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Never say never

Outdoorman's Diary, Francisco Garcia, Never say never,

ost of you have heard the saying, patience is a virtue, and I would say persistence is a virtue. If you want to fill your deer tag each season you have to put your time in. If you don’t give in and hunt hard you should be able to put venison in the freezer. This year was tougher than normal for me because, unlike other years, I was really limited in the time I had at my disposal. It felt like there was a ticking clock and so I had to make every trip and every hour count.

Like most people I have certain hunting spots which I consider to be my honey holes and hunt them religiously year after year. Statistics show that people who hunt the same tracts of land regularly are more successful each hunting season than others who don’t. The biggest reason is hunters get to learn the terrain and the local deer very well and get pretty good at patterning deer movement. I don’t have access to private property so all of my deer hunting is done on public land; hunting grounds that get pounded by hunters each season.

Honey holes are far and few and may not last forever and am therefore constantly on the lookout for new ones. I usually apply for a G1 tag and buy a B tag over the counter but this year I decided to try something new and apply to one of the highly coveted X tags. After looking at the drawing statistics I saw that I had no chance at getting a rifle tag with the zero preference points I currently have so I applied for an archery only X tag. I had never applied for one before so naturally I was excited about the possibilities of chasing monster mulies with my bow. That excitement was quickly quashed when I received my drawing results stating I had failed in drawing my first and second tag choices. In the end I was stuck with my third choice which was a B tag. This meant that I would have to exclusively hunt in the B zone and fill two B tags since that area is the only one I know other that zone c 4. To make it worse I have never tried to fill two B-tags in the same year. The spots that have produced for me are a onetime deal and so I was naturally worried that I would not be able to fill both tags. This hunting season I was very limited on time due to my wife going back to school and me having to pick up a bigger share of the load. As some of you that have read my last piece know, my bow opener turned out to be a fiasco, one experience I hope to never go through again.

Never say never, Francisco Garcia,

My next hunting adventure was a week or so later and took place under a circumstance I am normally not used to; road hunting. As I said before road hunting is not for everyone but some people are really good at it. One of my hunting partners loves it and gets a deer every season doing it. I personally like to walk hunt but this time I only had one day to hunt and was easily convinced to by my buddy to accompany him on one of his road hunts. We decided to get as far from any town as possible so we could hunt less pressured animals and drive less traveled roads. This decision paid off greatly because we saw few hunters and lots of game. I shot and missed a buck at first light and had lots of actions shooting at mountain quall and Blue Grouse. I ended up getting one Grouse and missed many others. They are a blast to hunt in bow season and usually let you get to within bow range. At twenty to thirty yards, a bird the size of a chicken is a good target. They are also very tasty, I had never eaten one before they are very similar to pheasant. They love to hang out by the road near water and late morning is usually a good time to go looking for them.

Having hunted hard the whole day we were slowly making our way back home when the unexpected happened; a small buck crossed the road in front of us and ran into the woods. My friend, a veteran road hunter, knew better than to stop right on it, he likes to drive past them then stop down the road and sneak back for a shot. Fooled into thinking the coast is clear, the deer usually relax and resume their normal activity, letting their guard down. That is exactly what happened that day... We both got out of the truck and took off our shoes in order to walk more quietly then both snuck back up the road and into the woods where the buck had disappeared. I ended spotting it first and made a good shot at thirty yards. After about forty five minutes of waiting we took up the blood trail in the dark and thankfully found him fifty yards or so down the hill. The shot I made was a little high and back but caught part of a lung and the liver. After the customary field photos we quickly gutted it and began dragging it out up the hill towards the truck. The buck died in thick brush that was littered with bear scat, one was so fresh my friend slipped and fell as he stepped in it in the dark... Needless to say, it was time to get out of there, bears absolutely love deer gut piles and at that moment I smelled just like one.

Never say never, Francisco Garcia,

The buck turned out to be a descent hard horned three point, a trophy in my book. I consider any bow killed buck a trophy these days; I have been having a really hard time bow hunting the last few years. We ended up going back in pursuit of a buck for my friend but instead he shot a small bear as it fed in an old burn. We again saw plenty of grouse and mountain quail but no bucks.

When the rifle season for B zone arrived I was again hunting my usual Yolla Bolly Wilderness spot but instead of hiking in we camped and hunted out of one of the trailheads. This meant that we would have to hike farther and hunt harder than the next guy in order to tag a buck but having a more comfortable camp was worth the extra effort. In the end it was the right decision because I ended up taking a descent forked horn an hour and a half into opening morning.

I was employing my usual, no shoes, wearing double socks, taking two steps and stopping to look and listen technique when a buck and I practically head butted each other. We were both walking the same ridge top deer trail and were walking towards each other. We both stepped around the same big brush patch and froze staring at each other in midstride and in disbelief. The buck immediately reversed directions and ran up and over the ridge top. Realizing that this opportunity was rapidly slipping away I ran after it hoping to get a shot as it tried to escape. I usually read the deer’s reaction to see how scared it is, this will tell me if I should take my time or follow quickly. A deer that has been badly spooked will be out of there in a heartbeat and will not give you much of a chance for anything. One that has been slightly spooked or doesn’t know what alerted it will not run far and therefore gives you more time to sneak up on it. This deer mustn’t have known exactly what I was because he wasn’t acting too spooked. When I got to the top of the ridge and looked down he was standing there broadside forty yards away and looking back in my direction.

Never say never, rifle buk, Francisco Garcia,

I quickly raised my gun and shot, I normally avoid off hand shots but that is all I had. At the shot the buck jumped straight up in the air and then disappeared in the thick brush. I later found it piled up about twenty yards away; I had double lunged it. It took me a long time to bone him out and pack him out to the truck a trip that is always more worth it once you take the pack off and your sipping a cold one in the comforts of camp.

Once again another successful hunting season comes to a close, I can’t remember the last deer season in which I did not get at least one buck and I can say I owe it to being persistent. If you have that no quit, never say never attitude and you pay close attention to the deer you are hunting you should never go without venison. Find an area with good numbers of deer and hunt it regularly. With time you should be able to start having more success, just don’t get discouraged and give up. Hunt hard every chance you get, being in the hunting woods more time allows for more chance encounters with the buck of your dreams. Good Hunting!

More Hunting News

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​I Was an Indoor (Outdoor) Slave

Don Webster, author badge,
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Nash Buckingham

Don Webster, author badge,
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How much venison do hunters harvest?

Venison Bourguignon (Venison Stew), photo by Daniel Bledsoe,
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Pups & Partridges on the Calapooia Prairie

Liesl, 11 month old pudelpointer, photo by Gary Lewis
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DSC convention goers raise $1M in 1 minute

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It’s Not over Till the Lady Sings

mountain lion on rocky edge, photo courtesy of UDWR and Carrie Wilson, CA DFW
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The buck we didn’t get and two we did

Tyler Low with his 3x4 buck shot at 100 yards with a Weatherby Vanguard .300 Winchester Magnum. Photo by Kyler Olson
By Tyler Low
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Where Are All the Pheasants?

Sacramento Valley Pheasant, Steven T. Callan, Where Have All the Pheasants Gone
On Patrol by Steven T. Callan
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Ham on the Hoof

Article and photos by Gary Lewis
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Hunting trip gone bad

Deer holding tight in cover during times of heavy hunting pressure as I was about to find out. Francisco Garcia hunting story.
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