The Rut

During the BC hunt, I was able to video bucks chasing does on two occasions. Watch these videos and you’ll see for your own eyes that whitetail bucks are more aggressive breeders.

The first clip is a good-sized muley buck and the second clip a smaller whitetail buck. These deer were filmed within a mile of each other.

Observations While Tracking Mule Deer in Snow

On the BC deer hunt, my guide Wes Phillips recommended that we try to locate buck tracks along a road and then track the deer down. Although we made several attempts, we never quite caught up with the bucks we followed, but we came close. On one occasion we caught up to a yearling doe that had been traveling with another doe and the buck we were after. We must have just missed seeing the buck. It is an exciting way to hunt, but the noisy snow made it unlikely that we’d get in range of a shooter buck.

Here are a couple photos of deer tracks we found.

Deer tracks crossing each other.

At this track site, I measured the tracks of two deer. The larger had a stride of 25 inches toe to toe and a trail width of five inches from hoof centerline to centerline. The smaller, a trail width of three and a half inches and a stride of 18 inches. Because I didn’t see these deer, I cannot say for sure if it was a buck and doe or a doe and fawn, but the 18 inch stride of the smaller deer leads me to believe it was probably the later.

Here’s another trail where two deer apparently walked the same trail.

While trailing deer, we came upon deer urine in the tracks. Apparently the rutting buck was urinating on his hind legs, a practice that occurs as the bucks pursue does. On another occasion we came upon a drop of blood, a sign that the deer may have been gored while fighting another buck.

On another occasion, we came upon a site where the buck had jumped another deer from it’s bed. Wes believed it was probably a rival buck.  Signs in the snow made it clear that the bedded buck had jumped up in a hurry.

BC, How Cold Was it Part 2

It was so cold that the Fraiser River was almost completely frozen over.

The Fraser River had ice about a foot thick in most places, but nothing was dumb enough to walk across it.

 It was so cold that my guide, Wes had to chop the ice each day so his pack horses could drink.

It was so cold that laundry had to be freeze dried.

It was minus 4 degrees fahrenheit when I took this photo, the high for the day. Wes said the laundry does dry out.

BC, How Cold Was It?

As we used to say in the Navy.

How cold was it?

Colder than a witches tit.

Colder than pile of Eskimo shit.

Colder than the hair on a polar bears ass.

Colder than the balls on a monkey of brass.

The first three days of the hunt, the temps were about -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit).

Coldest measurement – 24 degrees Celsius (-9 degrees Fahrenheit)

Average temp last three days was about -20 Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit)

On the last day of the hunt it was also windy.

We spent a lot of time in the truck blind. On the last day, I stood outside for a while wearing five layers of clothing plus my large wool coat. My guide, Wes Phillips, said I looked like the Michelin man.

BC Deer Hunt

BC was great, the deer were there and the hunting was good. Although I didn’t bring home a buck, I was impressed by the opportunity and also the bucks my friends Jeff and George bagged. The area was densely wooded except where fields had been created by clearing timber and those fields held both whitetail and mule deer.

The forest held mostly mule deer, which were very elusive, even during the rut. The fields were all on privately owned property and the deer there were easier to spot and probably easier to approach as well. Farming and ranch activities somewhat moderated their willingness to accept the presence of vehicles.

Here are photos of bucks taken on the trip. More later.

Jeff and his guide Corey with Jeff's whitetail

Jeff’s whitetail had a gross score over 160 B&C. He shot it from a tree stand while Corey rattled.

Jeff with the head and cape of his mule deer buck

Jeff’s muley had three points on each side, double eye guards, heavy horns, an outside width of 26 inches and a height of 21 inches. It was aged at about seven years old. The buck came to the sound of Corey’s rattling horns.

George "W." with his muley.

Seattle George took this buck during heavy rutting activity. It had typical muley antlers, a width of 23 inches and antler height of  18 inches. Jeff and George took these mule deer bucks within 100 yards of the same spot, two days apart.

I found a buck I would have shot, on the last day of the hunt, but despite huge outside dimensions, the buck was not legal. After the 20th of November, mule deer bucks must have four antler tines on each side and the buck I encountered on November 22nd was only three by two.

Light was poor and he was far away. Here’s the best photo I have. Our outfitter, Kiff Covert of Dome Creek Outfitters took good care of us and I recommend him highly.

This buck had great dimensions, but not enough antler tines.

Kiff has a better picture of this 3×2 and I intend to publish it in a later post. More BC info as I find time.

After a Great Week in CA, Leaving for a BC Trophy Deer Hunt Tomorrow

The middle of November is both frustrating and exhilarating. Duck season is always ebbing as pheasant season begins. Yesterday morning was classic. After three hours of working at bagging  a mallard, a stiff late-morning wind brought a flock of mallards within range and I managed to bring one down. The final approach duck boat is working well and I’m getting comfortable with it. Hauling the boat is sometimes a lot of work, but when you finally get into position, it’s deadly.

Final Approach duck boat

Expectations of  bagging a rooster were very low. I was surprised when we corralled one right off the bat. Cousin Wes brought him down easily and any one of the four of us would have killed him if Wes had missed. Same thing with the second bird, which brother Rob dropped.

Later in the afternoon, we split up. Wes and Rob finished off their limits and Lola followed a rooster for nearly ten minutes before putting him up at my feet. I too had a bird.

Here's Lola with a rooster from last year.

This was a good wrap to a week that included a very nice grasslands duck hunt at a friend’s club on Wednesday. This morning the birds went into the freezer and now it’s time to conclude my packing for BC which is nearly done.

What does a trophy hunt mean to me? It means the best of everything. Best guide, best food, best equipment and most excitement. I’m prepared to bring home the venison in large U.S. Army duffel bags and insulated soft coolers.

However, trophy hunting often means coming home with the least game, as trophy hunting means selectivity. I won’t shoot a deer this week unless it’s the bigger than any deer I’ve killed of that species.

A mule buck will have to be bigger than my 2008 Nevada buck

For whitetail that doesn’t say much because I’ve never killed one. For mule deer that means a mature, heavy-horned,  four-point buck with very good outside dimensions.

I’ll be hunting  with Kiff Covert of Dome Creek Outfitters. I met Kiff at the Mule Deer Foundation Convention last February.

For me, trophy hunting is just like any other hunting, except it’s usually just a little bit better.

Mule Deer and Whitetail Deer Hunt – Looking Forward to Some British Columbia Weather Next Week.

Dome Creek, BC forecast for next week. 

Sunday: Cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers. Low plus 5. High 10.
Monday: Periods of rain. Low plus 3. High plus 3.
Tuesday: A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 3 (Celsius). High minus 1.
Wednesday: Cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 9. High minus 5.

After traveling on Monday, we’ll begin our deer hunt on Tuesday. The forecast sounds like perfect deer-hunting weather. I’ll be packing some cold-weather clothing, but cold is preferred over rain at just above the freezing level. Cold weather might keep the deer out. Hope so.

I’ve been working hard on packing. Trying to take just the right amount of clothing. Extra luggage is expensive, so we’ll work out the best plan for that. I purchased a couple U. S. Army duffel bags today and I’m picking up some soft cooler cases for meat. The huge bags won’t be fun to carry, but they will hold a lot of deer meat. Since we can tag two deer each, we’re hoping to come home well loaded and hopefully with some respectable antlers.

Best Way to Rig a Duck Decoy

Went duck hunting with a friend yesterday and we adjusted decoys at two blinds. At the first blind, the decoys had been tied to the decoys and the anchor. As I carried decoys, the anchor and decoys twisted in my hands, creating a massive tangle of lines, decoys and anchors.

In order to move the decoys without spending too much time untangling lines, I was limited to carrying a few decoys at one time, making the decoy move very time-consuming. I hate spending any more time than necessary moving decoys when I could be shooting.

In yesterday’s case, we were hunting over a large decoy spread, and moving the decoys was a major issue. On the other hand, we wanted to kill some ducks and moving decoys was a necessary evil.

Here’s a sketch of the best way I know to rig decoys .

How to best rig a duck decoy

With the decoy line properly tied, the decoy and anchor will slide down the line to the end, allowing you to carry a couple dozen decoys without tangling them up. In this manner you can move your decoys without frustration and with the decoys in the proper location relative to wind and other objects you’ll have better shots and come home with more birds.

Ninteen Years of Waiting to Draw an AZ Bull Elk Tag

One of Livermore’s deserving hunters finally got drawn for the Arizona elk tag he’s been waiting for. Frank Marino put in for ninteen straight years and finally had enough preference points to draw one of Arizona’s most coveted elk tags.  The area he hunted only had one non-resident tag. Frank told me his bull scored in the neighborhood of 360 B&C and the horns are at the taxidermist.

Here’s a link to a video of the hunt.

State Game Refuges, Time for a Change

Many of the State Game Refuges were created to provide sanctuary for deer herds. Today's deer are protected by tag quota regulations not space closure.

Don’t confuse these with the State Wildlife Refuges where hunting programs are in place. They’re a completely different animal.

In 1910, creation of sanctuaries for game animals like deer and bear was a progressive idea. This was an era that preceded game management as we know it today. I made a quick search on the internet, but I couldn’t find the date of creation of the California hunting licence legislation, but I doubt that hunting licenses even existed in 1910  and I’m certain that meaningful game population estimates were non-existent.

Therefore, the concept of creation of big game sanctuaries was a logical human action. The creators of this legislation had no data to rely upon.

Today game is managed by more than gut instincts and it has been known for some time that, with minor exceptions,  game sanctuaries are ineffective as game management tools. In fact, for the most part, that has always been the case.

For detailed information about California State Game Refuges go to:

Because these refuges were created by legislation, their removal also requires legislative action. If you are interested in participating in the process of determining the fate of these refuges, participate at:

If you’re interested in more science on this topic, check out the following article written in 1943.

Conclusions are on the last page.

Or, for a briefer statement, check out this article from “Tracks.”