Monday, November 25, 2013

Southern California Deer Hunting Turns Cold

Driving to our hunting location at 4:00 AM on Saturday was much better than the normal 3:00 AM, but it was met with chilly air that turned colder as we neared the mountains. Brett monitored the temperature gauge and we laughed about it being colder than normal and hoped we had packed warm enough clothes. When we parked, we noticed raindrops forming on the the windshield. Once outside the vehicle the wind was gusting 10-15 mph and it was cold! We knew we had a decision to make; hike into our spot in the rain and have the wind in our faces for an our before sunrise, or relax in the truck for another 45 minutes and then hike in and stay a bit warmer. We opted for the second as we have been up here with the wind before and it was not pleasant.

After a 45 minute nap, we hit the trail and took our time as to not get too sweaty. Our plan was to glass a valley that normally doesn't get seen much. Brett would take the far, high side and I would hike down the backside of the hill, into the valley, and up the other side to stay out of the wind as much as possible. Brett and I noticed fresh tracks in the rain-soaked sandy trail and thought it looked promising. As I hiked around the hilltop, I noted two more sets of tracks and these were extremely fresh. So fresh that I thought I may have spooked deer right to my partner. I followed them until they reached a drop-off point, but saw that they were headed for Brett's location. I had high hopes!

I dropped my pack and began glassing before I made my descent. I saw nothing and knew I needed to drop down and get out of the wind. As I made my way down the hillside, I noticed some great features in the brush that would hid the largest of bucks. It actually made me smile knowing that we could be sitting right above a legal buck and never know it if he just stayed put. Hunting to me is about the experience and the adventure. The meat in the freezer is the bonus.

Once I finally reached my spot, I knew it would be a difficult sit. I was in a good spot for a shot for any deer thay came down the valley or was skirting the hillsides, but I couldn't get out of the wind like I wanted to. That being said, I still put my neck gaiter on and tried to get comfortable. Finding a good seat on a steep angle of rock proved to be difficult. I was finally able to get somewhat comfortable and began glassing. Brett had hidden himself well on the hillside. It took me a minute to find him. For an hour and a half we sat and saw no deer. Brett located a nice rabbit near my location, but nothing else.

We met up and decided to drop our packs, hit a side trail, and glass up a spot that was good last year. We glassed it and saw nothing. No movement, no deer backsides as they try to shield the wind, and no dark shapes on the far side of the valley. We figured it was time for breakfast.

Taking the time for breakfast was something we haven't done in a while. Normally, we'll just pack a sandwich, but we knew it was going to be cold. So out came the Jetboil, the coffee and hot cocoa, and the Mountain House Scrambled Eggs with Ham. As we enjoyed the hot beverages while the dehydrated meal soaked up the boiling water (sounds appetizing, doesn't it?), we talked strategy about the remainder of the day. We knew we had our work cut out for us, but we also knew if we kept moving, we would stay warm.

This was a great breakfast as we shared ideas for the remainder of the hunt.

After breakfast, we hit the trail and moved very slowly along a treeline. On a couple separate occasions, we have spooked deer and had them stop and stare at us. Not this day though. We saw nothing down below and saw only one set of fresh tracks, but they were headed in the direction we were headed. We were downwind and hopeful. Then the tracks disappeared up the mountain and we were back to square one.

We hiked a trail for the next two hours looking for sign, glassing, and checking out new ambush locations. By the time we had to head back we had some good options and had covered a good chunk of land to get there. We were pretty happy with how well our boots performed and how cold the winds were getting. We also watch snow dropping on the far away mountains. It was beautiful to watch.

On our way out, we noticed something that made us laugh. There were fresh tracks coming from a ridge line that crossed right over our tracks just an hour and a half before. A deer had come off the ridge we had walked by and the tracks were huge! We commented on how the deer were mocking us and we just had to laugh. The deer had evaded us yet another day, but that was OK.

We made short work of our hike back to the truck and realized we had hiked eight miles. It felt pretty good and we discussed elk hunting in 2014, knowing we would have to step up our game to get after the wapiti. At the truck, we began making plans for our next outing as Our season isn't over yet. We are just hoping for less wind and more deer next time!

1 comment:

  1. Great writing. I am smiling at the fact that the tracks crossed.