200 yards and 5 minutes - An epic story of firsts

Moserkr

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Just wanted to share an epic adventure from this weekend that ended with a young man shooting his first buck.

A group of 4 of us - me, two youth hunters (brothers), and my other friend - set out the afternoon before the archery opener to backpack in and set up camp next to a high mountain lake known for its trout fishing. There were a few other hunters at the lake too, which was not usual, but there was plenty of room for us all.

The evening started by getting camp set up, and tossing a few lines on the fly rod for trout. Our group of 4 only caught one fish that evening but it was fun nonetheless. The scenery was beautiful, and the night peaceful. No tents for us - just slept under the stars.

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Opening morning and we were up bright and early. Out the door before the other hunters were up for two reasons - be in shooting position at daylight, and not let the others see where we were going. Being there 5 minutes too late can make all the difference.

We get to our positions that surround a large meadow. The oldest of the boys set up in a draw where a finger of the meadow ends before it goes uphill towards the bedding area. The youngest set up above him on the ridge separating that draw from a creek. Then set my friend up on the creek adjacent to the draw and ridge the boys were at, where a section of tree edges, meadow, and creek meet - pinch point. I setup just inside a tree line overlooking a hillside full of groceries where the creek empties into, but where its fairly open. I picked all these spots based on scouting deer movements in previous years - every spot has had an opportunity at a shot before. We were all spaced roughly 200 yards apart.

Orders were to stay put until 9am when most the deer activity would have passed by then. It was very quiet until 7:30 when I saw movement at my spot. Doe and a young buck. I have no interest in shooting a young buck anymore, especially one thats barely more than a spike. I snuck in to get a good look at the buck - barely legal with one tiny fork. No one else in the group has shot a buck before, so I go get my nearest buddy on the creek to go chase after the jail bait buck. We looked and looked but they disappeared into some tall willows like ghosts - gone.

At this point its close to 9am so we head on over to the boys and check on them. Find some very fresh buck droppings on the way from a sizable animal. They must have split my buddy on the creek and the youngest boy on the ridge by taking a slight depression uphill to bed - just out of sight. Between the 3 of us, we just saw the doe and jail bait buck.

The oldest boy (hes actually bigger than me lol) comes up from the draw and we ask what he saw. With wide eyes he said: 4 groups of deer!! One group of 4 does with fawns, a group of does and fawns with some forkies, a group of 3 forkies, and then some bigger bucks - 3x3 and something bigger!! He was only 5 yards out of position from being able to get a shot on one of the deer! His younger brother was in awe - all that action and he didnt see a thing. My buddy was shocked too - his spot was also a bust. I wasnt surprised…. That draw is the best spot!

Back to camp we went for an afternoon of fishing and relaxing. Took a swim in the lake, threw some lines, took a nap, ate food, and just chilled. The boys and my buddy decided to hunt in the evening, and although we could hit that area again, I told them to wait until morning as its best worked with deer going through the funnels uphill. So they poked around the rest of the mountain with the other hunters, which also helps push the deer back to the secret honey hole.

I stayed in camp with my spotting scope, binos, and fly rod. I had two goals of my own - glass a pocket meadow across the canyon that holds big bucks that Ive seen before, and catch a fish on my fly rod. Glassing didnt go to well, but I did catch my first fish on the fly!!
He was a wiggly, fighting SOB for his size lol.
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(Cropped since lake is well known)
 
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Moserkr

Moserkr

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Everyone gets back to camp late and we hit the hay again, but this time we are getting up even earlier. There was another group of hunters that moved into the area during the day and are camped right next to us. We were packed up and gone before their alarms even went off.

Back to the secret honey hole we go and its early…. So we all find a spot closer to the meadow this time. The boys both go down into the draw together and cover both sides. I cover where the ridge starts next to the draw and meadow. My buddy patrols the far edge of the meadow along a treeline. Still 200 yards apart roughly except for the boys.

Im sitting on a rock next to some trees on the meadows edge. Pretty quiet at first until I hear some soft hoof prints. Look around a tree - doe. She disappears into the willows. A few minutes later - same thing, but its a doe and spike. 5 minutes later I hear crashing through brush sounds behind me - I slowly turn, nothing. Weird. I look out over the meadow some more and 5 minutes later I see a hunter, and he’s drawing back his bow!! Cant tell - is that one of the boys?? He fires. Nope, two other hunters, and they just shot at a buck headed in the direction of the boys. Bummer, but good for them.

I stand up on a log nearby to watch through my binos since I figure my hunt is over now. Other hunters just shot a buck 200 yards from the boys and me, and are making a bunch of noise in the meadow - most likely its blown out. As Im watching and waiting, ANOTHER hunter comes up behind me. I tell him the story of the other hunters shooting and where the boys were at. He was going to walk right through the meadow there so I insisted he did not. Guy was a douche and reluctantly headed up the adjacent ridge. So much for our “secret” honey hole - ha! The hunters who took the shot give their buck 30 minutes before heading in to look. I work my way around the meadow so I dont bump their buck and say hello. Told em I saw the shot, where my boys were at, and that Ill help em track their deer. They were newer hunters, never shot one before, and appreciated my offer. We started tracking.

Learned they took a 75 yard broadside shot on a forkie - it hit the shoulder. The blood trail, or lack of one, agreed. Darker red blood, just a drop here or there, only on one side. No arrow to be found. We followed it around 50 yards before it disappeared. We kept expanding our circles and mind you, this was within 100 yards of the boys now. Then I see the boys come out in the meadow - I whistle at them and go say hi. I tell them these guys are looking for a buck, and they say “We shot one too!!” Well $/!&!!! I hope its not the same buck.

Boys say its a decent buck, bigger than a forkie, but was with a forkie. Older boy took a frontal shot as thats all he had at 20 yards. I go tell the other hunters the news - they are surprised. I leave them with tracking tape and go with the boys to help track their buck instead of the other random hunters. They understand, thank me for helping, and continue searching. We discuss the possibility of it being the same buck and end with a very respectful understanding. The types of hunters I expect to meet in the woods. Real genuine nice guys.

Off we go to where the boys shot their buck just 100 yards away. No arrow, not surprising as its a frontal shot, probably buried in the buck. We find blood - good blood - and lots of it. Sprayed all over the ground, rocks, trees - painted the forest red. Excellent!! We are going to find a dead buck, and hes not going to be far. We start tracking their buck the opposite direction of the other hunters, on the other side of the meadow finger. We can see each other after a few minutes of tracking we are that close. Im surprised, after heavy blood spurting everywhere, it kind of peters out and ends. Did it clot? What happened? I knew it was a heart/artery shot by the amount and color, how did it end? No luck for 20 minutes. I walk over to the other hunters 50 yards away, ask if they have had any luck finding their buck. Nope.

On my way back over I see it - dead buck!!! On our side of the meadow too. I call over to the older boy - come look at your dead buck!!! He was in disbelief. He had shot his first buck, with a bow, on public land, backpacking in, and caught fish on the fly to boot. All in one weekend!!

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(Cropped for identifiable scenery, tag was notched prior to picture)

The other hunters were right there so naturally came over to look. The buck was a decent 2x3. We checked for a shoulder wound - nothing. We checked for a frontal wound - nothing in the chest. Looking closer, the arrow entered the neck, passed through severing the carotid artery, before heading into the back of the deer by the spine. The deer had tried to jump the string and did not have time, but almost made the shot horrible! Lucky it hit where it did. We had our work cut out for us! The other hunters continued their search while we celebrated. The buck was tagged, pictures taken, and congratulations exchanged. The boys got to work butchering while I looked for our other member of the group. Couldnt find him! Not worried, he knew the plan and was off hunting. I ended up moving the truck to a closer pack out location while the boys broke down the buck. Still no sign of our 4th guy. I work my way back to the boys and its ready to go. At this point the other hunters had given up looking for the other buck that was shot. They gave it a good effort, but I dont think they killed it. Im guessing it was the forkie that was with the 2x3 the oldest boy killed. Who knows. Ill be back there again, maybe Ill find out. On our way to the truck we run into our last group member where we said we would meet. He figured we got something since we were late to the meeting spot. Told us there were 3 more hunters we didnt even see hunting the meadow too. Crazy. Not secret at all.

Story ends like this - 95% of the deer live in 5% of the habitat. Even if other hunters are in the same 5% with you, 200 yards and 5 minutes apart can make the difference between being successful, and not seeing a thing.

This was a hunt Ill never forget. I was honored to help a young man shoot his first buck, with his brother by his side. In return, they taught me to fly fish, and I caught my first fish on the fly. Doesn't get any better than that!
 

Bubblehide

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Sounds like a nice trip so far.

Ah, you posted the second part before I posted that ^^^^

Sweet, congratulations to you all!
 
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CanyonHunter

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Amazing story, absolutely can’t beat getting a first deer especially with a bow. Congrats to you with your fish too. I enjoy fly fishing even though I don’t catch much. Keep up the good work, it sounds like you guys are doing it all right.
 
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Awesome story, thanks for the write up! I stand by the fact hunting is about the people you go with and the experience as a whole. That young man will remember the experience you gave him for the rest of his life.
 
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Moserkr

Moserkr

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Thanks guys. Yep the experience is what gets me now days. I have shot smaller and decent bucks, but never a giant. Seen em on the hoof, missed shots even, and one day Ill get “the one”. I just like being out there with good friends, educating new hunters, meeting other good people. It was an epic trip and the buck was the cherry on top. Feel bad for the other hunters who lost the buck but they were learning too. Just so happened that their plan helped us by pushing all the deer into our kill zone. All part of the plan…

Next month Im taking my 4.5 year old out on his first hunt and my dad will be joining us. Ill be happy if we just see some does together.
 
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Moserkr

Moserkr

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I'm confused, you lost blood, then found a boal on your side of a meadow??



Tell the boy congratulations. Not all BOAL are measured by inches. It was an E (experience) OAL
Crack’n me up…. It was an EOAL all right.
 
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