Saturday, September 19, 2015


I love hunting season. The weather begins to cool, the leaves begin to change, the elk are calling, and I usually get to be out in nature. Coincidentally, the fishing also picks up this time of year but for the most part I try to ignore that. Otherwise, I wouldn't do much hunting...

Always great to be up at dawn!
This year I decided to do the Dedicated Hunter program so that I could hunt all three hunts and enjoy more time on the mountain with my family. It's been great for my boys to get to camp with their cousins and make memories that they'll never forget.

Sure is fun to hang out with the cousins!

So for the past month I've been trying to get away as often as possible to participate in the archery deer hunt. I've also got a cow elk control permit, so my focus was to try and get an elk before chasing deer. That of course means that lots of little bucks were out in force tempting me to end my hunt early (once I get a deer, I'll have to wait until the official elk hunt starts to try and fill my control permit). Atley didn't help me to fight this temptation, every time we saw a buck (no matter the size) he was telling me to shoot it.

Let 'em grow
Opening morning me and my brother Weston were able to get within shooting distance of several cow elk, there were also a couple of spikes with them, and he didn't hesitate to fill his tag. After he shot, we walked down to sit on first blood and some different cows walked into us. It was a tough shot through the trees but I tried it anyway and sure enough, slammed my first aspen of the year. My nephew was hunting for the first time this year, and he had lots of opportunities too (he ended up having over 25 shots but didn't hit any)

This guy sure knows how to get into the elk

A horned toad I spotted on the way out. I haven't seen one of these since I was a kid and we used to catch them. I had to stop and snap a picture.
Later that same day I had two separate shots at cow elk but misjudged the yardage. One high, one low. So when I got back home I ordered a rangefinder. No more screwing around, it's time I got serious about this. Once I had a rangefinder in hand my opportunities seemed to disappear (typical) but I still felt better knowing that I'd be able to know the correct yardage the next time opportunity knocked. Really glad I didn't wound any animals that I couldn't recover. It happens to all of us, but I hate that feeling. When we got back to camp we found out that my brother Jeff had also filled his cow tag on opening day. 

Braxton, Jeff and Luke
 The next morning was mostly uneventful for me so we loaded up early and headed back home to try and get ready for the first day of school. Later I found out that my cousin had filled his tag with a great buck! Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Of course, once I head for home my cousin Porter brings this beast back to camp!

The first week of being back to school for reals was filled with lots of meetings and trying to get back into teaching mode. But really I was looking forward to the weekend and getting back on the mountain for some more hunting.  

I love it up here
I didn't see much by way of elk, just more small bucks, but my brother put the hurt on a nice buck with a really heavy rack. Once we successfully blood trailed it we found out that it also had some small atypical points that made for a really unique rack. 

Big brother Jeff put the hurt on this nice buck that had some really non-typical points. Braxton, my brother Bryan, and Kyra helped us get it out.
Atley agreed to go with me for the last weekend of the hunt as long as he could bring his dog with him. I made sure that Atley knew it was a lot of work to camp with a dog and that it would be his responsibility to take care of him. Atley assured me that he would take care of the dog, so Briggs was loaded up to go huntin'. Unfortunately, Weston also brought his dog Hank on the trip and he doesn't seem to get along with others very well. When Atley watered Briggs, Hank seemed to think it was all for him. Well, Atley didn't like that Hank was taking all of Briggs' water so he tried to take it away from him and Hank bit him on the hand. 

Pretty bad bite and his hand was pretty swollen from it, poor kid.
Atley's a good hunting partner and didn't cry too much about the bite, even though he probably had a right to, and kept on hunting hard. Typical of the archery season, it continued getting harder to find opportunities although there were a couple of really close calls. Including having some elk pass really close to us in some thick timber where we couldn't get a shot. 

I think he's excited for his turn next year
On the last morning of our hunt we were divided on which ridge we should walk out on. They both overlooked the same draw, but we had no way of knowing which side the elk would be on. We made our choice and quietly made out way through the trees. A spike deer stood staring at us 60 yards away, but other than that there was nothing between us and the opening. Apparently we zigged when we should have zagged. Once out in the open Weston blew his cow call and a bull, along with about a dozen cows, answered from the opposite ridge. Crap! We hauled back to the truck to try and catch up with them though we knew that between the truck ride and the hike out there the elk weren't likely to be waiting for us. We were right, the elk were gone when we got into position but there just happened to be a couple of nice bucks. Weston did his best to get an accurate yardage, but must've missed with his finder because my arrow flew well over the deer's back. Nothing quite worked out for me this hunt, but I had a great time and was happy for my family members that found success. Can't wait till this weekend and the muzzleloader hunt! Maybe I can find that buck again.... Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

- Kidder