Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wyoming Deer Season 2010

This is Corey's first year of hunting, and with us moving to Oregon at the end of the summer, we had to travel back to Wyoming so he wouldn't miss his chance to hunt deer at the age of 12. For me, hunting season was the long awaited "coming of age" thing I waited for. Driving was exciting, being 21 really didn't hold anything special for me since I don't drink, and so my whole life has been focused on the number 12! Anyway, it wasn't an easy trip to plan, but with the help of Grandpa Isaacson, we made it work.
We left La Grande around 4 AM with a goal of making Kemmerer, Wyoming, before evening. Our plan was to hunt Tyler's antelope that afternoon, and then meet my brother Adam, who did all our scouting for us this year, as well as packed a ton of meat, let others shoot before him, and basically acted as guide to his older brother and nephews, this weekend.

Antelope doe tags haven't ever been too difficult to fill. But this year all the does were on the wrong side of the road, or all the antelope we saw were bucks! The country around Kemmerer rolls, it doesn't break. And the sage brush is tall, so it makes for difficult stalking and shooting, especially from the prone position. We had wind gusts of 40 miles an hour that day, with a constant wind speed of over 10 miles an hour. There were thunderstorms moving through and this made for difficult hunting.

Tyler's first attempt was spoiled by sagebrush deflecting his bullet. It was an easy 300 yard shot, but the bullet struck way low. We moved on and finally found this doe with a smallish buck and her fawn. Tyler hit sage brush again, but recovered with a good shot behind the shoulder when she stopped at 200 yards. We hunting until almost dark without getting another shot. We even hunted the private property Adam shot three antelope in 10 minutes on 4 years ago but only saw one buck.

We needed to be to our meeting spot before dark to find Adam, set up camp, and get ready for the deer opener the following day. So we drove off with one antelope tag unfilled.

We got up at 2:45 AM the next morning and drove to the trail head (we camped about 8 miles down the road in grandpa's 12 x 14 wall tent) and raced some other hunters on horses up the trail. We won the race, topping out before they did, and thankfully they headed off to other country. We climbed to the top of the 10,000 foot peak and waited for daylight. The wind was really cold and it seemed like the darkness would never give way to the morning...........but finally it was light enough to see. Adam spotted three bucks right away; one I could tell was a shooter. We worked our way quickly across the ridge back, covering the .5 mile in a short time. I spotted 5 more deer on a distant peak on our ridge, but we never did get a good enough look at them to see anything about them. Adam saw a group of 5 bucks a few weeks before in that area and we kind of figured it could have been them.

We peaked over the ridge top right above the three bucks. The front one was the biggest, but the back buck was good too, so we followed Adam advice and Tyler and Corey got set up to shoot one each. Corey shot first and hit low, Tyler shot his first shot, but a little far back, Corey shot again and hit his buck. WWIII, minus the nukes, opened up after that as we tried anchoring the wounded deer.
Tyler and Corey's bucks died within 150 yards of each other. Tyler had shot the bigger buck in the lead, and Corey's was a year younger, but almost the same size as Tyler's; he had shot the back buck.
We took pictures, gutted, skinned, caped, and packed Corey's buck back to the truck (a 3 mile one way pack). Grandpa was really excited to see us! We decided he would take Tyler, Corey, and Jantzen antelope hunting so Tyler could fill his last tag, while Adam and I went back to get Tyler's deer. We covered the 6 miles in under 2 hours.
I was pretty dead that night having only slept 12 hours in 3 days, and packed out the two deer with Adam. So I slept through the next morning hunt. We broke camp and met Adam at his house around supper time.
He and I got up at 2:45 AM again, Friday morning, and headed for one of my favorite places. Two hunters beat us up the trail, we were a half an hour behind them, and they ended up shooting a nice 4 point that morning. Adam spotted 3 bucks feeding a mile and a half across some huge country. We spent the rest of the day getting to the bucks, which were actually closer to the truck. At dusk we snuck across a huge open hillside across ravines, washes, and scree slopes, all the while staying quiet on the best game trail I've ever walked. We snuck right in on the bucks and jumped them.
When they came out at 200 yards I shot mine. He rolled back down the hill and out of sight. Adam decided to pass on the smaller buck. As I was shouldering my pack, Adam looked up to see a monster buck headed over the ridge top at 350 yards. Because he was holding both rifles he didn't get a shot. He did, however, climb the rest of the way up the basin and try to see if the buck had maybe slowed down on the other side, but it hadn't.

We took care of the buck, each took half, and I got the head, and we headed for the truck, 3 miles distant. The night was moonless, at least at that point, so we had a hard time cutting across country and finding the game trail we used to get in there. We were able to work together, remembering land marks, bushes, rocks/rims, to finally find it. Once on the trail we cruised on out of there. I lost the pack trail a few times on the way down, but we finally made the main trail around 10:30 pm. We were to the truck by 11:30 and home, to Adam's house just after midnight. We took care of the deer and made it to bed just after 1 AM.

It was a LONG day; in both miles and hours. We walked around 15 miles in rough, broken, rimmy country with heavy packs and sore feet. We had few trails to follow, cutting across country most of the day. Amazingly we made really good time coming out. It could have been the pain that drove us along, but I think it was more just good company! I love to hunt with my little brother! The GPS said we were moving at around 3 miles an hour on our way out, once we hit the main trail for the last 1.5 miles to the truck. The next day we cut a cord of wood for Adam and his family and enjoyed good food (Jared says aunt Emily is the best cook EVER), a movie, and had a nice visit with Adam's family. We got up fairly early the next day and made it home in time for me to make my graveyard shift.