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Follow up on the 'Once-in-a-lifetime' Trophy Deer Hunt

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Unread 10-31-2006, 01:36 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 215
Follow up on the \'Once-in-a-lifetime\' Trophy Deer Hunt

I'm long winded and slow at typing so I'll start with Part 1:

This is a follow up to my earlier post about my "once-in-a -Lifetime" Trophy deer hunt:


Pre-hunt detail as follows:

I first decided to work up a load with the 180 gr. Accubonds for my 308 (verses using my trusty 190 gr. SMK load). Initially, I had some good results with sub-1/2 MOA groups that held together over distance. Unfortunately, as my deer season approached and I was just getting comfortable with the load, I ran out of my supply of RE15 powder. The next batch of RE15 was significantly different. My accuracy went to 1/2 to 1 MOA and I didn't have time to restart the load work-up.

During this time my McMillan A-5 stock came in for my 338 LM (Sako M995, TGRs, factory barrel, no muzzle brake, 8lbs, not bedded yet). I put the action in the stock, took it to the range, and tried a couple of random loads, one of them was 88.4 gr. of RE22 with a 250 gr SGK (YES it does kick a little). That particular load shot well so I loaded up some more and they shot 3/4 to 1.25 MOA out to 300 yards and about 1 to 2 MOA out to 500 yards.

I started the hunt with my 308. In the area where I was hunting, most of the road acess was from the top (ridge lines) with little or no acess from the bottoms of some very deep canyons and washes. I soon began to notice that in a lot of the places where I was seeing tempting bucks, if I did not put them down quickly, I was going to need a helicopter to get them out. Not reallyÖ, but you get the picture. Anyway, I decided to use my 338 LM as my main carry rifle for the hunt and brought along the 308 as a back up. I would use the 338 LM for shots under 500 yards and the 308 for shots from 500 to 900 yards. Isnít that the opposite of how it should be.
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Unread 10-31-2006, 01:39 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 215
Re: Follow up on the \'Once-in-a-lifetime\' Trophy Deer Hunt

Part 2:

On to the hunt:

Over 7 pre-season scouting trips I had not seen one deer that I thought was over 28 inches wide, this was dissappointing. Some were close. We scouted one last time the day before the season opened. That evening around sunset we came across a buck down low in some cedars. He was about 150 yards from the truck when we saw him. He was about 29 inched wide and was heavy. He was a good typical 4x4 with some really long eye gaurds. He did not seem to be bothered at all by us. We put him to bed and went back for him in the morning. We got there about an hour before legal light and quietly walked into an area where we could overlook where he was the previous evening. All of the other hunters in the area were hunting a couple of miles up higher than we were, we had it to ourselves. Anyway, the buck conveniently missed our appointment. By 9:00 am every hunter on the mountain had worked his way down to where we were. There were people pushing every draw and every patch of cedars in the area. We only heard one set of shots. Those turned out to be someone bagging a nice 32" buck.

Later that day, as I was glassing a hillside, I caught a glimpse of a nice buck bedded in the shadow of a cedar tree. I took my eyes off of it for a second and it took me nearly 10 minutes to find it again. He was only about 450 yards away. He was fairly heavy and about 27" wide, but he was only a three point. I spent about 20 minute watching him, trying to talk myself into taking him, but I couldnít do it on opening day. One unusual thing that I noticed was that this buck was moving his head in a very subtle circular motion. His antlers were constantly moving. At first I thought he might have CWD, but then I noticed that his antlers were moving at almost exactly the same rate as the branches around him that were swaying in the wind. Could he really be that tricky? I donít know.

Over the first week of the hunt I saw, on average, about 15 to 20 bucks per day that were 3-points or better. Only two of them appeared to be 28" or better, and I only caught glimpses of them in the cedars before they dissappeared. Never could find them again.

On the second week I began hunting a different part of my hunt area (Aspen Mountain). I had spent most of the first week around Little Mountain and it seemed to me that most of the 400 people with this hunt were also there. On Aspen Mountain, I saw lots of small bucks and does. On one morning I saw nearly 70 does and small bucks in one canyon. I figured there had to be some nicer buck somewhere near by. Finally, I glassed three nice bucks bedded about a mile above the rest of the deer (just below the top of the mountain in a patch of thick brush). I was lucky enough to have caught the sun reflecting off of their antlers. They were approximately 1200 yards away. The wind was blowing so hard that I could not keep the spotting scope steady enough to tell if any of them were shooters. It looked like two of them were around 25 to 26 inches and the third one may have been larger. After fighting the wind for a half hour, I tried to move closer. The next vantage point was approximately 850 yards from the bucks. When I arrived at the next vantage point the bucks were up out of there beds and had me busted. I got a better look at the larger buck as he was sneaking away and decided that he was probably a shooter. When they dissappeared behind a large hump, I moved quickly to get into a shooting position if they came out the other side of the hump. I was about 500 yards away when the first buck came out close to where I expected them to be. I started to set up for a shot. then the second buck came out (these were the two smaller bucks). Right as the third buck came out from behind the hump, a thick fog/cloud blew in over the top of the mountain, obscurring him completely. Then it began to snow heavily. The rest of the day was pretty much a blizzard. I think I saw the larger buck two more times during the season, but every time I got within 1200 yards of him, he would slip away, leaving the two smaller bucks behind. Every time that I saw him, there was absolutely no cover between us and there was not a feasible way to get any closer.

In case anyone is bored yet, it will get better, and eventually there will be pictures [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]
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Unread 10-31-2006, 01:45 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 215
Re: Follow up on the \'Once-in-a-lifetime\' Trophy Deer Hunt

Part 3:

I eventually decided to check out another part of my hunt area, Pine Mountain (an area that I had not scouted and that did not have a reputation for producing as many deer as the other parts of my hunt area). True to itís reputation, after a half a day I had not seen a single deer. I was just about to give up when I thought I saw some antlers sticking up out of some tall sage brush. I stopped and backed the truck up a few hundred yards, and sure enough, there were three nice bucks and a doe about 300 yards off of the road. I put the spotting scope on them and got really excited when I saw that the largest buck was about 29 inches wide. I was reaching for the rifle when he turned his head and I saw then he was only a 2-point on one side. I watched him for a few minutes, trying to talk myself into taking him (he was a 4x2 with average mass, the other two were around 26 inches). I decided to hold out for something better. I also decided to go for a short walk to see if there were anyother deer in the group that were below the three that I had seen on the hillside. I grabbed my rifle, my backpack, and my shooting sticks. I left the GPS, the water, and my shooting rest. I walked around the point above where the bucks were and came out behind them. When I came out from behind the point, the three bucks and the doe were about 250 yards away moving up the opposite hillside. They looked big. I set up on the sticks and watched them through my rifle scope. I put the crosshairs on the larger buck and thought "man he looks good, if ony he werenít a two-point on the other side". I almost pulled the trigger anyway. When he hit the skyline he turned his head and I realized that he was a completely different deer, a larger, heavier, 4x4! He dissappeared before I could do anything about it. About that time the three bucks that I had spotted from the truck trotted out right where the first three had been and went off in a different direction. They were definitely smaller than the three I had just watched go over the hill. I put the 4x2 in the scope. I know I could have easily made the shot, but couldnít do it knowing that the big 4x4 was somewhere over the ridge. I was suffering from a very serious case of buck fever at this point and went after the bigger buck. I carefully approached the ridge where they had crossed. I waited just below the ridge line to get my wind then slowly inched my way over the ridge, trying to spot the bucks before they saw me. Unfortunately, they left the doe on my side of the ridge, just over the top, while they waited about 20 yards below the top of the opposite ridge. The doe busted me and huffed, warning the bucks. They crossed the ridge at a leisurely pace while I tried to get steady for a shot. The largest buck stopped just over the ridge line for a minute where I could only see his antlers against the skyline. The buck fever intensified. The next three ridges we nearly an exact repeat of the first ridge. They were definitely using the doe as a lookout. The fourth ridge was a little bit lower and I could see the top of the fifth ridge behind it. I ranged the fifth ridge where I though they would cross it. It was 554 yards. I set up the shooting sticks and dialed the elevation knob on the scope. Just as I was setting up on the sticks they appeared on the far end of the ridge quite a ways from where I had expected them to be. I quickly grabbed for the Swaro 8x30 laserguide range finder to re-range them and I dropped it (symptom of the advanced stages of buck fever). I picked it up, got them in the optics, and pushed the button. NO familiar orange aiming circle!! Tried it a couple more times with the same outcome. I gave up and got back behind the rifle. I had the big buck in the crosshairs, but there were a few problems: First I was not as steady as I would have liked to have beenÖ we can either blame the shooting sticks or the buck fever for that, next the doe was on his left practically touching him, one of the smaller bucks was on his right, just as close as the does was. Additionally, I was not sure of the exact distance. They proceded down the ridge line, getting further away. As they crossed over, the big buck stopped just over the ridge line again, while the doe and smaller buck went over. This time I could see the top half of his silouette. Out of a pure buck fever induced lack of judgement I held high and let one fly (note that he was not skylined as there was another ridge behind him). I now think of it as my way of waving good by to him. I recovered my sight picture in time to see dirt fly a few inches low. I sat there shaking, trying to collect myself. I used a dime to remove the battery cover from the rangefinder and saw that the battery looked like it had been bumped slightly out of position. I removed the battery, put it back in, and screwed the cover back on. It worked fine. Has this happened to anyone else with a Swaro Laserguide??? I went over to where he was when I shot to check for for blood, just in case. When I rounded the ridge, much to my surprise, they were on the other side, just below the top. As I got them in the scope, they crossed over, except for one of them that stopped right on the skyline. I think he was the second biggest buck in the group. He looked like he was about 27" to 28" wide. I wanted to shoot him, but I was off hand and very unsteady, and he was aways out (probably 400 yards, but no time to range him). I tried to get on the sticks, but they were not tall enough for the brush that I was in. He crossed the ridge. I went after them again, but it was the last time that I would see them. They had completely dissappeared. I went back to where they were when I shot and tracked them in the snow for a few hundred yards to ensure that there was no blood. They were fine, I was not. By this time it was nearly dark. I was thirsty, tired, dissappionted, several miles from the truck, and without my GPS. I had not paid much attention to where I was going (another symptom of the buck fever). Luckily I was able to track myself back to the truck.

More to come later...Unless everyone is already bored with this post.
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Unread 10-31-2006, 05:53 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: west of Little Rock ,Ark.
Posts: 1,271
Re: Follow up on the \'Once-in-a-lifetime\' Trophy Deer Hunt


What does that mean anyway ? Fishry , that is .

Anyway that is not why I posted , I just wanted to say that your experience with the mulies sounds great and I really appreciate your post . . That's why it is called hunting yes?

I am looking forward ( as I'm sure you are ) to the pix that will come as you persist in your hunting .

I have enjoyed some similar experiences in the Shirley mountains of Wyoming .

Please , continue to share as you have .

Jim B.
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Unread 11-01-2006, 02:54 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Utah
Posts: 163
Re: Follow up on the \'Once-in-a-lifetime\' Trophy Deer Hunt

glad to hear someone else is playing hide and seek with a few big mulies...nothing better [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

he he he, the fog and snow have a way of showing up univited dont they?

also i wanted to say thanks for the detailed "play by play", looking forward to your next addition and....keep on em'!...eventually your resolve will be met with one of those ol' boy's mistakes [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

Good Luck!
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Unread 11-01-2006, 04:12 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Chickasaw Point, SC
Posts: 206
Re: Follow up on the \'Once-in-a-lifetime\' Trophy Deer Hunt

Thanks for the report. Very enjoyable reading, almost gives me the feeling of being there. (And I wish I were.) Keep after them and your time will come soon. Itís all the hard work, effort and exhilaration that make hunting the greatest sport going. You never appreciate buck fever until you havenít felt it for a while. Best of luck with your quest for a trophy.
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Unread 11-02-2006, 11:08 AM
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Northeast Montana
Posts: 357
Re: Follow up on the \'Once-in-a-lifetime\' Trophy Deer Hunt

fishry, you gonna finish or what? I've come back several times the last couple of days hoping for the conclusion. Don't keep us hanging for so long.
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