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Old November 3, 2018, 02:22 PM   #1
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Join Date: September 21, 2010
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AZ Deer Hunt 2018- Good Bucks Down

We drew good tags this year and they were worth the wait. My first ever deer tag was on the Kaibab and I haven't been back since in 24 years. I've learned a lot since then and I've come a long way and so the goal was to shoot good bucks. I needed something for the wall this year, and so did my little brother (Tate). We had 3 tags in camp, a friend I met in grad school (Mike) that puts in with us was on the application as well and we all wanted good bucks.

Fall is a busy time of year and this year is no exception; my little brother is going through some unexpected family issues, I had promised a friend I'd help him on his elk hunt which landed a week before this one, I've got two kids in school and activities, my wife just went back to school a few weeks ago... the point being as much effort I wanted to put into scouting this area before the hunt, I just wasn't able to. I spent my time shooting and had to rely on myself and my friends to find a good buck and that was just the deal. However, the Arizona Kaibab is forgiving for this kind of thing. We had good help, we had a 10 day hunt and we took the whole thing off. Our dad took the time as well and a bunch of friends we went to high school with were either already up there guiding or were able to give us a few days here and there and it made a big difference.

A friend and I went up the weekend before the hunt for one day, a quick overnight trip after butchering a cow elk, and we looked at some areas he knew about and checked out some others. We didn't see any good bucks but we saw some deer in the areas we wanted to see them and when the hunt rolled around we set up camp. Excitement was high.

We split into two hunting groups and had additional glassers once in awhile. Day 1 yielded 8 bucks, one fairly nice 4 point character buck Mike and I decided to pass on. We found some more good glassing country and would later kill a buck in the area.

Group 2 and Day 2, my dad and brother went with our buddy Ben who is a deer-finding machine. Two minutes into good glassing light they had a buck, Ben knows what makes a good buck and his basic description was "Tate, got a shooter. Come here right now and shoot this buck.." There were two, they made sure they had the correct buck and Tate dropped the hammer on a 200 yard shot. First buck on the hunt down! Really cool 5x5, just what were were hoping for:

Side view with our old man:

Same morning we were up in the high country as well and driving in we saw a good 4x4 buck. Mike missed the shot which was a bummer. We saw nothing else that day but had a really good reunion that night over cold beer and good whiskey and campfire light. There were 7 of us that all went to high school together and we tied one on. One of my favorite memories of the hunt. Really fun night and it was great to see everyone.

Days 3 and 4 were concentrated on getting Mike a buck, we weren't seeing anything big between us and the glassers. Most of our help was leaving for the week with the intention of coming back for the last weekend of the hunt. We had several decent bucks patterned and kept after them. Day 4 first thing we were on a group of deer with a distinctive buck who kept picking up different bucks every night. We got into position and had eyes on the hill guiding us in. We were looking at the distinctive character buck when Mike said "there's a big 4-point, great buck, I'm gonna shoot that one." I said ok. I didn't bring up my glass to look at him like I should have, 240 yards and could see horns with the naked eye and I watched without glass. Mike was excited and I said ok kill him. I had seen a good frame thru the oak bramble at one point and assumed that was him. Mike definitely thought it was him.

Mike pulled the shot a bit, we had a 3-4 hour tracking event and this buck was one of those animals that will amaze me forever. The things he did, with a devastating wound, is just unbelievable. I know they are capable of stuff like this but sometimes they really go the extra mile to not get killed. In the end, we won, and our buddy Travis did the best tracking job I've ever witnessed. We got him in the end. Mike's first mule deer:

We had a bit of ground shrinkage here, I think what happened is the wrong buck was killed. There were two bucks in the clearing when he shot. He's a new hunter. I'd be lying to say there wasn't a bit of disappointment here. He was sure he had the buck he wanted but has never evaluated a Muley before. I'm not a professional guide.
"When there’s lead in the air, there’s hope in the heart”- Hunter’s Proverb
"Feed me, or feed me to something. I just want to be part of the food chain." -Al Bundy

Last edited by huntinaz; November 3, 2018 at 09:42 PM.
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Old November 3, 2018, 02:24 PM   #2
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Anyway now it was down to me. I had 6 more days. Everyone left at this point and it was just me and Mike and my dad. We went out to a new spot that I was shown on the scouting trip but this was the first look during the hunt, We saw 12 bucks that day, no shooters but we didn't get good looks at 3 of them. Tate came back that night and we were there as glassing light dawned. We saw absolutely nothing for half an hour and I threw in the largest lucky dip of Copenhagen thus far

Five minutes later Tate got on the radio and said Jake come look at this buck. I went over and checked him out. At 1200 yards and no spotting scope, he looked like he had a good frame so we decided to move on him and get a better look. He had another buck with him. On the way we kicked up another buck and the guys on the radio got excited. We caught him coming up the next draw at 350 yards, I set up for a shot but he kept walking and I never had a good look or a shot. Tate got a good look at him, he was a solid buck but we decided not to try and pursue him.

We were now 750 yards from the original bucks. I set up on the tripod and looked at the first buck. Good frame, good front and back forks, good mass. Not a monster but a solid buck that should be ~160". The second buck fed the same line and was similar to the first except he had a bad front fork. They didn't give me the best look before they fed out of sight around into a bowl but enough for me to say yeah, I believe the one is a shooter, the other basically is except for that bad front fork.

We decided to hike over to the saddle and glass into the bowl with the expectation that I'd likely try and kill whichever buck was best. Before we crested the saddle we got ready to shoot. I was expecting the bucks to be in the bottom and maybe kick up onto the opposite side which I estimated at 350 yards. I dialed up to 300 yards (zeroed at 125 yards) and knew that should they be closer and I had to shoot quickly that I'd need to aim low.

Sure enough, cresting the sadlle I looked down and could see the head and neck and rack of a buck and we were busted. Damn. I could see it was 200 yards max but since I was zeroed at 300 I wanted a range and evaluation. I froze, said Tate right there in front of us, how far. Tate was a step or two behind and couldn't see him.

"Right below us"

The buck started to go, quartering slightly away. I assumed under 200 yards and raised the rifle.

"Gimme a range"
"330 yards to the opposite hill..."

I knew tate wasn't on him when he gave that number. I held lower third and shot. Missed. Racked another and aimed lower at the bottom of the brisket and dumped him with the second shot. My heart did a little hitch. I could tell he was a good buck and knew both bucks were similar but did not evaluate that he was the better buck before shooting, I had 4 more days to hunt and had just killed a buck on a tag I waited 4 years to draw. I am still learning this trophy hunting thing. The other buck ran up out of the draw and he looked pretty damn good running away. I scoped him and prepared to be disappointed but saw he was the buck with the bad fork and I had luckily shot the better one.

Turns out he was 125 yards, and I was dealing with 10" of adjustment. I knew I should have dialed 200 instead of 300 but we made it work.

Tate glassed the dead buck and said hey he's got little kickers and he's heavy, you're gonna be happy with this buck, let's go see him. He was right. There are bigger bucks around but this one has a lot of character. We got the guys on the radio and they made their way to us.

I am happy, I had a great hunt with family and good friends. I am very happy to have had this experience with my little brother. I'm thankful to have meat in the freezer. I can't wait to draw this area again. I learned a lot about expectations and evaluation. I am a happy hunter.

The family:

All in all a successful campaign. Happy hunting fellers. I'ma go grind some sausage

"When there’s lead in the air, there’s hope in the heart”- Hunter’s Proverb
"Feed me, or feed me to something. I just want to be part of the food chain." -Al Bundy
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Old November 3, 2018, 04:32 PM   #3
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Nice. Some really nice whitetail on the Kaibab. Last time I was up there I saw a couple 6x6 bucks that would've been trophies anywhere. Good job.
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Old November 4, 2018, 04:15 AM   #4
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Congrats. Nice mulies
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Old November 5, 2018, 09:42 PM   #5
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Wonderful yes
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Old November 7, 2018, 09:55 PM   #6
Colorado Redneck
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Good job! Nice racks, and good times. Forever memories.
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Old November 13, 2018, 07:55 PM   #7
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I don’t think I could have shot any of those....

I would have been too dumbfounded by their size and just stood there gawking!

Great job!
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Old November 13, 2018, 09:48 PM   #8
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THANK for all the good pictures you all did a good job.
Man that likes guns. Navy. USS Ponchatoula AO 148 USS Vesuvius AE 15
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Old November 14, 2018, 12:05 AM   #9
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Good to hear you enjoyed the hunt and family companions.Although I see no resemblances.
Dandy buck/s too.
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Old November 14, 2018, 08:29 AM   #10
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Congratulations. Happy for you and envious at the same time. That’s what I’d call a hunt of a life time. Great memories, I’m sure.
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Old November 17, 2018, 02:52 PM   #11
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Great work, those are some nice bucks!
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Old November 18, 2018, 09:34 AM   #12
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Thanks all. We sure had fun

Although I see no resemblances
Haha still chuckling at this one
"When there’s lead in the air, there’s hope in the heart”- Hunter’s Proverb
"Feed me, or feed me to something. I just want to be part of the food chain." -Al Bundy
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Old November 21, 2018, 11:49 PM   #13
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Awesome job man. Very jealous!
Avid hunter and outdoorsman, and full time construction worker. I also dabble in blogging.
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