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Jeff's Methow Buck

Jeff's Methow Buck

Postby Phil Andresen » Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:12 am

My son Jeff has joined me several times during my annual mule deer hunt; usually he comes about mid-season or for the last weekend depending on his work schedule. Jeff has been hunting since he was about sixteen and has taken some very good blacktail bucks. We have also collected bucks in Wyoming and Oregon and he has flown into the Mahoney Creek USFS airstrip to hunt muleys on the middle fork of the Salmon River a couple times.

In 2004 Jeff joined me on my Methow hunt. As we stood on top of one of my regular hunting spots he asked, ‘Why don’t you hunt over there?’ pointing off to a distant timbered ridge. I told him the land ownership there is poorly defined, there are roads all over it and because I have so many options here I’ve never spent much time there…

We decided to give it a try and the next day dawn found us parked on top of the ridge and heading into the timber on a well-worn trail. There was a forest fire in this area about twenty years ago, some of mountains are still devoid of trees but since the fire meandered, there are also broad areas of heavy timber providing cover along with areas of mixed brush, open mountain meadows and rocky faces.

We hiked in a mile or so, wandered around aimlessly for a while and ended up spotting some does in a high meadow. We stalked to within rifle range of them, had some lunch and napped for a while.

The deer were beginning to migrate; we saw several groups of does with fawns moving south. Eventually we decided to split up; I would hunt the timber to the west above the open sagebrush country while Jeff hunted further east into the timber.

Just before dark I heard static on my radio, it was Jeff but I couldn’t understand him. I moved to higher ground and we connected, he had killed a buck and needed the pack board. We agreed to meet in the upper saddle of the game trail where we had separated earlier.

When I got to the saddle just before dark Jeff came out of the timber grinning from ear to ear. Apparently he had been hunting uphill late in the afternoon, had heard what he thought were antlers lightly rattling against each other but he wasn’t certain... As he approached he saw two bucks casually sparring, they turned circles half playing as they lightly tickled each other’s antlers on that heavily timbered north face. They were distracted to some extent, and since he was below them his scent was probably drifting downhill; he stealthy made his way to within about forty yards before shooting over the smaller buck’s back to kill the bigger buck.

When I arrived he had already caped the buck so we began boning the meat. By the time we were finished it was about ten o’clock. Since we were not familiar with the terrain we decided to take the most direct route. We split the meat, put half on the pack board with the head and half in Jeff’s pack; we knew the truck was on top of the ridge so we hiked to the top turned west and went cross-country. It was a little dicey navigating down a very steep and loose rock slide but there was a full moon overhead, clear starry skies and we were together doing what we both love to do.

We got back to our ‘family camp’ about eleven; everyone was still up, waiting for us and to see Jeff’s buck.
It was a memorable night in the Methow.
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Phil Andresen
 
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