Worst New Guy from SoCal

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WrstMuleHntr

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Thanks, the only reason I was able to make it happen was all the work that I did in Pre-Season, I hiked a lot of terrain a lot further away than where I found my deer and walked miles of deer trails to try and learn. I just happened to stumble upon a trail that this particular group of deer were using to come from Private where they were feeding and watering into public to bed. I had a 2nd tag that year and thought it would be more of the same but they closed the forest down for most of Archery and I had a hard time finding them again in once it opened back up.

Bubblehide's tip on not being afraid to spook deer when you are in your area outside of season is a great one. Anything that you think might hold deer go check out and don't worry if you bump anything, you will start to see where they are and get an idea of where they might be. I use the tracking feature on OnX anytime I find a nice deer trail and walk it for as long as I can marking places they eat, any beds that I see or anything else that is useful. From there I can start to see how they travel through certain types of terrain and try to use that in other areas that I am looking at for the 1st time.

If you find an area that is holding fresh sign or deer try to understand why, then apply those same things to other areas and see if you find more sign. We call this running a pattern in bass fishing. Once you do that a time or two, you start to get an idea of where they hang out and where they don't. For example in my area, I've found that they like to bed more under black oaks than white/live oaks for some reason. If I find a pocket of black oaks, I almost always find deer sign and fresh beds near them. Now I go look or glass under every black oak I come across and see if I can find anything and mark them if I do.

Take your boys during the off season, mine like it a lot more than actual hunting where you have to stay really quiet and limit movement. Make it fun for them and show them anything that you find interesting, weird mushrooms, a cool looking tree, any type of track you see, rock rolling or just sitting and listening to how many unique and different natural sounds you can hear. One of our favorites is to see how many different sounds we can hear a Steller's Jay make.

Also when you go don't make it all about the deer and wither or not you see anything be the judgement of success. My boys and I try to identify as many different species of wildlife that we can anytime we go hiking and carry a journal to document them sometimes. Watching a raptor ride the thermals at the top of a mountain to grid search an area without ever flapping his wings is one of my boys favorite thing to watch. My youngest who is 5 likes learning the names of all the birds or animals he sees and I know it was one of my favorite things to do with my dad. We got a book on birds that lived in our area with cool pictures and bring it on hikes to identify anything we don't know.

Find deer 1st then learn how to hunt them. For me right now, I can find the deer but am very much still learning how to hunt them.
Thank you for taking the time to post this. Great advice on getting out during off season with all my boys. I’ve honestly never thought about that and am a little embarrassed no lol. It’s really hot before season so I’m going to start this year after the season to start hiking around with all my boys doing exactly what you mentioned, just having a good time in the outdoors while exploring where deer might be. We can combine this with backpacking as well since we’ve been wanting to do more than 1 trip a year that we currently do with a big group. Thanks and good hunting this season!
 

MattB

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Terrible thread title. If you had any idea the guys from SoCal who are already on this site (a couple of which who have already introduced themselves), you’d have been easier on yourself.

Grew up in Costa Mesa. Welcome.
 
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WrstMuleHntr

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Terrible thread title. If you had any idea the guys from SoCal who are already on this site (a couple of which who have already introduced themselves), you’d have been easier on yourself.

Grew up in Costa Mesa. Welcome.
Lol, I’m pretty bad at hunting though. I did get out Friday and managed to hike 5 miles. Sat and glasses for about 2 hours (nothing spotted). Bumped 2 doe on the hike back. Found some areas with acorns falling. Also saw 2 bucks (both very small, 1 not legal, 1 barely a crab claw but legal) while driving around a new area. All in all a good day outside and I’ll be back to another new area next week. Trying to get my son set up for opening of rifle here in D14.
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WrstMuleHntr

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Lol, I’m pretty bad at hunting though. I did get out Friday and managed to hike 5 miles. Sat and glasses for about 2 hours (nothing spotted). Bumped 2 doe on the hike back. Found some areas with acorns falling. Also saw 2 bucks (both very small, 1 not legal, 1 barely a crab claw but legal) while driving around a new area. All in all a good day outside and I’ll be back to another new area next week. Trying to get my son set up for opening of rifle here in D14.
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WrstMuleHntr

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How's your season coming along? You and your son been able to get out much? How is he enjoying his 1st season with a tag in his pocket?
Hey there haven’t checked in for a bit but the season has been off to a great start! We have been hunting the area that I spotted a few deer in (posted pics in previous post) before the season. Been out a total of 3 full days and have seen deer each time.

On opening day there were a few other hunters in the area and it somewhat limited our mobility. Half way through the day We managed to spot a legal buck about 300 yards out and the other hunters to our left hadn’t noticed it. Before my son began his efforts to close the distance the deer appeared to bed down but it was out of sight. Once he got into position a Little closer he still couldn’t locate the deer. I decided to head down and join him to see if I could help find it from a closer vantage. A few minutes after I arrive and start searching a large gust of wind came up from our left, which was the direction of those other hunters I mentioned earlier. The deer immediately hopped out of his bed into sight an hurdled into a draw never to be seen again. We were a little bummed but also excited to have made the right call that the deer was just bedded in the area we last saw him. We didn’t see anything else the remainder of opening day until last light a few doe appeared about half mile away. Overall a very exciting opening day with my boys actually seeing deer.

My boys trying their luck spotting some deer:


Caleb after closing the distance to the bedded buck. He is standing by the large white rock at about the 7:30 position. The deer was last spotted about dead center of the photo: 2746AA19-C124-4C92-8ABA-B824F7AC255B.jpeg

Brayden almost stepped on this little guy, Caleb saved the day by spotting him before that happened: C9690462-F575-48D7-B3F6-7D00E939DAB1.jpeg
 
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WrstMuleHntr

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After opening day we took a couple days off for other responsibilities then headed back out for a two day trip in the middle of the week. Once again the early morning ours yielded little results with only 1 doe spotted and it was on the move. Around 10Am we decided to relocate to a high spot that I had marked on the map about a mile away. Around 11:30 we spotted a group of doe about 600yds out that were just kind of hanging out, bedding, eating and staying in the same general area. We kept looking for a buck but just could seem to pick one out. Once the deer seemed to be headed to a different spot we saw a buck pop out from behind a bush!

At this point I was mad at myself that we hadn’t closed the distance while the deer were lounging and now I felt pressed for time. We packed up quickly and headed for a ridge that was between us and the deer and also close enough for a shot. As we arrived to the ridge and peered over we spotted a doe headed below us out of sight, then the buck appeared! He was also moving quickly toward us but below us where we couldn’t see because of the tall brush in front of us. He was about 100 yards out and Caleb struggled to get the cross hairs on him. As the deer kept walking out of sight I was proud of Caleb for not rushing the shot if he wasn’t 100% confident. Caleb later told me that he was 100% confident but afraid to miss and scare the deer away. I think it was buck fever lol!

Although we hadn’t spooked the deer up to that point they were now below us with not a lot of options that I saw to get a good shooting vantage. As we attempted to sneak around and below them we got busted by a doe about 20 yards in front of us and the whole group of deer headed up and over the ridge out of sight. We wound up finding that group of deer again later, but the thunderstorms also caught us unprepared and we had to head back to take shelter.

The remainder of the trip yielded no more stalking opportunities, or even legal bucks spotted, but we did see many many doe and it kept our spirits up the entire time. As we drive out on day 2 at last light I spotted another group of doe 100 yards out. Caleb and I hopped out of the truck and watched them for the last 30 minutes of shooting time hoping a buck would appear. Unfortunately they only had a spike buck with them so we headed home with an infilled tag, but with very high hopes and excitement for the next trip!

Overall this has been the most successful hunting I’ve ever experienced. I’ve seen maybe 30 deer in the last 15 years of hunting and we topped that in just the 3 days we’ve hunted this new area. Spotted a total of 4 legal bucks and had 2 stalk opportunities. Plenty of room to continue learning and evaluating the choices we make to increase our chances of harvesting a buck, but we are so stoked to be seeing deer!

As a note, I’m not experienced in how bucks behave during the rut, but if I had to guess this was not it yet. The bucks were either by themselves or had little to no interest in the doe they were with. We also saw several groups of 2-6 doe with no bucks with them at all. Do I have even better hunting to look forward to as we get closer to the rut?

Thanks again for all the tips/advice on this thread and I welcome any others especially related to what I’ve shared. Thank you!
 
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WrstMuleHntr

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Brayden needed a nap:

Started spotting some deer:
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Found a buck!
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Before the full downpour:
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Dinner back at the truck:

Day 2 spike:
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A long day in the field but it goes by so quick!
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TheGDog

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Sigh.... I had a heavily quartering away shot that I didn't recover this year. It was a pretty harsh day. Was at base of the hill I'd be focusing on. Was starting to glass across the front of that hill.. then started hearing shots ring out from up on top of and a lil back in there on that hill. So I started a frontal assault on the east-most edge of it. Got up almost to the top. It clears up slightly. See 'em climbing away from me. Took the shot. .308 Win 168gr Barnes TTSX 10-10-2022

Immediately he fell over. I was pumped. Moments later he sorta lurched sideways along the ground which caused him to slide off the boulder that the dirt path he was walking along went across. I got real stoked at that! It was maybe 70yds more up this steep terrain, just starting to get past all the buckthorn and manzanita hedges.

So I sling my rifle back on, and hike up there. Get up there, no blood... no intestinal matter (which I totally thought I was gonna see due to the heavily quartering away angle that was almost a Texas Heart Shot, but not quite.

Then I hear something and look down about 50yds and see the side of a buck moving along a manzanita hedge, and it then leaned into the hedge to try to hide, I think. Noticing that... I rush to try to unsling the rifle and rremove scope cover, but he got a burst of energy and trotted away horizontally, side-hilling down there. Looked like it should be him. On the trot he looked like he was a little crooked to one side, probably as a result of the pain I presume.

But I was also a little hesitant to shoot at this buck I was now seeing because when I took the shot I know there were 3 deer up there. The buck, a Doe, and some other one I couldn't see because of the trees. So I was hesitant because it didn't make sense that the one I shot would have this much energy to get up and trot like that. So like, I wanted to feel sure this wasn't just that other animal that was part of the scenario. I certainly didn't want to put a bullet into two different bucks.

I knew I was really close on running out of water (cause the climb path I did was just right straight up and rough and occasional prior burnt tree blowdowns ya had to deal with or go around).

So I went down to where this one trotted off.... again expending crap-tons of energy. I note two boulders he chicaned around as he exited for a distinctive landmark. I get down there and I have to take a break to snack. Right when I drop my pack and begin to eat... KABOOM!!! T-Storm kicks off and in seconds I got rain and sleet falling on me, ugh. Went like 250yds I'd say in the direction he fled. Nothin'. I'd have thought for sure I'd at the very least smell him and the scents from the gut region. But nothing.

Being real low on water I had to call it that day. Was real sore for the next few. Went back the next weekend better prepared for this trek with a LOT more fluids, and starting from same spot... slowly side-hilled that whole damn ridge! Figured I could at least probably retrieve the dead-head. But again.. nothin'. No luck. So that was my tag.

Even though I didn't recover him. I'm proud of myself for showing the resolve to make it happen and putting forth a the ginormous effort required to climb up there. I figure during this next year I'm going to explore a well known trail that kinda looks like it goes around to the back of that hill. So I wanna see if that trail, while looking like it'd take much farther to do, might not perhaps save me some energy on the climb up. There were more shots ringing out from farther back up and behind this hill. So I think I have a good idea of where they originated from, as there's this sorta avalanche chute that looks a lil grown over nearer to its top. I'm figuring those other hunters I heard were more than likely posted up along the edge, just inside the trees on the sides of that chute and watching for when they sidehill thru there to conserve energy rather than busting thru all the buckthorn which is quite literally EVERYWHERE else.

Also I made it a point to buy some Gaitors for next time.

BUCKTHORN_LEGS.jpg
 

cjdewese

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Sep 8, 2020
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We did eat some tag soup but had a shot on our last day. 400 yards and clean miss low. Had my best season every and can’t wait until next year.
Happy to hear that. You will get it next year. Good luck scouting and backpacking with your kids in the offseason.
 
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