Well the hunting season is officially over for Cheyvonne and I. The freezers are about as full as they are going to get.
The total was pretty consistent with previous years, give or take and animal or two.
Two Coues deer taken south of Tucson. This makes 12 for 12 on public land Coues deer with a couple mule deer mixed in. Pretty proud of that average. Shots were close this year with one buck taken at ~300yd from sitting and shooting sticks. The second taken from reverse kneeling and sticks at about 200yd. Both shots were solid and neither animal went anywhere but a short roll down the hill. Packed meat out in Ute main bag with Connor pocket for gear. Buddy helped pack out some meat and set of horns with extra pillow cases. Both tags filled before noon on 1st day. Shots in the past have went as far as 635yd (Cheyvonne) with several more over 400yd. And 3 under 50yd.
Three cow elk this year with all shots under 200yd. Reverse kneeling again with one shot conventional kneeling. Previous two years shots were ~60yd offhand, 440yd prone.
Helped Cheyvonne’s nephew fill his Mule deer take. Shot was reverse kneeling off of sticks at about 50yd. Rem 6mm/95NBT. Shot was pulled back into paunch, but we got him blood trailed and put down. Used Ute again to pack meat out.
Lessons learned or verified:
The 300WM / 215 Berger is an amazing combo…if you can shoot it. The 215 Berger stretches elk flat out. Exit average 1-3” with a blood trail a blind man could follow. Only 1 recovered bullet in ~20 animals. If you stay off the spine and leg bones it is surprisingly easy on meat. And it hits as hard as anything I have used.
I am a huge fan of heavy for caliber bullets and fast twist barrels. The more animals I put on the ground just confirms this.
Switched this year from a NF 5.5-22x to a NF 5-25 ATACT F1 MOAR reticle scope. The FFP was NOT a hinderance at 5x up close in poor lighting. You watch them buckle in the scope if you hold on. I may pick up a NF 4-16 ATACT F1 MOAR as my primary hunting scope. The NF scopes have served me well and have been boringly reliable. Buy good glass and bombproof rings/mounts!
For a young new hunter a sleek 6mm with good glass is hard to beat for deer, bear, and varmints.
Good binos (Geovid 10x40) and tripod are a must have on the Coues hunts. Those Couse are an amazing animals and taste quite a bit better than mule deer in my opinion.
Shooting sticks (and practice) takes you from “shooting at” animals wondering if you hit them, to threading the shot right where it needs to go.
The Ute/Connor/Recon Kit bag combo proves it self again and again. It will haul more meat than I can get on my shoulders by myself. I will be adding a bino pouch and trimming my BFG Ten Speed pouch for next year.
Trekking poles are like having 4x4 with chains. I will not willingly hunt or pack rough country without them.
Kuiu Attack pants continue to hold up better than expected. Like having yoga hunting pants with pockets and zippers…that hold up to rough country.
Mora knife. The Mora was used to field dress, quarter, and ultimately butcher 5 deer/elk this year. I started using the Mora years ago on the trap line and have no intentions of going back to “hunting” knives, boning knives, Havalons, etc. We do use a high end Japanese Guyoto for slicing big roasts.
Shapton Pro sharpending stones. I use the 1000 grit mostly. I touch it up every animal or quarter when butchering. “Sharp enough to skin a fish.”
The Cabelas .75hp meat grinder is amazing. It will grind big chunks of sinewy meat faster than you can bag it. Expensive and worth every penny.
Used the Wyoming saw to section a lot of elk bones for bone broth and racks or ribs. Will let you know how that goes. Those who leave the elk ribs for the coyotes are missing out.
Overall a surprisingly easy year without any real train-wrecks or “cool stories”.