The DIY Hunter

Landen four pont buck.

Landen's first four point buck.

Landen admiring his first four point buck.

Landen admiring his first four point buck.

Kaden with his first deer.

So proud of Kaden getting his first deer.

Landen watching for deer.

Landen setup ready for a buck to show up on his side of the canyon to watch.

My three boys and myself all drew general rifle deer tags this year. Dallen having his own job and scheduled to work on the opener decided to take the week off and hunt on his own when fewer people were on the mountain. KB was going to be hunting for the first time for deer and Landen was a veteran with two deer under his belt.

The night before the opener had Kaden, Landen and myself headed up the mountain. We got a little late start so most of the hike was in the dark as we climbed the mountain. Around 11 pm we made it to one of the locations I had chosen to camp at. The location was where I shot my buck last year and provided a great vantage point to watch for deer. The idea of this location was that we could just roll out of bed and be right in the middle of the action in a great location to glass and watch for deer.

We where in around three miles and had plenty of food, powerade and other comforts like a heater to warm up the tent in the morning. The heater has really come in handy at getting the boys out of bed on our hunts and I actually have come to really enjoy it as well. I just wake up unzip the tent to get some fresh air and fire up the propane heater for a few minutes before we climb out of our sleeping bags. It makes morning so much more comfortable.

The next morning had us up and out on the point spotting deer. It didn't take long for KB to spot a spike 300 yards away. After watching it for a few minutes he decided he would pass on it for his first ever buck and wait for a two point or better. I was sure we would find one. Another half hour or so passed and we found a two point for Kaden. Landen was itching to shoot it but I told him he had to pass for KB. The buck was feeding at 380 yards away. KB and Landen were setup on shooting sticks as I helped them dial for the shot. After a few moments Kaden was ready and sent a 200 Gr ELD-X from my 300 WSM Hell's Canyon X-Bolt rifle on its way for a solid whop and an instant drop of the buck. And just like that Kaden had his first ever big game animal. Nice shooting Kaden!

We grabbed some packs with some supplies and set out to take care of Kaden's first buck.

As Kaden made it to the buck he was surprised to find an extra point on both sides for a 3x3 buck. Very cool and nice buck KB. 

One thing we will always remember from working on boning out Kaden's buck was the deer Keds that somehow crawled off the deer and into Kaden's thick hair. He ended up with dozens of them on his scalp. How in the world he go so many on him we'll never know. In case you are wondering, deer keds look a lot like ticks and are often confused for them but deer keds are actually a wingless fly. Google them to learn more.

A couple hours later we had the deer all boned out, were back to camp and had the meat bags in the shade to cool.

That morning and the rest of the day we watched a lot of deer but nothing larger than a small two point. With Landen having taken a couple bucks his first two years he was wanting to try and find a four point if possible.

With us having worked so hard to get up the mountain the night before I didn't feel like hunting till dark then breaking camp to rush out in the dark on Saturday night. I do like to be home on Sundays but felt we should spend Saturday hunting till dark and then take our time in the morning and enjoy our time packing out.

Sunday morning rolled around and we all slept in, had fun in the tent, ate for protein bars for breakfast and started getting ready to pack out.

By mid morning we had our gear loaded up and started heading back up and out of the canyon we were camped in. We left our tent up, some sleeping bags, powerade and other gear because Dallen was going to pack back in later this day or the next to hunt.

We hadn’t gone more than a couple hundred yards up the ridge before I spotted a group of deer across the canyon. Low and behold a nice little buck was with them. We weren’t planning on hunting on Sunday but this opportunity was to good to pass up. The ram was caught in the thicket so to speak. We dropped our gear and crept on out behind some sage brush to close the distance a little then Landen setup on some shooting sticks.

The buck wasn’t in a perfect broadside position but in the open right in a small gap in the oak brush. I decided to give Landen the green light for the 260 yard shot. And that shot went right past him to the side. The buck bound up the hill a little then stopped for a perfect broadside shot and Landen made a perfect lung shot on him for a 100 yard speed dash to a pile up.

As we closed in on the downed buck Landen was pleasantly surprised to have a nice little four point buck, his third buck and first four point. Way to go Landen!

A couple hour's work on this buck and we were now loaded up with two bucks and about half of our camp gear for the trip back to the trailhead. 

Dallen's 2018 buck with his X-bolt 300 WSM rifle.

Dallen's 2018 buck with his X-bolt 300 WSM rifle.

Dallen taking a selfie with his X-Bolt 300 WSM.

Dallen taking a selfie with his X-Bolt 300 WSM.

Monday morning found KB Landen and myself back to work and school while Dallen was headed up the mountain ready to spend the week.

This year has been particularly hard on me time wise. I had gone threw the majority of my vacation time with responsibilities to work and only had one day I could use to hunt deer. With this said I was dying to go back up the mountain and hunt with Dallen but I just didn't have any vacation to do it with really so my plan was to take Friday off and go up in the dark on Thursday to hunt Friday and Saturday

It didn't take Dallen long to find a good buck one evening and Dallen put at least three bullets into the buck before it went down and disappeared. By the time he made it across the canyon it was dark and the buck was still alive and got bumped. Dallen was sick about it but learned he maybe should have waited till morning to do look for it with it being dark and not knowing if it was dead. Anyhow, a sleepless night, a lot of hours of glassing/hiking, a little help from a friend of ours (thank you Alan) and another bullet and Dallen had his buck. A nice looking buck that was basically a big 3 point with eye guards. 

I was dying at work wishing I could have gone up the mountain to help Dallen but in the end I think it was awesome that Dallen did his first pack in solo hunt. He boned out the deer by himself and he hauled it back off the mountain all by himself. Needless to say I was a very proud dad. :)

Thursday came and I took off up the mountain after work by myself to see if I could also fill my tag. Friday morning came and deer were everywhere but not a single buck larger than a first year two point. I watched many of them and literally around 100 does just no mature bucks.

Saturday morning came around and the mountain was starting to crawl with hunters hiking up the mountain. I did see one mature buck but wasn't able to close the deal with all the hunters on the mountain.

I hunted the rest of the day until dark but couldn't find another mature buck.

I had a great time hunting with my two young boys and was so very proud of all of my boys in how they have matured as hunters.

Next up was muzzleloader elk season and cow elk season for me and all of my boys but lacking any vacation time and stressed for time with work commitments I never made it out to hunt at all on these hunts. This year I hunted the least I ever hunted in my entire adult life but I did enjoy the couple days I had with my youngest boys. I'm making life changes for next year to make sure I spend more time with my boys and doing what I love. 

The look right after shooting your first deer.

I love this photo. It shows how excited Kaden was right after he shot his first deer and it shows Landen wishing he had shot it.

Our deer camp.

Our deer camp with a Browning four man tent.

Dallen's 2018 buck.'

Dallen's 2018 buck.

Landen with the 270 WSM case that fired a 150 Gr. SST bullet.

Landen with the 270 WSM case that fired a 150 Gr. SST bullet.

Landen having fun hunting.

I love this photo as it shows both Landen having fun hunting and my good friend Ryan hunting on horses in the background.

Dallen's X-Bolt 300 WSM.

Dallen's X-Bolt 300 WSM.

Dallen's buck with his X-Bolt 300 WSM.

Dallen's buck with his X-Bolt 300 WSM.