By: Bears Butt

MyBowOnQuakie copy

Today, Weasel and I will embark on what I’m calling our Third Leg of the archery hunt 2016.  We plan on staying until Sunday afternoon to come home.  It’s the last three days of Weasel’s Elk hunt and that will be our concentration.  Filling his tag.  And then Saturday and Sunday we will try and fill his buck tag.  However, if a buck happens to come within his range and is big enough (body size, as horns don’t matter), he will take it.  I can still fill my cow elk should I get a chance at one of those.

It’s still very hot in the mountains with no rain in sight.  Highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the 40’s is what is expected.  Everything is SO dry and dusty.

We have a plan and hope all the circles cross especially on his elk.

I haven’t shot my bow in a week and need some practice this afternoon!  More to come when we get back!

September 7, 2016

Bears Butt

Written on September 7th, 2016 , Archery stuff, Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

MyBowOnQuakie

This story is going to take me awhile to put together and I haven’t decided if I should break it into several segments, shorten it or just let it unfold however it goes.  I guess I’ll decide later on.  My journey to take a deer with a bow has only been about a year and nine months in the making.  I have always wanted to accomplish the task but needed a little push by the boys and grandkids.  That happened the Christmas before last when they gave me three old arrows and a kids recurve bow.  After shooting it one time, I think I was hooked.  The next big step was joining a local archery club, “The Brigham Bowmen”.  The fees to join allowed Sherry and I unlimited use of the clubs indoor and outdoor ranges and lessons on how to shoot a bow.  Chris Barton and Lynn Hayes were my mentors in this effort.  Chris taught me the basics…how to hold the bow, draw the string, anchor and release.  Lynn took me under his arm and taught me to try different things until I found a style that fit me and my shooting abilities.  He has been a wonderful help and is trying to get me to understand that there is more to shooting a bow than just hitting the target.  And that something that might work for someone else may not work for me.

I have always been one to “make my own stuff” if I could.  It is a lot easier to go out and buy something that is a necessary part of shooting a bow and I did some of that early on, but as time went by, I began to customize my own stuff and add the Bears Butt squigglie where ever I could.

MyBowOnQuakie copy

Arm guard, camo paint job on the front of the bow, my Spam can bow quiver, range quiver etc.  All of them have the squigglie clearly identifiable somewhere.  I’m not ashamed of any of it and everything is functional.

Well, earlier this year, when it was time to apply for our big game tags, I had a decision to make.  Was I ready for a bow hunt?  I would have about 8 more months to prepare for that one shot.  Or should I apply for a muzzleloader tag like I have done the last 43 years?  It was a pretty big decision… to make the commitment to practice as much as possible and hone my archery skills.  I applied for the archery tag and was lucky enough to draw it.  From that point on it was “sweat time”.  Practicing in the field at 20 yards, then 25 yards and finally out to 30 yards.  I felt pretty confident at 20 but move back 5 yards and the arrows just didn’t seem to be consistent to me.  Well, they were consistent in that they went where they wanted most of the time and not where I wanted them to go.  And then I watched a video by Matt Dernzack called “The Push”.  He suggested that hunters using traditional equipment should prepare themselves for a 25 yard shot using a combination method of string walking and gap shooting, he called it “Fixed Crawl”.  I tried it, set up my bow for it and never looked back.   I place my nock against the side of my nose when I anchor, look basically down the arrow and place the point of the tip on the mark I want to hit and then release.  If my target is at 20 yards I put the point a little lower than where I want to hit.  At 30 yards I place it a little higher.

I practiced pretty regularly every other evening, shooting mostly from the 30 yard mark and shooting about 100 arrows a time.  Always being pushed to practice by Weasel.  If the weather was too hot or windy or whatever, I would practice standing out in the street and shooting into a bale in the back of the garage.  25 yards was about as far back as I could go which is still good practice.  I can’t say I didn’t have some arrant arrows that caused a hole or two in the sheetrock and you have probably read about my ruining 3 brand new arrows when I tried to shoot from across the street at closer to 30 yards and smashed into the backside of the bricks.  So, most of my practice sessions were pretty good and when Sherry would ask me about my session, my comment usually was, “a deer or elk is going to be in trouble”…My confidence level continued to rise with each practice session and I owe it all to the Fixed Crawl method of shooting.  It is now my “form” of shooting and all my backup strings are set the same way.

August 20 was the big day…the opening of the Utah archery deer hunt season…it seemed like it would never get here.  On the 19th, Weasel and I were headed for the mountain.  Our camp choice was already made and we camped in the shade of a big stand of pines that towered 70 or more feet above us.

OurCamp4

It was Friday when we were set up and we had a few celebration beers to break in the season.  Not too many so as to spoil the next day and by 10 p.m. we were sound asleep.  The alarm clock on the little No Grimace carved bear was set for 5 a.m.

BearClockHolder2

That became the norm for this hunt.  Up at 5, a cup of V8 and a hot cup of coffee.  Then it was out to the truck for a 6:30 a.m. ride out to a vantage point and looking for deer.  When a deer is spotted a plan is put into place and a stock made to try and get close enough for the shot.  Sometimes that works out, but most of the time the deer can sense danger and don’t let us get close enough for a shot.  That’s just the way things go and if everyone who put a sneak on a big old buck actually bagged it, there wouldn’t be any deer left.  We had planned to continue this regiment for the entire hunt, spot and stock in the mornings.

As for the evenings, as hot and dry as it has been all summer and the fact that water is at a premium up in the woods, we decided we would find a water hole or two and sit in an area close to it until dark.  Our hopes were for a big buck or a spike/cow elk to come in while there was still enough light to get a shot.  Spot and stock in the morning, rest back in camp during the heat of the day and then sit on a water hole in the evening.  I think 90 percent of the hunters on the mountain did that same routine and so, we probably shared some of the water holes with others and didn’t even know it.

My worst fear has been to wound an animal and not be able to recover it.  I have had several nightmares throughout the summer and so to help keep that from happening, I know I need a close shot.  Hopefully within 15 yards.  I’m very confident at that range even though my practices were only as close as 20 yards.  One thing for sure, when you are that close to a wild animal, it seems like you are right on top of them.  Shooting at that distance would be awesome and I’m sure my adrenaline would be pumping like crazy.  Probably enough to effect my shot in a negative way.

We spent nearly 10 days in the mountains, every day doing our routine and only changing the direction we went for the morning hunt and covering only a couple of different water holes in the evenings.  Even at that, I never once thought about going home early.  We did take a break after the first seven days, came off the mountain for a much needed shower and to restock on supplies.  We were only off the mountain a total of 24 hours.  The days all run together when you are hunting like we were.  Right now I couldn’t tell you which memory I have happened on what day.  The best part is the experience was awesome.  Weasel and I got to know each other a whole lot better and I told him a lot of stories about my young hunting days that I’m sure he had never heard before.  A very good time for a dad and son.

It was the early afternoon of the first day (I know this for a fact, I think) we met an elderly man (Al) and his Son-in-law (Dwight) who had stopped at a solar panel next to our camp to gas up the generator sitting next to it.

SolarPanel

We walked over and introduced ourselves and they told us what they were up to.  Because of the drought the cattle needed water and in order to have water scattered around the mountain the solar powered pump would pump water during the day and the generator would power it during the night.  They felt it necessary to run the pump 24/7.  We offered to help them out for the time we were to be hunting and we sort of assigned ourselves to be in charge of making sure the generator was filled up with fuel and running all night in order to keep the pump pumping water to the guzzlers which were scattered around the mountain.

FullGuzzlers

They were very happy to have us do that and it would save them having to make a trip from town up to the generator and starting it each evening.  Besides the time, there was the factor of gas for the vehicle to get them up there and the extra gas to run the generator while the solar panel was working.  During the course of our hunt we learned quite a bit about their water system.  A bunch of money, time and labor has been put into it and it works very well.  At least until the generator breaks, which happened on the second Friday we were there.  Fortunately, before the generator quit working all the guzzlers in the system were full of fresh clear clean water.  The solar powered pump should be able to continue to keep them full until they have to move the cattle off the mountain.

Until the pump quit working I think we saved them 15 or more gallons of gas and at least 10 hours of drive time up and down the mountain.  Not much in the whole scheme of things but a little relief for Al who seemed to be the guy in charge.  On Wednesday morning when we got back to camp we found this note:

NoteFromAlWe had told Al our plan to leave the mountain on Thursday for our much needed shower, so he would be up in the evening to start the generator.  Unfortunately it used nearly 5 gallons of gas from Thursday evening until we got up there Friday afternoon.  See related article from the Salt Lake Tribune: http://www.sltrib.com/home/4088140-155/we-are-not-all-clivenbundys-rich

Back to hunting:

We were not seeing the bucks we have seen  in the past few years and the does were pretty scarce as well.  A good day of deer sighting was around 10 and only one or two small bucks.  Weasel had set his bar a bit higher this year, as he is counting on shooting a big doe on the Wasatch Extended hunt should he not fill his tag with a nice big buck.  He is not horn hunting, but rather meat hunting.  It is better to harvest 60 pounds of doe meat than 30 pounds of meat from a small two point or spike.  I have to agree with his way of thinking, but this is my first year to hunt with a bow and anything legal that gives me a shot is in trouble!

SundayMorningSpike

SundayMorningSpike copy

My kind of buck on this hunt!  Of course I would try for a bigger one should it come along first, but I’m not being picky at all!

Weasel and I hunted high in the pines and low in the tall sage.  We did see a few deer in all the places we hunted, but just not the numbers we are accustomed to seeing.

DoeAndFawn

DoeAndFawns

And like I said, the number of buck deer is WAY DOWN from previous years.  Drought?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps we were glassing in all the wrong places.

One evening while sitting in camp thinking about going to bed, a vehicle pulled into camp.  We had offered to help a family camped down the road should they need it.  They were calling us on our word.  The young gal (14 years old I think) named Charlott had hit a buck right at dark.  They found the broken off arrow covered in blood.

CharlotsBrokenArrow

DJ (the dad) said he thought he heard the animal pile up, but it got dark way to fast and they didn’t have the means to track the blood trail.  They wanted to go right out and see if we could help them find it.  After a thorough examination of the arrow, Weasel  told them that she had hit it good, but it was hit in the liver.  It would be best to wait until morning to find it and to let it have plenty of time to bleed out and die.

The next morning, we sacrificed our normal routine of spot and stock and went to their camp to follow them to the scene of the shot.  It took about an hour to get there because of the rough roads.  Once there we started our blood trailing.  Charlott was a natural at spotting the small droplets of blood at the beginning of the tracking job and she continued to be a regular blood hound until the buck decided to make a U-turn.  The blood trail lead us parallel to its uphill run as it made its way back down the hill to its death!  DJ spotted the dead buck piled up in the sage brush and Charlott was beside herself with joy!  A very nice buck!  Congratulations to everyone.  That tracking job was one of the harder ones I’ve been involved in.  Remember the saying:  Tracking a wounded animal is “the second hunt”!

CharlotsBuck

That’s the way to get it done Charlott!

On this hunt we saw nearly every animal on the mountain.  Ruff Grouse (no picture), Sharp tail grouse SharpTails

Several mooseMooseAndCalf

A couple of coyotes (no pictures),  Elk (pictures are blurry), Antelope (no pictures), Badger (no picture), A doe standing in a mud hole (more on this one at rendezvous), DoeStandingInMud

HawksHawkInTree

Turkey BuzzardsTurkeyBuzzard

CirclingBuzzards Crows and all manner of smaller animals.

Being out in the woods, smelling the fresh air, listening to the sounds of elk and birds and crunching leaves is really what it’s all about.  Good food, good drinks, good company.  Meeting some of the nicest people in the world.  Laughing, cutting up having a great time.  Does it get any better?

One afternoon, Weasel and I had just fixed up a couple of ground blinds for that evenings hunt and had a couple of hours to kill before we cooked and ate our supper.  So what better to do while sitting around than to make ourselves a self bow and go hunting some wild game yellow jackets.  We made the self bow out of pine and the string was a four strand continuous loop.  The arrow was fashioned after a single bevel point and not fitted with fletchings.  We needed to shoot straight out without interference from the bow hand or riser, so we chose to shoot bare shaft.  The brace height was set at 4 inches with a draw length of 10 inches.  The draw weight was not actually calculated, but we figure it was around a pound.  More than adequate for Yellow Jackets.

 

WeaselHuntingBeeGame

With so many yellow jackets to choose from, we set ourselves up a bait station with some cooked chicken and waited for them to land.  Weasel made a perfect hit on one, driving the single bevel straight into the yellow jackets heart, killing it instantly. Weasel'sTrophy

Fortunately for the hive, the deceased was carried off for others to enjoy.

One morning Weasel and I were just about back to our camp from an enjoyable morning of spotting but no stocking, when suddenly we rounded a bend and there stood a big old buck!  Weasel was the first to see it and excitedly told me to get out and grab my bow…it’s a buck!  Following the routine, I eased out of the truck and grabbed my bow.  I stepped off the road and began a slow sneak to where I thought the buck was standing.  I had not seen it yet.  As I came to a spot on a small rise I could see the buck broadside looking to my right.  I slowly lifted my range finder and pressed the button, 28 yards.  My heart was pounding pretty good at this time and my eyes shifted from side to side making sure there were no branches or obstructions between me and the buck.  Nothing stood out as a problem.  With the buck still standing there, I drew to full anchor, found my mark on the bucks shoulder and released the arrow.

(Digressing:  Earlier in the week I had purchased some “lighted nocks” from a store in Logan.  When I bought them the guy behind the counter asked me if I had ever shot lighted nocks before…I told him no, I had not.  He said, OK…be careful when you shoot and see that little light zipping away, that you don’t drop your bow hand.  It’s a common thing, especially with traditional archery equipment.  I acknowledged his comments and went out the door.)

I’ve made this sort of shot on my targets all summer long and it’s not a problem to hit at least very near the circle of intention.  This time, however, I saw that little light come on and sure as I was warned, I dropped my bow hand and the arrow went right behind the front leg and into the dirt!  DANG!  The big old buck bounded out of sight quicker than a quail can fly.  And I thought to myself…Damn it Wynn, that might be your only chance and you just blew it!  Oh well, such is life.  I started toward the arrow laying on the ground then stopped myself and decided I best nock another arrow, which I did.  Continuing up the trail toward the downed arrow, I rounded a pine and there stood the buck.  This time looking toward my left.  Again, I slowly raised the range finder…29 yards….

I’ve told you before that my practices have been mostly at 30 yards and I’m just not really all that comfortable taking that distance of a shot at a living animal.  A million things ran through my head…the dropped bow at the last shot….my practices at 30 yards tending to group low and right about 8 inches.  I knew the big buck wasn’t going to stick around long.  I drew to my anchor and made sure I could feel the nock against the side of my nose.  The fixed crawl method of shooting has me looking nearly down the shaft of the arrow at full draw and I put the point of the arrow on the spot where the deers neck meets the top of the shoulder.  I reminded myself not to drop the bow and then released.

The lighted nock flew like an “arrow” and burned its way through the bucks shoulder.  It kicked and bounded away, across the hill side.  Once out of sight behind a pine about 10 yards away, I heard it crash to the ground.  I could hardly believe what had just happened and I turned toward Weasel and gave a clenched fist “YES”!  He saw the buck run off and heard the crash, but wasn’t in a position to see the arrow actually hit the animal.

UsingMyArcheryDeerTag

Elated?  Oh man!  Adrenaline rush delux!  I just accomplished a task I have been years wishing I could do.  I silently thanked God for the success I was enjoying.  I thanked God for the perfect shot placement and taking all the bad dreams out of my mind.  I owe this hunt and the success to those mentioned before…Chris, Lynn, Weasel, Sherry and all my family, all of you members of the Brigham Bowmen, Matt Dernzack, Randy Benson and Darin Gardner.  Whether you know it or not, you have influenced my decisions on choices of bow equipment.  You have been a large part of many conversations on arrow weight, FOC, broad head selection….the list goes on.

BadgerBroadheadAndMyBuck

Am I hooked on archery hunting?  You better dang sure bet on it!  I’ll stick with my Samick recurve, 500 spine arrows and Badger broadheads.

I THANK YOU ALL FOR MAKING THIS A SUCCESSFUL HUNT.

I will write a story about the Badger Broadhead and how it did its job.  If you are interested at all in the effectiveness of a single bevel broad head, please read the next story.

August 30, 2016

Bears Butt

Authors note:

The author used a Samick Journey take down bow measuring 64 inches from tip to tip, with 55 pound limbs, Lynn Hayes custom turkey feather rest, a 3 Rivers custom made Flemish twist bow string, yarn found in my wife’s hobby drawer, Gold Tip Kinetic arrows, cut to 29 1/2 inches and weighing 7.4 gpi, 4 inch parabolic cut right wing fletching feathers mounted using a Bitzenburger jig at right helical and Bohning fletching tape.  The broad heads are made by Badger Broad heads and were at 125 grains and single right bevel, nocks by Burt Coyote “Lumenock” in red color.  Chevy trucks, Prowler trailers, Goodyear tires, Rogers eggs, Kroger (Smiths) orange juice, Olympia beer, Keystone lite beer, V-8 Juice, Folgers (that’s what is says on the can) Coffee, Aero Aluminum Coffee pot, Badlands packs, Motorola two way radios,  Great Value Spam, Echo chain saws, Maverik Gas, Diamond “strike on the box” matches, Kroger 2 ply toilet paper, Willard City Utah water, Luci brand solar light system, Fox Valley Tannery (out of business now), Kings pattern camo, Under Armour, Altra running shoes, Bushnell binoculars, Nikon range finders, Colman sleeping bags, Hone Propane, Big Buy bacon, Kroger Texas Garlic Toast, Camp Chef (the way to cook outdoors), Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, Crystal ice, Igloo and Colman outdoor products, Ace Hardware motor oil, The Randolph Woodruff area cattle ranchers, USFS, BLM, Utah State University, Utah DWR, Smith and Edwards, Richard Green’s donation of moose steak, High Country Twisted Trail 3 pepper jerky mix, Necco dehydrators, Zip Lock bags, Gerber, Samsung, Energizer batteries, Nikon, T-Mobil and finally Maytag Freezers.

Bears Butt 😉

 

 

Written on August 30th, 2016 , Archery stuff, Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

BowOnLog

Well, I figured I best post up a story about my progress after my post of target panic.

My mind has been on fire lately, I wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. thinking about the hunt coming up….what do I need to make sure I have….what do I want to leave home…what will happen if…..and it goes on and on from there.  I finally get up and take a needed potty break and then back to bed.  But it doesn’t end there.  I can’t fall to sleep and so I hash over the area I’m going to be hunting in.  The hike into the spot where I know beyond all doubt a cow elk will walk through at daylight or just before it is too dark to shoot.  My mind can not help but race with a million unanswered questions about this hunt….my first bow hunt since I was in my teens, some 50 years ago.  A lot has changed since then.

I dream about being with my friend Dry Dog…long before he got that name…on a bow hunt where he and Weasel were the hunters and I was a meer cook (who didn’t do too well at that I might add).  I was in the blind with Mr. Dog early, early, early in the morning…well before light and as things got light enough to see, the deer seemed to be everywhere!  Big bucks, little bucks, does and fawns.

There were close ones and far ones and all of them were unmistakably unaware of us being anywhere near their presence.  We were tucked away under the bows of a big old pine tree having a great time observing nature at its finest…and of course on a hunt in which the goal was to harvest one of these animals…buck OR doe…it did not matter at that time.  Both were legal game.  My guide and expert marksman, Mr. Dry Dog (then known as Steve), was at the helm of the hideout and insisted I watch the “backside” and inform him through touching that an animal was approaching.  I was a good student and observed quite well how Steve could handle most any situation in the blind.

We had good sized “windows” from which he could shoot and take the game as it walked by.  And he nearly used them all before the morning hunt was over.  When he had exhausted all his six or 10 arrows, we had to leave the blind and go out and try and find all those arrows sticking here and there in various parts of the surrounding shrubbery.  It was fun and we found most of them.  Now don’t get me wrong, I was very pleased that Steve allowed me to join him on this morning hunt.  I learned A LOT!  One…don’t talk while in the blind.  Two, don’t piss off Steve.

You know what Steve said to me?  Well, first off I had been laughing at his ability (in-) at hitting a deer at 10 feet…he said….”Here!  You take the bow and see how good YOU are at it!!!”  I kindly declined and said back to him….”Sure!  You want me to get a ticket for poaching because I don’t have a tag!”  At this point in time he wasn’t really happy with me being in HIS blind with him.  But things settled down pretty good and we are still friends today.

My goal for this years hunt is “Not do what Steve did way back then”….If I can accomplish this, life will be good.

I practiced tonight in the garage at 20 and then 25 yards.  I killed a LOT of elk and deer tonight.  Every neighbor should have a freezer full of imaginary elk and deer steaks and assorted other meat.  No need to thank me now…life is still very good….Target panic?  Not now, I got this.

The memory of the hunt with Weasel and Steve (Dry Dog) is one I have cherished ever since I was invited to go.  I was an “old fart” back then and am an “older fart” now…some say “Jurassic Fart”….I can handle that, Old is, What Old does….whatever that means.   I hope to show Weasel how to quarter a cow elk and pack it back to camp…I’ll even give him pointers on how to do it to HIS own elk and how to load his pack with all the meat (but he has quartered a moose by himself…I haven’t done that).  I will even share my hydration pack water with him.

When it all boils down to hunting, bagging (or not) the game we pursue, studying maps or google earth for water holes, making lists of what to take, packing our stuff, talking to people about the hunt area, making all the plans that seem to always end up being the same from year to year…when it all boils down….it ends up being the friendships, camaraderie, memories stirred and all around good times enjoyed while we are out in and among nature that keeps us doing this year after year.  Ya, I’m 67 now, but I hope I can continue for another 67…not possible, but there is that hope.  For you youngsters…give ‘er hell!

August 17, 2016

Bears Butt

Written on August 17th, 2016 , Archery stuff, Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

3Turkeys

It’s nearing the end of turkey season here in Utah and I have only a couple of days available to try and fill my tag, this being one of them.  Several months ago, while looking closely at Google Earth, I spotted a small pond of water up and away from any roads and I told myself that someday I would take the hike up to that pond to check it out.  Today is going to be that day and even though it has rained heavily the past few days, I still think a turkey just might be hanging around that pond.  At any rate, that is where I’m headed today.

We have a full moon out which should have all the animals excited.  My plan is to be at the trail head just at first light (which means I have to be going very soon) and then slowly walk the trail up to the pond.  Of course I’ll do my usual calling and setting up along the way and on the way out as well.

Turkey hunting is the excuse to go see this pond as there could be other possibilities in the hunting world later in the year.

I have to be in Logan to help Wapiti and Tracker entertain some 4th graders with a mountain man demonstration, and what is a mountain man demonstration without a flint and steel fire?  That is one of my parts in this effort.  So, my turkey hunting will be a rather quick one this morning.

Wish me luck, both with the turkeys and with the fire!

More to come later on.

May 23, 2016

Bears Butt

After 2 p.m.

The hunt turned out to be more of a hike.  I don’t know how far it is, or what the elevation change is, but my feet are killing me!  As a Wild Ass Guess (WAG), I’d say 3 miles one way and only saw one hen turkey…about 300 yards from the truck on my way out.  But the scenery was spectacular!  If you are healthy enough to make this hike do it, and do it soon!  The mountain flowers are at their peak, the air is crisp and the country side is in its prime!  I’ve decided to put the hike under a different heading than hunting.  Probably “uncatagorized” and the title will be something like “Hike to Petes Cabin”….  Go check it out!

Oh and as for the fire….well, I got a lot of smoke and had 90 some kids yelling “GO BEARS BUTT, GO BEARS BUTT”!!!!  It was awesome!  When my hand started burning I put the nest down!  The kids still gave me a big applause!

Bears Butt

Written on May 23rd, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

GhillieHat

Well, once again I find myself sitting here at 3:30 a.m. waiting for the magic time when I head off to try again to outwit a turkey.  This morning’s plan is similar to what I’ve been doing in the past few trips out, but this time a slight twist to it.  I won’t be walking much.  Well, that is what I’m saying right now.

Game plan:  Take Gretchen and set up for the flydown.  Last time out, I took a few minutes and made myself a smallish blind to overlook the ambush meadow.  If a gobbler comes to the decoy, it will be about a 15 yard shot.  I only have one window and so if it goes anywhere else there won’t be a shot.  So….here is hoping.

Once the flydown has happened, I will move my location to a spot about 200 yards away and set up without Gretchen.  There have been too many days afield in this area when the toms have wandered through a certain spot, sometimes gobbling and sometimes not.  I’m just going to set my butt down and wait.  I’ll give it until around noon and if nothing has come through, I’ll call my way out.  The way out is only about 4oo yards more.

Another fine detail to my plan is my calling.  I don’t know how to call very well and my slate call isn’t of the highest quality, even though I have had several gobblers fooled by it.  But the thing is, a couple of years back, I found a striker that someone had lost…(by the way, if you can tell me what it looks like and pay the shipping, I’ll return it to you, otherwise, I’m keeping it and using it)…This particular striker has a wooden part to it that makes for a deeper toned sound than the one that came with my call.  I’ll be mixing up my calling using both of these strikers to make it sound like two or 4 different birds.  My original striker sounds to me like a young hen, while the found one sounds like the old boss hen.  We will see how all of that goes.

Time is flying by this morning, so I have to stop for now and will post up a “post hunt” addition later on!  Wish me luck!

May 16, 2016

Bears Butt

NOONISH

An off day on the mountain.  I had the whole mountain to myself this morning.  The air was crisp but not too cold, lots of dew and rain still on the leaves which made for soft and quiet walking.  All the while walking in I had a strange feeling that something was following me….I hate that feeling, but I never saw anything.

My fly down setup was perfect except for the lack of birds.  No gobbles, no hen clucks, nothing.

From there I went and set up on a nice flat place where lots of turkey crap is scattered around.  Sat there and called softly for over an hour.  Nothing.  Moved to another spot, set up and stayed about half an hour…nothing there either.

So, I packed it all up and went on a stroll through the woods.  Calling every 100-150 yards.  Always soft, followed by a medium call.  Nothing.  I walked a trail all the way around the bottom of the steepest part of the mountain until the mountain itself forced me down hill to the main trail.  I heard two gobbles during this escapade and both were very far off in the northern direction, barely audible.

Aside from the lack of turkeys, there were lots of other critters to keep me entertained.  I had a doe and young fawn trying to figure out what I was for a very long time.  Finally the wind must have shifted because momma let out a snort and off they both went.  I saw 6 deer total, no bucks.

So, there you have the turkey hunt for this day.  Not sure when I might get another chance to go out, and I hope this isn’t the last time for the season.  I still have one spot I want to go check out and that hike will take some doing…steep and deep!

Bears Butt

Written on May 16th, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

3Turkeys

It’s every turkey hunters dream to come upon a scene like this one, or maybe have the scene come upon him.   At any rate you can’t see something like this if you have your bed on your back.  I have gotten up late, have two dogs wishing they could go outside, but I’ve got to run!

Today will put me near to where I was the last time I had the chance to go out turkey hunting only this time I’m taking my little hen decoy I call “Gretchen”.  I’m hoping she will be seen by the gobbler sitting on his roost and cause him to fly down to within shotgun range.  The little meadow is my goal before first light!

CoolLittleBasin

More to come!

May 9, 2016

Bears Butt

Noonish……

I was almost late getting to my first stop this morning.  I pushed hard to get there, set Gretchen out in an opening in the sage, hurried back to my hiding hole and sat down.  Within one minute I heard the beating of heavy wings as a turkey landed about 50 yards to my right, just the other side of a small rise.  The gun was up, safety off and the bead held steady on Gretchen….I waited.  No sounds were coming from the direction the bird landed and I knew it was going to be that big tom I saw last time I was there.  My heart was pounding really hard, my breathing was too.  Then in my peripheral vision I saw its head peering over the sage, looking right into Gretchen’s eye.  The bird was no farther than 5 feet from the decoy and about 15 yards from me….a Hen!

I walked closer to the decoy and then decided it was a danger and began putting….two puts and then it flew off and down onto private property.  That was a close one!  Had it been that big tom I would have easily filled the tag!  And that is how easy it could be.  I sat there for about an hour and I kept hearing the gobbling of three different toms down on the private property.  I figured that was all I was going to see in that spot and so I picked up and started my sneak around the hill, just like I did the other day.

The weekends rains had everything soaking wet and I was glad I had chosen to put on my gaiters for this trip.  They saved my legs from the knees down from getting soaked.

As I rounded the hill I could hear the faint gobbles of some birds ahead and so I hurried myself a bit.  With all the wet, I didn’t even make a sound when I broke twigs.  Pretty soon I was straight up the hill from three gobblers sounding off.  They were very vocal.  I figured they were about 100 yards down the hill from me, so I set up on a point, tucked myself back up above the decoy about 30 yards and began calling.  They responded to every call and at one point I thought they were going to bust up over the hill and right into my lap.  They moved to my right, then back to my left.  I don’t think they could see the decoy and I didn’t want to call any more so I just waited.  Their gobbling began to get farther away and to my left.  I hurried up, grabbed Gretchen and boogied around the point of the hill toward their gobbles.

Suddenly I saw a turkey coming up through the trees below me.  It was on a direct line to where I was,  I plopped down on a rock, pushed the safety off and aimed at the trail ahead.  The trail actually went down over a slight rise as it went.  Within 5 minutes I could hear the turkey making sounds that at first sounded like a kid smacking two rocks together.  That was the first time I had ever heard that noise.  I was ready when its head came popping up from the trail.  It was coming straight at me at about 15 yards again.  Another hen!  When it saw my blob sitting in its path it stopped and stared.  Did a little walk around keeping an eye on me the whole time, and then went off the trail and up the hill through the brush and trees.  It didn’t make any sounds once it saw me sitting in the way, it just went off the trail and out of sight, not in a hurry either.

Well, the gobbles began to go down hill after that and I figured another hen had their attention.  There were for sure 3 distinct birds and they gobbled down and across the meadow and up the other side of the draw.  Gobbling like crazy and continued to do so until I couldn’t hear them anymore.

I figured there had to be others still on my side of the canyon and so I continued up the trail past the point where I almost got a shot last week.  There is some beautiful turkey looking country up there and I sure was hoping for a shot but all I saw were deer.  Maybe next time.

Bears Butt

Written on May 9th, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

It’s May 2nd, 2016 and the opening day for the general turkey season here in Utah.  Since it’s a Monday, most everyone I know that hunts is either working or too wrapped up in yesterdays wind damage to go out and enjoy a day of hunting turkeys….So….Off I go by myself.  There are advantages and disadvantages to going alone, but one thing for sure, I’ll be out there.

I have a plan to hit an area I have never been before.  Sort of a scouting, hunting adventure.  I know there are birds there because we heard them Saturday and I have studied Google Earth enough to know the lay of the land.  Now it’s time to put the boots to the ground and go check it out first hand.

I’m hoping to take a few selfies to show you how it looks as well and maybe even with a bearded bad boy.  Wish me luck!

More to come once I’m back.

May 2, 2016

Bears Butt

DecoyHead

I had considered using my hen decoy today but chose not to….This is the look she gave me.

I got back home right at 1 p.m.  And what a beautiful day it was to be out in the hills.  Cool this morning and quite warm by noon.  Let me tell you about being out of shape….I’m out of shape!  My trek took me to places I have only visited on Google Earth and it was everything I imagined.  A trail that follows a steep hill and there was turkey goo everywhere!  I was very excited when I got there and set up.  My timing was perfect, as I placed my butt on my cushion seat I heard the first gobble of the morning.  He was behind me slightly and up pretty high.  His home was near this little basin.

CoolLittleBasin

And probably very close to those tallest trees you can see.  I positioned myself behind where the camera was to take this picture and I was just around the bend from a nice little corner in the hill.  A perfect ambush spot should a turkey come along that trail.  As my luck would have it, the bird flew down to the left of this picture and he went beyond the public land and onto private.  I saw him at one point and at 100 yards I could clearly see a long beard!  He’ll make a mistake one of these days.

I sat there from just before light until the sun had me almost to go to sleep from the warmth and then I got up to go explorer around.  I sat with my newly made ghillie hat on to help hide me from the turkeys.

GhillieHat

As I wandered around I found this really nice little trail that screamed turkeys!

TurkeyParadise

As I went along I would set up at pinch points and corners and would call.  Every once in awhile I thought I could hear faint gobbles in the distance.  I knew they were not answering my calling, but as I snuck along I kept thinking those bad boys would walk right into me.  I was ready.  The trail got extremely narrow and tight against the uphill side, downhill was brushy delux and I couldn’t see down into it very well.  Suddenly I heard the yelping of a hen!  It was very deep sounding and at first I thought it was another hunter, but as it walked along it continued to sound off.  I followed the sounds and then saw two hens working their way below me.  They hadn’t seen me and I was glad for that.  With them moving off, I found a nice sitting spot and waited for a tom to come walking along behind them.  A half hour later I moved on.

Changing the subject a little; about a month ago I bought myself some “hearing aids”.  These are made for hunters and they enhance the sounds of the woods for most people, but for me, they allow me to hear what the heck is going on.  I had both of them in my ears today.  I was walking in some crunchy oak leaves along the trail and it was nearly impossible to remain quiet, but even with the hearing devises I was going slow enough to be pretty quiet.  About 100 yards past where the two hens were I entered into somewhat of a grassy clearing in the oak trees.  It screamed turkeys to me and so I stood on the edge of it and peered into the openings looking for movement and listening with all the listening attention I could get.  10 minutes of looking and listening and I would move forward a few feet and stop and look and listen some more.

I had gone about 30 yards into this semi-clearing when up ahead a few yards, maybe 20, a hen sounded off with some very loud putts!  She putted and putted but stayed in one spot as she did it which is not like any putting I’ve heard before.  Usually they are moving away or up hill or somewhere getting away from danger (me).  But this one was different!  Then I heard wings beating the air and suddenly the gobbling of three distinct toms just off to my left and up hill a bit.  The putting continued ahead of me.  With all the commotion I wasn’t sure what I should be doing, so I went carefully up the hill toward where the gobbling took place.  Then I heard a hen clucking below me and I froze!  Two hens were moving up the hill from below me and would cross somewhere near the hen that was putting.  I froze as I was in a place where I could be easily seen by the two birds below.  She continued to putt and then I saw a coyote run across the opening and down toward the valley below!  The coyote had been gone a good minute before the putting stopped.

The two birds moved up and joined with the putting bird but I could not see them.  I moved up the hill carefully and as quietly as I could.  The gobblers had to be very close but I didn’t know where exactly.  I positioned myself with a small clearing about 10 yards in front of me and let out a “Darin Gardner” series of very quiet putts and yelps…..The woods came alive with Gobblers sounding off and they were very close, I just didn’t know where!  And then I saw some movement ahead about 20 yards…it was the back of a gobbler and he was strutting his stuff.  I sat still and raised the gun ready to fire when he came over a slight rise between me and him.  My arms soon became very sore and I could hardly hold the gun up.  The gobbler would strut and turn but did not come any closer. I held the gun up for about 20 minutes and then I couldn’t take it any longer.  I slowly lowered it and kept my eye on the bird ahead.

I was not in a very good spot for an ambush and if he came over the rise and happened to look down the trail he would see me for sure.  I had to make a move to the side of the trail.  At one point I thought I could just stand up and blast him, but I didn’t know if he was alone or with a hen or the other gobblers.  The sounds told me there were for sure 3 different gobblers and they were all pretty close to one another.  It just wasn’t worth shooting and hitting more than one bird.  I’ll wait for a better chance.  I moved slightly up hill off the trail but the brush blocked me from seeing the bird.  Again, very carefully, I pulled out the call and striker and sounded off a very soft yelp.  All three gobblers burst into cadence!  My heart was racing and my mouth began to dry up noticeably.  Then the worst thing that could happen began to swell up in my throat….a cough….NO!  I thought to myself and I fought it off.

I kept thinking about some of the things I’ve been told about turkeys….you make a turkey sound and if they gobble back, they know exactly where you are and they will come, just have patience.  I waited and waited and waited.  Two hours I waited expecting them to pop up within 10 yards at any moment, but nothing came.  I tried my soft call again, this time nothing.  I let out a series of yelps just a wee bit louder….nothing.  It became obvious by this time that the hen they were parading around had lead them off and up the trail somewhere.

It was getting late in the morning and was very warm so I decided not to try and cut them off and just leave them alone for another day.  I carefully stood up, stretched my legs and made my way quietly down the mountain and back to the truck.

A fine day indeed!  4 gobblers, 5 hens, several deer and lots of other wildlife viewed.

Bears Butt

 

Written on May 2nd, 2016 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

This doesn’t need an introduction!

https://www.facebook.com/tonya.otinger/videos/10153396246649412/?pnref=story

Tonya is a taxidermist out of Alabama:

Tonya O'Tinger wood duck

Bears Butt

November 29, 2015

Written on November 29th, 2015 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

CRAWFORD MOUNTAINS, UTAH

I’ve been enjoying the Crawford mountain mule deer hunts for many years.  Before the DWR made them a draw only hunting area we enjoyed a few good years hunting in that area during the late muzzleloader hunts and got to know the country pretty well.  The bucks would either “Be There” or “Not”!  But no matter if they were there or not did not deter us from hunting the place.  I recall one of the last hunts we were there, Dry Dog and I had work obligations we had to attend to and so could not come to the camp until three days after the hunt had opened.  When we arrived with my camp trailer in tow, the guys who had been there hunting were very disappointed (not disappointed that me and Dog had shown up).  They had not seen even a track in the three days they had been hunting.  That is very disappointing to say the least.

They did not want us to unhook the trailer as they had already decided to move camp to somewhere else, perhaps across the valley and into the high country with pines and quakies.  Well, Dry Dog and I had been dreaming about hunting this area and so we were a bit taken back by their suggestion.   The two of us proposed an option and wanted to have a morning hunt just down the draw from our camp.  As I recall….”Let’s hunt till about 10 and if things are the same as you say they are we will come back and move camp”.  To say those guys had to give up a lot after not seeing anything for 3 days is really giving them credit.  Had I been one of them I would have insisted the two of us go on our jaunt and when we came back they would have camp ready to move.  But they didn’t, they went out for the morning hunt.

Dry Dog and I took a high road while the rest of them went on down the drainage to get into shooting positions.  Dog and I would push down to them and then we would drive back up to camp and pack up.

As Dry Dog and I were moving up the drainage to get into our positions for the push, I stopped about half way to the top.  He was to continue to the top and when the signal came we would make our move down the side of the ridge to the others.  As I stood there waiting in the early morning light of that day, I heard the noise of rocks rolling behind me.  As I turned around two giant bucks were coming down a slide out area on a dead run…straight at me!  Two of the biggest bucks I had seen in a long, long time!  The biggest of the two was either a very big heavy horned 4 X 4 or an equally large 5 point.  I can only guess and he was the one I wanted to shoot!  I was on it with my sights but it kept trees between himself and me, while the other one came on my side of the line of trees!  I remember thinking to myself…Heck, that’s a nice buck right there!  Go ahead and shoot it!….Which I did!  A very respectable 4X4 with long eye guards (long for mule deer anyway), heavy, wide and tall!  At the shot the bigger buck turned on the after-burners and made a trail straight to where Dry Dog was waiting!  After the buck disappeared over the ridge I heard Dry Dog shoot!  BAM!

I felt great to know that 5 minutes into this hunt I had one of the biggest bucks I had ever taken with a muzzleloader down on the ground and Dry Dog was probably proudly standing over an even bigger buck!  However, that was not the case!  He had heard me shoot and thought the worst…I had fallen and the gun went off by accident and so he was coming back toward where I was when the big buck showed up suddenly right in his face!  His shot was quick and off mark.  The big buck went on to live another day!  Dry Dog was eye popping by the time he got to me to see the big buck I was dressing out.

Well, long story short!  The bucks had moved into the Crawfords during the night.  Big bucks seemed to be in every draw and on every ridge!  Just like the saying goes…they are either here or they aren’t!  We ended up with 4 BIG 4X4 bucks and 2 2X2’s before that hunt was over.  AND to add to that, Fat Duck had to leave camp to go to Japan or somewhere and a big buck chased him out of the mountains right past our camp.  That gave the guys a fun time shooting at that big old bugger!  He too lived to see another day.

Ok, now to the point of this writing!  You thought the story was the point?  Not this time.  Just some fun times to share.  The point for this writing is where do the deer come from that winter in the Crawfords?

MapOfWyoming

I have been told by some very reliable sources that most of the deer that spend their time in the Crawfords during the winter come from as far away as the Wind River Range near central Wyoming.  A long distance to travel, but not un-heard of for animals to migrate that far.  I recently discovered on line, where the fish and game of Wyoming have been conducting some extensive studies on animal migrations.  They have teamed up with local folks, oil interests, hunters, livestock people and more, collared a bunch of deer, antelope, elk and moose and followed their travels for several years.  Their study is far from over and what they are finding out is amazing.  Some of these animals, especially deer and antelope are moving extremely long distances between their summer and winter ranges!  BUT…closer to home…The Crawford Range, the migration map shows those animals come almost straight South down the border between Idaho and Wyoming and then into Utah.

AnimalMigrationRouts

(Deer are purple, Antelope are yellow)

MigrationRouteToCrawfords

That puts their summer ranges in and around the Star Valley area of the Bridger Teton National Forest of Wyoming and the Caribou National Forest in Idaho.

BridgerTetonNF

CaribouNF

So, what’s the point in all of this?  I guess just to clarify what I’ve been telling everyone for years was not true!  I’ll admit I did not do any research on my own when told what I was told, I just took it as fact and ran with it.

Bears Butt

November 23, 2015

Written on November 23rd, 2015 , Hunting Stories
By: Bears Butt

Pumpkins-Sunset-Pumpkin-Patch

Well, well, well….a week later my WordPress system will finally let me post the picture I wanted to put up on the last posting….

Today is Conners last day to try and bag his buck with a center fire rifle.  Last year it was the same way and it turned out very good with him bagging a very nice 2X2 buck.  Today?  Well it all remains to be seen.  The bucks have been getting hammered.  Daily I would see friends bagging some fine bucks and I must say a lot of them have been 4X4’s.

When you talk to people about why so many big bucks….They are all patting themselves on the back.  The DWR managers say…It’s our management of the herds that is doing it.  The SFW….It’s because we convinced the DWR to go to the 26 Unit hunting breakdown.   The DWR Biologists….It’s because of the wet spring and mild winter.  The hunters themselves….Well, it’s because I missed him last year because of my hangover and the fact that the sun was in my eyes and my gun was dropped and the scope wasn’t tight on the mounts and my kid was bouncing in the back of the truck and my wife was yelling at me to get her another beer out of the cooler and my buddy sitting next to her was telling me it wasn’t a big enough buck anyway and the game warden in the truck behind us was saying he was going to give me a ticket for not getting off the road and the guys in the other truck were honking for me to move my truck so they could get by and the the guy on the hill next to the buck was yelling that he had already hit it and that he was going to kick my butt if I shot one more time……

I say it is because of the media being what it is, people like to brag and so they can reach out to more of an audience (and they are).  I think it is the same every year and just this year more and more of them are able to post up the pictures of their really nice bucks……even the spikes are nice to me.  But I must say I have seen some very nice “Anderson 30’s” posted up AND I might add, some with inline extra points and kickers out the sides.  You don’t see those all the time.

Call it how you will, management, wet spring, non-profit intervention or just plain last years missed shots….there seems to be a lot of bucks on the mountain this year.  My hope for today is that there is still “ONE MORE” just for Conner to tag.

I have only been able to get my hands dirty cutting up a part of one buck and it was a pleasure to do.  I miss the processing of a whole deer….come on Conner!  Put the big one down!

More to come!  Check back later.

Bears Butt

October 24, 2015

The next day:

We had a great day afield yesterday.  Arrived at our place at the perfect time.  Lots of road warriors out getting to their spots as well.  When the light got just right we were slowly winding our way up the road and deer seemed to be out in almost every direction.  But nothing with antlers!  We traveled up past the riparian area, down the road to Pelican drive, up around Buck mountain and everywhere we went there were deer…but no antlers.  The crowds were much thinner than they were last Saturday, only about 1/3 as many out hunting.  So we occasionally had our choice of ridges and/or saddles we could sit and glass.  Last weekend there were no places like that.  As we made our way down toward the push pockets two deer suddenly appeared in front of us.  We glassed them to see nothing but skin heads and then as quick a a wink, three more deer came up over the rise.  The one in the back was a buck!  Conner unleashed his inner most feelings toward filling the freezer with meat….This buck is goin down!

Well, as he was loading the rifle and flipping off the scope covers (his nemesis from last weekend), I was glassing and calling out the play by play as the buck changed positions within the small herd of 5 deer.  The deer continued to move down the ridge to our left and the buck stayed pretty much to the rear of the line.  I pulled my glasses down to see what Conner was up to and ask myself why he hadn’t put the buck down when I could see he was still trying to get a shell into the chamber.

Not being that familiar with how a suppository rifle works, he thought the chambering of the round was too tight and that he needed to eject that shell and try to get the next one to chamber.  That caused him to have two shells trying to load at the same time.  Needless to say he didn’t get a round chambered and the buck went on down the hill into the trees never to be seen again.

BUT, there was a very unique thing about that buck….It was obviously one that Dry Dog had shot at during the muzz hunt several weeks ago as it only had an antler on one side.  Yes it was a spike, but with only one antler sticking up.  We called it a “Unique  Horn” (Unicorn) buck!

We continued to make our circle and drive the roads according to our plan until it came time to make a decision as to the final route home.  We made a big change and decided to go toward Logan Canyon and drive the Sinks road, a place we have not been in over 10 years.  We drove on some newly made roads and it was obvious why they made the new roads in one stretch alongside Elk Valley…Washed out roads!  It made for a somewhat interesting trip through there.  Then the road turned into its ugly old self as we made our way up past Nebeker Springs,  Government Springs and finally to the Sinks road just off Temple Flat….The road at that point turned into something I would have expected in California but not Utah.  A smooth flat road with only two bumps along the stretch from Temple to Highway 89.  Tons of recreational atv/utv riders to add to our enjoyment and an occasional rider/driver clad in pumpkin orange.   I had high hopes of seeing some of Anderson’s 30 inchers, but we didn’t see any deer until we were almost to the Logan Canyon summit.

By days end, we counted 57 deer with one sporting an antler!

Until next time!  That is pretty much it for the deer hunt(s) this year!  Good luck in the drawing for next years big game hunts!

Bears Butt

October 25, 2015

Written on October 24th, 2015 , Hunting Stories

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