The western deer hunt that almost killed me! and the buck that?

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by Coyboy, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. Coyboy

    Coyboy Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2005
    I'm not sure I even want to tell this story , but hear it goes, may-be someone might learn from my misfortune.

    It was supposed to be a high country mule deer hunt in unit 471 of Coloradoes Colegete peaks wilderness area. After a 4 year wait since my last HCMD tag I was pretty pumped. I had seen 13 bucks on the first day of the hunt 4 years ealier so I was expecting a relativly productive hunt for a trophy class buck. I was the only deer tag holder but two friends agreed to come on the hunt to archery hunt elk. We were planning on driving up the mountain and packing in camp to an elevation of 12,500 feet. It would be about a 1.5 mile hike. I warned Ben and Jamie that we would be hunting high and the elevation is quite different then the normal 8,500 feet the usually hunted in.

    A few days before we were to leave Wisconsin, I was dealing with a cough that just didn't seem like the normal cold. I called the clinic and the nurse suggested I tuff it out, that anti-biotics would not help what was "going around". 1st mistake.

    Well the ride out was uneventful other than my persistant cough, we stopped in Georgetown CO at about 8,500 ft to get a room for the night and help us adjust to the elevation change. I slept like crap and the cough got worse. I'm starting to think I'm going to really suffer.

    The next morning we cross independence pass and head into Aspen, I tell the guys we need to stop at the hospital in Aspen so I can get checked out. Well I have pnemonia. The doc ask where we are headed and we tell her 12,500 feet to pack in, she's not impressed with my willingness to kill myself and warns my buddies to keep a very close eye on me. I think I can handle it but had a very small reservation in the back of my mind telling me this may not be smart. 2nd mistake, trust your gut.

    We park on top unload the truck, load the packs and start the march. I was loaded before Ben and Jamie so I told them I was going to get started. (Regreting the 14 lb. 300rum at this point.) We make it to our camp location, and I did pretty good, probably the excitment of the adventure, but the exaustion from being sick and lack of sleep really hit me.

    The only was I can describe that night is to say, thousands of 70's hippees on lsd, at Woodstock halleucinated less than I did that night. I would fall asleep my breathing would get real shallow and I would have some freaky dream which would wake me up and cause me to take a deep breath. I would then fall asleep and it would repeat itself all night long. It was painfull, and mentally deafeating. During the night I honestly thought to myself, "well Jim there are worst places to die, just close your eyes and sleep if you don't wake up in the morning,you will never know it."

    That morning we had a meeting and my buddies said they were not going to shine a light on me every 15 minutes to see if I was still breathing, and that they would be ok if I took the truck down and they stayed hunting. I was a little aprehensive about leaving them without a vehicle that high up. They reasured me and said they could always walk back to the parking area and get help from another group if they needed it. So down I went, I made it to a hotel(not in Aspen) where I spent the next 3 days recovering.

    Monday found me back on the mountain hiking back in. I felt 95% and was eager to get hunting. I left my gun and gear in the tent so the hike was unloaded. I shot the gun at 300, 600, 720 to check my charts and reset zero. The guys said they had seen a real nice nontypical buck and one pretty good one, so I started with that. By Wendsday I haden't seen but 3 deer and no bucks. I new somthing was off, and found out later by some locals there was a substantal winter kill in the Gunnison basin, the DOW claimed it was minimal, but that just wasen't the case.

    The weather started to turn and I spent most of thursday am in the tent, Ben and Jamie had spiked in another mile and a half the afternoon before and were due to return by nightfall. By 2;00pm The rain had lifted and I made the quick walk to the top of a ridge 500 yards from camp. With-in a half an hour I put glass on a buck that had gotten out of it's bed and started to feed. It was a nice 4x4 about 25 inches with good forks, not quite what I was looking for but it was gonna due. I had set up on the ridge above the deer so I would be shooting into a ten mile per headwind. I carefully glassed the surrounding brush(about2 foot tall but covered the whole area) looking for any other deer. Being calm and satisfied with the 2 range reading with the Bushnell 1500 arc at 520 yards I dialed the turret, and aimed for the high shoulder shot. I took the shot the gun bucked, and after settling, I could see a water vapor haylo come off the shoulder, The deer flopped to it's side and his legs rolled up into the air and back down. A thundourus whack drifted with the wind to my unprotected ear. All was still and the buck lay hidden in the brush. Then his nontypical buddy stood up made to bounds over the ridge and was gone.

    After a few minutes I unmounted the gun from my shoulder and noticed the guys hiking up the valley behind me towards camp. I met them there, cooked an early meal, and we headed up to retreave the deer. We ranged back to my shooting position and walked a semi circle in the brush to find the buck. Unfortunatlly all we found was where the buck had been hit. The animal had gained his feet after apperently pushing himself along for about 20 feet. The blood was very minimal after he got legs, with drops apearing every 5-10 feet. The next 2 hours we found where he stopped twice and left a few ounces of blood. Then the snow showers started and continued for the next 36 hours. At this point I'm thinking the man upstairs never intended me to harvest one of his mountain top trophys.

    The next morning we pulled camp and headed to lower ground of 10,500 feet, in fear of getting stuck up there if we waited any longer. By the next morning we had 5 inches at our new camp. A day and a half later we were packin it up to head home.

    I replayed that shot a thousand times and I am sure it was good and hit the mark. Did a 210 berger come apart on the blade knuckle? I will never know. Some suggested that the bullet may have gone above the spine, would that take him off his feet in such dramatic fasion? Would it cause him to push along for 20 feet before gaining at least 3 working legs?
    Others though maybe it went a little far back and caught the area behind the shoulder but just below the spine. That doesn't jive with the very audible smack of the bullet, nor with the haylo of water vapor that came off the hide, or with the bang flop.

    3 years and 12 animals killed with the 260AI one bullet in each.

    300rum... 1st shot on game, failure... ugh.
  2. Joel Russo

    Joel Russo Official LRH Sponsor

    Jul 5, 2006
    Good post Jim.

    Carrying a 14 lb rifle with pneumonia at 12,500 ft... sheesh they ought to call you Cowboy instead of Coyboy. ;)

    Any pictures?

  3. yotefever

    yotefever Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2006
    Glad you made it back and sorry to hear about the buck.
    And I agree with Joel, how about some pics? ;-)
    I'll be calling you soon about some more work I need.

  4. Coyboy

    Coyboy Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2005
    I've broken so many of my wife's cameras she wont let me take the digital. I don't recall snaping a picture that whole trip, I'll seee what the guys got for pics. It was new to them so they were wasting film.

    Joel, I finally got around to building my 338 edge. Putting the final touches on your stock. I will be calling you soon, thinking about a scope.

    Mike, next time your at the shop I'll try and find a tape, My brother and I shot some footage during a rifle elk hunt up there.
  5. MagMan

    MagMan Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2002
    Glad to hear your doing good. By the way the title read I expected something worse but I do know how Pneumonia feels. That crap takes months to get over. I went to the doctor three times before the diagnosed it right coughing up blood was the dead ringer.

    As far as the hunt, we all have our days. Chalk that one up for experience.
  6. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

    Jan 20, 2004
    Good post.

    Ya toughed it out. That's important plus it's good that you madeIf it. I'd rather have pnu. and hunt than have pnu and not hunt.:rolleyes:

    Regarding the results of the shot, stranger things have happened but not often.

    It may be that he was hit high in the withers, above the spine. You would get the SMACK and the flop. I saw that happen to a 6x6 bull elk once. It rang his bell and he ended up belly up. But awakened with vigar when the newbie hunter straddled his belly and touched him with the knife. The elk was stuck as if his head was in a squeeze chut. The fella was pretty black and blue from knee to chest, front and back. Second shot finished the job.

    A hit in one of the spines about the shoulder can be pretty shocking to the back end of the deer and I would imagine that he could possibly come out of it if the spine were unharmed.

    Just a thought.
  7. Eaglet

    Eaglet Well-Known Member

    Feb 2, 2005

    What really matters is that you're alright. Be thankful for that!

    Good writing!
  8. eddybo

    eddybo Well-Known Member

    Jan 5, 2007
    Good post, thanks for sharing. i hate that you ate the tag, but am glad your doing better. I too have had those forced hunts where everything goes wrong from the onset. I think in the future I will just turn around and head home......yea right who am I fooling with that. Way to tuff it out. I probably would have tried the same knowing that it wasn't a good idea.
  9. zuba

    zuba Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    So I almost had to find somebody to do the work on my next pistol... Glad you had a safe trip.
  10. Coyboy

    Coyboy Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2005
    Thanks for the kind words, guys.

    There's always next year, well maybe 4 or 5 more years when I get some points. The real disapointment was the lack of deer in those mountains, I guess it will take a few years for the numbers to recover. I did see a fair number of elk, but not the numbers we usually see.