Tuesday, November 3, 2015

2015 Washingotn State High Buck hunt

So this year for the high buck hunt my normal hunting partner was unable to go with me. So I posted on Facebook that I needed a new partner to go with me. My brother Eric said he would like to go. I told him he could go, but he did not have much time to get in shape for the hunt. I explained to him as best as I could the difficulty of the hike we would be going on. Eric said he would start walking and getting ready for the trip.

So the day of trip was finally here and Eric arrived at my house. The first thing I wanted to do was go through his stuff and take out anything I did not think he would need, so his backpack would be lighter. After shedding a few pounds of items he would not need, we headed to make sure his rifle was sighted in.  He was shooting Grandpa's old Winchester auto .308. The gun was fairly well sighted in but it had a tendency to misfire.  But it was the only rifle he had to bring so we made it work. 

We headed off for an afternoon/evening hike into camp. I knew we were expecting some weather to move in on us I was just hoping we would beat it to camp.  We get to the trail head and I ask Eric one more time if he is sure he wants to do this and he says he is ready.  We start the hike into camp and Eric did better than I thought he would do. During the steep parts I would make it to the top of the mountain, drop my bag, and go back down to grab his bag to make it just a bit easier on him.  At one point on the trail there was a big bald-faced hornets nest hanging directly in the middle of the trail. Luckily it was about 42 degrees and the hornets weren't moving too fast. At that point I told Eric that I was going to go all the way to camp to set up a tarp since it looked like we were not going to beat the weather.

As I made it into camp it was starting to rain and sleet. I got out my tarp and saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and there were two bucks getting ready to walk through camp. After they saw me they bounded off up the hill. I got the tarp in the air as it was starting to rain harder. I ran back down the trail and grabbed Eric's bag again. As we both got into camp it started to snow on us. You know, the big wet snow flakes that don't really stick but get you soaked and cold.   We get Eric's sleeping area set up just before dark. Since I know its going to be an early morning we decide to just go to bed and not worry about starting a fire.

On a side note, this year I brought enough paracord to string a clothes line through my sleeping area under my tarp. I really benefited from this set up.  I was able to dry out my wet clothes out of the weather, hang a light off of it and put other gear up off the ground for easy access when needed.

The next morning I woke up without an alarm going off. I looked at my watch and realized I had slept through my alarm. I was not very happy with myself. I got out of bed, started a fire, and woke Eric up. After breakfast we decided to hunt the meadow near camp. Eric said he would stay at the bottom while I hiked into the upper meadow. As I crested the first bench I saw the two bucks from the day before in camp. I was not prepared at all, I didn't even have my binoculars out yet.  I got my gun up to try and count antler points. Before I could get a clear count on points they trotted off into the trees never to be seen again.  I worked my way up into the upper areas of the meadow and was happy to see there was still a few inches of snow on the ground. I hunted the rest of the day in the same area and kicked up a few does in the heavy timber.  I was back in camp for the evening to have a fire and dinner. I knew I wanted to get a good nights rest for the next day.

The next day my alarm went off at 0330. Eric was very clear that he did not want to be woken up to go on the hike I was going to go on. I made a small breakfast and headed up the mountain. As I scrambled up the hillside I was kind of happy I did not do this the day before. The hill was steep enough as it was and adding a layer on snow on the ground would have made it much harder. As I reached the ridge an hour and forty five minutes later, I could hear deer bounding off in front of me in the darkness. As I sat on the ridge-line waiting for the sun to come up it was only 24 degrees, way colder than I was expecting it to be.  The sun finally came up and since I knew deer were close I headed to the edge of the ridge and glassed the hillsides.  I saw four doe's right away.  As the sun came up higher I realized that the four doe's were sparring and that all four had antlers.  They were about 500 yards away on the opposite side of the bowl I was on. None of the bucks looked big, but I have a hard time passing on a shooter buck as it is important meat for my family throughout the year. As the deer dropped down into the next bowl over I ran across to the ridge they where just on to try and get closer. I dropped most of my gear except my gun (Obviously) to be able to move without any extra hassle, and crept up over the ridge. I saw the four bucks and re-positioned to get even closer to them.

 I checked the first one and passed on it, Checked the second one and thought it would do if the third and fourth ones were not any better. They were not, so I set my sights on the second one which was about 70 yards away.  The buck was quartering towards me. I lined up my cross-hairs right into the front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. When the gun went off a big cloud of dust and rocks sprayed into the air right in front of me. I figured out very fast that there had been a rock sticking up in front of my barrel I did not see through my scope. I hopped up to the next higher rock. Now the bucks were looking at me. I squeezed another round off and hit my mark. I was hoping the buck would drop in its tracks. No such luck. The buck turned down hill and was running on three legs. Did I mention down hill was the wrong way. The buck dropped out of sight and I ran down to where I could get a good view in case I needed to shoot him again.    Just as I caught sight of him again he went down getting tangled up in a log. I watched him until he stopped moving. When I knew he was dead I went back and gathered all of my gear.  I boned the entire buck out and placed all the meat into plastic bags and then into my back pack. Since I had about 300 feet of elevation to get back to the top of the ridge before I dropped back into camp, it took me a while to get back to the ridge.

I finally got back into to camp and showed my good luck to Eric.  That night we packed half way out to the truck and camped. The next day we had an easy couple miles back to the truck. Any trip where
you are successful hunting is a good trip. Getting to share it with my brother was even better. I look forward to next year. Eric says he will be in shape to go up on the steep hunt. Time will tell.....

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