A Wasatch Bull Worth 18 Years (Video Footage)

 

It has been a long time coming. Each year you try your hardest to adopt the mantra, “this is my year” while recognizing the odds are stacked against you. My dad believed it was his year for 18 years. It began in his mid-forties. To think of my dad at that age means to think of myself at 16 years old. That seems like a lifetime ago. During the past 18 years we have attempted to draw bull elk tags on the Monroe,  Book Cliffs, and San Juan units of Utah. Draw results only brought disappointment and a 12 month refresh. At times we questioned whether my dad would ever hunt big bulls in Utah by way of the draw? Each year he privately cursed the DWR. He joked that soon he was just going to run his own program. Given my dad is straight as an arrow his threats were hilariously empty.

 

Over time we learned and studied Utah’s limited entry elk units. With 16 years and 16 points under his belt our focus had shifted to the Wasatch. We accepted that other units across the state might produce bigger bulls; however, we also liked the idea of hunting in our own back yard. In a lot of ways this was a once in a lifetime hunt. We settled in on a unit that would allow us to logically put in the time scouting. We felt putting in the time outweighed the benefits of a better more distant unit.

 

After 16 years and with an affinity to all forms of hunting, my dad concluded he was willing to wait for a premium Wasatch tag. In Utah the premium tag allows you to hunt all 4 seasons. (archery, early rifle, muzzleloader, and late rifle) He didn’t draw that 16th year. In his 17th year the odds look favorable for landing a guaranteed tag. “Surely we’d be hunting this year Dad!” Again, year 17 resulted in disappointment and a 12 month refresh.

 

In his 18th year, credit cards began to get hit with pending charges. This happens several days before draw results are officially posted. To those that draw their dream tag this day is likened unto Christmas. For the rest of us it’s likened unto hell. To have your card hit represents the first clues to the year’s draw results. It looked as though another year of hell was unfolding before our eyes.  His card had zero pending charges. Can you picture it? A bunch of men and women sitting around refreshing online bank statements just waiting and begging to be charged? It’s the one time a year that I pray someone will take my money. Please, please take my money! It didn’t seem that Utah was going to take his money. After 2 days the reality of another 12 month refresh set in. 

 

All seemed lost. It was as if someone was sitting at the DWR office giggling the words “let’s jack with this guy.” It seemed to be in the last hour that my mother discovered my dad’s credit card was finally hit. The charge was indeed pending. We were going to hunt big bulls on the Wasatch in 2015! He had drawn a premium tag and his hunt would start with the upcoming archery season. How would we break the news to him? My mom printed the statement, purchased a gift card at Cabela’s, and delivered both to my dad as he attended a church function that evening. To you loved ones of a hunter… take notes! 

 

We started funneling through past video footage and past years’ trail camera pictures in an effort to take inventory. We tried to determine which bulls likely made it and which bulls were rumored to have been harvested? We weren’t going to wait for 2015’s new antler growth to start developing an early hit list. Legendary bulls from the Northwest corner of the unit to the Southeast corner of the unit began racing through our minds. We knew where we wanted to start and we patiently prepared.

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With 4 gaited horses, 12 trail cameras, four-wheelers, and several waypoints we set out for what would be many weekends and weeknights of scouting. Although fit as a whistle, my dad was experiencing severe back pain from the previous year. It flared at its worst while horse packing in on a mule deer hunt in 2014. Tough as an ox he joined us on many of our scouting trips but not all of them. I often worried that we’d mess up his back before we even got started.

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Over time our hit list grew 4 deep in addition to some alternate bulls we determined we’d take a long look at later in the hunt. We never banked on any of them sticking around so we continued to do the time. My longtime friend Evan Ault was putting in long hours as well. Help poured in from several people and we were grateful to have more eyes in the field. Bulls were turning up, horn growth was unprecedented, and this hunt was shaping up to be one for the books.

 

Going into the last week before the hunt we felt we had taken great inventory of our key hunting areas. We were confident in the bulls we were seeing although a couple key bulls on our list hadn’t shown themselves in some time. We concluded that if things didn’t shake out in our favor it wouldn’t have been for lack of effort. Things were looking up.
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The archery hunt came and went. We made attempts to bow hunt these bulls but I would say our attempts were halfhearted at best. For us it was hard to get motivated knowing we had the time and weapon selection of a premium tag. Don’t get me wrong, bow hunting is exhilarating and challenging. Bow hunting is something we love. The idea of killing a bruiser with a bow was top on the list; however, with family and work commitments we were allocating our time to the rifle season. We bow hunted weekends. 

 

I had to travel for work the week before the rifle opener. We had determined we’d rest my dad’s back as well then hit it hard the Friday before the hunt. As I traveled, Evan took one last trip into the back country. It was Tuesday. I received a text that he’d located a stud bull not previously seen. He uploaded the video to dropbox and from Seattle I sat in my hotel room drooling. This new bull’s backs couldn’t be ignored! This bull would be added to the list!

 

I couldn’t get back from Seattle soon enough. Thursday night we prepped and Friday morning we were up bright and early. We determined we would glass Friday morning, set up camp in the afternoon, and glass again that evening. We located the bull with the backs first thing Friday morning. He hadn’t moved far from his location earlier in the week. Fact is he was now moving a little bit slower. Earlier in the week he was a ruttin’ bull on a mission. 3 days later it was if he was hurt, beat down, and worn out. We figured he’d got in a fight with the wrong bull. I’d sure love to see that bull! That morning our bull fed along an opening as he walked gingerly to his bed. At this point we pegged him as a bull my dad would whack if an opportunity presented itself.

 

That afternoon we took one last look at our trail cameras in the area. There wasn’t anything notable or new coming into the cameras until we realized we had actually seen that bull in 3 previous trail cam pictures. You see the Saturday before Evan spotted this bull on the hoof, we went in and discovered 3 pictures of him on one of our trail cameras. We looked over the pictures that Saturday and said, “he’d be a bruiser if he didn’t have nubby fronts.” We didn’t put any more thought into the bull until we connected the puzzle pieces on Friday afternoon. It was the same bull. For the first time we began to question whether or not this bull should be on our hit list. We were concerned with his fronts, I was concerned with his fronts. The rest of the afternoon we evaluated the footage and the 3 trail camera pictures. Evan added this bull up to be 365” but maintained you’d never pass a bull with “backs like that.” I was less sure. My dad was just happy to be up hunting big bulls. I will never forget the smiles and the excitement expressed by my dad! 

 

That night me, Evan, and my brother in law Trevor Sharp got back to glassing. My father stayed back to cook dinner and relax his back. As we glassed we immediately located our bull with the backs. He hadn’t moved more than 100 yards. He was feeding and we were able to capture a significant amount of footage. We headed back to camp still debating whether his fronts warranted an opening morning bull. On the way back we located a bull that was also on our top 4 list. We hadn’t located this second bull in over 3 weeks so to say we were excited was an understatement.  We were able to put 2 of our Top 4 to bed the night before the opener. As we rode back to camp the wind swirled the scent of dutch oven ribs, biscuits, potatoes, vegetables, and cobbler down the canyon towards us. We were soon to partake of most spectacular elk camp dinner ever served on no tell em’ ridge!

 

That night I didn’t sleep. I’d love to blame it on the jitters but it’s mainly because I am a weirdo. My mind tends to play tricks on me when sleeping in the back country. Without further detail I will just tell you I am a pansy despite hundreds of nights in the field. To forget my ear plugs is a sure fire way to a crappy night’s sleep. I have issues. That being said, the alarms finally sounded.

 

You know the feeling right? The butterflies of opening morning took over as we prepped our gear for the hunt. It was on! Trevor and I hiked to our pre-established vantage point. Evan and my dad got into position. Visibility slowly improved. Elk began to present themselves in the coolest ways. Soon Evan and my dad were on one of our reserve bulls. Do not shoot a reserve bull! Before trigger itch kicked in, Trevor glassed up the bull with the backs bedded at the edge of some aspens. It was determined Evan and my dad would move into position and get a closer look. The bull was still moving slow with each calculated step. He fed much of the morning within the same 100 yard radius. We captured a ton of additional footage. Within 30 minutes Evan and my dad were in position despite some intense back pain. They were staring at this old monarch bull at approximately 375 yards. The final conclusion was obvious, you’d be crazy to pass this bull. “Get ready, he’s shooting.”  We braced for impact but impact never came. What’s taking them so long? Are they having second thoughts? Again, they announced that he would soon fire. We braced yet again for impact. From our vantage point the sound of gun powder combusting was delayed. Looking through my glass at that distance things began with the bull hunched as he tried to gather his footing. “He shot, he shot.” The sound of a distant boom soon arrived. “He’s hit, he’s hit.” A epic tumble ensued and it was lights out. 

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Some hunters stop and take it all in an act of reference for the animal they just killed. Some hunters react with emotion reminiscent of winning the super bowl. We joke that my dad was giggling like a little school boy. Love me or hate me but we’d just won the super bowl! From our vantage it was all high fives and irreverent outbursts. To me it was and is a celebration. It’s a celebration of time, energy, dedication, and hard work. Sometimes it’s a celebration of luck. At all times it is a celebration of the animal we’ve been blessed to harvest!

 

Trevor and I made our way over to the bull. Initial reports from my dad and Evan was that the bull had zero ground shrinkage. Walking up to the bull confirmed those initial reports. On the ground this bull was still a bull you’d be crazy to pass on any day on the Wasatch. He is an absolute brute rarely matched characteristics. More high fives and irreverent outbursts issued. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. From the moment my dad’s 300 win mag discharged to moment we rolled into camp 12 hours had passed. We could not have done it without a team of 5. Later that afternoon Steve Ault rode in on horseback 15 miles to help retrieve us and get all that meat out of the back country. We had run out of water and to say he was a welcome sight was an understatement. I offered him a kiss. He declined. In the end, the day was perfect. The help was perfect. The look on my dad’s face was perfect. The bull was perfect.

 

One of the greatest parts of elk hunting 2015 is this perfect story is only half way over. I also drew a Wasatch limited entry elk tag with 10 points. My hunt began November 7th so stay tuned for the last half of the story and season.  
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Hell-uva-hunt and a Determined Hunter

My adventure started with a phone call from Hell-uva-hunt in Douglas, Wyoming. I had been chosen to hunt antelope with 11 other physically challenged hunters in the first part of October. Little did I know that this hunt would change my life.

Anticipation grew as the time drew near for me to leave Idaho Falls to drive to Douglas, Wyoming for my hunt to begin. Being on dialysis there is a lot of logistics that need to be taken into consideration in order for a hunt like this to take place. I need to have dialysis 3 days a week to keep my blood clean. The closest my clinic could find a dialysis center was in Fort Collins, Colorado. This was a bit out of our way according to our travel plans. Doing a little research on my own I found a clinic in Rock Springs, Wyoming which was exactly ½ way to our destination from Idaho Falls. Plans were made to do some dialysis on our way there and on our way back home making it possible for me to travel.

Monday morning came early as I went into my home dialysis center at 6 am to receive treatment for 6 hours before embarking on our adventure. Upon completion of my treatment my wife Gina and I jumped in the car with our sleeping bags, guns and goodies to start our travels East. 4 ½ hours later we pulled into Rock Springs and got settled into our hotel room (thank you Dr. Mike and Mary Davidson). Waking up bright and early I went to the hospital to receive my 2nd treatment for the week. I sat for another 6 hours before hitting the road again to make our last 5 hour drive arriving in Douglas at 8 pm. We got settled into the dormitory which would be our home for the next three days.

We met a few people that night before but the strain of having dialysis 2 days in a row took its toll on me and I had to call it a night. Upon waking the next morning we had some breakfast of Fruit Loops and a glass of juice before officially checking in and getting our welcome packet and meal tickets for the week. After having a great lunch of elk burgers and hotdogs, provided by the sheriff’s department of Douglas, we headed to the rifle range to sight in our guns and meet our guides for the week.

I set up to the far left of everyone else to see which gun I wanted to use.  Immediately we were introduced to Gary Overture from Cody, Wyoming and Wayne Clark from Denver, Colorado who would be our guides for the upcoming hunt. We soon found out that Gary and Wayne had been volunteer guides for the past 30 years and soon found out why they would volunteer for so many years. Hell-uva-hunt is an amazing organization and the love and acceptance felt is out of this world. Many of the volunteers were past hunters wanting to create that special atmosphere that they had felt when they had the opportunity to hunt. There were 12 hunters and about 60 volunteers making this hunt a success. In fact, my guide Gary had his 2 sons Brett and Bart participating and his grandson Beau making 3 generations of volunteers.

I set up and fired my wife’s .243 and hit a little low and to the right. Adjustments were made and three more shots were put in the target. I then pulled out my 7mm Rem Mag and punched the paper 4 more times making sure it was lined up. Minor adjustments were made and then the guns were put away until the next morning. I decided I was going to take the .243 Savage and made necessary preparations to use this gun the next morning. They then moved us down the road to the trap club to shoot some skeet.

Having not shot skeet for over 20 years, I was a little nervous to get out there and show them what I could do. My balance wasn’t the best. I grabbed a 12 gauge double barrel and took my position. “Pull” and the target took flight but the gun wouldn’t fire. We then changed guns and I tried it again, still no fire when I pulled the trigger. “Da## Savage guns,” I cursed my guide and new found friend Gary. He then went and grabbed a Beretta Over/Under and put it in my hands again. “Pull” and the bird went flying into the air. “Bang” and the target blew apart. I guess I can still shoot after all. After shooting 25 times from 5 different stations, I ended up hitting 18 targets while needing to sit between each shot. After taking my last shot I went to the shade to relax a little. Well the 2 days of dialysis caught up with me and I almost passed out in front of everyone. Making my way inside I had to lay on the table and put my feet above my head to keep from passing out. After laying there for 20 minutes or so I excused myself and went back to the dorms to relax for the rest of the day.

Later that night we met up with our guides for some dinner and an awards ceremony for the volunteers and sponsors. After getting to know our guides a little more, plans were made for the next morning to start our hunt. Later that night I decided to use the 7mm Rem Mag the next morning.

We met the next morning to have breakfast of eggs and ham and then hit the road as we had to drive 60 miles to make it to our hunting destination. On the drive up we told stories and jokes as we approached the ranch. As we arrived at the gate it was shooting light so we began to look for my antelope. 15 yards inside the gate we saw a nice antelope at 7:05 am. We looked him over and being an idiot I decided to pass and look for another antelope. This antelope stood broadside at 50 yards and we later joked that Wayne told me it was too close. As we drove away Gary said, “that will probably be the closest one you see all day long.” As we looked for more antelope it became apparent that he would be right.

We returned back to see if I could find him again and he had disappeared into the night. We drove around looking and analyzing different antelope. After about an hour we found another antelope worth giving chase. As we parked above a water hole we watched him chase a doe for a few minutes. She then made her way down to get a drink and the buck soon followed. As he bent his head down to take a drink I took aim and he dropped with one shot. Excitement filled the cab of the pick-up truck and we made our way down to the fallen game. Wayne jumped out while Gary looked for a rope to get him out of the mud. Gina took it upon herself to walk on top of the mud and pull the antelope onto dry land. She bugged Gary the rest of the day saying that he was too afraid to get his boots muddy.

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We then drove back to the trap range and took an official measurement followed by pictures with my guides by my side. Once again this activity wore my body out and I had to go back to the dorms for an afternoon nap. We then returned back to the trap range for lunch of sloppy Joe sandwiches and salads. Our guides then took us on a trip up to see a natural arch carved out into the mountain side. It was very beautiful. Upon returning we got ready for dinner and went to a benefit auction put on at the local Moose Lodge. There was a spotlight that my wife was interested in. She gave me a price limit and when the item came up for auction it quickly made it to our price limit and then passed. Lucky for us there was another spotlight available. By the time it became available people had been drinking quite a bit and so the price immediately went higher than our budget would allow. A lady at our table was bidding on the spot light but unbeknownst to her a man at our table was also bidding. By the time of the bidding was done she lost, but when they delivered the spotlight to the winner at our table she was disappointed. The man immediately gave her the spotlight which in turn she handed directly to me. Talk about some giving people.

Since all 12 hunters harvested their antelope by noon the first day, breakfast wasn’t until 8 o’clock the next morning. With the breakfast of eggs, pancakes and bacon we started on another great day. By this time we had got to know all of the other hunters. They came from all across the country. New York to Oregon and Minnesota to Texas. Great friendships were made and great times were had by all.

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That night an awards banquet was provided and a plaque with our picture of our antelope and guides were presented to each hunter. Special prizes were given to those who shot the first antelope in the morning, the closest antelope, the furthest antelope away and the largest antelope. The first antelope shot in the morning was by Bill from North Carolina. He shot his envelope at 7:15. The furthest antelope away was shot by 15-year-old Hunter Jacob, at 250 yards. The closest shot was by Jared from Oregon, who happened to be up quadriplegic. His shot was at 50 yards. And surprise of all surprises my antelope was the largest with 13 inch horns. The prize for all four categories was a free shoulder mount provided by a local taxidermist. Following the banquet we had to leave immediately and drive the five hours back to Rock Springs, Wyoming so I could get up at eight in the morning and have another dialysis treatment.

Following my dialysis treatment, we got back into the car and drove the remaining five hours back to Idaho Falls, Idaho.

It was a great trip and I look forward to the day when I can volunteer and give someone else the opportunity to have one Hell-Uva-Hunt.

Author: Lewis Harper, JDHeiner Contributor and Avid Outdoorsman

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The 5 Dangers of Hunting

WARNING: Hunting is dangerous. There is a high probability you will slip, wreck, fall, or trip while participating in this activity. You may experience exhaustion, lack of fluids, discomfort, insomnia, fever, disorientation, and possible death. In extreme cases you may receive death threats from animal right activists, government regulation on your weapons, and media crucification. Hunt at your own risk recognizing that in some cases you may also be hunted by the following predators: mosquitos, spiders, snakes, hogs, wolves, lions, and tigers, and bears oh my.

GLASSING

This past week found me perched upon a high mountain point glassing monster elk. It was an unusually cold morning. Although mid-summer, I was freezing. My body temperature was dropping. This caused me to reflect on the above warning label and the dangers associated with hunting.

I began to question my sanity. What was I thinking? What sort of craziness forced me into the elements at 4:15 am when I could have been nestled in my bed? It was at that moment that I realized the most probable dangers that lurk are not always as they seem.

These 5 dangers are very real and worth taking into consideration as you evaluate the risks and rewards associated with hunting.

  1. Improved Health: A hunter may engage in varying levels of physical activity. Whether you #trainhardhuntharder or just plain #hunt you risk experiencing improved physical and mental health. Consider yourself warned.
  2. Increased Happiness: Go ahead, test it!
  3. Self Sufficiency: Hunting is the training ground for survival and self sufficiency. Your reliance on hormonal grocery store meat may be reduced significantly. You may experience an overflowing freezer and an improved survival skill set ideal for difficult times ahead.
  4. Fortified Relationships: Give it a try. Unplug. Unwind. You may find yourself focused on the present and the people in it.
  5. Greater Appreciation: You cannot appreciate an early morning until you’ve risen for it. You cannot appreciate God’s creations until you’ve witnessed it. You cannot appreciate clean and lean meat until you’ve harvested it. You cannot appreciate your ability to survive until you’ve tested it. You cannot understand the pursuit until you’ve pursued it. You cannot conserve and protect a species until you’ve valued it. Be careful as this represents unusual levels of gratitude in these entitled and ungrateful times.

WARNING: Hunting will likely result in improved health and increased happiness. Other side effects could include a self sufficient lifestyle, fortified relationships, and a greater sense of appreciation in your life. If you experience these or any other symptoms please consult your local Division of Wildlife Resources office, your favorite guide, or your friends and family to plan your next hunt.

 

Gohunt $22,500 Dall Sheep Hunt Giveaway – Really?

When I hear the word “giveaway,” I am naturally suspicious. I question the hype and evaluate the odds. Each company works hard to build excitement around these offerings. It is usually loud and proud. A call to action offsets the company’s investment. Sign Up Now! Limited Time Only! Follow Us Today! Enter Here! It’s these type of giveaways that are becoming such common place that my senses have been dulled. At this point it would take a bull horn to the ear for me to listen.

GoHUNT’s INSIDER giveaway for June would be the equivalent of a bull horn to BOTH ears. A dream of mine would be to chase white monarch rams in the Northwest territory. GoHUNT INSIDER is giving away a $22,500 dall sheep hunt that would put you in Canada’s Northwest territory this August!

The question is, should you and I buy into the hype?

Are your chances just as good as the next person? Will goHUNT follow through and deliver? Who are the winners? How are they chosen? If a winner can’t accept or doesn’t accept the giveaway, will another winner be selected? Could it really be me? Could it really be you?

I contacted www.gohunt.com on a mission to find the answers to the above questions and more. I half expected them to tell me that the company does not share confidential information about their winners or their giveaways. I was pleasantly surprised when goHUNT opened their doors and business with zero hesitation. Company President Lorenzo Sartini was an open book. With a little research I have identified everything you need to know about June’s INSIDER giveaway.

GoHUNT.com INSIDER June Giveaway Detail:

  • TOTAL VALUE: $22,500
  • Where: Mackenzie Mountain (Northwest Territory), Canada
  • Outfitter: Nahanni Butte Outfitters
  • Dates: August 3-15, 2015
  • All Inclusive: Food, Lodging, Guide Fees, and $2,500 Travel Voucher
  • Success Rate: Nearing 100%
  • Potential: Trophy sheep area with the possibility of taking a 40″+ ram. (Ave. Horn Length 36″-37″)

How do we know the winners are real people and not your personal contacts or family and friends? What is the process of randomly selecting a winner?

Sartini: “We perform a random drawing at the end of each month and announce the winners the first business day of that month. Each INSIDER member will receive one entry per month. You can check out all of our previous INSIDER giveaways and winners online.”

Here is the process for drawing the winner

  • Export active members
  • Add accounts created for members (from spreadsheet)
  • Import into text utility (each user gets a unique row)
  • Permute the lines by “shuffle” 3 times.GOHUNT GIVEAWAY

How do you qualify to be a winner of an INSIDER giveaway?

In order to be eligible for goHUNT’s monthly giveaway you will have to sign up for INSIDER by midnight the day before the drawing. An INSIDER membership is $149 per year. Your membership in INSIDER gives you full access to all the research tools you need to have your best hunting season yet. It puts everything you need to know in one spot conveniently located online. All INSIDERS are automatically entered into our monthly giveaways.

Sartini: “You will notice right away that we value our members. Simply put we are the most aggressive in regards to industry giveaways. We reinvest into our members.”

What happens to the prizes left unclaimed or in the case a winner cannot accept?

Sartini: “Winners will be contacted by email and will have three days to claim their prize. If a winner does not respond within three days, goHUNT will offer the prize to an alternate until we have a winner. But for the record, we have not had any unclaimed giveaways so far.”

This month’s INSIDER dall sheep hunt giveaway is slightly different than normal:

  • On July 1st we will draw one winner and five alternates.
  • The winner will be called at 9am PST.
  • The winner has three chances to answer and will be called every 10 minutes.
  • If goHUNT does not hear from the winner, they will move on to alternate number 1 and so on.
  • Once they have connected with a winner by phone, the winner will have 60 minutes to tell goHUNT they accept or deny the hunt. The hunt is NON-transferable. The winner must be the one to actually hunt.

What has been the most rewarding giveaway to date?

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Sartini: “In February, we gave away three P2PX Extreme Range Magnum Red Rock Precision custom rifles, each with a Huskemaw 5x20x50 Blue Diamond scope. We gave away $22,800 in rifles. Three INSIDER members now have top of the line rifles for this hunting season. They could not be happier.”

Sartini: “We think our up-and-coming dall sheep hunt is going to end up being the most rewarding giveaway that we have ever done. We are going to make someone’s dream hunt come true. The added excitement of making this happen in such a short amount of time for someone is going to be fun to watch and be a part of. It is very rare to get a chance to hunt sheep and we feel this is the opportunity of a lifetime!”

My Conclusion: This giveaway is a true level playing field for any goHUNT member. The reality is you or I could be hunting dall sheep in approximately 8 weeks!  These guys are honest in their approach and unmatched in their giveaways.

Winning this hunt would be an absolute dream; however, the ever expanding resource that is INSIDER is worth every bit of $149. I paid it. I utilized this and other tools as I applied to various states in 2015. I drew a Utah limited entry Wasatch elk tag. To say I am excited to chase bulls on the Wasatch would be an understatement. Although I didn’t need INSIDER as much for Utah, it was key to my first time attempt in other states. Worth it at $149? In my opinion yes. Worth it at $149 and a dall sheep hunt?  Ahhhhhh….PHONE SKOPE

GO HUNT GIVEAWAY

 

5 Tips To Ensure Your Kid Loves Hunting

Every season there is a slaughter taking place amongst the freshman class of new youth hunters. The excitement and anticipation each new hunter experienced before the hunt is quickly diminished with bad experiences. Welcome to youth hunting 101.

“I remember my first hunt. It was actually my last. I froze all day and didn’t see a thing! I’ve never understood that sport!”

This is the memory imbedded in many youth hunters across the country. Just as quickly as they are introduced to the sport, they exit stage left never to return.image3

Do you want your first hunt with your kid to be a success?

As a seasoned hunter you are wired to prepare meticulously for your hunt. The same care should go into planning a positive experience for your little hunter.

Follow these simple steps next time you introduce a kid to the sport. Doing so will ensure a life long love for the sport and wildlife conservation.

1.  Have success:  As you introduce your youth hunter to the sport, make sure you do so on a hunt with action. Introduce them to the sport in an area were you know you will see animals and have close encounters. Have success!

2.  Get in, get out:  If required, the seasoned hunter is wired to wait until the last light of the last day for their trophy to appear. Unhook your wires. Leave your youth hunter wanting more. Long days and weeks can burn out a young hunter before they even get started. Get in, get out!

The Trolli Approach
The Trolli Approach

3.  Make traditions:  I call this the “Trolli Approach.” To this day, my girls love hunting because of the perks associated with spending time in the field with Dad. Trolli sour gummy worms is the tradition. There is only one time each year when its a free for all along the gas station treat isle. That free for all occurs during the hunt. Make traditions!

4.  Build confidence:  I love telling my little youth hunter, “man, your good at this!” Highlight their knack for the sport, tracking, listening, identifying sign, spotting, and toughness. Make a big deal out of the value they bring to the hunting camp. Build confidence! image1-2

5.  There is no bad weather, just bad clothing:  All your efforts will be for naught if you have not planned for weather. Make sure your youth hunting partner is wearing the right gear.  Comfort is key to a great first time experience. Remember, there is no bad weather, just bad clothing!

What have you done in the field to get your first time youth hunters excited about the sport? Leave me your comments at the bottom. Take a minute and follow my blog on the right had column of your page!

10 Trail Camera Tips That Make Things Happen

I had an employer once teach that in life there are three types of people. There are “those that make things happen, those that wait for things to happen, and those that wonder what the [beep] just happened.” When it comes to hunting, which person are you? Are you going to make things happen?

A very important part of making things happen includes summer scouting. Utilizing trail cams can be one of the best ways to understand the animals you pursue and the areas you hunt.

I recently sat down with Ryan Carter of DC Outfitters to discuss the ins and outs of setting trail cameras in the backcountry. Ryan actively manages a string of over 40 cameras. The success of his clients is often unmatched. You could certainly say Ryan understands what it means to make things happen! Proof of that is Rick Houghton’s DC Outfitters 2014 giant featured on Utah’s Top 10 Monster Elk of 2014. This is one success of many for DC Outfitters.

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DC Outfitters Trail Camera Action

Ryan brought up many important points to successfully setting cameras in the field. Some of these points may seem obvious; yet, we get in the field and forget. Let this be your reminder!

  1. Face your cameras to the North: By facing your cameras to the North you will alleviate any interference with the sun in the early morning, mid-day, and late evening hours. Nothing is worse than making it back to your camera only to find many of your pictures are white. Avoid a south facing set up at all cost. Get creative with your placement and face em’ North.
  2. Clear the area and create a photo path: Nobody wants a wind buck on their trail camera. Take a close look at your surroundings. If the wind were to pick up, would branches or debris activate your motion detector? Be sure to pack a saw and be sure to clear a photo path.

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    JD Heiner Prepping for Big Ole’ Wasatch Elk
  3. Place your cameras at locations you are willing to check: You have selected what you feel will be your greatest setup yet. It is remote. It is untouched. You feel it’ll really produce but the reality is you won’t be able to check on it very often. You may not even get back to it before the hunt. Pay attention to your reality. It isn’t a great setup if you can’t check in on it.
  4. Buy what you can afford: It is important to understand that most cameras on the market can do the job. Clarity can be improved. Ease of use can be argued. Trigger speed, IR effectiveness, and distance are all valid points. In the end, you need to understand what is coming into your camera. You should be able to do so with a wide variety of high end and low end cameras. Simply buy what you can afford and don’t feel as though you need the best.
  5. Buy what you can afford to lose: It is unfortunate this even lands on this list. When referring to a lost camera, I am referring to thieves. There is little worse than a thief. Check the card if you must, but don’t be the low life type that takes a camera. Lock boxes can help; however, as Ryan has said, “lock boxes keep honest people honest.” In the end, if someone wants it bad enough, they’ll get it. You need to certainly buy what you can afford; however, make sure you buy what you can afford to lose.
  6. Pick camera locations that provide a trifecta of core elements: When selecting a spot for your trail camera keep in mind the obvious importance of food, shelter, and water. Do animals have access to these three elements near your placement? Check with local laws to determine if you are able to enhance the elements with attractants.
  7. State law may not be on your side: Let me preface by saying, if you see a trail cam in the field and take it you are an absolute waste of space. You are likely a poacher. You have complete disregard for others and their property. You are lazy. You are also welcome to never visit this blog again. That being said, if an item is left in the field for a specified period of time the law may consider it public property. This may include your trail cams, tree stands, etc. Your trail cam may get stolen. You may even know who it was that stole your property. There may be little you can do about it. As a result, keep in mind #5.
  8. Test the shot before leaving your camera: Are you cameras pointed in the right direction? It may not be enough to just “eyeball” it. With a little pre-testing, your shots can turn out much better. Take the time to test your camera. Is it taking the type of shot that is going to teach you the most about your setup. Take some test pictures onsite and adjust.

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    Sean Senske (At it hard and making things happen!)
  9. Never forget your essentials: There is little worse than getting to you distant camera only to realize you forgot batteries, viewing device, and or SD cards. Before each trip, run through your checklist. Forgetting your essentials can set you back days or weeks in your scouting efforts this summer.
  10. Be cautious of trees that are perfect for scraping: Trees are the obvious go to for hanging your cameras. Trees are also the go to for back scratching and scraping when it comes to the animals you pursue. Evaluate the tree. Is it likely to become a scrape? Adjust your plans around tree size and venerability to be knocked around by a big bull, buck, or bear.

In the end, get out and make it happen. Many desire to experience success while hunting; yet, very few are willing to put in the time. If you want to get the Outdoor bug, start by purchasing a trail camera. I love checking trail cameras. It can be likened unto Christmas Day and the excitement surrounding the unknown of what you are about to discover. Let’s make it happen!

Special Thanks to all those who sent in some amazing trail camera pictures. (Cover Photo) Hazen Downward, Trevor Hunt (Pine Creek Outfitters), Hunter Bloxham, Sawyer Peacock, Jaron Dansie, and Jeff Pearson. 

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DC Outfitters Trail Cam Candy (I’m pretty sure Ryan is doing something right!)

Guide to Killing Monster @utahmulies

I love talking with legitimate DIY hunters. Special rights are reserved for the DIY hunter. DIY is short for Do It Yourself and is synonymous with hard work and preparation. In its simplest terms, a do it yourself hunt is “unguided.” You are on your own. You might solicit the help of friends and family; however, nobody is in the business of guiding you to your end goal. It is raw. It is difficult. It is primal.

Now let me preface by stating I have zero qualms with guided hunts. I myself have enjoyed guided hunts in the past. I hope to enjoy a few in the future. Reputable guides can provide an experience that is tough to replicate or match. That being said, this article is for the Do It Yourselfer!

There are not many DIY hunters that seem to produce year in, year out. If I stumble upon one, my interest is peaked. What makes them successful every single year? What strategies do they employ? What equipment do they use? How do they find balance in life given the time required to aggressively pursue a DIY hunt?

I stumbled upon @utahmulies on Instagram. Lance Harris is the man behind the @. His 2013 Utah archery general season Wasatch buck is an absolute standout. As you peal back the onion, you find that he has been successful with the bow more than just once. It is becoming a habit. From his stud archery bull on Utah’s Diamond Mountain, his Henry’s archery buck, and a few awesome Wasatch front archery bucks, I wanted to learn more.

I sat down for a Q&A with Lance to see what I could learn about DIY hunting utahmulies style. To say this article has some great advice would be an understatement.

When did your passion for hunting and the outdoors begin? It started with my Dad. I don’t remember a time that my brother and I weren’t following my dad around hunting. We were always hunting something, anything. During the summers we were out fishing, camping, and hunting. It all went together.

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Tell me about your first harvest big game animal? I can remember my first big game animal like it was yesterday. Me, my dad, and my brother were hunting in Southern Utah just outside of Mt. Carmel Junction. It was a rifle deer hunt. We had hunted hard for 5-6 days. We hadn’t seen anything we wanted to kill and it was our last morning. The truck was loaded. We were just going to watch for a couple more hours than head home. Really out of nowhere I glassed a buck feeding in an opening. He was just munchin’ on brush. Since I spotted him, I got first crack. We drove down the road and tried to get in front of him. Eventually we got out of the truck and ran further down the road to where we thought he would be. We split up. My dad and my brother went one way, I went the other. I found his tracks crossing the road. He had gone down in a ravine. I then heard him coming through the brush. He popped up at about 75 years down the hill and I jacked 2 shells into him about as fast as I have ever shot two shells in my life. I hit him both times before he even dropped. As a big 20” 2X3 with 3” eye guards, he was an awesome first deer and I was super stoked!

So what has been your most memorable hunt to date? That’s a tough one. I have a lot. It would have to be my big Wasatch buck. It’s mainly because of how much time I spent on that hunt. I came so close on a couple of other big animals. After all that effort, it meant a lot to kill such a huge deer with some of my best friends… to see an animal that size, public land, in our backyard. He is just a magnificent, big, old buck. To be able to harvest him with a bow after a few guys chased him with rifles just weeks earlier is crazy to me! I don’t know if I will ever be able to top it.

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Let’s talk about your bow, how often do you shoot it? As much as I can. You know as a kid there was a bunch of us who had bows. Our dads all bow hunted. We took our bows everywhere and would shoot in everybody’s back yard. That’s what we did. So I have always grown up with a bow but it has taken a long time to be successful. I look back at hunts when I was younger and there is no reason I shouldn’t have killed big deer. Whether it was inexperience or making the wrong move, it just didn’t work out. I don’t shoot every day. I don’t have time. It may be that I don’t make time. With family and work sometimes it’s tough. Obviously any bow hunter should shoot as much as they can. I try to shoot at least once a day but it doesn’t always happen. On average I shoot close to 4-5 a week.

What do you do to simulate the varying conditions you may run into as a bow hunter? We built a course up on the mountain. We take our own targets up there and shoot uphill, downhill, realistic shots. We don’t just practice flat land. I have never had a flat shot in any hunting situation. We also try to always practice at our max. If your max is 50 or 60 yards, spend the majority of your time at 50 or 60. Unless I am setting up a bow, I rarely shoot 20, 30, and 40. It is usually 80, 90 and 100. I don’t do this so that I can kill an animal that far but when you get used to shooting 80, 90, 100, the shots at 30,40,50 are that much easier. The other reason I practice out that far is because it makes your closer shots that much better. At long distance any variance in form makes a huge difference and is magnified. Longer distances teach you to hold your form and follow through. It gives you the knowledge you need to tweek or adjust your set up. Also, if I hit an animal at 30, 40, 50 and it runs to 80 and is still standing, I have the ability to put another arrow into him and anchor it.

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What would you say is the max ethical distance with a bow? Going back to distance and practicing, everybody is going to be different. Factors such as draw length, poundage, and arrow setup vary and that comes into play. For me, I have a longer draw length. I am shooting a really heavy arrow (Easton FMJ). I practice 80,90, and 100 consistently. Every situation is different, I have killed animals at 40 yards. I shot my antelope last year at 84. I don’t like shooting that far but that situation happened so fast. I ranged him 3 times because it didn’t seem that far. The reality was I was confident in the situation. I knew I couldn’t get closer because of the terrain. I had practiced that distance. When I drew and held, I wasn’t shaking all over the place. I was confident in my hold and I center punched him. He didn’t even flinch until it was too late. If I can keep it 60 and under, they’re dead. But again, everyone is different. You have to go with what makes you comfortable. If your max distance is 50 yards, great… stick to it. Don’t use the justification that “oh it’s a big buck or bull, l’m gonna shoot 80 yards just because it’s a “big racked” animal. I hate that. We owe these animals more respect than that. Just because it’s a big deer doesn’t mean you have to just start launching arrows.

I’ve noticed in social media you enjoy bow fishing, how does that prepare you to hunt big game in the fall? Everyone needs to start bow fishing. There are so many carp in our waters. They destroy habitat. They ruin breeding grounds for walleye, catfish, and bass. They just tear up the ground. They muddy the water and they’re fun to shoot. Its legal in Utah and it’s a lot of good practice. There is a point when they become dumb like a rutting mule deer. When they’re spawning they’re up in the shallows and you can schwack a whole bunch. A lot of the times you have to use your bow hunting skills to sneak up on them. I was out just recently with my boy and we spooked a few cuz we were talking or Nixon wasn’t walking quietly. They don’t just sit around and wait. You have to be quiet. It’ll keep you on your toes. It’ll also keep your arm strength up. You can get your family out and do it. You just have to have a fishing license. It is a lot of fun.

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How do you include your young kids in your passion for hunting? Anytime I get my bow out, my boy gets his bow out as well. He loves it. He has been shooting little toy bows since he could pick them up. He will be 5 in December. I have had him on a lot of hunts with me. When my wife was working, that was often the only way I could go. Luckily, family has been willing to come up and watch him while I’ve put a couple stalks on some deer. I will also put him in the back pack and take him bow fishing in the summer. That’s another good thing about bow fishing, it’s easy to get your kids and the family involved.

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Talk with me about your success the last couple of years. What if anything is different in your approach to hunting and how has that made these last couple of years a huge success? The biggest thing is preparation. Spending time watching animals and patterning them. You need to know where they’re going and what they’re doing. Whether I am hunting or not, I love watching animals. I love watching elk, antelope and deer. They are amazing animals. I love watching them especially when they are growing big velvet antlers. Patience is another important key. Once you have patterned these animals, you’re best equipped to know when and where to move. That process takes a bit of patience. Sometimes you gamble and you lose but that’s the fun of the chess match. Lastly, when stalking an animal… plan your route. It will change but you do have to be ready for change. Very few times does it work out perfectly but still have a plan and adjust to change.

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If your plan doesn’t work, how often do you think you can bust a big game animal before you’ll never see it again? I busted my Diamond Mountain elk and his cows opening morning yet killed him 2 days later in the exact same spot. They have their patterns. From my experience, the big game animals I’ve hunted come back to their same spot. In 2013 the deer I was hunting (before I killed my big Wasatch buck) I had 4 times at under 90 yards. I never could get a shot. Something always happened. They busted me or they winded me but they always came back.

So you weren’t specifically going after your big Wasatch buck? I wasn’t. There were 3 other bucks in there that I was hunting. Big 4 points, 170-185. I hadn’t seen the big one yet.

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So did you wet yourself the first time you saw him? When I walked up on him… yea. Honestly, I didn’t realize he was that big even when I shot him. Long story short, I went in to find one of the three bucks we were hunting. My friend Wyatt spotted some does on a ridge but he didn’t see any bucks with the group. He decided to glass a canyon to the south. I knew there should be a few bucks in there because I’d been hunting them since August. This is mid-November. I pulled my spotting scope out to see if I could spot those does he’d seen. It was the middle of the rut. There should have been some bucks with them. It was 1500 yards away. It was first thing in the morning. I spotted the does and later a little four point that came between the does and ended up laying down on the skyline. As I zoomed in on him I caught movement on the right edge of my scope. I adjusted my scope. I couldn’t make anything out but I knew there was a deer in there. A minute or two went by and he finally moved his head. I was guessing a 185-190 buck. You know, a solid stud buck. Little did I know he would end up at 222 2/8”. It was long distance and early in the morning so I didn’t get a good look. All I knew is he was a shooter buck. I ran over and told Wyatt. We got everything set up. I threw my Be The Decoy on my head and I set out to get above the deer. They ended up going down a little draw. I went past them and he was down with his does about 200 yards. He was in knee to waste high brush and I didn’t have any cover to sneak in on them. I waited and watched to see what they would do. As I am waiting I peeked back in the canyon and noticed he was now about 40 yards above his does looking back down on them. He started walking back up that draw to where I had originally seen him. I remember thinking – What are you doing? Where are you going? I don’t know if he had already bred all those does or they just weren’t hot. Maybe he was just heading off to find something else. What I do remember thinking was “you gotta move now.” I ran up the ridge as quick as I could. Wyatt said from his perspective he could see us both moving up the hill in tandem. I came up into a flat and began guessing where he might cross. I knelt down, knocked an arrow and looked over and just that fast he was coming out of the draw. He looked right at me and didn’t miss a step. With the Be The Decoy on he kept on coming. I grabbed my range finder and ranged him. He was about a 150 yards and came up to 75 yards. He then started to turn and go up the ridge instead of right at me. He went behind a little tree and when I drew back, he stopped and looked at me. He didn’t seem nervous. He looked at me in the mood of “hey what’s up?” I don’t know if he thought I was a doe he’d just left but he was not nervous at all. I settled my pin as best I could and let one fly. I initially hammered him at 65 yards.

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You just traveled to Arizona and accepted a Pope and Young award for that buck, tell us about that award? (www.pope-young.org) Yes. So for the recording period of the 2013-2014 he was one of the biggest animals harvested with a bow and recorded worldwide. He really is a DIY public land beast.

I see a lot of pictures with the Be The Decoy product on your head. What is your association with Be The Decoy and does it really work? (www.bethedecoy.com) So I got to know Be the Decoy with my involvement at Hunter’s Nation. We giveaway a Be The Decoy every month. As a result, I got my hands on one. I’ve used other decoys (Heads Up Decoy and Montana Decoy) and was pretty impressed with what you can get away with if used properly. What I like about Be The Decoy is it’s on your head and you really don’t have to worry about it. You don’t have to mess with it while trying to hold and operate your bow. It is already there and it is already in place. It is a familiar object that big game animals recognize. Yes, they do work. I have used it on elk, deer, and antelope. I think it works best on elk. It seems like you can get away with a lot more on elk. Deer it works really well. With antelope, I felt it gave me enough time to get a shot but that was about it. Antelope are pretty sketchy as it is but it gives you time to sneak in and get a shot off. On my Diamond mountain elk hunt I used it. Before a wind change, I had a big bull and his cows look at me 4-5 different times only to go back to feeding. They definitely work. Owners Branden VanDyken and Mark Renner are great guys as well. I have got to know them over the last couple years and I support their product. Used properly and in the right season, they are very effective.

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What is Hunter’s Nation? (www.huntersnation.com) You pay $20 for a one year membership. Every day you are entered into giveaways some of which are valued at as much as $700+. At the end of every month we give away a fully guided big game hunt. By being a member, you also get discount codes with a lot of our partner companies. You can get discounts with a lot of the outfitters we line up as well. It really is a no-brainer.

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What is your weapon of choice? Weapon of choice would be a bow. What do you shoot? (www.g5prime.com) You name a bow, I have shot it. As for the last couple of years, I have been shooting Prime. This year I have the Prime Rival and I am excited to see what I can put down with it.

When you go hunting, what are 3 essentials that you do not leave home without? (Excluding your weapon). 1. Binoculars: You can do without a spotting scope. It’s nice to have, but your binoculars… I don’t go anywhere without my binoculars. Even when you are in close, it’s nice to see holes or trails in order to develop a plan. How important is quality of optic? You can get by with anything; however, in early morning or late evening scenarios the quality of optic can make a big difference. Clarity and visibility is important. So binoculars would be my #1. 2. Range finder: If I was hunting strictly with a stick bow I wouldn’t worry about a range finder. With a compound bow and my set up, a range finder is a must. I shoot a single pin Sure-Loc site. I have a site tape. I range it and dial it to whatever yardage I am shooting. If its 43 yards, I set my pin for 43 yards. Do you lose valuable time in that process? In my opinion, no. I have been shooting a single pin site since 2008. It does take some getting used to if you are used to a multi pin setup. For me to range, set my pin, draw and shoot I feel I am just as quick as someone shooting a 5 or 7 pin. In my opinion it is more accurate because you only have 1 pin to focus on. You have a bigger site window. You don’t have all those pins taking up half your site. Plus the accuracy is a huge draw. Like I said, if you are shooting 43 yards, you set it for 43 yards. If you are shooting 45 yards, you don’t have to split your 40 and 50. 3. Gear (clothing): Whether it is Sitka, Kuiu, Core 4 Element, First Lite or Kryptek, there are a lot of great companies out there. It makes a big difference. These companies provide top end gear. They have layering systems. You can regulate your temperature as you are hiking or layer up to sit and glass. You need to have the ability to layer properly with material that wicks moisture well. A lot of these lines are built with spandex so it stretches. It moves with you. You don’t have the bulk of some of these lower end clothing lines. I don’t think it makes you a better hunter, but it does make you more comfortable and able to hunt more effectively.

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How much preparation and time really goes into killing a big high country mule deer or elk? There are guys that get lucky. They happen to wander into something. Congratulations! That never happens to me so preparation is almost year round. I try to stay in top shape as far as endurance. I am shooting my bow year round. I am working on my form and I try to really get to know my equipment. I am hiking in the mountains. In 2010 I drew a henry mountains archery tag. I was probably in the best shape of my life. I was doing a lot of running, a lot of pushups, a lot of shooting. I remember my dad told me, “you’re not gonna out run these deer.” I told him, “I know but when I get up to them I don’t want to be out of breath. I don’t want to be huffing and puffing so that I can make a shot.” You really are never gonna out run these deer. They live there and it’s just physically impossible. So between cardio, shooting, and scouting, it’s almost year round.

I notice you are often with the Mt. Ops team, what is your association with Mt. Ops if any? (www.getmtnops.com) It’s a fairly new company but I have known those guys for a while. Casey and Jordan are some awesome guys that have the same passion for the outdoors that I do. Their products are awesome. I am not sponsored by them and I am not endorsed by them. I do use their products and I notice a big difference in my cardio and my hiking. I notice a difference off the mountain as well. Take a Blaze energy shot and hang on because you’ll have energy for the rest of the day.

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How do you find balance between work, family, and chasing big game? You marry right. My wife puts up with a lot but she knows and understands that I have grown up with it. It’s not something I can just stop doing. She definitely needs a high five, a pat on the back, a props, whatever you call it for all she puts up with being married to me. But yea it’s tough. Before we had kids it was so easy to sneak out but then you have kids and your responsibilities change.

If you could pick any 3 tags in the state of Utah, what would they be? I am hoping I draw Antelope Island this year! Ok, excluding Antelope Island? To be honest even if I drew an Antelope Island tag it wouldn’t mean as much to me as my Henrys or Wasatch bucks. It’d still be fun. That being said, a Henry’s or a Pauns deer tag would be at the top of the list. I love to hunt everything but if I had the choice, I’d hunt mule deer. It’s what I grew up with. I do love elk. I love listening to them scream. Deer do not make noise. To kill high country mule deer, it’s a chess match. It’s a game of wits. You can’t bugle them in. That fact to me puts a mule deer up higher on my list. They don’t make noise. Now, I have killed an elk but I want to kill a stud. You know a 350-360+ bull. A San Juan or a Monroe elk tag would be awesome. I have never killed a bear or mountain lion so last of all I’d say somewhere for a bear or mountain lion.

There is often a bitterness towards big money and guided hunts. What is your prospective on spending big money to hunt big game animals with a guide? I would definitely fit in the group that is a little more proud of the DIY. I have no problem with people utilizing and paying for a guide service. If you have the money to do it. It doesn’t affect me one bit. It can make a lot of sense if you have the time and money to hunt multiple states. In the end, someone that can get in there and do it themselves ranks a little higher in my book.

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What would be your advice to someone that wants to get into hunting the western states and high country big game? A few things I would say. First, be in shape. Do yourself a favor and get in shape. You owe these animals the respect of being in your best shape. That is often necessary in order to get close and make an ethical shot. It is often required to get that animal out of the back country after you shoot it. Do not leave meat behind because you couldn’t physically do it. I pack the meat first and leave the head and cape last. More motivation to get the tasty meat taken care of then come back for the rack. Second, buy the best equipment you can buy. If you are a bow hunter and your max budget for a bow is $300-$400, buy a $300-$400 bow. Practice with it and know it. If it’s a rifle. Again, buy the best equipment you can buy. Lastly, have fun. We get to enjoy some amazingly beautiful, rugged country. Don’t make it about the score of the rack. If you kill an animal, whether it be a 2 point, 3 point, 4 point or a 200” deer, respect it. You killed it, respect it. Don’t use the excuse “well it’s not the biggest deer on the mountain.” There will always be bigger. If you kill a 2 point. Awesome, you killed it so be proud of it. Own it. If you’re gonna be ashamed of it, don’t pull the trigger. Go out and have fun and respect every animal you kill.

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