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Monday, October 21, 2013

One last proxy hunt

Drama moon as we hiked in before dawn
Yesterday Brooks, Adelia and I had an eventful hunt.  We started out hiking before sunrise under a full moon.  I took a picture of the moon on drama setting and it looked darn near apocalyptic.  Up high we saw deer right away, and down in the bottom of a bowl there was a big buck.  On my last 2 hunts prior I had only seen one spike - it is hard to find bucks in October after they have moved down out of the alpine - and so we were all quite excited.

We made a plan to loop around and get closer him, and we were speedily moving that way when we ran into a huge sleeping bear.  I did not see him until he woke up about 10 yards away with a BIG hiss and explosion of steam and snot.  Brooks who was just behind me said I levitated 10 feet to the left.  The bear went right and crashed away through the bushes.  We watched him join the buck down in the bottom of the bowl.  He was so big that he just looked like a big black ball with no legs or ears.

We got to the point where we thought we could make a stalk on the deer, but he had disappeared.  The bear was there off to the side sleeping, but no deer.  Still we were fairly sure he was down there bedded  somewhere in the alders, and so off Brooks went to find him.  Lots of does and fawns ran away but no big buck.  Adelia and I watched the bear wake up and skedaddle.  We joined Brooks down at the bottom of the bowl.

And then we got a big break.  Brooks barely caught a glimpse of the big buck skylined as he exited the other side of the bowl.  Somehow he had snuck away without us catching a glimpse of him.  And so off we went in chase.  We got to the top and there was the buck out in a field 500 or so feet below us out in the main valley.  He KNEW we were chasing him and was looking back right at us.  I got within extreme shooting range and Brooks was trying to get closer when he took off running.

Leaping and bounding we watched him run for literally a mile.  And that should have been the end of the hunt.  Actually it should have been the end of the hunt when we first saw him sky lined leaving the bowl.  He ran and ran, and Adelia and I tried to keep him in view with our binoculars.  He got to some trees and was about to enter when suddenly he turned around and ran back towards us! Then he ran back towards some other trees, and then back towards us again. And then he stopped and just stood there about 700 yards away at the bottom of the ridge.  We think he wanted to go back to the does in the bowl where we first found him - drawn to them like a magnet.

So we decided to try and get closer to him again.  We got out of view and walked down the backside of the ridge and he just stood there.  Unbelievable!  We kept on peeking back over the ridge until we were close enough to shoot.  And then, finally, after over 3 hours of chasing, we had our buck down!  Of course we had chased him so far that we had to hike down into a different valley from where we parked our car.  But that was part of the adventure.  We had to hitchhike and catch a ride back to our car.  The first car that came along picked us up - thank you Nate!  Patrick

A nice 3 point sitka blacktail deer

It truly was a team effort

Now it is time to hike home!

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