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Thread: Sitka Blacktail (Bighorse Style)

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Default Sitka Blacktail (Bighorse Style)

    After a quick flight from Anchorage, through Juneau and finally to Sitka, we met up with Bighorse who drove us to his place. We arrived late and got settled into his place for a quick rest before leaving the next morning.

    We woke up to fairly high winds and 21 foot forecasted seas, so we waited an additional hour to see if the wind would die down a bit. We met up with one of Bighorse’s buddies (member CTP) at the harbor. We loaded the gear, donned our float suits and were on our way.

    We got a bit further toward our destination and ran into some pretty high winds. Playing it safe, we pulled into a protected cove and decided to wait it out a bit. Luke and I decided to walk up a creek and see if we could poke around a bit while we waited on the weather. We found a good clearing and I blew on the call a bit. I moved about another 25 yards down the game trail I was on and saw a deer face staring at me through the brush. I was unprepared for seeing one so close and couldn’t get my act together fast enough to get a shot at the buck. Back to the boat and we decided to continue on as it looked a bit better.

    Out of the bay we almost immediately found ourselves in 10 foot swells. In the words of our large equestrian friend, it got a bit ‘sporty’ and it was a bit hairy at times shooting the gaps between rock outcroppings in the 17 foot boat (sketchiness factor of about a solid seven at this time). It allowed us some protection from the main ocean swells, but was like a big washing machine tossing the small boat pretty good.

    One thing to stress here would be the fact that everyone had a float suit on and we had communications strapped to our persons in watertight containers in case something like this happens. Mr. Bighorse has a long playbook of exciting adventures, but it is always his goal to make it home in one piece.

    We had about 30 minutes of pucker factor before we headed up the bay for our portage. After cruising through the steep mountainous bay seeing the eagles, otters, and waterfalls, we quickly portaged our gear and got going. The boat that Bighorse and CTP stashed the day before had drifted down the lakeshore about 50 yards because of the winds and the fact that the lake rose about a foot overnight.

    3 guys, about 400 pounds of gear, and towing CTP (who got elected to pilot the kayak because he is a CG rescue swimmer) in a two person kayak with more gear, we rapped out the 5 hp Merc and headed into white-capping lake for the 5 mile trek across the water. Right when we left the cove we had a solid sketch-factor of 8 as we were taking water over the bow of our rickety lake boat and freeboard was at an absolute premium. CTP had his work cut out for him trying to keep tracking straight behind our boat as well. Seeing how much the boat was loaded down, combined with taking water over the bow, I would be lying to say I wasn’t concerned and had visions of us swimming to shore. We repositioned and kept most of the water from coming over the bow and it got much better.

    About an hour later we were at camp and got everything situated inside our Forest Service cabin and did a quick evening hunt before dark to get the lay of the land. Off to bed after a bowl of chili and a long day filled with a few hair raising boat rides made my pad-less sleep on the planked wood no problem.

    The next day, Luke and I paired up and began to penetrate the valley on the right side of the valley, as Bighorse and CTP teamed up to penetrate the left side of the valley. After a quick 30 minutes of still hunting through the muskeg, we saw two deer trailing each other about 50 yards ahead making their way into a clearing toward us. I saw the deer, looked at Luke who had his rifle up already, and being a bit to my left, had a shot and bagged the first deer of the trip. He thought the rear deer was a buck as it was hot on the doe he was chasing. Seeing the crab-clawed buck down got our blood pumping and a half hour later he was tagged/bagged and we were hunting again. Boom, boom, we heard Bighorse and CTP bag a deer across the valley that we later found out was of similar stature.


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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    We made it into the old-growth forest with lots of ground water when Luke spotted a bigger buck about 60 yards off to our right. I shouldered my rifle and found my scope WAY fogged up. Luke had a shot with his rifle as his scope was clear,but being as he shot the first deer he handed me his Kimber and I thought I could’ve made a good shot on the buck but proceeded to give the poorest shooting performance ever. I don’t know what my deal was, but it was pathetic at best and the buck laughed off the booming report of the rifle and waltzed off. I was sick at such a poor performance. It didn’t appear the buck was hit, but we still spent about an hour searching for blood to verify that I just really blew it…ugh!!



    Another ½ mile up the valley, Luke and I were following each other down a game trail and I spotted a lone deer to our left about 20 yards off. I held on for quite a while thinking there might be a buck following it, but decided to take the shot. It was obviously hit and I couldn’t see where it ended up so we started to track blood. Luke stood at the last blood found and saw the deer standing 30 yards ahead and finished it off. It turned out to be a button buck and easily scored 2 ¼ net B&C points.



    Combined with the two groups, we saw 14 deer the first day and came back with 3 small bucks. A pretty good day deer hunting with lots of action. It was very wet all day and looked like a sporting goods store in our cabin with the gear we had spread out.




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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    The next morning, we found the awesome old-growth forest that the other guys found the previous day but we didn’t see anything. It did give us an opportunity to soak up some of the scenery, take some pictures of the rainforest, and enjoy a less rainy morning.





    Luke in his best Jim Shockey pose...




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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    About 11:30 AM Bighorse made the first of two trips down the lake with most of the gear and deer, and when he returned, we headed down the lake for the bay.




    (mind you this boat was about twice the size of the one we were using...this was just our rain water collector)

    A quick portage later, we had the deer/gear/skiff towing behind the 17 foot mothership and headed back to town. Luke was pretty worried about the towed skiff as it was diving into the swells pretty good, and CTP took the skiff watch duty so Luke wasn’t so sick about the boat, but it made the trip back to the harbor and we were soon back at Bighorses house met with homemade pizza that his wife had made and Salmonberry pie that his daughters had baked. Couldn’t have asked for a better welcome after a few wet adventuresome days.

    Sitka is ruggedly beautiful, unforgiving country. Access is difficult and you can’t be afraid to go up, as the hills are long and steep. The terrain and footing are obviously compromised by wet conditions, rocks, downed trees, LOTS of devils clubs, or in other words: NOT EASY!

    Bighorse and his family were awesome hosts and he definitely isn’t afraid to get out there, get it done, and penetrate unfamiliar terrain (even if it raises the sketch factor a bit). He’s seen a huge portion of Baranof and its surrounding islands and does more in a 17 foot boat than most would consider in a boat much larger. This is definitely hardcore country and it takes some hardcore hunters to get it done. Hopefully we’ll be back.

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    One other thing we weren't expecting on this trip was the exceptionally long travel day home. 9 hour delay in Sitka and another 3-4 in Juneau landed me pulling in the driveway at almost 1am instead of 10am the previous day.

    We did beat feet through Sitka a bit before they started the "Check back in 30 minutes" routine. I have a feeling this was an exceptionally beautiful day in Sitka with nearly a cloudless sky. Made for some gorgeous scenery and a few good pictures.

    If you're on Alaska Airlines 737 series 400 plane number 713...say a prayer before takeoff...its kind of a pile..







    Meat is already done at the processor so we will be feasting on blacktail soon enough!!

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Some of the best viewing on this hunt was some of the video we shot. Hopefully we can get some of it edited and uploaded soon enough...

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    congrats on the successful hunt, I would love to make it down to the S.E. one of these years

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    Member Akgramps's Avatar
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    Hunt Ak......good story... great pics...looks like it was a good hunt..........!

    Sure love those big trees...........a far cry from the interiors black spruce............LOL
    Would you mind sharing the name of the cabin you stayed in? John
    “Nothing worth doing is easy”
    TR

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    THATS IT???? man i cant wait to hear Lukes version...




    .






    .


    . nice job Kyle LOL!
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

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    Awwww, I miss that country big time,

    those Beautiful Sitka Spruce trees,...... that moss covered Forest Floor.........
    Nice Pics, Hunt

    Thanks for posting, and ENJOY that Venison, gonna be GOOD

    Good One, on the Float Suits, That Bighorse guy sounds Scary
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Come on....I was so confident that I brought along a USCG rescue swimmer along with those float suits. We even had the Jayhawk circling overhead at Samsing cove while we waited out the gusty winds. Thanks CtP for all your help. I know this was a far cry from the high quality equipment he gets to run around with while on-duty.

    This whole trip was the result of a solid group of capable outdoorsmen. Lots of decisions were made one way or another that resulted in a solid SE adventure without too much mishap.

    The hunting was actually very good and at no time did we scratch our head wondering where the deer were. It was just a matter of finding the right deer. No really big bucks got dropped but with a few extra days it would have likely been a big buck trip. We just had one full day of hunting really.

    For those wondering, we were in the Redoubt Lake Cabin. It's no secret hunting mecca really. It's just another humble FS cabin with good habitat in the area. With some effort you'll find deer around all the FS cabins in the Sitka area.

    I really enjoyed meeting and hanging with some other board members. Thanks for the great write up Kyle. I really enjoyed hanging with you and your brother. You guys are really cool and I look forward to another adventure or two with you in the future.

    Now if I can just get my daughter on a buck this season I'll oil the rifles and call it a year.

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    Looks like you boys had fun - And nothing like high seas to help make a good 'ole SE hunt an adventure!

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    Member muskeg's Avatar
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    sweeet !!!!

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneLunG View Post
    Looks like you boys had fun - And nothing like high seas to help make a good 'ole SE hunt an adventure!
    No doubt! After the exciting boat rides, Luke and I thought that getting a deer would've been the icing on the cake of an already great trip...

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    Good news is you boys missed the 80mph winds that we are having here in Juneau that started yesterday....Boy is she howling!

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default MMmmmmmm VIDEO ??????

    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    Some of the best viewing on this hunt was some of the video we shot. Hopefully we can get some of it edited and uploaded soon enough...
    Bumpin' this thread, cause not enough folks have seen these Trees, Moss, Calm Water....

    AND, because of the ABOVE quote, waiting........ Patiently..........


    Also wondering about this quote, BELOW

    "towing CTP (who got elected to pilot the kayak because he is a CG rescue swimmer) in a two person kayak with more gear"

    Just curious, Why would you guys "Elect" to put the Rescue Swimmer in the riskiest boat?

    Or maybe that was the Survivin'est boat?

    Great Thread, wanna see some more
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    He's nimble in any craft really. I think it was because it was the safest. There was no way that boat was sinking, it was an inflatable kayak.

    The video is really cool I hope HuntAK can post it. The ride was rather wild getting back onto the lake.

    I wish I had a camera too. I scored on a bruiser forked horn this morning. I still hunted him out of some old growth.

    It really was a fun trip and given a few extra days I'm sure some nice bucks would have been taken.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bighorse View Post

    I wish I had a camera too. I scored on a bruiser forked horn this morning. I still hunted him out of some old growth.
    I'm on the verge of mailing you up a camera!

    When you still hunt, how slow do you go? I'm typically a haul butt and glass glass glass kinda hunter, but I'm going to force myself to slow waaaay down for the post rut and hunt the down low old growth near the beaches looking for a bruiser.

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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Haul butt until your in em then camo up and it's a one two step 1 minute wait kinda speed. Your kinda tracking em so watch the ground really close and find where they are holding up and work in there real easy like.

    I'll have a camera for next year. I promise.

  20. #20
    Member sheep man's Avatar
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    great pic and story kyle...thanks
    I ♥ Big Sheep

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