Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fishing and Duck Hunting on Salt Creek


I took the kids over the south end, again this October, to Salt Creek hunting ducks and fishing for Bonneville Cuts. We had a nice time, finding quite a few ducks and catching a few fish.

Our first stalk went wrong on a group of 10-12 mallards. They flushed low off the water, keeping willows between themselves and the boys. No shots were fired and we headed down stream for another shot at smaller groups of ducks.

Tyler was the first to hit pay dirt. He shot this hen from a small group. He sluiced her off the water with the 20 gauge bolt action. Corey backed him up. Today was not a day for the sporting chance! The boys wanted teriyaki duck stir-fry and didn't give the ducks a chance to be missed on the wing.

Corey got first shot on the 3rd group we found, now that Tyler had a duck in the bag and blood on his hands. They snuck in on 3 unsuspecting mallards, snoozing on an outside corner of the stream. They made a good sneak and Corey shot another hen with the single shot 20 gauge the kids got for Christmas a year or so ago. Tyler watched the other ducks fly away without firing a shot! I couldn't believe it. Then he shot Corey's duck AGAIN because it "twitched"! You could have dropped a golf ball through the hole it left.

We had a "nice talk" about sportsmanship, not wasting ammo, and clean kills without destroying the game. They understand, a little better, today the ethics of hunting and I expect the more times we go out the better they will become.

Tyler and Corey with their kills, just before fishing the willow flat behind them.

The water is low and cooler now, making for difficult fishing with spinners and such. Jared and I persisted and finally caught this smallish fish on a long, shallow flat, below a beaver dam. Corey caught a decent fish, but overall it was pretty slow fishing. The spring and summer can be incredible, especially with a fly rod. We have caught fish up to 14 inches, and lost some between 15 & 16. It is a great caddis stream!

Jared learned to cast today. He did really well. He listens to instructions and follows them well. I need to get him up on Cottonwood Lake, just the two of us, in the boat and let him cast and fish to his hearts content!

Antelope Season 09

Unit 89 Antelope Tags

Tyler, Adam and I all got antelope tags for unit 89 this year. Adam got a buck tag and a doe tag, I got a buck tag and two doe tags and Tyler got 2 doe tags. Adam and I had taken the 1st of October off to hunt the opening day of elk season, but changed our plans when we realized it was our doe antelope tags opened that day and we were limited on time. It is a two hour drive to Pinedale and elk can be hunted 20 minutes from home. So we decided to hunt elk another day and go get some antelope meat.

(Tyler's doe had really cool horns that looked like jerky!)

Right at daylight we spotted a small buck and three does right off the highway. Tyler and Adam snuck down to the fence, crawled under it and Tyler shot his first doe at 250 yards with Adams .270 WSM. It was a great shot! We took some pictures and then tried for one of the other does still hanging around. Tyler missed, shooting high, on account of his dad giving him the wrong hold over. He should have aimed dead on, but I thought they were 300 or more yards out (I couldn't get a reading with my range finder) and so we shot right over the back, just like we aimed to!

With the first of 5 does down, we headed south, turning off on to an oil road. We ran into small bucks and lots of does really fast. I shot my first doe and Adam got his. We had been hunting for less than an hour and had 3 does down. While Adam finished up his doe I spotted a really good buck. I snuck into 300 yards and missed him clean. He was really big and I still get sick thinking about it 3 months later.

We decided to hunt for him and to fill our buck tags before shooting the last two does. This proved much harder than we expected. We just couldn't find any really great bucks. We had all day and were pretty picky. There were antelope everywhere and the bucks were rutting hard. We watched dominant bucks tear up lots of sage brush and chase smaller bucks off from the herds of does. It was really entertaining.

We finally found the big buck again and I made a stalk. I had him at 100 yards and flinched--sank into the shot really--missing him again. I shot twice more as he ran away to make sure he was good and gone!

We found more antelope but there weren't any bucks big enough to shoot. One was really wide and pretty tall, but Adam didn't want him. Tyler decided to shoot a doe from that group, so he and I snuck in for a shot.

The country we were hunting in is very flat. The hills there don't break fast enough to clear sage brush and grass from your bullet path. Tyler had to shoot through some grass which deflected his bullet. He struck the doe too far back. The bullet angled through and broke the far leg. She ran for over a mile before I could get her put down. I sent Tyler back to the truck to tell Uncle Adam what had happened. Since I finished her off I tagged her. Now all I needed was a buck, Tyler still needed a doe and Adam hadn't found a buck he wanted to tag yet.

We headed down to La Barge, Wyoming, the southern end of our unit and hunted back to the north. Tyler shot his last doe an hour and half before dark. We still had two bucks to shoot and we weren't seeing many antelope in the surrounding area. So we headed back to where we had been that morning.

A nice buck was down in the flat with some does. He wasn't very big, but he was nice enough. I had less than a half an our to hunt and I didn't want to drive back there for one antelope. Adam hadn't seen a buck he really wanted, but with so little time he was feeling the pressure too.

I ranged the hill the antelope were under at 458 yards. My shot was high, just over his back. He ran a circle with his does and then headed up on the bench above. Just as he topped out and was going out of sight I squeezed the trigger. I heard the bullet strike but couldn't believe I might have hit him at that range, running, especially since when I shot he was almost out of sight over the rim of the bench. I asked Adam if he heard that, He said he did, but figured it had to have been a rock! The hold wasn't right for it to be a rock so I went to investigate and found I'd hit him! My first antelope buck, and welcome to it!

Adam and Tyler headed for higher country, hoping against hope to find a buck before daylight ran out. They got to a junction of roads and Adam asked Tyler which way they should go; there wasn't an antelope in sight. Tyler says he was praying like crazy that they could find a nice buck. He really felt they should go left. Adam followed Tyler's advice. They came to a fence with a roads paralleling it on both sides. Adam asked which side they should go on, Tyler said left again. So off they went on their wild goose chase with 10 minutes of daylight left.

A hundred yards from the final left they came to a shallow draw. They had reached the edge and were slowly making their way into it when a group of antelope with a shooter buck ran out. Adam stopped his heart with a quick shot, they threw him whole into the back and headed for me! It was an amazing day! We got home so late, tired, bloody and wiped out from cold, wind, and taking care of 7 antelope that day!

Unfortunately we didn't get any pictures of the bucks or other does in the field. The task of shooting, skinning, boning and taking care of 7 antelope in one day, especially if you are picky about the buck you want to shoot, is overwhelming! We have decided to put in for unit 93 doe tags next year, south of La Barge. We can kill does on the 10th of September in that unit and then hunt 89 for bucks later in the year. It is an easier tag to draw than 93 and there is lots of land to hunt we haven't even seen yet!

Tyler and I are really excited because next year Corey will be hunting with us! We are going to keep the body count at 6 or below, I don't want too many antelope!