Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Colorado Trip - Part 7

Friday, September 19, 2008

The last day of our hunt.

Mike and I wake up this morning with the understanding that this is it. It’s the last day of hunting. Tomorrow morning we’re going to have to load up and start our 25+ hour drive home and work starts on Monday.

This morning Mike and I decide that since I’ve not been seeing any deer I’ll follow Mike in and head to the other side of the valley. Mike’s at least been seeing deer. So, we load up and head down towards his water crossing. The only difference with Mike’s water crossing is that we have to do this one on foot. The quads get parked on the trail and we hike down to the water. We’re hoping that our boots are tall enough that the water won’t be soaking our feet… We made it across, in the dark and stayed dry. I walk with Mike to his stand and then continue on until I get to the edge of the valley and the mountain. I follow the valley line until I come across a stand of old pines that are on the slope but spaced about 4 feet apart in a circle. It’s perfect. The ground is bare and I can lean up against one tree with two trees in front that are slightly apart. The side trees provide cover to keep me concealed. After getting all arranged and my gear set out within easy reach it’s time to sit quiet… within a few minutes I can hear some scratching sounds… I watch a large field mouse to my left. He’s come out of his hole and is thinking about heading my way… Every time he starts towards me (he’s only about 2 feet away) I move my hand a little and he dashes back to his hole. We keep this up for quite awhile. He’s getting bolder and bolder each time. Eventually, he dodges around my hand and behind my back. Guess I didn’t see his other hole in the tree I’m leaning against. Now I can hear him running around just behind the bark. Getting ready for winter I guess. Well, it was a perfect hunting morning, cold after last nights rain but clear with almost no wind. Unfortunately, 10 am rolled around and no deer. I packed up and slowly made my way to Mikes stand. He didn’t see anything either. He only heard the coyotes calling but they’ve been calling almost every day and in several packs too. We didn’t see any though except for that one I missed on Monday night. Back to camp we go.

Since this is the last day I want Mike to see the view from the High blind. So we pack up (never know if you might get a chance at a shot) and get the quads heading towards the peak.

We make sure we’ve got plenty of pictures of crossing the river and Mike films me crossing and vise versa (even though each time I go across I hope I don’t get stuck or stall out!).

We park about 100 yards from the high blind. Mike spotted a doe between us and the blind when we had to stop and cross under a fence line just before we parked. She watched us pull up so there is no chance of a stalk and shot on this one. Once at the blind Mike can now understand what I was talking about when I discussed the difficulty of using the blind as an archery blind and what a nice snack shelf it makes for the bears… Some video and a few pictures later we’re standing there wondering how we can ever leave, it’s incredible up here!

Being from Michigan, we’re pretty much flat landers and we rarely get to experience this type of beauty. Eventually, we head back down and get the quads moving.

Since this is the last day, Mike and I need to get some fishing in. So after lunch we load up some fishing gear and drive down to the creek, past where I hunted my first night. The river is running cold and high, the weather is perfect with only a few storm clouds off in the distance and the sun high and warm. We can see the fish along the banks…and they’re huge! Now comes the interesting part…

Mike has a fly rod, which he’s never fly fished before and I have an ultra light spinning rod… spinning rods are just not made for using flies! I have to wade into the water and let my bail stay open until the fly is down river among the fish and then play it across the top. After doing this for almost an hour I hook one! Hot Diggity Dog! I finally get the monster towards shore and we realize that we don’t have a net! I let him back out to tire him out some more and that was a mistake… within a few minutes he’d had enough and busted the line…spiderwire 8lb test! Dog gone it! …Mike still hasn’t hooked up yet. They’re just teasing us under the surface. Even the eagle that flew by seemed to be laughing at us. Finally, we load back up and head back to the trout pond by the cabin. Surely we can hook up with some nice rainbows from the trout pond… right. After a few minutes at the trout pond, I hook a monster again! Again Snap! What do we need, steel leaders!?! Mike finally hooks up with a beauty after another hour of fishing and just drags it up the muddy banks.
Good thing there was all those rocks in the way when he washed it off…it sure was a lively bugger.

Mike graciously loans me his fly rod (which I’ve never used either) and before long I’ve hooked another rainbow.
This time, I follow Mikes lead and drag the silly thing through the mud instead of letting him break the line. If nothing else, we’ve got something on this trip… a couple large rainbows (and they were only about middle size from what we could see in the water!). We clean them and ice them up back at the cabin.
It’s time. The last Hunt. Mike and I load up our packs and with a few final words we head the quads down towards the water. Crossing on foot sure is easier when the sun is up. I wait while Mike gets up into his stand, wish him good luck and head for the final time out to my hidden tree ground blind. No mice tonight. I make sure my gear is set and my camera is ready just in case. Around 5:30 I hear Mike shoot and I hear the arrow impact! I never would have thought that you could hear a bow from over 200 yards away! I watch in his direction and quickly see a nice doe moving briskly but confidently towards the mountain. My guess is that Mike got a shot at his little buck again and that was the doe that he was following around. Since we forgot to bring out the radios (they’re at the cabin) I know that Mike will sit still until my hunt is done. Boy, am I excited for him. At least one of us will be taking home a deer. I think about how loud his bow was and how easily I heard not only the bow but also the impact with the deer’s body. I range find his group of trees and it’s easily 225 yards + away. While I’m thinking about that I glass the valley in front of me and to the sides. While I’m glassing to my right, through the trees, I see a shape that doesn’t look quite right. Sure enough, it’s a deer body (can’t see the head), browsing on the bank of the river about 150 yards away. I watch “her” browse and head down out of sight. I’ve seen another deer!!

Shortly after, I’m glassing straight in front of me and see a doe and young one following the edge of the river away from Mike’s location. I get to watch mom and young one browsing for almost an hour. As they’re making their way towards where I saw the other deer heading towards the water, I glass through the trees to my right and immediately spot a deer 40 yards away right at the edge of the field and the mountain! It looks like the same deer that I earlier saw disappear towards the river. She, I can see her head now, must have came back up and was following the edge of the valley right towards me. I shift my position and get my bow ready, turn on the risercam and wait. I think she heard me move because she suddenly moved away from the tree line and back out into the field strait away from me. While she’s spooked from some noise, she can’t see me and soon calms down again. However, instead of walking 5 yards in front of me she is now almost 40 yards out.
She starts walking from my right towards my left, strait away. I range her at 36.5 yards and get ready. She stops, looking towards me (still can’t see me) in a perfect broad side position. I calmly (I don’t know how I was…) draw back and anchor. I pick my pin and a spot over her heart… exhale… WHAM! The release lets go and the arrow is away… THWACK! Solid hit! She squats, kicks and bounces off… She’s not bouncing all out (Mule deer seem to bounce more than run) and starts to walk soon… At about 100 yards I watch her just fold up and collapse!

I have just got my very first Mule Deer! Not only that, but this is my very first Archery Harvest ever! Ever! WOW!!! Talk about excited! I know Mike has shot a deer and now this! Ok, no twigs on its head but I’m cool with that. Sure, it would have been nice to score on a buck but that’s not why I hunt. I m grateful for being able to harvest venison and I have no problems harvesting a doe when it’s available. And this is my FIRST ever with a bow! I know to let her lie for awhile just in case I didn’t make as good a shot as I think I made but I just can’t sit still. I get up and slowly walk out of my hide to see if I can spot her were she fell. I look around and see the other doe (with the little one) watching me… So I freeze. I stand still for almost 10 minutes hoping that the doe will stop staring… and staring… and staring… nope. I decide to slowly walk backwards back into my hide. When I get back the doe is still staring at me (or more likely where I disappeared). After what seems like hours, she starts walking towards me! What a silly deer! She ends up following the same path that I shot the doe on right in front of me. If I had 2 tags and she didn’t have a little one with her, she would have added to the cooler. I took some pictures and finally stood up.

She bounced off directly towards the other doe. I walked out and she bounced up the ridge. That took about 30 minutes. Time enough and it the other doe was not down for the count I think she would have been back up and gone with all the action. I walk out to where the doe stood when I shot and very easily find my arrow a few yards past that point… completely coated in red! I decide to play it safe and start following the blood trail instead of just walking to where I saw her go down… A blind man could have followed that blood trail. Sure enough, when I got to her she had bled out from a perfect pass through heart shot! It’s about dusk time so I drop my pack and start walking towards Mike’s stand. I get to Mike only to find out that yup, he shot, looked like a complete pass through but there is only a little spec of blood on the arrow. I tell him that I’ve got a doe down half way between us and that I heard his shot. He heard mine too and was fairly sure that I’d gotten something because he could hear the impact sound as well. We decide to not try and track his doe yet, let her lie down and relax. We’ll go back and grab my gear and head back to the cabin to unload stuff. Then we’ll come back with the quads and load up my deer and start looking for his.

It’s dark now, so we pack up what we’ll need to get my deer loaded and track Mikes. We have bottle of Bluestar ( which is a blood revealing agent for tracking. Looks like a great chance to see if it really works. We also have some samples from illumitacks from elusive wildlife ( that we can try out for marking our trails. In addition to those, we’ve got our GPS units and our sidearms, just in case. Now, getting the quads over is a chore in itself. Earlier in the week we had to do some repairs to Mikes stand and to get the tools over we had to cross the creek up stream on a barely visible trail (had to turn around a couple times trying to find it). This crossing is even tougher on my 2 wheel drive quad than were I was normally crossing, talk about crossing my fingers! Now, we had to cross in the dark and find the trail!

We got across and found our way through the slashings to the valley. Mike stopped to tack the first illumitack to the tree by the trail (very smart move) before we continued on to my doe. We parked the quads around my doe to help discourage coyotes and such while we tracked his doe. Mike placed the next illumitack on the grip of his quad (another smart move). We mixed up the bottle of bluestar and sprayed it on the tall grass around my doe to test it…. You have to use this stuff in the dark so we turned our lights off and WOW! It looked like I’d shot an alien! Glowing all over the place! I think you could read by all the light. Ok, we’ve verified the stuff works so we walk over to where Mike shot his doe and turn off our lights… Mike sprays a little in the air and within seconds there are glowing spots on the ground and leaves. It’s obvious that it’s a pass through, the glow is from both sides of the trail she took out. We start following the glowing spots… to the edge of the valley were I saw her… up the mountain… across the mountain… down the mountain (only a 150 yards from were she went up)… through the thickest bunch of slashings you could find… found were she bedded down… to the river. Now, up until this point we’ve been finding blood with the Bluestar spray fairly easily. It’s not been much but it’s allowed us to track her…to the river. Mike crosses first, then I cross (I don’t have my rubber boots on this time…) only getting mildly wet. Within a couple of minutes, Mike has found blood with the spray, on the rocks coming out of the water. We spray the trails heading into the slashings but can’t find any more blood. The spray runs out. I look at the GPS and we realize that we’ve gone in almost a complete circle from when Mike took the shot. We decide to call it a night on tracking and try to find the trail tomorrow if she’s gone down. Personally, I think the amount of blood we’ve been following is the same as if you’ve cut your finger. Sure, the arrow did a pass through but it went over the lungs and didn’t hit anything but skin. A little blood, a scar and she’ll be back next year.
After crossing the river again, we head back to my doe. She was easy to find with the illumitack blinking like mad. We load her up on Mike’s quad and strap her down. We can see the first tack Mike placed which worked out well since we wouldn’t have been able to find the trail back to the water in the dark. Back across the water we drive and head back to camp. I dress her out on the back of the quad and then we put her in the back of Mike’s truck for the night. It’s in the 30’s so its cold enough and we don’t want the coyotes getting to her.

Back in the cabin, Mike is certainly depressed. I can understand how he feels, it’s a hunter’s worst fear that he’ll wound game and not be able to recover it. We talk about the shot and the amount of blood. How it was probably just over the lungs and really didn’t do any damage. She’ll scar and be fine. We’ll go out again in the morning to look on this side of the river just to make sure, it’s the ethical thing to do, but I’m sure she’s running around someplace eating and looking for a place to sleep. Deer are tough critters.

I could almost forget that I took my very first archery deer. Mike is worrying about his shot and I’m worrying about Mike (in 25 years I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen him this depressed). There’s not much I can do but be there. I call him a few nasty names, because that’s what friends are for.

It’s a long and restless night for both of us.

Next – Saturday, We Look, We Load, We Leave and New Discoveries

1 comment:

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