Tag Archives: deer

M5 California East Mount Lassen Muzzleloader Hunt

After many years accumulating points in California and yet remaining one less than maximum, I finally found a good hunt where my points might work in my favor. The M5 late-season East Mount Lassen muzzleloader hunt is only 5 tags in the whole X5b zone. In 2017 only 2 people with max points applied. This put my odds up to about 200:1 for a great hunting opportunity. I didn’t draw the tag in 2018 but did this year.

I had talked with Josh Schulgen of Kika Worldwide Outfitters back when I drew my sheep tag. I had already booked with Dry Creek but enjoyed talking with him and we got to talking about using my CA points. I had planned to try for the M5 tag and hunt with Josh.

One thing about this hunt is that you can’t use a scope. I take the Nikon BDC scope off my Thompson Center Encore and start the research process on what to shoot and how to get it shooting. I settle on the non-lead required Barnes T-EZ 50 caliber 250gr Expanders. My first shots at 50 yards group very close to point of aim. Three clicks up get me where I need to be at 100 yards. The weekend before my hunt I give it a thorough cleaning and go back to the 50-yard range to make sure it prints where it should at 50. My shot is perfect. Centered and 2″ high of my point of aim. I put it away and go home and clean it up again. I consider myself ready.

June came along and I get the good news. Josh managed to secure a nice 3 bedroom AirBnB in Alturas which would serve as home base for our hunt. They had an area picked out about 40 minutes south near Termo. I decided to go to Redding the night before and have a leisurely drive to Alturas by highway 299. The weather was great and the scenery beautiful. Being the first one to arrive I met with the owner Victoria. She gave me the walk though, the house is perfect. Nicely decorated, great wi-fi and some great plaques with passages from scripture throughout the place.

Josh is driving up from the south so we arrange to meet where we’ll scout the night before opening day. I arrive to find Josh along with Rick Jones and Austin Young who are helping with the hunt. They all have spotting scopes set up on the mountainside and have already located a great buck. They think he’s a 5×6 and he looks big. The foreground is private land that they had managed to secure permission to hunt previously. They decide to ask again. Elias is the ranch foreman and they know the owner lives out of state. Well, the owner happened to be at the ranch and was great, we had permission to hunt their land too which would make the whole proposition a lot easier. We decide to call the buck ‘Elias’.

Spotting scope pic of ‘Elias’

Saturday morning we’re there at first light. Groups of bucks are leaving the alfalfa fields for the rocky hills. Josh and I stalk a group but as we get near we see there are no shooter bucks in the group. We regroup and glass the hills again. Later Josh and I do a longer hike but are not seeing much. At one point we do get close to a nice looking 4×4. We go back and forth about how big he is. Thinking he’s not that big, then thinking, he is a super buck. We get a lot of video of this buck and start to think of him as plan B. The hunt ends that evening with no further Elias sightings.

First sighting of the 4×4 I eventually shoot

Sunday comes and it is bitter cold. Have all my gear on. Josh and I do another hike but again no big bucks. We spend a good deal of time up on the mountain. We can see a huge herd of antelope in the alfalfa fields. A coyote on the periphery. Yesterday the guys even saw a mountain lion. We spend the usual time looking for bucks and still no sign of Elias. As the evening approaches, we decide to drive a short road that leads to where we saw the good 4×4. Before we even turn up the road Josh spots a group of deer and sees antler tips he thinks are our buck’s. We wait watching for him to show himself. He’s with about five does and a smaller buck. Sure enough, it is him. We quickly come up with a plan to try and drive back and get in between them and the alfalfa fields they are slowly headed towards. Rick and Austin drive by the other side of them to try and watch what they’re doing. As the sun goes down at 6 pm they are slowly coming towards us. Finally, we decide to leave the truck and get to sagebrush we can hide behind as they approach. As we exit the truck it’s clear our scent is headed their way and sure enough, they alert and hold up. We’re behind the bush now and Josh has a tripod high enough for me to rest my fist and rifle on. It’s now 6:20 with only ten minutes left to shoot and we’re losing light. Finally, Josh sees him broadside to the left of a pine tree. It takes me a long time to make him out but I put the gun on my fist and try to ease my front sight bead into his body. I’m there and slowly squeezing and boom, I take the shot. After the smoke clears Josh says he’s hit. I drop 3 pellets in and drive another bullet home, then recap my rifle and we move slowly after him. We flush him and I snap shoot but miss him. I reload yet again and we eventually come up to him, he’s hurt and not moving from us. I shoot him again and he only moves a few yards and is now down for good. This was a crazy few minutes. Josh was so key to us closing the deal. Making the plan, guiding me to see the buck at 110 yards in low light, and then following up cautiously to finish him. I would not want to have left him overnight with the coyotes and lion. I pick up his antlers and am so pleased, he’s a great typical, symmetrical 4×4 with eye guards and good mass. He’s a great California Mule Deer. We exchange congratulations and the team arrives soon after for pictures and securing the meat. The guys score him later that night at 174.

Sean Browne and Josh Schulgen with my M5 California Mule Deer
Penny next to the 250gr Barnes Expander and my recovered bullet

This was an amazing adventure and such a great use of my 16 years of California preference points.

Blacktail Rifle Hunt -October 2017

Sunset after the shot

Back to the Diamond C for my second CA blacktail hunt of the year. Not really looking for anything specific just out for a fun hunt and see what we can see. Friday night we’re out looking in the evening. Not long we see a big bobcat prowling the golden hills. We leave him be and keep looking. At one point between two distant stands of oaks a buck is silhouetted broadside on the horizon. He’s too small to chase but makes a beautiful picture. As the sun begins to set I’m thinking tonight is a wrap but Dylan spots a buck in the distance. It’s an old 4×3 that we’ve been looking for he’s in a great spot for us to make a stalk. So just like that we are switched on and that time I savor and so look forward to, between spotting a buck we want and making a stalk and hopefully taking a shot is now on. We grab our packs and are off towards a rising hill that we think will give us the vantage point to maybe make a shot. We get close and get low, scoot up to the edge. Dylan’s not seeing him. We keep looking and soon Dylan spots him. I lower my bi-pod legs and scoot my rifle forward. Dylan gives  me the range 355 yards. I’m on him and turn up my scope but he’s moving. I’m tracking him and he is walking when Dylan makes some whistling sounds and he stops. I start to make the shot but realize my safety is on. I slowly click it off an now he’s on the move again. Dylan tries it again and when he stops I’m on him. The sun is setting behind us and he appears in my scope in an orange glow. He’s quartering too and I have a perfect hold on his body and squeeze off the shot. I see him collapse instantly even through the scope. My customer Remington ADL in .270 does the trick with the Barnes 130 TTSX bullet. The VX6 at 18 power with a nice red dot lit at the reticle made it easy to hold and I find my shot hit perfectly. Dylan’s son Clayton and his girlfriend Elizabeth come join us on the Rhino quad to aid in the recovery. By the time they arrive the sun has set and soon the large full moon rises to light our way. This buck isn’t the biggest but this kind of spot and stalk and shot is my favorite way to rifle hunt blacktail. He is a great old buck  with a lot of character. Such a great time hunting with Dylan and the Carr family.

 

Dylan Carr and the scene of my 355 yard shot to my blacktail buck

 

Blacktail Buck with Diamond C Outfitters

July bucks on Trailcam

Finally have a few bucks on the trailcam. The first is the same wide buck from May who now is starting to look like an 8-Point Whitetail deer. I’m calling him ‘Whitey’

Whitey -wide 3×3 looking like an 8 point Whitetail

This asymmetrical 3×3 I have nicknamed ‘Goofy’

 

Nice tall fork horn. Seen him before. He is ‘Twin Peaks’ Love the tongue out in this one.

Looks like a Scrub Jay captured in flight.

 

Colorado Archery Mule Deer

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Back to Twin Buttes Recreation again to hunt mule deer. I’m hunting with Scott Robertson. Had lots of great stalks on some huge bucks. On the fourth day we came on some deer just within the tree line. There was a good 4×4 in the bunch so we decided to try a stalk. We got to about 67 yards but there was a young buck in front of the 4×4. Eventually the separated and I moved up to see him broadside looking at me at 53 yards. I drew back and shot and saw my lighted knock leaving with him. We found my arrow with about five inches broken off and ten inches of good blood on it. After a couple hours we tracked him about 75 yards passing an old lion kill. A good 4×4 with just the skull left and horns eaten down by rodents. Then when we find my buck he’s actually a 5×4 with a branch on his right main beam. He’s also got fresh lion claw marks on his hind quarters and his tail has been bitten off.

Lion marks on buck

What a great hunt. We saw some huge bucks and had many exciting stalks before this one came through for me. So happy to have made a perfect shot at 53 yards. The Robertson’s are a wonderful family and the food, hospitality, and hunting are the best. Will definitely be back possibly trying the rifle. It’s hard to stop bow hunting though when you are two for two on archery mule deer. Still waiting to see if any of my friends connected after I left. Hoping one of them nailed the big non-typical we had been seeing.

Scott & Sean CO Mule Deer

One for the books

My big blacktail from August we called The Lightning Four is starting to get officially recognized by several of the record keeping organizations. He is officially the new number 2 typical Columbia Blacktail taken by bow for Safari Club International. They scored him at 154 3/8 ranking him 23rd overall.

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Here is the display from the SCI site showing his new ranking.

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The Boone & Crockett Club has also officially recognized Lightning Four as scoring 156″ which will crack their top 100 list in their all time record book. Should he still be in the top five at the end of this three year scoring period I’ll need to submit him for a panel judging. That would be exciting and he could receive an award for his species in that scoring period.

BC

And lastly, Pope & Young, the bowhunting organization has asked that I ship the horns for their panel judging in Arizona preceding their Convention in April. Unfortunately I can’t attend the convention however he may end up in their Top Ten all time list for Columbia Blacktail Deer. It will be interesting to see what the panel scores him as there was a big difference between SCI and B&C. So exciting to have taken such a great buck with my bow and to receive the distinction such a great animal deserves.

 

 

 

The Lightning Four

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.

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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:

Lightning Four in 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

2014 rifle buck

2014 rifle buck

Diamond C Outfitters

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!

 

August Bow Hunt

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 2013 blacktail bow buck 'Stubby'

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.

 

My August 2013 blacktail bow buck 'Stubby'

My August 2013 blacktail bow buck ‘Stubby’