MY three boys hiking in on opening morning.
Some bucks we saw across the canyon on a CWMU.
Me and the boys having fun hunting.
Dallen's 2016 mule deer.
Landen's first mule deer.
Two days after coming off the mountain from elk hunting with the boys we were headed back out. This time for mule deer. Opening morning we decided to drive up in the dark and do a day hike down one of my favorite canyons. As it was just getting light, we set out down the canyon. Within minutes we found a bunch of deer and a couple bucks but they were right on the corner of a CWMU so I had to tell the boys to just ignore the deer and lets get down around the corner to see what else we could find. As we were passing by these deer we walked right up on a couple of other hunters setup watching the deer. I tried some small talk with them and they didn't say a word back. Awkward silence.. Ok then. Guess they weren't too happy we were parading past them. I didn't want to hang around so we headed past them and down the canyon.
Surprisingly once we got further down into the canyon we found other hunters had hiked way down into the middle of the canyon in the dark. So much for seeing any deer in that big canyon, with them already in there. We watched the canyon for a few hours and only found one deer. Usually there are a bunch of deer in that canyon but you can't go down into the middle of it in the dark, you just scare everything out while you can't see it. Oh well, the joys of public land hunting in Northern Utah. There are a lot of people crammed into very little public land options. We did find a few more deer way out in the distance but all on the private CWMU.
Around midday after watching the guys in the bottom of the canyon hike all around down in there and not kick up a single deer we headed back out.
With the young boys in school on Monday we decided to make wait till Thursday night and pack into some other public land to hunt through Saturday night.
Thursday night we loaded up or gear and headed up the mountain. We glassed for deer along the way in the sage brush draws but just like the weekend before we could only find deer on the other side of the fences. Public land traffic bumps the deer to where they aren't messed with. That is does.
After dark we made it in a couple miles to where I wanted to make camp we setup our Browning four man Greystone tent for the night.
The next morning we were up early and out glassing for deer. It was nice to actually find more deer than hunters and we were finding plenty of deer. After a while we setup on a point to glass in a spot where the deer were funneling through. By mid morning we had spotted right at sixty two does but no bucks. Dallen decided to walk around the corner a little to be able to look down a canyon better. It was just then that he startled Landen, KB and myself by firing his rifle across the canyon. It didn't sound like he connected on whatever he was shooting at. Dallen was just 30 yards or so from us and I was able to find were he was shooting. It looked like a decent buck and I ranged it at 330 yards and yelled over to him the range while also working with Landen to setup for a shot. Now with the reange Dallen's second shot made a solid hit but it appeared to be a gut shot as the deer was now very sick looking and not wanting to move.
While the buck was still standing Landen was able to get a shot off and I could hear it hit. I later found that Landen hit it in the front leg just below the shoulder. Then Dallen sent another 200 Gr ELD-X through the heart followed by a fifty-yard death run down the hill.
Dallen ended up hitting the buck twice a little far back and his final shot through the boiler room. We teased him about getting excited and not using his range finder before flinging lead. We nicknamed this buck "First Try" with a rough, deep Batman voice. Dallen had a range finder and a diagram of yardages for his Nikon BDC reticle laminated to the side of his rifle scope. He just needed to take a few seconds to get the range. Buck fever will get you excited and excited he sure got. Dallen now had a critter taken with his new X-Bolt 300 WSM. He was really itching to shoot something with it this year.
The buck turned out to be a nice little 4x5. Landen was happy for Dallen but at the same time a little sad he hadn't got a buck or elk yet. Understandable, very understandable.
We boned out the deer and Dallen hauled it back to camp. At camp we refuel for the evening hunt and Dallen headed off the mountain with his buck as it started to rain.
KB, Landen and myself did setup that evening and glassed that evening spotting a bunch more does. Where are all the bucks?
Back in the tent that night the little boys and I chowed down on Chicken and Dumpling Mountain House dinners. It was raining quite heavy on the tent and in the dark and rain Dallen made it back to camp and crawled into the tent with us.
Dallen was a trooper hauling his deer a couple miles off the mountain by himself back to the Montero. He then drove home 20 miles, came back and hiked a couple miles back up the mountain in heavy rain in the dark back up to help his little brother get a buck. It was around 10pm with me and the two young boys snug in our sleeping bags listening to the rain when Dallen made it back. I was a very impressed, proud father that Dallen came back to help his little brother with it being so wet and dark. Thank you Dallen.
The next morning we were up extra early because it was Saturday and we knew we would have a lot more orange on the mountain and that we did. We initially setup where Dallen took his buck but after a half hour we spotted a small buck way across the canyon and we decided to take off after him.
As we crossed the canyon and popped up over a rise where we could see the deer passing from across the canyon. As we did a 18 inch variety of buck came around and stopped broadside just over 200 yards away. I'm not sure what happened. We had Landen on the shooting sticks, it all looked good but we were rushing to help him get positioned and ready. Whatever the case he missed and the buck moved into some brush. As we were waiting for the buck to clear the brush two hunters walked around the bend right in between us and where we were shooting. Ahh! We had to get up and chase after the buck. The two hunter hadn't seen nor knew we were there but after they saw us they changed course and we were able to chase after the buck without having to worry about them chasing it also.
As we crested some brush the buck got out at around 150 yards away. I tried to get Landen on the buck but he just couldn't find it in the scope. Things that come with experience. One of the reasons I like to take the kids prairie dog hunting to learn to shoot under a little pressure.
So off to the races we went again trying to make it to the next draw on this side of the canyon in hopes that we could see the buck in that draw. Nope, too late so on to the next. We were getting a workout. In the next draw we could see the group of deer a thousand or so yards ahead of us. We slowed it down and started crossing through the bottom of the draw when a couple deer jumped up out of the tall sage brush above us. I glassed them up and the last one was a spike. Landen said he wanted to get him so we setup on the sticks again. The buck was broadside right at 200 yards and miss. Landen put another shell in and as the buck paused now going straight away he quickly fired and bam, down goes the buck. What a shot. Not the most optimal angle but it proved to be very effective. I like how Landen loaded and took the shot all on his own. But we have since talked about waiting for a better broadside shot in the future.
Just after he dropped the little buck a larger two-point came around the hill just above the downed buck. Then just after we walked up to the buck I four point comes around and stops in the spot where Landen had shot from. Oh well, Landen and Dad were excited for the buck he was able to harvest. As it turned out the buck had some little forks. We kidded about using the antlers as utensils like a spork and the name of "Sporky" was giving to Landen's first buck.
In the chase for the buck Dallen had been kind enough help KB along.
After we had the deer boned out we headed back to camp. It was a small buck and the meat only weighed 40 pounds and then the head was at least five pounds.
Back at camp we broke down the tent and loaded everything up for the trip off the mountain.
As I look back at this hunt it will be one that was really special to me. Having all three boys with me, both of them getting bucks, Landen getting his first deer, sleeping in the tent in the rain. The whole experience was just awesome.
I can't wait to take the boys out again next year after deer. They have been talking a lot about packing in the extra couple miles next year to be in a better position to get larger bucks. I can't wait.
Landen's lucky horseshoe.
Landen notching his first tag.
My boys walking up to Dallen's buck.
The buck that showed up right after Landen shot his first deer.
Boning out Landen's deer.
Looking back at camp from across the canyon.
My favorite hunting knife, a Russ Kommer custom small skinner.
I love hunting in trail running shoes. I rarely put boots on anymore unless there is snow or really bad weather.
What's left of the 80 Gr. TTSX bullet that was shot at 3,550 fps out of a 243 WSSM.
Comparing the recovered 80 Gr. TTSX to an unfired one.