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exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
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Hunting the subdivisions

So, I settled on this local leftover deer tag after I got nothing in the drawings, and have been having a rough go in the larger tracts of Forest Service Lands, much of which I know very well. But I also know that the deer are pretty hard to come by. So, I was looking to shake things up tonight and decided to check out the edges of some subdivisions with forest service access, most of which is unknown to the general public. With the snow falling pretty hard, the animals were out early, but didn't see anything on the public land. It was kind of a scouting trip to help us determine where to go in the morning, but we saw some cool stuff tonight. The most impressive were the 3 mature bulls, including one real bruiser with ridiculously long points and and an older, massive bull. Saw 26 deer in total, including 2 bucks considerably after shooting light coming out of the forest service onto the private lands, one of which I would think about shooting. He was just a 3 year old 4 point, but we've only got two days left. The other was a yearling fork that I'd leave alone, but my buddy is willing to take something that young as he only has tomorrow morning left to hunt.
Anyway, just thought I'd share some of the better photos, maybe I'll have a trophy shot tomorrow and a better story than roadhunting/scouting/photo safari in the subdivisions.




elkkill06's picture
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Location: Fruita Colorado
Joined: 02/02/2009
Posts: 1934
Hunting the subdivisions

Great pics Mark, I sure hope everything works out for you this weekend. Good luck ! Thumbs up

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Joined: 10/27/2009
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private land?

Really? only game you saw was on private land? wow that's weird. "sarcasm"
good luck, hope you catch one on public land.

walkin's picture
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Location: Camp David MD
Joined: 04/13/2009
Posts: 173
Hunting the subdivisions

Cool pics Ex, we had the opposite on our hunt,1 doe on the private and every thing else on public, go figure. I would have liked to have seen any of those bulls,our high dollar bull tags were left unpunched,but it made it that much more of a hunt having them,I'd buy them again.Good luck the rest of the weekend!

exbiologist's picture
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Hunting the subdivisions

This morning we climbed up/down into the hell hole behind this RV park, after Adam got his truck stuck trying to climb the icy hill. So we had an extra 3/4 mile walk uphill, before scaling the canyon wall and dropping down into the meadows below. We were a little behind schedule, but the cloudy morning helped extend our dawn hours. Walking along the edge of the meadows, I was looking at this funny bush with antler shaped twigs in the middle of the meadow and about 75 yards from it, I stop Adam and said, "that's a bull elk!". We walked up to a sleeping bull without even realizing it. While digging in my pack for a camera he eventually swung his head around and caught our movement. We had the wind, so he posed for a few pics.

As he trotted off, just below the dip in the meadow we realized he wasn't alone, he was with 5 other bulls. Most of them raghorns, but still, 6 friggin bulls on public land, just sleeping out in the open! What are the odds? And of course we only had deer tags.

We descended down the meadows and rounded the corner to an old cabin whose roof had caved in decades ago, but it was an area I had seen deer before, and sure enough 3 bucks! But they were little guys, just yearlings. I thought for sure Adam would take one, but at this point we were already 1.5 miles into a spot that we can't get horses into to pack animals out of. He shocked me when he turned them down, hoping we could find a bigger one. Maybe I was rubbing off on him, either way, I'm dang glad I didn't spend all day helping to pack out a yearling forky.

So we continued over a small ridge that separted the main meadow complex from a long thin series of meadow, about 100 yards wide. Eventually we caught another fresh deer track. It was a lone deer 2.5 inches long, so not very big, but still likely a buck. Eventually it got in with a doe/fawn group and we followed it for over a mile before giving up as it dropped down into a canyon, whose creek bottom was privately owned.

Discouraged, we climbed back up, following our old tracks, until another mid sized buck crossed over our old tracks. Turns out it crossed our tracks 4 times after we had passed. Once again we followed what we knew to be a hot track, but after 2 miles the deer never stopped, slowed down, fed, bed, nothing. He just kept going.

Thankfully he brought us back towards where we needed to be, as Adam promised his wife he'd be home by 3 today. Well it was 2:15 pm, and we still had nearly 2 hours of hiking ahead of us to get out, plus we had to free the truck.
We went back through the first series of meadows, no longer following the single deer track, but once again found out a half dozen more deer had crossed our old path after we had turned down the three little bucks. Of course we had no way of knowing it would have been productive to stay put, and both of us hate to to sit. Besides it was in the low 20s this morning and we were dressed for hunting, not sitting.
Anyway, by midday, a fog had rolled in and we couldn't see 100 yards most of the time, so it just killed us to be crossing those same meadows that had elk and deer in them this morning, but we just couldn't see anything. The climb out was a long, slow, somewhat disheartening one, as we were leaving our best area at dusk, but just couldn't see well enough to do anything. Oh yeah, and now it was snowing pretty hard.
Thankfully the truck didn't give us too much grief and we got it out of the snow bank quickly enough and got Adam home by 5:30, only 2.5 hours late.
Anyway, it was an up and down day, but I'm beat and don't know if I have it in me for another morning hunt. However, with tomorrow being the last day, I don't know if I dare to only pull off an afternoon hunt. I'm whipped, but I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings.

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Hunting the subdivisions

That's sweet! Nothing beats getting out in the fresh snow and tracking and especially seeing those bulls out in the open this time of year.

How do you think the deer will act with this large snowfall coming down tonight? I'm thinking a little less than a foot in the area I'm hunting.

exbiologist's picture
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Hunting the subdivisions

Well, I couldn't get my butt out of bed at 4:00 am, so I slept in. Probably couldn't have even got out of my driveway (1/4 mi) anyway that early with all the snow we got overnight. Took some tractor work to clear the snow and then some additional motivation to gear back up and go hunting. Anyway, I got out there by noon and went into the subdivision with the most deer and easiest FS access. I saw some does feeding on the trees at a home right on the property boundary so I parked and waited for them to enter the public land. There were 5 total deer, 2 of them fawns but no bucks. I stayed with them for an hour, hoping a buck would show up to check the does, but they didn't like me following them and eventually decided to ditch me. So I sat at the mouth of a draw for another half hour, but a resident came by walking two dogs on the trail I was sitting, and I decided it was time to check some more ground.
Went to an old burn along some steep, rugged country, driving along the road, looking for recent tracks. Since it was still snowing and I couldn't find a really fresh track, I settled on a larger track that was kind of old but went up towards a saddle that I decided to sit. The track went into some live trees and I decided earlier in the day I was going to do the opposite of everything I had done earlier in the 5 day season. So, despite my inclination to stay on the move, I decided to sit and wait. I picked a log in the burned area, overlooking the saddle, but also offering a good view of the burned ridges above me when the fog and clouds moved through. So I sat and froze my arse off for a couple of hours, hoping any minute a buck would show himself.

As I sat there, I imagined noises behind me, like the sound of deer walking through the downed timber in the snow, but it was probably just snow falling off of the trees. As dusk came on, I accepted that I was likely going to go without a deer, but I had to sit until the very last minute of shooting light, no matter how cold I was. This was my last big game tag for the year, and going home empty handed tonight meant I was done until next year and I wasn't going to accept that without at least being in the woods until the last minute.

However, my determination to deal with numb toes, fingers, etc had no bearing on the fact that no buck, no matter how dumb or small was going to cooperate with me tonight. And with that, I watched the sun set on the last day of the last big game season I had for the year.
Nothing I could do, I accepted that I turned down the one opportunity I had the day before, made peace with my decision and trudged my way back to warm vehicle to ride home in.
Even the pictures I took from my log look cold. Till next year.



Alpine_Archer's picture
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Location: Martin County NC
Joined: 08/10/2009
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Hunting the subdivisions

great pictures and story. Thanks for sharing again ex i do enjoy all your posts... Thumbs up

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Location: Southeast Colorado
Joined: 01/07/2007
Posts: 93
Hunting the subdivisions

Wow, that does look cold.

I hunted in -7 plains weather a couple of years ago. Got a nice buck at sundown. Got pneumonia too.

Great story, thanks for sharing it.

Two weeks to go until our late plains season. I just have a doe tag this year but all my other buddies/family have buck licenses. There are lots of deer about and the fall harvest should be over by then. (meaning the heavy cover will be gone) Should be grand.

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Joined: 07/01/2009
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Hunting the subdivisions

Looks like what I hunted in on Sunday afternoon.

I woke up at 4 am on Sunday and started driving to my spot, got about 15 mins down the road and something didn't feel right and the roads were in bad shape at that time. So decided to go back to sleep and head out around noon. Went out in the foot of snow and started hiking in. Saw a few fresh tracks but looked to be groups of does so I just kept going to get my "honey hole". Sure enough a buck was bedded down with a doe on the hillside 300 yards away. I put one right through his shoulder at 285 yards and that was that.

I ended up having a minor case of hypothermia as I was getting him back to my car. I still cant get warm this morning.

HeavyC's picture
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Location: Greeley, CO
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Hunting the subdivisions

Nice stuff Ex! ...Well, if nothing else it looks as though you have identified yet another 'last chance' spot for bulls if the draw doesn't work out in the coming years! Thumbs up

Great story as usual!

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