Deer, Chukars, Coyotes

October is a great month to get out camping and hunting with the kids. It’s usually not too hot and not too cold. This year we headed to the west desert to hunt and ride our ATVs.

deer hunting, chukar and ATV
                                                                   On top with a chukar


The boys had a few days off school just after mid-October, so we headed out west a couple of days prior to the deer hunt opener. While out riding around on our 4 wheelers, we spotted a few coyotes and sure wished we had packed our rifle on these excursions because we could have easily collected on a couple of $50 coyote bounties.

It was Friday and we still had another day left before the rifle deer hunt opened, so we grabbed our shotguns and went after chukars. We did manage to score, but we spent most of our time flushing birds that jumped up too far in front of us. As it is with chukar hunting, we did our fair share of chasing them uphill until we jumped them, only to watch them glide away far down the mountainside below us.

Chukar hunting  Chukar hunting

          The little .410 was perfect for Daxton                             Got me one of the fast flyers

Saturday morning was upon us. We awoke to clear skies, but the early morning air was brisk. Even though we hadn’t yet seen a buck on this trip, we knew where we wanted to hunt. We bundled up, jumped on the 4 wheelers and parked the ATVs twenty minutes later. Our hike began in the dark. However, after fifteen minutes or so we rounded a hillside that would provide a decent glassing opportunity so we stopped and waited for first light. Once it was light enough to see, we spent a solid half an hour glassing for deer. The terrain was open enough that we were confident in our decision to press on after failing to turn up a single deer. For the next forty five minutes we moved along slowly, still hunting as we went. Finally we arrived at an outcropping of rocks that would provide a good vantage point from where to glass. Our only excitement to this point had been earlier when a pack of coyotes began howling and yipping a short distance away; now we were anxious to finally spot a deer.

Our packs had barely touched the ground when Carson said “did you hear that?” I shook my head side-to-side, shrugged my shoulders and held my arms to the side, palms up, as if to say, ‘hear what?’ Carson then gave an ‘I dunno know’ look, grabbed his rifle and backpack and crept 25 yards closer to the ledge. The sun shone brightly over the vast sage brush valley ahead. Carson was now positioned atop a 30 ft. cliff that gave way to the rolling brush covered hills below. But as I continued to unload my pack, I noticed that he had excitedly propped his gun onto his pack. I quickly glassed in the general direction of his pointed gun and spotted 6 deer. At first glance I thought all the deer were antlerless, until a glint of sun reflected of the antlers of a buck. I scrutinized the herd and noticed another small buck, it was a spike. Carson had vowed that he’d only shoot a 4 point within the first couple of days and neither buck fit that bill, but it was still awesome to have finally spotted some deer. I quickly pointed out the deer to my grandson Daxton, who now had the deer in his binos. “I see a buck, is Carson going to shoot it”, he asked. I confidently whispered back, “no, that buck isn’t big enough”.

i went hunting deer
                                           Looking out across the valley where the deer stood


For five minutes we inquisitively watched the deer from some 300 yards away. At first the deer were mildly aware of our presence, but slowly began to grow nervous. Carson on the other hand had been intently watching the deer, never looking up from his scope. As the deer became a bit more agitated, Carson seemed to settle in and appeared ready to take a shot.

youth mule deer hunting
                                                Daxton was excited for Carson


The blast of his muzzle broke the silence and I about jumped out of my skin. Later he explained his rationale for taking the shot…no buck sightings during the past couple of days, no deer this morning until these, and now a buck stood 300 yards away. The shot wasn’t a gimme, so he knew at that moment that he’d be more than satisfied if he could make the shot and fill his tag. And make the shot he did. There lay his buck deer 312 yards away, the 6.5 Creedmoor had performed perfectly. We quartered the deer and hauled it back to the 4 wheelers and then back to camp.

mule deer hunting with the kids
                                                     Relaxing now that the hard part was over


After lunch we recounted the morning hunt. The boys couldn’t help but fixate on the coyotes we had heard. With a partial carcass sitting on the mountain, we quickly made a plan to hunt coyotes over the kill come morning. At first light we again sat overlooking the sage covered valley. The only movement came from the ravens and magpies which had already found the deer carcass. We quietly positioned ourselves with guns in hand and I began to blow the predator call. After 30 – 45 seconds I paused to catch my breath and Carson whispered that a coyote was right out in front of us. Apparently I was looking too far in the distance because Carson watched the coyote approach from our right and disappear right below the cliff where we sat. And then somehow the coyote slyly sneaked away before presenting a shot.

deer and coyote hunting
                                                 Taking a break to eat while calling for coyotes


For the next two hours we sat perched on the cliff as I periodically blew the predator call hoping to call in another coyote. We had just finished our breakfast muffin and I told the boys that we ought to pack up and head out. But before I grabbed my pack, I decided to glass the deer carcass one last time. Nothing but birds filled my eye piece. I swept the hillside as I was preparing to put my binos away when suddenly a movement caught my eye 50 yards up from the birds. A coyote! I whispered to Carson who had the Creedmoor, “a coyote is heading for the deer carcass”. Carson quickly rested his rifle on the tripod and took aim. The coyote stopped momentarily about 10 yards from the fluttering birds and Carson made a spectacular shot and dropped the coyote in its tracks!

coyote hunting  i went hunting coyotes

           Just made a great shot on his first coyote                                   Our patience paid off, couldn't be happier

Another trip down off the cliff and then over to the coyote. The boys couldn’t have been more excited. This was the first time either of them had seen a coyote up close and was the first coyote Carson had ever shot. We skinned the coyote, packed up and headed out, another fun adventure under our belts!