By Sarah Bullock
The first, early October, hunt during rifle season yielded great results, though no "meat on the ground". I had backpacked a couple of miles into the wilderness with my camp and food to spend 4 days in this same area as before. In the end, I saw at least 20+ deer, found 4 shed antlers and gained a solid reassurance that the spot I had found was a good one. As the second, late October, hunt approached, I finalized my camp supplies, menu for each day, water needs, and headed out. I brought my trailered ATV with me, just in case the spot had dried up and I could make it to my plan B/C/D spots that were located out of the wilderness. That first afternoon, I was rewarded by seeing a large bodied/antlered deer in the late afternoon walking over the ridge. The buck was about another half to 3/4 ways down the ridge from where I had seen bucks prior and was too far to tell if it was the one I had seen earlier. Over the next 4 days, I was getting a little down because no matter how hard or long I glassed that east side of the ridge I was having a hard time locating any deer moving during the morning. I later decided with the cooler temps, the deer were sticking on the west side of the ridge and out of view. Day 3 and the morning of the 4th were hindered by rain showers and thick fog. By the end of day 4, thoughts of "big" deer were quickly leaving me and the thought of an empty freezer started the weigh heavier on my mind.
After notching my tag and a few pics, the reality of the mid-day heat and the work at hand set in my mind. It was about 1:30pm and my camp was about 2 miles north up the ridge and my truck was another 2 and half miles east of camp. Needless to say, I had my work cut out for myself…though kinda planned that way. It took about an hour and half to completely salvage all meat. I then walked to another rocky outcropping on the top of the ridge and aligned some medium-sized rocks, so I could place the game bags on for the evening. This would keep the bags off the ground, promote airflow, and cooling. I then placed the tarp over them as a deterrent to any predators and shade for the next morning's sun.
At 5am I finally decided it was early enough to start breaking camp and heading back to the truck. There was a slight glimmer of light on the horizon when I started with head lamp on toward the truck. When I got to my truck, I fixed a quick hearty breakfast, unloaded my ATV, took out my external frame from the back of my truck, and organized some snacks and plenty of water for the trip. Luckily for me, there was a road that ran along the foot of the mountain south toward the flats, so there was no need to hike the meat up to camp and then to the truck. I could just ride my ATV to the foot of the mountain, hike up and pack it down. I estimate a one-way trip was about 1 mile. It took 2 trips to hike out all the meat. Yeah, that first trip (80-100#s) was a little bit too heavy and I had to make several rest stops on convenient boulders. The second trip (< 60#s) was much easier to carry out. I loaded and secured my meat bags onto my ATV and high-tailed it back to my truck, loaded the meat into a cooler, secured the ATV on the trailer, and started the trip to the nearest town for some ice. It was approximately 1:30pm. Once in town, I promptly got the meat on ice and called a taxidermist friend to ask her about my cape (I was greatly concerned about since it had been almost 24 hours since harvesting the buck). After chatting with her, I also got some ice, double bagged it, and wrapped the hide around the bags to cool it. She also assured me, by my description of the hide condition, that everything would be fine, just freeze it when I got home.
Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos
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