Western Hunting Journal, Premiere Issue whj001_premiere - Page 65

Glassing for bucks is addicting in the Frank Church, even when packing out a heavy load back to camp, as deer seem to be everywhere. and Hollywood personas. Now an outfitter has set up opera- tions at the ranch and one of their hunts they offer are for wolf with a season that lasts most of the winter. Elk have also learned that by staying close to the ranch they are safe from wolves. Each morning the hunters that are tagged out and hanging around camp line the runway and glassed for elk as they made their way back up the mountain above the ranch leaving the fields from a night of feed ing. Finding mule deer out feed- ing is easy along the south fac- ing slopes. The wide open sage hillsides allow one to glass for miles. Preferring to hunt the rut I opt for the late season. On my most recent trip into the Frank Church we arrived a few days early just as the rut was kick- ing in. Our first afternoon was spent glassing the hillsides and finding pockets holding deer. The mornings don’t need to come too early as deer are often found close to camp so most hunters wait for daylight before heading out so not to walk past bucks. But those that want a chance at a mature buck often head out in the pre-dawn to get ahead of the crowds. After a few days of hunting it gets harder to pass on “average” bucks. The three and four-year old class bucks with antlers of four points and around twen- ty-inches wide are plentiful so when you find one that is around twenty-four inches wide it is almost impossible to pass as you know the next hunter will fill their tag with that buck. Kyle Hurst, a friend since childhood, found a nice four-point with that magical twenty-four-inch frame. The buck was above the trail when first spotted and I told Kyle that we were at the top of a box canyon and try to put the buck down quickly so it would not run down into the deep ravine. The buck stumbled at the shot but it held its strength long enough to cross the trail and finally come to rest fifty-yards downslope in some tall sage. The next few days were the same, glassing bucks and de- ciding if they were the one we wanted. Kyle’s brother Chad, someone I have known since the second grade, found a deep forked four-point with sever- al other bucks in the group. It was the largest so far in camp so Chad made the shot. This time the buck didn’t need to cross the trail as it was already below it by a hundred yards. The steep hills remind me that my age is not of youth anymore and that packing deer meat is rewarding only if shared with www.westernhuntingjournal.com 63