Idaho Mule Deer on a Super Tag

June 26, 2009 by  
Filed under the PURSUIT

Idaho Mule Deer on a Super Tag!

 

By Dennis Pahlisch

 

  As with all hunts they start with obtaining a tag.  Well, the year 2007 will go down as the best ever in my hunting quest because I won lottery draw tags for Colorado deer and Idaho Deer.Robs_colorado_2007_raffle_tag_big_deer_028

Dennis’ awesome buck from Colorado, Haveseted two months after his Idaho Super Tag

 

You may have read about my Colorado story by now, but this one is focused on Idaho. I have a long time friend, Steve Alderman, from Boise , Idaho and Steve and I have gone on many hunts together in Oregon, Old Mexico and Idaho.  Steve always told me if I draw a tag in Idaho to give him a call!! When I received the call from the Idaho Fish and Game informing me that I had drawn the Idaho Super Tag for deer, I couldn’t wait to tell Steve the great news. I picked up the phone and the dates were set for the hunt.  Due to work conflicts I couldn’t make it to Idaho until the first part of November.

0Dennis super tag

Dennis’ great 191 gross Idaho buck!

 

I met Steve the night before the hunt was to begin and we set out to glass several areas that held big deer. I was excited to hunt this great area.  Two years earlier I was lucky enough to hunt it and I knew there was the potential for a mature buck.  I soon remembered why they call this the Lava Region as it has the most rock in all the world . You literally have to walk from rock to rock at times.  Oh well, what ever it takes to find a big deer has always been fine with me! We looked around for several days and were seeing several deer in the 170-180 ‘’ range.  We saw great deer, but I wanted to hold out for 190 or better.  More importantly a deer that was special!! I am really not a score fanatic but I love deer that are in the older class with mass, cheaters, width, or something unique. dennis super tag2

The search went on for several days when we ended up on a large mountain top where we could see for miles.  Steve saw the buck first and in an instant we both had our spotting scopes on him at about 1&1/2 miles away. We both thought the deer we were glassing was a mature buck with a very high and narrow rack grossing somewhere in the 190s. We continued to watch him until he bedded down on a sharp cliff ledge where, of course, he could see danger approaching from every angle.  We made our plan, left our perch and the stalk was on.  After we had covered the first mile through a deep canyon, we started up the other side but had to wait a number of times because we could see the deer’s head as he lifted it occasionally to scan his surrounding and then put it back down to rest. We were approaching him from below and had a rim that we could put between the deer and ourselves.  This was the only way we could approach the big buck and stay somewhat concealed. We crossed one area which had a straight view of the deer and we approached.  We pressed on very slowly through this area within constant view of the deer as he slept!!  We made it past the deer’s senses and got into position a mere 60 yards away to take the shot when he awoke.  We waited and waited until finally we got impatient. Steve made a deer bleat sound to get him to stand.  It didn’t work and the buck slept on, occasionally moving his ears around as Steve bleated at him.  Finally after about 5 minutes, the doe that he had pulled from the herd to breed became nervous and got up to leave.  This was shot we were hoping for!  The the buck did not want to leave his doe, so he rose to round her up.  It was at that moment that I took the shot and of course the picture is proof of the outcome.  I hope I would not miss at 60 yards!!! Dennis super tag 3

Deer like this are very difficult to harvest and I owe Steve my gratitude and thanks for having kept me company and tagging along with me on my Idaho Super Hunt. The hunt, the friendship, and even the pack out, was a trip to remember!! 

 

 

Editors note….

I first met Dennis at the Mule Deer Foundations national banquet in Reno Nevada. Dennis and I hit it off from the start. A strong love for the sport of hunting and an extreme desire to pursue monster mule deer. Dennis and I keep in touch after the banquet on a number of occasions, discussing mule deer related issues through out the West from Canada to as far south as old Mexico. What I know and respect about Dennis is that he is a family and Business man first, then a hunter and provider. He includes his family in everything, including his successful business as a builder and his love for hunting.  Dennis understands the plight of the mule deer and donates time and monetary contributions to the cause every year. I am honored to be a friend of Dennis’ and to have had the pleasure to share many successful hunting trips with him. This Story is one of the many lasting memories that Dennis and I share.

 

 

 


IDAHO SUPER TAG! Ross Rackliff

March 14, 2009 by  
Filed under the PURSUIT

My Idaho Superhunt

(Luck has everything to do with it.) By Ross Rackliff

Luckt Hunter, Ross Rackliff!

Lucky Hunter, Ross Rackliff!

 

Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.

While this old adage applies to every kind of hunting, it’s perhaps even truer when it comes to big mule deer. 

It seemed that the more research I did on where – and how – to hunt big mule deer, the tougher it appeared to be. The complicated draw systems and preference points put in place by most western states made it difficult, if not impossible, to hunt a quality mule deer area. 

So when I read about the opportunity to apply for an Idaho Superhunt tag, I figured it was worth a shot. I have to confess that I had no idea what an Idaho Superhunt tag was until three days before the deadline. But I was looking for an opportunity to hunt big mule deer, and I figured a chance at this tag was worth rolling dice for.  So I sent in six tickets (yes, just six tickets!) and forgot about it. 

I was in for a surprise several weeks later when I got home to a message on my answering machine from Idaho Fish and Game. “Congratulations…” it began. I had to listen to the message three times before it finally started to sink in. I’d pulled a tag for an Idaho Superhunt for mule deer!



Doing my homework


As excited as I was to win this once in a lifetime opportunity, I knew I’d have to get busy trying to figure out how to put together a hunt in Idaho from my home in Massachusetts. 

First, I combed through every magazine article I could get my hands on about mule deer hunting in Idaho. I sifted through all the information available on the Idaho Fish and Game website. And I started making calls, beginning with a few Idaho game biologists. They were very helpful, and I learned a lot about different units, and what to expect. 

I’d heard a lot about the quality of bucks in Unit 45, and in speaking to one biologist about it, he recommended that I call Steve Alderman. “Steve pulled a Superhunt tag, too,” he said. “He might talk to you about Unit 45. Then again, he might not.”

I thought, what the heck, I don’t have anything to lose. So I picked up the phone. 

Turns out that Steve would talk to me about hunting mule deer. His passion and enthusiasm was contagious, and I think he took pity on me being from Massachusetts. When he invited me to come out and scout with him in late July, I jumped at the chance.  So far, my luck was holding.

Opening day success!

Opening day success!

 
 

 Scouting mission.


I flew out to Idaho for three days of scouting with Steve, and we were joined by Les Gargan and Joe Pennington. For three days we glassed for deer both morning and late afternoon. And I learned pretty quickly the importance of good optics when it comes to glassing out west. My small spotting scope, or as Steve put it, my “pocket scope” wasn’t quite up to the task of spotting game at longer distances. And Steve never passed up an opportunity to give me a hard time about it.   However, “pocket scope” or not, we saw more bucks than I could keep track of, a few over 200 inches, and several more over 180. 

I was excited about the opportunity to come back out during hunting season and look for one of these tremendous bucks. Steve must have taken pity on me and my tiny spotting scope, because he told me that whenever I was ready to come back out and hunt, I was welcome to join him.

My Dad, getting in on the action.

My Dad, getting in on the action.


The hunt


I decided to hunt the rifle season in unit 45, and planned to spend as much time hunting with Steve in Idaho as it took to connect on a big mule deer. I flew in on the Tuesday before the rifle opener, and met Steve, Les, and Joe for dinner. 

We talked about the next day’s hunt, and planned to spend just a few hours the first morning of the hunt glassing for deer. Then we’d take the time to sight in our rifles, have some lunch and get back out in the afternoon. I didn’t know it then, but that plan wasn’t going to hold.

We rode the four-wheeler to the top of a canyon, and started glassing. Right away, we spotted several does, as well as a 4 x 3 buck. The deer were well over 800 yards away, and we kept scouring the canyon for other deer.

We were about ready to pick up and move on when Les exclaimed, “There he is! There he is! There he is!” Apparently, Les had a spotted a buck, and he was a pretty good one.

It took Steve and I just a few moments to find the buck in our spotting scopes, (I bought a new 20-60 x 80 just so I wouldn’t look like a dork from the East).  Even from 600-plus yards, and bedded in the shade, he looked like a very good buck. No wonder Les sounded so excited. The question was, just how good was he? 

Steve and I talked about it, and we decided that in order to find out how good this buck really was, we’d have to get around him and come in for a closer look. 

We circled wide to get around the buck and find a better vantage point, but couldn’t see where he was bedded under the rim of the canyon. Steve crept back along the rim, and peered over and around several outcroppings, trying to find the buck. As we watched through binos, Steve suddenly squatted down and backed off. The hand signals he was sending weren’t hard to figure out. “He wants you to kill this buck.” Les said.


Shoot. And keep shooting.  


As Steve backed off from the buck (he was almost on top of it when he saw it) the buck got up from his bed and started bouncing down into the bottom of the canyon. All I saw was a high, wide rack at first. And then the buck; big-bodied, high-racked, and… moving. I didn’t want to risk a shot at him then, and knew (prayed?) that he would stop at the bottom of the canyon. It would be a long shot, but doable. I don’t know what Les was telling me to do (we were all pretty excited at this point) but I lay on the ground and tried to get as steady as I could.

The buck did stop at the bottom of the canyon, and I found him in my scope. I asked Les how far he was. “Three fifty.” Was his reply. A little farther than I’d wanted to shoot, but I felt confident in my rest, and in my rifle. I held the 300-yard crosshairs high on his chest and slowly squeezed the trigger. 

The gun went off, and I saw the deer react as though he’d been hit hard. Les and Steve also thought the hit was good, and the deer looked like he was going to go down. We were waiting for him to topple over, but he didn’t. I found him in my scope again, and tried to put another bullet in his vitals. And kept trying as he slowly worked his way out of that canyon. It was obvious the buck was hit very hard, but I was extremely disappointed that the shot wasn’t as good as we’d first thought. 

Steve wouldn’t be discouraged, though. “We’ll find this buck.” he told me.

(Confession time: Steve had to drive me back to my motel room for more ammo. How many times did I shoot at the buck? More than once, but less than a dozen. I’ll leave it at that.)

We drove around to the other side of the canyon, and found his blood trail pretty quickly. It was encouraging, but I still wasn’t confident we’d find him. We’d find blood, follow it, and lose it again. 

We kept going to the head of the canyon, and it kept narrowing down until it was nothing but a steep ravine less than a hundred yards across. Steve started going back down the along the edge of the ravine, peeking over the edge. I followed, hoping against hope that we’d find this buck.

Finally, two does bounced up out of the ravine. Could the buck be close by? I thought so, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Then Steve ducked down and motioned to me. He was pointing over the edge of the ravine, and I knew he’d found the buck. Now all I had to do was close the deal.

The end to a great hunt!

The end to a great hunt!

 

I laid down and steadied the crosshairs behind the buck’s shoulder. At the shot, the buck lunged out of his bed and toppled over. An incredible feeling of relief washed over me as I stood up to look down at the buck. We all made it down to the buck and marveled at the height and mass of this great buck. He was a true toad, with backs over 21 inches long, really good mass, and several abnormal points on both sides. In my mind, this buck had it all. (He grossed scored 197.)

Regardless of what the buck scored, I felt lucky — no, blessed — to have been able to take this buck. And lucky to have found Steve, Les, and Joe who were gracious enough to share this beautiful mule deer country with me. Their passion for mule deer, and sheer enjoyment in seeing me take this “super” buck, made this experience one I’ll never forget.

I plan on being back, with a Superhunt tag in my pocket and my big spotting scope in my pack . I mean, how tough can it be to pull a Superhunt tag?

SUPER TAG, SUPER GUY!

March 9, 2009 by  
Filed under the PURSUIT

good-pic-of-dennis

“SUPER TAG for SUPER GUY”

By Steve Alderman

Editors note….

I first met Dennis at the Mule Deer Foundations national banquet in Reno Nevada. Dennis and I hit it off from the start. A strong love for the sport of hunting and an extreme desire to pursue monster mule deer. Dennis and I keep in touch after the banquet on a number of occasions, discussing mule deer related issues through out the West from Canada to as far south as old Mexico. What I know and respect about Dennis is that he is a family and Business man first, then a hunter and provider. He includes his family in everything, including his successful business as a builder and his love for hunting.  Dennis understands the plight of the mule deer and donates time and monetary contributions to the cause every year. I am honored to be a friend of Dennis’ and to have had the pleasure to share many successful hunting trips with him. This Story is one of the many lasting memories that Dennis and I share.

Dennis’ Idaho Super Tag