Monday, August 20, 2012

High Temperature, High Desert Scouting

The temperature read 96 degrees in Brett's truck. Were we thinking straight? It was 4:00 PM in the high desert and we were putting on 40 lb packs to hike into the Angeles National Forest to do some scouting. Yes, it was very hot, but we were motivated by what we had seen a couple weeks ago. Additionally, all three of us were very eager to see what was on our trail cameras.

Let me tell you, hiking up hills in 96 degree temps, with no breeze, no shade, and a full pack is tough. It's not only mental, but you have to watch your heart rate and hydrate often. Once we had hiked more than a mile in, the trail leveled out and walking was tolerable. From this point on we could begin scouting. The deer tracks were plentiful, the bugs minimal and our brains thirsting for the knowledge only to be found on our trail cameras and hillsides.

We quickened our pace and made our way for the cameras. Three-quarters of the way to the cameras Brandon whispered abruptly, 'DEER!'. We stopped collectively where we were, turned slowly and saw a beautiful doe standing not thirty yards away from where we were. She stood there for a solid ten seconds before having enough and walking away. It was such a promising sight! She is a very healthy, well-fed animal and if the season had been open, Brandon would have punched his tag. We proceeded to watch her for a few more minutes as she walked over the hill.

As we were standing there, I noticed Brandon kicking his boots together. I asked him what was up and he mentioned there were fire ants all over. I looked down and immediately realized our mistake. We hadn't bothered looking down when we stopped to look at the deer. All three of us were standing on top of or near a large fire ant nest! We began kicking our boots together, brushing and flicking them off our pants and then I felt it. The distinct feeling of small legs crawling on my skin, from UNDER my pants. That's when I felt the sting and the burning. Being tagged by a fire ant and then another feels like a bee sting, followed by a burning sensation. Immediately, I reached down and pinched where I thought they were. There is a feeling of achievement when you feel those stinging insects pop between your fingers, but that is quickly followed by the reminder that you were already too late. I ignored the burning best I could and we trekked on.

Once we got to the first camera we found that a branch had fallen and had covered up Brett's camera. There were no pictures, which was a downer at first, but with a little trimming and adjustment we should get some now. When we arrived at the location of my trail camera the heat didn't seem to matter. We dropped our packs and I hiked through the foliage to see if there were any recorded images. When I saw 158 on the counter I got very excited! I quickly removed the card, made my way out and loaded it into the laptop. Yes, I brought my laptop so we could see the images and make educated decisions on glassing points and hunting spots.

Once loaded into the computer we started to view the images. All three of us gathered around and viewed the screen. Here are a few of my favorites.

Exciting stuff, right? After formatting the card, I ventured back in to the camera location. I replaced the card and batteries in hopes of seeing more deer and hopefully some larger bucks. With a month to go before the season opener we are hoping for the best.

On our way in, we had picked out some great spots to glass from. Now that our spirits were flying high from seeing the images we got back on the trail and backtracked to them. It was getting to be prime time to start glassing for the evening.

We each picked our spots, got set up and started glassing. It didn't take more than ten minutes before I did a 180 and with my naked eyes saw two deer coming down from a peak from just over half a mile away. I quickly motioned to Brandon (I couldn't see Brett as he was positioned on higher ground and was set back from my location). Brandon set off from his original location and made tracks to a slightly higher point to glass from. We then settled in.

The rest of the evening was great. We spotted two spike horns and a few more doe. Altogether we saw seven deer and that made it all worth the hike in. All three of us were chatterboxes down the trail to the truck. We couldn't get over how successful we have been in just getting out and scouting the times we have ventured out together.

I mentioned this to both of them when we got back to the truck, but I want to say it again. It's great to be out practicing, scouting and hunting with two guys who take pride in not only making a clean kill, but who also aren't afraid of hard work on the trail. I am proud to be hunting with these two guys this year.

The next few weeks have much in store for us. Brandon is off to the Trinity Alps in hopes of filling his deer or bear tag. Best of luck out there, Brandon! Brett is hoping to fill his bear tag and I wish him the best and hope he is able to tag one. Can't wait to hear the stories guys! As for me, I will be finalizing my gear for my Colorado trip and packing. I'll be checking in with Eddy from time to time to see what the action is like, but I am already excited. I can't wait to see what September brings!


  1. Great pictures! I can't wait to hear all about your upcoming hunts.

  2. I'm excited for you as well Al! Best of luck and I can't wait to see a hybrid hero shot!

  3. Looks like a productive trip! Good luck this season, Al!!

  4. @Ricky - Thanks! I just can't wait to get back out there.

    @Bill - You and me both! Keeping my fingers crossed this year.

    @Ben - Very productive and exciting trip (minus those damn fire ants). I can't wait!

  5. I cringed at the part about the fire ants.. Glad it was you and not me!! :) Definitely some promising photos!! I bet you're looking forward to a great season!

    1. I am very excited about this season. Many good things await! I sure hope the temps start to cool down though. Hope you have a great season, too!

  6. Al, great writing. I have felt the pain of fire ants, so I know what you mean.

  7. You do a great job with your writing ability, making everything sound so exciting.
    Fire ants are everywhere here in South Carolina. Guess they are becoming a problem in many places we are not used to hearing about them in. Hope you all three bag a big one when the season opens.