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The Vanguard Project

Fort Living Room Blog

Imagine a buck on that hill...

This weekend my buddy and I were out scouting, he drew a tag in a unit pretty close to town but stretched way up into the mountains.

We met up in the Boise Mountains later in the evening after work and drove all the way to the top of the mountain where we had planned to spend the weekend. We took the slow drive to the top, looking at the sunset, keeping our eyes peeled, and not seeing anything on the road up. We stopped at the top of the mountain and chatted with the fire-lookout for a few minutes about what he'd seen so far this year and gave his white husky some attention.

That night, we drove a little ways away, set up camp, and started hiking around. The sun had already gone down, by this time it was probably 1000 and we were wandering with his flashlight and my phone (I was a bit unprepared to wander as much as we did) but lo-and-behold we found a dry wallow and lit up one doe with the flashlight.

That night I crashed pretty hard, but my buddy was wide awake listening to all sorts of wildlife cruise through camp and tearing up veg around.

That morning we got up and moved around, found a couple of coyotes but no big game, despite tracks - and even more fresh tracks behind us on the way back to camp. Which was hilarious.

We got back to camp, wandered over to the dry wallow and posted up a game cam then headed off into another area.

Drove up and over the mountain, ate lunch in a mountain town, then headed back towards Boise to post up in entirely different terrain. Fewer Trees, higher temps, lower elevation.

This is where we spent the bulk of our time glassing and I got a good lesson in stalking.

We had moseyed our way up to a great spot that overlooked several bowls and drainages. Sat for awhile, check everything from midlines, to potential bedding spots, ridges - pretty much anything I can think of - mind you, I am fresh to hunting and learning where to even start looking for game.

After a little while my buddy comes over and sits next to me and we start chatting. Throughout the hike he'd been pointing out game trails, tracks, ways to determine whether its a cow, bull, doe, buck... which direction, how fresh tracks are, etc... and this time he looks across the way and goes 'if there was a buck over there, midline - how would you go get it?"

To quickly describe the terrain.

The hill we were sitting on was poked out into a really good looking area where off to our right was another hill slightly lower in elevation to ours, behind that opened up into a reasonable valley with various drainages, bowls, and hills. Directly in front of us was one hill that peaked slightly higher in elevation. Off to the left was again another drainage and a trail leading back into a valley. Surrounding veg was a low quantity of sagebrush. Even fewer trees.

My answer:

If he is midline, I am going to sidehill it down away from our point into the drainage away from the buck to where there's a trail. Then sidehill it back up behind him and take it from there.

This is the first time I've EVER thought about a stalk with a bow.

His response wasn't a 'you're not wrong' but definitely a 'yeah not as easy as that' - then dove into his response of a very different, much longer route with assumptions including switching winds, time of day, feeding direction and using natural terrain to hide up into.

The route he described dropped off opposite the direction onto the hill to the right where he described using the natural terrain to your advantage. Moving up and over that hill to the back side of where the Buck was at then dropping up and over the ridge onto the buck. The things he described were using the longer route to avoid line of site with the buck, determining whether to drop up or down on him given the time of day and which direction the wind is blowing, then waiting patiently for him given feeding direction.

We went through this exercise a couple times with the buck being in different spots.

While there's no 'cool' ending to this post, it was something I had learned to think differently about and I will be taking with me on my hikes, scouting trips, and wandering thoughts while stuck in traffic no doubt. Really looking forward to learning more on this and putting it into practice as the season draws near.

What are some of the best tips and tricks you've learned for planning on and executing a stalk?

Drop them below.

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