November Blacktail Hunt

Friday November 12 – Arrived at the ranch around lunchtime and after getting unpacked Dylan and I head out. The first buck we see just within the tree line is a pretty good buck with a broken main beam. He’s also missing an eye on the other side. Looks like he’s gotten the worst of it. He’s watching a spike with three does in the open field and we wonder when he’ll come drive the spike off. We drive on and come to a right hand turn that has hills to our right and a lower slope down on the left. we see a coyote sitting in the distance on the hill side. Dylan has those Leica geovids and ranges him at 281 yards. I dial my new CDS turret on my .270 Cooper to 280 and step out for a shot.  I try to center the shaking reticle on it’s chest and squeeze. It falls at the shot and Dylan says I got it. We move up to check it out. I hit it low but still killed it. It’s a bitch with a nice coat. I’m so pleased with the CDS turret and ready for any shot on a big buck. Eventually we see Club again, he’s a nice 5×4 this year. A big fork horn in an opening with a doe. Later in the hunt we see a big 4×4 far out in a field with some does. Dylan calls him ‘The Teacher’ as he’s probably out of another buck they called ‘The Principal’ and he’s been pretty elusive. He looks interesting but we move on. Back near the cabin we get out and glass from the mound above the food plot. There is a buck with a short deformed rack in the near clearing. Farther down we find a rack in the grass that looks like a whitetail. Kenny arrives while we’re glassing. A cow died on the upper ranch and he’s going to sit over it this evening to try for coyotes. Holly arrives shortly after and we have a nice dinner of fried whitetail steaks from their Wisconsin trip.

Saturday November 13 – Up early and eventually back down to the lower ranch again. Right off we see a big 4×4 on a hill above us to our left. It’s the Teacher again and this time I get a closer look. He’s huge! I’m out and loading a round as he is moving below and to our right. We move to a grassy knob and I go prone but it’s too late for a shot. He does seem like a smart buck. Moving on we come to a narrow opening that has a nice looking 3×3 with a doe. We watch him for a while and Dylan take some video. Back to the cabin for lunch with Clayton and Ashley. Kenny is setting up again on the dead cow but nothing’s touched it so far. We’re back out after lunch. We see a spike with a doe and then a big fork horn with a doe. A little further on we see an odd looking buck. He’s a 4×3 and his left main beam hooks up. Dylan calls him ‘Captain Hook’ He’s also with a doe. We start thinking he might be a good bow buck. We drive on and enter a narrow wooded area and stop near a 4×4 just inside the tree line watching us. I take some pictures. He’s not a bad 4×4 although his backs are a little shallow. At the turn around we can see another ranch across the river and count 20 bucks in a clearing. Back to the Cabin for dinner with Holly, Clayton and Ashley, rib eyes off the bbq.

Sunday November 14 – On our way out there is a 4×3 above the decrepit ranch house with 3 does. We move on and see spikes and some forkies. We pass by Hook with a doe and a spike. Further on we have a view of a distant hill side where a lone coyote is sunning himself in an open field. He’s 800 yards so we leave him be. We pass a nice 3×3 with does.

Coming back now Hook is on the knob just above the rock pit. We drive to the barbwire fence line and he’s probably 100 yards from us. He’s with a doe and staring right at us. At this point we decide to see if I can get him with my bow. I slip out and Dylan hands me my bow, I crouch with the bill of my hat covering my face and slowly start moving in a low crouch up the fence line. I have a post in mind to range from. I take my time hoping that he doesn’t spook. I get to the post and take my rangefinder out and he’s still standing there. He’s at 55 yards. I estimate three posts to forty yards and start moving again. I get to my post and look up to range again. Still there. 39 yards. I start to clip my release on and as I do he turns endwise and puts his head down feeding! Now I’m thinking I can get to 30. I move up two posts stand and as I draw he takes three steps forward putting him just over the horizon of the hill side. I move even closer and now he’s broadside to me at 20 but I only see his back line. I contemplate shooting but decide against as I wouldn’t be able to see the impact. It would make too much noise to cross the fence so I back out. Back to the truck Dylan asks why I didn’t just shoot at 40. He says he’s still there and to approach from the other side of the fence line and keep a tree in between me and the doe. I’m off again, now my heart is pounding and I’m shaking a little. Try to calm down as I creep to the tree. I’m moving faster than before up to the tree but didn’t see the buck or the doe as I got closer. I get to the tree and then step out. There he is broadside at 10 yards, the doe as well, neither spook. I clip on and draw, I have my twenty pin buried in his chest and just as I put my finger in front of the trigger he simply walks down the hillside and the doe follows. I move to the other side of the knob but don’t have a shot. I should have drawn my bow before stepping out, should have believed that they were still there. Still, this was such an exciting stalk, one that I will be thinking about for the rest of the year.

We do some more glassing and watch one incredible buck fight. Two big bucks really going at it in the distance, the victor ends up with a rack full of grass. You can see how they can get hurt badly during the rut.

Lunch back at the cabin and then we take the Rhino up to Crandall’s to swap a trail cam card and put in batteries. We glass bucks from Deadman’s for a while. There are two 3x3s with a doe below us and a 3×3 in the distance bedded with a doe. After a while we head back to the cabin and into the truck. We see a pretty nice 4×4 right near the road who doesn’t seem bothered by us. We take some video of him and he eventually moves off. We head up to the willows and there are about 14 turkeys there. We look down into the valley and see a big 3×3 gets up with another big buck with a broken main beam. We decide to head back to the cabin and then eventually come back again to try for the Teacher. We’re seeing a couple spikes and lots of does out near the cabin from the knob above it. Soon Dylan spots a big buck and we get the spotting scope out. He looks awesome, deep forks. He’s a big 5×4. I see him leave the tree line and think he’s gone but he comes back out again with a doe. I grab my Cooper and rack a round, drop the bi-pod and we crawl forward on the knob. Dylan had grabbed the video camera. He says he’s at 234 yards and shoot when ready. I set the turret to 230 I’m holding on him and squeezing just as he turns his head back. He kicks at the shot and I try to find him in my scope as he runs in a large circle now moving away, I shoot again holding on his shoulder and he drops. I hit the base of his neck. Actually the first shot was perfect and he was probably about to drop. I’m so happy with him. He is a fantastic buck with deep forks and a small fifth. He looks like a potential B&C buck! We celebrate with a great dinner of Caribou steaks from their recent hunt.

Monday November 15 -Up early monday to try for pigs with our bows over at Dylan’s. Halfway there we can see it’s completely socked in so decide to abort and head back to the ranch to take care of my buck. We tour the ranch first but not much is out. A coyote manages to elude us. Back to the cabin for lunch and then we skin and quarter my buck. Dylan capes him and then we put the tape on him. He’s 139 3/8 gross with about 4” in deductions. He just might make the book when I can score him in January. Regardless it was the end of an amazing 2010 season taking the two best bucks of my life and so many great experiences hunting with Dylan again on the Diamond C.

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