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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My 2022 scouting season began over Memorial Day weekend when I set up a few trail cameras. The next time I was able to get out was July 2nd.

I had a mishap on that trip. I was about 120 miles from home when I noticed my ATV seat and side engine panel were missing. Luck would have it that the panel flew under the ATV and lodged under the rear tire. With some ½” screws I was able to re-secure it where the clips had snapped off. Unfortunately, the seat was long gone. I had to create a makeshift seat which wasn’t very comfortable! I did see a couple of nice bucks on this trip that had me hopeful for the fall hunts.

Deer Natural landscape Plant Fawn Grass

Plant Deer Natural landscape Grass Fawn

I ended up getting Covid the last week of July and it took until late August for me to feel well again. On Labor Day weekend I worked on a couple of blinds for the upcoming rifle elk hunt.

Day 1—September 28th: The opening of the Utah muzzy deer hunt was finally here and I had both a dedicated deer tag and a multi-season elk tag I’d be using this year. I was going to treat this hunting trip more as a scouting trip and see where the bucks were and how they were reacting to the hunting pressure. I was in a new area that I’d not hunted before. Unfortunately, I had some delays first thing in the morning and was beat to my pre-scouted spot by three other guys, so I had to back off and give them space66. I ended up seeing just a couple of small bucks and a lot of does. I was happy to see that almost every doe had a fawn with her and often had twins.

Day 2—The same guys beat me to the glassing spot again about an hour before light, so I changed plans and glassed a different area. Again, I only say a couple of small bucks and lots of does. In the afternoon I decided to check out an area that I had hunted years ago. It used to hold some nice bucks but then the bears and lions took over the place and the deer disappeared. I glassed the rugged canyon for about two hours without spotting a single deer. Just before dark I could hear something moving in the timber below me, but it never came out into the open, so I’m not exactly sure what it was. I can only dream it may have been that monster buck I was looking for.

Day 3:

I decided to check out another area several miles south. A lot of does and fawns were spotted. About mid-morning I came upon a couple of guys walking back to their ATVs. I recognized the vehicles as the same guys that had previously beaten me to the other spot. What were the odds of coming across them again several miles away? I asked them if they had seen any mature bucks and they told me that they had found a 32” wide buck but couldn’t locate it the first couple of days. They told me that most of the bigger bucks they were seeing were down in the bottom of some very deep, steep canyons. I wanted to take it easy in the afternoon, so I planned on checking out yet another area I hunted years ago which was about an hour’s drive away. Unfortunately, I got rained out by a heavy thunderstorm and the road down in to the area was deemed impassible when wet. I didn’t want to press my luck so I took the evening hunt off and rested up.

Day 4:

My plan on this morning was to hunt lower elevation in the timber, hoping that’s where the bucks had moved to. I had been hunting an old burn area up on top but it was obvious that the bucks were not out in the open. They were either down in the deep canyons or in the thick timber, so I got the wind in my favor and hunted down a ridge, glassing each small draw I came upon. I again saw a lot of fawns and does but finally, after still hunting almost two miles, I came across a group of six bucks. The two biggest were small 130” class 4 points about 18-20” wide. Since I still had two more rifle hunts I could go on, I decided to pass on this group. I tried one more area in the evening after breaking camp, only to see a few more small two points and does. That sums up my Utah muzzy deer hunt. Here’s a look at my camp and some of the country I was hunting…..
Plant Sky Natural landscape Larch Evergreen
Cloud Sky Plant Motor vehicle Car
Sky Cloud Natural landscape Mountain Slope
Plant community Ecoregion Plant Natural landscape Slope
Sky Plant Mountain Plant community Natural landscape
Plant Plant community Tarpaulin Tree Shade

Time to get ready for the rifle elk and early rifle deer hunts. I’m taking a whole week off work and ready to go.

Just to throw a little salt in my wounds, I came across this group of bucks just a few hundred yards on private. The biggest buck on the right sure had a tank for a body…..
Plant Organism Deer Elk Fawn

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Here's the next installment of my fall adventures.

Friday, October 7th,

I ended up leaving work a little early and I met up with my family at elk camp right at dark. We discussed where everyone would be going in the morning. My plan was to sit in my blind I had set up a few weeks earlier. My blind is almost exactly one mile from the road. I started hiking about 45 minutes before first light, which wasn’t enough time. When I got to my blind it was already light. A few minutes later, I heard a distant bugle and a few minutes after that I located the elk about 500 yards on a hill above my truck. Go figure! There was a small 5 point, a spike, and about 4 cows. They all fed over the ridgetop.

A few minutes after seeing those elk, I heard 5 or 6 shots go off over that same ridgeline. Then all the elk except the five point came running back over the ridge and heading in my direction. I figured the 5 point must have been shot

Around 9:00 AM I caught movement up at the head of the draw I was watching. I saw a 5 point bull disappear into the trees, but there was a small raghorn three point following about 20 yards behind it about 320 yards from me. A few minutes later a cow came running through a big clearing across the canyon from me at 250 yards, then the raghorn right behind it. I figured the 5 point would be following them, but I was wrong. I couldn’t believe the second bull didn’t follow those other two elk. I guess I shouldn’t have gotten so greedy.

Later in the day, around 3:30 or so, I saw movement in the bottom of the draw right below me. There was a small three-point raghorn standing in an opening and there was a larger bull back in the trees raking his antlers. I passed on the raghorn again and I figured that I just needed to be patient and the other bull would come out in the open. The raghorn walked off out of sight but then a spike came into the opening and bedded. I put my crosshairs on it but I kept thinking the older bull would come out any minute. It never did. After twenty minutes the spike got back up and walked out of sight. That ended the evening hunt.

Day 2:

I decided I would help be a “spotter” for the group in the morning. We were able to locate a group of elk high on the mountain working their way down slope. About mid-mountain they split up and headed in different directions. Two of my cousins were in the right place at the right time and took a raghorn out of each group.

Day 3:

I went back to my opening day spot but this time it was very quiet. I stayed glassing and listening until noon about never saw or heard a single elk in that area. I checked out another area in the afternoon but again no sign of elk.

Day 4:

I decided to check out one of my old honey holes from years past where I had taken several elk. As I was hiking into my glassing spot, I came across several sets of elk tracks that were a day or two old. I glassed for about two hours without sighting any elk. From 10:00 AM to noon I still hunted the timber and some bedding areas I knew about but nothing was in those areas but I did find a great rub from a few weeks earlier. It became time for me to head back to camp so I could pack up my stuff and head out to my “deer camp.” I was planning on meeting my friend Paul who was coming down from Idaho. It took me a while longer than I thought it would to get over to my deer camping spot. Paul and I only got in an hour of glassing before it was completely dark. By time we set up our tents and had dinner, it was after 10:00pm and after making a quick game plan for the next morning, we were off to bed.

I wished this sunrise picture was more clear because it was really cool in person.
I called it "moonset at sunrise"
Sky Plant Branch Larch Tree

And here's the bedding area I still hunted though that has the big rub.

Plant Plant community Ecoregion Natural landscape Wood

Here's the bedded spike that was where the raghorn was standing earlier.

Plant community Plant Natural landscape Tree Deciduous

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wed. Oct. 12th

I decided to take Paul out to the ridgeline that I wanted to hunt on the opener of the muzzy hunt. This time we were the first ones to arrive at the end of the road. A trail headed out onto a ridgetop for about a mile before the ridgeline split into two really good glassing points about a half mile apart from each other. There was a cold north wind blowing, so Paul and I both dropped off the southern ridge and glassed to the south. We were hoping to locate some migrating deer or something being pushed by other hunters. Right at first light, I could see deer moving below me but they were only does. An hour later, shots rang out just over the ridge behind me to the north so I grabbed my gun and pack and hurried in that direction to see what they were shooting at. A guy dropped down into the bottom of the canyon and was wandering around. It appeared he was looking for a blood trail because of the way he was circling around the same area. I set up my spotting scope and scanned the area around him, hoping to locate a downed buck from my higher vantage point, but no such luck. I then went back to my glassing spot for another hour but didn’t see any more deer.

As I hiked back to my ATV I noticed there were four guys down in the bottom of the canyon where the guy was looking for blood and they were taking care of a deer. After checking it out I could see it was an 18-20” wide three point. I decided to side hill in and out of some small draws as I hiked out. I ended up pushing a small back out of his bed, but that was all the action I saw on that hike. Just when Paul and I were about to start up the ATVs and head back to camp, a couple of guys pulled up to us. They were looking for elk but hadn’t seen any. I told them I hadn’t seen any or fresh sign of any kind in all the trips I had been in that area. They told us they had seen a couple four points right off the road while driving around that morning but they didn't have deer tags6. I guess Paul and I were doing it all wrong!

After lunch at camp, I suggested to Paul that we could check out an area I hunted years ago. It used to hold bucks, but since I hadn’t been there in over 20 years it would be taking a big chance. Paul was all for seeing some new country. I knew it was an area deer migrated through, so hopefully our afternoon would let us see more deer.

We arrived at the area about 3 hours before dark. I was feeling very optimistic about this new area because we saw several does while driving into the canyon. There were also a lot of fresh tracks all around where we parked the truck. As we hiked into our Google-Earth-pre-scouted area, we bumped a couple different groups of deer out of the tress, including a couple of small three and four points. Withing an hour of sitting down and glassing, we were starting to see several deer coming out to feed. Paul saw one tall, narrow four point go into the trees about ¾ mile away but it never came back out. I spotted two cow elk with a calf about a mile away and joked with Paul about how crazy it would be if a bull came out when I wasn’t even hunting elk or expecting to see elk. I watched those elk for another hour but nothing else was around them and they stayed fairly motionless in a small clearing.

As the sun was getting close to going down behind the ridge to the west a couple of guys came over another ridge to the north of us. They slowly worked their way towards us and a little east. I thought they were going to shoot a couple of small bucks they bumped because once guy aimed at the deer with his rifle. Either he decided to pass or couldn’t get a clean shot. The guys finally went out of sight to the east of us. I got up and told Paul I was going to see where the guys were headed and see if they pushed anything out ahead of them. I hadn’t been gone more than 10 minutes when I heard a quiet whistle behind me. It was Paul frantically waving me back to him. When I got close he explained that right after I left a group of about 30 cows, a nice branch-antlered bull, and a 320” class herd bull came feeding from the west about 150 yards from Paul. I can’t believe what crazy bad timing it was for me to get up and leave when I had. Paul and I snuck back over to where he had seen the elk last but they were gone. We kept moving slowly around the hill, hoping to see where the herd had moved. As the sun was just starting to set, all of a sudden, a stampede of elk came running out of the tress and into a big sagebrush flat. The glare of the sun was so bad, I couldn’t see through my scope. All I could see was an orange glow in my view. The big bull stopped and looked back at about 400 yards but I had no chance at a shot because of the glare of the sun. I had a good rest too. What a frustrating situation! Twenty minutes later we packed up our stuff and headed back to the truck. We could have killed an 18” 3x4 within 80 yards as we hiked out, but we were hoping and holding out for something older and bigger. All in all, it was a pretty good opening day of the Utah early rifle deer hunt and I was so close to filling my tag on a great bull elk, which was completely unexpected.

I really love daybreak on opening mornings of the hunts, there's so much anticipation.
Sky Atmosphere Cloud Afterglow Electricity

Here's a view off my opening morning glassing point

Plant Natural landscape Wood Twig Trunk

Here's a flat that looked a lot like the one where the elk ran out across from behind me and Paul

Sky Plant Natural landscape Wood Tree

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thursday, October 13th

Paul and I decided to check out some steep canyon country to the south of camp. It was about a five mile ATV ride. The overnight temp was in the mid 30s and it was plenty cold riding the ATV at 20-25 MPH. At the point where we needed to turn off the main road and head up a rough jeep trail for about another mile, I stopped to wait for Paul to catch up because he was staying back trying to stay out of my dust trail. While waiting, I warmed my frozen hands up with the hot air from the muffler exhaust (something I learned from a cousin a long time ago.)

Once we got to the spot where we parked the ATVs, Paul hiked out onto a point to glass some steep canyons to the East and I dropped off the edge of the ridge and glassed a basin to the south. I had only been sitting a few minutes and deer were coming around the hill and side-hilling about 100 yards below me. Within 30 minutes three different groups of three or four does came from that direction but not a single buck.

An hour or so later, I spotted a small 2-point and an average 16” 3-point feeding 400 yards below me. It was crazy how well they blended into the dead fall and it took me almost an hour to finally pick them up in my binoculars. I ended up glassing about 15-20 does but no more bucks in the basin.

Before it got any later I packed up my gear and headed North a half mile to look into another deep canyon; however, I didn’t see anything in that canyon once I got there after glassing for about 30 minutes. I then thought I’d go see how Paul was faring with his glassing. As I headed back to the south the way I had just come, I walked right into a lone 3-point that was about 16” wide. At 80 yards he would have been an easy kill but he lived for another day. I met up with Paul and he told me he had seen six or seven bucks with a couple of them being 4-points in the 20-22” wide, 130 class range, but not worth the effort of packing one like that out of the deep canyon they were in. We then headed back to camp for lunch.

Later, we tried still hunting an area of pine draws that were just above a huge meadow that sat on private ground. The thought was possibly that bucks were bedding in those draws during the day and feeding in the meadow at night, but we only pushed out a few does in a couple miles of walking. We headed back to camp, jumped in my truck and went to the area from the afternoon before. We parked at the same pullout, hiked the same route, and sat in about the same glassing spot. We didn’t see as many deer this time and we did see other hunters. One of the hunters was carrying a rectangle case of some sort. It looked like a 12 pack of Dr. Pepper. LOL.

About a half hour before sundown we split up. I hiked around the hill we were on, with the plan being that I would hike a ½ circle which was about a mile or so and then meet up with Paul at the truck. As I rounded the hill, I found myself hiking through knee high grass. No wonder the elk were feeding in there the afternoon before. As I continued my hike, I pushed out the same small 3x4 we saw the day before and a big 20” 2x3. Once I got elevation and the terrain started to open up, I could see deer feeding in small valleys and meadows in every direction. I came to a corner fenceline that was private, so I turned and paralleled the fence back towards the truck.

Just as I crested a small rise, I could see several deer around a pond about 100 yards into the private property. When I glassed the group of deer, I was amazed to see that there were 4 or 5 small 4-points and one mature 4+ year old buck. The older buck was about 23-25” wide and probably a 150-160” buck. Now daylight was fading fast and shooting hours would be soon expiring. The older buck started walking on a 45 degree angle toward the fence, but when he got to within 50 yards of the fence, he turned parallel and walked into the trees. I didn’t see him again. As I continued walking towards my truck, I bumped into a few more groups of deer that were coming from the public ground heading towards the private. Once I met up with Paul, we shared what we had seen. It seemed I was the one in the right spot that evening because Paul hadn’t seen much.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Friday, October 14th,

It was becoming very obvious that the deer herd was not migrating in masses during the early rifle hunt like they did last year. The big difference was it snowed a foot in the high country days before the opening in 2021 and it had yet to snow a single inch in 2022. I decided to show Paul the spot where I hunted this unit for the first time, back in 1988. Where my friend Shane killed an upper 170” buck. I hunted that same spot last year during the second rifle season and saw deer migrating and knew some nice bucks had been killed in the canyon right below me. I even passed on a young 3x4 buck at 100 yards. I knew this spot was a long way from our camp, so we left about 1.5 hours before light. Unfortunately, that still wasn’t enough time.

As we headed south on a pretty rough, dirt road, we started seeing a lot of deer in little meadows. We had two problems; one was the deer were on private property and the second, we were still six or so miles from the public ground spot I wanted to get to. During my July scouting trip, I’d found a new spot to glass from in that area. As we were getting close to our spot, Paul and I crept slowly down a very rough, rocky, washed-out Jeep trail in my truck, we rounded a corner and saw several vehicles parked right where I’d intended to go. We continued all the way down to the bottom of the canyon. I was expecting to see more vehicles down there too, but, amazingly, there weren’t any. We decided that we would hike to the spot I went to last year where I passed on the 3x4.

We ended up watching a small side canyon that had a little stream in it. The migrating deer would come down off a plateau and many of them would stop at the stream before continuing their journey to winter range. After about three hours of watching, we only saw a dozen or so deer, with only one small two point amongst them. At noon we packed up our stuff to head back to the truck. We talked over our options and decided to head after the mature buck I saw the afternoon before. We hoped we could catch him coming out of the public land bedding area before it jumped the fence into private land for the night.

To be continued……

Here's the buck Shane killed in 88

Plant Gesture People in nature Tree Wood

Here's the 3x4 I passed in 2021

Water Blue Azure Fluid Underwater

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Part two......

About halfway to our afternoon destination we stopped for lunch in one of the few good sized roadside pullouts available. After talking more about the mature buck that I saw the afternoons before, Paul was willing to go after it. Since I still had the second rifle deer season and multi-season general elk to hunt, it made sense to let Paul have a try for it. Paul went to sit where I saw the buck along the fence line and I went back to where I had been glassing earlier. After sitting and glassing for a little more than an hour without seeing much of anything, the sweet sound of a single shot rang out. Since we had radios with us, I called to Paul asking if he got the mature buck. I heard him say something like “Yes, I have a buck down,” and then some other stuff that I couldn’t understand through the static. I quickly packed up my stuff and headed his way.

On my way to meet Paul, I ran into several of the same bucks I had seen the last two days, so it was obvious that they were not migrating out of the area yet. When I got to Paul and his buck, the first thing Paul said was, “This isn’t the mature buck you were talking about, is it?” I felt bad, but had to confirm that it was definitely not the buck we were looking for, but a much younger one. As Paul started to quarter his buck, I headed back to get the truck. The closest access to Paul’s location was a rough two-track road along the fence line. The road dropped down a steep hill into the draw where the buck was down. Just as I was about to drop down the hill, I started feeling uneasy. I called Paul on the radio to ask him if I would have any problems coming down the fence line and if he had hiked the road all the way to the bottom to confirm that it was ok to drive down there. What I didn’t know was the radio reception was really bad on Paul’s end. All he heard was that I was coming down the fence line and if he thought that was the best route. His response was, “Yes, see you soon” or something like that. I headed off the ridgetop and about halfway down I encountered a big wash out/rut in the road. It was between three to four feet deep and dropped off towards the fence. I tried to drive around it by having my uphill side tires going above the track and in the brush, but by doing that it started to feel like the truck was going to tip over any second. I was leaning uphill in the cab the best I could, but with the weight of the truck pushing downhill the front tire started to slide down into the ditch. Probably more out of desperation than good thinking, I turned the wheels uphill and accelerated enough to pull the front up out of the pit I was dropping in to. However, then the rear tire dropped in. I kept the speed up which helped the truck pop back up onto the two tracks.

Before I started down that hill I remembered seeing tire tracks in the road and thinking to myself that someone else had made it down ok, so I should be fine. At this point, I realized it was probably someone in a side-by-side and not a full-size truck! LOL. Once I got down to where it flattened out I stopped and looked at ONX maps to see if we could follow this road out another way. It appeared possible, but I wanted to make sure before attempting it. I told Paul that I was going to check out this road and would be back. I hadn’t gone more than 200 yards when I reached where the road was completely washed out, with at least a six foot drop off. The only option to get out was obviously back the way I had just come from. I was really, really hoping that we weren’t going to slide into that deep washout going back up. I was envisioning having to spend the night, or worse, having to call “Matt’s Off-Road Recover” to come get us out.

I explained our predicament to Paul; we quickly finished quartering out the buck and packed into the a 120 qt cooler in the back of the truck. I definitely, thankfully, felt more in control driving up the steep grade than I had coming down it. Paul walked the road ahead of me to guide me by watching how close the tires were getting to the edge of the drop off. We made it back up without incident. Paul later told me that at one point my tires were less than 2” from the edge and thankfully the bank didn’t give way. I told him I did say a prayer that we would make it out ok and Paul laughed and said he was praying too. Since we got to bed pretty late after taking care of the buck, I decided that in the morning I would try the same basin we went to Thursday morning as it was close to camp. I hoped that the weekend crowd would have the deer moving around more.

Here's Paul's buck. It did have some cool unique waves in its tines
Plant Trophy hunting Hunting Deer hunting Plant community

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sat. Oct. 15th

Since we got to bed pretty late after taking care of Paul’s buck back at camp, I decided to try the basin we went to Thursday morning again. It was close by and I was hoping the weekend crowd would have the deer moving more. Paul and I split up at first light. I glassed the basin and Paul glassed the deep canyon to the East. After a couple hours passed, we’d only seen one small buck; so we headed back to camp. On the way back, I made a quick side trip and found some water, but it didn’t appear that the deer were using it very much. We got back to camp, loaded up, and Paul headed back to Idaho while I went back to elk camp to meet up with my wife and son who arrived there the day before.

When I arrived at elk camp, I only had a couple of hours of light left. I doubted I had enough time to get into a good spot before sundown, but my wife talked me into unpacking after dark and hurrying out immediately to get in some hunting as it was my last chance with a rifle. I decided to hunt by a pond with a good-sized meadow around it. Knowing that a nice bull was killed there three days earlier I wasn’t sure if any elk would be back, but it was worth a shot. I settled in behind a big, downed tree, about 100 yards from the water. I had been there about an hour and the sun was just starting to set, when two calf elk came in from behind me, running and kicking as they ran past about 50 yards away. I thought for sure they scented me and if there were others with them they would be on alert and leave the area. The calves stopped just past the pond and were looking around in all directions. I then saw movement in the aspens on the other side of the meadow. Elk appeared, coming in a single file, on a well-used trail. A cow elk, then another and another, until 8 of them were in sight. Then, about 20 yards behind the cows, came a very nice upper 200” 5 point.

I quickly had my scope crosshairs on the bull and I expected him to stop at any second. The pond sat in a little depression and with the dry fall the water level was low. The bull, along with the cows, never stopped but charged right to the waters edge to drink. All I could see of him was an occasional glimpse of his antlers as he lifted his head up and down while drinking. This went on for about five minutes. The cows finally started to reappear from the opposite side of the pond of where they’d entered it. Seconds later the bull followed, but he was walking directly away from me. I cow-called and he instantly turned but was quartering away from me. I put the crosshairs on the base of his neck and fired. No sign of a hit! He then started walking towards me in the direction of the cows. I put the crosshairs on the intersection of his neck and front shoulder. When I shot, he hunched up and then started to stagger backwards about 3 feet, then side to side a few feet in each direction. My big mistake was that I just watched him, expecting him to drop any second. Instead, he gathered himself up and started trotting broadside to me across the lower base of the pond bank—back to the trail the elk came in on. I shot again and clearly saw my bullet hit the dirt above the bull’s shoulder, hitting high. A second or two later, the bull stopped and looked back at his cows which had run in the other direction. I aimed a couple inches lower behind the bull’s front shoulder and pulled the trigger once more. All four of his legs folded up and he dropped straight to the ground but, as fast as that happened, he scrambled back to a standing position then started walking off towards a thick patch of aspens. By this time, my rifle was empty of bullets and I was desperately trying to put in another round. By the time I was ready to shoot again, the bull was in the aspens. I could see him moving through the trees but couldn’t get another shot off before he was out of sight.

As I sat there in shock about what had just happened, I realized how badly my ears were ringing. I noticed my earplugs sitting right in front of me on a log. I had been so caught up in the moment, that I completely forgot to put in the earplugs. My new muzzle brake was definitely plenty loud. I quickly gathered up my rifle and hiked over to where I saw the bull disappear. It took a few minutes, but I did locate a light blood trail. My family started calling me on the radio because they’d heard shots and wanted to know if it was me and if I needed assistance. I told them that I was tracking a wounded bull. They told me they were on their way to help. That turned out to be a big mistake. Six family members showed up at different times and were constantly yelling back and forth trying to find each other and to see if anyone was seeing anything. By this time, it was dark. We had followed a blood trail about 500 yards before losing it. People were still yelling back and forth and I was getting more and more frustrated. With the commotion, I doubted there was any chance that the bull was going to bed down. It was more likely that he would be pushed onto nearby private property.

Once I was finally able to get everyone in the group together, I made the decision to call off the search until first light the next morning. The decision wasn’t taken well by a few, but I felt it was the right thing to do.

Sun. Oct. 16th

When it got light, I made the decision that only my son and I would go out to find the trail. If we came up on it bedded, I didn’t want others in the way of a quick shot or have them making a lot of noise and getting the bull up before I could make a shot. My son and I picked up the trail and followed it a half mile past where we’d quit the night before. The blood we found, was high on the oak leaves, about 4 feet off the ground, indicating a probable high shoulder wound. After that half mile, we lost the trail. At this point, I called back to camp for help and the family came up and spread out to look for more sign. While we waited for them, my son and I hiked to a nearby pond hoping the wounded bull went to it for water as it was in a downhill direction. We couldn’t find any sign of fresh tracks or blood around the water.

As we returned toward the place we were going to meet our help, I smelled something strong and musky. It wasn’t an elk smell. When my in-laws met up with us, I asked them if they’d smelled it too. They hadn’t, but my mother-in-law said she’d seen what looked like fresh bear scat. A few minutes later we could hear hounds baying higher up on the mountain. It didn’t take long before the dogs arrived, single-file and about 5 yards behind each other, racing down the hill. They passed within 50 yards of us and headed down the mountain to the south until we could no longer hear them. We found out later that the dogs belonged to a lion hunter. They’d picked up the trail of a bear and were chasing it until the outfitter could head off his dogs and end the chase. I’m guessing it must have been the bear I was smelling.

We zig-zagged and circled the area for most of the day. I had turned on my on-x tracker when I lost the blood trail and when I finally gave up my tracker showed that I’d zig-zagged over four miles in the area area with no sign of any more blood. There were several bull elk tracks in this area, which made it difficult to try and figure out if any were the bull’s that I’d shot. I had to be back to work the next morning, so just before dark we finally gave up and headed down to break camp. It is so frustrating to hit something and not find it. I could only hope that his wounds were not fatal and that I’d missed the vitals.

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That is the worst feeling knowing that you hit an animal and can't find it. Been there and done that. Go for you putting in your due diligence in searching for the bull. Sometimes to much help is not a good thing.

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Here's a short follow up after I got home,

I was able to go shoot my rifle to see if it was still hitting 1.5” high at a hundred yards or if something had changed. I was frustrated, wondering why I was hitting so high when I shot at that bull just days earlier. I found that it was shooting 9” high at 100 yards. I tried again, this time with the muzzle brake off like when I first sighted it in. Bingo—1.5” high again.

Before the hunt, I’d talked to a good friend about packing my gun without the extra weight and length of the brake and then putting it back on when reaching my glassing spot. He advised me not to do that and to just keep it on all the time. I asked him if the gun would shoot the same either way and he said that it would; the accuracy shouldn’t change at all. After my experience, I called him out on his bad advice. He then explained he was talking about that the grouping size wouldn’t change, but of course point of impact would most definitely change. Obviously we weren’t on the same page with our thinking! That’s a mistake this idiot won’t be making again!

The other problem I might have had was I was shooting 142 grain accubonds at nearly 3,100 feet per second. At that close distance I think the bullets were traveling too fast and probably didn’t expand much, passing through the elk while causing little internal damage. I think I’m through shooting those bullets at anything under 200 yards.

I had a family event scheduled opening weekend of the 2nd rifle, so I stayed home and helped out with that but I planned on heading back out on Friday, Oct. 28th. I was going to look one more time for the wounded bull and hunt deer one more time. I was hoping to maybe see birds concentrated in an area where a dead animal might be found.
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