District court with my papers in hand…one showing where I did in fact pay $200 into the Help Stop Poaching fund with the DWR and the other a signed paper showing I presented my story to a hunter education class in Roy.  They took copies there and then sent me across the street to the county building.  There, I went to the county attorney’s office and again copies were made of my papers.  Now, except for the six months probation, I have completed my obligation to the court system.  I expect to receive some sort of release papers from the county attorney once my probation time is up, sometime late in April of this year (next month).

Bears Butt

Written on November 29th, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

This is the next to the last day of the general, any weapon deer hunt in Utah for 2016…going out with FlashPan and Weasel to see if we can’t find a buck for FlashPan!  We are headed up over Monte to a secret spot on the other side.  Let’s hope we can fill his tag….let me tell you…this has been one Hunting Fall for this guy!  More to come later today!  Wish us luck!

October 29, 2016

Bears Butt

NEXT DAY:

We arrived at the mouth of the canyon we chose to hunt just after first light.  The sky was cloudy and there were low hanging clouds on top of the mountain.  The fog up there would make it difficult to see very far.  As we drove up into the canyon we spotted a sizable hurd of deer on a hill side….17 does and fawns!  That was a difficult thing to accept…not even a small buck in that group.  Our hopes were high as we continued up the road.  After all was said and done we had seen 25 deer but no bucks.  The deer were not that high on the mountain.  No tracks in the rain soaked mud.

We decided that even though it was noon we would go to another place that might hold a buck or two.  We stocked up on gas and goodies and headed for area number 2.

Arriving there we found a whole lot of other folks who were thinking just like us.  In fact I have never seen so many hunters in this area before.  We talked with a couple of guys we know and they said that their hunting party had taken a 4 point, 3 point and a couple of 2 points out of there and that there were a lot of deer, just not too many bucks.  That boosted our hopes and off we went.

It didn’t take long before we began spotting does and fawns and then all by itself against a lone cedar stood a small 2 point buck!  Over 400 yards away, but a pretty good chance we could close in on it for a 200 yard shot.  Conner was shooting Weasels 243 which is plenty of gun for a 200 yard shot on a smallish buck.  We closed in and my range finder ranged it at 208 yards.  Conner settled in on an open branch of a cedar and began his meticulous aiming.  Buck fever had him bad!  He took several short aiming episodes and each time he came off the aim with his breath panting.  His heart was racing badly.

The buck on the hill was doing its part by not moving and stood broadside for the longest time.  Nothing but space separated the buck from Conner!  Finally Conner had part of his wits about him and touched the trigger.  The bullet went wild and missed the buck.  He cranked in a second round and again used the cedar tree branch as a rest.  Weasel and I hadn’t noticed how Conner was using the cedar tree rest and when the gun belched out and the bullet missed the buck wide and left, it was all over for shooting at that buck.  Instead of resting the fore stock of rifle on the branch, he had used the barrel of the gun.  The buck was last seen going up and over the top of the nearest ridge…un touched.

It was an exciting thing for all of us and a buck that might make it to maturity…maybe….

We continued to explore around the mountain and relived many good memories, at least in my mind.  Every draw, every ridge, everywhere I could see images of past hunting scenes.  In my mind it was a perfect hunt.

Soon we decided it was time to head for home and off the mountain we came.  As we were about to depart from the area, we spotted a small group of deer high on an open hillside.  All does and fawns, but wait!  Over about 100 yards stood a lone animal…we glassed and glassed and finally the feeding deer raised its head and sure enough it sported a small 2 point frame!  The yardage was just under 350 yards and too far for Conner to comfortably shoot.  We made a plan to get closer and all the time Weasel and I kept encouraging Conner in the fine art of shooting.  Make sure you take the safety off when the buck is in range.  Get a good rest even if it means dropping down on one knee and using the other as your rest…the story goes on and on.  Conner is a great student and listens closely to every instruction.

Remember the turkey hunt where the gobbler was 5 yards away trying to go through a mesh fence?  His instruction was to shoot it in the head….

We closed in on this buck to within 200 yards and then the buck laid down!  WHAT?  There was just a small patch of brush on this whole hillside and the buck laid down!  We again instructed Conner that as we approached the buck would stand up and begin to move off.  He needed to make sure he had a good rest and take the shot even if it was running across the open hill.  We slowly moved closer to the bedded deer.  At about 50 yards, Weasel and I could not believe the buck had let us get that close and still not get up.

We forgot to change the instructions we had given Conner.  At closer than 50 yards, all he needs to do is put the scope cross hairs on the animal once it stands up, and pull the trigger.  At this point I began filming the action with my phone camera.  You decide if we messed Conner up:

Well, it was fun.  In the video, we said the buck looked like it was hit with Conners first bullet.  We followed the trail around the hill and saw the deer about 500 yards across the mountain and running up and over the top.  It was limping but not from a shot Conner had taken.  The deer was favoring its right front leg and it looked like it might have had a broken foot.  No blood could be seen.

Well, that ended Conners mule deer hunt for 2016!

Bears Butt

Written on October 29th, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

BadgerBroadheadAndMyBuck

Hunting season!  Man O man, this year I think my mind has been on hunting season since I first applied for my tag back in February or so.  It was my first year to apply for the archery tag after over 40 years of muzzleloader hunting.  I was hunting with a muzzleloader long before Utah even had a season dedicated to that weapon.  So to apply for an archery tag was quite a deal.  After I pushed the send button on my application my mind went immediately into “practice, practice, practice” mode.

I wasn’t so sure of myself shooting a bow.  My groups were all over the map but at least I was hitting the paper the target was printed on.  I had to tighten that group up and practice was the only way to get it done.  It was about mid year when I came across the “fixed crawl” method of shooting and from there the rest is history.  I set myself up with that and never looked back.  I shot about 60 to 100 arrows each day that I could and that amounted to about 5 of 7 days in the week…you do the math.  That was a lot of arrows.  But my practice made my groups tighten up and for me a 10 inch group was plenty good to kill a deer or elk….at no more than 30 yards…..using my recurve bow.

30 yards was my limit…31 yards and it was not for me to be taking the chance of wounding the animal.  I had night mares, trust me on that one.

So, when the hunt date finally came, I felt pretty dang good about my abilities to take an animal down with one shot.  Sure, I wasn’t punching 10 X rings every shot, but I wasn’t missing the target rings around the 10 ring too often either.  Weasel and I hit the hills and camped 15 days of the archery hunt!  That is a lot of days afield!  Sure we came home for a shower and to regroup on beer and supplies, but we just couldn’t stay any longer when we did that.  Then it was back into the field for more hunting.

15 days!  WOW!  That’s a lot of hunting days and a lot of time away from home.  Meanwhile the list of “you got to do this when you get back” grew and grew!

When the bow hunt was over came the muzz hunt.  Not that I had a tag, because I didn’t.  My tag was filled during the bow hunt…see picture above….but in Utah you can only hunt one of the hunts…you choose…archery…muzz or any weapon…and you only get one buck deer per year.  I’d love it to be more, but we aren’t Pennsylvania or New Jersey.  So, on the muzz hunt it was more of a camp out for me and Weasel.  We would help where we could to get the hunters onto a buck, but we were there more as a cheering section than anything else.  But we did spend another 6 days afield. It was a fun time!  Add six to the 15 already spent out there and now it’s 21 days hunting.

After the muzz hunt came the elk hunt…..YES!  I had a cow elk tag!  I tried to fill it during the archery hunt, which is perfectly legal in Utah as long as you are hunting with the proper equipment and in the same area as your elk tag.  I saw elk.  I heard elk…I just didn’t get a chance to draw back on one.  But when the elk hunt dates came around…there I was with Hunter and Mike.  We combed the mountains!  We sat on hillsides glassing!  We called!  We sat!  No elk.  No elk anywhere!  We talked to other hunters who had the same luck as us….nothing…..But then again, we were out in the mountains enjoying the out-of-doors!  And it was fun!  Up in the mountains on Friday and out on Wednesday….another 6 days of fun in the mountains!  Add 6 to 21….27!

27 days in the mountains!  Oh my heck!  I have NEVER spent that many days afield…EVER!  Well the hunt wasn’t over just because we came off the mountain!  I went back!  Took a scenic trip around and up and over…this time with Tracker and Bones!  We saw elk…..Two very respectable bulls and a cow and calf.  No chance for a shot.  Then another day we hit another area where we had to hike in…over a mile just to get to the beginning of elk country.  It had snowed the night before and Bones wasn’t quite dressed to handle the cold and wet.  We came out, but we saw elk….four cows, a couple calfs and 3 nice bulls.  Then a couple days later Tracker and I went back into that same place.  We hiked in using the moon light as our guiding light…we saw more elk but I didn’t fill my cow tag.  Add 3 more days to the total…..30 days!

30 days of hunting this fall!  1/12th of the year I hunted deer and elk!

Can it get any better than that?  I saw some incredible sights…beautiful sunrises, sunsets, moon filled nights and stars that couldn’t be beat.  I hiked miles and miles and miles.  Spent a lot of money on food, gas, beer and whatever else needed to be purchased.  I think I did my part to boost the local economies around my home and hunting grounds.

I’m not sure I will ever do this much hunting again in my life, but for this year it was a blast and I wouldn’t change a thing….well, maybe filling my elk tag…but the deer I put in the freezer with my bow was a milestone I had on my bucket list for many years.  It wasn’t a big deer, but it was my trophy and will always be my trophy.

October 24, 2016

Bears Butt

Written on October 24th, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

It seems hard for me to believe, but this is the last day of the elk hunt 2016.  Back in May (or whenever) when I first knew I had drawn a cow elk tag, it seemed like a “given” to tag out.  I had all of the archery hunt to do it (over a month).  I had the 13 days of the “tag dates” to do it.  How could I not fill that tag?

Remember, I sat on waterholes nearly every evening of the archery hunt.  I hunted during rain and snow storms.  I hunted when others were not even getting out of bed.  I hunted high.  I hunted low.  I hunted where the “cartel” told me to hunt and I hunted where my gut said there was a slight chance.

Well, this is the last day and Tracker and I are headed to where we saw some elk the last outing.

Yesterday I talked to Hunter, who has hunted this same area two mornings in a row.  The first morning he had the mountain to himself.  He saw elk, he even got a shot, but because he over thought the shot and over estimated the distance his bullet went high over the mark and the elk just stood there wondering what the noise was.  Yesterday, his mountain was crowded with people and some of those people were not thinking clearly and filled the crisp morning air with the sounds of rut crazed bull elk to the point of obnoxicity (not really a word, but a guy standing on the side of a hill, no elk in sight, and bugling ( in his best interpretation)  his guts out for no apparent reason, when in reality the rut has long been over).  Hunter again saw elk, but way out of range.

This morning, Tracker and I will take the mile or so hike into the same mountain and hope the others will stay at home.  It is going to be a beautiful crisp, cold but clear day, with a full moon.  I have been outside here in good old Willard, and the moon is shining brightly in a cloudless sky.  We shouldn’t even need our headlamps to guide our way up the long trail to the mountain valley where we saw elk sign on our last outing.

In reality, it doesn’t really matter whether we get a shot at an elk, or even see an elk for that matter.  The fact is, you can’t fill an elk tag while laying in bed, or sitting on the couch.  Is there a better place to be than on the mountain on such a beautiful fall day.  High temps are expected to be in the 50’s today with lows in the low 30’s.  Tracker and I should have a great day and hopefully he will fill his camera with good footage of what the Rocky Mountains has to offer.

Wish us luck!

October 20, 2016

Bears Butt

 

 

 

 

Written on October 20th, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

It’s been raining off and on now for 3 days but I have a plan today to put an elk in the freezer.  I’ve been thinking about how my hunting has been going, first with the camping for 5 days, driving all over high and low, hiking in and out and up and down and not seeing any sign whatsoever.  Then the day trip on Saturday…we did manage to see 4 elk at 1,000 yards or more.  Two very big bulls and a cow with a calf.  It was fun to see them and they are so very magnificent even at that distance.  Munching away without a care, while back on the road, 20 guys and gals wish they were closer.

Yesterday was Sunday and I went to watch the young children sing and show off their talents.  It was a very good program.  But the bigger thing was a discussion I had with one of my neighbors about his elk hunting…..That got me thinking…..and so today, I’m going to try something I have wanted to try for a few years now.

Rain, snow, sleet or hail (I doubt the sun will get involved today)….Tracker, Bones and I are going to take a short hike….maybe even as far as 2 miles.  If nothing else comes of this hike, I will prove to myself that there are or there are not elk using this drainage.  Fresh rain means fresh sign.  Fresh sign just might turn into an elk on the ground and a lot of hiking in and out carrying fresh meat.

More will come later today, or tomorrow, if luck falls in my direction!

October 17, 2016

Bears Butt

Later:

We arrived at our spot right on time.  It was right at the snow line which was a surprise to me as I didn’t know snow was in the forecast.  We put on our driest stuff and we all looked like the Pillsbury Doe Boy as we headed up the trail.  The going was slow, slick and sticky and we were trying to be as quiet as we could.  About a half mile in, I spotted two cow elk and two calves on a hill 600 or so yards away.  I thought by the way they were feeding and the direction the trail was headed we just might intercept them before we hit the mile mark.  That never happened.

As we hiked along the rain/snow/sleet began to tapper off but it was pretty dang cold.  At one point we stopped to catch our breath and make a bit of a plan maybe a change of direction, when Tracker spotted an elk way off in the distance.  Glassing it quickly proved it was a nice big bull elk and it had two other buddies with it.  We watched as two of them raked the trees and then decided to spar a bit with each other.  It wasn’t the hard fighting sparring the big boys do during the rut, but it was fun to watch.  Tracker got it on video.  After the sparring match, they wandered up and over the ridge.

It was then that Tracker and Bones decided they would hike up and around the ridge the bulls went and see if they could chase a cow down my way.  I stayed on the hillside and watched.  They were almost to the top when they turned around and came back my way.  My worst fear was that Bones had twisted her ankle or something.  She was using a stick to steady herself as they slowly made it back down from the top.

As it turned out, Bones had worn tennis shoes and her feet were wet and cold from the wet snow.  She needed to get off the mountain and back to the truck for warmth.  She didn’t want to sit and have us start a big fire to warm up her feet and dry her socks and shoes…nope…let’s get off this nasty slick mountain.  So down we came.

While waiting for them to conquer the hill I glassed up two more cow elk lounging on a hillside again over 700 yards away and up a steep slope.  Had Bones not been in the condition she was I would have made an attempt at them.  But I called it a day and we came down to the truck.  Bones was still wet but very much warmed up by the time we got back to the truck.  I think my next and last attempt will be to try and be that one mile up the trail before it is light enough to see to shoot.  That won’t happen for a couple more days however.

Bears Butt

Written on October 17th, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

chrislonghunt2x350

I borrowed this image from the internet (chrislonghunt2X350), as if you couldn’t tell, it shows a rifle aiming at a target 1330 yards away.  Some of us would consider this a long range shot.  Others would consider it a medium long range shot.  It doesn’t matter what you call it, but the target is quite a ways from the muzzle of the rifle.  There is an ongoing argument about long range hunting and we hunters need to gather in some facts and stick together.  If you have the right equipment and practice, practice, practice you will gain a knowledge about your particular type of hunting that makes you very proficient at that type of hunting.  I have some big (to me) issues about shooting long range shots, in that I doubt a shooter will take the time to “go over there” and check for blood after they have taken that long range shot and the animal walked away (that is a totally other subject).  This story is about the history of long range hunting….of course the facts are all contained in my own head, but I want to share my knowledge with you.

To start with, I have been hunting ever since I can remember and my rememberer is getting foggy to say the least, that is why it is SOOOOO important for me to be sharing this information with all of you.  I have hunted with a sling shot, bb gun, pellet gun, shotgun, big rifle, small rifle, muzzleloader, bow, rock, spear (gig), pitch fork, stick, pretty much whatever I thought it would take to bring home the game I was after.  I have bagged pretty much every kind of animal found in Northern Utah, my prowling grounds, except a mountain lion, bear or the once in a lifetime big game animals found around these parts (no tags mean no hunting for them).  Most of my bagged game have been deer, rabbits, a few elk, lots of birds and a few small critters in between.  My point is this….I like to think “I know my crap” when it comes to bagging the game I’m hunting.  Along with that knowledge comes my limitations and I like to think the closer I am to that critter, the better my chances of bagging it in a clean kill, ethical manner (another story that a lot of hunters don’t even consider).

So, back to this story and the history of hunting….nothing has changed in the hunting world….nothing….since the beginning of man and his quest to eat meat.  Let us go back in time.  Back to the “Stone Age”.  Digging deep into my cerebral hemisphere I picture a man walking upright and living in a cave.  A cave that was there waiting for him to inhabit.  Now, I’m not getting into all the religious and or Darwin theory stuff, this man just suddenly appears and is living in this cave.  He has a woman and of course since they didn’t have any TV’s or iPads, they of course had at least one child.  The child takes all the woman’s time…she takes care to make sure the child is fed, is warm and gets to bed early so it is asleep when the man comes home for entertainment (remember they don’t have a TV).

Since “she” is busy in the cave, “he” has to go out and bring back some bacon (meat).  In his quest to do that, he climbs trees, rock outcroppings and does a myriad of other “manly” things that causes his body to get big and tough.  When he encounters a beast, he wrestles it to the ground and breaks its neck.  Brings it back to the cave and they feast on the beast until it is completely devoured.  At this point he has to go back out into the wildness surrounding the cave and do it all over again.

At some point in time, the child (let’s assume a male) grows up and emulates his dad.  “Son”, he says, “This is how we bring meat back to the cave”!  And he shows the young and tough boy just how to get the best of the beast and break its neck.  At the same time he shows him what critters are just too big and tough for them to tackle, as the chance of surviving a battle with one of them would just mean the man would have to go back and make another son (something he is going to be doing anyway, but why wait for that one to grow up to this ones point in life).

The boy learns well, and so with two meat gatherers in the family, life becomes better for the “old man”.  Soon, however the boy wants his own cave and off he goes.  Dad is left with the task he had in his younger days.

Well, one day, while he was out trying to get the better of a beast and break its neck, the man comes across his boy (now a man) bringing a beast of his own back to his own cave.  This beast has had its head caved in with a rock!  A rock!  The man yells at the boy…”THAT IS NOT HOW I TAUGHT YOU!!!!  YOU MUST BREAK ITS NECK!!!!  NOT BASH IN ITS HEAD WITH A ROCK”!!!!  The boy on the other hand scratches his head and says, “But dad!  The rock makes it so much easier!  A couple of quick strikes and the animal is dead and then I have meat to take back to the cave.  I don’t have to be as big and strong as you in order to wrestle them down.  I just grab them around the neck with one arm and bash it in the head with the rock that is in the other hand”.

After much convincing the man gives in to his boys way of doing it and he too joins in the malay of acquiring meat with a rock….life is good in the land of the cave dwellers.  Time marches on and soon the man is gone and the son has had a son of his own and has taught him the fine art of smashing heads with rocks and bringing home the food so needed for survival.  Well, that son goes off and establishes his own family in his own cave and like his father before him suddenly finds his son sitting high on a rock outcropping that is directly above the very game trail he hunts daily.  A heard of game go by under the outcropping and the boy high above drops a huge rock from some 100 feet above the unsuspecting game.  SMASH!!!!!  One of the animals is sprawled out under the big rock.

The man yells up at his son….”BOY!!!!  THAT IS NOT HOW I TAUGHT YOU TO OBTAIN YOUR MEAT!  YOU MUST HOLD IT FIRMLY IN ONE ARM AND SMASH IT IN THE HEAD WITH A ROCK IN THE OTHER HAND!  IT IS UNFAIR TO THE ANIMALS BELOW YOU TO BE SMASHED TO DEATH BY A ROCK BEING DROPPED FROM 100 FEET ABOVE THEM!  THEY HAVE NO IDEA YOU ARE IN THE AREA!  THAT IS UNHEARD OF, GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!”

Of course it takes a bit of time for the boy to come down off the rock outcropping and when he does he gets a royal butt chewing from his dad.  In retaliation he says to his dad, “Dad, you might think it unfair that I drop a rock on top of the meat, but in so doing, I don’t have to be as big and strong as you to hold an animal in one hand while I bash its head in with the other holding a rock.  I just simply find as big a rock as I can pick up, hold it above the game trail and when the string of animals comes along I let the rock go.  It falls and smashes one of them and off I go to feed my family.  It is simply my way, don’t you see dad”?  Dad, scratches his head and goes off thinking about what he had just seen and heard and soon, he too is standing atop a rock outcrop over a game trail with a rock of his own waiting to drop onto an unsuspecting meat bearing animal.

Time still marches on….dads have sons, sons become dads with sons…..it goes on and on, mostly because TV’s have not been invented yet.  And with the sons, comes new and better ways to bring home the meat.  Dropped rocks become pointed rocks on the ends of sticks.  Still the dads yell at their sons who are holding the sticks with the pointed rocks on the end and cuss them out about how they are supposed to drop rocks on top of their meat animals.  The sons explain how they don’t have to be as big and strong as their dads to pick up big rocks and hold them for hours while they wait for the game to come along.  They can be stealthy in the forest and when the animal comes along they jam the pointed rock into the side of the animal and take home a whole lot more good meat than one that has just had a 200 pound rock dropped on it from 100 feet above.  And soon the dad is carrying his own pointed rock stick and sneaking along the forest floor in search of meat.

Suddenly one of the sons has the brilliant idea that if he could propel a pointed rock stick from a distance away from the game trail he would be able to take more meat home to the cave as the animal would not smell him while he is so close to the trail.  He invents a bow!  And when the dad, who is waiting next to the game trail sees his son coming down the trail heading back to his own cave with a meat animal slung over his one shoulder and the other hand carrying a bow and pointed rock stick, becomes very irate and yells at his son for not carrying on tradition!  “YOU MUST HAVE A LONG STICK WITH A POINTED ROCK ON THE END!  TO END THE LIFE OF A MEAT ANIMAL WHILE YOU ARE SO FAR AWAY FROM THE TRAIL IS NOT FAIR TO THE ANIMAL!  THROW THAT BOW AND SHORT POINTED ROCK STICK AWAY AND TAKE THIS LONG STICK AND DO IT THE RIGHT WAY SON”!!!!  But the son soon convinces his dad that more meat is put in the cave without having to be so close to the trail and that he doesn’t have to be so very strong as to be tough enough to jam the pointed rock stick so deep into the animal to cause it to die quickly.  The next time the son sees his dad, the dad has a very nice bow he made and a couple of short pointed rock sticks in his hand.

Soon enough the dad has captured a horse and trained it to allow him to ride it.  Why wait for the meat animal to come to you, when you can go to it….and while you are at it, you can shoot while atop of it and bring more and more meat back to the cave.  In fact, so much meat was being brought back to the cave, that the sons were using the animal hides to create caves without having a rock wall to make it out of.   Soon, all of the cave dwellers were leaving the caves and finding new and bigger sources of meat animals.  The bows and short pointed rock sticks were allowing them to seek larger meat animals.  By increasing the amount of pull the shooter had to pull, meant the short pointed rock stick would fly faster, farther and with more force the meat animal didn’t have to be a small one. Dads everywhere were arguing with their sons that it was just not fair that they could bring home more meat than they were bringing back and that it was the son’s obligation to honor the way his dad had taught him to bring home the meat….”YOU MUST DO IT MY WAY”!!!!!!……………

Quite by accident metal was extracted from one of the fires that cooked the meat and soon (many, many, many years) man was making metal objects and sharping them into knives and spear heads and points to put on the short sticks.  And dads all around the area were yelling at their sons that to place a metal point on a stick was not the way they were taught!  They were to listen to the elder of the dwelling and sharpen the rocks like they were told from the beginning.  Metal points on sticks was not a manly way of doing the meat gathering exercise.   And sons were continuing to convince their dads that it was a modern way, much quicker than sharping a rock and it made a much better cut on the animal and it died giving up its meat in a much more humane way.  And it wasn’t long before the dads were carrying the metal points on their short sticks.

Along came a very intelligent meat gatherer who thought it best to form up a barrel and put some new fangled powder down into it and shoot a round projectile out of it.  Wholly crap did the dads yell then!  A revolution was on the brink of happening with sons gathering up as many barrels as they could find and powder by the stacks were being stockpiled.  They called these instruments “guns” and soon the bow and short metal pointed sticks were out numbered.  Dads joined in the revolution and had their guns and they went out with their sons and brought back tons of meat!

Guns too got to be made different and over a very short period of time a small rock was attached to the side of the gun and when the trigger was pulled it would strike a plate of steel sending sparks down into a chamber that held a powder charge.  The powder charge would then ignite, explode and send the round ball inside the barrel down range at an amazing speed and with very good accuracy!  Dads yell at sons and sons explained back to the dads.  Soon dads everywhere had this type of gun.  They could bring home much meat and not even be close to the trail where the meat animal was walking.  Many called out that it was unfair to the meat animal and that the shooter didn’t have to be “close” to be able to kill the animal!  But alas, the arguments faded away and everyone had a gun like this.  BUT WAIT….more inventions!  Why have a rock that made a spark, when you could put a powder infused cap over a nipple and when the hammer hit the cap, it would pop and send a spark down into the waiting powder charge!?!  You could hunt on a rainy day!  You could keep your powder dry and it would fire nearly every time!  What a thought.

Once again the dads yelled at the sons who were purchasing these type of guns!  And once again the sons were explaining the benefits of such a meat gathering tool to their dads.  Sons were bringing more waterfowl birds back to the dwelling on rainy days then ever before.  The guns were more reliable and so the old flint fired guns found their way to a fireplace and burned up, or converted to the cap firing guns. Dads everywhere were using cap fired guns and having a great time bringing home meat.

But it wasn’t over yet!  A brilliant young man came up with an idea…What if I could put powder in a container, place my patched round ball on top of that container and place the whole thing in the back end of the gun.  Push the cap into the back of that and have the hammer of the gun hit it causing a pop and spark and BOOM…out goes the ball and kills the meat animal I’m aiming at!?!

And so, the beginning of a “cartridge”….patched round balls soon became more pointed….lead became copper coated….lead was soon replaced with another alloy that displayed the characteristics of lead without the problems caused by lead….and on and on.  And with every change came the same dad/son arguments and the fact that it wasn’t fair for the meat animals because they had no idea the hunters were anywhere around and being shot left and right without a clue.  Meat was being brought back to the dwelling by the truck load….yes, TV’s were invented…..the need for meat was being cut back on.  The large herds of meat animals had been decimated etc.  And suddenly game laws were enacted that restricted the hunters as to what meat animals they could harvest, how they could harvest them, how many they could harvest and what times of the year those animals could be harvested.

Dads yelled, sons yelled, everyone yelled…..some for the changes…..some against.

Let’s look at today.  Magnified scopes are now allowed on muzzleload rifles in Utah…..alas poor Eurick…..Muzzleloaders are more like a modern rifle than they have ever been, with shooters able to place hundreds of rounds in a circle the size of a fifty cent piece (or smaller) at 200 yards, 300 yards and farther ranges……..Bows are being made lighter and more accurate with the use of sights, stabilizers etc and rangefinders can be mounted to the risers……Trail Cameras are programmable to send pictures within seconds to a smart phone just a few yards down the trail, signaling the hunter of an approaching game animal…..Center fire rifles are being crafted and cartridges are being scientifically manufactured to consistently allow the shooter to shoot out to a mile and even farther and hit the target.  Big game animals are being killed in another county from those guns.  And the dads are screaming, and the sons are screaming and everyone is screaming….some in favor and some not in favor.

The dads could be screaming in part because of that damned TV invention.

October 3, 2016

Bears Butt

Written on October 3rd, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

Our hunting camp is not any different than most hunting camps, we have our traditions just like others have theirs.  One thing for sure that we share with all the rest and that is our desire to have a safe and fun time out hunting and camping.

Inspired by a lady who was questioning Half Cocked on a Facebook posting he and Dry Dog had put up as they were putting together some kill jugs for this years hunt.

dogandhalfcockedminis                                                                                                                                            (photo courtesy of Dry Dog and Half Cocked)

This is a story about “THE KILL JUG”.

Way back in the beginning of time, well, the beginning of our time hunting with muzzleloaders at least.  We started a tradition of having a shot of whiskey, or whatever makes you “grimace” (shake uncontrollably) when you drink it, after killing our buck.  Around the camp fire the evening of the kill, the shooter would tell his story and then toast to that success by drinking what was made available.  It began as a fifth of whiskey that was set aside for the occasion and expanded over the years to a mini-bottle of whiskey or some other form of alcoholic drink, adorned with the year of the hunt and each hunter received one that was in camp.  Whether the contents were drank in celebration of a kill or not, the bottle was tied to their beaver sharn and became another token and story of its own.

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Empty bottles are highly prized, but often as not, the hunter just wasn’t able to put his tag on an animal that year.  All good things come in time.

As our camp grew in size and numbers of hunters, the purchasing of mini-bottles became an expensive ordeal for anyone to purchase and make up for the camp.  And so, we went back to a single bottle of “nasty juice” for the lucky hunters to partake of (back washes are un-heard of in our camp).  The bottle was in camp and near the bag of “betting money” collected for those who thought they could bag the biggest buck during the hunt (another story), and at the end of the day, it was brought out and a celebration had toasting the big bucks of the day.

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Everyone who had filled their tags would tell their story and then take a big horn off the bottle and hand it to the next guy.  A fun time for sure.

As more time went on, the camp remained a large body, over 20 people in camp each year but not all were hunters.  There is just something about going camping with a large group of fun people that just has to happen every year.  And even if you don’t choose to hunt you are still welcome to come and enjoy the camaraderie and the festivities of the camp.

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The past couple of years has found Dry Dog and Half Cocked delivering individual mini-bottles again.  I think as they ride their motor cycles during the summer they find good deals on mini-bottles and with their big hearts and desire to make sure everyone has an individual momento of the hunt, they make them up and give them to the camp folks.  Each year the momento changes indicating the new year and often times has another token of the hunt adorned on the bottle as well.  Last year (2015) I think they were not only giving a mini-bottle kill jug, but also one symbolizing “finding a cure for cancer”.  Cancer has affected nearly all of us in one form or another.

After a few years one beaver sharn can have enough adornments on it that the owner could carry on a week long story telling about each of the items found on that sharn.  Each mini-bottle symbolizes a full year of ownership and participation in the muzzleload hunts the Willow Creek Free Trappers have been on.  Of course some years have multiple momentos such as is the case when one or more of the group draws a special limited entry hunt tag.  Not only does someone produce a kill jug, but there is usually something else that is special and pertaining to that particular hunt.  Beaver Sharns carry all those momentos.

Well, if you need more information about the Kill Jugs, I guess you will just have to corner one of us and over a drink or two find out first hand just how it all works.  In the meantime PROST!

butt-kill-jug-copy

September 25, 2016

Bears Butt

 

 

 

Written on September 25th, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

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The third leg of our 2016 Archery hunt found us camping in a very nice spot from September 7th through the 11th.  While we were away at rendezvous we were hoping it would rain and settle the dust.  We talked to one guy we named “Joe Serious” who informed us it had indeed rained hard a couple of times.  If that happened you couldn’t tell it from the dust in the roads.

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These mountains are made of red clay and when it gets dry and has a lot of travel on it, the dust is like talcum powder…very fine and it gets into everything.  Before the hunt was over my white beard was a reddish tint.  Of course not washing for 5 days will emphasize that.  But the main issue is the fact that the dust in the roads is about 4 inches deep.  Even in the cattle and game trails it kicks up when you or the animals walk down the trail.  It gets in your nose, eyes, mouth and even in the cooler water with the beers.  We need rain in a very bad way!

Our tucked away camp was just below the highest peak around, one called Monument Peak.  I don’t know the elevation and it isn’t that important anyway.  We placed our camp there so as to be able to take advantage of a somewhat hidden water hole.

ourcamp

We decided to just pull into the spot and when the trailer was level, unhook and call it good.  We didn’t put stabilizers under it or anything else, just chocked the wheels and unhooked.  That worked fine for setting up and getting ready to go home.  Our positioning of the trailer in relation to the terrain was such to have our cooking area out of the wind, which seemed to blow down the draw through those trees every day.  Some days were worse than others, but always an afternoon wind.

When we left before, Weasel had placed his trail camera down at the hidden water hole and we took the hike to see what animals had visited while we were gone.  Our discovery was not a pleasant one.  Only a few hundred pictures of mostly cows and the fact that the water had been cut off from going to this location and it had dried up.  Bummer for us.  We had to go into “new game plan” mode to decide what our evening hunt was going to look like.  We made a plan and stuck to it only to spend another evening sitting where no animals like to play.  We learned a whole lot on this trip about animal movements etc.

We were pretty serious about getting Weasel a shot at a cow elk and tried our very best to make it happen.  This time we didn’t even hear an elk and only saw one, which was in the back of someone else’s truck.  After a Friday evening sitting in what Weasel calls “The Cross Roads”, his chance for an elk ended with his season date and the setting sun.  My hiding spot was pretty cool but my window to shoot was only about as wide as a pickup.  Nothing came through.

panoramaofmysitspot

Speaking of cool….it got down right COLD most of the nights with the coldest temp hitting 19 degrees.  Inside the trailer we sat watching our breath while the coffee heated up and all three burners on the stove going full blast.

heatinguptrailer

Meanwhile, outside the Crisco was beyond shivering as it was frozen solid!  (Hey Crisco….How cold is it? {say it with a Mexican accent})

19degreecrisco

The cold temps helped with some of the Yellow Jacket population but not enough yet.  One afternoon we set out to help cut down the population some.  Placing about an inch of water in the bottom of our liver bucket and sitting back with our “Bug-A-Salt” shotguns we knocked a few from the edge of the bucket into the water below.  Not only fun, but very entertaining as well.beebucketasaltingbeesbeebucketbeforebeebucketafterweaselbugasaltingbeesIf you are not familiar with a Bug-S-Salt salt shooting shotgun, you need to get yourself informed and better yet you need to purchase one from the Bug-A-Salt web site.  These are a hoot to shoot especially during the hot part of the day while hunting and waiting for an evening hunt.

bugasaltandbullets

They shoot plain old salt and a fully loaded salt magazine will give you about 50 shots taking bees off the rim of the bucket from 2 feet away and nocking them into the water below.  Fun times for sure.  And you can count on me having a couple of these bad boys in camp during all my hunts from here on out.

Well, on this hunt we covered a lot of ground we hadn’t covered previously.  We were mostly looking for elk and/or sign of elk and found ourselves over by what I call Gunners pocket.  A pretty little pocket of mixed quakies, pine and chaparral.  Gunner shot a nice 3 point at the head of it some years back.

panoramaofgunnerspocket

That trip also took us past an old abandoned mobil home someone decided they would like to have on public ground to live or camp in.  Right now it is a whole heap of ugly trash that really should be removed from the mountain.

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Every year finds it in another state of ugly.  I wouldn’t even dare walk inside it now as the roof is about to cave in.  Most likely this winter the snow load will take it down.

Our driving around let us find more available water sources and a few animals that were frequenting them.  No bucks however for Weasel to shoot.

doeonridge

Mostly does and fawns.  We were counting upwards of 30 each day.  A couple of small bucks but nothing Weasel wanted to put his tag on.  He is holding out for 60 or more pounds of meat.  Those smaller bucks only have about 30 on them.  Now speaking of meat, Weasel made sure to bring his Flu-Flu arrows in case we saw some grouse.  There were a few around but when word got out that Weasel had those arrows, they got smart real quick.

grouseinroad

weaselstalkinggrouse

Fastest and smartest grouse I have ever seen.  Another day perhaps Weasel!

Hiding at water holes was something we did every evening of the hunt except the last Saturday.

sittingatwaterhole

On that evening we drove around the back roads until dark.  Weasel had a chance at a very nice 3 point but it dashed like big bucks do before he could close the distance.  I think we counted close to 40 deer that day, most of which were seen at evening time.  We were talking off and on with others hunting in that area and they were telling us about the deer they were seeing and not getting shots at and the whole time we were sitting at a water hole somewhere hoping for an elk.  I suppose that would have been the only way for us to kill elk and we would probably do the same thing again.  But the thought of shooting a big buck is always a good thought and even though the chance to do that at a water hole is very good, it just isn’t the same as being with others driving around B.S.’n trolling for bucks.

Our hunt took place in an area of Northern Utah that gets hammered every year with hunters during all the big game seasons Utah has.  I won’t tell you exactly, but for those of you familiar with the area should be able to tell where it is by the pictures.  One of the things we try to do every hunting season and every scouting trip in and out, is to pick up trash we see along the roadways.  This trip was no exception and in the back of the truck is a dedicated trash bag for such stuff.  One morning found us at the top of Monte Cristo (looking for Dry Dogs cow elk) and taking a break for a snack of Kippers and Ritz.

kippersandritz

 

 

kippersattopofoldcanyonKippers is a welcome snack to me.  We found where a 4 wheeler had rolled recently and alongside the road was a broken cooler and a lot of paper trash and empty cans.  We cleaned it up as best as we could and surveyed the situation.  Why a wheeler would roll where it did wasn’t exactly clear but with an empty cooler there it is pretty obvious he was not in the best of condition to be driving.  Some of the papers we found had a name on it but we tossed it in the garbage can because it was not papers that were of any value and we figure that the rest of his party probably wanted to get him and his rig to a doctor quickly.  If by chance “you” are the party that rolled your rig and you are reading this, be sure, we threw your stuff in a garbage can that has probably been moved to the land fill by now, your name is safe with us…besides I can’t remember what it was anyway.

So, picking up trash is something we do and sometimes we have to wonder just why we are worried about it anyway, it doesn’t seem like too many others care.  We stopped to pick up a piece of barbed wire that no doubt had fallen from a ranchers truck.  It snagged on stuff all the while and caused all sorts of discontent one day when it snagged my camo pants…I cussed a bit over that one.  Anyway, while we were sitting in camp one afternoon I thought about a gate that leads from private land onto public land that we have to open every time we enter or leave the public land area.  The rancher who put the gate there must be 6 foot 10 inches and strong as an ox, because the gate is heavy and very hard to get open and closed.  In fact I can’t do it by myself, I have to have Weasel’s help.  With that in mind, I decided I would take a piece of slick wire I had picked up and make a wooden gate closer.  Then on our way out we would fix it to the gate and make things easier for everyone who enters and leaves this gate.  And that is exactly what we did on our way home Sunday.

The bottom wire, where the gate post is placed was so close to the post you had to really heave-ho to get the post into the wire it needed to be place in….so….out came the barbed wire we had been kicking around and we extended the bottom loop.

bottomgatewire

Then wrapped the slick wire to the upper portion and fixed it so even a young kid could leverage the gate closed!

weaselclosinggate

Weasel was so happy when all of this worked out for the better!

wayhappyweaselwithclosedgate

And there you have it folks!  Our 2016 archery hunt has come to a close, just like this gate.  We spent a total of 15 days in the mountains and had the time of our lives.  We saw deer, elk, coyotes, moose, antelope, porcupines, weasels, squirrels, chipmunks, birds of all sorts, cows, horses, sheep, badgers….the list goes on….with the aid of some hearing enhancers I even heard elk talking back and forth…that is something I would not have heard without them.  I watched as a Weasel was bullied by a squirrel and all the while I expected the squirrel to become weasel lunch.  I saw many things while sitting at those water holes that were amazing to watch.  I came to realize that every critter in existence has it’s own unique personality and that even though it is a wild being it still has an entertainment factor beyond belief.  I had a squirrel drop pine cones on me and then come over and take the cones to its hiding spot to eat at a later date.  Some of the things I saw would not have been seen had I not spent 13 nights sitting at a given spot for two or three hours just before dark.  I guess what it all boils down to is this:  Just sit down and observe your surroundings for a couple of hours, while you try not to move, or if you do, move slowly and try to be quiet.  Especially in the woods.  You sill be very surprised at what you see.  Once the critters around you have decided you are not a threat, they come out of every nook and cranny there is.   As a final note, a few years back, I sat at a water hole with one of my nieces.  We were sitting in the vehicle with the front doors open so we could get out quickly if a deer or elk came by.  We sat there for about 3 hours as darkness came on.  After just a few minutes of us being quiet, out came several deer to munch on the grass around the water hole.  Soon we could hear the sound of a vehicle approaching.  The deer became alert and then slowly (slowly) walked back into the brush and stood still while the vehicle made its way through the area and was gone and out of site.  Out came the deer again and continued to enjoy their evening.  So, the next time you are “spotting and stalking” think about that for awhile.

September 12, 2016

Bears Butt

P.S.  nightbirdinroad

This is a very poor picture of a bird in the road just after dark.  They fly around and land in front of the car, spread out their little wings and sit there waiting for you to run them over (not really).  They fly just before you are about to do just that.  According to my famous source, Tonya Kiefer, with the Utah DWR…they are among the family of birds called “Nightjar” and they like to eat insects that fly around open areas like mountain roads.   Click on this little blue line to read all about them:   

Written on September 12th, 2016 , Archery stuff, Hunting Stories

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BearsButt.com | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man

Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.