James Chavez of Kent, Washington made the trip to Bearcat for a deer hunt this past week.
We started on day 1 hiking some ridges and Douglas-fir slopes on one of the ranches we have been seeing a large number of mule deer on this fall. We saw a few does right off then jumped a couple we couldn’t really tell what they were. We slowly made our way up onto a small ridge about mid-morning and could see a couple of does and two small bucks glued to one doe’s tail. I started on my grunt tube as they seemed a bit nervous and James slowly made his way up towards this group of deer. He made out a third buck with a high rack, but couldn’t see if it was a 4-point before it took off. We kept working the area, but never saw the larger buck again. We probably saw about 20 deer in the morning, then in the afternoon, I decided to change things up and head to some high elevation country where I had been seeing a bunch of deer sign. We sat watching a remote clearcut in the afternoon and about an hour before dark we saw does emerge from the timber edge one after the other. We both thought ‘this is it’ and a big buck would soon follow. None ever showed and we were both very surprised. Oh well, the buck might very well have been chasing a hot doe back in the timber.
On day 2, we were out early to a Douglas-fir ridge system with a small patchwork of cutblocks where I had been seeing a pile of deer this fall. It is a pretty remote area with very little pressure, so I figured it must hold at least some decent bucks. We had to wait a bit for shooting light, then we slowly made our way along the edge of the first small cutblock. We only got about half-way around the block, when I made out a deer moving parallel to us in the timber to our left. I whispered to James that I saw a deer and he started scanning intently in that direction. We both quickly saw a tall-racked buck glued to the doe. I could see it was only 3 points on the one side, but had 4 nice points on his right side. We had a hushed discussion about what to do, and James commented he would pass on the buck. I was a bit flustered and said ‘You have got to be kidding me!’ It had good tine length and nice mass, and certanly looked like a shooter to me. James just kind of grinned and got himself in position for a shot. The doe led the buck on a bit of a chase through the thick timber just off to our side, and at one point, thought she was going to get our scent and our cover would be blown. Fortunately she doubled back and brought the buck straight towards us. James was steady on the side of a pine tree and shot the buck under the chin with his 7 Mag at about 35 yards. I breathed a sigh of relief and congratulated James. I asked ‘What is up with passing the deer?’ He said he was just trying to gauge my reaction to see if I felt confident in passing the deer and shooting a bigger one. I guess he caught my reaction pretty fast! He is a good buck and one to be proud of.
We were then onto hunting whitetails. We saw a decent buck chasing a doe on the next day of our hunt, but passed him hoping for a good one. We saw another small buck the next day, but no good bucks showed themselves. The afternoon of day 4 did reveal a large coyote feeding in a grassy valley while we were glassing for whitetails. James is a big coyote hunter, and he asked if I had a call with me. I did, and we then quickly got set up for a calling session. I let out one sequence and the big coyote we had glassesd locked onto us and came right away at a trot. James indicated once they were locked onto you, you should quit calling and let them locate you. That is what I did and I quickly saw the large, dark coyote crest a ridge about 80 yards in front of us. I was waiting for the shot then heard James whisper something about a light-colored coyote to our left. About that time, his 7 Mag. went off and I caught a glimpse of a coyote flip in the air. He got onto the big, dark coyote quickly but shot a bit over him as he made his hasty retreat. He shot a beautiful, light-colored female and we were both pleased with our bit of unexpected excitement.
James had to get back to the grind, so we parted with the hope that next year we can shoot a big mulie. He was at the cabin when Dan and Jolene Fremlin brought her buck by, so I think he has aspirations to try for a buck like that one next year.