Alarm clocks have purpose. They are meant to be heaved across a bedroom to see if you can set a new record in distance and destruction. Usually, I am raring to go for a scouting trip or to go hunting, but this past Saturday I just wanted to sleep. My brain said 'Get Up!', but my body said 'Sleep!'. Given, it was 2:15 AM and I had to meet up with Brett and Ryan to hit the Foothills by 4:00 AM. When I saw the two of them I saw they were feeling as tired as I was.
We started up the dusty trailhead at 4:10 Am and we were right on schedule. Before long Ryan spotted eye glowing in the darkness. A lone doe was hugging the lower rim of the hillside. We climbed and climbed and Ryan again spotted eyes and this time it was a doe and fawn. It was looking good, but I was more focused on getting to a glassing point. I have seen plenty of deer in the darkness only to have them disappear like ghosts when the sun came up.
Eyes were again spotted and these were 30 yards off the trail. A beautiful buck stood there watching us. As promising as it was to see a buck, we pushed on because it was still long before sunrise and we needed to be in position.
After a few miles of hiking, we divided up to glass the basins and ridges. Brett and Ryan took the West side and I took the East. We sat for an hour and a half and saw nothing. We had wanted to rule this spot out as a hunt location and this sealed it. We would hunt where we knew there were deer and hope we spotted bucks.
|Brett using the MINOX 15x56 binoculars to sort out the bucks.|
Brett and I hunted this spot hard last year. We had big bucks on our trail cams, but didn't see any during the season. We hadn't seen any earlier in the year either. As we hiked to our favorite ridge, Brett said those magical words...'Deer! It's a buck!' Off the side of the ridge we went to prevent sky lining ourselves. It has been so incredibly dry that the sand was kicking up more and more. We slowed, positioned ourselves and started scanning the hillside. Our buck was headed right for a shady spot that Brett and I both know well. Shortly after setting up, we spotted another buck and then a doe and a fawn. This was getting good!
|Ryan taking cover as he glasses for deer.|
With the temperatures nearing 90 degrees, we brought out the big guns and set up the MINOX 15x56 binoculars to get a really good look at the before they wandered off. Brett's buck was a legal forkie, but mine was a spike, which is illegal to shoot in California unless the spikes are less than 3". Seems a big backwards to me, but those are the rules. We watched them bed, get up and feed, walk around and then head over a hill. Wanting to see where they were going, but not spook them, we took off down the hill and around the hill to locate them.
|Crappy iPhone pic through handheld binoculars. Notice the fork on the left side of the deer on right.|
Ten minutes and mouthfuls of dust later, we found them coming off a small ridge and heading into the shade. This time they spotted us and we froze. Not wanting to spook them we slowly backtracked. The deer calmed down and continued feeding. It was just after 9:00 AM, it was getting hot, and we had had a successful morning of scouting. We were stoked to have seen bucks three weeks before the start of the season.
Brett and I felt pretty good about our mobility, too. We had hiked hard, were not sucking wind, and figured we can probably drop a few pounds before the opener. It's now time to keep practicing and organizing my gear to prepare. I am so ready to hunt!