S: 2011 Hunting Season
FC: 2011 Season Deer Slam.. | The Year I Completed the SLAM! | 2011
1: This was a year of ups and downs for me. I completed my first and probably my only SLAM, the deer slam. But, I lost both of my dogs, Orion and Saydee, this summer during the archery season and my Grandpa Don also passed away late October. They will be missed and always in my thoughts.
3: Orion and Saydee in their prime! Camping at Stolle Meadows, Idaho
4: Orion in his last hours 8/13/11
6: saydee pic | R.I.P. Saydee 1/99 - 9/2/11
7: grandpa pic. | R.I.P. Orion 8/98 - 8/13/11
8: The first hunt of the year was an archery hunt in 11a north of Grangeville Idaho. I met 3 great guys there, Rob, Bob and Zach. A couple weeks before the season opened I met Zach to do some pre season scouting. These are some of the bucks that Zach and I found. We put Orion down just before I had to leave town for this scouting trip. The scouting trip was good. We saw several quality bucks, but could not get Orion out of my mind.
9: The day I left to hunt was the day we put Saydee down. Another rough day and long drive up north thinking about my dog. No one harvested any deer during the archery season. I missed a Whitetail, Zach missed several bucks, and Bob missed a nice buck. Rob kept everyone laughing with his crazy personality and Bob played the guitar and sang one night. Great job too I might add. We watched football in Nez Pierce and had a great time. Except Oregon lost to LSU.
10: Arizona Coues Deer
12: I flew down to Arizona the third week of October. It was nice to get into the 90 degree weather since the days before I had been rifle deer hunting in Idaho in the snow and freezing weather. I unexpectedly bumped into Mario in the Phoenix airport, he had been scouting and was on the same plane as I was from Phoenix to Tuscon. Mario was guiding on this trip and one of Matt's (Borderland Adventures) guides, Casey was picking us up at the airport and taking us to camp. We were some of the first guys to camp, we set up a couple new tents since the cattle had destroyed the old ones, unloaded our gear and waited for the rest of the crew. Shortly after, John Lentz and Mark Boardman rolled in. First time actually meeting Mark from Vortex Optics. Great guy by the way. Marcus, Sandy, Jeff and Shawn had been on an unsuccessful elk hunt in NM and were on there way to camp but showed up just at dark while some of the guys were shooting their rifles making sure they were still zeroed in. The next morning was the opener. I was hunting with Sandy and our guide was Noah. Marcus and Mark would be hunting together with guide Justin, Jeff and John were with guide Brian. Opening day was a real challenge finding these 'gray ghosts'. Even
13: when Noah would pick them out I couldn't find them. The plan was for Sandy to shoot the first respectable buck so she could get back to work at Blacks Creek since they had been gone so long. Mid morning Sandy passed up about an 80 inch buck. I could hardly believe it and was disappointed to say the least. The plan was for Sandy to hunt 3 days and I hunt 3 days and would film each other for the television show. Well, after 3 days of hunting she had not pulled the trigger yet! The next day we were both hunting but still together. Still not sure why this was, made no sense. Anyway, a good buck was spotted and Sandy, after several shots, had the buck down. It was now my turn to hunt and come to find out, we were leaving the next day! The pressure was on. That evening, Noah and John Lentz (who already shot a great buck) came long to film me. Noah, as usual, spotted 3 bucks that were right in front of me. The biggest was still pretty small and honestly I wasn't too excited to shoot it. But, the more I thought about it, time was running short, we hadn't been seeing much for quality bucks, and we were ready to do some drinking that night! After a quick video interview we set up for the shot. John ranged the buck at 300 yards, dialed in my scope, lied prone and dumped the buck with 1 shot. It was awesome. My first Coues deer was down. We did a few photos, interviews and back to camp we were going with intentions of celebrating and sleeping in the next morning. John, Sandy, Mark Boardman and myself stayed up late, having some beers, telling stories around the campfire in the guides camp.
14: It was a great evening of fun. The next morning after sleeping in, we just hung out and took showers at a nearby campground. Early that afternoon we packed up all of our gear and started the long journey back to Boise. We were pretty cramped at the beginning. There was Shawn, Sandy and I in the front of her truck, and Marcus, Mark and John Lentz in the back of the truck. We were taking John and Mark to the airport in Tuscon and the rest of us would make the long drive home. Shawn drove the first leg to Kingman, then I drove to Jackpot where Shawn took over driving again. Sandy was great for keeping the conversation going so the driver wouldn't fall asleep. I had hoped to see some illegals on the trip but never did. Marcus and Mark saw nearly 100 of them on a couple different occasions. I also wanted to see some scorpions and tarantulas but also never saw any. Ill definitely be going back to shoot a bigger buck in the near future. All in all it was a great trip. There were 14 tags in camp and 9 tags were filled.
15: The drive home | some of the carnage
16: Looking towards Mexico. These are the mountains we were hunting.
18: Noah Flores, our guide, and Sandy glassing for bucks. | Driving home
19: Noah, Sandy and Brian. | Camp dinner.
22: Travis Brown Shawn Webb with Sandy Caster Jeff's buck
23: Marcus Flesher John Lentz Mark Boardman
24: Idaho General Opening Day Bull
26: I have been very fortunate and lucky to harvest 3 branch bulls in the past 4 years in Idaho on general hunts. Every year I have a poor attitude when it comes to elk and this year was no different. I was having the worst year for deer in Idaho I had ever had and my attitude was terrible. I just put my grandpa Don to rest just days before and had actually decided that I wasn't even going to hunt elk this year. I had 2 days off that I had previously requested to hunt elk but wasn't sure if I'd even use those 2 days. The last day of deer season, October 31st, I came home early discouraged on how my season had gone. I called up good friend Tim Wahl and asked him how his season had gone and we complained back and fourth for about a half hour on how bad our seasons were and how neither of us wanted to even get out and go elk hunting tomorrow. As we kept talking (or complaining) we decided maybe we should just go to get out and hunt together since each of us had been hunting solo all season. We decided to give it a half day and just get out since we had the time off already. I drove and we headed to the "confluence" and walked out the locked gate road to the east well before light. There were lots and lots of hunters as usual and absolutely no shooting. None of the hunters we had talked to had seen much for deer or elk. I was glassing across the N.Fork about 4 miles away and spotted a herd of unpressured elk heading toward the top of the mountain.
27: They were too far to tell if there were any bulls so we just watched as they walked up and over the back side where I had hunted the year before. Tim and I talked it over and had basically decided to go back into town and get breakfast. We had already walked in 2-3 miles, still had to walk back to the truck and weren't really too excited to walk from the river to the top of the mountain and onto the backside for a herd of elk we didn't even know if there was a bull in! When we arrived at the truck, we ate a couple sandwiches that Tim had made and some Halloween candy that we had stolen from our kids. We sat there at the saddle in the truck resting and talking about how we could just do one last hunt and if they were not there we could just leave and go home. I told Tim that I'd really like to redeem myself after the crappy deer season I'd had. He agreed and we headed down the hill in the truck to go after the herd. We parked on the N.Fork road just below where we had seen the elk. I told Tim and showed him where we needed to go and he took off about 10 minutes before me thinking I would catch up with him. I was pretty slow to get ready (or maybe it was my lack of enthusiasm to walk to the top of the mountain). I got to where I should have caught up with Tim, or at least see him, and he was no where to be found. I was even calling his name and whistling with no response. I knew what he had done was went up the wrong ridge but I couldn't see him to tell him so I just kept heading
28: up the mountain. About 1/3 of the way up the mountain I had finally seen Tim and he was, as I thought, on the wrong ridge. That ridge did go to where the elk were but it was a harder and a little longer walk. A couple hours later, as I approached where we watched the elk cross over the top of the ridge, I heard some shots where I thought the elk should be. I ran to the top thinking it may be Tim shooting, and to where I could see if elk were scattering. It took me only seconds to get to where I could see and I started glassing. I didn't see any elk, but I did see hunters about 600 yards away. They must have been shooting towards me which made me think the shooting was closer. I just stood there glassing and watching the other hunters but couldn't see any elk. Finally to my left, in the shadows of the burn, I caught movement. I pulled up my binoculars and could see it was a lone mature bull. I didn't know if it was a 6x6 or what but I could tell it was mature. It was sneaking out of where the shooting was coming from and headed towards the saddle that I was standing on. I quickly moved into position so that I could sit down and shoot all the way across the saddle wherever he would decide to cross over. Sure enough, he did and stopped right on top and I was ready! Shot him at about 100 yards and he folded. He was still alive and thrashing so, as I usually do, I shot and tried to shoot him in the neck. There was a loud pop and I knew I had hit him in the antler. I walked up closer and put one last shot in his head.
29: I yelled for Tim, and he was below me where the bull was headed. He was a great help and glad he was there to share the experience with. We had a lot of good laughs as we took photos, and quartered and boned the bull. I broke the skull plate with my second shot too. We took that bull out in 1 trip. We each had 100 lbs of meat in our packs. It was weighed at the butcher! We each took an antler too since I already broke the skull plate. It was a brutal 1.5-2 mile downhill pack out. We could barely get up after we would sit to take a break ever 50 yards! It was definitely memorable and painful. Thanks Tim!
31: I shot from here
32: Where we hunted in the morning and spotted the herd from.
33: Tim with my bull.
34: Kodiak Alaska Sitka Blacktails | Kodiak Alaska Sitka Blacktails
36: This hunt was scheduled about a year in advance. Mark Grace was taking Remington for graduation and had invited some of us off of the Ridgeline forums to go since the boat held 6 people. I thought it would be a great opportunity to go with friends and someone that had gone before (Mark) who knew the ropes. We went with Homer Ocean Charters over the week of Thanksgiving. It was Mark, Remington, Chad and myself. We were unable to fill the last 2 spots on the boat so Homer Ocean Charters booked those last two spots with a couple of guys from Anchorage, Dave and Stu. Chad and I flew together and met Mark and Remington in the hotel bar in Kodiak. That evening we met our Captain, Rick and first mate, Jordan. They had told us that the crew that was supposed to go out on the boat last week never made it out because they could not fly out to pick up or drop off hunters. The weather looked good for us to fly the next morning and there was a lot of snow on the ground so we were excited and optimistic to say the least.
37: The next morning the weather was good so we flew out as scheduled. We saw quite a few deer and even some whales from the plane. We landed and boarded the boat that was waiting for us in Olga Bay. Captain Rick quickly told us where our rooms were and had a quick meeting about the rules for hunting and basic information about food and boat stuff. Shortly after the meeting we were already spotting deer from the boat, so everyone got their gear together and got ready to hunt. In Kodiak I guess you can hunt deer and fly in the same day. Chad and I did rock-paper-scissors to see who would be the first hunter. Our goals were to kill at least 1 buck with 4 points on at least 1 side. I had won, so I was hunting the first afternoon. Chad and I were the last off the boat, which seemed to end up being the trend for the rest of the days as well. We got after it pretty good and it was drizzly and plenty of snow on the ground to make the walking difficult.
38: 1st Sitka
39: 2nd Sitka
40: We were seeing lots of deer and most seemed to be big forks. After passing on some I had decided that one of the forks was big enough to shoot for a first Sitka Blacktail. They seemed to keep far enough in front of us to keep from getting shot but we were pushing them to a point in the bay that they eventually could not get away. We were starting to feel like we were running out of time but we kept after it knowing we would eventually have them pinned up against the bay. Chad spotted a buck running towards us and then stopped looking in our direction. We couldn't tell what it was but it had a frame that was good enough to shoot. Chad gave me
41: a range, I dialed in my scope and shot. The buck stumbled and laid down. We ended up getting closer and finished him off and realized that he was a lot bigger than what we had thought. I just killed my first Sitka and completed my deer slam. We took some photos and gutted him and decided to take him to the bay on the other side of the mountain that we were hunting. We radioed back to the boat and told them we had a buck down and where we were headed. Jordan, the first mate, came around in the dinghy and picked us up. We made it back to the boat before dark. I couldn't have been happier. The first day out I had achieved my goal! My pressure was off. Now it was Chad's turn.
42: The next morning was a beautiful day. We moved the boat to another location and again Chad and I were the last to get off the boat. Jordan took us along the shore and we saw some good bucks but I think we were looking into some private property. One guy even came out with a gun! We went back to where we knew we could hunt, had seen several deer earlier, and started hiking. I spotted a buck in its bed in the middle of the thick alders. It appeared to have good mass. When Chad took a look he thought he saw some extras coming down near the base of the antlers. We got into position and Chad ended
43: up dropping the buck just before it crested the hill out of view. We made our way over to the buck to be pleasantly surprised that it was a stag buck. Still full velvet with extras coming off the bases. A true trophy of a lifetime. I think I was more excited than Chad was. We took lots of photos and cut the buck in half to get it back to the beach. We crossed some huge Griz tracks near the beach which was a little scary. We wanted to see one on the trip but not at short distance in the thick alders when we have a dead deer! We never did see the bear. Chad and I couldn't believe how our trip had gone. We had killed a stag buck and a 4 point in the first day and a half.
45: The next day some weather blew in. We were stuck on the boat almost all day long. Chad and I did get off the boat for about an hour but didn't see much of anything. We watched movies almost all day, drank a lot of soda, some rum and waited out the storm. The following day Chad was hunting again. We moved to a different location in the bay and deer were everywhere you looked from the boat. Again, Chad and I were the last to get off the boat to hunt. As Jordan was taking Chad and I to shore we spotted a great buck about 150 yards from the beach. Jordan quickly turned the dinghy around and dropped us off out of site of the buck. We walked up the beach about 100 yards and came over the rise where we had last seen the buck. I had the camera rolling and Chad was ready. The buck jumped up and ran only a few yards before stopping to look back. One shot and the buck dumped. The video was great and our streak continued. It was a heavy fork with eyeguards. I don't even think Jordan made it back to the boat before we called him and told him to come pick the buck up. We loaded the buck on the dinghy, I took Chad's gun and we
48: headed right back out. We spotted another good buck that we knew was a 3 point and possibly 4 point (along with several other small bucks). We didn't think we could get much closer so I decided to take the shot. I missed several times before hitting the buck. Come to find out I didn't hit the buck very well. It was hardly bleeding and he wasn't slowing down. We tracked the buck for miles before losing its tracks. We saw some other pretty good bucks while we were tracking it but didn't shoot because of the wounded buck we were pursuing. We finally decided we had lost the buck in the thick alders for good and was getting late so we started heading back to the beach. As luck would have it, we jumped the wounded buck about 60 yards. One quick crack shot through the alders and he was gone. I was sure I had missed again, but we went to look for blood. There was a lot of hair where I had shot but no blood. We followed the tracks in the snow another 20 yards and there he was piled up! Another 3x4 with eyeguards! I was speechless. I couldn't believe I had killed another 4 point and certainly couldn't believe the luck of stumbling on this buck after tracking it all day and losing it.
49: When we got back to the boat we heard that Mark and Remington had killed another buck and had a Griz encounter. The Griz had followed them down to the shore, got about 60 yards from them before turning and heading back up the mountain. That was the first Griz our group had seen. Chad decided he was going to buy his last available tag. He still wanted to kill a 4 point. Well he did! We again saw several nice bucks before he killed his 4x4! Right after he killed his final buck we spotted a really nice 3 point. One of the best bucks we had seen on the trip! We got the buck back to the shore and there were seals everywhere. That was pretty neat to see. Dave (one of the other hunters on our boat) was walking down the beach towards us. We had told him where several bucks were and he headed after them and killed one right off the beach. We did some fishing, lots of movie watching, story telling and eating for the next couple days. We had Thanksgiving dinner on the boat too.
50: My 2nd buck
51: packing out Chad's stag buck
52: In all we killed 15 deer and Stu killed an otter. Everyone killed 3 deer except me and Mark. The only reason we didn't is because we chose not to. The hunt was incredible! We saw hundreds of deer, 3 Kodiak Grizzly's on the trip, whales, seals, lots of Bald Eagles, 2 foxes, caught fish, ate like kings and made memories of a lifetime. | Chad's 4x4
54: My 2nd buck, 3x4 | Chad's 2nd buck, 2x2 with eyeguards
57: My 1st buck, 3x4