Incredible time this year on my annual August bow hunt up in Humboldt County, CA. Hunting for my tenth year with Dylan Carr of Diamond C Outfitters. We had lots of trail cam pics with lots of great bucks on the watch list this year. I was focused on a very old buck nicknamed ‘brisket’ for his prominent one. The week before I arrived he shedded his velvet and then was not to be seen on the trailcam. We decided to focus on another area where a huge 4×4 was a regular. He is ‘Lightning Four’ as a 4×4 first spotted in another area of the ranch called the lightning rough.
My hunt began Sunday night August 17. Only a few does showed up that evening. The next day improved with some small bucks also making appearances, doing some mock fighting, and just grazing around in the clearing next to the blind. Tuesday morning does begin to appear with the usual small bucks and then out of my left there he is. I can’t even believe it. My heart starts pounding. I wait for him to get to about 30 yards broadside and I draw back. Just as I do a fawn walks right next to him covering his vitals. I wait and wait and then have to let down. Somehow that doesn’t spook them. Waiting and finally the doe clears. I draw again, aim, squeeze, the arrow flies. Right under him. I can’t believe it! I miss him at only 30 yards. He starts a little at the sound but doesn’t really spook. I watch him walk away slowly with my binos. Looking at his right side, no sign of contact. I can only pray I’ve not blown my chance. Wednesday I see the usual suspects. Also some other great deer that are too young to be on the hit list but look like great future prospects. Thursday morning, more of the same. Thursday night I’m seeing more deer. Sun set is at 8:09 with legal shooting to 8:39. At about 8:50 he comes in with two other great bucks. Way too dark to shoot but can see him clearly in my binos. He is HUGE. Soo much bigger than the other great bucks. I’m glad to see him back but hopefully he’s not gone nocturnal. Friday morning is slow. A couple does in and out. I decide to stay longer just in case. At about 10am two does come into view from the left of the blind. Then I see a bunch of deer are following them. Small bucks and there he is right in the middle of them! He moves to almost the same spot as the first time and I’m ready. Heart pounding again and pretty shaky as I draw back. He’s at 25 yards and I hold with my 20 high in his vitals. I release and connect dropping him instantly. I hit high and have spined him! I quickly put two more arrows into his vitals and he dies 25 yards from the blind. I was so excited I wasn’t thinking straight and held way too high for my current bow. I think I reverted to my first bow training when my arrow would probably fall into the vitals at 25 yards. My bad shooting aside, I am so excited to have taken this buck. He is a giant blacktail anywhere! Easily a Boone & Crocket buck.
Dylan had a picture of the buck from the year before. He also collects many of the sheds each year and gave me Lightning’s sheds from last year. When I hold them I can hardly believe we didn’t shoot him last year. Dylan has done a great job of managing the deer on his ranch and only taking mature bucks and letting the young ones reach their potential. In our ten years hunting together I’ve seen the quality of the deer improve incredibly. I’ve taken a lot of great bucks but this is the first time I’ve held out for five days to take a true trophy such as this!
Here he is bedded down last year:
As if my luck couldn’t get any better, on our last morning we went out with his son Clayton in a yamaha viking to see if we could find another super old buck called ‘Whitey’ that was on the list. Incredibly as we approached his usual haunts there he is. Dylan and I were able to ease up to 100 yards. I set up with my Remington custom ADL and made a perfect shot on the shoulder. My second CA tag filled with another great buck. He’s a 4×4 with a sticker on his right that may get scored. He’s a great buck as well, not in the same leagues as the lightning but one of my best.
The long awaited Diamond C Outfitters promo video is finally done! Set to ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC, it is pretty fast paced encapsulation of what looks like ten years of hunting seasons. Several of my deer shots are recorded including my 2007 3×4 shot prone in the upper ranch. Also both my 2009 bucks, Twin Towers that drops like a rock and my late season 5×4 buck that kicks out at the shot. Both the pig hunting bow shots are mine, my first pig kill with a bow the same day I shot Twin Towers. Also a 60 yard ( lucky ) shot on a grey boar that was heading up the rear on the group of pigs when I shot the black sow. One thing you notice is just how many women hunters the Carr’s take each year. Lots of capable women hunting out there. So many great bucks and great memories!
Headed out to western Colorado to do a combo archery hunt for trophy mule deer and elk near Rangely, Co at Twin Buttes Ranch. The six day hunt ran 8/31 to 9/5. Hunting with my friends Dylan & Holly Carr, Rodney, Jim, and Eric. I’m driving out in hopes of bringing back coolers of elk meat. We all connect at Cabela’s in Reno and caravan from there to spend the night in Tooele, UT. We make Rangely early the next morning. Our tags are waiting for us in town and we get all our licenses in order and head up to the ranch.
During the course of the hunt we seem many great bucks. Some I just can’t get close enough for a shot. Early in the hunt I get within 55 yards of a pretty nice 4×4 but end up passing on that shot. It ends up being the buck I take on the fourth day. They had some scouting footage of him from earlier that they sent me below.
Eric draws first blood on the third day with a tall 2×3. I end up getting a shot the morning of the fourth day at the same 4×4. I shoot from just under 40 yards. It’s a good shot but we’re concerned he’s headed off a pretty steep drop. I put another into him from behind at 32 and he beds down on the steep slope. We see his head go down and then he rolls another 75 yards down but stops before the drop. It makes for a challenging recovery and messed up the velvet. Luckily we have lots of help. Dylan and Owen dress and quarter him right there on the hill side. I’m super happy to have taken my first mule deer with a bow.
Jim shoots a very nice tall 4×4 on day five and Dylan shoots a great buck that night. The last day Rodney scores on another great buck and we watch the drama from a adjoining ridge. After taking my deer I sat on water in a blind for elk but no luck. It was beautiful country, great accommodations, food, lodge and wonderful hospitality from the Robertson’s family.
August and I’m back to the Diamond C Ranch for a blacktail bow hunt. I’m after several bucks, some we’ve seen previous years. Moose, a big non-typical, Johnny a nice 4×3, Stubby a thick based 4×3, and AP a super wide symmetrical 4×4. Moose is the primary target. Friday I’m in a blind looking for him to come in. At dusk a super tall buck appears. I’m thinking of taking him but further scrutiny shows he’s aptly named ‘Off-Limits’ a big 4×3 that’s too young. Saturday night while heading to the Herf blind we spot a big buck walking in the woods below us to our right. It’s ‘Johnny’. Dylan and I are after him, walking above him parallel to his path searching for a good shooting lane. Finally one develops. Dylan ranges him at 38 yards. I hold my 40 pin on his body, he’s quartering away, I release. I hear my arrow impact a branch on the way. It deflects my shot but we hear it impact. He’s off and we decide to cross the creek bed and see if we can head him off. While on the opposite side I can hear him walking through the woods. We cross back and at the creek bed we can see him bed down above us on the side I shot from. We recover him there. My arrow went through both back legs and hit an artery. He’s a great buck! Nice 4×3 with his velvet intact. My best bow buck by far.
My August blacktail bow buck “Johnny”
With so many great bucks on the ranch I decide to sit the Herf blind Sunday night in hopes of seeing AP. While I’m getting into the blind a tall 4×3 stands up from under an oak tree and slowly walks off. I thought it was Off-Limits again but Dylan texts me that it was Stubby and I can take him if I want. He looked pretty good but I’m thinking of holding out for AP the huge 4×4. Around 6:30 a doe walks in. She’s pretty spooky, starting at the slightest noise from the blind and staring in. She leaves eventually. Later another doe comes in and same thing, slightest noise has her full alert. Sunset is 8:18 and at 8:20 a young fork horn walks in. Around 8:30 Stubby is back as well. I give him a good look with the binos. He looks pretty good. Taller than Johnny but not wide. Super thick bases. Finally at 8:40 he stands broadside at 23 yards looking my direction. I decide to take him. I draw and can make out his back line. Lower the green 20 pin below and slowly release. I hear the arrow impact and the black silhouette of a buck walking out and away to the left. I grab the binos but not in time to identify which. I think I see movement in the grass. I call Dylan and tell him I shot Stubby. I think the shot is good. Possibly he’s ‘dead right there’. We give him 30 minutes and then the truck pulls up. I’m out of the blind. Stow my gear in the truck and then go look for my arrow. There is Stubby lying dead where he was standing. Too good to be true. He’s a super buck with 6″ plus bases and patches of white velvet. A great double for the weekend and my two best bow bucks by far.
Over my past few bow hunts my guide Dylan Carr has encouraged me to shoot heavier arrows. After having some pretty mediocre penetration on even medium sized pigs I decided to take his advice. I ordered a dozen Easton Axis Full Metal Jacket arrows from Bowhunter Superstore. They will cut and ship you arrows to your specified length, fletching type, colors, knocks.
I recently had my bow restrung and it was shooting a little high with my old arrows. I left it as is knowing it might be fine for the heavier ones on order. After receiving my new arrows I took them to Kings Mountain Archers to sight them in. My first shot at 20 yards was dead on. It also went right through the hay bale and the quarter inch rubber backstop. After a few minutes dislodging it I decided to skip 20. I shot some nice groups at various distances until I was too fatigued to shoot well enough to still make adjustments.
I shot some respectable groups and was feeling pretty good about my new arrows. Especially their energy and penetration. My deer target was pretty shot out and even my old arrows were going right through it. My new Cabelas target arrived so was anxious to try out the new arrows on it. The evening I went out to shoot a doe was checking him out from the other side of the fence. Well was able to get almost all my arrows into the smallest circle on the target.
So following weekend decided to head back to Kings Mountain to make sure my initial sight in was accurate. I always want to see how I shoot fresh and that first shot I always consider the most important one. The one I would be taking in the field. Had the range to myself so I did my usual 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 from the right side of the range. My 40 I could tell I flinched a little but the rest felt like good form. This turned out to be one of the best strings I can recall shooting. I think it bodes well for my hunt next month.
I had originally planned to head up to the Diamond C Ranch in October for my first hunt this year however Dylan contacted me to see if I’d like to try for a buck we call ‘Club’ Dylan had been seeing regularly on a trail camera. He thought I could get a good chance at him with my bow hunting hunting from a ground blind. I was definitely up for it. I first saw club with twin towers and the 4×5 I took in 2009. That year his left antler was a single knob gaining him his nickname. Last year he was a 3×4 but this year he is a 4×5 and looking huge. Probably at his best given his age so we want to take him this season.
I drove up Sunday morning on August 12th. Dylan and I both sat in the blind that first night. Unfortunately it had really heated up and we didn’t see a single deer the first night. The next day wasn’t much better. I sat in the blind alone before dawn and then back in it again at 6:30, again not a single deer. Luckily the blind was in the shade and a light breeze would blow in the opening now and then. After we would pull the trail cam card and review the pics we’d see club right there again with a bunch of other bucks and a big black pig but a half hour after shooting hours.
Tuesday Morning I’m in the blind well before dark and just before dawn I see the flash fire from the trail cam illuminating a tall buck in the distance across the fence line. I can see him in my binoculars, he’s a tall tined 2×3. It’s way too dark to make him out otherwise or even try for a shot. At dawn he is long gone and I don’t see any more deer that morning. The evening it’s now a lot cooler and at 8pm I see a tall velvet spike crest the hill and approach from the left. He jumps the fence and stops in front of the blind. I draw my bow on him to practice from within the blind. Shooting from a chair is not easy. I took Dylan’s advice and gave it some practice before coming up. It’s a 27 yard shot and feels good. I let down and hope more deer are on the way. At 8:30 I hear rustling in the trees on the hill to my right and a large pig emerges and starts to make his way down. It’s too dark to even read the lcd numbers on my range finder. When he passes in front of the blind I estimate 15 yards and can barely make out his outline through the tall grass. I try to hold my 20 pin on him and at the shot he speeds off and I hear my arrow clang against a metal fence rod in the distance. Miss! Now it’s too dark to shoot and a velvet forky appears on my left along with the tall tined buck off to my right. Dylan picks me up and we head back encouraged by getting a shot off and at least seeing some deer.
The next morning back in the blind. It’s much cooler actually rains a little. No deer sighted in the early hours. Dylan texts me to see what I want to do. With the cooler weather and light rain I want to look around and see if it’s got the deer moving. He picks me up and we head down to the willows and walk the ridge but don’t see any bucks below. We move off to another area that he’s seen a couple management bucks. As soon as we turn the corner there are two deer on a hill top in the distance under a big oak. It’s a doe and one of the management bucks. We slip out to try for him. We’re able to get very close before the doe busts us. He moves back to 23 yards and remains broadside while I draw and shoot. The shot is perfect and after 20 minutes we find him piled up over the crest of the hill. He’s a great management buck, nice bases, eye guards, and still in velvet with his summer coat and nice and fat. I am thrilled to have taken another buck with my bow four years after my first. I’ll be back in November chasing Club again, looking forward to seeing him hard horned and hopefully take him with my bow but am not above pulling out the rifle.
Finally managed to make it up north for a Spring turkey hunt with my friend Dylan Carr at his Diamond C Ranch. I set out super early Sunday morning to get there in time to hunt all day. I met Dylan and his friend Harley and we set out right away to go try and locate some turkeys. We found a couple coyotes first and I managed to miss a 300 yard shot shooting just under one. Hopefully that cleared them out of the country and the turkeys could start talking. We would go to different spots and blow a hawk or crow call to draw out a ‘shock gobble’. Soon we had a Tom answering and set up to call one in. We had a little hen decoy out front with Dylan and Harley hidden behind me calling them in. This went on for a while until we figured they were not going to cross the creek to us. After a couple more stands and a major relocation we managed to call one in. It was pretty exciting with him answering and getting closer. Unfortunately he slipped behind us. Harley finally called me back to his tree and I was able to step out and shoot a huge tom at about 50 yards. He was just over 20 pounds with a 9 3/4″ beard. I was thrilled to have taken him. You don’t realize just how beautiful their feathers are until you see one up close. Iridescent blues and greens with another row of copper metallic all changing in the sunlight. Calling in a turkey is really an exciting hunt. I’ll definitely try to make this hunt each Spring.
After lunch back at the cabin we all grabbed our bows for some practice at the range they had set up with targets out to 50 yards. I was doing pretty well with some tight groups out to 50. I had hoped to kill a big boar with my bow or at least get some fresh pork to bring back for sausages. Although we’d seen some fresh pig sign in the morning there weren’t any pigs around. We had planned to drive about 30 minutes to another spot for a better chance. While we were heading out we spotted a big boar out in the middle of the green hills far off in the distance. Great luck for us. We headed way up high above and quickly grabbed our gear to start a stalk. We tried to ease down the rippling fingers and valleys towards where we had last seen the big boar. A couple does monitored our progress in the distance and a couple deer had bolted out below us, we’re hoping pushed by the big boar. We kept moving slowly down the hill side each crest hoping we’ll see him. Finally we reach another hill top and Dylan eases up and says he’s right there, forty yards. I ease out and aim low on the pigs chest for a heart shot but miss low. I quickly move back and we just wait. He didn’t spook. I knock another arrow, draw, then ease out once more taking my time, my forty pin just above his heart. I release just as he winds us and spins to bolt away. My arrow catches him from behind. We hear a solid hit. After about fifteen minutes we move up to the shot. My arrow has blood and paunch on it. We can track him fairly easy in the soft ground along with fairly frequent blood. We finally catch up to him in a creek bed where I’m able to put an arrow through the heart/lungs and that’s it. He’s a big nasty looking boar, black with Russian confirmation but small tusks. With a good deal of effort we 1 2 3 pull him out of the creek to a spot we can take some pictures. I’m really pleased, finally took a big boar with my bow on the ranch.
I bought a new bow over the holidays. I had originally planned on getting the Mathews Z7 after shooting it over at Archery Only and being impressed with how easy it was to shoot. Also it shot my same arrow 15 fps faster at 60 pounds than my PSE Enforcer was shooting at 70. When I finally came back in to buy, Wayne had me also try the Hoyt Carbon Element. I didn’t expect to like it and thought it’s design was a little strange, kind of organic, like twisting tree limbs. I was really surprised. I liked it much better than the Z7. It’s lighter and just felt right. I also shot the one he had set up much better than the Z7.
I finally was able to take it to Kings Mountain this afternoon. It was a little wet and foggy but I shot better than I ever have with the new bow. At times I could barely make out the 60 yard target but tried to just hold in the same place and did a pretty good group. I have the bow set to 60 pounds so it’s a pleasure to shoot and I don’t end up rushing my shots.
I’m really looking forward to practicing with the new bow and taking it hunting this summer.