Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dearborn Ranch

Since almost all my tags are filled I have to find buddies to help fill theirs. It's not so much about the killing as it is the hunting and getting to see knew places and most of all, watching people do things they might not ever have done before or seeing them get excited and be proud of accomplishing something like Jason Orzechowski did the other day up on the Dearborn Ranch.

I've said it before; probably the hardest thing about hunting anymore is just finding a place. There is a ton of public land but as I saw last week up the Shields Valley, the deer ain't stupid. They know what is public and what is private and they know where it's safe. So when you get a chance to hunt a place like the Dearborn, it's a pretty big deal. I have to give a big thanks to Rocky Harber for letting Jason and I get out. Rocky's doing a lot to build relationships with the locals and I think he's doing a pretty good job.

All I've ever heard about the Dearborn Ranch is that there's a ton of deer and elk and you'll never get on it. Even when they opened up a huge section for the Block Management Program, it was limited to how many people could hunt it and it was next to impossible to get on. But I saw Rocky at a dinner party and was talking about trying to get Jason a deer and he said, "Well hell, just bring 'em on up to the pivots off the Seven Mile Rd."

"You'd let us do that?" I asked in kind of a dumb-founded voice.

"Hell, yah! Just don't shoot any monster bucks. You can take the little baskets out and the odd ones. Shoot any mulie 3x4's, 4x5's or anything messed up and we're all good."

So that's what we did...

We got out there right at the butt-crack of dawn Wednesday morning and saw tons of mule deer running up the ridge. Out of about 35 deer, there was only one little buck and one whitetail doe so we went to the Dearborn River bottom. We saw a few deer there but then looked back towards the public access site to the Dearborn right off of HWY 287 and there stood a decent buck. He was on the trail of a hot doe so we made the move.

We got close to where we saw the deer but couldn't find it. Next thing we know, there's a buck crossing the field right in front of us. It looked like a good 3x3. I glassed it and told Jason to get ready--that was the one we could shoot. Before Jason could pull the trigger I noticed the deer had brow tines making it a 4x4.

"Wait!" I said, "Don't shoot. It's a four-by-four. It's too big."

There was another buck coming in that had 2 points on one side and 4 on the other. "There's one you can take if you want it."

Jason turned it down and we watched the big 3x3 with the brow tines jump over the fence and walk down through the parking area. It got to about 30 yards from us...

Knowing we weren't going to shoot either one of these bucks we headed out. We walked right by the deer and he didn't spook. Man that would have been easy.

I got a message from Rocky asking me how we were doing. We had seen one other huge mule deer and another smaller buck. I told him about the 3x3.

"Why didn't you shoot it?" he said.

"Because it was a young 3x3 but it had a really nice symmetrical rack and brow tines so I didn't think you wanted us to kill it."

"No!" he said. "If it ain't got 4 points off each main beam at this point it never will. I don't care if you see a trophy 3 point, dump it!"

"Well shit Rocky, I gotta go!"

We spun the truck around and headed back to the river bottom. We parked right in the parking-lot and glassed out into the field. We found the doe bedded down and figured the buck would have to be close. We hiked a couple miles up around the hills surrounding the field and the river bottom without seeing that buck.

I felt kind of bad and disappointed that I told Jason not to shoot it. It was literally in the parking area. We wouldn't have had to drag it anywhere and I know Jason wanted to shoot that buck.

As we talked about it we noticed a really nice whitetail all the way across the field working his way up the ridge going into the foothills. I ranged him at 526 yards. We decided to wait until he went out of sight and then we would make a move on him.

Once out of sight, we bolted across the field. When we got half-way to the foothills I noticed another deer working up the ridge to the east; right where we had just come from. I dropped to my knees and glassed it.

"It's that fuckin 3x3," I said. "Just wait for it to get into the draw and we'll get him."

The deer dropped into the draw, out of sight so we went after him. We got up on the ridge and then started side-hilling the draw staying high enough to see down into it. We kicked a big whitetail out of there and then took a little turn and there was the 3x3 standing behind a tree and some scrub.

Jason pulled up on him. He was only about 100 yards and turned broad-side and that's all she wrote. We dragged him back to the field and was able to drive in to get him. Perfect. Not quite as perfect as dropping him in the parking lot but not bad. At least this gave us a chance to actually hunt.

Rocky was happy we got him out of the gene pool. It's not a bad deer at all but just not what they're looking for to grow trophy mulies. I didn't want to push it but I did ask Rocky if I could take John LaRue and his boys up there and he didn't even hesitate to say yes. As long as we can make it happen when he doesn't have a bunch of people on the ranch he's good with it and I definitely appreciate his generosity in helping me help some friends out with their tags.

Keep 'em where they live...

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