Southern Utah GTeam Adventure

Oct 24, 2013
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#1
IMG_9458.JPG DSCN2188.JPG IMG_9479.JPG IMG_9642.JPG IMG_9644.JPG IMG_9551.JPG DSCN2217.JPG IMG_9611.JPG IMG_9616.JPG DSCF0521 (2).JPG IMG_9458.JPG DSCN2188.JPG IMG_9479.JPG IMG_9642.JPG IMG_9644.JPG IMG_9551.JPG DSCN2217.JPG IMG_9644.JPG IMG_9551.JPG DSCN2217.JPG IMG_9611.JPG IMG_9616.JPG DSCF0521 (2).JPG Where to begin! It was a hell of a trip! The opener was October 22 but the hunt began well before this date. Gil and I decided to put in for the Pine Valley Unit General Rifle an area we had never been to before and with a rifle for the first time in Utah. We heard many stories of overcrowded conditions but figured if we played it right we could manage to make a good thing out of it, after all we were going to be hunting together in an awesome state!
We knew getting a tag was pretty much a done deal with the points we had ,it was a matter of us drawing a premium tag or general tag but a trip to Utah was happening. Once we got the results (general tag) a plan was set finding some lodging and as much info about the unit. It's a rather large area but once we started reading about the unit and viewing maps we knew we would be concentrating around the north end. the plan was to get there with a day and a half to scout before the opener. Arriving on Thursday the 20th early enough to get out for an evening scout and using all of Friday to confirm what we wanted to do on Saturday was one of the best things we could've done. The original area we planned on hunting was holding very little deer and caused us to change plans and falling back on a tip from the Biologist not on a specific area but a specific action that was occurring, Early Migration. We headed for wintering grounds and found all the sign we needed, tracks and droppings everywhere with deer in them, the best kind. After spotting a 24-26" 3x4 we set our goals for the hunt.

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Once we found this area we planned on climbing high opening morning and spending plenty of time behind the glasses and spotting scope away from roads and the more easily accessible ridges. Well the crowds didn't disappoint the hunters were out for sure. There was lots of shooting as soon as first light broke and we were glad we had taken the route we did, being high above the bottoms we could see hunters on every knoll at the edge of the flats and ATV's, UTV's and Trucks moving along every accessible road. Plenty of deer would fall that day but many made their way into the timber and at a great range for us. A half hour into the season we had an 18" 4x4 at 150 yards making it's way up a ridge. Our patience was definitely going to be tested as we would normally pull the trigger on a deer like that but after setting the goals we were going to stick with it for as long as possible.
We encountered many deer for the next five days averaging 10 bucks and about 50 does per day testing us to the limit. It helped that very few hunters were willing to hike more than a couple hundred yards. We would start our hikes at dark to reach our vantage point and once the morning movement subsided we followed the deer in to bedding areas in the timber. On the 4th day of the hunt we had covered many miles and countless hours in the field when we finally spotted a buck we were hoping to take down. The buck was moving away from us at over 800 yards so we made a plan to climb a ridge to see if he would settle in once out of site. This almost worked to perfection, we got to the saddle he had moved in to and started glassing when Gil spotted him but the old buck was slick and kept does between us until he hit a draw and was able to maneuver out of sight in a hurry never giving a shot. We spent the rest of the day learning this area and coming up with a plan for the evening and the next morning. We saw many deer that evening but not the buck so we planned on climbing higher the next day in hopes of finding him before he slipped in to the heavy cover.
On Wednesday morning we found ourselves higher on the ridge well above the majority of the deer movement hoping to spot yesterday's buck. Well not long after first light we hear rocks falling and find a small buck moving across the canyon at a level slightly higher than us. His position put us on high alert as we had seen a small buck with our target buck the day before. 5 minutes later I hear Gil say good buck. I knew it was the buck and asked where, he pointed out his location and said he was bedded, as he set up for a shot. I located the buck and used the range finder giving us a reading of 322 yds. It was an exciting moment as we setup and Gil takes the shot and hits above the buck getting him right out of his bed, it happens, but recovers quick and puts another round down range catching the buck as it faced downhill putting him down in a hurry. Talk about an exciting moment! I stayed at the shooting position as Gil made his way towards his buck in case he happen to get up. It was awesome to see Gil reach the buck and give me the signal raising his rifle over his head. I joined him after gathering our supplies and celebrated with photos and then a plan to get him out. It was decided that I would make my way back to the truck as Gil drug the buck down hill to the nearest access point by a dirt road. I hiked back to the truck and went around the canyon and finally reached a point we could get the deer to. We headed back to town to celebrate with a good burger and make plans for the meat which we were very fortunate enough to get the motel owner to connect us with a friend that had cold storage in town, one less thing to worry about! Time to make plans for Thursday and see if we could find one for me.
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We decided to head south On Thursday morning to a secondary area that had a bunch of camps opening weekend and deer sign in hopes that a spot we saw on google earth truly had no roads. As we drove in on the main access road we encountered two bucks a 3x4 and 4x4 causing us to shift plans and check to confirm that the area was BLM land. It turned out to be BLM and had a small road that ended with a great expanse of road less section in the direction the deer were headed. It was decided that we would climb a ridge adjacent to the drainage the bucks seemed to be taking. Not knowing the area we waited until we could see well enough to climb as we weren't seeing much hunter movement. We moved up the ridge slowly glassing every few minutes and as we topped the ridge we could see deer moving along the opposite side of the canyon and along distant draws. They all seemed to be headed towards a massive stand of Cedars and Pinyon Pine to our northwest. Upon settling to glass the different groups of deer I spot a good buck rounding a peak at about 600 yds.
Things got exciting again after seeing a shooter. We decided to move slowly in the direction of the buck trying not to spook all the deer that were between us. This seemed an impossible task as more and more deer kept popping out of cover. I stayed high on a spur ridge that moved in the direction of the buck to keep a visual on the ridge that most of the deer seemed to be headed towards as Gil took to the bottom of the draw about 30 yds from me to keep the noise level down. I was completely focused on the far ridge when Gil shouts out big buck and I kept looking on the far ridge expecting to see the buck running across the face. I could here sounds of running on rocks and thought it was Gil when it occurred to me that it was a buck that Gil had jumped at 20 yds and was running along the bottom away from us no more than 50 yds from me. I'm finally able to make out the buck and drop to a knee as he comes out of the draw and slows on the opposite side at 65 yds and I take a shot dropping the buck immediately. I wasn't exactly sure of the bucks size but made out a decent frame as it moved up the draw. At that point Gil runs over to me and says "you got a good one" . It's amazing how things happen, at one moment we were heading in the direction of a good looking 3x3 when an awesome 4x4 is pushed out by your best friend and it all comes together. Thanks Brother! What an unforgettable adventure! It was worth all the miles, the worn out Danners and head aches from glassing so long, our patience was truly tested and I'm glad we were up for the challenge. Have to love hunting Utah's public land mule deer. Looking forward to the next trip. Sorry for the lengthy write up but really enjoyed the trip! Thanks for reading and Happy Hunting!
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Oct 24, 2013
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#16
great read, great bucks, congrats! question what causes those strange tips on the ends of the antlers?
I heard from a warden when I had a buck validated with the same antler growth that a parasite was the cause of the acorning effect. I found other info that suggested tip damage during velvet stage. Definitely a unique feature.