It’s a rare event when I want to crawl back into bed on a hunt morning, but today was one of those days. I was just plain tired and the bed felt super comfortable, plus it was 2:00 AM on a Saturday. Fortunately, I snapped out of it quick because while it may have been early, it was time to bow hunt!
Brett and I made it to the trail head at 4:15 AM, which was exactly the time we wanted to arrive. There was a 3/4 moon, so we got to do something I have never done before; hike into our spot by moonlight. Our headlamps remained off on the nearly two mile journey into our destination. We were both happy that the temperature was 46 degrees as that made our hike in much more enjoyable. After dropping Brett off, I made my way to my glassing location, which was a ridge line that gave a spectacular view of the valley below. Sunrise wasn’t until 6:30 AM, but the moon was so bright that I was able to start glassing the ridges at 5:45 AM. It was amazing!
Sharing public land with rifle hunters is something every bow hunter must do. On this particular morning, the rifle hunters were out in full force. Around 7:00 AM, I received a text from Brett that he had spotted some does on a ridge. Quickly picking them out through my binoculars, I waited to see what they would do. As they walked down a trail, all they needed to do was turn right and they would be in bow range for Brett. They had other plans and turned left.
Hunter safety is something I am passionate about in my bow hunting seminars. In the state of California, it is not mandatory for any deer hunter to wear blaze orange. When archery and rifle seasons coincide, I am always wearing some sort of orange to let other hunters know where I am. Forty-five minutes after sunrise, Brett informed me that another hunter was near his location and had no idea he was there. Brett and I were both wearing blaze orange hats and this hunter had absolutely no orange on. I watched as the hunter took the ridge I was glassing from and started to hike it right toward me. I made the decision to stand right up and make sure he noticed me. Not only did I not want to be mistaken for a deer, but I also wanted him to know that I was hunting this ridge. He finally noticed me, turned around and stopped near Brett again. He then noticed Brett, waved and found another position. It was a tense situation because we didn’t want any confrontation nor did we want anyone shooting in our direction.
We glassed and waited patiently for a buck or a doe to walk into range. After two hours of waiting, a shot rang out in one of the canyons. I watched four doe take off from where the shot came from. Anticipating them running up the ridge I was on, I got ready. Like the two does from earlier, they went the other way. Within the next few minutes, we watched as four other hunters met up with the shooter. By his actions, we could tell he had a buck down. Brett made his way over to my location and we glassed the canyons as the hunter’s field dressed their deer. Seeing nothing, we hiked into an adjacent bowl.
We hiked and glassed and hike some more. We ran into more rifle hunters and still had smiles on our faces. Why? We were bow hunting and having a great time being in the great outdoors. As we made our way through drainage I spotted a forkie shed. It was a great reminder on why we were hiking our tails off.
The weather was perfect, but the deer were nowhere to be found. We did find another hunter taking a nap under a shaded bush. We chatted with him for a few minutes and then continued hiking. Beside the other hunters, we soon realized we were not the only predators in the forest. Right in the middle of the trail we found these mountain lion tracks that had been made that morning. It gave us an uneasy feeling, but the worst part was the cat had decided to head right into the area we were headed. Now all bets were off as we turned back to find a shaded spot to relax for a couple of hours.
The evening hunt was a bust, but on the hike out it was evident that both Brett and I enjoyed the day. Breathing in the fresh air, burning boot rubber, and seeing some beautiful country while bow hunting made it a great day. All in all, we encountered eleven rifle hunters throughout the day. Not a single one of them had a stitch of orange on. I encourage all of you bow hunters to be safe out there and to try to anticipate situations you will encounter. No matter what, have fun and be safe out there!