Friday, September 18, 2015
Feeling Like a New Man
Clean air. Dirt trails. Climbing high in search of mule deer. The Silence. This past weekend was just what I needed and I feel like a new man. I was completely at peace in the mountains and it was glorious! It was something I definitely needed mentally and spiritually.
LT and I got a late start due to me having to wait for the big brown truck to arrive. Once my package was in hand, we hit the road to Big Bear Lake. Brett had invited us up there to hunt and we jumped at the chance. We knew we would only have one day to hunt, but it was worth the 2.5 hour drive through Friday night traffic. It's easy for me to say as I didn't have to drive! (Thanks LT!) We arrived late, unpacked and went to sleep. The temperatures were in the 50s and I slept well.
When the alarm went off, I was up and quickly showered. Once LT was up and dressed, we hit the road to get to a spot Brett had been checking out all week. We arrived early, but it was a blessing as many people drove by glancing at where we were. I think we found a good spot as there were many sad faces in the windows as trucks drove by.
The area we were hunting was vast, so we discussed the landscape and where to set up. Brett was going to head to where he had spotted a big buck a few days earlier. LT and I would hike in and set up near some ridges. Hiking in was heaven. The smell of pine, dirt, and a breeze free of smog. My lungs were happy. I dropped LT off at his spot looking over a ridge and hillside. I continued on to find more and more trees and valleys. I set up where I could glass two ridge lines, a valley, and a grove of burnt brush from a fire at least ten years prior.
Our plan was simple. We would sit and glass for a couple hours and then meet back up at the truck. I glassed and glassed and sat in awe of God's creation. It was so incredibly peaceful. After 45 minutes of seeing nothing, I decided to inch forward about 50 yards to get a glimpse of the valley just out of my view. Almost immediately I saw four deer bounding back down the ridge and one of them was a buck. I couldn't tell if there was a fork or not, but the antlers were 12-14" tall from what I could tell. It was a great start to the day!
After another hour of seeing nothing more than a random bird, I made my way back down the hill to meet up with the guys. After a quick chat with another local hunter and his sons, we hiked back up past where I was positioned and found some large deer tracks. We hiked to the edge of the ridge and glassed for a few moments. When I turned around, I glanced down, noticing something peculiar, and there resting under a bush was a young rattlesnake. Fortunately we were all a good 6-8 feet away. I snapped a couple of photos and was thankful I was wearing snake gaiters. We let it be and hiked back down to the truck after not seeing any deer.
The rest of the day we drove around, glassing, telling stories, and enjoying the beauty of the mountains. By the time evening rolled around, we were ready to enjoy the serenity of nature. I climbed to a new spot on an adjacent ridge and got up high. I was able to see both Brett and LT and they could see me. I cannot describe to you how refreshed, relaxed, and comfortable I felt sitting there on the mountain. Know that it was one of the best feelings in the world. It was so quiet, I could hear LT walking up the road from nearly a quarter mile away. I had a big jackrabbit come in at 40 yards, but he stopped when he heard my breathing. I'll admit, I got excited when I heard some brush moving. He hopped off and a few hummingbirds zipped around the Indian Paintbrush flowers while I waited for the sun to set. We saw no more deer that evening.
The next morning would be our last to hunt, so we set up similar to the evening hunt the night before. I hiked the ridge, but LT ventured to where I first sat the day before. After a half hour, I noticed he was stalking something. He crept closer and closer to a spot that I could not see clearly due to heavy brush. After a few minutes he gave up and went back to his pack. When the time came to head back down, we packed up and met on the road. It turns out that a large spike buck had suddenly materialized in the green growth at less than 40 yards. As LT inched closer, he saw that it was a spike, which are illegal to shoot in California unless the antlers are below 3". His excitement at seeing the buck and getting that close with a bow was clearly shown in his expression and smile. Now we just need to get him on a legal buck!
For me, it was a great weekend to be up in the mountains with friends. It went far too quickly as I could have stayed up there a week. As the rifle season creeps closer and the temperatures drop, I am hoping for a few more days out there to find my first legal Cali buck to send an arrow through. Until then, I will scour maps, practice, and daydream.