A tribute to the "wolfpack" - Utah Wildlife Network

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Old 03-25-2017, 05:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default A tribute to the "wolfpack"

As some of you may remember , my group of hunting partners ( Paul, John ,Corby and Tom) and I were threatened and intimidated by a couple of real tools a few years ago. One of them labeled our group “the wolfpack” , intending to be an insult. Instead we embraced the title and have had fun with it instead.
As I begin a new stage in my hunting adventures and explore new country while doing it solo this next hunting season. I want to preserve some of my memories of time spent on the mountain with a group of guys that I have grown to admire because of our shared passion to hunt big game, along with their selfless characters and strong code of ethics. I hope by sharing some of our success , it will inspire some of you to do the same.

First, a brief history of the pre- wolfpack days.
I shot my first buck when I was 16 and I couldn’t have been more proud and excited about it at the time.
Through the mid and late 1980s and into the early 1990s, I hunted mainly with family and a few close friends from school. Then the rest of the 1990s and early 2000s, I spent either hunting alone or with my Father-in-law. My FIL and I didn’t have the same hunting styles and I could tell he just wasn’t having much fun while we hunted together. During the winter of 2003, I got to know a neighbor of mine Paul, who was looking for someone new to hunt with and learn from. Since I had spent most of 2002 scouting and hunting the Vernon unit alone, I was game for a more constant hunting partner.

Here’s my 2002 Vernon buck that I shot on the last day.
After hiking probably over 100 miles that summer and fall, I shot the buck right on the side of road .
Go figure.
To be continued…….
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Old 03-26-2017, 03:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Looking forward to this!
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Old 03-26-2017, 10:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You have my attention!
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Old 03-26-2017, 10:50 AM   #4 (permalink)
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2003,
Paul and I decided to archery hunt both deer and elk . I was really excited about possibly hunting elk on the Vernon and Oak Creek units, which were both being opened up for the first time as general season open bull units. I had seen some great bulls on the Vernon the year before.
Unfortunately we could not locate a single elk although July and early August on those units. So while looking for deer on the Wasatch Front, I found several group of elk and some really big mature bulls too.
Although we saw several huge bucks and bulls that year on the front, we never could put an arrow in any of them.
Paul had seen a big buck while archery hunting a Northern unit near his grandpa’s property but could never get a shot at it.
His brother Brett and good friend Ty had northern rifle tags, so we made plans to help them find the big buck Paul had seen earlier in the year.
As we pulled up to the small canyon the buck had been in, there were other hunters all around the area. We decided to try the area anyway and luck would have it. The buck was only a few hundred yards from where Paul had seen it a couple months earlier. It was tucked away in a little side draw feeding where Brett was able to kill it. The buck ended up being a little over 28” wide and scored around 180”, not bad for a first buck. I remember telling him that was probably the biggest buck he will ever kill in his lifetime and it still is to this day. Ty passed on a few small bucks but never tagged one that season. Paul and I archery hunted a few days with a couple of our other neighbor friends Robb and Dave. Including a few days on the extended archery but we just couldn't get any good shots but we did see some great bucks and bulls that year on the Wasatch. Much better than any of the bucks I had seen on the Vernon. I did miss one raghorn bull elk on the front at 35 yards. Paul and I were becoming good friends at this point.

Here’s a look at Brett’s buck along side Paul.
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Old 03-28-2017, 09:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the feedback. I'll try and post a couple years of back history each week, when I have time.
Work is really busy right now.
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Old 03-29-2017, 09:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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2004:
Although I had hunted with my cousin John on a few occasions during the mid and late 1990s. It wasn’t until this year that John and I spent a considerable amount of time scouting and hunting together.
Paul, John and I decided to try the dedicated hunter program. We spent most of our time bouncing back and forth between a couple different sub-units within the Central Region. We found a few nice bucks scouting but couldn’t relocate them during the hunt. Opening day of the muzzleloader season was wet and cold with a rain/snow mix. We saw several bucks after the weather cleared but they all were yearlings or two year olds. We were hoping to find an older buck to end our season with. On the weekend (day 4), we tried an area I had success finding bucks in the past. As we crested a ridgetop on our way to a basin I knew about, there was a big 2 point standing on the same trail that we were on. It seemed like it may have been a little more than a hundred yards away. John decided he wanted to put his tag on it but his shot missed. Without hesitation, Paul handed John his rifle but John missed again. I then handed him my rifle and once again, he missed. At that point , I knew I had some great selfless hunting partners. The buck slowly walked off and after John reloaded. He was able to put a bullet in the buck but the shot was a little too far back. The buck went downhill a few hundred yards and bedded. John was able to sneak up and shoot it at about 10 yards. Unfortunately, the buck was several hundred yards downhill off the trail and we had to pack it up out of the canyon and back over the ridgetop to our atv’s about two miles away. That was by far the hardest I’ve worked for a 2 point. ha ha. As for the rifle hunt, I was only able to hunt the opener and it needed to be close to my West Jordan home because my wife was due with our son any time. He was actually born a few days later. Paul hunted a few more days during the rifle hunt but didn’t see anything he wanted to tag during his first year of the dedicated hunter program.
Here’s a picture of John and his big 2 point after we had got back up on the trail we were on.
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Old 04-02-2017, 02:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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2005:
Although it had only been three years since I had hunted the Southern region, I was really missing hunting down there. I was able to talk Paul into trying some of my old honey holes but John wanted to keep hunting further North with family. Paul and I scouted a few times in July. Including driving all night to get to the trailhead at about 3 am and get up less than 2 hours later to start hiking in the dark.
We found one real nice 28” 170”+ 4x4 buck in an area I had never seen another hunter in all the times I had hunted there, so he was high on our hit list. We did scout other areas but found nothing as good as the 28” 4x4. One day scouting I almost stepped on a huge rattlesnake. I jumped back so fast that I knocked Paul over because he was following right behind me. We got a good laugh over that one. We archery hunted a few days in August on the Wasatch Front with no shots, although we did see several nice bucks. On the muzzy opener, Paul, Ty and I went after the nice 4x4 we saw in July. We saw several small bucks but nothing big. I twisted my knee on a steep incline that day, which was the beginning of years of knee pain every time I hiked hard. After just one day in that area, we moved locations and hiked into the another area about 5 or 6 miles back into the high country. I gave some verbal instructions to a brother-in-law of Paul’s sister-in-law named Tom (a current member of the wolfpack) and Tom’s dad. I really didn’t think Tom would find our backcountry camp but a couple days later, amazingly, they came walking into camp. We had to filter water from a cattle catchment pond that was very muddy. Our water looked more like iced tea that water. One day, there was even a cow pooping in the pond a few feet away while we were filtering. Yuck! We even boiled the filtered water to be extra safe. Once again we didn’t see any mature bucks but did see some sign of them and a camp next to us shot a big non-typical over 30” wide and which had 7-10 points per side. I learned a valuable lesson on that trip and that was not to sacrifice weight for a warm sleeping bag. I had only taken a 40 degree rated, 1.5 lb. down bag. It was getting down near 30 degrees at night and I got very cold, even with all my clothes on.
During the rifle hunt, we missed the opener because of Paul’s work schedule. So I also worked that Saturday, to make up for some time I’d be missing the following week.We hunted an area looking for migrating deer but didn’t see very many. We then headed further West to an area my neighbor friend had been hunting. A guy in his camp killed a 37” wide 190” class buck on opening day and Rob had said there were other big bucks in the area and we should give it a try. After just one day in this new area, Ty needed to go back to work. So Paul and I stayed out there for a couple more days. Not knowing the area, really made it hard to hunt. We were seeing a few small bucks with lots of does andon the last day we were there, a 31” wide 206” buck was killed just down canyon from us. Another year that we were in the right area but just missed out on a huge buck. 2005 went down as a big goose egg for our group. Tag soup for all.
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Old 04-02-2017, 09:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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That's my favorite post so far. Even you are human!
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Old 04-07-2017, 07:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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2006:
After striking out in Southern Utah the year before. We decided to head back North in 2006. Paul, Tom and John all hunted different areas during the archery hunt with no success. For the muzzleloader hunt, Paul had something else going on and Tom had an archery only tag. I invited Bob, a friend from St. George, to hunt with John and I. Tom also asked if a friend of his(Corby) could join us but he had to work opening day. So on the muzzy opener John, Bob and I left camp at 4:00 am. About 2 miles into our steep hike, Bob had enough. So he decided to hunt the mid-mountain area while John and I pressed forward. A little over 4 hours into our hike, we finally reached the top and found two horses tied up at a backcountry camp. That was a little frustrating but the tracks in the snow were heading South, so we headed North. John almost got a shot at a nice 24” wide 5x4 but it caught us by surprise. We saw several smaller bucks but nothing worth the long trip packing one out. That afternoon we met back up with Bob and swapped stories about our day. We all spread out a few hundred yards and watched the same canyon but at different angles. As the sun was setting John spotted a nice 4x4 feeding near some aspens with a group of small bucks. John called to me on the radio and asked what I thought of the biggest buck in the group. The biggest buck I could see, was about a 20” 3x4. I thought he should keep looking, since it was opening day but John was convinced it was a 4x4 and worth shooting. One shot and the buck was down but I never saw it go down. After John shot, the 3x4 ran into the trees and never came out. As we all walked down to Johns buck, I told him that I never could see a 4th point on the 3 point side and I was sure it wasn’t more than 20” wide but John was positive it was bigger. Once we got to the buck, I was amazed to see a nice 24” 4x4. Definitely a different buck from what I was looking at. After we packed it back to camp about two hours after dark. Corby (Tom’s friend), met up with us and planned on the next day’s hunt. I wasn’t up to hiking to the top again but Corby was, so I gave him directions and off he went. I stayed in the lower country with Bob. Corby got a couple long shots at a nice 26” buck but missed. The next day, I went back up on top with Corby. We saw a group of bucks feeding about a ½ mile below us on the backside of the mountain. One buck was about 26” wide, tall and good mass. Although it would have been a rough pack out, it was worth going after. I would try and get in the bucks escape route in case Corby missed. As Corby was moving in on the bucks, a couple spike elk came running straight at the bucks. The buck bolted and ran into the timber away from me and Corby. You would have thought those bucks were being chased by a lion, rather than a couple of elk. Again, some crappy luck prevailed. That ended the muzzleloader season.
During the rifle opener, Paul, John , Tom and Corby were doing other things . They were probably all helping different family members but I can’t remember for sure. So I went solo on the opener. I remember going to the same place I had rolled and totaled my atv in 2004. My new Polaris did just fine this time around, even in 3” of snow. I saw several bucks that day but there were a lot of other hunters around pushing the deer. I saw one good long tined 24” wide 160-170” class buck but I could not get in on it before some other guys started shooting at it and spooked it. On the second weekend, Paul, Corby and I went back to the same spot I was at on the opener. We saw a few more small bucks but I had to leave earlier in the afternoon to attend my son’s birthday party. On my way out, I came upon a couple guys on their atvs smoking a cigarettes. They hadn’t seen any bucks all day. I pointed out that I had just passed a small 4 point bedded about 500 yards up the road and you could see it from their location. I broke out my spotting scope and showed it to them. I told them I had to get going to the birthday party. They decided not to go after the buck because it was across a fairly deep ravine and they thought it would be too hard to drag back to the road. lol
Meanwhile, Paul would later tell me about how him and Corby had seen a nice 24” 4 point feeding downhill from them but a couple horsemen from way down canyon spotted the buck and starting shooting at it. Paul and Corby had to duck for cover because the bullets were whizzing past them. We also gave the Wasatch extended archery hunt a try for a few days in November and had a few close calls with some big bucks but no luck was had.
A little back history:
In 2004, two weeks before the rifle opener, I totaled my Honda 300 atv while riding up a steep trail with a friend from work. We were scouting an area for the upcoming rifle deer hunt. My buddy was sitting too far back on the wheeler and we went over backwards when my front tire had hit a large rock in the trail. We couldn’t recover quick enough to catch the wheeler after it went over the top of us and commenced to roll about 1,000 feet downhill and hit an 18” diameter pine tree, snapping the tree in half. Needless to say, the atv was in bad shape but did start back up when we got down to it. Then the day before the 2006 muzzleloader deer hunt, my boss surprised me with a brand new 2006 Polaris sportsman as a bonus. I still have and ride it to this day. I ended up selling the Honda for parts.

Here's a picture of John's buck
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Old 04-07-2017, 08:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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This is a good read.....
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