Day 1…
Left my house Saturday night at 11:30pm, and drove nonstop until I hit the trailhead on Sunday at 6pm. 1,200 miles.
Loaded up all my gear for a 5 day backpack hunt. I shot my bow and immediately was concerned. Somehow it was not shooting bullet holes. I could see my arrow whipping and I was not able to group well. This was cause for panic, so instead of hiking up the mountain I shot for about an hour and half. I ended up adjusting my rest which I hate to do. I could get better arrow flight, but then I had to adjust my sight. This took forever and I figured as long as I could group at 50 yards and in, I’d be fine.

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Day 2…
Hiked from base camp to the 10,500 feet. I glassed up 3 bucks feeding at the top of the ridge way late in the morning. Instead of putting them to bed (there was way too much cover to do that), I attempted to flank them with the wind in my face. I got to 127 yards before they busted me. From there I set up and glassed for miles and hours. I finally found a buck bedded in the shade of a pine tree about 2 miles away. I got there in a hurry, about 300 yards away and could tell the wind was swirling bad. So I backed up and camped on the deer. I watched him get up and feed 3x and re-bed in the same spot all day. As evening approached, I felt the thermals were going to be good, the only problem was I could not get above the buck, so I had to stalk uphill, not a great decision. When I got within 60 yards of this bedded buck, I felt the wind hit my neck and the game was over.

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Day 3…
Hiked to the top of the mountain and cruised over 4 miles of ridge line glassing into 4 different bases with zero deer spotted. We dropped to lower sage where there was a 1000+ beef cows feeding, but managed to glass 32 bucks for the day. That evening I got to about 125 yards of a group of bucks feeding towards water but ran out of cover. There were in the middle of the sage and down there the wind was swirling bad. We backed out and hiked to base camp.

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Day 4…
I started again at the highest glassing point around 10,500 feet. I watched bulls fighting, all hard horned. I saw zero bucks so dropped a thousand feet and hit the low country. I glassed all day and stalked into a group of bucks. I got to 60 yards above them and realized there wasn’t a shooter in the group. 4 total bucks, not one of 140 inches. I backed out. That evening I found a bachelor group of 7 feeding in the sage towards me. I waited patiently as they were on track to be in my effective range, once again the wind swirled even with the sun already set, and they spooked. I believe the deer were down low because of the erratic winds giving them a huge advantage. We made the long hike back to camp.
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Day 5…
My last day, spent glassing even lower country that had small breaks and canyons, perfect for bowhunting. The full moon made mornings very unproductive. I walked about 7 miles glassing into every nook and cranny looking for a bedded buck. Finally around 2pm I glassed up 2 miles away at the top of a huge mountain 3 bucks bedded on the edge of a quakie patch. I hiked up there and swung real wide getting the wind in my face. The hike was a 1,000 feet and took over 2 hours. I took my boots off and stalked to the edge. The biggest buck stood up to feed about 78 yards away. Then his 2 buddies that were not shooters stood up and fed as well. As luck would have it, the big buck fed slowly my way. I was waiting for over an hour when the shooter buck got to 48 yards from me and turned broadside. After ranging, and turning my single pin to the exact yardage I drew. I didn’t rush either, I held on him for longer than normal settling my pin right on his shoulder. The surprise release felt perfect, until I saw my arrow whipping left and right on the way to the buck and then exploding into the ground about 10 yards before him. My equipment failed. The bucks blew out and I about cried as this was my first real stalk on bucks that were bedded below me. I quickly gathered about 10 cow patties and made a target. I shot my next arrow at 30 yards into the cow patties and my arrow hit a foot low. My bow needed a tune and I didn’t have a block target to shoot or a bow press to check the timing or cam lean. I dropped down to camp loaded all my gear and hiked down to the truck in two hours. All told, 3,800 vertical feet. I grabbed my back-up bow and shot it until dark.

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Day 6…
The night before I drove around 100 miles looking for an area I could hunt from the truck. I slept maybe 4 hours and drove up a “road” that was more like a ATV trail. At about 7am I got as high as I could from the truck and glassed up the biggest buck of the trip when I parked. This was lower elevation country, perhaps 8,000 feet chalked full of pinion and juniper. The buck disappeared into the pinions and I hiked up real high to a vantage spot and spent literally 10 hours glassing for him in the thick stuff with no luck. At about 7:30pm I quit glassing and started hiking down to the truck when I spotted this buck with 5 other deer. I got to about 117 yards until I ran out of cover as they were feeding in the wide open sage. I thought about stalking on my belly but was fighting shooting light. No shot and out of time, I got in my truck and started driving home.

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Final Thoughts…
Why my equipment failed? I don’t know. I will take my bow into the shop tomorrow and see what the hell happened. It’s my fault for not shooting my main bow and using a new bow that probably wasn’t settled into its new strings. I just liked the way my new Turbo felt, but it cost me the only shot opportunity on a 150″ 4×4 buck. I worked my ass off. This will not happen again. I became a better hunter on this trip. I honed my backcountry skills. I glassed more than ever and my vortex optics enabled me to find any deer on the mountain that wasn’t bedded or feeding in the many quakie patches. I became more patient and really learned mule deer behavior. I also had a full moon everyday, this sucked for finding deer in the morning, but I adjusted and glassed deer up midday everyday instead of hanging out at base camp or taking long naps. My buddy Ryan found a MONSTER buck and stayed on him the whole trip. This buck was well over 180″ and when I left to go home I had a feeling Ryan would get his opportunity as this buck was by himself in the high country. I haven’t seen the pictures yet, but Ryan texted me from the mountain and he stroked this buck on his 7th day. Good for him. Great hunt, I will be back someday.
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