Open Zone Deer Tag, FILLED!

Discussion in 'California Flyway Forum' started by LeakyW8ers, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. LeakyW8ers

    LeakyW8ers Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    771
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    San Jose, California
    **WARNING** This is going to be a long post and quite a few pictures, so bear with me.

    So as I posted earlier this year I was drawn for the Open Zone fundraiser tag. This allowed me to hunt any zone during is normal open season, when I saw it on my phone, I didn't believe it and had to look it up on an actual computer to confirm I had drawn it. And I had.

    A week after the draw was posted I received a call from someone at Fish and Wildlife congratulating me on the draw and giving me the rundown on what I needed to do. First off, it's not a tag you can just go and hunt with. You must contact the chief warden for the area to let them know where and when you will be hunting. Other than that, she said if I had any questions that I could call her and she'd give me any assistance I needed. She wished me good luck and that was that.

    2 weeks later I receive the tag in the mail, with a congratulations letter and all the contact information for all the district offices with the number to call highlighted to inform the wardens of my intention to hunt in their district.

    Then life took a turn. I was in Hong Kong for work in early July and received word from my family that my dad had 2 strokes. We had a conference call a day later with the doctor to go over what all happened and what the prognosis was. It was not good, so I flew home early, spent a couple days getting bags unpacked, repacked, booking tickets for myself and my wife and kids, and flew back to Illinois to see my dad. We ended up having to extend our stay for a second week and unfortunately he passed away on July 29th. Another week to help my mom and sisters to arrange the funeral, tie up some loose ends and support her and we sadly flew back to San Jose. This is where the bulk of my vacation time was spent this year.

    So my plans to do the hunt on my own pretty much ended before it really got a chance to begin. And that's when and why I started asking about guides. i figured if I could get this done in 3-5 days (using weekends if possible) I'd have a better chance of filling this tag than trying to stumble into areas where I've never been, have no local contacts, or worse not even try.

    For everyone that offered suggestion I really do appreciate it. I did a lot of research, made a few calls, and finally chose a guide that seemed like the best fit for me. Because he and his outfit are not a sponsor of this forum, I will withhold names per forum rules.

    So the plan was set into motion, hunt dates of November 10, 11, and 12 were set to hunt the last 3 days of the G39 hunt. With only 2 tags for G39 given out this year it should be pretty quiet out there and seeing a picture of the buck they guided to last year I was stoked to have the chance.

    Then I go and get into an accident on my motorcycle on my way to work on October 3rd. Guy pulled out in front of me on the freeway when I was going 65 in the carpool lane and he was going maybe 15-20 mph. 4 broken ribs on my left side, boxer's fracture of the 5th metacarpal on my left hand, what was thought to be a sprained right thumb, and a "sprained" left ankle, 4 days in the Hospital, with the first 24 hours of that in the ICU because of the broken ribs and I'm home trying to heal.

    I had a rifle to dial in as my .30-06 was not cutting it with 6" groups at 200 yards, I acquired a .270 wsm that had never been shot and I had performed the break in just the weekend before the accident. With the idea that I may still be ready to hunt November 10th, step in straightsixes. He helped me get a load dialed in that was killer out to at least 500 yards, and I was finally able to get out and shoot myself on November 4th.

    I was still limping pretty bad because of the sprained ankle, and had an appointment with a podiatrist to try to figure out what was wrong on November 8th. At that point the podiatrist suspected I may have a stress fracture in my calcaneous (heel bone) but only a MRI would be able to see that. She slapped an aircast boot on me and effectively cancelled my November 10th hunt. I called the guide and told him the situation and he actually told me that it was for the better as he had 2 other guides up in G3 for the full 16 day hunt and at this point they hadn't even seen a buck worth tagging. So Backup plan #1 was the D3 Doyle muzzle loader, and it was set into motion for Thanksgiving weekend, if I was healthy enough to do it.

    Turns out that my heel was not broken but my Plantar Fascia was torn, pretty badly, got a cortisone shot on 11/15 and told that I had to wear the boot 10 more days then I could wear a Bledsoe brace with normal shoes. Well, I snuck the brace on a day early and hunted Thanksgiving weekend. Fortunately, they had a Polaris Ranger, and I didn't have to do much walking. We saw at least 25 different bucks over the coupple days we were there, but nothing worth hanging my tag on:

    5053.jpg 5055.jpg 5057.jpg 5059.jpg 5061.jpg

    So after 2 days in the Doyle Muzzle Loader hunt we decided to pass and hunt G3 opening weekend.
     
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  2. MAKAIRA

    MAKAIRA Elite Refuge Member

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    Nov 23, 2005
    Location:
    Aptos,California
    Keep it coming!
     
  3. LeakyW8ers

    LeakyW8ers Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    771
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    San Jose, California
    I arrived in Independence around 7:30 PM Friday night were I was met by my guide. He showed me pictures of the 2 bucks they had spotted and been keeping an eye on for the week or 2 before. He asked which one I would pick, and I told him straight away I wanted this one:
    IMG_3969.jpg

    There was a straight on shot, but I can't get it off my phone at the moment. He had character, moreso than the other option, although the other option would score better with a typical rack.

    Saturday morning we meet up with the other guide and client and they take us out to the area where they had spotted both bucks about 500 yards from each other and his buck is there about 40 yards off the road. By the time shoot time comes the buck had worked up a hill. As they were working the other client around to a shooting position we took off looking for my buck. Just as we get set up to glass, we look back and watch the other client's buck drop. 1 tag filled, 1 to go. We almost immediately spot my buck chasing does about 800 yards from our glassing spot. Wind direction was not in our favor, nor was the direction of the shot we would have to take. But we come up with a game plan and put it into motion.

    While we were trying to close the distance, the buck and a doe spot us and run farther to the South to an area where we couldn't take a shot for certain. So we waited. We put more of a sneak on and find out the doe had bedded down out in front of us about 250 yards, and the buck about 30 yards past her. We were kind of stuck. We continued in the direction we needed to go to be able to take a safe shot, and they got up and started walking in the direction we wanted/needed them to walk. But they had gotten past us by 150 yards or so. So we quickly tried to get ahead of athem and set up, when they finally presented a shot it was 320 yards. And dumb me, didn't double check the dope at that distance. I took a shot that went under the buck, although he acted like it was a hit he continued to walk away from us. I couldn't get a second shot off because one of our spotters was in the backdrop, and I wasn't going to take that shot. Eventually the buck went up a rocky hill, and over the top out of sight.

    We sat down to rest for a bit as my foot was hurting a bit, and we tried to take the round out of the chamber. It was stuck. We dropped the hinge plate and magazine out of the rifle and I eventually got the round out of the chamber, but ended up with a handful of gunpowder. The bullet had come unseated from the brass and was now stuck in the throat of the chamber. Rifle out of commission. Come to find out that it was one of the test loads and the COAL was just a tad too long and the bullet was stuck in the lands. But now I didn't have a rifle.

    Fortunately, the other client was still hanging around and offered to use his rifle. Ended up he was shooting a .270 wsm as well, and when he handed me his rifle, it was the exact same make and model (Browning A bolt Medallion). Small world.

    We grabbed a bite to eat and were trying to formulate a game plan on how to get at that buck. After 30 minutes the other guide, who had gone around the other side of the hill, called on the radio and said we got him. And that he had just bedded down.

    We drove over to where he was and he pointed out where the buck was, and man, he was wedged in some boulders and all we could see was his head and a small V between 2 boulders that looked to be the boiler room. But at 450 yards or so, there was no shot to take. We ended up using his choice of bedding area to our advantage where we worked around where he couldn't see us and closed the gap to 178 yards. But all we could see was his left antler.

    IMG_3975.jpg

    From here we sat for 20 minutes, my guide started making grunting and bleating noises and that buck never moved a muscle. So we snuck a little farther to our right. From that vantage point I could see his left antler, his left ear and a bit of the top of his head.

    More noises from my guide and he still was not going to get up. 20 minutes later, another quick move farther to the right behind a 5' tall boulder. Now I had a rock steady rest (pun intended), could see the whole rack, and the top of his head from eyeball up. I sat there trained on him through the scope, distance was now 150 yards. Here come the noises. Not a twitch from this buck. He was so worn out from chasing does that he wasn't going to get up. Finally my guide asks me if I was OK staying there and he was going to try to get closer and bump him up. I told him I was good and off he went. He hiked around the hill and got even and height but stayed 40-50 yards off to the side from the buck. He started making noise and that buck just didn't care. So out come some rock tosses. 5 rocks later he picks his head up and starts looking around. I'm thinking, here it comes, he's GOT to stand up... ...right... ...about... ...NOW!

    The buck stands up right into my cross hairs and I squeeze the trigger. He drops instantly. They guys back at the trucks are whooping and hollering as I rack another round in and keep my scope on him. After a minute or 2 I decide he's down and let off. My guide yells down to me nice shot, as I say a little prayer, yell out a WooHoo! and give a little fist bump.

    He asks me if I want him to drag him down to me, and I yell up to him, gimpy foot or not, I'm coming up there. So I make my way up, huffing and puffing, and finally lay eyes on him up close:

    1202171258_HDR.jpg

    We drag him out of that tight spot and snap a picture:
    IMG_3986.jpg

    Within 5-10 minutes we had a crowd up there with us, both guides, helpers, the other client's friends, friends of the guide, and we had a photo session:

    IMG_3356.jpg
     
    API, Mort, Semper Fiduckis and 11 others like this.
  4. Big Daddy Gaddy

    Big Daddy Gaddy Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
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    Oct 9, 2001
    Location:
    Pretty Fly for a White Guy.
    Nice!

    No reason you can’t mention the guide though. You have no vested interest. You’re simply a satisfied paying customer. Not even close to SPAM.
     
  5. LeakyW8ers

    LeakyW8ers Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    771
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    San Jose, California
    Some more pics.
    IMG_3332.jpg IMG_3341.jpg IMG_4007.jpg IMG_4006.jpg IMG_4008.jpg
    This is a close up of the left antler base. Never seen anything quite like that.

    Ended up measuring 29-1/2" wide (thanks to the cheater on that left side).

    What a first buck huh? Yes, that is right, this is my first California deer, my first buck, my first muley.

    I grew up in Illinois, and killed does, but never got a buck. Always seemed to get buck fever and either miss or not get a shot off. And I've been deer hunting in California since 1998 and never got a shot off, and only had one real opportunity to do so.

    So, this is many dreams come true all at once. I am positive my dad was smiling ear to ear up in heaven. He never hunted during my lifetime. He hunted before I was born, but had given it up right after I was born. He never explained why, nor did I press. My start in hunting was because of a hired hand we had on the farm who hunted and took me along occasionally. I hunted rabbits a lot from age 12 up, pheasant hunted a little, called turkeys in for friends but never killed one myself in IL, and only deer hunted 3 years in IL before I moved to CA in 1997. Heck I didn't even get into duck hunting until 2004.

    If you are still reading thanks for taking the time. Those that gave advise, recommendation, thank you all. Special shout outs to:

    straightsixes
    DMC (Thanks for loaning the muzzy!)
    mudhen (Thanks for the offer of a muzzy and your recommendations and PMs)
    slowshooter (Yeah, I know he's banned still but he is how I acquired that .270 wsm)
     
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  6. J5KID

    J5KID Senior Refuge Member

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    Sep 23, 2014
    Location:
    ca
    Beautiful! Congratulations and a great read!
     
  7. LeakyW8ers

    LeakyW8ers Senior Refuge Member

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    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    San Jose, California
    Here is a pic of the other client and his rack next to mine:

    IMG_3365.JPG
     
  8. BangingBirds

    BangingBirds Senior Refuge Member

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    Jan 13, 2015
    Location:
    Central Valley
    Nice buck! Congrats and thanks for sharing!:tu:yes:tu
     
  9. LeakyW8ers

    LeakyW8ers Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    771
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    San Jose, California
    Oh, I got back yesterday afternoon and had backstrap for dinner. God I missed the taste of venison.
     
  10. 1911king

    1911king Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
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    Jan 1, 2015
    Location:
    California
    Wow what a journey. Congrats on your first buck.

    PS
    What in the world are those green things wrapped around the antlers?
     
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