Thursday, May 30, 2013

Scouting for California Mule Deer in May

Last Saturday morning, Brett and I hit the road early to beat the holiday traffic and get to our scouting spot before sunrise. We had been told for months that our hunting area was now accessible via vehicle as the gates were open. It seems as though the US Forest Service office workers don't keep up on what's really happening in the forest as the gate was locked with a forest service lock. Good thing for us we planned on doing some serious hiking!

Brett was trying out his new Badlands Sacrifice and I had my trusty 2200 loaded up and ready to go. We hit the trail right away and the temps were 44 degrees with a light breeze. It felt a bit chilly, but we knew as soon as we started to hike we would warm up. It didn't take long either!

Before I go on, I would like to apologize for the poor quality photos. My iPhone took up little space on this hike and I opted for it over my Nikon.

At our turnoff to another trail, we stopped to check out some new trash that had been dumped in the last few months. (It wasn't there in December!) USFS says no one is coming back there, but someone brought a truck hood and dumped it. I beg to differ. As we discussed the garbage, I looked up to see a familiar shape skylined on the edge of a far ridge. Up came the MINOX BL 10x44 binoculars (my first day of testing them fully) and instantly I spotted two fawns. At first I thought they were yearlings, but as they turned you could see spots all over. It was great to see! Not long after mom stuck her head around as the fawns bounded out of sight. She followed them down the ridge and through some brush.

Here I am glassing with the MINOX BL 10x44s and utilizing the MINOX video camera.

As we began to hike again, I turned to see another brown shape on the edge of the foothill shadow. Binoculars up, I verified that two more deer were feeding and one was a buck! We hadn't been hiking an hour and we had located five deer. The day was looking better and better! We watched them for a half hour and ventured over a different ridge. The sandy soil made it very tough to get a foothold, but it was also good practice for deer season! Again, I looked and spotted another doe staring at us from the next ridge a quarter mile away as the crow flies. As I checked her out through the bino's, I also glanced to the ridge behind her and spotted yet another doe! Seven deer in total so far and it wasn't even 8:00 AM yet!

Brett glassing a hillside with the MINOX BL 10x44 binoculars. He approves.

Brett and I split up to glass for what we decided would be ten minutes. That quickly turned into twenty as I spotted four deer heading to the bottom of a valley to feed in the shadows. I also spotted yet another buck feeding. Both bucks were large spikes, but would be legal as they were well over 3" in length. I shot Brett a text informing him of the deer and he responded with one of his own. He had just spotted another doe with twin fawns heading down another ridge! Between us we had spotted fourteen deer. We had easily beaten our records for spotting deer in this spot.

After we met up and headed down the hill, we found ourselves in the shade of some trees as we walked. It felt great as the sun was heating up our surroundings quickly. We kept hearing a rustling in the brush, but couldn't see anything. I can't remember if Brett grabbed me or just said 'HEY!' to me under his breath, but he got my attention. I turned around to see him pointing up the hill at two more fawns and a doe. It was spectacular! The little ones were very small and mom was just ambling slowly at the base of the hill. As they walked out of sight we couldn't help but grin from ear to ear! Seventeen deer in four hours of hiking and glassing. For us that is unheard of!

Can you spot the fawn?

We picked up plenty of Mylar balloons on the hike, too. That and some other trash. I hate seeing them out there in the forest, as you can see from the expression on my face below. We also found plenty of spent brass along the way. I picked up some, but we could have spent a week out there picking up more.

On our way back to the truck I spotted movement along our trail and whispered for Brett to stop. As I peered around the corner I spotted two more fawns playing on the trail. They were completely oblivious to us, so I decided it was time to put a stalk on. It would be a test of us playing the wind because Brett and I had each showered with regular soap, I was wearing some fragrant deodorant and we were sweating like hogs. We took our time and played the wind. It was in our faces for most of the stalk, but about twenty yards from where they had been playing it shifted. The fawns were now in the brush, but we could hear them bounding around and playing. Closer and closer we stalked and then suddenly a little brown body with white speckles came tearing our of the grass next to Brett. The fawn was hauling butt and stopped just twenty-five yards away. It then bounded off slowly, but its sibling had no idea we were there. Seconds later it popped out just eight feet from Brett and stared at him. It was awesome and hilarious as it tried to figure out what Brett was. The wind was still good for us, so it stood there for a minute or so until the wind shifted. It turned on a dime and took off the opposite way, stopping on the road to look at us.

You could see the happiness in Brett's smile as the fawn bounded off. The doe was in the brush some place, but she never appeared. With the two fawns that made nineteen deer spotted and it all happened before 10:30 AM. We were excited and happy to have had such a successful outing. We couldn't stop taking about it on the way back home. The California deer season is right around the corner and we can't wait to get back up and scout some more.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think, in 20 years of hunting, I've ever set foot on a piece of property and NOT found a mylar balloon. don't know how this happens.

    Best of luck in your scouting!!!