Washington State High Buck Hunt 2010

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by jmden, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Well, I finally mustered up the courage and determination to pack enough gear (82 lbs. worth—22lbs of that was water) for 6 days of solo hunting up past the pass I’d previously hunted at and on up a few hundred more feet to a peak that I knew should offer great long range hunting with a large, isolated (only idiots go there), alpine basin with a huge meadow for browse, cover and water for the deer.

    It’s only 900ft. vertical to the pass I’ve hunted from in the past, but with no trail and very steep and treacherous (coming from 20+ years of cross-country backcountry experience—experience including a lot of technical alpine mountaineering, several seasons of smokejumping…etc.), you are very dependent on calculating several factors from experience of the foot placement of every step with care AND on a good set of trekking poles, the trekking poles without which I wouldn’t even attempt this type of trip. But it was another few hundred feet vertical of unknown obstacles from the pass where I’d hunted previously up to near the top of the peak where I’d be able to overlook this high alpine basin at 7300’ elevation. I was a bit anxious and said more than one prayer…

    It was a slow and careful trip up to the pass and then on up the ridge, around some rock outcroppings and on up to about the 7200’ level where I decided to make camp at a bit of a saddle beneath the peak I wanted to spot from. Spent some time scraping a level spot for the Nemo GoGo bivvy tent and set the Moss tarp (in case it rained and rain was in the forecast) over it to help it keep dry and give me a bit of living space outside the bivvy tent as there’s hardly room to turn over in the bivvy tent.

    That evening I soon spotted several deer from the peak. A group of 4 beneath me at nearly 600yds—I couldn’t see headgear very well with the 10x binos—looked like one might be a 3pt. min. legal buck. Didn’t see anything else out in the open, so I put the spotting scope on the group of 4. Turned out 3 of 4 were legal bucks with one probably 2 1/2 yo 4x4. Glassing from the steadiness of a tripod and a bit more magnification helps you see things…especially on the eastside of a peak in the gathering darkness. Spotted 3 more bucks and figured that was enough. They were there. No used in me staying up here too long and risking being seen. The next morning at 6:05a was the opener of Washington State’s High Buck hunt, best get out of here ‘til then.

    After a forced meal (elevation was just high enough for me with 7K’ elevation gain from home that the natural appetite was diminished), I slept fitfully waiting for my alarm to go off. Finally, it did and it was all systems go to get to the top of the mountain and set up before first light. 605a came and went and a few minutes later I could finally see a few shapes moving down in the meadow. Then I picked up 10-15 deer moving off single file into cover after spotting a couple trotting across part of the meadow. Had I spooked them? I was 650 yds away and being very careful to stay low and move slowly. I was searching as best I could for a legal buck, but there was just not enough light at that time and distance to tell. About 630a I finally spotted a legal 3pt at 719 yds, but he was quickly feeding towards the trees and try as I might, I could not get set up for that distance fast enough. At that point, there were no obvious deer left in the meadow, so I started scanning the partially treed side of the ridge off to my right and almost instantly spotted a buck. He was high enough that the light from the sun that hadn’t even risen yet let me see that he looked like he could be the 4x4 I’d seen last night. The spotting scope said he was—and there’s another shooter buck a few yards from him.

    369 yds and he was feeding away from me. I estimated 15 deg down angle—it was probably a bit more than that, but the shot was so close that I didn’t have to be spot on with the incline angle—never even looked at the angle indicator as I was afraid he was going to feed into and area I couldn’t get a good shot at. Dialed for 375yds and 1/2 MOA left for the nearly 9 o’clock wind at 5-7mph shooting off the Harris bidpod. I had no good place for a much of a prone shot, let alone a rear bag for a super steady shot, but at that close distance, that wasn’t needed. I brought the buttstock to my shoulder, pivoting the rifle downwards on the bipod from kind of a squatting position behind the rock and…bang, flop…and down the hill he rolled about 100yds. Acc’d to Exbal, he absorbed over 4600 foot lbs. of energy with that shot from the 300g Sierra MatchKing bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2980fps.

    Sorry for the poor cell phone pics. Didn’t bother to take a camera—didn’t want the weight.

    [​IMG]

    I watched him for quite awhile before leaving the summit to make sure he was dead—he was. Another shooter buck somewhat close by seemed fairly unconcerned, or at least couldn’t figure out what was going on. The type of muzzle brake on this rifle apparently can make it a bit more difficult to figure out what direction the sound of the shot is coming from.

    On down to the buck and I spooked another shooter buck on the way down. I got to the buck and said a prayer of thanks--then the work began. A couple of hours later, he was strapped to the Kifaru Long Hunter Hauler and the haulin’ began. Straight up to the ridgetop and then, deciding to head straight down 1700’ vertical instead of traversing to the pass, down I went, with 90lbs of deer and pack on my back. Took 1 hr to get down. It was about the same steepness overall as in the photo of the ridge where the deer was shot—very steep—close to approaching 45 deg. There was no room for one misstep. Down to the road, stash the pack and walk a mile up the road to retrieve the car and drive back down to the pack.

    Force down a nutrition bar and as much water as I could, take everything I possibly could do without out of the pack, change socks and let the feet dry out and then the climb back up the hill 1700’ feet to camp to 1h 15 min. I was moving the best I could as I’d just noticed two things. One the clouds were starting to build and bunch up which meant impending rain and very likely lightening and did not want to be on that slope durning a storm and two, I’d smelled wildfire smoke. Looking down the valley, it was evident that there was a fire somewhere in the distance. How close, I couldn’t tell as all the valleys I could see were now filled with smoke with a pretty good wind pushing it my way. At any rate, I didn’t want any part of that as well. So, upon reaching camp, as beautiful spot as it was I forced down another bar, drank as much of the water as I could, poured the rest out, stuffed camp in my pack and headed down the hill again, just as the first raindrops started down, I was really moving, wanted to cover as much as possible before the rain affected the slope making footing more treacherous with another loaded pack. I got wet and overall the footing stayed pretty good all the way down during the 45 mins. it took, which I was very thankful for.

    Thanks to Kirby for building a great rifle! This is the 338 AX's first kill and hopefully far from the last!

    Meat in the freezer! Now where is that bear? J

    Jon

     
  2. ss7mm

    ss7mm Writers Guild

    Messages:
    3,707
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2005
    Congratulations on a very physical hunt and a nice buck. At least you weren't undergunned.
     

  3. kiwi3006

    kiwi3006 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    674
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    Great hunt and good write-up. It is great to see that all your planning came off.
    Any photo's of the buck?

    Stu.
     
  4. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    You know, on my phone, I have to hit 'save' after taking a picture. Ahem...apparently I didn't do that when I took pics of the buck. I just realized this a couple of hours ago when I went to 'send' the photos to my email address from the phone and it made me sick....argghh. Only 18 1/2" spread 4 x 4, so not much to look at for many folks, but a trophy in my book!
     
  5. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Thanks, ss7mm. Short, but yes, physical. Yep, I certainly was not undergunned! :D Gotta get something longrange here!
     
  6. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    [​IMG]

    Here's a shot of the rack w/rifle back at home. Not much to speak of in terms of racks at only 18.5" wide, but in Washington, up in the high alpine country where I like to be on a solo backpack hunt, set up for a long range hunt with my new 338 AX it's a trophy to me. :)

    Rifle specs as follows (Smithed by Kirby Allen of Allen Precision Shooting):

    -BAT HRPIC with integral 20 MOA rail custom machine for a 4" Wyatt's mag box
    -Rock Creek 1:10, 30" 5R, heavy flute, Medium Palma contour
    -NightForce NXS 5.5-22 x 50 mm with NPR1
    -Kirby's PainKiller (PK) medium, 'slim' muzzle brake
    -Jewell trigger set at approx 10oz.
    -Seekins Precision .8" rings
    -Sniper Tools/NightForce incline angle indicator
    -PTG Aluminum bottom metal
    -4" Wyatt's box as already mentioned
    -modified DE cheekpiece
    -Manner's T2 90% carbon fiber stock inletted by Tom Manners to fit the BAT HRPIC, Wyatt's box, bottom metal and barrel then painted (sent the components to him to do this)
    -Kirby's great 'smithing!

    Edit: Hope you guys appreciate this photo...my wife 'bout had a fit putting the rack on the carpet even with a paper towel under it! :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
  7. kiwi3006

    kiwi3006 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    674
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    Nice shot of the rifle and antlers. Great specs on the rifle
    For some reason the wife never quites see things how we do. For some reason I am not allowed to boil oput skulls in the kitchen anymore, I have to use the camping stove outside :D.

    Stu.
     
  8. Nape.270

    Nape.270 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    228
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Cograts on the hunt.

    Hope to do that hunt in the next year or so.
     
  9. Slopeshunter

    Slopeshunter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    860
    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2006
    Congratulations! That looks like one tough looking hunt. Beautiful looking country.
     
  10. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    I'd reccomend it highly. It's a great opportunity to hunt the high alpine country in late summer and see the muley's in their summer habitat. Mine was the only shot I heard that opening morning--little suprised at that as there's alot of deer in that area and a few hunters spread around and I was in an a spot that I'd hear shots from quite a ways away. I got out of there later that day as it started to rain and it's been raining every day since. That can get pretty miserable--fortunate in that regard to get out when I did. Good luck next year.
     
  11. Nape.270

    Nape.270 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    228
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    If you dont mind me asking what area is it you are hunting?
     
  12. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    I hunt the High Buck season up in the Pasayten Wilderness Area. Designated wilderness areas really appeal to me as they typically pretty rugged, beautiful high alpine areas with no roads and often not too many trails and are the most protected federal recreational lands--one aspect of that is that nothing mechanized is allowed--not even a game cart with a wheel. So it's just folks on horseback or on foot, which limits the hunters substantially.

    They only open up 4 of the designated wilderness areas and the Lake Chelan Recreation Area in the Cascades for this hunt (then the small ones around the Olympics), so pretty limited really considering there are 31 designated wilderness areas in Washington State.

    Just gotta pay your dues and find your spot, which I've done. :)
     
  13. Nape.270

    Nape.270 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    228
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Will be paying my dues.

    My friend just moved over there going to scout 2011 and hope to hunt 2012.

    Thank you.
     
  14. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

    Messages:
    5,083
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Always seems like they will roll down hill as far as they can. I am still waiting to kill one where gravity works uphill the same as downhill. Those steep slopes do get treacherous when wet.