Monday, January 31, 2011

NFAA Southwest Indoor Sectional
It's so enjoyable for me as a long time archer to go to a place to watch our youth learning to shoot a bow. I met my buddy Jon Weaver, Owner of XAddict Archery, over at Archery Outpost in Los Alamitos yesterday to shoot some photos for a new product he's launching. (His son, Cy, was the young man who just killed the javelina in Arizona.) Jon was shooting the Southwest Indoor to qualify for Vegas. We chatted while watching some of the young archers strut their stuff and it was awesome to see so many kids and young people flinging arrows. They have really stepped it up over at Archery Outpost. Great setup, lots of people waiting for lanes and anyone could get instruction while they were there. I was there to shoot some photos and chat with Jon, so my bow stayed at home.

Check out the arrow launching from the young mans bow.
These guys and gals couldn't shoot enough!
Jon and I talked for a bit, shot some photos of his products and while we were outside shooting we watching in horror as a gentleman ran over his kids bow case as he is backing out of his parking spot. Oh wait, the story gets better. Does he get out to check the damage? Uh, no. Does he stop? Nope. He then pulls forward and drives over it...again. Jon and I are staring in bewilderment. Jon knows he ran over a bow case. At first, I thought the guy just hit the curb with his hard, plastic bumper and it was scraping down the length of it. Uh-uh. No way. then, THEN the guy kicks it into reverse and drives over it again trying to get out of the parking spot. You'd think the case had enough, but for a fourth time he runs over it. This time driving forward over it. Holy Schnikes, Batman! WTH was this guy thinking? Well, he opens the door, looks down and kinda nods his head. He gets out, says something to his two kids sitting in the vehicle, drops down and cradles the case and puts it in the back of the 4Runner. They then drive off. Jon had the best response when he said, 'That is going to be one LONG ride home.' Wow! No kidding, right? I can understand running it over accidentally, but this guy seemed to be on a mission. Like he was teaching his kid a lesson for leaving it there. Come on, dude! Don't you realize you are only punishing yourself? You are going to end up having to buy your kid a whole new setup now. I just couldn't believe it.

Good luck to Jon Weaver, Connor and Bernie from AO, and everyone else going to Vegas in two weeks!

Weekend Photo Safari With Dad
Last week my dad flew out here to SoCal from the frozen state of New York to spend a few days with us. We took a few moments out of family time to go on a couple photo safari's. I took my dad up to an area I love to go photograph wildlife and we had a blast. From the moment we hiked up the hill we spotted animals. I shot most of these images with a 300mm f/2.8 lens with a 2x extender on a Nikon D300 body. I had the lens mounted on a monopod, but really should have used the tripod. Here are some of the images from our trip.

We stalked these Pacific-Hybrids to within 60 yards.

This young deer had enough of me just standing there and launched up the hill.

I just love the way the light hit the eyes of the deer as we photographed them.

These deer were a half mile from us when I took this photo.

This guy was just sunning himself, but I couldn't get closer than ten feet.

Beautiful Pacific-Hybrid buck cresting a hillside.

This was one amazing encounter. This buck walked right towards us unaware of our presence.

Beautiful woodpecker searching for breakfast.



Friday, January 28, 2011

Team DIY Strikes Gold In Arizona
My watch has been running a bit slow lately. I am running behind with some of the great stories from DIYbowhunter.com. I have three of them to report on. Team DIY Pro Staffer, Eric Welsh connected on an Arizona muley a few weeks back.

It all started when Marlon Holden of Gray Light Productions invited me to Southern Arizona on his annual mule deer hunt. I didn't even hesitate to accept, knowing all the big deer that he has seen and taken in the past.

I was there for six days and every day was tough! Marlon is an animal! His sights were set on a huge buck, and that meant hours of glassing and driving. We covered a lot of ground every day. It was killing me to glass up the smaller bucks when he wouldn't even give them a second look. I was ready to go after them. I could now see why he was so successful.

We both had a lot of close calls and some misses. On the last day of the hunt we were on our way back to the lodge when Marlon spotted this buck with a couple of does about 300 yards off the road. We planned the stalk and it was on. A while later I found myself at 53 yards from the buck and I let one fly. He went less than 20 yards and fell.

This is my biggest muley so far with a bow. It was a great opportunity to hunt and learn from such a great hunter.

Thanks Marlon!
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Young Bowhunter Connects With First Big Game Animal

Cy Weaver is no stranger to archery, but his javelina hunt in Arizona produced his very first big game animal with archery tackle. Here's what Cy had to say over at DIYbowhunter.com:

I know that it looks like a gut shot and that it was a bad shot and all that, but it wasn't. If you take a better look I "quartered it" into the liver and destroyed the lungs. It was an instant blood shot, and it has a hose line blood trail so it was easy to find.

I have had the pleasure of working with Cy's dad, Jon Weaver of XAddict Archery, and it's very apparent that Jon's work ethic has been passed on to his son. It is truly awesome to see our young hunters getting out there and getting it done. With some guidance and practice Cy laid it down! Great job guys!

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Javelina Hunt With Family and Friends

Gabe Erautt, brother to Team DIY Pro Staffer Eddy Erautt, loves hunting and sharing the experience with family and friends. He recently filled his Arizona tag (see photo for confirmation) and wrote up the story of the hunt below. Awesome job, Gabe!

The first morning of my hunt, Eddy spotted a group of pigs, just like last year, about a mile and half to 2 miles away. They were headed east feeding and bedding as they went. They were not in a hurry so we took our time on the hike to get there, watched their progress, and planned the route to them.

We made it to the south end of the bowl where they were and checked the wind. Eddy settled in to watch from 426 yards away while I moved in. I circled to the backside of the bowl and swung way around to the west and got up high before coming back into the bowl where they were. I moved in slow with plenty of stops to look for the herd. I finally saw a cactus moving about 60 to 70 yards in front of me and about 20 yards below. I watched them for a while when I saw a pig that separated from the group and was moving my way. I lost site of that pig in the brush but Eddy was able to let me know about where he went.

I started looking for a spot to ambush and would need to move lower so that I would not need to shoot the HARD downhill angle. I moved down about 10 yards, ranged a couple of spots that he could poke out at, and waited. The javelina changed his mind and exited the bush on the backside and was headed up hill and to the west. Oh boy. There I am, squatting down, no way to reposition with a pig at 25 yards, behind brush, moving toward my wind. I had an opening that I needed to stop him in before he was back behind more brush. I woffed at him a couple of times and he stopped. I hammered him at 20 yards through the shoulder and he lit out down hill and stopped after about 50 yards and laid down. None of the other pigs spooked and Eddy signaled me to move down and get another arrow in him since he looked to be doing too good. I started moving down and he jumped up and took of. The other pigs started to react and run as well but my pig came back to me and stopped in an opening, down hill at 20 yards.1 more arrow put him down quick.

I do not know how big he was, but he was heavy and I needed to get him down off that slope which is not fun. Cactus, rocks, and STEEP. Why cant I find a pig in the flats? The trip to Arizona for javelina is always fun, it just sucks waiting another year to do it again.

The gear that I used was a Hoyt bow, Maxxis arrows, Rage broadheads, and Danner boots. I have had those boots for at least 5 years and love them. Good traction, not loud, durable and I have not had any of that cactus stick my feet.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Want To Go On A Guided Wild Pig Hunt at Tejon Ranch?
Hunting hogs is just plain fun and why not do it while being guided on one of the best ranches around. Now's your chance to try for a shot at hunting at Tejon.

Hunter Education Instructor Association of Southern California is selling raffle tickets for a Guided Wild Pig Hunt on Tejon Ranch, CA. Tickets are $20.00 each, 6 for $100.00 & 13 for $200.00. Only 500 tickets will be available and the winning ticket will be drawn at their annual conference on March 12, 2011. 

To purchase tickets contact Derek Fong by emailing him at or you can call him at 661.733.1740.

The Santa Clarita Valley Quail & Upland Wildlife Federation, Inc is also having their Annual Banquet for the Quail & Upland Wildlife Federation. They will also have some nice raffles.

ANNUAL FUND RAISING BANQUET
SATURDAY, MARCH 26, 2011
EMBASSY SUITES HOTEL,
28508 WESTINGHOUSE PL., 
VALENCIA, CA

You can download the registration form here.

Doors Open At 5:00pm - Located at Interstate 5 & Hwy 126
We are a non-profit organization, formed as a 501(c)(3) organization so your contributions are tax deductible.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hunting The Suburbs With Meat Missiles
Here's a great little article about urban bowhunting from Atlanta Magazine. Many of us out here in SoCal can relate to this a little too well. As you read, just replace Atlanta with Los Angeles and you'll feel right at home.

We’re near Hartsfield-Jackson airport, but Johnson doesn’t want to say exactly where. His reluctance is not unusual. Hunters everywhere closely guard their favorite spots, but hunters in metro Atlanta are especially cagey. They fear resistance from residents who know little about hunting and from poachers who kill deer illegally. While state law prohibits hunting with a gun in Clayton, Cobb, and DeKalb, as well as in Fulton County north of Georgia Highway 92, there’s nothing illegal about going out with a bow. For the urban hunter, the tricky part is finding land.

I'd be willing to bet that many of you feel the same way as Willie Johnson does. I know I do.

Friday, January 21, 2011

SoCal Bowhunter Goals and Objectives for 2011
How high will you set the bar this year? I am setting it high again, when it comes to my goals for 2011. Why? Well, it revolves around a coffee mug. It's not the coffee mug itself, but what is inscribed on the side. On the side of this mug is a very powerful sentence.
What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? ~ Anonymous
That statement rings in my head many times throughout the week. Mostly because I love that mug and it's usually filled with coffee. In all seriousness, what would each of you do if you knew you couldn't fail? Would you even attempt to do anything over-the-top or challenging? You might, but it would get old very quickly. With that said, I set my goals high because if I achieve them it will feel like a worthy accomplishment. Some have stayed the same, but the list is an ongoing beast.

  1. Continue to write at least one gear review per month and video tape a few. You'll understand why I need to video a few as they are completed.
  2. Go on a Colorado archery elk hunt.
  3. More giveaways on my blog.
  4. Meet with at least two archery product manufacturers and shoot their bows and review them.
  5. Attend and write about more hunting workshops as they become available.
  6. Leave more comments on other blogs instead of just lurking. (Time management can be a bitch sometimes.)
  7. Arrow a Pacific-Hybrid deer.
  8. Arrow my first wild hog.
  9. Take someone to the archery range and teach them how to shoot a bow.
  10. Take someone new out hunting.
  11. Utilize social media more (i.e. Twitter, YouTube).
  12. Video an actual kill on camera.
  13. Video someone's hunt.
  14. Plan on attending the 2012 ATA Show in Columbus, OH.
  15. Last, but not least...try to smile more and be more personable. I have been told that in person I come across as very serious and not very happy. Contrary to that, I am usually a very happy-go-lucky guy, but I can always improve.
What are your goals for 2011? Care to share at least one?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Product Review - Max Burton Stove To Go
When I was in Catalina, we had to drive across the island, before breakfast, to get to our hunting spot before dawn. We all wanted a good, hot meal but who wants to eat at 3:30am? Ok, maybe me, but for others you want to let your body wake up first. My friend Jimmy offered up his Max Burton "Stove To Go" and some homemade burritos. This little gadget is unique and is about the size of a large lunch box. I had never heard of this type of stove, but Jimmy loved it and said I should give it a try.

So, we got in the truck, plugged the Stove To Go into the cigarette lighter, dropped in our pre-made treats and drove off. By the time we got halfway to our destination (about a half hour) the cab of the truck smelled deliciously like freshly cooked burritos. We rotated them and a half hour later stopped at the gate for breakfast. They came out piping hot and fully heated through and through. It was awesome! I never thought I'd get a hot meal out there without a Jet-Boil or a fire. I was definitely impressed.

Product Description
The Stove To Go looks like a regular lunchbox but has a built-in heating element that actually prepares hot meals while you're on the go. Just plug it into your cigarette lighter or other 12-volt power source, and you're ready to make casseroles, soups, stew, omelets, pasta, and more. It's also great for heating leftovers or frozen meals. Perfect for car camping, commutes to work, long distance drives, tailgate parties, or job sites, the lightweight and durable stove cooks and warms food to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and holds about 5-1/2 cups. The Stove To Go includes three disposable aluminum pan liners and a detachable six-foot power cord for convenient positioning. A full cookbook is also included and features fun and easy-to-follow recipes developed specifically for the Stove to Go.

The only downside is that it's a pain to clean, so it is recommended to use foil or best of all, those little throw-away bread pans (shown in the photo). That way all of the juices are contained and the little pans fit perfectly in there. How cool is that!

I think this is a fantastic little gadget. Sure, it's kinda like something you'd buy at Brookstone. You may not really need it, but it's fun to have and use once in a while. Still, at $38.50 how can you go wrong? I think this would be perfect for someone who does a lot of glassing from their vehicle or has to drive a ways to get to their hunting or fishing spot.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Day For Letting Arrows Fly
Confidence in your gear is essential. Archery practice time for me has been almost non-existent lately. Sure, it's after the regular seasons, but I do have a couple of hog hunts coming up. All DIY hunts, so I do have to practice. I was checking out a few bows at the local pro-shop last week and contemplated getting a new bow with more let-off. (The Elite Pulse at 70lbs. has an 80% let-off that you can hold back forever). Then, after seeing the price tag I decided to think long and hard about it. What was I going to do?

My phone buzzed in the middle of the week with a text message from my friend, Michael. He wanted to do some target practice at the pro-shop and invited me along. Seeing as it's only three streets away I immediately said yes.

We met at the pro-shop only to find there was a tournament in progress. No problem! The weather has been fairly cool lately, but throughout the week the temperatures decided to rise up into the high 70's and 80's. It was stellar weather! We were both almost happy to know that we had to go shoot outside. Bummer, right? Ha! The El Dorado Park archery range is nearby (a mile away from my place) and we both really want to head out there instead. After a quick stop at my house for my target and the wife's truck (she's got the park pass) we drove over to find it filled with like-minded folks. It was such a beautiful day that everyone and their brother was out shooting. We snagged the very last target bale (out of around 20 or so) and set up shop. I was pumped to just see how confident I was going to be in my gear after not shooting for a while. 

Michael and I started shooting at 30 yards just to loosen up. He had a new string put on and he peep was just served in, so he knew he needed to adjust his archery sight. Once he had everything lined up we started punching holes in the paper plate. It felt good to shoot. Really good! I was shooting the best I had in a while. Michael just started shooting late last year and he was doing well, too. So we moved out to 40. Paper plate destruction. Out to 50 yards. More holes in the plate. Good thing I brought a few plates! 

Between the two of us, at 50 yards the plate didn't stand a chance.

Time to refletch some arrows!

We did find that Michael's bow was vibrating much more than mine and that his bow was falling backward instead of forward. I was trying out a new stabilizer (review coming soon) and that seemed to really help me. We are going to do some more inspection and investigating in regards to the vibration. Anyone have any issues with some of the older split-limb Hoyts vibrating much?

Then, it was time to separate the men from the boys. We moved out to 60 yards. Usually I get a bit nervous and jerky out that far. It's a confidence thing. That, and the fact that I am shooting Easton FMJ's and they aren't cheap, so losing one wasn't something I wanted to do. I knew I just needed to be relaxed and shoot the way I was taught. Drawing the bow felt super smooth and as I steadied the pin on the orange dot I squeezed the trigger. The 'thud' of the arrow driving into the plate sounded awesome!

After we buried two more sets of arrows into the target we were both stoked. Our gear performed well. Extremely well. We both shot well, and at the end of the day I was the most confident in my bow than I have been in a long time. It looks like I'll be spending my money on something other than a new bow this year. I am certain my accountant/warden at home will be very happy to hear that.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Favorite Outdoor Place
This time of year I see inspiration all over. Whether it be in the form of resolutions (or non-resolutions), goals, etc. Ideas flourish and abound. Over at The Outdoor Blogger Network, Rebecca started in interesting photo prompt for your favorite place. Where would we want to spend a dream day? Mine will seem a bit odd to some, but that's what this is all about right? Seeing what makes a person tick? Mine isn't about a 'dream day' because I really don't know if I have one.

Being a transplant from New York State, I am an angry bee in the confines of city life. I can go about my daily business, always looking over my shoulder for 'danger", but I try to be more open and relaxed. Out here there is constant traffic, hustle and bustle and acrid, nasty smog. To get away from ALL of that I love to head to the Big Bear Mountain here in Southern California to get above the smog, away from traffic and to get some peace and quiet. That is where this photo comes from. High atop a roadside scenic overlook, my wife was able to capture this moment on one of our first trips to the forest. 

My wife's eye can pick up the most beautiful part of anything.

This is a place where I find peace. Mountains, a beautiful landscape, and wonderful memories. I would love to go back, spend a day here like we did and just laugh, enjoy a good bike ride and a beer at the local pub at the bottom of the hill.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Reviewing the SoCal Bowhunter Achievements for 2010
With all of the 'Resolutions' being thrown around, I thought I would share some of my own. My New Year's Resolution is... to not have ANY for 2011! They are a waste of time. Instead, I choose goals that I know I can achieve and that just need some hard work to get there. Before I do all of that, I decided to take a look back at my 2010 goals and objectives to see how well I was able to complete them. By starting them in April I narrowed my time frame to 8 months. Here is how I fared.

1. Write at least one gear/product review per month. - Wow, I actually did one or two for every month except for November. Not too shabby! I still have a few to post in the coming weeks.

2. Plan a 2011 out-of-state archery elk hunt. - I have already begun chatting with my friends over at DIYbowhunter.com for the 2011 hunt. It will happen!

3. Have at least one giveaway/contest per month. - This didn't quite come to fruition like I had hope. Instead, I gave away some gear over at DIYbowhunter.com. Maybe this year will be different. If any of you manufacturers want a review done and want to do a giveaway, well, feel free to send away.

4. Meet with at least two archery product manufacturers. - I met with reps from two manufacturers. One was in person and the other was through email, phone calls, texts and it was great.

5. Attend and write about more hunting workshops as they become available. - I attended a couple and did publish a few on here. Not as many as I would have hoped for.

6. Shoot at least 5 different manufacturers bows. - Ouch, this one hurts the most. I checked out quite a few, but I have to be honest as I only shot two different manufacturers bows. I had the opportunity to shoot more and didn't seize the moment.

7. Buy a trail cam (or more) and utilize it. - I bought three! I sent two of them to my dad and brother in NY and utilized the other out here. It didn't work too well, so I still have some learning to do.

8. Arrow my first wild hog. - This didn't happen. I went a couple of times and didn't have any more opportunities. I hope 2011 will be the year!

9. Teach someone how to shoot a bow. - I didn't teach someone from start to finish. What I was able to do was help a new friend out by answering his questions, shooting with him and in turn i was able to learn some new things. You are never too old to learn. I helped a few other people out with technique. I have a friend who does want to learn to shoot, so this year I plan on getting him to the range.

10. Take someone new out hunting for either mulies or wild hogs. - I took a couple of people out hunting for pacific-hybrids (mulies) and we had a blast. No kills, but we still had a great time.

11. Meet more of the guys from DIYbowhunter.com. - I did get to meet a few more of the guys from DIY. Great group of guys on there.

12. Host a hunting seminar - I was able to assist Eric Welsh, DIYbowhunter.com, with two of his bear hunting seminars at Bass Pro Shops. I covered gear and safety. It was a great experience and I hope to be able to help out with more.

13. Video an actual kill on camera. - Does a bug count? That was about the only tag I filled this year. Bummer for me, but I did have a great season (believe it or not).

14. Video someones hunt. - I videoed my brother's hunt in NY this past Fall. He didn't fill his tag on camera, but I did get some cool footage.

15. Try not to spend too much on new archery gear! - I did a great job on this! I spent very little money on archery specific gear. Now, when it came to new camo, gadgets and fun stuff I spent a bit more because I just had to, you know? 

I'll be compiling my goals for 2011 here shortly. Like I said, not resolutions, but honest-to-goodness goals. This is going to be one fantastic year and I am very excited.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Final Hunt of 2010
*Cough* I wanted nothing more than to fill my deer tag and I was all pumped for it. It was December 30 and I had two days left to try to fill my archery tag. *Cough* - the only problem I was facing was the fact that I was still fighting asthmatic bronchitis. It's a nagging cough that I had been fighting for 6 weeks. Waking up in the morning I'd cough and wheeze. Sure I was given some meds, but they didn't work too well. Despite the fact that I was having issues with my lungs, I had a deer tag to fill and I was not about to sit around and let it go to waste. The mountains were calling me and I was going to answer.

*Cough, wheeze, cough* - 3:30am had come too quickly. The coffee tasted smooth as I got dressed and thought about how I would attack the day. My friend, Jeff, was meeting me at our spot so he could glass for me. Coffee in hand, I hit the road. Jeff was running a little late, so I took the time to get my Carbo Mask on (review to come) and to drink some water. Being out in the cold, the clean, December air felt good in my chest. I wasn't coughing much in the 37 degree temperature air and that was a plus in my book. I knew I wasn't going to get close to an animal if I was hacking up a lung on a stalk.

As we hiked up out trail we found that the seasonal rains had done some work on the path up the mountain. There was a tree blocking the path, so we had to hike up the hillside a bit to skirt around it. A few yards up from that half of our walkway had succumbed to erosion from a newly formed stream. Literally half of the path was completely gone. We carefully tip-toed the lip and ventured on. We found new streams that were beautiful as they cut into the earth. As destructive as the rains have been, I was amazed at how beautiful the new features were.

A mile into our hike I spotted a deer on a hillside. We quickly surmised that it was a spike-horn. In California terms - it was a deer that I could not go after. I could shoot a doe or a forked horn, but not a spike. After discussing what to do we hiked a bit further and the water had eroded the dirt away to solid rock. The flooding had done some serious damage, but I have to admit, walking on the solid rock that was left was nice on the feet. Trudging through the mud was tiresome and the rock base was a welcome change. All of a sudden a very healthy coyote burst from the trail and got the adrenaline pumping. Jeff, who loves a good yote hunt, dropped to a knee and started squeaking to get his attention. He stopped broadside, but was too far away for a bow shot. Jeff let out an imaginary rifle shot and we both had a laugh.

Moving up the trail some more, we spotted our spike still checking us out. Only this time I also noticed a large set of ears behind our young stud. Sure enough, a nice looking doe was bedded about twenty yards behind him watching us as well. It was time to decide. Do I try to put a stalk on them in hopes of getting a shot at the doe, or do we look elsewhere? I opted for a little of both. I knew that a stalk on these deer had to come from one area only, downwind. The only issue was that I had an inkling that there was an acre of brush standing in between the trail and the venison. We wanted to narrow down the search and figure out what our options were. We burned some more boot rubber and climbed a bit higher. That's when we ran into a major landslide. It completely covered the trail in two spots. The only way to move on was to climb over them carefully and that's what we did. 

*Cough, wheeze, cough* Now, I had been sucking wind for most of the hike, but here's where it hit me hard. I was trying to keep up with Jeff. Let me describe our gear so you can get a better mental picture of what was happening. I had my pack on with video gear, water, snacks, tripod, first-aid equipment, and a few other odds and ends. Altogether it weighs around 30 lbs. I also had my binoculars on and was carrying my bow. Now on to Jeff's gear. Jeff had an invisible pack, full of heavy gear... and ok, I am being a smart-ass. Jeff was carrying his water, his binoculars and that about covers it. Plus, I must outweigh Jeff by about 70lbs and I was fighting asthmatic bronchitis. I'll freely admit that I need to drop about 50lbs of body weight, but the lung ninjas were taking their toll on my bronchial tubes. A few times I had to ask Jeff to slow down and while I knew he was trying hard to find me a deer to shoot, I needed to be up near him to do so. He agreed and we continued on.

Jeff spied another hunter cresting the peak of a steep hill and he waved at us to let us know he was there. Trust me, he didn't need to worry, I was not planning on hiking up that steep of a hill. My lungs just couldn't take it.
 
On our descent, we spied three does moving down to where we had just hiked from. We hurriedly made an attempt to get in front of them by finding a decent lookout plateau where we figured we would cut them off. To our dismay they took another route. I wanted to set up and glass for a bit. Jeff took one side of the plateau and I took the other. After only 15 minutes, Jeff came back over to tell me he had located 3 deer worth putting a stalk on. Packing my gear quickly, I followed him over to see where they were. As I focused I realized that all three were in the middle of a cactus patch. Not something I was interested in pursuing. If you haven't ever tried to put a stalk on through a cactus patch, it's not fun and is a downright pain. Literally. It can also be a pain to drag a dead deer out of it. Jeff hiked over to spot them on the other side of the hill and I stayed up top in case they spooked my way. Wouldn't you know it, they spooked over the hill in the opposite direction. It was a bummer, but that is hunting and that's what I live for. The anticipation and adrenaline rush of the hunt.

At this point I was getting pretty tired. The backpack was feeling like lead and my lungs just wanted to rest. As we came out of the ravine we again spotted deer moving. Here it was 9:30am and the deer were still out and about. It was a good sign! There were four deer below us and I hustled to get to within shooting range. When I got in a good spot I had two of the deer broadside looking directly at me. They didn't seem edgy, but I didn't want to take any chances. I nocked and arrow and quickly ranged them. 60 yards, but they were just too close to the top of the ridge. Just a bit further than I was willing to shoot and it was an unsafe shot in my book. There were houses behind the deer and I would have been shooting uphill. It was tough to watch them meander off, but I felt good about not taking the shot.

Our last plan of attack was going to be the toughest of the day. Deer had been moving up a far hillside all day long. We spotted one lone deer, bedded in the open, between two large bushes right near the top of the ridge. Neither of us could make our whether it was a buck or a doe, but seeing as my tag was slowly wasting away it was going to be worth the stalk. It was going to be quite a hike just to get to the base of the mountain. The deer was a half mile away as the crow flies. That meant more than a half mile of hiking and then we had to hike up a steep hillside. When I say steep I am not joking. It was vertical. Jeff helped me out by taking my pack and lugging it up the hill. I am sure he could see that I was dragging. He is in much better shape than I and he wasn't sick. I was happy to oblige. It was a huge help, but I was still gasping. We started our ascent. One...heavy...step...at...a...time. Jeff quickly got ahead of me. My calves were screaming and tightening up. I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye and had to hiss at Jeff to stop. Sure enough, there was a doe peeking around a bush at 50 yards. She was straight uphill, therefore no shot, but I wanted to slow it down. She disappeared and we kept moving. 

After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was about 20 minutes, we made it to the top of the hill. If our calculations were correct, the deer would be bedded just the other side of where were standing. I nocked an arrow and ever so slightly crept up to the ridge line. As I peeked over the edge I got busted. Not by the bedded deer, but by the doe we had seen earlier. She was now 100 yards away on the opposite side of the ridge. Wanting to get a shot at the bedded deer before the doe spooked, I continued on up. Immediately I started seeing more deer. Right behind her was another doe, then another, and another. By the time I had moved to a shooting position I had nine does 100 yards from me. Only one had seen me. I carefully looked to where the deer was bedded...and there sat an empty bed. A mere 10 yards from where I was standing.

*Cough, cough* It would have been a textbook stalk had the deer remained bedded and if I had been able to get a shot off. We concluded that either the does spooked the deer or we did on our hike up. It could have been either one. Nonetheless, we were walking off the mountain empty-handed *Cough*

We watched the does walk bound off away from us. I had no strength to go after them. In my opinion it wasn't worth it. I was beat and needed to rest. Jeff hiked after them and I rested. I walked around glassing and viewing the mountains until he got back. It was close to noon and we were done for the day. My body was tired, my lungs were on fire and my coughing was acting up from time to time. As much as I wanted to fill my tag, I was spent and just wanted to take my boots off and relax.

Our hike back to our vehicles was mostly downhill and that felt incredibly good. About halfway back I told Jeff that my 2010 season was done. He was more than willing to help me out for the final day, but for me it was over. My body was out of shape (although round can be considered a shape of sorts) and I needed to get my health in check. I definitely had a fun season. I wasn't able to fill a tag in CA or in NY, but I still had fun. I have a pig tag still ready to be filled in the future months, but 2010 left me without me killing an animal. I know that 2011 has plenty more in store for me and I have slowly started to get back in shape. No, I am not jumping on the 'New Year's Resolution' bandwagon. I am focused on getting better, getting healthy and being able to scale a mountain much better than I did last year. My goal for 2011 is to be healthy enough to go elk hunting and to run a 5K by Fall. I've never attempted either one, so this should be a good year. All I can say is bring it 2011. Bring it.