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2006-Hunt for the Mountian Monarch

20726 Views 107 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  RB
Decided to try a new type of post in this forum, a thread to follow the hunt for that specific 2006 buck I am after. If you are like me you are already are thinking about that one buck, and have been thinking about him since the end of last season. I think it would be cool to follow the real time thoughts, scouting trips, planning and encounters that will hopefully result in some great pics and story of success at the end of the 2006 season. If nothing else I will have a written record of my year and how it turned out to reflect on, regardless of if the tag is ripped off or not.

Perhaps this thread will also help some in their understanding of why many hunters in the Northwoods can get frustrated nowadays with low deer sightings, but even more I hope it gives some of my fellow diehard northwoods hunters a new way to look at the game we play every year after Thanksgiving and ease some of that frustration. Times are not easy there for the deer hunter anymore, but the challenge has never been greater, the woods have never been more yours (vacant of hunters) and the deer that remain have never been older and wiser than they are now. It will make for quite the reward in the end. I will never quit deer hunting there; it is what makes me tick.

To set my stage, this buck lives in Potter County in the infamous WMU 2G, he spends most of his time on the ridgetop and benches at the end of the mountain about 4 miles from the front door of camp. An area that has always seemed to house the King of the Hill. The only true King to ever fall out there from our camp, fell to my father's 25-06 in 1980 (my first year of hunting). Dad stayed all week and would of easily tagged out on the opening day had his bumbling 12 year old son not of been by his side, screwing up four chances at four bucks that day and never firing a shot. I left mid week with most of the others, Dad and Pap stayed the whole week, on the last day of Dad’s Potter hunt (first Saturday of rifle) he tagged the monster 8 point that he had seen in bear season , and made an awesome shot while sneaking and peeking near the Point at midday. I remind him all the time how responsible I was for that buck, because I am sure he would have not had a tag at that point in the season had he dropped that 6 point on the first day that I couldn’t get. Anyway, after 26 years it is time for another King to fall. We have taken several nice bucks out there by sneaking and peeking and even on some small drives, but none were the Mountain Monarch and none have meant as much as the one in 1980 when Dad called home to tell his boys "I got HIM"..

My buck uses the Point as a quick way to swing around the mountain and get to the side you are not. One side is choked in mountain laurel and allows him a quick haven from the crosshairs of the quickly mounted rifle. The other side of the point is a steep mountainside of mature woods typical of the area. He uses the small depressions in the terrain to remain almost invisible from the ridgetop and the seldom traveled two-track dirt road far below. He knows few will climb the hill to get to him, but on this side is where he remains most vulnerable, at least to those that can pull off a long downhill shot on what can be a small target and who have the patience to examine every piece of scenery for a piece of rack, flickering ear, or deer rump before stepping again. One step to far over the edge ends the game in a hurry and has happened to me alot, but just the right amount of noise up top will make him stand and pause to investigate…his Achilles heel. He travels with alot less does than he use to, but they seems to serve and help protect him just as well as always as they get older and wiser along with him.

Stage is set; time to start the 2006 quest, which begins the day before rifle season in 2005. Getting to camp later in the weekend then normal, I rushed to get Potter ground under my feet and its air in my lungs; headed out the mountain the instant my duffle bag hit the camp floor. Took the tram trail out to the mountain’s end and saw no feeding until out at the crossover. The acorns were everywhere and the deer were enjoying the bounty. Against better judgment of not distrubing what will be tomorrow's quarry, I decided to head to the point and look around…and that is where I saw this rub, no doubt his.

The trees out here are all scared with rubs of his past generations of kings…a gene pool that has produced many beautiful symmetrical racks and grey old muzzles. I envy these deer, spending everyday of their life on top of the world in this beautiful place while I run thru the raths of daily life. I sometimes feel bad I even intrude on this haven at all just trying to fit into their world for a couple days.

I head back out to the trail to complete my hike and while rounding a bend jump a decent rack buck from his bed 20 yards off the trail, He heads down over the hill and thru the maze of windfalls that line the floor of the open woods. His hurried escape brings another deer to his feet way down over the hillside…and thru a quick view in the binocs I see the rack of the one I now chase. He leaves his bed and uses the hill for cover, actually running uphill towards me then cutting back into another little depression and up across the very trail I am on, and is up over the ridgetop in no time. That whole sequence offers me only two more glimpses of him and his rack, he amazes me at how well he knows the contours of the hill, his only real cover here....I never would of been able to fire a shot that would of hit him in the vitals, never.

The opening two days of 2005 season come and go without a deer sighting. Opening day is complete fog and visibility is less than 50 yards as the snow melts away on the mountainsides. This fog provides what I envision a hundred times over that day as a perfect backdrop for collecting my prize. In my mind I see him drifting in with the next patch of fog, like a ghost, the mountain air very heavy as the .270 wakes the hills. It never happens. Tuesday is worse with constant rain and powerful wind, a dangerous day to be in the mature and dying woods, and another long day of no sightings. Time constraints send me home that night and I vow to get back up there the second week to resume the hunt…As I drive down the mountain away from camp and hit the hard road it eats at my stomach that my schedule may not allow me back in 2005 as much as I want it to and I will be forced to hunt near home…this proves true and that is where this 2006 story begins....the ending to this story will be told in December 2006 one way or another.
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Entry 2- January 2006

Dad and I discuss the 2005 results of the season, some does were taken to fill the freezer in areas that could afford them, but no bucks fell. For the second year in a row Dad was unable to make it to Potter camp due to life’s demands. However as I relay my stories to him I can see his excitement build as well. We share the news with my brother, who also has started to hunt near home due to time constraints…and decide a reunion is in order at 2006 deer camp. However the more we discuss it the more we realize to truly get this buck, we need to be there completely alone, and mistakes made must be ours so we know how to react to them. Not many hunt there now, but there are still a few in the area that believe they need to hit the woods at 4:30 AM with flashlights glaring in all directions to beat the crowds of yesteryear out to their spots. This ends the game early for us on that hill and really puts another weapon in the big bucks arsenal, one that already is well equipped. We are sure he heads for the laurel upon sight of an intrusion like that which makes him darn near unkillable.

We look forward to getting this successful deer hunting team of three back on the mountain that all of our childhoods share eventhough we are years apart in age. All of our first and most memorable hunts are up there, a lot of power and experience in that.

I already make plans to hunt a lot in the 2006 early muzzleloader season to get the meat my family likes and maybe even needs in the freezer. This will take the pressure off of filling the freezer after Thanksgiving. Allowing me to focus on him even more. This will be am important step in my game plan, because I know it will weigh on me heavily otherwise eventhough I don't want it to.

Although I am almost certain no one got him in 2005, and the acorn crop and mild winter probably fed him better than he has ever experienced in his 3-4 year life up there, I will feel much better when I get up there to find his new sign or better yet see him.

He may encounter a hiker or two this summer along the trail, that hiker may be me, but most of the time he will have little contact with anything out of the ordinary.
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Wow!!! After reading your posts I'm ready to hit the mountains!!!! Such a fine account of a hunter that not only loves the Big Woods but has a true appreciation & respect for our great hunting sport.

I've hunted the Big Woods of Sullivan County almost 100% of my 42 years hunting & enter those majestic mountains with just as much enthusiasm as I had on Day Number One! Sometimes with even more as i get older & crazier!!! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I have already marked my Work Outlook Calendar for the 2006-2007 Hunting Seasons which includes "at minimum" taking the entire first week of early ML, Bear Season, First Week of Regular Deer Season. I also love hunting the Last Week of Late Flintlock which is also reserved.

As I look at the tremendous Rub Pic you posted it sends another Big Woods Hunter mind dreaming about that trophy of a lifetime just awaiting my greeting. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Thanks for sharing & sure hope you get a crack at that Mountain Monarch! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbs.gif
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Thanks Loggy, you guys will be amongst the first to know how this story ends..

I am still ironing out my vacation schedule...never took many days off in the second week before usually just the last Friday, not sure how many to take in the first week this year...I may still go to camp the first couple days of rifle to get an understanding of what takes place overall , then return in week 2. But if HE should happen to wander by on the opener I will take him as i will be hunting only for him. With 11/27 being the opener the rut will still be lingering in the air. Much rather take him in Week 2, with my Dad and Brother though, and may pass on the 15" 8 points I see (if any) on the opening two days. Or should I just plan on how to get him passed Dad, be great to hear his gun crack on this buck...Alot of decisions will be made, some at the moment the safety is flipped, some long before.

Now you see why I need to think about this so much.. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif
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Entry 3 – June 5, 2006

Went to camp this past weekend to do some chores and check on the place. Weekend was a complete washout and it put a damper on the schedule and the outdoor exploring I hoped to do. Took a ride Sunday morning with the family after a big camp breakfast, drove on the two track rode down below where the Monarch lives and kept pointing straight up the steep hill telling my kids “that is where he lives, he is up there right now , bedded down and chewing his cud”, they looked at me like I lost my mind….LOL

About 250 yards further up the road from there we spotted a deer down in the creek brush feeding on the tender vegetation in there…up came the head, sure enough thick antler sprouts still heading out, not curving up yet…he looked at us for about 30 seconds and then took to the tight pines on the other side of the creek and was gone. Doubt it was HIM, but wouldn’t doubt it one bit if it was one of his boys. The deer appeared to be about 2 years old, maybe 3 by the overall body size and was in great shape….I think the monarch buck is older than that. Perhaps this was the 15” 8 point I jumped near the trail last year??? Anyway, my Hopes for a great hunt this season took a good step in the right direction this past weekend, despite the never ending rain that washed out some of my other plans. The buck we just saw, will likely be hard to pass if he offers an opportunity (that is the hardest part of the game), but it appears “my hill” is part of his home range.

We saw a couple does around too…no fawns, but they were probably close by.

6 months from today the conclusion of this story will likely be being told…hopefully with some good pics.

Next trip over will be late June or early July.
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BWH, having hunted for elk out in Idaho and seeing how the deer are out there(not many but big), you will have to go after this deer seriously and this deer alone. While you don't see as many deer as you used to, the upside is you dont have the competition either that your area once had. One bad move by another hunter could easily ruin your best laid plans. We experienced it with elk when someone came in and put to much pressure on them and shut them down. My advice to you would be to scout as much as you can, and keep quiet about this monster and his location. When the season starts it will be you against him, one of you will win. Hopefully you get a deer earlier with your ML, so you don't feel the urge to shoot something less then you wanted. Enjoy this game of cat and mouse with the "king" because once the kids start hunting, you will have to give up on him and start hunting for your kids, which means easier deer, and more people after them. It's the difference now of going after a trophy instead of lucking in to one. Consider yourself lucky that you can hunt like this in a unpressured area, most people don't get that chance even in archery season.
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Thanks Jeff...definately not giving GPS coordinates out on this boy sinc he is close to the middle of public State Forest land as you can get. There are alot of ridges and points in the northern tier ,open to the public that probably have similar bucks ,but very few with roads to the top, crowds never been much of a problem at this locale. I think the trick to big woods hunting is try not to hunt it all, just get familiar with a smaller spot or two, and learn everything about it....but always have back-up spots, there are plenty of them out there.

100% agreement on others making a mistake that ends the game for me as well. Bear hunters definately spook him big time a week prior, as the area gets hunted hard for bear by big groups. First week of buck season is exact opposite, not too crowded at all, heck second week only hunters on the hill will likely be the ones sharing a good supper at camp with me at day's end.

In 3 years I will become a fulltime first week guide for a good 12-15 years straight as my kids began their hunting careers. I plan to do almost all of my actual rifle hunting the second week then, which may be the best thing to happen to me actaully, as it will remove my urge to fill a tag and end the season too early (passing a good legal buck is something i struggle with now out there on my own). It is a shame but I doubt I will cut my kids teeth on deer hunting over at camp...week one will likely be spent here at home in Warren county, where the action is more adapted to a young hunters attention span and the schedule of an involved student.

Once the kids mature as hunters and understand the big woods stillhunt and the goal of that one buck and how to live with and even enjoy the mistakes made, they will move on..they will make the true rite of passage then, otherwise i think I am digging myself a hole in building there interest in deer hunting over there...I want them to have success first, then challenage at this level when they are ready. I will build them into big woods stillhunters in a more crowded deer woods (both hunters and deer), build their confidience where lessons get followed with success ,and not expect them to be one at the age of 12 just because their Dad is. Luckily when i turned 12 those woods were thick with deer over there..not anymore, need a new classroom, or at least a new one for deer hunting 101.

Right now, they think it is easy up there because I have had some success past few years, but I know better...these deer don't see humans all year and are growing old and wise, and frankly I don't think a 12 year old should be expected to jump right in on that challenage. Alot of snapped twigs, wind shifts, acts of patience, need put out of the way first.

Fortunate I am, great situation to be in, don't take it for granted in anyway. There are more and bigger bucks close to home for sure that I could focus on, but none would mean as much. I have proven that to myself over my 25 years of deer hunting.
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Hey buddy, when we going after him /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

There have been a couple of hog-buck at my father-in-law's camp in Potter. Never really seriously hunted just for them but that may change now that I'll be living closer. Looking forward to figuring them out and exploring the new areas around Warren.
I've got to get you into bowhunting, especially with a stickbow. I've got a light recurve and arrows (in a box somewhere)and Austin has a compound and recurve so lets get the kids together and fling a few.
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Hey buddy, when we going after him

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I'll invite you guys down the house for fresh deer steaks in December, how does that sound... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif. this is between him and I (and brother and Dad).

ANyway, We got one here close to home we can try for the first week, but we got to get trapperzeke in on that hunt as that ANF buck probably haunts his mind as well, another smart old grey muzzle living on public land that made both of us look like rookies at one point last season.

Between you and my bud Buckethead carrying those stick bows around maybe it is time to get back into archery. Once the kids & labs came along I quit. I have all the latest equipment (at least of 8 years ago), was shooting 3D, setting stands etc...but truthfully I got all gadgeted out of the sport. Maybe if i go back to a wood bow, and a quiver full of arrows, I would enjoy it again. Johnny is in between bows right now, too big for his kid's bow, too small for the Darton I used at 14.

Definately, the ultimate challenage would be to get this guy to come within 30 yards of me in all of that big woods he has to roam up there...but that might have to wait for the next one. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif...I bowhunted at camp a few times and only got one buck to come into range, never shot at him as the angles were wrong, but was happy just to get one that close up there...although the apple trees helped.

To me the most rewarding time to harvest this buck is after he eludes a few others and is really on his game,knows there are men in the woods after him and did his duty of getting a new crop of bucks out there. The day I do slide down the hill to him, and sit next to him admiring his rack and grey old muzzle, I'll pat him on the shoulder and give him thanks for providing my family generations of new dreams to chase up there.
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Just messin with you on the Potter buck.

I got the same way with the gadgets though I always kept my compounds simple (KISS method). Once I made the commitment to shooting instinctive with the recurve I won't be going back.

I agree that unravelling the ways of an older buck and fooling him enough to get within 30-40yds is the ultimate. I've been fortunate enough to do that 2-3 times each of the last few years. Haven't been able to close the deal but can still picture the scenarios crystal clear in my mind. That's what keeps me going between seasons.
hey BWH
I don't have the luxury of time to do any summer scouting, but I'm dreaming of that Big Boy we found last season, you know the one! I'm not sure if having archery tackle this year will be an advantage, or just a bigger handicap! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif Either way, I'll be contemplating ways to squeeze myself in between those boulders while still being able to draw. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/buck2.gif
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Hey you found that one,and just gave me a tip since I live near him. That game is all yours in 06 if you want. But if you need me to check on him, give you topo plots of where i see this years sign or even him, let me know..wouldn't mind being a part of that game still, and doubt time will be there for me to chase him much with bow, rifle, maybe with a flint if your tag isn't on him.

In all honesty I can't see this year being the one I get back into bowhunting. Probably start shooting though to get ready for when the time is back.

I will probably be in there during EML season, back by the quarry though were does are still a little thick....I'll give you a full scouting report then if you want it, might help if your looking to set up on him in the rut.

Never met you, but from you pic, I bet you squeeze thru those boulders easier than I. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

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Same as last year...always willing to share with a bro like you. I'm hoping to pitch camp back at the spring for EML as well, but I'll have to see how things shake out this year. Might be the first year we don't go down for regular opening day. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif
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Thanks bud!

Well if you don't mind huntin with a guy that uses a new fangled black powder gun...perhaps we can meet up to get a days hunting in back in there. As i said in a post above, I will be hunting EML with a vengence this year all over the state to get the meat supply thing out of the equation come December.

Man I am ready for the leaves to start changing... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
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I met Steve a few years ago when I was first getting into trapping, I was his "good luck charm" in that he bagged his first coyote that day. He's as sincere and honest as they come, just like you, you two would get along great. And he would fit between those boulders a little better then you...haha
And he would fit between those boulders a little better then you...haha

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I need new friends. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Got your pics of that hen turkey in your driveway yesterday on my cell, no wonder you stack them up like firewood out there.
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haha, I'm not saying you're fat....just big boned! LMAO!

Yeah, Heather saw her on the way to work in my next door neighbors yard then I come home and she's standing in my front lawn like a lawn ornament. She didn't want to leave, just kept wandering around. I wish I'd have had my digital camera, could've got a few really close up shots of her but with the camera phone the only time I could see her was when he got in the driveway by the door and you saw how crappy that pic still was. My neighbor called me a few days after I bagged my tom to tell me there was a big tom walking through my backyard.
Can't wait 'till I can get together with y'all guys slay me!
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I rushed to get Potter ground under my feet and its air in my lungs

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Your killing me. It's only July and you're making me want to strap my .270 on my back, cross the creek and crawl up the steep mountain across from my "remote" Lycoming County camp right now /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/music.gif I love stepping out onto the porch in the dark and hearing our heavy camp door latch click as I strap the .270 onto my back and head out into the dark, still woods.

I didn't cross paths with any bucks last year but there is no doubt that I must be sharing that brutally steep mountainside with a true big woods monarch. For all I know he watched me climb part of that mountain last year with my rifle on back and my hands on the ground to keep my balance. There definetly weren't any hunters watching me because that would be the last thing you'd see on that mountain. I was probably the only indication that hunting season was upon him. I had just figured out the top of the mountain and adjacent hollow behind the camp I used to hunt out of in Potter. Now I have to learn another mountain but it will be rewarding. The hurdle of crossing the creek and completing a painful climb will make me feel as though I have earned the right to challenge him on his own turf. What animal could be more thrilling to hunt than a magnificent and wary mountain buck, especially for a native Pennsylvania boy like myself? If and when I connect on that mountainside I will feel that I have truly earned that buck. I've stared at that mountainside from the front porch of my camp since I was six years old but had only climbed it once before last year. This year will be my third time and there will be no mistake in knowing who shot when the camp members hear the rifle crack on the opposite mountain top /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbs.gif
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Cut from the same mold brother... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbs.gif!!!

I do not crawl up the hill in pre-dawn darkness anymore. Not worth it, no hunters to beat up the hill, and the last time I did it I heard close hoof steps walking away...He won before I had the chance. I sound like a train rolling thru trying to climb that thing in darkness, after daylight the sounds of the climb drop quite a bit, in fact the noise level is about perfect to just get him to stand and investigate without spooking (if it is not too crunchy). Something you may want to think got all day to get him, no sense ruining it before it starts. Even if it takes you til 8:30 -10AM to get to the rim. Spoil it early, and you loose all your advantage of a great plan, wake him up after sunlight hits, you got a chance....a really good chance granted your footing holds and your aim is true....

Good luck, like I have told you before (back when we were in the same county living out the dream /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif)...I hope that solo shot I hear on a distant mountain is yours and when it all goes silent again,that you are living the the life up on that hill.
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