2011 Season

Date: August 7, 2011

This season I will be hunting archery deer and elk in my home state of Utah.  I will be hunting in southern Utah from August 20-23 on the Zion and Panguitch Lake hunting units, and then in northern Utah from August 24-September 16 on the Cache units.   I will hunt the extended archery units if I do not have my deer and elk by the end of regular hunting season on September 16.  Last year I hunted in southern Utah for three days and on the extended units for deer on six different occasions.  If it snows really hard before the end of November the deer are easy to access and can make for an amazing hunt on snowshoes.

I have taken several archery bucks, but never an archery elk.  My number one goal for the 2011 season is to take an elk with my bow.  I currently have 10 bonus points for limited entry elk in Utah.  I can get an archery elk tag for certain on all but three limited entry units.  Those units are the San Juan, Monroe and the Fillmore Pahvant.  I am really close to having enough bonus points to get a Monroe or Fillmore Pahvant archery elk tag. I would like to bow hunt elk this season to shorten my learning curve for when I get the chance to chase the big bulls on a limited entry unit in the near future.  My goal for deer is at least a 24 inch wide 3×3.

2011 Archery Season Dates:

Statewide Archery Deer: August 20-September 16.

Extended Archery Deer: Wasatch Front Extended Archery Unit and Uintah Basin Extended Archery Unit (either sex August 20- Nov 30, antlerless only December 1-December 15), and on the Ogden Extended Archery Unit (buck only August 20-November 30).

General archery any bull elk: August 20-September 16.

General archery spike elk: August 20- September 9.

Extended Archery Elk: Any bull or antlerless elk on the Wasatch Front Extended Archery Unit and Uintah Basin Extended Archery Unit August 17-December 15. Also, any bull or antlerless elk on the Sanpete Valley Extended Archery Unit from November 12-December 31.

August 20, 2011:  Opening Day

We spent Friday night looking for deer to get an idea of where they are located on the mountain.  We concluded that they are everywhere and they are hard to locate.  On opening day we left our trailer to start hunting.  I prefer to road hunt opening morning because you see a lot more deer and it gives you a good idea of where the deer and other hunters are located.  My wife drove the truck and my three month old daughter road shotgun in her carseat.  I was in the back of the truck standing up with an old sleeping bag for padding between my bow and the cab of the truck.  We honestly did not see very many deer or hunters on opening day. In the morning we saw 11 does and fawns.  In the afternoon when I was hunting with my dad we saw another 14 does and fawns.  We saw no bucks on opening day.  I don’t believe that I am the only hunter who had a rough day judging by the number of trucks that went home and the number of trailers that were towed off the mountain.  We saw less than 10 other hunters the entire day while hunting.  The deer are scattered from way down low all the way to the highest peak.  The vegetation is very lush and there is water in every canyon on the mountain.

We will hunt again on Monday morning.  I don’t hunt on Sundays.  Most likely we will go higher up the mountain than we have been so far in the hunt.  I figure if I am going to hunt I should hunt where there are deer and elk, because I have tags for both species.  Hopefully Monday will be better and we will see a few bucks even if they are very small.

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August 22:

We saw 27 does and fawns in the morning.  No bucks. I did see one buck pronghorn antelope.

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Utah Pronghorn, Panguitch Lake
Utah Pronghorn, Panguitch Lake

In the evening I went out hunting with my dad.  We saw 7 bucks and 32 does and fawns.  The only problem is that five of those bucks were in places we can not hunt.  The first buck was a 3×4 and he was feeding under the ski lift at Brian Head Ski Resort.  Then we saw four bucks on the Cedar Breaks National Monument.  One of them was a very nice 4×4.  He was probably 24-25 wide and about that high.  He was literally ten feet over the fence on the monument.  He had some small bucks with him.  Then we saw two little 2×2 right before dark on our way back to camp.  I could have shot both of them easily.

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August 23:

This morning we packed up our stuff at the trailer and headed out hunting.  We saw 29 does and fawns and 1 bucks.   He was a small 2×2.  Now we are about to head back home.

I was really hoping to see some elk and at least a few decent bucks.  I saw two good bucks that I could not shoot and three little bucks that were all easy targets.  Now I will continue my hunt in northern Utah.

August 27:

I went elk and deer hunting on the Cache unit in northern Utah. A few weeks ago I went into the same area I hunted on Friday night and there was a lot of elk and deer sign. I only saw one deer, but it ran so fast I was unable to determine if it was a buck or a doe. There was very little evidence that there were elk or deer in the area. The water hole was dry, so they must have moved out to find water. I also saw 3 more does off the highway while commuting.

August 29:

Tonight I took my wife and daughter hunting with me.  Two years ago I was got a bull bugling in the area we decided to hike.  It was only about a mile in to where I wanted to be.  My wife carried our baby in a Moby wrap.  We only saw one doe and a whole bunch of cattle.  My daughter is just a few months old, but she was awesome.  She made a little noise, but not much.  This was our first family hike/hunt alone.  It was fun.  I don’t know that I want to hunt that way all the time.  However, having everyone out hunting on foot once in a while is okay.

September 2:

I got out of school and my buddy Konrad and I decided to go elk hunting.  We both have general season archery deer and elk tags.  We focused on elk, because we both are way excited to hunt the extended archery hunt when it gets cold and the snow starts to fall.  We hiked from 4-9pm.  In those five hours we didn’t cover a lot of country, maybe 3.5 miles round trip.  We moved slow, paid attention to the wind, and listened very carefully.  We found one wallow, but it didn’t have any action that was really fresh.  Some of the tracks were probably 3-4 days old.  Finally about 7pm it started to get cold.  The hunt has been very hot so far, and the elk have not been easy to locate.  We stayed back in the area with the most elk sign until about dark and then we came out to the vehicle.  We didn’t see or hear a single elk.  It was somewhat rough to get skunked that bad.

September 5:

I managed to get some free time on Monday night.  I went up Logan Canyon to the Temple Peak area. There was a rain storm moving it, and it got windy and cold really quick.  I only saw one doe.  I hiked about 4 miles.  This was the last time I was able to hunt during the spike hunt on the LE units in Utah. Thursday the 8th I left on a required field trip for school and we did not return until the 10th late at night.  I did see a really nice 23″ 4×4 at 3rd East and 4th North in Logan at 6:20am on the morning of the 8th.  I almost hit him on my way to USU campus.  He had crabby front forks, but he was a very nice buck for the Cache area.  Why do all the good bucks live where you can’t hunt them? He had a small two point with him.

Now I will turn my attention to the extended areas for deer hunting.  If I happen to see an elk I will consider myself very lucky and take advantage of the opportunity.  I hope we have an early winter!

September 15:

Tonight I went hunting with Neal.  He is my wife Heather’s cousin.  We were focused on elk on an any bull unit.  We saw one bull moose, a doe with her fawn and one bull elk.  I filmed the moose.  We were about 2 miles from the road and about to turn back when we stopped to get a drink and listen for bugles.  I sent my wife a text that said something along the line of, “Where are the elk?  I can smell them and there is fresh poop on the ground?” Then I decided to cow call one last time.  I use a Cow Girl call by Primos.  I called and a bull immediately bugled back to us about 300 yards to the southwest of us.  We saw him go over the ridge away from us so we called again, and he answered.  He started to make his way toward us.  We were both tucked in behind an oak tree.  We had a shooting lane to our left and one to our right. He started beating up the trees to the south of us, so we waited and called.  Then he started to close the distance really quick.  We thought he would come out on our right, but he came out on our left.  He was about 20 yards when we saw him.  He was a very small bull probably a 4×4.  I could see about 2/3 of him body broadside through the oak.  There were very few limbs, so I put my 30 yard pin as low as I could and released.  He spun and ran to the west into an open flat.  I could not see my arrow in him, and he had been in a wallow recently so he was covered in mud making it hard to see any blood spots.  I took another shot, and hit to the right of him and low.  He ran off to the south on a trail.  We started looking for arrows and blood with no luck.  I shot at him with about 10 minutes of legal shooting light left.  We hiked out with our headlamps through some really thick stuff.  I am really uncertain of whether I hit him or not.  He was really close, but the shot was not an easy one.  He had us pinned and I had a small window of opportunity to take a shot.  If I hit him it was higher than I want.  It looks like I am going off into the area again tomorrow to take a better look in the daylight.  I really want to find my first arrow.  If it is a clean miss I will feel better about having not wounded him.  If it is red, I am going to have a long day of tracking. Either way works.  Simply put, it was awesome!

I will post up tomorrow about my luck looking for arrows and/or blood.

September 16:

I left Logan at about 6:15 this morning.  I got to the place I wanted to park my car at about 7:00.  I hiked off into the area where I shot at the bull last night and got to where I shot from about about 8:00.  I looked for my arrow from my first shot for over an hour with no luck.  I did 5×5 yard transects out 70 yards from where the bull was when I shot at him and about 15 yards to the right and left of the lane of flight.  It was pretty thick but I looked really hard for that arrow.  Then I went to find my second arrow which I shot from 74 yards.  I knew I hit low yesterday.  I found it in about 10 minutes.  I knew from last night that the bull stood there for at least 20 seconds before I took the shot.  I hoped that there would be blood on the trail or plants, but there was not.  It did rain some this morning but not enough to wash away the blood or his tracks.  I then decided to track him down the trail he used when he ran away from us.  I followed him for at least 1/4 mile before I lost his tracks with those of other elk.

Deductive reasoning would tell me that I missed because I can’t find my arrow (which probably skipped off into the middle of nowhere), no blood where the bull stood for awhile, and I was able to track him for a long distance from the area I shot at him. I just am having a very hard time determining if I hit him or not. He was so close.  How could I miss?  I know I hit the branch between where I took the shot and the bull because it has a cut in it from my broadhead.  Could it deflect the arrow that far? Last night I thought I over shot him or hit him high in the back.  He didn’t seem really hurt when I took the second shot last night, he seemed more confused than anything.

I had to go back in there this morning because I knew I could not live with the knowledge that I took a shot and didn’t determine if I missed or hit the bull.  I have decided in my mind that I missed.  As much as it hurts to say that I believe it is true.

It rained very hard on me for the two hours it took me to hike back to my car.  I spent 4 hours looking for him today, and some more time last night.  Dang!

I did see 7 does and fawns today.

September 24:

I woke up at 4:06 am, that is when our baby woke up.  I got my hunting gear ready and I went out to hunt deer and elk on the Utah Extended Archery area.  I saw 5 does and fawns on my drive to the area I wanted to hunt.  I was hoping to hear some bugling this morning before sunrise. However, I heard absolutely nothing.  I did a short hike at first light and I didn’t find anything.  I talked with two guys, one from New Mexico and the other from the Dakotas.  The NM guy was hunting mountain goats.  They had some goats located and they asked me where they could best access them to get a closer look and a shot. The NM guy actually Googled “Willard Peak mountain goats” and my picture I took  last year on the extended hunt came up on the screen.  I volunteered to help him pack out the goat if he got one so I gave him my cell phone number so he could contact me.  He called about 30 minutes later and said that he had my camouflage day pack.  I apparently left it by my car and drove off.  He returned it to me and I went to a new area to hike and hunt.  I jumped one deer, but it was so thick I could not see it.  I put up my trail camera and called it a day.  5 deer and some mountain goats later I am home and ready for lunch.

Update: As a side note the mountain goat hunter did get an 8.5 inch goat last Saturday morning.

October 1:

I went out this morning to check my trail camera and to take a short hike with my bow in hand. The general muzzleloader deer hunt started Wednesday, so there are hunters all over the mountain.  My camera is only about a ten minutes walk from a main road, but apparently moose like the area.  I was hoping for some deer or elk, but I got moose.  I also got some pictures of four other hunters who walked by my camera in the past week.

November 5th:

I have been out a few time with my bow, but I have not seen any bucks hunting the extended hunt this year. Last night it snowed so this morning my wife and I went hunting in the two inches of fresh snow.  It was really easy to track the deer, but we only saw does and fawns.  Hopefully we will get more snow and the deer will move down to lower elevations on the mountain making them easier to access.

November 12, 2011:

My dad drew the Panguitch Lake late season bull elk tag this year.  We went out on Friday before the hunt and found one nice bull that I believe was a 5×6.  Then on Saturday we found about 15 bulls.  The first 12 we saw in the trees and they ran across the road in an area that did not permit my dad to take a shot. Later in the morning we found three other bulls and a cow in a small group and dad got a shot.  We never found any blood and the bull was easy to track in the snow.  We never caught up to them.

Dad never did get a bull even though he hunted every day of the hunt except Sundays.

These are some bucks we saw on his hunt.

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November 19, 2011:

I went hunting with my buddy Konrad on the extended archery this morning after it snowed.  Neither of us have trucks at the moment so we had to walk-in to the area we wanted to hunt.  We started seeing deer immediately.  We saw around 60 deer and 12 or so them were bucks.  We saw one two point that was about 25″ wide.  Most of the bucks were tiny little two points or spikes.  All the bucks were in full rut.  I discovered that it is very hard to hunt deer when there are no trees to use as cover while you are stalking them.  The closest I got to any of the bucks was 125 yards, and he was a spike pushing a young doe. At one point in time we could see four bucks across the canyon, and the spotter from another hunting group saw three more on the side we were glassing from.

I put down about 8 miles today, in snow, uphill both ways (literally).  It was really fun, really cold, and really hard to get close to the bucks. I can’t count the number of times I slipped today and how many times my bow got covered in snow.

My bow looked like this at least 20 times today.

November 23, 2011:

I went hunting on the extended archery unit where you can harvest a buck or a doe.  I did not see a single deer or elk.  I only saw two cow moose and several dozen hunters.  There must have been one big buck across the lake at Mountain Dell because there were seven trucks and about 20 hunters glassing the same spot across the lake.

December 5, 2011:

I did not get a buck this year and I doubt that I get to go hunting before the hunt for does ends.  It was a fun year, but I did not get a shot on a buck.  I did get a shot on an elk, and I missed. I was fortunate to go hunting with my dad on Panguitch Lake, but he didn’t get a bull either.  Luckily my dad and two of my brothers did get bucks during the general rifle hunt in southern Utah.

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