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Thread: Fog, wind, rain, and a couple of deer with my wife

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default Fog, wind, rain, and a couple of deer with my wife

    About a year ago a friend of mine dropped the idea in my mind of doing a deer hunt out of Kodiak. It didn't work out that we could go last year due to a new little one in the house, but as we thought through the options it became more and more apparent that a deer hunt would be an ideal early season option this year for my wife and I. We're both teachers and go back to work on August 10th this year, so anything more than a long weekend would have to happen before that date and before much else opens up. Our plans on where to hunt changed a few times over the past few months, but with about 8 days left before our departure we settled on a plan and got serious about preparing. We flew out of Kodiak the afternoon of July 31st with Kingfisher Aviation. They're a small family-run outfit that flies two Bushhawks. I've never been in one of these aircraft before, so just flying out was a lot of fun. As we neared our drop point we saw deer on every hillside and on every mountaintop. To say that we were excited by the sightings would be an understatement. We figured that if the weather held that this would be a very successful hunt given all of the animals we saw within a day's hike of our camp. Alas...things didn't turn out quite as we had envisioned...

    Here is our mode of travel, and as it turned out, the last time we had decent visibility and calm winds for the next few days:



    We spent the first afternoon setting up camp, exploring just a little bit, and relaxing as we settled the spotter on numerous deer on a mountainside a few miles from camp. We turned in early in order to rest up for the next day's hunt, but really I think we were just enjoying the peace and quiet that is often absent in our home with two young boys. When we awoke the morning of the 1st we were greeted with light rain, a moderate breeze, and a view that stopped about 300' up the mountainside we were intending to climb. It wasn't exactly what we had hoped for, but we were excited to go explore anyhow, so we packed up and headed up the mountain. Within about an hour we had jumped a doe and a fawn, then as we entered the clouds we soon made out the color of two more deer just above our position. We hadn't gotten a good look at them before dropping behind cover, so we approached them slowly and quietly in hopes that one would have antlers. It wasn't to be, but just to be stalking an animal again after too long of an absence from hunting felt great to both of us. One of the deer hung around for a while and as we moved up the mountain further she stood her ground and watched us go by.



    At this point I was hoping that the clouds would lift, but I do not exaggerate at all when I say that this was the best visibility that we would have for the next three days at any elevation over a few hundred feet. I thought it was thick at the time I took this picture, but it got significantly thicker from that point forward. At many points over the next few days I couldn't see more than 20-30 yards. We did see a little button buck later that afternoon at about 40 yards, but he disappeared into the fog before we could get a clean look at his vitals and that was the last we saw of him. We checked through that area pretty thoroughly the next two times we passed by, but we never saw him again. We also saw a fork-antlered buck later that evening, but he was far enough across a ravine that we were unable to pursue him that evening, and the clouds never lifted above that point again during the duration of our hunt. Ultimately, much of the first two days was spent like this, peering over hillsides and into draws hoping to bump into a buck.


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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Day three started the same as the previous two - windy, a bit of rain, and lots of fog shrouding the mountain where we knew most of the bucks were. We were still seeing plenty of does and fawns down low, but other than the two bucks we had stumbled across on day one, we hadn't seen anything legal since. Given our previous frustrations with the lack of visibility, we decided to flank the mountains and hunt down low instead. We were hoping to maybe find a young buck or two that hadn't hit the high hills with the others, and it turned out that we were not disappointed. About an hour and a half and two doe sightings into our trip, we jumped a buck at about 15 yards. It all happened very quickly and we were unable to get a shot off before he climbed into the clouds, but it seemed to be a good sign that we were taking a better approach. As the day wore on we saw many does and fawns, but the bucks remained elusive. Thankfully, that changed a few hours later. My wife and I climbed a small hill to get a better look at a cut that held at least a couple of deer. As we peered across to an adjacent hillside a spike buck appeared near where we had previously seen a doe and began to slowly descend the hill in our direction. As he neared the creek bottom we started to discuss our approach, assuming that he would stop or change course soon. Unlike many other deer that bolted or at least stopped when they saw us, however, this deer did not seem to mind our presence. He crossed the creek and proceeded to climb the hill upon which we were perched. The problem, however, became the angle of the hill and the the terrain he was walking through. Small bumps and patches of flowers and grass combined with a steep pitch served to protect him from a clear shot even though he was no more than 40 yards from us at this point. He finally turned and circled around the hillside below our position, never offering a shot opportunity. And then...he was gone. It was a strange thing even after I think through it - there really was nowhere for him to hide, but somehow he made it off that hillside without us being able to see his departure. It was disheartening for sure, especially in light of the passing time and lack of success to that point, but it was short-lived. About 10 minutes later we saw him again, this time approaching from the other side of the hill and working his way up a more mellow slope while feeding. We worked our way into position and let him feed towards us. There were a few exciting moments right at the end as we had to dance around some rocks to get a good angle while the buck held at the edge of what could have been an escape route, but in the end my wife made a perfectly placed shot and took her first deer.



    We took time for pictures and a break, but quickly moved to butcher the deer and move on. The weather was at its most mild since opening day, so we wanted to hunt a little bit more before we had to begin our trek back to camp. The weather soon turned and we were going to head back, but at that point I made a quick run uphill to take one last look. I didn't expect much, thus I didn't bother to bring the camera with me. As luck would have it, that's when I found my success for the trip with a button buck that was on the small side, but which will sure be tasty. I cut it up quickly and rejoined my wife for the hike home. As we walked and relived our day's adventure, the skies started to clear up just a bit. I turned around and was treated to one of the more spectacular rainbows that I have seen in some time, so my wife and I took that opportunity for a mid-hike break to soak in the gift of this magnificent view.



    Dinner that night was tenderloins fried in olive oil and cajun seasoning coupled with some red wine. After three days of less-than-ideal hunting circumstances, it was supremely satisfying.

    Last edited by Brian M; 08-07-2011 at 19:34.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    The evening turned out to be gorgeous, and we were hopeful that our fourth and last day of hunting would be more of what we had envisioned - hunting the high alpine with long-distance views - but we knew from what the wind was doing up high with the clouds and from our experience thus far that this pleasant weather was precarious at best. As it turns out, this was the last time that we saw the sun until the morning of our pickup.



    The winds were calm while we slept, but as the first light of dawn filtered through, our rainfly began to shake and the unmistakable sound of wind-driven rain began to pelt our position. We weren't thrilled, but we were determined to make the best of it and give it one more try. At the very least, we figured we would explore a different area and learn more about our surroundings so that the next time we come back we would know more about our options.

    Heading out on morning four:



    We had a great time for the first few hours and were still hopeful, but as the day wore on the winds continued to increase. What started as probably 30 knot winds built into at least 50 knots by the time we decided to head back to camp. A few deer were spotted, but like day two we did not see anything with antlers. We finally decided to cash it in and head back to camp to bone out our deer from the previous day to prepare for the next morning's departure.

    As luck would have it, the morning of our scheduled pickup was spectacularly beautiful - mild winds, a bit of sun shining through, and for the first time since the day we arrived we could see the tops of the mountains. It was a bit of a punch in the gut to see that now that we were heading home, but at the same time it was nice to know that we were going to be able to get out on time. My parents were gracious enough to take care of our boys for five days, but they were soon to leave on a trip of their own, so we needed to get home to take care of our family. I still had an itch to head into the hills that morning, but by the time our ride had arrived I was looking forward to seeing my sons and planning my next adventure with my wife.



    Alas, it wasn't quite what we had envisioned, but it was what we needed. I told friends when we left that although deer would be nice, what we really needed was an adventure together. It was a bit of a different adventure than planned, but wonderful nonetheless. When my wife is willing to smile for silly self-shots like this when we're in driving wind and rain after days of death marches and few deer, I know I've got a good thing going.


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    Member 1Cor15:19's Avatar
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    Nice pics, good memories and a great time; sounds like you had it all this trip except for a bruiser of a buck. Maybe next time...
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    Thanks for sharing you're experience with us. I cant wait to have my own in 4 weeks in the Sound.

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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Nice job Mr. & Mrs. Brian. They will taste dandy.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Images are inspiring man, thanks for sharing.


    Loved the chillin under the rainbow shot


    Should be a magazine cover.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Nice!!

    Thanks for the writeup, Brian.
    Just what the doc ordered for an early season hunting adventure. Congrats to your wife for a great first deer. Memories for a lifetime.
    Proud to be an American!

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    Member Kotton's Avatar
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    To bad about that weather!I guess that's Alaska for ya.Great pics and great read,I bet those deer are tastey right now.

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    Member markopolo50's Avatar
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    Great hunt Brian and your wife also. You made the best of the weather and had a successful hunt, what more could you ask. I know you both are lucky to be able to share all that with each other. Beautiful pictures also, can't wait to get back. Have fun at school, if possible.

  11. #11
    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Man that was a great presentation! You are a very blessed man!

    I have never seen an aircraft like that. Cool.

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    Making Memories is always good, even the bad ones are excellent. Kodiak is a challenge all in itself. Nice story documented.
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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Man awesome writeup!! Love the pics and it reminds me I need to pick up a camera before I head out in a few days. (some d-bag snatched mine out of the pickup a couple weeks back!)

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Fantastic trip! Nice pics and write up.

    You also know how to treat your lady right- her decked in Sitka...you in 3.99 patched up coveralls you've bragged about. Schlepping in olive oil and red wine to wash down fresh deer meat.... darn good show! Lol.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Great writeup and pics as always Brian. Glad you and Sara got to get out together and get a break from the boys, what a cool trip. Congrats to you both on your deer. Always love the pics of the harvest cooking too.

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    I liked it! Thanks for taking the time to write such a nice piece and for sharing it here. Mountain time is so precious!

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    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Well done Brian, very nice post to read and view - I am glad you and your lovely wife got a chance to enjoy the time alone!
    Ea of you took a buck - I would call that VERY successful!
    Randy
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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Cool, glad it worked out for ya.

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    Well done Brian, love the right up and the pics ! I appreciate you taking the time to share it with us.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Time out with the bride seems to always make the family stronger and remind you of what put you together in the first place.Congrats on the deer also.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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