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Hunting Illustrated Magazine Volume 11, Number 5 www.huntingillustrated.com Subscriptions and Questions 1-435-287-7368 firstname.lastname@example.org
s n m u l o C Fresh Sign — Editorial Staff News, Facts and Fun
Celebrity Hunter — Team H.I. Jeff Kent from Survivor
Product Watch — Team H.I.
40 44 86 94 96 100 104
Fierce Firearms & Hunting Expeditions
The Dueling Duo — Grange & Spomer Is Antelope Island Fair Hunting?
Mule Deer — Steve Alderman
The Magic of the Mule Deer Rut
Elk — Doyle Moss
Late Season Elk Hunting
Photo: Chris Dakoulas
8 22 26 30 32 36
Predators— Les Johnson The Purgatory Lion
Shooting — John Mogle Hit the Vitals
Gear Guide Review Must-Haves for Hunters
Just For Fun
Fun For the Whole Family
Bringing Home the Bacon
Mule Deer Watch — Michael Burrell And the Thunder Rolls
Nuge Factor — Ted Nugent
Guns Are Beautiful Things
s e r u t a e F 48 52 60 66 72 78 82
Photo Story — Michael O’Kane Wyoming Mule Deer
On Five Double Down Rick Young
Come Out Like a Wolf Eva Shockey
Velvet Pursuit Julie Kreuter
Manti Madness Jared Young
Some of the photos in this magazine portray action performed by professional hunters or riders under controlled circumstances. We encourage safe practices in all outdoor activities. Hunting Illustrated withholds all liability for any damage or injury sustained while duplicating actions in photos.
Cover photo: Doyle Moss, WD 40 pg.78, Brad Kendrick’s Antelope Island Buck pg.72, Rick Young’s Monte Carlo sheep pg.52
Late Fall 2012
Editorial The Sound of Silence
his last year has been amazing. I’ve been around with several hunters in several states and have had the opportunity to see some great bone hit the ground. I’m now hoping it’s my turn. I’ve been sitting on a hillside up here in Idaho for the last hour just hoping for some buck to step out in the hopes that I can fill my freezer with venison. Until then, I’m taking a moment with my iPhone to draft out this editorial, the very part of technology I’ve been hoping to escape this week. Ironic. You know, I’ve read that there are some city people that have never experienced silence. They’ve literally never been free from street noise, music and sounds of crowds, subways or anything else that helps add to the audible chaos of inner city life. Having visited New York City a couple times, I can actually see how this is possible. Would those people even know what to do with their selves if all of a sudden their surroundings produced pure silence? Would they go reaching for their phones in a panic, hoping to distract away from the quiet? I’m sure it would be an awkward moment. Too bad. They may never be able to appreciate a place like this. Thankfully, you and I have places we can escape to be free from all the insanity. It’s only while I sit here on this mountain I realize how seldom I get that chance. When I do, it’s liberating. These mountains hold my soul and I’m grateful to know that I can come to places like this each year to escape reality. The technology and electronics that surround us can be stifling. Being here, pushing all that aside and enjoying this helps me put all things back into perspective. It feels natural. It feels pure and primitive. I’m doing exactly what the first man on this earth did…hunting. I’m back to the roots of what got us here. It’s like starting life anew. While I sit peacefully and drink in this majestic wonder and try to lock in a mental picture of what lays before me for future reflection, I realize this will soon come to an end. Dang it! While I can give up the sleeping on hard ground in a tent for my soft bed at home, it’s going to be hard to leave the rest behind. I love going home to my wife and kids but I also love coming back to this. God spent time creating some wonderful places for us to enjoy. So while I enjoy the sound of silence for a minute more, I hope you can find a quiet place to sit back and enjoy the great content we have in this issue. This is always a special issue for us because we get to put together great stories from people who have harvested amazing bucks and we can live vicariously through them by reading their tale. May yours be the next story we enjoy. Good luck hunting.
Editor: Matt Mogle Art Director: Matt Mogle Graphic Designer: Matt Smith Columnists: Steve Alderman,Ted Nugent, Scott Grange, Ron Spomer, John Mogle, Jon Crump, Doyle Moss, Les Johnson, Michael Burrell, Eva Shockey Contributing Writers: Rick Young, Jared Young, WD Martin, Brad Kendrick, Julie Kreuter Illustrators: Courtney Bjornn, Richard Stubler Advertising: 435-287-7368 email@example.com John Mogle Subscriptions / Questions: 435-287-7368 or 801-368-8374 Submissions: Send your hunting stories and photos, Picture of the Week / Braggin’ Board photo contest and parting shots to: Hunting Illustrated PO Box 1045 Gunnison, UT 84634 firstname.lastname@example.org ©2012 Hunting Illustrated LLC PO Box 1045 Gunnison, UT 84634 Hunting Illustrated is published quarterly with additional bonus issue, $24.95 U.S. /$34.95 Outside U.S. Printed in U.S.A.
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The Latest News and Insights
Meat Eater Review Understanding Real Hunter Motives
or many years the subject of harvesting and consuming animals has been a very controversial issue between hunters and those who feel that hunting is unfair and wrong. It can be a very sensitive topic as people start comparing ethical and moral issues, which creates arguments that can get loud at times. In September, a book titled “Meat Eater” by Steven Rinella, opened up this very issue and has been gaining more and more popularity. As Rinella quotes one of the anti-hunters, “Times have changed and hunters no longer hunt for reasons of food, cultural continuity, and for the love of the outdoors; instead, hunters just want to kill animals to prove their manliness and get their jollies.” Rinella responds that if this was the case hunters would be lining up at the slaughter houses looking for work. This anti-hunting argument clarifies a huge misconception on why people hunt. The personal stories, subject matter, and the TV show (“Meat Eater”, available on the Sportsman’s Channel), has caught the attention of many. The idea that values are shaped by life experiences is certainly not a new one. Steve very effectively
writes his defending position on hunting/ trapping and how to use, eat, and consume the animals he hunts. He clearly explains why he is a hunter and why hunting should continue to be a part of human culture in the future. Many of his stories are typical to most hunters, the only real differences being location and characters. Especially those little things like his father getting upset when he broke or lost gear, and issues like pushing the “boundaries” on a squirrel hunt with his brothers. Stories like these and many other personal touches make his story relatable and reminiscent at times. Steven includes these details to make his position even more powerful. He shares with the reader his life, his passions, and his love for the opportunities to hunt, and to provide for his family and friends. This is an admirable effort to expose the details on a topic which is volatile and brings out visceral emotions that are close to home. Sometimes these details can seem like bones in the closet to those that have never been in these situations. This book provides a view of what hunting is and shows what hunters need to demonstrate in order to counteract what some view hunting to be. It’s not all about that trophy buck, it’s about being skilled enough to properly search out, hunt, and execute the kill of an animal as quickly and humanly as possible, then using that animal to provide food for family, and gaining an appreciation for what that animal is providing. These reasons are why hunters
leave their families for the wilderness in search of an animal. Hunting is a sustainable utilization of animals that have an added value placed upon them because they are hunted. That value provides monetary support for both the current and future of wildlife and the continuation of that particular species. Love for the animals hunted often grows stronger year after year as hunters pursue them. Observing game animals, watching their habits, movements, diet, and ability to evade predators deepens the hunter’s appreciation. A successful harvest fills a hunter with respect and appreciation for the chance to pursue the animal. In that moment, the responsibility of using and caring for the meat of that animal becomes paramount. That is the feeling, emotion, and love that hunters need to portray. Chances are that this article will fall into the hands of those that are supportive of hunting, and the active outdoor lifestyle and all that comes with it. Those who see the opportunity to hunt is just that, an amazing chance for us to reconnect with nature. But with that comes the responsibility to respect the animals hunted, to tell stories through those animals, and to be able to build that love for the animals that can only be obtained by hunting them. “Meat Eater” is strongly recommended to anyone hunter, and non-hunter alike.
by Editorial Staff
Population Control of Deer in More N u m b e r s US Cities 97%
eer populations continue to increase in some rural and urban areas, causing an increase in car collisions with deer and the spread of Lyme disease. As a way of curtailing the deer population in these areas, more towns are considering permitting deer hunting on public lands. Even though there are regulations on where hunting is currently allowed, some towns are implementing new guidelines to help create a solution. Towns in Massachusetts, including Dover, Medfield, Framingham and Weston are looking to allow bow hunting in these areas to help control the deer population. Where deer populations continue to increase in towns with outlying forestry, we will probably see an expansion of public land for hunting. This is also further proof that hunting is a deterrent to the overpopulation of certain species and gives hope to the survival of hunting for our younger generations. Police in these areas are also happy to see a change in policy towards hunting. Alan Gordman, chief police of Westborough, states that deer-vehicle collisions are a big concern and a serious problem in his jurisdiction. Gordon reports â€œThe average cost of damage is about $3,000 when a car hits a deer.â€? He cites stats where 23 deer collisions were reported between 2009-2010. 32 incidents were reported between 2010-2011 and the numbers continue to rise each year. As a huge supporter of the expansion of hunting in his area, Chief Gordon continues â€œIf a town is having a problem with deer, one of the best things they can do is open up public lands (to hunting). Massachusetts state law requires hunters remain at least 500 feet away from buildings and archery hunters must shoot from portable stands in trees.
People who believe the Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms on a recent on-line poll
People who said they thought the Constitution ensures the right to bear arms from a recent telephone poll
City residents that said yes to the poll compared to 73% of rural and 64% of suburban residents that said yes on the right to bear arms
200 Million +
Estimated number of privately owned firearms in the USA by the FBI
Late Fall 2012
HSUS Threatens Lawsuit to Overturn Western Great Lakes Wolf Delisting The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF) and its partners have been on the front lines working to ensure that wolves in the Western Great Lakes region were removed from the ESA and rightfully returned to state management. In 2010, USSAF helped initiate the delisting by threatening to sue the Service if it did not start the delisting process. USSAF also represented sportsmen in lawsuits by HSUS to overturn previous delisting attempts. Those cases were decided on legal technicalities that were not based on whether or not wolves were recovered. Further, anti-hunting organizations in Wisconsin and Minnesota have filed lawsuits to stop wolf hunting or severely restrict the hunt in those states.
(U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance) - On Monday, October 15th, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its Fund for Animals filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the removal of the Western Great Lakes region wolves from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). A 60day notice of intent to sue is a required procedural step before filing a lawsuit against the Service under the Endangered Species Act. In December 2011, the Service officially removed the Western Great Lakes wolves from the ESA. The long overdue move restored state management of exploding wolf populations in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and some portions of adjoining states where wolves have been wreaking havoc on livestock, pets, and wildlife populations. This latest move by HSUS seeks to overturn the delisting and remove these states’ ability to manage their wolf populations. “Wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes region have far exceeded all recovery goals set by the Service,” said Bud Pidgeon, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation president and CEO. “The fact that HSUS filed its notice on the first day of Wisconsin’s hunting season is very telling. HSUS opposes hunting and trapping as a wildlife management tool and are again attempting to manipulate the ESA to further its anti-hunting agenda. The bottom line is this: wolves are now abundant in this region of the country, so it is time to manage them to ensure healthy populations of all wildlife, and for public safety. Hunting is the most effective means of doing that.” Wisconsin and Minnesota have already approved limited wolf hunting seasons to help control their wolf populations and legislation is pending in Michigan that would allow its Department of Natural Resources to establish a wolf season if needed to control populations.
Brought to you by Boone & Crockett’s On-line Trophy Search www.boone-crockett.org Did You Know...Casey Carr, whom we featured in our Spring, 2011 issue, harvested the largest non-typical mule deer in Arizona last year, as recorded by Boone & Crockett. Congratulations, Casey. Just more proof that the Arizona strip keeps producing monster bucks! “Look, Frank, you hunt deer your way and I’ll hunt them mine!”
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he .280 Remington debuted in 1957. It has also been known at various times in history as the 7MM-06 and the 7MM Express. The .280 is based on the .30-06 Springfield case necked down to accept 7MM bullets with the neck being move forward .050 inches. The original loads offered were in 125, 150, and 165 grain bullet weights and the velocities were very similar to the 270 Winchester. Remington offers factory loads today that are pushing a 140 grain bullet at 3000 ft./s. If you compare that to the 7MM Remington
Magnum at 3100 ft./s but with much more powder and recoil it starts to make the .280 look a little more attractive. The .280 really comes into its own with slower burning powders in a bolt action rifle. While 100 ,110, and 115 grain bullets can be pushed to obscure speeds for varmints the .280 is really a big game round and is at itâ€™s best with 140 -175 grain bullets. The .280 Remington has a loyal following based solely on its merit it is known among many as the best sheep caliber available and although the name has changed several times over the years the performance has held true.
Late Fall 2012
Application Recommendations From the Trailhead Guru
s I sit down to write this, the 2012 hunting season is in full swing. Some great trophy animals have already been taken and I am sure there are more to come in the next few months. Though the hunting season is the best time of year for most of us, for me the application periods have to be a close second. Every year I get all wound up in anticipation of drawing a long awaited tag; I am like a kid the last few weeks before Christmas. I love it!! With the application periods fast approaching, it is time to review the western state’s systems and to give a few recommendations for those states with early application deadlines. Future issues of Hunting Illustrated will include ideas and recommendations for those states with later deadlines.
brown bear areas are going to be Kodiak Island (Unit 8) and the Alaskan Peninsula (Unit 9). For the best Dall sheep look at the Tok Management Area (Units 12, 13C, and 20D) and the Chugach State Park (Unit 14C). Mammoth mountain goats are frequently taken along the coast of the panhandle and the border with Canada; look for Unit 1 to be the top trophy quality producer.
Alaska The drawing system in Alaska does not use bonus or preference points. Everyone has the same chance to draw whether it is their first time applying or their 21st. Alaska is also the state with the earliest application deadline. The application period typically begins in November and will close by mid-December. Most hunters interested in hunting Alaska do not consider applying for limited quota hunts due to the fact that hunting permits for most species can simply be purchased over the counter. The limited opportunity areas that the 49th state has to offer should not be overlooked. The over-the-counter regions frequently get hammered and finding a trophy quality animal for whatever species you are after is becoming more and more difficult. While some of the limited quota units are managed under the limited quota system due to their ease of access or proximity to populated areas, many others are managed to produce trophy class animals as well as provide a world class hunting experience. Non-residents wishing to hunt grizzly/brown bear, Dall sheep, or mountain goat are required to hire a licensed guide, and in some cases a sign a required agreement, before submitting an application. The top limited quota
Casey Carr’s enormous Arizona buck helps keep the reputation of the strip alive and strong
Arizona Arizona has big everything! Several of the top producing elk and deer units in the country are within the borders of Arizona. Some of the largest pronghorn and bighorn sheep also come from Arizona. And for those interested in a uniquely challenging hunt, the Coues deer that reside there are no slouches either. Anyone committed to hunting trophy quality animals needs to have applications to Arizona in their portfolio. Arizona uses a modified preference point system where 20% of the available permits are given to those with the most points and the remaining 80% are awarded at any point level. To apply you will need to purchase a $151.25 non-refundable hunting license and then it is only $7.50 to apply for each individual species. Only if you are successful in the drawing will you be charged the permit fee. The elk and pronghorn application deadline will be mid-February and the deer and sheep deadline will be in June. The top elk units will be those in the north-central part of the state, just south of the Grand Canyon, but don’t overlook those on the eastern border near New Mexico. The area burned by the fire of 2010 will now have a twoyear period of regrowth and in a good water year, the quality could be exceptional. If you are not dead set on hunting during the rut, the later archery and rifle seasons can be much easier to draw and these later seasons still produce very good quality. The “Arizona Strip” just south of the Utah border will again be tops for mule deer. This
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area frequently grows deer that will break the 200 inch mark, though the early seasons can be tough to find a buck of that size. The later season is certainly the best. Though I believe that Arizona is one of the top trophy states, I am continually frustrated by a quirk in their drawing system that I think people need to be aware of before applying. As many states do, Arizona limits the non-residents to 10% of the available tags on any particular unit. The most sought after units often have so many non-residents in the top point levels that they exhaust the non-resident quota in the “Bonus Pass” portion of the drawing. This leaves no tags for those in the lower levels. It frustrates me that people purchase their license each year and apply for these units thinking that they have a small chance at drawing when in reality they do not. With that being said, there are still some fantastic hunting opportunities in Arizona. This phenomenon I have just explained does not happen on every unit, but I do find occurrences of it every year. It is typically limited to those units with low numbers of permits and high application rates.
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Colorado When it comes to hunting opportunity, Colorado is without a doubt one of the top destinations. With thousands of permits offered each year and guaranteed or nearly guaranteed odds of drawing a deer, elk, or pronghorn tags in many areas, it is easy to see the popularity of hunting this state. There are some fantastic sheep, goat, and moose opportunities as well. To apply you will not have to purchase a license, but you do have to put all of the tag fees up front. All but a small application fee will be refunded if you do not draw. If you are just purchasing a point you still have to front all of the tag fees. Though bigger elk can be found in other states, Colorado offers some of the best mule deer hunting of all western states. Even their worst units hold the potential of producing a real boomer buck. Tags for deer, elk, and pronghorn are awarded with a true preference point system where those with more points will draw first and many of the top units are requiring a 15 or more points before an applicant becomes eligible. This has been discouraging to many applicants so the Colorado Division of Wildlife implemented what they call a “hybrid” draw a couple years ago. What this did was take 20% of the tags and held them out to be awarded at any point level on those units that require 10 or more points.
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Late Fall 2012
3/21/2011, 5:07:49 PM
apply you will have to purchase a non-refundable $154.75 hunting license and front all of the tag fees, though most of the tag fee will be refunded if unsuccessful. You will also need to choose which drawing option(s) to apply for. Applying for moose, sheep, or goat excludes all other draw options. Applying for draw hunts on deer, elk, and/ or pronghorn can be done in combination. I usually recommend that my clients apply for the moose, sheep, or goat tags in Idaho, due to the struggling deer and elk herds and abundant opportunities for those species elsewhere. Montana
Though it has given some hope to the resident applicant, it has done nothing for the non-resident because, in every case since its implementation two years ago, the nonresident allocation of tags has been exhausted before the drawing process even reaches the hybrid drawing phase. To draw a sheep, moose, or goat tag, you will have to apply for three consecutive years before becoming eligible and you will also have to front the tag fee for each species. For those hunters committed to hunting these species this is a must apply state. There is great quality to be had, and though the drawing odds are never great for these trophy species, they are about as good as they can get for these highly sought after tags. Idaho Idaho holds a lot of potential with its vast wilderness areas and historical trophy quality. A look through the record books show that some real trophy quality animals have come from this state—though not many of them are from recent years. Idaho has been really struggling the past few years, in large part to many areas being overrun by wolves. However, there are areas that still offer some exceptional hunting opportunities and anyone planning a hunt in Idaho needs to seriously consider having a wolf tag in their pocket. Idaho is one of only three western states that have not implemented a point system of any kind. A first time applicant is going to have the same chance of drawing as someone that has been applying for many years. To 18
Montana is similar to Idaho in that it has huge potential. Vast areas of untamed wilderness hold abundant populations of deer and elk; historically it has produced some of the largest trophy antlers and horns ever recorded. The wolves are causing some problems here but not quite as bad as Idaho and Wyoming are experiencing. The worst impacts are around the north border of Yellowstone National Park. Even with its shortcomings, Montana is still producing some fantastic trophy quality. However, where deer and elk are concerned, much of this is coming from private land. Good opportunity still exists on the public areas, but the trophy quality is typically a bit less than what is found on the private land. When it comes to sheep, moose and goat, Montana is near the top of the pile— especially with the bighorn. Record quality rams are still being taken from several of the bighorn sheep units. This is a “Must Apply” state for anyone hoping to hunt bighorn sheep. The quality cannot be beat anywhere inside the US and the non-resident permit fee is the lowest of all western states. To hunt Montana the non-resident has to draw a tag and the deer and elk tags are on a slightly different drawing system than all of other species. When applying, you will choose between a deer, an elk or a deer/elk combo license. All fees are required up front and you will also need to specify whether you want to participate in their point system. To participate will cost an additional $20. If your intention is to hunt one of the limited quota areas, you will first have to draw one of these combo licenses. Then if you are unsuccessful in the limited quota drawing, you will still have a general season license where you can hunt any of the general season areas. Nevada When it comes to hunting, Nevada is one of my favorite states. The trophy quality of any species in Nevada is really tough to beat. Monster mule deer are found state wide and magazines and internet sites frequently feature pictures and stories of giant bull elk that came from somewhere in Nevada. Their pronghorn can be huge, desert bighorn are exceptional, and the California bighorn can be unbelievable. To top that off, in my opinion, their drawing system is one of the best out there. The only drawback is that the drawing odds can be pretty tough. But it is well worth the wait. Nevada operates under a bonus point system
K R P T E K
TO BACKCOUNTRY” Winter 2012
where each unsuccessful application earns an additional point to be applied the following year. They also square each applicants points thus shifting the odds in favor of those that have been applying for the longest time but still leaving a chance to draw for those with fewer points. A first time applicant will have one chance (1x1) where a second time applicant will have four chances (2x2), and so on up the point pool. When applying you will need to purchase a non-refundable $142 hunting license and an additional application fee for each species, but you do not have to front all of the permit fees. You will only be charged those fees if you are successful in drawing a tag. You also have the option of selecting up to five hunt choices for each species. Keep in mind that you can draw any one of those choices so before you add a selection to your application, make sure that it is somewhere you really want to hunt. I know several people that have drawn their fifth choice on desert bighorn so it does happen. One other option to consider, if you are looking for a guided mule deer hunt, would be to apply with an outfitter in the restricted deer drawing. Nevada allocates a percentage of tags from each unit to be awarded to those hunters that will be booking with an outfitter. The odds of drawing can be substantially better than what is available in the standard drawing. This applies only to mule deer and there is an earlier deadline to participate in this drawing.
New Mexico New Mexico is a state that has a ton of opportunity with some real trophy potential. They are also able to boast the largest variety of huntable free range big game species. In the state there are the typical mule deer, elk, and pronghorn, but they also have Coues deer, desert bighorn, Rocky Mountain bighorn, ibex, oryx, and Barbary sheep. Until recently, New Mexico has had one of the highest allocations of non-resident permits of all western states. However, a new law in 2011 changed that allocation to only 6% for non-residents hunting without a guide and 10% for those hunting with a guide. There is not a point system in use in New Mexico so it is a totally random drawing. Applicants can choose up to the choices per species, and like Nevada, you can draw any one of them. Don’t add a hunt to your application just to fill the slot; 20
make absolutely sure you really want to hunt that area or season. Applicants are required to purchase a $65 hunting license to apply. However, New Mexico is the only state that makes their hunting license refundable if you do not draw. This could change, but that is how it worked in 2012. You are also required to front all of the tag fees at the time of application. This can get expensive as they employ a tiered fee structure that charges more for what they have defined as “Quality” or “High Demand” hunting opportunities. If you are considering hiring a guide anyway, I highly recommend applying in the guided drawing as the drawing odds can be much higher than in the standard drawing. This requires that you contract with the outfitter ahead of time and then they will typically make the application for you. Oregon/Washington Oregon and Washington have very similar application systems. They both operate under a bonus point system that awards each unsuccessful application an additional point to be applied in the following years. They also hold a percentage of the total tags on each unit to be awarded to those with the most points. In Oregon, you have to purchase the $141 hunting license before you can apply for a limited quota area. The non-resident is limited to a maximum of 5% of the available tags and many of those are taken in the outfitter sponsored drawings prior to the general public drawings. Washington requires you to purchase a general season deer and/or elk license before you can apply for a limited quota area. This requirement makes it quite expensive just to apply and many will never even use that general season tag. One positive with both states are the bighorn sheep. Oregon still requires that you purchase the hunting license and Washington has a pretty expensive application fee ($110) but this puts them in line with many of the other states application fees. Both states hold some fantastic sheep hunting so both states should be considered if a bighorn sheep is one of your goals. Utah In the past few years, I have read several articles about applying for Utah tags and the authors were encouraging people not to apply because the odds are “so bad”. This just blows me away. The odds of drawing are indeed very tough and you should plan on making a 10 or more years commitment, but Utah’s system does allow you to draw at any time and a 10 or more year commitment is common in most trophy states anyway. I talk with people every year that have drawn tags with few if any points at all. Utah is also one of the cheapest states of all to apply for and the quality to be had on most all of the limited entry units is very high. Utah is also home to what many consider to be the best mule deer unit in the country, and it boasts several of the top elk units as well. The Henry Mountains in southeastern Utah produces a number of 200 class bucks every year. This is
Photo: doyle moss
There are areas in Utah that offer good chances at 200-class deer, including the Henrys, Book Cliffs and Paunsaugunt
one of very few areas in the country where going in with a minimum goal of a buck scoring 200 is a reasonable expectation; the quality on the Henry Mountains is just that good. Though they are nowhere near the Henry Mountains for quality, the Paunsaugunt and Book Cliffs are also good choices for mule deer. When it comes to elk, the San Juan and Pahvant are almost as well known as the Henrys are for deer. Bulls in excess of 380 are frequently taken from these two areas. Though these units are the most famous and most highly sought after, the lesser known units also produce some very impressive antlers. When applying for elk, don’t overlook the Plateau Boulder, Monroe, Manti, or the Book Cliffs units. Each of these units will produce bulls in excess of 340. To apply in Utah you will need to purchase a non-refundable $65 hunting license. This license is valid for 365 days so if you apply late in the cycle the first year and then early the next year, you will only need to purchase this license once every two years. You will also pay a $10 application fee for each species. But that is all you will need to put upfront. You will only be charged for the permit fee if you are successful in the drawing. Wyoming Wyoming is also one of my favorite states. Great trophy potential and decent drawing odds make this one of my top recommendations. A modified preference point system is used to award all non-resident permits. 75% of the tags are given to those with the most points on any particular unit and the remaining 25% are awarded in a random drawing where accumulated points are not considered. Wyoming also has one of the earliest application deadlines. To apply for elk, you will need to have your application in by January 31, moose and bighorn are the end of February, and deer and pronghorn are the 15th of March. Wyoming also has what they call a special permit that costs more than the standard permit. This theoretically improves your odds of drawing because fewer are willing to pay the extra money for the exact same tag. In some cases it does work, but in others the odds are little affected.
Like Idaho and Montana, Wyoming is struggling with the wolf problem—especially around the Yellowstone area. Many of the moose units have seen a dramatic decline in permits and in some cases are closed completely. The elk have also been severely impacted in the northwest corner of the state. However, Wyoming should be issuing permits to take wolves and anyone hunting in areas known to have wolves should seriously consider picking up a tag. Many of the top trophy areas for elk have some access problems due to private land, but there are some great elk to be had in the Bighorn Mountains in north central Wyoming as well as along the north border of the Wind River Indian Reservation. Also, don’t overlook the general license that allows you to hunt many units around the state. Record quality bulls are not common in these areas, but abundant numbers of elk make for a great hunt with a chance of taking something special. There is one other thing to keep in mind when applying for Wyoming. Non-residents are required to hire a guide if they will be hunting within the boundaries of any designated wilderness area. If you are not looking to hire an outfitter, be sure that the unit you are applying for is not within one of the many wilderness areas. The opportunity to hunt some of the best areas in the west are getting more and more difficult each year. Many will require a commitment of applying every year and for many years before the dream of a tag is realized. But in most cases that commitment and the time spent waiting is well worth it. When you have the privilege of hunting in un-crowded conditions, or in one of the top trophy units where you are able to pass on an animal that you would otherwise have taken in a heartbeat, or to attach your tag to species that most will never have the opportunity to ever hunt, the time spent waiting will be the furthest thing from your mind, having been replaced by the experience and excitement of that hunt. Though the drawing odds can be tough, someone will be drawing the permits this year—why not you? If you want help applying in any western state please contact Hunting Illustrated Application Service and Hunt Consulting at 801-979-8843. Late Fall 2012
Jeff Franklin Kent
eff Franklin Kent is a retired major-league baseball second baseman and avid sportsman. Jeff is also a current contestant on CBS’s, “Survivor”. Jeff won the National League most valuable player award in 2000 while playing for the San Francisco Giants and is the all-time leader in home runs among second basement. Kent is a five-time All-Star and his 560 career doubles place him tied for 21st on the alltime double list. Jeff and his family live in Texas on his ranch where they hunt fish and enjoy the outdoors. When did you start hunting? Kent: I grew up in California where I surfed and rode motorbikes. I moved to Texas in 1994. It was here that I met several people that became friends and who introduced me to the sport of hunting. Why did you move to Texas? Kent: I wanted elbowroom but also my Hollywood hero was John Wayne and I really admired him. I loved to watch his movies. My passion was playing baseball and riding motorcycles but deep down I always wanted to own my own ranch. I wanted to be a rancher and a Texan. When was your first hunt and what sticks out in your mind about the experience?
Jeff Kent can currently be seen on the latest episodes of CBS’s Survivor.
Kent: In 1995 I went on my first hunting trip. I was hunting Whitetail for the first time and I really wanted to shoot a deer with my bow but I brought my rifle with me to. I wasn’t wise enough to hold still and the deer never came in close enough for my bow so I shot my first buck with my 30-30 rifle. Since then I have shot every deer with my bow. I remember how cold the morning was but the adrenaline rush that hit me was strong. I was by myself so I had to calm myself down. It was very similar to coming up to the plate in major-league baseball, especially in big games. Whether it was being up to the plate versus Randy
Kent had the chance to harvest this monster elk last year, only to fuel his passion for hunting even more
Johnson or being in a deer stand in South Texas, in both situations I had to manage the adrenaline rush and that’s what makes hunting so great. You’re on this season of the Survivor on CBS. What’s that experience been like? Kent: Because the show is still being aired, I’m commited not to talk about the show too much until this season’s over. However, it was an amazing exerience and I was very fortunate to be a part of it. I met some great people and I enjoyed the competition. Why do you hunt? Kent: I am too busy to waste my time on frivolous things. I love to hunt. I respect the hunt. To be in the deer stand and have that chance of a good buck to walk under you, is great. The adrenaline, the excitement, and just the pureness of it is why I hunt. There is no baggage and I also love to pass on my passion of hunting to my kids and they enjoy it.
What is your dream hunt? Kent: I love to hunt white tail deer. They are so smart and fast and elusive. My dream hunt is to harvest a 190 inch plus, really wide Whitetail buck. To be in my stand with the brisk morning air on my face, cold enough that I can see my breath, and then to have that big boy come in range and to put my arrow right behind his shoulder. That’s my dream hunt. What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment in your baseball career? Kent: Being able to play on a World Series team in 2002 I feel was my greatest accomplishment. The personal accolades are fine but being on that World Series team playing for a championship with the San Francisco Giants was my greatest accomplishment as a player in the big leagues. What was your greatest one moment in your baseball career? Kent: In the World Series against the Angels I hit two home runs in one game and as I was rounding the bases I remember being proud of where our team was
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at that moment and proud that I was able to perform at my highest level in game five of the World Series. What was your greatest one moment in your hunting career? Kent: That would have to be hunting elk in Utah. I made a stalk on my hands and knees that took hours. I crawled on my hands and knees through the mountains until I got in range. I finally got to the same level as the big bull I was hunting and I was able to get the job done. This bow hunt was hard work but a thrill and my greatest moment hunting so far. What advice would you give for new-comer hunters and for young people trying to make it to the big leagues. Kent: No matter what you do in life you have to set goals and along the way you need to set the littler goals in order to achieve your overall goal. For me it was being the best baseball player in little league, then on my high school team, from there being the best AAA ballplayer, the best second baseman, the highest batting average on my team and so forth and so on. As I set little goals and was able to accomplish them it helped me achieve the highest level of baseball. The same can be said with hunting or whatever it may be that a person engages himself in; dream big and if you achieve your little goals along the way good things will happen.
Late Fall 2012
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cox, N ian Wil
Nick Alvidrez, AZ
Nick Alvidrez, AZ
Tom Steil, U
Aaron Laine, TX
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The Dueling Duo Views from both sides of the fence
Is Antelope Island Fair Hunting?
By Scott Grange
Hunt It to Maintain It
wise man, I think his name was something like Theodore Roosevelt, once said, “If you want to save a species from extinction, make it a game animal.” These prophetic words were uttered at a time when many animals such as the bison, antelope and whitetail deer had been market hunted to such insignificant levels that their future existence, at best, looked grim. Enter the modern sportsman. Led by men like Roosevelt, who was a strong advocate of science not to mention a man of tremendous vision, along with Aldo Leopold, organizations such as the Boone and Crocket Club were established shortly after the turn of the century. These groups helped usher in wildlife conservation as we know it today. Laws were established and sustainable use models created to protect our most precious resource…wildlife. Today, wildlife faces many challenges our forefathers couldn’t have fathomed. Loss of habitat and limited budgets within agencies overseeing this resource make it near impossible to manage properly. And when things hit critical mass, who are the ones to step in and save the day? Sportsmen and women, that’s who, just like it’s always been. Since the turn of the century, these folks have been raising money and giving their time and energy wherever it’s needed
to make sure wildlife needs are met so that all, not just hunters, can enjoy God’s creations for generations to come. Antelope Island is a 28,000 acre state park located in the Great Salt Lake in Davis County, Utah. If you’ve never visited the island, you should. It’s an archeological and geological treasure, however, it is most known for its abundant wildlife. Bison, antelope, big horn sheep and an array of small game inhabit the island. But in recent years, it’s been the world class mule deer that has caused the hearts of many visitors to skip a beat with bucks in the 200 inch class commonly encountered. As with many government run entities, Antelope Island has struggled through the years to maintain its infrastructure, not to mention its precious habitat. The harsh environment demands constant attention to roads, bike trails and picnic sites. In addition, Mother Nature can be brutal whether it be drought, lightning caused fires or paralyzing snow levels, all of which can decimate wildlife if gone unchecked. Needless to say, it requires a ton of money to manage the park and with limited budgets, Jeremy Shaw, manager of the island, is faced with an impossible task. “Hey, let’s conduct a couple of hunts on the island for deer and big horn sheep,” was a suggestion. After all, bison hunts have been going on for years out there and thoughts were that an easy $200K or more a year could be generated by these two hunts, all of which would remain on the island for habitat and infrastructure improvements or whatever management felt was necessary. As you can imagine, the bleeding hearts, most of whom had never visited the island, screamed bloody
murder. And sorry to say, a hand full of sportsmen did the same. Chat rooms and newspapers lit up with chatter for and against the idea. Funny thing though, none of those doing the complaining offered any viable alternative solutions to the budget woes. Their only concern, whether for sheer anti-hunting reasons or ethics concerns was to prevent the hunts from happening. Thank heavens there are still a few level headed folks in decision making positions as the hunts were conducted and close to $300K was raised the first year. Nonetheless, the screamers continue to do what they do best…nothing but make noise. Whether or not hunts will continue will be an annual battle between those who are smart enough to see the benefits and those whose selfish desires spew forth like the sewer into Farmington Bay. Conducting limited hunts on Antelope Island to generate revenue is the right thing to do.
By Ron Spomer
Grange Isn’t Going Far Enough! I’m sorry. I can’t do it. I’m supposed to oppose Mr. Grange in these pages. I’m supposed to foment dissent and rage, play devil’s advocate and make his position appear ridiculous. But this time it’s not. Grange, it pains me to admit, is right. (Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then.)
much of North America for centuries. Fire removed dead vegetation, fertilized the ground and opened it to new growth, which benefited herbivores. Forest were described by 19th century pioneers as open and park-like. But fire was bad. It destroyed trees and threatened Bambi. With Smoky Bear leading the way, we put the lid on wildfires. Our legacy? Some of history’s biggest, hottest, most destructive fires in recorded history have been raging in recent years, blackening millions of acres. I can’t pretend to make arguments against well organized, carefully managed, biologically sound deer, bison or sheep hunting on Antelope Island – because there are none. There’s only emotion. It’s patently obvious that ungulates cannot breed and increase infinitely anywhere. It’s historically proven that humans, along with coyotes, lions, eagles and diseases, can kill a significant percent of wild animal populations annually without significantly
reducing overall numbers. It’s equally true that managed, regulated, limited hunting has maintained and often increased game numbers across the country despite ever decreasing habitat. And, as Mr. Grange points out, the money human hunters are willing to pay to hunt Antelope Island goes a long way to assuring they’ll have habitat, a place on which to continue thriving. They can pay their own way with no threat to their long term survival. Those who argue that hunting “park deer” is unfair, like shooting fish in a barrel, etc. are again responding to emotion. If you think it’s unfair, then don’t do it. Some people think it’s unfair to hunt anything, anytime, anywhere. Some think rifles are unfair. Some think arrows are inefficient. Some think poisoned grain should be allowed. They are entitled to believe what they want and act accordingly, but that doesn’t give them the right to force their beliefs on everyone else. If the wildlife on Antelope Island – bison, coyotes, mule deer, sheep, turkeys or elephants – can pay its own way, it should. Ultimately every living thing pays its own way by dying to feed something else. The trick is to balance the dying and the living. And controlled hunting achieves that. Even if some disgusting, ruthless, ugly, unappreciative hunter who you personally hate shoots the big, friendly, loving buck you photographed last summer, mule deer will continue to live on Antelope Island. They reproduce. Other bucks will grow old and massive and pose for pictures. They live and die all the time, every one of them. Whether they die from cold, starvation, disease, arrow, bullet, car or coyote doesn’t change reality. So long as habitat is maintained, wildlife will thrive. Conducting limited hunts on Antelope Island is the right thing to do not just to generate revenue, but to function within the natural laws of eat and be eaten, to be an integral, necessary participant in the real world where humans are not some sort of isolated gods watching from afar.
Late Fall 2012
Illustration: Courtney Bjornn
But he doesn’t go far enough. Not only is controlled, limited hunting on Antelope Island – or any other island with a self sustaining, free-range population of game animals – acceptable, it’s inevitable and essential to the survival of the wild. Herbivores eat vegetation. Carnivores eat herbivores. Vegetation, herbivores and carnivores all survive, even thrive. Someone once called this the balance of nature. It’s a fluctuating balance, but it works. This is the part that galls me: humans continually mistake emotional attachments for sensible management. This leads to waste and destruction. Case in point: Arizona’s Kaibab Plateau deer refuge in the first quarter of the 20th Century. People wanted more mule deer, so in 1906 president Roosevelt designated the Grand Canyon National Game Preserve. No hunting. But government agents hammered wolves, lions, bobcats and coyotes. By 1924 mule deer had increased from less than 4,000 to an estimated 100,000. They had highlined every tree and wiped out every shrub. Biologists recommended hunting to thin the ranks. The deer were eating themselves into oblivion. But people were emotional. You can’t hunt deer on a refuge! Unsportsmanlike. Poor deer. Some brilliant animal lovers came up with the idea of driving excess deer across the Grand Canyon to the empty south side. A bit of harassment was better than murdering the poor things. Of course, the deer ran through the lines of cowboys, biologists, do-gooders and Indians back to the overgrazed rangelands that were their lifelong sanctuaries – and would soon become their graves. By 1930 some 80,000 mule deer had starved to death. Yeah. That was kind, loving and responsible wildlife management. Here’s another quick example of the failure of emotional management: Smoky Bear, manifestation of our fear, loathing and misunderstanding of fire, Nature’s pruning tool. Historically, lightning and Native Americans had torched
Mule Deer The Magic of the Mule Deer Rut Keep Your Eye on the Does
s we stood to leave, a monster 6 x 7 rose from his bed. The heavy, dark horned mule deer had been lying in the shadow of a Palo Verde waiting for the perfect time to breed one of the does that circled him on the dry desert floor. I froze in disbelief. This was the kind of deer I had heard many stories
about when trying to catch the rut in the Sonoran Mexican desert. The deer and I stared at one another as I, ever so slowly, raised the gun to my shoulder. He started to turn to follow his harem of does out of range of my muzzleloader, but with the hammer pulled back, I put pressure on the trigger and the white smoke filled the crisp morning air. As I rounded
the cloud of smoke, I could see the buck that up until this moment in time I had only dreamed of. He was lying motionless on the ground a mere 80 yards away. It was a surreal moment standing there looking, not only at my dream buck, but the dreams of so many trophy mule deer hunters across the country.
Rick Meritt with a great Jicarilla mule deer. Hunting the mule deer rut is a great time to spend with friends and family in the field.
What makes hunting the mule deer rut so attractive to so many people? Where can one find a mule deer rut hunt? When is the rut? So many questions to answer in such a short article! Let’s start with the easy question to answer. Why is the rut such an attractive time to hunt? It’s simple. It is the opportunity to harvest a monster mule deer that is checking his herd of does for that girl who is in the peak of estrus. You get to see tons more deer, bucks fight over hot does, and maybe, just maybe, the buck of your dreams. This is the one time of a year that a mature mule deer buck forgets what it takes to survive, throws caution into the wind and becomes vulnerable to the hunter. The second easiest
question to answer is when is the rut? To make it as simple as possible, the rut is all about the amount of light in each day. What I mean is the estrus cycle in a doe is determined by the amount of light that enters a doe’s eye during a given day. This triggers the hormones in a female mule deer’s body. It’s a whole scientific process that would bore most mule deer hunters, so I’ll spare you most of the details. As the sun sinks further and further south the days get shorter and the lack of daylight triggers the rut. The weather, snow, or daytime temperatures have nothing to do with when the rut happens. They do have an effect on what you, as the hunter, might get to experience in the field. Warmer temperatures during the day will make the better rutting activity happen during the colder temperatures which are usually dusk
and dawn. And now the final chapter! Where can you, the hunter, find an incredible mule deer rut hunt? I sat down at the table here in hunting camp and gathered a couple of the most knowledgeable hunters in the West and asked them what they thought. Together we came up with the following list of rut hunts. Some are over the counter hunts and some are where you might have to save your money for a few years to get the opportunity to hunt rutting mule deer. Let’s start with the hunts that might cost you a couple years of your vacation money! Auction tags. I know this eliminates 99 percent of us, but it sure would be fun if we could afford it. My dream auction tags would be The Strip in Arizona or the Henry Mountains
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The author poses with his first and hopefully not his last Old Mexico mule deer. Hunting mule deer in Mexico is all about timing. Hitting the rut at its peak is key to upping your success!
in Utah. If your vacations are a little more like mine, you might want to consider an Old Mexico hunt. This would be my second choice, with a landowner tag in Colorado following in a close third position. As for a fourth and fifth choice, they would probably be on the Jicarilla in northern New Mexico, and the Navajo in the four corners. For those of us with more time than money, a draw hunt might be the perfect choice. Keep in mind that some of these rut draw hunts may take you up to 20 years to draw and in Idaho you might not ever draw one with the crazy system we have. Our first choices for draw hunts would be Colorado fourth season tags in units 61, 44, and, 10. Unit 44 takes a nonresident over 16 years to draw and Unit 10 takes a few more years. Second, would be Idaho units 40, 67, and, 32a, in no particular order. Remember, you may never draw a tag in Idaho 34
with its current system; however, a points system has been in the works for years and will make eventually drawing a tag a guarantee. Our third choice is Nevada’s 114 and 115 muzzleloader tag. Bringing up the rear of this elite group would be Utah’s Dolores Triangle and the extended Wasatch Front archery hunt. For those of you that think this rut hunting sounds pretty cool, don’t want to wait, and don’t have the money sitting in a Swiss bank account, you also have a few additional options. Our first suggestion would be Southeast Montana. There is quite a bit of private property Montana, but their management agency has a block management program that pays property owners to open their land for hunting. Currently, there are thousands of acres of land open for prime rut deer hunting. Montana is the only state we could think of that allows over the counter rifle hunting during the rut. There are
the exceptions of Texas and Oklahoma that have over the counter rut mule deer hunts, but finding a place to hunt is the hard part. Actually, it is next to impossible. Our second over the counter hunt is Idaho’s archery hunts in units 39 and 55. Arizona pulls into third place with some of its general archery hunts in the central and southern parts of the state. So, there you have it. The best rut mule deer hunts in the country for every budget! Hunting the mule deer rut can prove to be challenging in more ways than one. You need to be prepared for wet, cold, and I mean cold, conditions. You need to think about your safety, clothing, as well as accessories for your automobile such as chains, shovels, and extra blankets. Despite these few challenges, hunting the mule deer rut can be the hunt of all our dreams. Good luck this season and be safe!
Photo: doyle moss
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Late Fall 2012
Elk Late Season Elk Hunting Making the Best of It
any states have adopted a late-season elk hunt. These hunts have a higher percentage of draw success and make it attractive for the hunter to apply for based primarily on the numbers game. The early season rut hunts have become so sought after that the draw odds are dismal. They have
become so low in fact that most hunters can only expect to draw these types of tags once in their lifetime. Late-season premium tags could possibly be drawn two to three times during a hunters life depending on thier luck. This is the main attraction to late-season hunting. It gives more opportunity for the hunter.
Here are a few things to look for and expect in a lateseason Elk hunt. Hire a guide If youâ€™re unfamiliar with the area you are hunting hire a guide. The money you will spend on a guide for this limited
Late season elk hunting can be a challenge but can offer more opportunity to hunters fortunate enough to draw for this time of year.
driving through mud and snow. The chances of getting stuck in your vehicle this time of year is high. If you are successful packing out an elk is a big job. The more people you can have with you to help you glass, push stuck vehicles out and pack out your elk will make your life much easier. Look for good food sources The bulls use this time of year to load up on food before winter hits. The rut take its toll on the bulls as many of them will lose up to 30% of their body fat from pursuits of the opposite sex. Mahogany hillsides are a great place to seek out lateseason elk especially south facing. South facing slopes are exposed to the sun longer and will keep
the vegetation more desirable for the elk. Once a bull finds a good food source he will do two things, eat and sleep to restore his bodyweight and energy for the winter. Also, remember that bulls will generally be either by themselves or with a few buddies. Donâ€™t expect to find big bulls with the herds during this time of year. Be prepared for long-range In the late-season elk are more alert than during the rut. Those of you who have hunted the rut know bulls can be almost stupid as they have one thing on their mind. In late-season elk are much more alert and attentive to their surroundings. They can also be in much deeper
opportunity can be worth itâ€™s weight in gold. A good guide can put you in bulls immediately and save you days of scouting time. The price of gas today and the time off work to do effective scouting is not cheap. The money you can save from a few less trips can quickly add up towards paying a qualified guide. Remember the weather is nasty late-season so not only does a guide bring you knowledge of the area where the elk will be but he can also keep you safe during extreme conditions. If you know the area and go at it by yourself never hunt alone during lateseason. The elk are usually in deep canyons this time of year and to get to them will require
Late Fall 2012
canyons. These two factors lend themselves to longer shots. Be prepared to shoot a minimum of 400 yards in order to increase your effectiveness as a hunter for this time of year. Broken antlers
Expectations If you keep your expectations in check with the area you are hunting the late-season hunt can be a great experience. Do your research on the unit you will hunt and see what the
average success rate and average score of the bulls are. This will give you a chance to set realistic goals for your hunt. I hope I didn’t discourage you too much from late-season elk hunting. I must say some of the largest elk that I’ve ever killed in my career have been in November or December. The chance of shooting a monster on a late season hunt are there. Remember hunt hard, hunt smart and hunt safe. Visit www.Mossback. com to learn more about our services.
Photo: Vic Schendel
If you are seeking a true trophy bull the late-season is not your hunt. 70% of the bulls will have broken antlers this time of year. Every season I will find countless big bulls with the potential of scoring really well. The problem is they’re missing
a sword tine or an eye gaurd or in some cases an entire beam. When two 500 pound animals collide something is bound to break. It is rare to find a big bull in October or November that has made it through the rut without banging up his headgear.
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Late Fall 2012
Predators The Purgatory Lion Tom Calling? It’s Possible!
itting under a big spruce tree as the soft pitter patter of rain continued to fall from the sky, made it feel like you could just slip into a deep sleep. It was cool, tranquil, and very soothing, yet it left you with a feeling of eeriness because the surrounding woods seemed like they were super quiet. I could hear very easily all of the noises that were being made in the woods, including the water droplets that were falling from the branches of trees overhead and landing on the forest floor with a thud. The droplets were big enough that whenever they would hit a leaf on the ground, they would actually
sound like a twig snapping. My partner was sitting about 30 yards to my right, next to a quaken aspen tree which had an old barely visible logging trail that ran right in front of it and led past my position. The grass on the old road was 18 inches tall and scattered with the occasional small bush. Not really thick, you could probably see a mouse running through it. My cadence for calling bull elk probably sounds very monotonous to some, but if its not broke, don’t fix it right? I’ve called a lot of bull elk in and primarily have always used just a
cow/calf mew sound. Perhaps my sound might have a little distress in it, which would lead one to think that it might be more of a distressed cow/calf that is possibly lost from the herd? Either way, this location with the setup and the soft drizzle of rain that was falling made it a perfect opportunity for the lion hanging out with us on purgatory to make his stalk. Problem is, neither my partner nor I really expected anything but the slim possibility of having a bull elk show up in front of us. It was September in the
Some of Johnson’s younger helpers get the dogs ready as they get ready to chase a nearby tom.
mountains of southwestern Colorado and I was on an archery elk hunting trip with a good friend and the Managing Editor for the NRA’s publication, The American Hunter. I’ve had good success calling in bull elk and this was just another time where I was out enjoying the Colorado Mountains with friends. Most archery hunts end up being a great chance to get a lot of exercise and to experience the sights and smells of the woods. Most times, it seems as if you are going to see things that you will never forget… and ultimately there is no chance to record what you see, whether sasquatch, chupacabra, or something else. So you’re never really prepared for the moment when all hell breaks loose. Just too back up a little bit, the day prior to this setup, I was calling above our camp about ½ mile and across several ridges, so I was 1 to 2 miles away and by myself. I was in solid dark timber, but something told me to make a stand there. I could smell the muskiness of bull elk. I found a likely spot by a large pine tree; I knelt down, knocked an arrow and began to make an occasional cow/calf mew. Periodically, I would make the soft, subtle sounds of a cow elk that was looking for some company. About 15 minutes into my setup, I noticed a particular bird that started making some seriously
loud, sharp, piercing chirps. To me, it sounded as if they were a warning call. And now, as I was sitting under the big pine tree with my hunting partner J.J. down the logging road from me, I hear this same bird start making the exact same piercing chirps as we sat in the drizzling rain. I thought to myself that I had a bull elk coming into my calls and that it startled the bird so it began to chirp. I was right about one thing, but wrong about another in that I did have an animal coming into my call, but it wasn’t a bull elk. As I scanned the woods with my eyes trying to notice the smallest of movements, I would ever so slowly move just my eyes from right to left and then back to the right trying
to notice anything out of place and trying not to move a muscle. Several minutes had passed since I had last heard the bird that was making the sharp chirps and my eyes had just left J.J. to my right as I scanned left. It had felt like several more minutes had passed when I suddenly heard a loud yell come from J.J., I instantly thought to myself that J.J. had stuck a bull that had snuck in under my radar, so I spun my head his way expecting to see a bull elk running away, only to see a big mountain lion bounding away instead. When I first saw the lion, it was within 10-15 feet of J.J. With my natural hunting instinct and love for calling animals, my first reaction was to bring the call right back up to my mouth and coax, trying to stop the mountain lion. I was probably in as much disbelief as J.J. was and I am sure that he was wondering…“why the heck would Les try to call the mountain lion back towards us after I let out a huge yell??” As I coaxed, the mountain lion bounded over the slight descent just past the logging road, but then came sneaking right back up, poking its head up over top of the rise and staring right back at J.J. I’m sure it was wondering what the heck J.J. was, and J.J. was still in total shock that this big cat was that close to him. As I was told in the minutes after the crazy calling episode, J.J. had caught movement right in front of him coming from a sage bush that was about 3 yards from him. He kept
The author scowers the surrounding area and prepares a distress call to try and lure in a mountain lion.
Late Fall 2012
The dogs keep on top of the scent and blood trail after the author lands a shot.
seeing a little movement in a hole in the brush. As he focused his eyes on that movement, he saw a cat’s ear that was flicking whenever the rain drops were hitting it. Once he saw the ears, he thought to himself “Lester called in a bobcat, how cool.” Just as that thought raced through his mind, he then said the cats big, piercing, yellow eyes formed within its big bowling ball shaped head and that is when he threw his bow around in front of him for protection in case the cat would leap towards him and yelled some cat gibberish, which in turn caused the cat to go bounding away. Many people over the years have asked me if I have called many mountain lions in, and I always say that I have probably called more than I have seen with my eyes. Whenever I think about it, I can give myself the chills knowing that we had two sets of eyes watching for an approaching animal, knowing that there was absolutely no way an animal could ever cross or get to the logging road without us seeing it. We were dead wrong. Needless to say, we were no longer going to call unless we were in more open terrain. I’ve never in my life spent any time calling for mountain lions. I cannot even say that I have tried to call a mountain lion ever! Anytime that you are using a sound that mimics a sound from a prey species a predator hunts, you should always be aware
Les Johnson posing with his big cat after proving, once again, you can call in predators such as cougars.
of the fact that you could actually call in a predator. Many friends and acquaintances from Canada and Idaho have told me that they have called in wolves while bugling for elk. The predator is looking at the sound that you’re making as an opportunity. There might be an animal that is lost from the heard or injured, so the predator is just doing what its instinct is telling it to do. Predators need to eat just like us; their fight for survival begins and ends with killing or finding an animal that has already died. The majority of predators are looking for the next opportunity at all times. If they hear a sound and in that sound there is some wavering or a possibility
of some distress in the tone, they are very apt to come “just take a peek” and see what’s going on with that sound that they heard. I love to try and get animals to “come take a peek.” Several years ago, I had a great opportunity to go hunt mountain lions in southern Wyoming with good friends Shane and Trinn. On the second morning of the hunt, their dogs had already bayed a large tom in a big boulder formation. There was no telling how big this cat was other than some quick looks at its head through a crack, which clearly showed that it was more probable to be a tom due to the size. This was my first ever mountain lion hunt, and I can tell you that I will have many more in the years to come. There is nothing like turning dogs loose on a fresh track in zero degree weather and listening to the dogs as they bark on the hot trail of one of the most proficient killers in the lower 48 states. Many mountain lions have an uncanny ability to outsmart their pursuers, so many hunts do not get the same results as my first encounter on the trail of a lion. I was lucky on several accounts with my mountain lion encounters! Let’s Get To Callin!!!
Late Fall 2012
Shooting Hit the Vitals The Importance of a Well-Placed Shot
hrough the years one of the most frequently asked questions that I have encountered is, “what is the best caliber for big game hunting”? So many hunters today want to go into the field with more firepower than Rambo had during his recon rescue missions. Hunters want to shoot faster and further. With that mentality being commonplace today you are seeing a Figure #1
record number of hot rod calibers from the Ultra Magnums to the La Pua family being used in the hunting field. Many hunters are under the belief that with such fire power at their fingertips that all they need to do is draw blood and the game is over. Now back to that frequently asked question, which caliber is best for big game hunting? In my conversation I will list several popular calibers usually in
the .30 caliber and 7MM families. I will then tell the person that no matter what caliber they use there is nothing that can replace a well placed shot. If you really want to “bag” your game shot placement is every thing. It is more important than the caliber, your bullet weight, velocity and yes even more important than your bullets Ballistic Coefficient. If you want one shot kills
focus on your shot placement. Over the years it seems like I have taken about every possible shot on game animals and as I think back for the most part I have been very successful in collecting what I was after. Some of these were very low percentage shots as far as my kill zone was concerned but others were not. I have did the head shot, the “Texas Heart shot” the frontal shot and had success with most of them but believe me success in most of those cases is the exception and not the norm. On my Alaskan Brown Bear hunt my guide advised me to bring a .375 or bigger for the hunt. I knew that the hard recoiling rifles that he suggested were harder to shoot accurately for me and after a few conversations he agreed that it would be fine to bring up a .30 Caliber. One well placed shot through a quartering away bear was all it took for that hunt to come to an end. When you go into the field and that trophy of your dreams is in your sights here are six tips to consider assuring you make a well-placed shot. John poses with his beautiful Alaskan brown bear that he took with a well-placed quartering shot. Figure #2 The author is pictured readying his shot during the angle Vortexgives Extreme relay. By for before pulling the trigger. This you the greatest opportunity for success.practicing shooting in field situations Andy has learned his limitations. Frontal Shot
Now look at figure #2. This angle is referred to as the frontal shot. A frontal shot decreases you kill zone by more than a third compared to the broadside shot. To make a precise shot on a deer that is staring you straight in the face is very difficult. You better be on your game if you are going to attempt this shot because in most instances your kill zone is just 3-4”. I have seen this shoot attempted several times and in most cases the animal is wounded. Once again as you can see from figure #2 with such a small kill zone in this position you are better off to wait for the animal to turn broadside before you take the shot. Quartering Away Shot
Tip #1: Know your angles Broadside Shot The best shot any hunter can have is a standing still broadside shot. As you can see from figure #1 (opposite page) with an animal broadside all of the vitals are exposed. This increases your percentages of hitting something vital that will lead to a quick dispatchment of your game. This angle also gives you the oh so lethal double lung shot that no animal can survive. On a deer the kill zone is roughly 10” in size. If you know your weapon and practice this is a large target and does give you room for error. If you are use to shooting six-inch metal gongs at 500 yards then you still have a few inches of wiggle room with a 10” kill zone. This is the shot you should look
This is my favorite angle to take big game. The quartering away shot (figure #3 - next page) leaves all of the vitals naked and gives your bullet the best opportunity to cut through the good stuff and usually will also break the opposite shoulder. The broadside shot gives you a bigger kill zone but in many cases depending on what species you are hunting the shoulder can cover some of the best vitals. To get to them you have to break through bone. This means you better be using a bullet up to the task of breaking through that bone to get to those vitals. On the quartering away shot all of the vitals are exposed with out any bone to pass through. If you don’t have to break through bone your bullet will have less chances to fail no matter what brand you use. On a deer your kill zone is cut nearly in half from ten inches to about six inches on a true quartered shot. If your target is just slightly quartering, “Green Light”, you loose nearly nothing in the kill zone and the vitals are on the perfect angle for you to blow them up.
Late Fall 2012
calm down and get his senses about him to take a good shot but what about when you are alone? By educating your self about proper shot placement and more about the anatomy of the animal hopefully will help you think about what you need to do to make a good shot instead of focusing on the size of the trophy. Think about situations where your adrenaline gets high, it maybe sports, it maybe when you get angry but the same way you control your adrenaline in those situations should be how you manage your “buck fever” when you are by yourself. #4: Verify your Rifle set up Figure #3
Quartering towards you This shot is difficult and one that should be avoided. When an animal quarters towards you he is exposing more of his shoulder. This gives you a nice ricochet effect. I have seen more animals lost to this shot than any other. If he is slightly quartered towards you make sure you use good judgment before taking the shot. I would still advise to wait for your target to turn broadside before shooting. Rear Shot “Texas Heart Shot” Many people say this is one of the most lethal shots out there and advise taking it. Many feel that the objective in this shot is to break the spinal cord, break the large bones in the hip or cut the femoral artery. I will say I have shot a few animals at this angle and some it made quick work of the animal while others required a follow up shot. Your kill zone at this angle is totally a guess. Your bullet has to travel so far to truly get to the vitals. Your target is small and if you do hit below the tail you may hit the femoral artery or break the spine but the chances of you making a lethal blow are slim. In most cases a follow up shot is necessary if you even get that opportunity. Tip #2: Understand where the vitals are If you are going to make the perfect shot you need to know where that is. For the North American whitetail and mule deer the vitals are behind the front shoulder. If you are making the trip to Africa you will find that Plains game animals are quit different. In many species such as the Kudu their vitals sit directly behind the front shoulder and higher up. Before you go into the field quickly “Google” the kill zone for the animal you are hunting so you know where your shot needs to be to do the greatest damage. Tip #3 - Manage your adrenaline So many hunters see a trophy animal and race to get off a shot. As if getting off just one shot at the animal before he disappears is bragging rights at the campfire. I know about “buck fever”. Most all of us get it but not managing it leads to taking bad shots. When we hunt with a partner, a guide, or family in many instances the hunter will have some one there to give him good advice. To talk him down if you will. How many times on hunting shows do you hear the guide say, “Wait, Wait, Wait” to the hunter? This helps the hunter
Hunters today are going into the field more than ever with confidence in their ability to shoot long range. Many of these hunters have a good rifle and a great scope that is capable of making long-range shots but the hunter is not. Just by having the right equipment does not qualify you to take long-range shots at game. You must practice and know you equipment’s capabilities. If you are going to take a 600 yard shot on trophy buck and your crosshair in your scopes has a 600 yard hash mark that does not make it ethical for you to take that shot. If you have practiced and verified that the 600-yard hash mark is indeed 600 yards and not 640 yards then it is ethical to take that shot. Practice, practice, practice, and verify, verify, verify. Test your equipment constantly. #5: Know your bullet If you are hunting with a target bullet that is tailored for your long range shooting and you have an animal slightly quartered towards you and your hope is to break both shoulders at 250 yards you may want to reconsider. The chances of your target bullet staying together to get that job done are slim. Your target bullet will not only fragment when it hits bone but it will most likely magnify the ricochet effect. Controlled expansion hunting bullets will perform differently than long range hunting bullets at certain angles. Do your own research on bullet performance. By knowing your bullet it will help you make wise decisions on angles shots especially on big game. #6: Get a solid rest No matter what the angle your game is standing in front of you at or how well your rifle shoots, if you don’t have a good rest don’t take the shot. I feel the best way for me to shoot is prone. I love to take my backpack off, lie on the ground and shoot off of it. In many instances this is not possible because of brush or just the lay of the land. I always carry shooting sticks with me in my pack for back up. This gives me what I need to get steady to take a shoot. I know most of us have seen it and it seems funny when you think about it but what about the time you shot off a buddies shoulder for a rest? Isn’t that crazy how could you possibly be steady? When you see your crosshair dancing like a mosquito inside a light bulb don’t shoot. Be prepared with the right equipment to give you a solid rest. This will assure you take an ethical shot. If you will take the time to learn the anatomy of the game you are hunting it will help you make the perfect shot next time you go into the field. Take the time to know your equipment and your bullets so no matter what angle your trophy is at you will be able to make the ethical decision of shoot or don’t shoot.
Late Fall 2012
wyoming mule deer
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Michael O’Kane’s beautiful mule deer after a well-placed shot.
Late Fall 2012
wyoming mule deer
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Michael poses with his buck in the great Wyoming country. Do you have a Photo Story to share? Submissions can be sent to: Hunting Illustrated PO Box 1045 â€˘ Gunnison, UT 84634 firstname.lastname@example.org
Late Fall 2012
Marco Polo Sheep in Kyrgyzstan, on the Count of Five
fter descending the mountain for five hours to reach a lower elevation and then belly crawling out to the breaking point of a mesa; we hoped the big rams would still be there. Blinking twice, I realized that the white dots I could see were sheep basking in the sun on the riverâ€™s edge much like a vacationer on the shores of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. There were 30 rams of all ages, half sleeping and half on guard for wolves or snow leopards. Calling this the definition of a target rich environment was an understatement; my eyes were overwhelmed with sheep. On the count of five we were about to double down on Marco Polo, and in my mind this was the pinnacle of my hunter career. North American hunters have
a tremendous amount of game right here at home to pursue. However, reaching across the seas to hunt foreign ground has never been more affordable than today. The experience can be life changing and is something I recommend if you ever have the opportunity. Marco Polo sheep (Ovis ammon polii) is a subspecies of argali sheep named after Marco Polo, a merchant and explorer, born circa 1254. His epic travels with his father Niccolo and Uncle Maffeo inspired Christopher Columbus and several other explorers over time. They crossed Asia using what they found for survival, all the while charting new soil. They talked about sheep horn remains they found scattered across the land being so long they could
use them for fence posts. Traveling to mid-Asia to hunt these magnificent sheep should start with consulting with those that have been there and done that. With the mixed languages in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, you will be hard pressed to have good communication without proper preparation. Use a reliable booking agent or references from individuals who have been there in the last few years. Choosing which country to hunt in is a matter of your budget and the size of ram you will be happy with. Kyrgyzstan offers a lower hunt cost and a bit smaller rams on average. This is my second trip to Kyrgyzstan and again we booked this hunt through Asian Mountain Outfitters based in North America. Zaku Abdykaev
Headin’ to Kyrgyzstan? Prepare for a long flight!
Beardsicles are just apart of the normal conditions here.
and assistant Ulukbek Shamilov were our main facilitators once there. Having companionship on a trip like this is instrumental; my good friend Randy Luth (AKA Luth-AR), previous owner of DPMS Panther Arms, signed on for a real adventure with me. After acquiring our US Cities permits and all documents well in advance, we found ourselves boarding a Boeing aircraft departing from the West Coast headed to New York. The next leg of the trip was routed through Istanbul, Turkey, followed by a short five hour flight landing in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. This was an election year for the Kyrgyzstan president, approximately 30 different incumbents were running for the position and signs hung everywhere. With foreign firearm permits and Kyrgyzstan government cities permits issued to us on arrival, we now waited for our luggage. In the event “Murphy’s Law” plays a roll with lost luggage your best play is to plan a night’s stay at your final flight destination. Insurance like this will pay dividends and keep your emotions at bay. Remember a large part of a hunt like this is the travel and people you meet. A mix of Mongolian, Russian, Chinese, and Kyrgyz citizens were abundant. Walking about and shopping the local market is a treat and gifts are affordable. Traveling by vehicle to your hunting area can take 8-15 hours depending on the location. Military guard stations are scattered throughout the mountains; they will check your passports, cities permits, and rifle permits. Are they intimidating? Yes, but have I had any ugly experiences? No. They serve as a layer of protection for the animals and help prevent poaching as well as security for their country. A site of interest such as Issyk Kul Lake is a real treat to see. The town of Narran and many villages will burn an everlasting memory in your mind. An interesting note: if the police issue you a speeding ticket you must pay cash based on the violation at that time or you will not move forward. After two tickets back to back I think our driver got the message. Arrival to camp does not mean it is rest time. In fact, most outfitters are eager to check your
shooting skills and depart for the hunt. A tradition of the native culture is to sacrifice a lamb or livestock of choice for their guest, if possible. You must eat the animal on your arrival day which includes entrails soup, oh yummy! Mountain home construction is of mud bricks and dirt floor lined with sheep hides to keep the cold draft out. Remember that temperatures are extreme here and survival is their main focus. Typical dinner tables are low to the ground with no chairs needed then later the table is set aside for more sleeping quarters. Firewood is scarce and sheep dung is the preferred method to heat their homes. A man’s wealth is determined by the number of livestock he owns. Yurts are very portable and a common site in hunting camp, however spiking out in a light weight tent can improve your odds for a good ram. Randy and I mounted our small but powerful horses and headed towards the China border deep in the landscape of endless giant mountains. The trail led us over many peaks and across several rivers and streams. In a remote area where you would least expect it we came upon a cemetery of early settlers. Mud monuments or tombstones were crumbling like soft sandstone. Each represented a 10’ x 10’ square area, much like a castle you would build as a kid with wet sand. Kulu, our main guide, spoke of his family buried there as he mounted his horse and road on. It is two days on horseback before we arrive in spike camp. The saddles have no panic horn to hang on to and are constructed of a wooden frame with blankets tied over them. The stirrups are metal rings tied on with rope, making adjustment for length easy. Unlike our western saddle stirrups, these swiveled easily and seemed to reduce knee pain associated with a long horse ride. Our spike camp was nestled in a canyon out of the wind with a rushing creek at our feet. The walls of the canyon were dotted with Mid-Asian Ibex which watched our every move from far above. Little did they know that they, too, were on our bucket list for this hunt. For now we dropped our bags and with no rest
Bring along some Mountain House. The food here isn’t always as hearty as one would hope.
Late Fall 2012
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remounted our horses. Like I said before, the horses were tough as hell. Riding up through the rocks, where a horse normally wouldn’t go, we climbed another 2000 feet in elevation to 13,000 feet. From there we spent the balance of the day glassing. The guides and packers have trained eyes and poor optics. Soon they will ask for your binoculars and if you get them back it’s only because you pry them loose from their cold fingers. Bring a second pair if you can for you will soon need them. There are few trees in the landscape of miles of vast baron land. The view is endless and sheep and goats blend in like ghosts in the desert. Several hours into the evening with a team of committed spotters, we spotted some rams far away and difficult to reach. With the sun dropping over the peaks we saddled up and returned to camp. Sausage, chai, sugar, cheese, nuts, dates, and crackers are the menu until we kill a ram. Freeze dried meals are a must if you want a serious filling. I never thought I would say Mountain House meals are a serious filling, but in this case it’s true. Bring your own meals for supplemental food insurance. The following morning we rode horses in the dark, climbing to a golden lookout high in the mountains and splitting up our team of eyes without mentioning a word. Everyone knows what we’re looking for and silence was welcomed; besides, trying to learn the Kyrgyz language was a lot more fun around the camp fire sipping hot chai. After the morning hunt was exhausted with no results, our guides, Kulu, Bucket, Sish, and John, gathered for a pow-wow. The sheep must have gone down to the river several miles away. On foot we set out to the east, crossing three ranges before dropping down a gorge that eventually lead us to the river. Narrow rocky passes and five hours later we approached a flat shelf that was still 700 yards from the river. Busted from our blind side, a group of Marco Polo scattered on the cliffs like flies on a rotten carcass. Everyone panicked briefly trying to identify the group of sheep. Was this the group that held our big rams? No — small rams and ewes with kids. The big group of rams we set out for must be
over the last bank, or maybe not at all? Gone? Perhaps! The long plateau was covered in tall thick grass much like African soil in the winter. Thick yellow blades giving us cover most of the way. We now could see the river below and still no sheep. Not yet anyway, the ground was still hiding much of the terrain in front of us. Dropping to the floor we belly crawled 50+ yards to near the edge. Kulu took the lead for a peek, parting the grass for a moment of suspense. A weeks’ worth of effort comes down to this very moment. Kulu looked back at us and there was a sparkle in his eye. We had found them on the last shelf, any further and we would not have been able to approach them due to the rushing river. With a steep drop off in front of us and through 350 yards of air space we could see the rams. There must have been 30 white dots each representing a Marco Polo ram stretched out as if they owned the beach. Huge polished boulders lay scattered about as if Hercules had at one time tossed them in all directions, so smooth that they looked out of place. The only thing I could
A horse seems to be more reliable in these conditions.
Late Fall 2012
Horses do prove to be the most reliable transportation. They got us here...
figure was the ice flows must have ground on them for years. Randy won the coin toss to be first up and we rotated each day. Today was his turn again and he slithered up for a shot. His binoculars were held secure with the new Ultra Light bino harness (that he can’t live without) as he glassed the opposition. The best looking ram was covered by a smaller one so we backed out and relocated 50 yards for a new angle. With a selection of rams like this the chance of two shooters in the group was very good. I thought I would try to shoot at the same time as Randy. We would shoot on the count of five. This gives a hunter time to abort the mission if the shot started to fall apart. I have done this before and knew it worked well. Now on our final approach over the edge (yes the rams were still there) Randy picked his ram I did the same and with my Swaro 6x24x50 the shot seemed close but I knew it was still 350 yards away. My shot was now compromised by another ram
...and through this
sleeping. While the vitals were wide open, too much bullet drop or my brain hitting a slick spot and I could shoot the smaller ram by accident, ending my hunt. Kulu started to count and the video camera was rolling 1…2… the small ram started to wiggle; was he going to get up and block my shot? I did not say a word—I just concentrated on the target as it was tight but open for the taking. Randy’s ram was sleeping and wide open for a direct hit on his port side. Both of us were shooting the same load, 7mm Mag., in case there was need to share ammo. My exhalation hit bottom on the count of 3, index finger leaning on the frail trigger pull, then the count of 4 and in place of 5 I heard ba-boom. Both shots fired in a split second of each other. Marco Polo do not hang around after a gun is fired and we expected to see them scatter, which they did. Any necessary follow-up shot was not going to be easy. Imagine rams of all the same color running in crazy directions
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of each other. Then I spotted my ram running for a short distance, 25-30 yards, before his heart ran out of juice. Randy’s ram was lost in the shuffle; guides were glassing the herd as they scattered in our direction. Now only 125 yards away, we could tell they all looked healthy. Did Randy miss? Not Randy, he is a legend at three gun matches and this shot was executed with confidence. We glass the beach after the dust settled, and found the beast laid still. The ram never knew his world had come to an end; in fact, his position did not change. Randy’s bullet hit the base of his ear and never exited the other side—lights out baby! We had just doubled down on Marco Polo and we rolled in the dirt excited like little boys discovering a
mud puddle. High fives with the entire gang seemed endless as we dropped down the cliff to check our rewards. I experienced long ago that winning a coin toss for first shooting position does not mean you will get the biggest animal. This was the case today with my sheep measuring 50” (chong coolga meaning big) and Randy’s 44” (respectable), but that was not the true reward. To double down like this on the Holy Grail of sheep with a close friend is an amazing feeling. The large femoral bones were broke open on the spot and warm bone marrow was eaten by all, the high protein meal helped carry us out that night. With the sheep horns tied on the horses and the soft star light making them appear bigger than life, we road on. Words cannot over-exaggerate the midnight ride as we road above the roar of the river climbing the steep cliffs. Each slip of the horse sent your stomach up your throat. We had to trust that our horses footing would be better than our own under these conditions. Horseshoes sparked with each step as we climbed our way up through the rocks. On arriving in spike camp in the wee hours we stayed up roasting chunks of sheep meat on the open fire, drinking wine, and telling more stories until the sun rose. In the following days we shot our Ibex together again on the count of five I was first up and shot the smaller Ibex. Go figure! We went home with four wonderful trophies, and even better, the memory of a premium adventure. “Rockmod” thanks to all our guides and agents that made this possible. There will be a video segment of this hunt on a future sheep DVD available through Rick Young Outdoors. For any assistance in arranging your next adventure drop me an email or send a smoke signal as I would be happy to help. From all of us at Rick Young Outdoors “Whatever your game have a great season!”
The double down paid off and both the author and his friend (pictured above) were able to drop each sited ram they had picked.
Late Fall 2012
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Legends of the Fall
cvc# (on back)
Jim Shockey explains to Eva, “After you live like a bush pig for a couple weeks in the Yukon, you come out looking like a wolf.”
ush pig?” While living like a bush pig didn’t exactly sound like something that a 24-year-old, yoga-loving, city girl could possibly be interested in, I listened patiently for my father to explain the second part of the equation. “After you live like a bush pig for a couple weeks in the Yukon, you come out looking like a wolf.” Although a wolf was a small step up, I was still stuck on the whole bush-pig part and failed to catch everything as he mentioned spike camp, wet, cold, hungry, no showers, rusty old canned-soup and smelly boys…little did I know I should have been preparing myself to morph into a bush-piglet at any given moment. My First Yukon Adventure Two seasons ago, a direct flight along with a quick car and float plane ride, less than half a day of travel, was what it took to get out to my dad’s personal hunting camp deep in the wilds of the Yukon. My dad and our cameraman, Todd, had already been in the bush for two weeks exploring the territory and hunting for Fannin sheep up on the highest mountain ranges. By the time I landed my personal Princess Leia
starship float plane into camp, they had been scouting the mountain caribou herds daily and had already seen several good bulls within a mile of camp. We spotted a big bull up on top of the mountain after six hours, but Dad said that the higher up on the mountain the caribou is, the smaller it is. The next morning, the same bull was half way down the mountain, but still too small for us to go after, according to my dad. Later that afternoon, we spotted the same exact bull coming down the mountain, but this time my dad had a change of heart. As we watched from the roof of the cabin, the caribou headed for the valley floor between the two mountain peaks, no more than half a mile away. Without any warning, my dad was dressed and hurrying me out the door saying how huge this bull was, so off we went. A 20-minute hike, Primos Trigger Stick up, hammer back, and an easy 150-yard shot with my T/C .270; and I had officially completed my first mountain caribou hunt in the Yukon. We drove the ARGO right up to it and loaded the entire bull into the back and drove 30 minutes back to camp to skin it. A 48-hour door-to-door Yukon adventure was not exactly what I was expecting. What’s all the fuss about, Dad? Yukon Round 2 Nearly a year later, I was ready for Round 2 in the Yukon, but this time things were going to be a little different.
Late Fall 2012
conscious mother engrained in me so carefully over the years, I cracked open my carefully packed cooler of goodies. “Todd, want some organic grape nuts? Unsalted! Celery sticks? Homemade hummus?” “Ew, Eva. No. Want to try some Copenhagen?” Silence. Gag. And so went the drive… Now skip ahead a few too many hours and imagine a mop that just wiped up the floor of a dog kennel. Now take a quart of canola cooking oil and dump it on top of the mop. Now stuff the mop’s face with four Twinkies, three bags of jumbo gummy bears, way too many Twizzlers, 12 cups of coffee, three bags of sunflower seeds, four bags of king-sized Doritos and an entire deep fried rubber chicken from the gas station…that’s exactly what I looked like after 36 hours in a truck driving up to the Yukon. Eva on her round 2 Yukon expedition in hopes of finally putting down a bull moose. If you want to imagine what Todd looked like, just imagine the same swampy mop, but with a few tins of Copenhagen and an oily beard on his face. I can tell you, we Thirty-six straight hours of weren’t a pretty sight. First, my dad was going Mom, I’m sorry to be such to allow me to hunt an Alaska- driving? 3-6? You mean, more than a disappointment. It turns out the Yukon moose. Second, and the bad an entire day sitting in the truck with organic soybeans weren’t such a news, was that my dad had recently Todd? And even worse than that, hit. in a helps truckEva forbecome more familiar than anwith decided to implement an “austerity sitting Tom Arthur Just as the final squirt of entire day with MYSELF. I’m “Chicken Creek Ranch” not program” in the Shockey family air freshener left the bottle, the business. His accountant had sure if I felt worse for Todd or me. truck GPS read “ETA 2 minutes.” called to warn him that expenses I dare someone to challenge were getting out of hand. Dad’s Road Trip me when I say no one has ever solution? Cut costs…for everyone, Half an hour into the drive toward been as excited as me to see the himself excluded, obviously. “Welcome the Mayo” sign, just “Eva, the first stage of cost the Yukon, my cell phone coverage as our float plane dock came into cutting is to pinpoint the problem. ended, never to be found again until returning to Vancouver after my hunt sight, barely visible through the I’ve decided the problem is you.” ominous, black clouds and rain “Me?” I have declared myself ended. Perfect, only 35.5 hours left storms looming. relatively problem-free since of Todd-time. “Mr. Pilot, what was that With little left to keep me passing through the 14-21 you were saying about low cloud possessed-by-aliens (according to entertained, as any good Shockey cover? An ice storm? Extreme would do, I naturally turned to food to my dad) teenage years. turbulence? I just have one “Yup. You. No more keep me busy. Todd put me in charge question…does this plane come airline tickets. You need to drive of road trip snacks—a job I took with a barf bag?” to your hunts like the rest of us. very seriously. With all intentions of If I thought the 36You’re driving to the Yukon with spending the next 36 hours following hour road trip took forever, this the strict rules that my healthTodd next week.” 62
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Late Fall 2012
two hour flight seemed to last until the 12th of Never. Finally bumping onto the lake, Todd and I were greeted by my mountainman of a father…at least I think it was him under his three-week beard and Yukon grime. What were those prophetic words he used? Bush pig… I get it now… By the next morning I quickly learned that sitting on the roof of a cabin like we did last year, glassing a caribou on the side of a mountain with a 40-power spotting scope is one thing, but finding a moose hidden in the rolling hills and endless valleys spanning for miles in every direction was an entirely different story. Willows as tall as the tippy top of my 5’6” head with deep hummocks and hidden river beds that could hide a 2-story home, let alone an 8-foot moose made for plenty of moose hidey holes. I was also quick to learn that returning to the warm, dry cabins every night was not in my cards this year. The fourhour ARGO ride out to spike camp gave me lots of time to
get filled-in on my soon-to-be accommodations. “Don’t worry Eva, it’s a 5-star tent camp and a bathroom and everything.” The first thing I saw as we drove into camp was the so-called “5-star bathroom,” or perhaps it used to be as 5-star as an outhouse can be until the grizzly bear ripped off the seat and plastic walls. Now it was more like a zero-star hole in the ground. “Did I say 5-star? I’m sorry, I meant to say 5-dollar. But as far as tarps go, the bright blue color really brings out your eyes.” So this is what my dad meant when he referred to ‘living like bush-pigs.’ Spike camp is where comfort goes to die. It’s where amenities are not found and personal space is a foreign concept. After three days in camp, I’d become a bush piglet. Wilderness-woman aside, I was still struggling in the moose spotting department. “Eva, don’t you see the huge white pans sticking out?” “Hmmm, still nope. Tell me again where you’re looking?”
“OK, again, follow the stream north past the big hummock, around the hanging valley, through the clump of birch, down the willow run and over the gravel bar, but not too far, and there are his bright white pans! He’s a monster!” “OK…Which way is north???” If I thought spotting the moose was hard, getting there was even harder because now I wasn’t just trying to look at all those hummocks and bummocks, I was actually having to navigate over, under and around them. Through the clump of birch, down the willow run, narrowly avoiding every thick branch sling-shotting my eyeballs in the wake of my dad. It was like an obstacle course for super-humans and I was about to get dead last place. Just as we reached 500 yards I could finally see the big pans sticking out of the willows, and my dad was right, he was huge! As a hunter, seeing those white pans flash in the sun is one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.
Eva listens to her father’s moose grunts as she prepares the perfect shot. “Deep breath,” she tell herself just before the pulling the trigger.
Eva and Jim Shockey show off the great big bull Eva was able to put down after relaxing for a great shot.
Slowly, slowly we broke the 250-yard mark, then 200, and got to within 170 yards with an open shooting lane. By this time our big, bull moose and his posse of girlfriends had us spotted and were locked-on. Luckily for us, waving around an old boat oar looked just like the pan of another bull moose and had those twitterpated girlfriends right where we wanted them. The bull moose, on the other hand, had other ideas. Grunting and agitated, he started to walk away from us, just as a loud noise erupted from beside me.“AAAA EEEEOOOOOWWWWWNNNN NNFFFFGGGGGHHHHH” Apparently while I was morphing into a bush-piglet, my dad was busy morphing into moose-man. “ U G G G G F F F H . UUUGGGGFFFFH.”
Responding to my dad’s grunt, the bull moose changed directions and began to sway his head back and forth and display in our direction, his massive body gliding through the rough terrain without a glitch, the willows scraping against his antlers. Any closer and I would lose sight of him in the hidden river bed. I hadn’t been this nervous in a long time, my heart thumped. Deep breaths. Thump, thump. Huge moose. Thump, thump. Deep breaths. HUGE MOOSE!! Thwaaack! “Perfect shot Eve! You got him!!” I was ecstatic! My first Alaska-Yukon moose! That moment was the most exhilarated I’ve ever felt—I couldn’t wait to see him up close. Over the hummocks we went, through the thick willows and in the knee-deep muck, but this time I didn’t even notice the obstacles.
My first place trophy was the most beautiful, majestic King of the Yukon I could imagine— the photos and video I had seen leading up to this moment didn’t do justice to the magnificent 1,500-pound creature that I stood before for the first time in my life. Massive, 60-inch wide antlers with big, heavy pans that had been so hard for me to spot earlier—hard to imagine now! I wasn’t a huge help skinning the moose, loading the giant moose quarters onto the Argo, or closing down spike camp that night, but how could I when I was so busy completing my transformation from bush pig to wolf. As we began the fourhour ride back to the cabins, my dad’s descriptions once again began to make sense to me. And now I know why he says that the Yukon is his favorite place in the world.
Late Fall 2012
ne of my favorite hunts is the archery hunt for mule deer bucks in full velvet, so a few months ago my husband Rick and I decided we wanted to book a trip. We put “archery mule deer hunts” into a Google search and The R & K Hunting Company came up. Judging from their website it seemed as though they had great animals with lots of premium ground to hunt. We also had a friend who had used R & K in the past and had nothing but good things to say about them.
I emailed R & K from their website and Justin Richins, one of the owners, contacted me. At the time, they didn’t have any openings for the mule deer archery hunt but he said he would let me know if anything opened up. Luckily, he had a slot that became available in late August 2012 for a spot and stalk hunt. I took the spot and Rick and I decided to film the hunt for our show Beyond the Hunt. Rick and I drove from Nebraska to Utah where we stayed at the South Fork Lodge, arriving
late that evening for the morning hunt. I prepared all my gear for an early start. I have to say this is probably the most luxurious camping experience I’ve ever had. The lodge is five-star quality and we ate a five-course meal prepared by Tasha, R & K’s amazing cook and camp manager, every afternoon and evening during our stay. Each morning of the trip our group (Rick & I, Daniel & Justin Richins, and our guide Doby) was ready to go by 6:00
by julie kreuter a.m. Daniel and Doby had been scouting the area for months and knew exactly where to go for mature mule deer. The first three days of our hunt we saw several bucks and other wildlife, including elk and moose, although most of the time they were not shooters or too far away for a good shot. Rick and I were very impressed with the way R & K manages their ranches and the animals on it. We were both amazed at the number and quality of animals we saw, especially when you consider that they manage over a million acres. Our entire experience with them was positive. They mean what they say and say what they mean,
operating their business with competence and integrity while remaining approachable and likeable. Because of the responsible way they manage their herds along with their skills as outfitters and guides, hunters are more likely to harvest an animal. Day 4 started just like all the mornings before, finding us perched on a ridge in a transition area where the bachelor group of bucks would be filing through on their way back to their bedding area. Although their travel routes were somewhat inconsistent,
we knew at any moment we could have a giant velvet muley walking directly at us, hopefully giving me a chance for a shot. Unfortunately, as the sun peaked over the mountains to the east, the bucks were on the move in a hurry to find their beds. Eight bucks passed within 60-70 yards but offered no shots because of the tall brush and they were just out of my shooting range. Just as fast as my heart rate increased, it settled back to normal after the dust had cleared , knowing that all the bucks had once again gotten by us without an opportunity to release an arrow.
The author patiently waits for an opportunity for a big buck to step into her line of shot, hoping that hours of archery practice pay off.
Late Fall 2012
As we returned to the Jeep, Daniel mentioned to us that Doby had glassed up two big bucks bedded in the thick cover of sagebrush on a west-facing slope about a mile and a half away from our location. After a quick ride to Doby’s set-up, we located the bucks in our Nikon spotter. The bucks were definitely approachable, if we could stalk them from their backside. The wind was perfect for this plan, consistently blowing hard enough to keep our noise and scent at a minimum. After strategizing our approach, we also made mental notes of the landmarks around them, giving us an idea of when we would be within range of the bedded bucks. Rick and I strapped our Eberlestock packs to our backs and we were off! Making a wide, looping approach coming down on the bucks was working flawlessly. Slowly picking our way through the landscape, we used all of the shade possible to close the distance. After an hour and a half
“We located the bucks in our Nikon spotter. The bucks were definitely approachable, if we could stalk them from their backside. The wind was perfect for this plan, consistently blowing hard enough to keep our noise and scent at a minimum.”
stalk, we found ourselves within 15 yards of the bucks still bedded. “Holy cow, we are close!” was all I could think! The feeling of relief that we had made it inside the red zone was so satisfying but was quickly snatched away by reality when the smaller of the 2 bucks stood to stretch. To make matters worse, he was looking right in
our direction! We dodged a bullet however as he got the bigger buck up out of his bed and they began to move off to the south. Unfortunately, once again their exit route in the rough country did not provide any shooting lanes. As I watched them walk away with only their heads and racks visible above the sage, Rick and I immediately began to strategize for a Plan B. The bucks headed for some cedars on the edge of the ridge right where we had glassed a few smaller bucks bedded earlier
Late Fall 2012
in the morning. While one buck bedded back down, the other remained on his feet, feeding into the cedars. Taking a quick glance at the terrain, we opted to back out and not pressure the bucks in hopes of setting up on them for that evening’s hunt. After wrapping up the encounter with a short interview on camera, I noticed that the buck was still feeding and now in a much better spot for another stalk. “If we go right at him, we might have a chance,” Rick whispered. We had about 100 yards to cover to be within bow range. Staying in the shadows, 100 yards quickly dropped to 75 yards, then to 50. As the buck fed behind the oak brush, I could periodically see the sun shining on his velvet. With a direct line of sight to the buck and plenty of cover, I felt I could knock off another 20 yards or so to give me an opportunity at a mere 20 yards shot. Now in position, I just had to wait for the buck to step out. It’s such an intense moment when you are that close to them in their world, at eye level. With adrenaline and anticipation at an all-time high, all I could think was to stay focused and settle my pin
when I came to full draw. Just like that, it happened! The buck stepped out and I had my PSE at full draw. I vividly remember settling my top pin right in the crease of his shoulder and squeezing. There was a moment of chaos as my buck busted through the sagebrush stirring up the dust, but it all became clear as I watched him fall to rest only 42 yards from where my arrow had made impact. My first Utah velvet muley with my bow…we did it! I have so much respect and admiration for mule deer; the overwhelming feelings
I experienced after stalking up on a mature buck and harvesting him with my bow are indescribable. Thank you so much to everyone at The R & K Hunting Company for this incredible experience! Rick and Julie Kreuter feature their hunting adventures in Beyond the Hunt, airing Mondays and Thursdays on Outdoor Channel. Contact Justin Richins at the R & K Hunting Company, 435-655-5484 to book your next hunting trip or visit http://www. thehuntingcompany.com.
With her big buck down, it was time to celebrate!
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WD 40 Antelope Island - Expo Tag
by w.d. martin remember the first time I had ever heard about Antelope Island. While we were on a hunting trip in 2010, Corey Hayes, a friend of mine, was telling me about the giant bucks and other wildlife that live on the island. It instantly caught my interest and as we talked I thought it amazing if someone were able to hunt the island. Well wouldn’t you know, the very next year they allowed hunting on Antelope Island for two mule deer and two big horn sheep. After the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo I found that I was the lucky permit holder of the first mule deer permit for the Island; the second permit would be in the state draw. Due to living three hours away from the island and having little time available to be away from work, I contacted good friend and outfitter Doyle Moss and Team Mossback to assist me in making the most of this
hunt. Having had limited access prior to hunting being allowed on the island, Doyle seemed to have just as much excitement about what was to come as I did! The hunt would not take place until November, so I had a lot of time before opening day would come around, and throughout the summer and early fall I made a few trips to the island. In July I made my first trip, along with Doyle, to do some glassing on the west side of the island. On this first trip to the island I was taken aback by how the island was laid out; the terrain was not at all what I had anticipated. I was also really surprised at how “spooky” the deer were, especially on the west side. We would be 600+ yards away and if those deer spotted us they would scatter out of sight. We had been making the joke “It’s only an island how hard can it be,” but firsthand experience taught us that this was very far from shooting fish in a
barrel. I also noticed on that trip that a big section of the Great Salt Lake was dried up and the island now had a land bridge to the suburbs of Salt Lake City, so I was hoping that the water level would rise before any of the big bucks decided to pack up and move out. The day ended and I still had four months before I was able to hunt; I knew it would go by even slower than the previous five months had. I continued to get scouting photos from Doyle throughout the summer and fall and saw two bucks that I was very interested in looking at in person instead of photos. I went to the island for a second time in late September. Doyle was guiding on other hunts at the time so he sent Cameron along with me. This trip I had two specific goals in mind. I wanted to see the buck that Doyle had named “38 Special” as well as
Doyle Moss captured amazing pictures of this giant during the velvet. After hours of scouring Antelope Island, there was no doubt this was one of the biggest bucks there and would be an absolute scoring machine.
Late Fall 2012
another buck nicknamed “WD 40.” We found WD 40 and he had an amazingly wide frame—he just had an overall “Giant” look to him—but we were unable to locate 38 special before we had to leave the island. On our way out, Cameron and I called Doyle to let him know what we had seen. We decided to play a small joke on him; we told him that WD 40 had broken up badly. I will never play that joke on anyone again, as it somewhat backfired! That story comes in a bit later. Finally, with the hunt was only a couple of days away, I made my way to the Wasatch Front to meet up with Doyle. We spent two days before opening day looking at a lot of bucks but with the majority of our time spent on the WD 40 and 38 Special. My dad joined us the day before the hunt and we were able to show him both bucks I was interested in. We
also met up with Brad Kendrick and a few of his family members; Brad held the second deer permit for the island. We visited for a while, mostly talking about all of the great bucks we had seen as well and how amazing it was to have the opportunity to hunt the island for the first time. My hunt was starting five days before Brad’s so I had a few days to make my decision on which buck I was going to hunt, though I knew that I did not want to pass up any opportunity I had at either buck. We watched 38 Special until dark and headed back to the hotel. I was back and forth on which deer I was going to hunt. I asked my dad, Doyle, Caryn, and a few of the guides which buck they thought we should hunt on opening day. With the split about 50/50 I had a tough but exciting decision to make. As we woke up opening morning the feelings of excitement and anticipation were so great that I can’t
He was dubbed “WD 40” and was a glory to behold. The author had originally decided to hunt 38 Special (story on page 78) but had broke off a good portion of his G4 the day before. A long decision lead to redirecting efforts towards stalking WD 40.
put them into words. I had decided to hunt 38 Special and as the sun came up we were in the basin where we had seen him the night before. We looked for a few hours before Doyle located the buck in the next basin to the north. Doyle glassed up the buck and told me that 38 had broken off a good portion of his G4. I immediately said “Ha ha, nice try!” I assumed he was joking because we had seen 38 just the night before, fully intact. But my joke had come back to bite me and he looked at me with a serious face, saying he was not joking; I could not believe it and I was absolutely devastated. I now had to decide if I wanted to harvest him with broken points or go hunt WD 40. We decided to stalk closer and get a better look. We got to within a few hundred yards and had a good look. I now had a decision to make: harvest this deer now or go
and hunt WD 40. It was quiet and not much was said for about a half hour, but we eventually decided to hunt WD 40. As we hiked away over the ridge I could not help but think that I was walking away from one of the biggest and most impressive deer I had ever seen, and I know Doyle was feeling the same way. He had put in a lot of time with that buck. It was hard to walk away, to say the least. We began looking for WD 40. We had spotted him going over a ridge near 38 special earlier that morning and with the open country on the west side of the island it seemed it would not be a problem locating him. This was not the case and we covered a lot of ground trying to locate the buck. I would guess it was about 1 or 2 pm when one of the guides located WD 40. He had covered some ground, moving a couple of basins to the south. We drove over to closer
to where the deer was and looked over the country, formulating a stalk. As we hiked down a wash I remember thinking that the moment was finally here and I was going to have an opportunity to harvest one of the most impressive deer I had ever seen. I chambered a round into my Christensen Arms 338 RUM and thought, “don’t mess this up.” We came out of the wash a little over 300 yards from the buck. I located the buck in my crosshairs, pulled the trigger, and the buck dropped. A rush of excitement hit me and I let out a loud holler, looked back to the truck where my dad had been watching the whole thing play out and gave him a big thumbs up. As I approached the deer I noticed that my shot placement was not as good as I had originally thought; call it buck fever or whatever terminology you prefer, it was definitely present before, during, and even after the shot. I had taken a buck of a lifetime. Though
he was 1” shy of that magical 40” wide mark, he was truly a giant. I encourage anyone who has some time to go and experience the island, not only for the deer but also the other wildlife it has to offer. The island is a special place and an amazing hunting opportunity. This hunt will go down as one of, if not my all time favorite hunts. There are a lot of people that make it possible for me to enjoy my passion of hunting. Thank you to my wife for allowing me to be gone so much each fall. Thank you to Doyle and Team Mossback for the outstanding job they do; they are true professionals as well as good friends. Last but not least, thank you to my parents for giving me the opportunity to pursue and enjoy the sport of hunting that I love so much. Without their support none of the amazing hunting opportunities I have had would be possible.
Late Fall 2012
38 special Antelope Island - Draw Winner
eer hunting among my family and friends has long been a family tradition. Since I have been old enough to walk, I have begged my father to take me. Nothing quite raises my excitement level like the anticipation of opening day of deer hunting. I have had many sleepless nights in anticipation of shooting the big one. Bottom line, I’m hooked, totally addicted to the quest and pursuit of hunting deer. Even as I write this story my muscles are sore and ache from hunting. This tradition of deer hunting over the years has evolved to the point that my friends and I have had the opportunity to apply for and draw deer tags in many states so that we could increase our chances to shoot trophy animals. My close friends and hunting buddies (Brent Wood, Jeff Post, Nick Marriott, and my brother Greg “Ed” Kendrick) and I have invested
and probably spent our children’s college funds, in the pursuit of hunting. These men all played an important role in my being able to take the greatest deer I could have ever imagined. We have hunted together for many years, we even studied under the direction of Walt Prothero. Once a week we would go to Walt’s home to review and study his book “Mule Deer Quest”, which I highly recommend. We learned techniques and methods that have greatly increased our opportunities. It helped that Walt is not only a world renowned sportsman, but a professor at Weber State University. Only after two years of his instruction, harvesting a 30” buck from Wyoming, and another 30” buck from Utah did he finally concede that we passed his course with an A+. The application process of 2011 was different for me. Early in the year before applying for my normal Henry Mountains tag, I was talking to my friend Casey Hales.
We were in his job trailer going over the odds of the different hunt areas. We agreed that he would put in for Henry’s, and I would increase his odds by putting in for Antelope Island. It was the first time the island had been open to hunting in 30 years. I told Casey that I was going to draw that tag! May 28, 2011 I was waiting for my wife before heading to a friend’s wedding reception. While waiting, I sat in my chair and scrolled through my daily emails. I noticed that one had just come through from the DWR draw result. I thought to myself, “Great, here we go again, another unsuccessful tag.” This seems to be the norm and many of us can relate to the cursing of that nasty word “unsuccessful.” As I opened the attached email, I stared in astonishment as it read “Antelope Island Successful.” I re-read again and again, I knew it couldn’t be
38 Special in velvet. During this time, he very well may have been the biggest buck on the island.
by brad kendrick right. I yelled for my wife, Pearl, to help me read the impossible. She affirmed it was successful. Then, at that moment, I knew it was a mean and cruel joke. I thought of Nick. This was a simple form he could duplicate, and he was indeed capable of pulling off a sick joke. I called him and invited him over so we could enjoy this practical joke together. As I waited for Nick, Pearl started checking into whether the credit card had been charged. The ‘Nevada Draw People’ had charged the card but could not confirm which hunt it was for. Hearing that info I instantly went “ape shit” I ran as fast as I could to my brother Ed’s house, only 100 yards away. I was running, screaming with excitement, through his house. I found him in his shower. There are no boundaries when the deer lotto has been drawn—I went to the bathroom opened the shower door and put my phone in his face and said “Read this, it’s unbelievable!” We cheered, he got dressed, then we celebrated more. By this time Nick was at my house and I called Wood over. The party had officially begun, and lasted through the night discussing the possibilities. It wasn’t a joke, it was unbelievable, and the excitement never stopped. It was the greatest opportunity; I couldn’t have been more grateful for this
chance, and be able to share it with family and friends! We instantly went into action as the days and weeks followed; we planned, looked at maps, and talked to Jeremy Shaw and Steve Bates at Antelope Island. We started scouting, looking for the biggest deer we could find. We discovered after over 100 trips to the island that this was a special and amazing place. I had great hikes with my daughters, Hilary and Hollie. Sam, my 8 year old son, believes that calling coyotes by sucking on the back of his hand should work everywhere like it does on the island. Wood and I spent many hot days fighting the infamous island bugs. While identifying deer and enjoying all the wildlife of the island, I realized what a gem the island is— the color of the rocks, the constant cackle of the chukars, the sunsets, and the buffalo— what an incredible place within an hour of my home. I contacted Todd Sholly of Red Rock Precision Rifle. Here, locally, he helped tune my shooting skill and allowed me to purchase an extremely nice rifle for long range shooting. Wood told me all summer that my shot would only be a 100 yards off a picnic table, an ongoing joke that lasted all summer, little did we know it couldn’t have been further from the truth! We knew that there was another
hunter that had purchased the $265,000 tag. That purchase is what made this hunt possible, the contribution would help wildlife on the island and make it possible for a state hunter like myself to have a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am extremely grateful to this unknown man. We did our best to sidestep him and his scouts. We knew he had a 4-day head start on us, which a lot of people didn’t agree with, but I was ok with it—he paid and the tag was sold with that stipulation. But, as fate would have it, I did meet Doyle Moss from Mossback Outfitters, who was the guide for W.D. Martin (purchaser of the tag). We both knew and agreed that there would be a battle between the state and the paid hunter. We decided from the get-go to get along, work together, and show respect toward each other. My buddies and I thought we knew about hunting deer, but we soon learned that Doyle and his team are the true professionals. They put in countless hours of effort and hard work to carve out their difficult niche in the new world of trophy hunting, where competition for the same trophy animal many times comes down to the paid and lucky draw hunter. Doyle was great. As we scouted together, I knew W.D. was going to have the first choice but I also knew that second choice
Doyle Moss captured this picture of 38 Special during the rut.
Late Fall 2012
would be no loser. It was really a personal decision as there were six bucks that would take your breath away. Although we had different names for the deer, these trophy bucks were magnificent animals for any experienced trophy hunter. There were two deer that it came down to, which Doyle affectionately named WD-40 and .38 Special, both tremendous animals. Brothers in the trophy world, either would make a once in a lifetime hunt. W.D.’s hunt began and we waited for the news. I received a text and met W.D.’s and Doyle’s team as they came off the mountain; he had shot an absolute monster! He shot the buck that bore his name—WD- 40. We quickly learned that .38 Special, the one he had originally planned on harvesting, had been busted up in the night and a tine had been broken off. With Doyle’s help we decide that now we would still go after .38 Special. Doyle agreed to stay and help, he has a true master his skills and abilities were amazing, even my buddy Wood, who was skeptical from the beginning, eventually realized that Doyle’s help and great footage was a great asset and we couldn’t have done it without him. W.D. shot his deer on Tuesday, we spent the next 3 ½ days looking for the special buck. It wasn’t as easy as you might think. The island is 26,000 acres, 17 miles long by 4 miles wide, in places it is huge, and finding one post-rut buck was difficult. We positioned my buddies
strategically across the island. Jeff Post hiked to Frary peak and glassed both east and west sides. Wood took over to the south of the Frary peak up Buffalo Scaffold and glassed both east and west sides of the island. Nick Marriot went to the west side and glassed the cliff area. Over the next 3 ½ days the weather turned nasty cold and windy and it snowed Friday night. Still not finding .38 we wondered—was he killed in a fight? Did the rut do him in? Was he held up in recovery? Many thoughts crossed our mind as the Saturday morning, the day I could shoot, finally came. Fresh snow blanketed the island and the skies were clear. What more could a deer hunter ask for? We saw, I thought, every deer on the mountain, but still could not locate .38. My great friends stayed in it and weathered the cold and the wind the whole time. I was the only one who would pull the trigger. How blessed I am to have this kind of friendship and support? Doyle and I decided we had to make something happen. Nobody was seeing our buck. We headed out on the south of the Frary Peak, looking to eliminate some draws. As we moved across we saw great bucks, 30” plus was common. It was amazing to look at the tracks in the fresh snow; these bucks had covered every inch of the island in search of any remaining does that hadn’t been bred the week before. About an hour into our hike, Jeff Post came across the radio saying he thought he found .38 Special. We were skeptical because all day he kept saying there was another good
buck we needed to look at. Doyle had texted Jeff a picture of .38 and said this is the only buck were looking for—don’t call until. Something was different in his voice this time, though. He said, “I think I found the buck we’re looking for!” Doyle confirmed with Jeff that this was .38. Doyle and I were only 2 to 3 draws away and the excitement was building! We headed north; my goal was to keep Doyle in sight. He is a fast hiker and I did my best to traverse the snow covered rocks, hitting the ground several times and wondering if I could get up, thinking that I need to control my breathing and focus on the shot that was inevitably coming. Doyle waited form me, we were together and only had one draw until we could look into where .38 was expected to be. Looking up west out of the draw we were in, I said, “Doyle, Look at him!” We weren’t expecting him, but he was moving down a finger ridge with a small buck and doe. My gun was in my pack and we were scrambling, I tossed my binoculars aside into the snow reaching for the gun. He was only 250 yards away and moving across an open sagebrush hillside. This was my chance, the greatest buck I have ever had in my scope. I dialed the yardage in on the scope with my gun over my pack. I have shot many running deer in the past, but this was different. I didn’t want to chance it, the risk was too big. I didn’t shoot. He disappeared into a
Here he stands flawless. Unfortunately, 38 ended up breaking off a big portion of his G4 the day before the hunt. You can see the difference on the opposite page (hero shot). He is still a legendary trophy. He would have scored about 245 if not broke.
wooded draw. Our hearts sank. Doyle and I were sick, we had spent 3 ½ days getting to this point, but we didn’t give up The draw was right below where Wood was and Jeff was coming over from the draw where he had spotted .38. We surrounded the wooded patch, Nick and other friends with spotting scopes were calling the shots from over a mile away—Nick said the buck had not left the trees. While climbing for a position to shoot I fell down, completely covering my scope in snow and packing the muzzle with ice and snow. This couldn’t be happening right now! When we made it to our vantage point I cleaned the gun with small sticks and wiped at the scope lenses. It was cold and we were in the shadows of the evening already. Wood pushed through the trees and Doyle was ready with his video camera—this was it! Wood combed through and found nothing; then found the track, .38 had slipped out and once again our hearts sank, I should have shot while he was running, what was I thinking? Wood quickly followed .38’s tracks and determined we would head south; Doyle and I went back along a shelf while Jeff and Wood made their way along the ridge south of Frary Peak. We were 30-40 minutes behind .38, and running out of daylight. Nick radioed that he had spotted
.38 on the last high ridge. I looked up 600 yards away, and there he was, straight up a vertical mountain about ready to disappear again. I got down and threw my pack down as well. I could not get him in my scope, there was sage brush in front of me. I buried my chin into the snow and I could see him but could not line up cross hairs, my parallax was off. Doyle might seem like a very calm and collected person, but I’m telling you, he was intensely yelling at me “He’s a 575 shot!” The shot wasn’t there. My target went over the ridge, gone again. I think at that moment Doyle was ready to walk off the mountain and never speak to me again. I’d had it also, emotionally spent, just as Nick radioed from almost two miles away “He’s coming back!” This time I backed up from the sagebrush, turned my pack on end with my chin in the snow. I fired. He humped up. I didn’t know if I’d hit him. I chambered another shell, and with a broadside 575 yard shot I fired off another one. He folded up. I had hit him. He started to slide down the mountain, kicking a little. I went to shoot again, but Doyle said not to as I could blow .38’s antlers off. I hadn’t thought of that, I just didn’t want the Big Boy to get away. But he slid 200 plus yards to the bottom of the ravine, finally dead. The last 2 ½ hours had been intense, Doyle and I reached the buck,
cheered, yelled, hugged, it was incredible! Soon Jeff and Wood showed, and joined in the celebration. Nick and my nephew Ethan hiked from the bottom in record time. What a team effort! We snapped some pictures. It was dark by the time we finished loading our back packs. We headed down the mountain, exhausted. This was not the shoot off the picnic table hunt that we had joked about all summer. As I was left with my own thoughts of this magnificent hunt and the events leading up to it, I became very emotional, tears streaked down my cheeks. I was very grateful for this opportunity, and I knew I was blessed to have the greatest friends and family in the world. Wood stayed right with me as the others headed to the truck. My emotions ran high. I was grateful to him for the countless hours he had spent on the island and also foregoing his hunts to help me. Grateful to my brother Ed, for running our business as I dedicated my time to scouting. Grateful to Jeff for showing up at the right time to help spot the deer. Grateful to Nick who can spot like no other. Grateful for a new friendship with Doyle Moss. And last but not least, grateful to my wife and my family for all of their support. I am truly blessed to have family and friends that support me no matter what.
The author enjoyed luck and good fortune on this hunt. This giant may very well be the buck of a lifetime.
Late Fall 2012
by Jared young boys. I have to be honest, I can’t calculate the difference by just looking at a 350 vs. 365 bull on the run. Luckily, GOOCH can. I committed to only shoot the big boy, and this was very hard at times. Sometimes the bulls were just asking for it, I felt like. On the fifth day of the hunt I got a text from an old high school and work buddy that knew I had a Manti big bull tag. He told me he and his brother (the elk whisperer) had a 390+ bull—the Brady bull—pinned down . I told them to send a pic; it looked impressive so I hesitantly showed Gooch. He was impressed, but we had to check out a 7x7 we were after first. That night we got on the 7x7. It was huge and we were within 150 yards. He was fighting another bull off and on. I wanted to shoot this bull so badly, but Gooch told me not to because the pic of the Brady bull was better by 15 points and we had to check him out. Not pulling the trigger was a big test for me on that 7x7. We took off the next morning for Ephraim, Utah. To make a long story short, we got close to getting a shot at the Brady bull, but he winded us and went into hiding. He wouldn’t call, not even a chirp. It was frustrating. I was upset I didn’t at least rush a shot; I’ve The author was able to take back-to-back big bulls on the Manti Lasals. Last year’s bull had long main beams and good mass.
Brady Crane had found this monster while scouting and was was amazed and the incredible 3rds on this bad boy.
y 2012 elk hunt was an amazing experience and I feel lucky to have had equally amazing help. My story is one of luck and, frankly, having the help of friends and a great guide and seeing a lot of great hunters put their expertise to work helping me bag my bull. I learned a lot, and I have to admit I have a hard time admitting that. My story actually should start last year. I grew up in Gunnison, Utah. I have hunted elk since the legal age of 12. My family enjoys elk meat so a trophy spike is a well-respected rack in the back of a time tested truck. In 2011 I bought a banquet tag and decided to use a guide. After lots of deliberation I decided to hire Guy Mills from Price, Utah…AKA “Gooch”. I told Guy that I could get a 350 caliber bull myself and that I needed him to help me get a 370+ bull. We bagged a great 6x6 and I was stoked; I couldn’t help but want to do it again (I tell my wife I don’t have a problem but I probably do). In 2012 I set my goal to get a bull bigger than last year and I knew this would be a hard task to accomplish on the Manti unit. However, I had Gooch in my corner and anyone who knows Gooch knows he bags dang big bulls on the Manti. We hunted hard for four days straight on the rifle. I almost messed up and shot a big 350 the first day, but after that it was much easier to pass on the big
Late Fall 2012
Brady and Courtney Crane helped the author keep the bull located and were glad to watch their good friend take him down.
Jared and his father (left) used their mule and horses to get in and pack out.
made some lucky shots on spikes and couldn’t help but think about wishing I would have tried to shoot, but I knew that educating him would have been bad. Finally we gave up and due to time, had to go back and take the 7x7. Only problem was, he didn’t want to be found. Now I have to admit things started to look depressing, however, I told myself that I was beating last year’s bull and that if I didn’t fill my tag, I was just happy to have had my scope on 100+ bulls and managed to not get an itchy finger (a true accomplishment for a spike hunter with a big bull tag). On the sixth day I got a text from my buddy telling me to get myself back to Ephraim now, so we hauled some 84
tail and got their too late. The bull outsmarted us again. About that time my wife called and told me I better be home for church tomorrow. I don’t think my bishop would have been impressed with my response, but I told my wife since church was so important she should pray for me to kill this elk. Well, within five minutes “the elk whisper” texted me, saying get up to the water tank, he’s off the tank 200 yards in the only clearing. I almost ran Gooch over running to the truck. We got to the water tank and I snuck down to the elk whisperer, and there was the bull! I had to not look at the horns; they were just too dang big and gave me the shakes. I made a solid lung shot with my 30-378 Weatherby and it was game over! I was pretty stoked. His mass was so big. I am very thankful to Guy Mills, and Brady & Cortney Crane for helping me not just have an amazing hunt, but bag the bull of a lifetime on the Manti-La Sals… my home range.
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2012 Gear Guide 1
kryptek valhalla Pant & aegis jacket Kryptek is taking the camo apparel world by storm! A lot of people are talking about how effective this pattern is in the field and with high-performance material and quality of the likes of other high-end outdoor apparel at a much lower cost, this gear will keep flying off the racks. The Valhalla pant are 100% polyester and are lightweight and quick drying. The Aegis jacket is 100% water/wind proof with waterproof zippers. Key Features: • Effective field-tested patterning • Created by military experts www.kryptek.com rizzini round body el Having been temporarily unavailable in the US for a couple years, a new distributorship has brought Rizzini back to the states. Nonetheless, these high-performing over under shotguns are not to be overlooked. They are some of the finest guns manufactured in Italy and were recently accoladed an APC award, one of the most prestigious honors for any European gun manufacturer. The Round Body EL receives a new engraving and some improvements, putting this model near the top of Rizzini’s lineup. Get your hands on one while they’re currently available state-side. • Single selective trigger • Prince of Wales grip • 29” barrel • Checkered walnut butt plate • Fine scroll engraving • Case hardened finish • Chrome-lined barrels • Hand polished oil finish • Neutral cast www.brizzini.com
barnes lrx Ammo The LRX bullet design increases B.C. values by increasing ogive and boat tail lengths to improve the bullets’ long-range ballistic performance. For the hunter who is confident in longrange hunting, the LRX will fill the niche of this new hunting craze. LRX bullets will continue to be manufactured with the proven 100-percent copper, lead-free bodies. The bullet’s polymer tip initiates expansion, causing the nose cavity to open instantly on contact doubling the bullet’s original diameter while creating four cutting petals that wreak extensive internal damage. Exceptional performance means clean, quick kill. www.barnesbullets.com
zamberlan 960 guide gt rr We love these boots! Each of its components is the best the market can offer.The upper design in nabuk Hydrobloc® ensures maximum comfort and protection. The GORE-TEX®Performance Comfort lining will keep water out allowing the foot to breath and the rubber rand all thru ensures protection and durability. The Zamberlan®Vibram®Star Trek outsersole with the eva wedge will provide traction and max grip and will give a lot of shock absorption. www.zamberlan.com
trophy rock Trophy Rock is the most effective natural mineral supplement available. Trophy Rock contains over 60 beneficial trace minerals to improve antler development and overall herd health, and is safe for all wildlife year round. Serious hunters who care about antler size and herd health swear they’ve never seen a better product. Try it for yourself and see why so many hunters have become Trophy Rock fans for life! www.trophyrock.com
Late Fall 2012
2012 Gear Guide 1
ZEISS Victory Diavari 4-16x50 T* FL Riflescope Carl Zeiss’ 30mm Victory Diavari 4-16x50 T* FL riflescope features state-of-the-art FL glass for maximum precision and absolute accuracy at long ranges. The ZEISS 4-16x50 T* FL riflescope has visibly higher resolution, no color fringing and images that are brighter and sharper to reveal the finest details at extremely long distances. Available with the highlyacclaimed Rapid-Z® 800 Ballistic Reticle or with a Hunting Turret (reticles #20 or illuminated #60). www.zeiss.com/sports
stealth cam professional hd trail camera The Professional HD Camera is an ultra-compact camera that now features the ZX7 Processor, which produces even faster trigger speed and longer battery life. The 720P high definition digital video now displays the running data stamp. The Professional HD’s ZX7 Processor also features their new Quick Set technology, which provides pre-set program modes for ease of use. Being DRONE compatible, the user can examine and assess the wildlife on their hunting land by utilizing the digital remote surveillance system. The Professional HD provides HD video at 30 FPS with audio clarity. www.stealthcam.com
VORTEX VIPER HD 10X42 BINOS With HD (High Density) extra-low dispersion glass, one look is all you’ll need to appreciate why the Viper HD is an awardwinning bino. Add XR fully multi-coated lenses and you have a bino that delivers bright, crisp details with impressive resolution and color fidelity. Rugged, compact and lightweight—one of the lightest fullsize binos available. It’s no mystery why the Viper HD is an award-winner, our Viper HD binoculars pack in all the features you need for a successful hunt. See what premium optics can do for you. www.vortexoptics.com
mountain mike’s drag glove Say goodbye to hand fatigue when dragging big game or other large objects! The sewn-in straps on the Drag Master take the load off your grip and allow you to drag heavier loads for longer durations. The sturdy, suede construction also serves great as an all-around work glove because the straps can be stored in the flap on the back of the hand when not needed. www.masterofskulls.com
Late Fall 2012
Cooper firearms model 56 This Cooper Firearms Model 56 Classic in .338 Winchester Magnum has a 26 inch free floating matte blued barrel with target crown and features a 1 in 10 inch rate of twist. Rifle features a control feed action with 3-front locking lug, two position safety, detachable magazine, and has a fully adjustable single stage trigger. The stock is of AA grade Claro walnut with pistol grip, steel grip cap, and has Cooper Southwestern 4-panel style checkering with Pachmayr Decelerator butt pad and sling studs. www.cooperfirearms.com
gunwerks g7 br2 range finder The G7 BR2 (Ballistic Rangefinder 2000) rangefinder has achieved the most significant milestone in laser rangefinder technology since their introduction to the hunting industry. The BR2 model is the first rangefinder to feature a real time ballistic calculation that accepts your specific bullet Ballistic Coefficient and Muzzle Velocity as inputs to build a custom ballistic profile, and then calculate a real time ballistic solution. The impressive ranging capability comes from Laser Technologies Inc, one of the worldâ€™s premier professional measurement companies. New developments in sensor technology along with dozens of other patented technologies give the G7 BR2 eye safe ranging capabilities beyond 2000 yards.. www.gunwerks.com
tenzing tz 6000 Born in the Idaho backcountry, Tenzing gear has been created to remove all limitations for hunters pursuing big game and personal goals. With a full line of high-performance hunting packs, Tenzing offers a host of innovative features that equip hunters to go further, hunt bigger and return heavier. Each pack is reinforced with Dyneemaâ„˘ and has been specially designed for quick, silent access to all of your gear. Bigger, stronger and lighter than any comparable pack on the market, the TZ 6000 is the ultimate long-range hunting pack. It holds a bow or rifle, has 20 specialized compartments and expands to 6,013 cubic inches and weighs only 7lbs 13 oz.. www.tenzingoutdoors.com
Late Fall 2012
2012 Gear Guide 3
burris eliminator Riflescope The original Eliminator LaserScope established Burris as the unequivocal expert in automated trajectory compensation. The ability to determine the distance to your target, calculate the trajectory — even on steep uphill and downhill shots— then illuminate the perfect holdover dramatically increased shooter confidence and ability in the field. The new Eliminator III provides expert shooters with a level of sophistication only imaginable before now. With its new X96 reticle technology, the Eliminator III provides even more accuracy, more range and a method of windage compensation at any magnification. The Eliminator II incorporates the X38 reticle providing accuracy at any magnification.. www.burrisoptics.com
double tap ammo $ www.doubletapammo.com
Hornady superformance interbond ammunition Supercharge the performance of your favorite hunting rifle. Hornady has developed an innovative powder blend to gain up to an additional 200 fps from every Superformance caliber. The result is a flatter trajectory, reduced wind drift, superior accuracy and more energy delivered on target – all with no increase in recoil or muzzleblast. Trusted InterBond bullets feature a core that’s bonded to the jacket in a way that ensures they’ll never separate. Thick, tough jackets result in deep penetration and 90+% weight retention. A streamlined profile and polymer tip make the InterBond a flat-shooting bullet ideal for long-range hunting situations. . www.hornady.com
danner full curl gtx xcr optifade boots Designed for use in mountainous terrain, the Full Curl is built on Danner’s Dynamic Response System that provides optimal stability underfoot in cold weather environments and is packed with a variety of options including a 1200 Denier nylon upper, a GORE-TEX® extended comfort liner, a 360 degree abrasion resistant rubber rand.. www.danner.com
browning a5 shotguns You may notice a family resemblance, but let’s get one thing straight, this ain’t your Grandpa’s Auto-5. In fact, the iconic humpback-shaped receiver is the only thing this new Browning autoloader shares with its legendary namesake. The all new Browning A5 is built to be the most reliable, fastest cycling, best performing and softest shooting recoil-operated (yes, recoil-operated) autoloader on the planet. www.browning.com
sierra designs dridown zissou 15 Designed to excel in a variety of overnight situations, the award-winning Zissou 15 will keep you warm and cozy wherever you camp. Stuffed with 600-fill DriDown™ insulation, the Zissou 15 stays drier ten times longer, lofts higher, and dries faster in the presence of humidity, rain, or sweat. Simply put, DriDown™ represents the evolution of down insulation. Regular down is treated with a molecular level polymer to create a hydrophobic finish on each individual down plume. This finish allows DriDown™ to stay dry longer, loft better, and dry faster than regular down, keeping you warmer in any environment. www.sierradesigns.com
Late Fall 2012
2. Sign that a deer or elk rubbed their antlers on a tree 3. A mule deer’s pogo-stick style gait is officially called this 5. Deer, elk and antelope meat AKA 6. Range eistimating reticle developed for military applications: a series of 10. Part of a rifle that braces against the shoulder when firing 13. Side to side adjustment of a sight 14. High visibility color worn by some during hunting season 16. Spiral-cut grooves on the inside of a firearm barrel to give the projectile “spin” 17. In Alaska, it is illegal to do this in someone’s ear while they are moose hunting 19. Area of the U.S. most mule deer inhabit 20. John Wilkes Booth used this type of gun to assassinate President Lincoln 21.Compensation offered by some Predator & Varmint Control Programs
1. Medium-sized, tusked peccary found (and hunted) in the southwestern US 3. Musket barrels are this, not grooved or rifled 4. A giraffe can clean its ears with this part of its anatomy 7. Benjamin Franklin’s choice for the USA’s national bird 8. Bare handed catfishing 9. The canine teeth of bull and cow elk AKA 11. The National Rifle & Pistol Championships are held here each summer 12. Mule deer “nickname”, particularly among hunters 15. Candidates who receive an NRA “A” rating are considered to be this 18. The size of this determines a Bighorn sheep’s dominance in the herd
By Courtney Bjornn
Just For Laughs
Late Fall 2012
k rwood • El Kevin Unde 12 20 • Oregon
Jared Young •Black Bear Utah • 2012
“This issu e’s winner ” Winner: Baily Stei l, Iowa
Talon Crow • Mule Deer Utah • 2012
is • Elk Jared Harr • 2012 co xi Me w Ne
Win Vortex Binos!
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Each issue’s photo selected as the Braggin’ Board photo winner will be selected by the Hunting Illustrated team. Send in your entry today. Please use high resolution images. www.HuntingIllustrated.com Christopher Smith • Elk New Mexico • 2012
Late Fall 2012
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PRODUCTS Late Fall 2012
And the Thunder Rolls…
n afternoon thunderstorm materializes over a parched Oregon desert. A bolt of electricity clashes against the ominous clouds connecting both heaven and earth down in a lonely canyon. An isolated mahogany tree bursts into a blaze of fire...and the thunder rolls. The heavy winds fan the flames, pushing the uncontrollable wake of destruction across the tinderbox landscape incinerating everything in its path. Not until weeks later did the fire die out, and not before consuming well over a million acres of some of Oregon’s most majestic environment. An ocean of healthy giant sage, mahogany, and bitterbrush that sustained an important deer herd had vanished. The grass prairies and historic stands of aspen where Oregon’s largest flocks of sage grouse performed on their annual leks have disappeared. All that is left behind are rocks and a heavy layer of barren ash.
Several months earlier, Emily and I were elated to find out she had drawn a tag for one of Oregon’s “premium” mule deer units...if you can call it that. In reality, Oregon has some fine mule deer hunting, but don’t judge a hunt by the amount of
points it takes for you to draw a tag— especially if you’re a non-resident. An Oregon 12 preference point unit may be comparable to a 3 point unit in Colorado. Emily didn’t apply for the hunt to find Arizona strip-type bucks; she put in knowing it wasn’t that type of hunt. This hunt is special because of the remote beauty of the mountain and the limited tags that allows a few
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bucks to get some age with the hills being less-crowded. But now that the fire had burnt nearly the entire unit, our anticipation for the hunt was abruptly stifled. I made my first scouting trip to the unit one day prior to the fire (no, I didn’t start the fire) and got a good feel for the terrain. But now, everywhere I had gone has been consumed by flames. Those of us that have hunted deer in burns know the positive role fires can play in creating mule deer habitat years down the road, if the right vegetation establishes. But how do deer respond immediately after a wildfire destroys the majority of their prime habitat? I couldn’t wait to return to the unit and answer that question for myself, and undoubtedly with the amount of fires that scorched mule deer habitat through the west this summer, I’m not the only one interested in the answer to that question. I made plans to return
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with my good friend Chuck, who also drew a tag for the unit. Chuck is a die-hard mule deer hunter whose knowledge of the area is second only to the ranchers that make a living on the mountain. As we drove towards the mountains, I could sense the restlessness in his voice as he tried to prepare himself for the visit to one of his favorite places—only to be seen in a different light. We’d both heard conflicting stories of how the deer were faring. Chuck heard that the cowboys rounding up cattle found multiple dead trophy bucks burned up. “Yup, just like an ol’ buck. They’d rather sit tight than run from danger,” is how it was counted to Chuck. I called the wildlife biologist managing the unit who reported to me there was still ample habitat for the deer and that this might be a good year to have the tag. Now that the fire had eliminated 80% of the haystack, the needle may be easier to find. He was concerned about the upcoming
years since major winter range and fawning grounds have burned. I wonder and worry about the future of the deer herd as well, but right now I’m more curious how the deer are responding to the fire this year. While Chuck and I were traveling I shared with him my research in talking with deer biologists and reading the few publications on immediate responses of deer during wildfires. I was surprised to read that burning up to 70% of a home range did not cause deer to change their home range. Although it is uncommon, some mule deer do get caught up in fast-moving fires and are killed, but for the most part, since fire is a natural process, the deer lack an innate fear of fire. In one study, deer were observed to within 65 ft. of approaching fire with normal behavior. In the same study, at no time were deer observed running in fear from the fire. We arrived at the unit and the burn. I stepped out of the truck looking for miles up multiple canyons at the charred landscape. Two dust storms whipped the black ashes in the
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distance. I felt like I had stepped off the Apollo space shuttle and onto another planet in search of any form of life. Chuck nostalgically pointed to a steep draw and shared a big buck story. The draw was gone now, nothing but ash and a small green spot where a small seep was found. “Well, where do you think the deer went?” I asked Chuck. He shook his head in disgust. Our goal for the trip was to find some unburned habitat and then hopefully find the deer. Here is what we learned after two and a half days of exploration: Overall, around 80% of the entire unit had burned in a mosaic pattern. The fire seemed to target the heaviervegetated habitats (the best mule deer habitat) and pass over the sparser grass ridges. Some canyons were decimated while others were untouched by the fire. As the study claimed, in areas over 70% burnt the deer densities were lower than normal and the deer had clearly
Late Fall 2012
changed their home range. Notice I said lower, not non-existent. We observed does and fawns in areas with greater than 70% of the home range burned, including some using patches of vegetation smaller than one acre surrounded by thousands of acres of burn. On the other hand, we found that the bucks generally preferred the security of larger tracts of unburned habitat. In areas with less than 70% burned habitat, the deer’s home range didn’t seem to change much except that maybe more deer were now inhabiting these areas. The deer were still there using both the burned and unburned land within their home range. The unburned areas adjacent to historically good deer habitat that had burned did support extraordinarily high densities of deer. I suspect the higher densities are from displaced deer that inhabited other areas prior to the fire but have now taken residence in other deer’s home range. This crowding did generate some different behaviors. With denser wildlife populations (including predators) packed into smaller
tracts of habitat, we noticed the deer spent more time observing their surroundings and less time looking relaxed and foraging. For example, one evening we drove over a ridge and were stunned to drive within 40 yards from a 30” + buck. The mature buck stood motionless for minutes looking bewildered as it eyed us, but he appeared more anxious looking down into a canyon of black ash. Eventually the buck turned away from the burn and back into the safety of an aspen grove. That buck looked as if he was checking to see if his old haunt was back to normal yet. I observed deer tracks that followed two-track roads through burned area for long distances, much like migrating deer. Some of the displaced deer are doing some wandering. We stopped and spoke with a rancher in the valley below who noted that many of the deer were still in their same home ranges. They have, however, seen an abnormally large amount of deer down on their ranch land since the fire, which is mostly a seasonal winter range. From the sign I had seen in the lower country, I would say a fair number of deer did move into lower
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elevation areas perhaps out of instinct. Meaning, when the summer feed runs out, you move downhill to the winter grounds. We loaded the pick-up to head for home and realized that although the majority of the haystack may have burned, the needle is still going to be difficult to find in all that ash. The hunt is going to be dependent on the hunter’s mind-set. With deer already feeling vulnerable, limited habitat cramming the tag holders all into the same areas, and all the good camp spots burnt to a crisp, it would be easy for a hunter to feel dismal. But look on the bright side; the deer are more concentrated and all those big bucks that have hidden for years from hunters in the ocean of heavy sage may be easier to find this year with their hidey holes gone. I get the feeling if Emily and I can stay positive and sift through the ashes, we will uncover that buck. You know who he is. The one sporting massive black-stained antlers who stands as proof that the mule deer will continue being the iconic survivor of hardship and can weather nearly any storm.
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r i b e Nuge is
surroun de d by firearms. We own hundreds and hundreds of rifles, handguns, shotguns and even a couple of real honest to God machineguns. Our ammo supply is nothing short of stunning, and we shoot all the time. The aim small, miss small discipline ser ves us very well, thank you. We also own many hammers, electric drills, numerous chainsaws, a couple of blowtorches, some really large trucks, a blowgun, three slingshots, some air rifles, coping saws and hacksaws, hatchets, axes, splitting mauls, throwing knives and butcher knives, a spear, a hydraulic log splitter, a couple of power trimmers, a huge tractor with various menacing accessories, a tomahawk, a bulldozer, backhoe, a jackhammer and a big ass woodchipper. And of course we mustn’t forget the most dangerous weapons of all; my stunning arsenal of very lou d guitars and enough walls of ridiculously lou d amplifiers that could, if used improperly, reverse the earth’s axis. And glory hallelujah, all this in unlimited access by no one less than the MotorCity Madman, Wang Dang Sweet Poontang and all. That’s right, 100% unlimited access to, for all
practical purposes, unlimited firepower. Problems caused by the fulltime Nugent gunnut clan? A big, whopping ballistic zero. Nada. Never. None. Safest damn house in the world. The glaring reality as outlined above is ubiquitous and universal; America is armed to the teeth, and since the Obama freedom threat reared its ugly head back in 2007, a virtual nonstop guns and ammo production and purchasing orgy has steamrolled across the United States, for smart, freedom loving people know that the perfection of the 2nd Amendment is indeed the guiding light to freedom itself and ultimate quality of life. We sent King George a definitive message back 1776, and there is no way in hell we are about to put up with that abuse ever again. Write that down. And write this down too; never has a society owned more firepower and ammo in the history of planet earth. And just like the Nugent family, hundreds of millions of Americans do nothing wrong with our
guns and our regular weekend of shooting millions of rounds of ammo across the country. Every stu dy on crime and or firearms proves time and time again, that 99.99999% of American gun owners do not commit crimes or use our firearms in any dangerous or improper way. We are guitar players, cops, teachers, welders, ranchers, farmers, hardware store operators, deli owners, dry cleaners, electricians, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, military heroes, working hard playing
hard Americans from every imaginable walk of life and socioeconomic strata. We believe in self-defense, recreational shooting, competitive shooting, law enforcement and military training, both professional and civilian, and just plain collecting and fondling some of the most beautiful pieces of handcrafted tool art in the history of mankind,
LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO STAY INDOORS. Mark Seacat Avid hunter. Dedicated father. Professional writer and photographer. Spends more time hunting, fishing, climbing and being outdoors than most people spend at their jobs. Uses, among others, the Hilleberg Soulo.
IllustrationS: Courtney Bjornn
“I love my Soulo. It’s light yet still easily strong enough to handle any kind of weather I might run into. It gives me my own “room,” and it handily accommodates all my gear. Best of all, it’s completely free standing, so no matter what kind of terrain I hunt in, I know I’ll be able to pitch it quickly and get a good night’s sleep!” Adam Foss/Seacat Creative
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Late Fall 2012 Half-HORIZ-MSTR-2012-8.125x5.25BLD.indd 1
Photo: courtney crane
And we also know that if only bad guys have guns, like in every so called “gun free zone”, we are doomed to the evil whims of criminal monsters and cuckoo’s nest flyovers that are running amok thanks to the liberal court systems and failed mental health systems of this country. Our nonstop consuming of increased firepower is our united way of saying “no thank you” to such insanity and that “don’t tread on me” is what life loving responsible people say, lou d and prou d. Like the average American that I hang out with, and like my father before me, I raised all my children to respect tools and use them wisely and safely. Canadians can stroll into any old hardware store and purchase a woodchipper, blowtorch, chainsaw, log splitter, axes and hatchets or a giant front-loader any old time they want to. And with
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no government permit or mandatory training to boot. Can you believe that? Such dangerous tools in the hands of rookies surely must account for the slaughter of innocents all the time. Hardly. With all this increase d firepower, it should be note d that the use of guns in crime is at an alltime low, except of course in those pesky gun free zones like Chicago, movie theaters, malls, churches, schools an d other such slaughterzones for the wan dering psychopaths on early release, plea bargaine d an d turning state’s evidence deals. So the jury is not still out. The facts are all in, an d the inescapable conclusion proves that the most dangerous places on planet earth are gun free zones. What kin d of min dfreak would actually want more of them, Eric Holder, Rahm Emanuel, Hillary Clinton an d Barak Obama et al? No thank you.
Ready for the strap down!
Don’t tread on me. A m e r i c a n s have the r ig ht to cho o se to be u nar m e d an d helple ss. Be my gue st. But fo r tho se of u s w ho che r ish life an d free do m, we kn o w that u nar m e d an d helple ss is a dan g e ro u s an d ir re sp o nsible co n ditio n an d ha s pro ven to co st p eo ple their live s far to o often. Me, I ’m g ettin g rea dy fo r the g reate st hu ntin g sea so n of my life. I w ill sho ot tho u san ds of ro u n ds again th is week train in g w ith the he roe s of law enfo rcem ent an d the m ig hty US Militar y war r io r s. I w ill also take so m e yo u n g ch ildren to lear n the ba sics of safe firear m’s han dlin g an d the jo ys of marksmansh ip an d killin g yo u r own dinn e r. Pe rfe ct is a s p e rfe ct doe s, an d fo r tho se of w ho celebrate the tr uth, the 2n d Am en dm ent is in dee d p e rfe ct.
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Shane “The Eliminator” Carwin
range 1.7 hold-off
dot value for 10 mph wind
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