Scouting the Desert

A nice velvet buck we were able to get a picture of.

I’ll admit up front, I wasn’t in the desert, but it sure seemed like it in this new unit I will be calling home for a week in October. I was fortunate enough to draw a deer tag in a good unit in Colorado and will be hunting with some good friends, husband and wife, Josh and Cricket. The venture started off as normal as any other scouting trip, with me packing by kit in my Kifaru pack and pulling all the gear I would need out of my closet. As I finished the task at hand I realized this would be my first non-high country hunt in Colorado. My kit is geared towards being in the high country, miles away from the nearest road, with everything I need for that period of time on my back. To make a long story short I ended up removing half of what I had packed and went with the traditional car camping gear that was needed.

Though they look like large peaks, the elevation here isnt what it seems.

Though they look like large peaks, the elevation here isnt what it seems.

Josh gave me a ring as he got out of work mid-day on Friday. I threw my gear in my white Mazda and headed for his place just a few minutes up the road. We hit the road around 2:00PM and started our long trek to our unit, roughly 4 hours away from town. As we got close I started noticing all the canyons, pinion, juniper, and sage that encompassed the area. That’s when I realized this was going to be very different than anything I had ever experienced. We pulled into our camp site around 7:00pm, after stopping for groceries and fuel in the nearest town. We threw the tent up, unloaded the truck and hit the road again. We spent Friday night glassing one of Josh’s spots that he has had luck in in the past and saw a few deer that night. We watched a fork horn across the drainage and just before dark spotted what appeared to be a good buck bedded about 500 yards from us. I made the rookie mistake of leaving my spotter in the truck, which seemed to be the theme of the weekend, so it was tough to tell how good he was. As darkness fell upon us we headed back for the truck and hit camp for the night.

The morning sunrise on day 2 of our trip.

The morning sunrise on day 2 of our trip.

Between the beeping of my watch and the alien sounding alarm Josh had on his phone, I wasn’t sure what was going on. I quickly got my bearings and we rolled out of our sleeping bags and headed for higher ground around 5:15am. On the way we spotted about 15 cows, and 2 bulls, both of which would have received an arrow from me during season. We arrived at our first vantage point shortly after first light and started our stealthy hike around a nob to watch a coolie just below us. As we stood there we looked at each other to confirm we had heard what sounded like an animal rubbing some nearby trees. Josh dropped a little lower and immediately put his hands up with that all familiar gesture to show horns on top of his head. I crept down beside him and looked across the canyon in awe at the 300” 6×6 that was cleaning his velvet off his chalk white antlers. About 5 minutes later we spotted the other bull that was making most of the noise, also a very respectable 6×6, just below the bigger bull. We watched these two work their way through the head height growth around them. This time I had not forgotten by spotting scope, it was on my back, but Josh and I lacked our phones and a camera to get any shots. I believe that was strike two. We quietly worked our way out of their and headed back to the truck to go glass another spot a ways up the road. On the way out we bumped a cub black bear with a blonde patch around his neck almost like a collar, but never could find momma. We spent the rest of the day driving to different locations to glass and covered a lot of ground. I lost count of how many critters we saw, but I can assure you, if was a lot. On the way back to camp that night I caught the glow of an animal’s eye crossing the road. As we got to where the flash had come from we looked to the right to see a beautiful 4×4 muley standing off the side of the road. Due to light conditions I was unable to get a picture, but his tall, thick, velvet clad antlers are engrained in my mind. Strike three? I think not.

Another view showing how tall this guy is.

Another view showing how tall this guy is.

The next morning came earlier and before I knew it we were back in the truck heading up the road to glass a spot we had discovered the previous night. As we got to where we had seen the good buck from the night before the truck slowed a little and we spotted a forky on the side of the road. As we pulled closer we looked the left side of the road and low and behold another real nice 4×4 was standing there. This buck had weaker fronts than the one from the night before but was thick, tall, and pretty wide, definitely one I would enjoy killing when season rolls around. Now this time we had cameras, and Josh was able to snap a few good shots of him. After getting each other pumped and talking about the bucks we had seen we parked the truck and checked on a couple other spots for the morning. As 1:00pm rolled around we headed back to camp to shoot our bows, break the tent down, load the truck and head back to the concrete jungle. I had a night shift I had to get back to even though staying for another day or two sounded much more appealing.

This was a great trip and opened my eyes to another style of hunting that I would have never done if it were not for my buddy inviting me along with him. The conditions were arid and pulling in I wasn’t sold on the terrain, but after spending a couple days there I am pumped to get back, next time with a rifle in hand. I took in a lot from this trip and still have a lot to learn. The hunting will not be easy and finding these deer in October may be tough depending on pressure and weather. I’m looking forward to heading back but I have elk season in 9 days, so the deer will have to wait!

 

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