Hunt Report - 2016 LRH Group Coues DeerWe four hunters each killed very nice bucks. On day one after one hour of hunting Doug Rosa took his buck. Doug tends to kill early. In 2014 using a rifle I built he killed his Alaskan Dall sheep just minutes after first light. He and his guide had located his ram late in the afternoon on the day before the season opened and spent the dark and frigid night up on the mountain without tent or sleeping bag just waiting for dawn.
Zach Fallin killed on day two, I killed on day three and John Wayne Smith killed on day four. We all had many to choose from. Some that we saw were bigger than what we shot but had broken tines. I had chosen the hunt dates and as it turned out we were just past the peak of the rut. There was lots of rutting activity still going on. Being a little late to the party, we were finding quite a few bucks had some tines broken from fighting.
Zach Fallin and his buck.
John Wayne Smith killed his buck on the fourth day.
Steven had told me that the buck to doe ratio was high on bucks. This made for a very competitive rut situation that accounted for so many broken antlers. Next time I thought our LRH group will come earlier for this reason.
Imagine, though, going on a hunt where there was almost too much active rutting going on. That’s pretty close to the dream of deer hunters everywhere.
There are bobcats and javelina on the ranch. I almost took a 500 yard shot at a sneaking-away cat but he got into brush too quickly. A day later I had another bobcat sighting. Several sightings of javelinas afforded opportunities. I saw a coatimundi up close on day three. Coyotes were heard but not seen.
There was very little wind in the mornings but on some of the days we saw wind speeds picking up by mid afternoon. Most of the good spotting activity and perhaps all four kills occurred in the mornings.
Several times while on this hunt I thought about how perfect it would be for some who would like to hunt in the mountains but don’t want to sleep in a tent or don’t want to ride horses or just don’t want to work as hard as it takes for our Wyoming horseback wilderness hunts.
My buck was taken early in the morning of the third hunt day. We left the ranch compound at our normal, civilized time. We headed off in a direction that was new to me. Soon we entered a very narrow canyon with steep rocky hillsides on both sides. Then the canyon widened out as the route meandered along a creek bed with running water.
Steven stopped the vehicle to glass as we moved along. The second time he did this he saw a buck that may be a shooter. So we got out of the Ranger and he quickly set up his scope on the tripod. After acquiring the buck in the scope he motioned for me to take a look. It took me only about 2.6 seconds of viewing to decide to kill this buck.
He was over 700 yards away up on a steep hillside and I wanted to get to a spot both closer and with better ground conditions for taking the shot. So we grabbed our stuff and hurried off on foot. As I walked I immediately looked forward to spots that I thought Steven may direct us to for the shot. I also started mentally listing the numerous shooting positions that I would choose from. Once I got to a good location I knew the buck may be on the move and I needed to be ready.
So I also ticked off my list of “go” equipment: rifle, ammo, BR2 rangefinder, binos, shooting sticks, tripod with saddle rest attached, backpack if I needed to lean my shooting arm against it or rest my rifle on it. For this steep shot (which turned out to be at 17 degrees) my bipod may be too short. As I walked I checked that my scope was still on a lower power for quick target acquisition and that my parallax knob was set accordingly.
We stopped on a relatively level spot at about 400 yards. The grass was still a little high for a prone shot. But I wiggled into an okay spot on the ground, confirming that the bipod was indeed too short. So I quickly switched to the backpack as my front rest.
The buck had not seen us but he had started slowly walking to our left as we approached. He stopped as I hit the ground and prepared for the shot. I got the shot off before he started to move again and Steven later mentioned this. “Most of our hunters aren’t able to get the shot off that quickly.”
Well, all the thinking and prepping I did while on the move to my shooter spot enabled this. We teach this in the NTO-LRH Shooting classes in the Wyoming mountains. At the shot the buck just folded to the ground.
The dead deer was on a 45 degree slope and part of our walk upwards to it was through tallish grass that obscured the loose rocky turf underneath. I thought again about some hunters who may be looking for a physically easy hunt. The trip up the mountain to recover my deer was the only part of my hunt that was at all difficult. And a hunter doesn’t really have to accompany the guide if the recovery is difficult.
The body size of the Coues deer is really small. All four of our bucks were about four and a half years old. But look at this image of the entire carcass of my buck being packed out whole after gutting.
Steven and the guide packing Len’s buck.
The first three bucks taken.