X12 an adventure and heartbreak

KoozeDeer

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2016
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7 points in Ca and I was able to draw an X12 tag, thanks to the recommendation by some of the fellas on this forum. I E-scouted all summer and searched everywhere, any conversation I could find online for any morsel of info. I had been in contact with a local from Bridgeport named Jim that had spent his lifetime running around the eastern Sierra.

I expressed to Jim I was not a road hunter and willing to put in the work, we had several conversations and was forthcoming with good information. He recommended the last 2 weeks of the season, hoping for cold weather to get the deer on their feet. I chatted with Jim all summer and soon found myself in his door step introducing myself. We spoke briefly and I was off to a recommendation in the backcountry. We spent a few days deep in the wilderness with camp on our back and nights in the low teens! Deer were moving but I was still left searching for a toad. Having waited 7 years I had no intention of shooting an average buck.

Back into town to have a warm meal and chat with Jim. This is where my season took a turn, I can only assume that after Jim saw the work I was willing to put in, and my determination he proceeded to give me directions to “the land of milk and honey” his personal hunting spot!! I was excited to get back into the wilderness but unfortunately my hunting partner was exhausted and could not handle another trip into the woods and the brutal cold. A quick trip to bring him home to San Diego, and visit my wife and I was back in Bridgeport the next day!

The next hike was 5.5 miles and well over 2k feet of elevation. I found myself at 9500’ way into a massive canyon that most will only visit on horseback. I made it to what I would make my base camp and quickly found my Sawer water filter was busted! Not enough fuel to boil water for eating and drinking my time would be limited. But I stayed positive and hunted hard, the local fires made it tough to glass.

This is where things got interesting, in just a day and a half the mountains were full of quality bucks! I saw no less than half a dozen 4x4’s mature bucks all over the woods. The place was a gold mine! On the first full evening I glassed up 3 mature 4x4’ I took my time and picked the best buck out of the group. Best I could tell he was a 170’+ deer. I ranged him and settled in for a shot. One shot “bang” he fell to his knees and did not take a step, I quickly reloaded and watched for a follow up shot. The bucked rolled on his back and was down for the count! I got back in the binos and made sure he was down and not moving. Having confidence I just whacked a stud I gathered up my knife and game bags to go to work. I marked my GPS as the sun was setting and headed to the deer. To my horror he was gone!!! Blood covered the ground but he was no where to be found, I did my best to trail him but there was little to find for blood outside of the voluminous amount where he tipped over. I spent that night and most of the next day trying to locate the buck, unfortunately with no success.

Heart broken I lost a toad of a buck and worse that I wounded an animal. I could not bring myself to consider hunting any further. I packed up camp and hiked down the mountain. I made a quick stop to say thank you to Jim for all his help.
With my tail between my legs I drove home. I’ll never forget the lessons learned from this hunt, I pray when I draw X12 again my legs can get me back into that glorious country. If anyone has 5+ points X12 is an amazing unit, and some areas in my opinion are the best mule deer hunting I have ever seen.
 

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fish impaler

Active Member
Nov 16, 2014
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Great pictures, bummer the buck got away. I was looking at x-12 for next year, should be pretty much right on the edge of drawing depending on point creep
 

NBK

Trying to be the man my dog thinks I am.
Mar 8, 2011
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San Diego, Ca.
Thanks for sharing Chris. Hunting can be so humbling. We have all been there.
 

Kellendv

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2013
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That is heartbreaking. Great job regardless though. Sounds like a really fun hunt!
 

GUNDOGLOVER49

Well-Known Member
Aug 14, 2020
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Sorry to hear that but it happens. I have done the same thing except my nightmare was a cow elk. I can not tell you how many times I have relived that experience.
 

Truduct

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2014
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tricerusa.com
Awesome hunt Chris. I did X9b a few years back and that elevation gain is no joke. I love the eastern Sierras.
 

sportyg

Well-Known Member
Oct 28, 2011
911
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SoCal
Sorry you lost your buck, you worked so hard for.. It happens you'll make up for it with your next X12 tag no doubt. As for the location respect the person who hooked you up and keep it private unless he says you can take or tell some else.
 

JakeSCH

Well-Known Member
Oct 16, 2017
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Great adventure and sorry for the way it ended. Those sour notes drive us to be better.
 

ilovesprig

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 3, 2012
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That country brings back memories from the late 50's, 60's and 70's...I'm sure you'll do just fine 7-8 years from now with the incentive to find those bucks again.

Sad that you weren't able to put your hands on that buck, but remember, nothing goes to waist in the wild...Who knows, maybe you'll find him years from now.

Thanks for sharing this great hunt with us all.... :blush:
 

baboltin

Well-Known Member
Jan 1, 2014
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Sorry to hear the loss! But the knowledge gained will be worth it in the future
 

Kellendv

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2013
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I hunt a lot by myself and I have made a habit of staying on the gun and in the scope for a full 10 min after an animal goes down. Sometimes it feels silly and I know the animal is dead but I have heard so many horror stories of animals dropping and looking dead and it turns out that the bullet just grazed the spine and gave the animal a good shock but it was able to get up a few minutes later and run off. With all the blood you found that doesn’t sound like the case… but we’ll never know.

Not trying to tell you what to do or pass judgement or anything like that. Just wanted to share something I do as insurance against this situation.
 

KoozeDeer

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2016
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I hunt a lot by myself and I have made a habit of staying on the gun and in the scope for a full 10 min after an animal goes down. Sometimes it feels silly and I know the animal is dead but I have heard so many horror stories of animals dropping and looking dead and it turns out that the bullet just grazed the spine and gave the animal a good shock but it was able to get up a few minutes later and run off. With all the blood you found that doesn’t sound like the case… but we’ll never know.

Not trying to tell you what to do or pass judgement or anything like that. Just wanted to share something I do as insurance against this situation.
I think that’s a good idea, I always tell myself to “follow through” and stay on the deer. But I think your right, at least a few more min to verify the animal passes
 
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Truduct

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Dec 20, 2014
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I shot a buck up at around 10k ft in X9B watched it drop. I got up to it about 30 minutes later and the thing stood up when I was 10ft away and took off. Had to give him one in the butt to put him down. One of the crazier experiences I have had hunting for sure.
 
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KoozeDeer

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2016
555
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I shot a buck up at around 10k ft in X9B watched it drop. I got up to it about 30 minutes later and the thing stood up when I was 10ft away and took off. Had to give him one in the butt to put him down. One of the crazier experiences I have had hunting for sure.
WOW. Good to know I’m not alone
 

BubbaEff

Active Member
May 4, 2020
58
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Great write-up, strong hunt, and beautiful country! I am sorry that it didn't end well, but thanks for sharing the story regardless. I didn't have an X-zone tag this year, but spent the last week of September on the border of X-9A and X-12 on a fishing trip. I purchased a bear tag just to give me an excuse to hike the back country. Saw two big bucks in X-9A, but no bear in either zone. Sure enjoyed the back country hikes though. Thanks again for the great write-up and for sharing the beautiful pictures.
 
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HATCHET1

"yes,it killed the hound..ferocious bitch she was"
Aug 2, 2013
4,832
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Yup.. bummer for sure...I hate to lose..and hate myself when it happens...but it happens. Sounds like you did what you could...stay the course..tow the line..push forward..never waiver..and FINISH...next.
 
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