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2006-Hunt for the Mountian Monarch

20730 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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Since someone just asked me how this hunt was progressing thru the year thought an update was due.

I have decided what gives old buck's like this the edge over us is that their life is not filled up with what our life is as they get older. This summer I made it to camp a couple times, not as much as I wanted but some. However time there to hike and learn was limited by entertaining my young family, something he does not worry about as his young grow.

In addition, I changed jobs at the end of August and time literally disappeared. In fact I had to really to push make sure that available days after Thanksgiving followed me to the new job. And some did, a step he does not have to take. For sure, I will be in camp for the first 3 days, then the first Saturday-second Tuesday of the season. Not really the timing I wanted in the second week but what I was able to scrape together. I am literally ignoring the hunting in my home county of Warren those 2 weeks just to make this happen or at least give it the effort it deserves, despite some great buck sightings here I am going to stay focused. Also my normal 4 day EML season which almost always offers me chances to fill the freezer in October and take off that pressure is down to only the 2 Staurdays now, making that part of the equation a little more important to me. Hopefully my wife will help ease the self inflicited burden I put on myself to get my family at least two deer a year.

All this for me to worry about and he has no care. As I type this his ears may be pinned to a noise on the hillside, or his nose testing the wind on the very playing feild we will use in 3 months. Practice, practice, practice for him...wait and hope for me. Maybe he found a new nook in the hill from a recently uprooted tree that will work to conceal him from the ridge above, he knows about it, I don't. Maybe he is encouraging one of his odler son's to find new terrain, which in turn will likely allow that buck to tempt me with a shot early in the season. He has got all the cards now, I wait for the hand I will be dealt after Thanksgiving, regardless of prep it comes down to that first hand usually. Last year fog and rain gave him a winner, no matter how many cards i drew, this year who knows?

I am heading to camp this weekend (9/16) for the first time since a 24 hour trip over to cut the grass in early August. Despite the short timeframe then I saw a bear, a rattler, turkeys and 9 deer including two legal but smaller bucks. This time I plan to make the trip out the mountain trail, out to his home to see how the past 9 months have treated him, his kin, and his mountain.

I will report on what I see there, now that the chill is in the air and the leaves hint color it is time for some serious pre-game thought...As a note, Attendance for the first three days of deer camp are forecasting right now to be 3 or less hunters, unbelievable but true. In fact there is a slight chance of it just being me, now wouldn't that set a stage.

Thanks for keeping track.
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RB, just in case with ur new job & all you cant get up to give that Mountian Monarch a "fair chase", I am willing to backfill for ya! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Heck, I would be happy just to see that BUCK RUB....even with blindfoldin me to & from!!! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gifAll kiddin aside, sure hope this great story is ended with u baggin that Trophy Of A Lifetime!!! Even if not, sure has contributed some great least for me.
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Nice to hear your update. Based on the size of that rub, I'm hoping he has some kin across the border in Western Lycoming. I'm heading up to camp in two weeks for a work trip but hope to squeeze in some scouting time.
Well I made it out the mountain this weekend. (9/16-9/17). JasonN and his wife came out to camp with my family so I could show them this place I talk about so frequently, they were good company and I enjoyed talking about this hunt with them over some good camp cooking. Since we hunt Early ML together here in Warren County, he will probably understand a little more why I am hunting that season with such determination eventhough it has now been reduced to 2 days by my schedule.. We (including my son John) walked the mountain trail from start to finish but decided not to head out and over the point where the big rubs usually appear, my son was tiring and the extra 300 yards out and trip down over would be a bit too difficult on him, he was a real trooper thoughout the long hike, and made me proud everytime he asked a question about the surroundings we were in. I was sure to point out names of spots as we passed them just hoping some of it was sinking in. A couple times I looked at him and did not see a 9 year old, but a young man in his teens scanning the woods for deer and concentrating completely on the hunt, with rifle at the ready and snow piled on the brim of his hat. Those days will come , I cannot rush them as much as I want too.

We did see some smaller rubs in the area, and a few does. Oak regeneration out there is unbelievable this year and it appears the trail has become a favorite to horse back riders this summer. Laurel is choking the trail now which only further supports my decision of climbing up from the bottom instead of walking out the level top of the mountain slashing thru laurel and putting them on alert early.

Other notes of interest on the trip, we saw a nice 6 point on Rt 44 on the way to camp fresh out of velvet. He was feeding along the snowmobile trail and allowed my wife to take a great pic that I hope to post here eventually, and a 350 lb bear with a white diamond of fur on his chest, I got no pics of him despite our stalking efforts to get some. Also while enjoying the front porch of camp we heard a pack of coyotes forming in the pines.

The leaves are starting to change out there, we are getting closer, hope to make it back over on 9/30.
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Just reading your journal gets me all fired up! I can't wait till the season starts. Think I'll get out and do some scouting tomorrow!

Thanks for boosting the adrenalin!
Since I've seen your camp, and fished nearby, your stories have definitely become more vivid. Good luck on getting the big boy!
Nanook...your welcome!

Adam, I hope to drag him across that stream you were fishing that day...well at least one of the branches that make up that stream. Nice thing about climbing a mountain side to hunt, the drag is all downhill.

Thanks again for checking in here guys and getting me to update this post, the more I talk about it the more I get pumped for this year on the hill....and after all that is what it is all about. If hunting makes you happy only when you are actually doing it, dig deeper.
Update time…October 30, 2006

Well we are a month away so thought an update was due.

I have not made it up to camp since my last post here, and looking over the next four weeks ahead doubt I will until after Thanksgiving and at game time. Not my best case scenario, but I will have to rely on what I have accumulated over the last 25 years of hunting that hill more than my present day scouting information. Not a worthless asset as the deer use the same haunts in the terrain as their ancestors, the only real year to year variable is the food and I have not updated that info since September so it could surprise me.

I continue to plan on being at camp for the first 2 or 3 days of the season, then the first Saturday thru second Tuesday with my Dad and brother (5 to 6 days on the hunt for him). So the pattern should still unfold before I am packing to go home and leaving the mountain till Spring. I am debating if I will scout the area prior to Monday’s opener as I think it worked against me last year meeting up with him, I can’t count on two encounters with him in a week and should I have one I think I will need to have a rifle ready. I know the area like my backyard, and will place the other puzzle pieces in place on the hoof as they unfold.

I managed to get a doe in the early muzzleloader season, so that should free up my mind a bit of having to fill a tag and it was one of the first things I thought as i ripped that tag from my license. Also, as many you read here alot know, I purchased 54 acres in Warren County this month that seems heavy with deer sign, so I am hoping it will provide my wife a good opportunity here at home to contribute to the freezer with a buck (since her doe tags aren’t in the WMU the land is). This new land is where most of my time will be spent over the coming weeks before deer season, cleaning up the cabin for my wife and her family to use for the opener, and walking that piece of land to pick the best stand locations for her. Already saw 1 brute buck there, and the neighbor said he missed a decent 8 point with his bow there, so now it lies it my court a bit to see it thru and try to make things line up for her. As much as I want to hunt our new land on the opener and be part of that, I am hanging tough to keeping my plans to travel to Potter camp in tact. The only day I may waiver on is the first Wed of the season, more for family reasons than hunting ones though. Not sure if that day will be here or there. I DO KNOW when the opening day sun starts to turn the sky from black to gray my hunter’s soul will only accept one place in the world to be.

Hope all are enjoying their seasons....
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Good luck on the Monarch . Think i will gofind my own In Northern Potter . Food sources Beech and cherry are heavy this year .Oak is spotty Apples Spotty also .But Its a slightly diffrent climate between here and there .
Thanks Frank...similar to what i saw on my Septemebr trip then. ALot of cherries stuck on the parked truck at camp. Our apple trees were decent but not heavy. Acorns were mostly old.

Didn't take notes on the beech, but plenty of them around there.

Thanks again!
....keep the wind in your face, and i'll say a prayer for some rain the night before. your topknot.... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
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Well the decision starts to grow a bit tougher on where to be on opening day(s). I really can’t imagine my self anywhere but Potter County the days after Thanksgiving and am still set on heading over the first weekend and into the second week, BUT am starting to lean towards staying home and hunting our new land here in Warren County with my wife for the first couple days for a few reasons.

1.She wants me to hunt with her.
2.Daughter has a B-day party the Saturday after T-day, which I have an excuse for but don’t like missing.
3.Would like to see what goes on around my new land on the opener.
4. It would be nice to stay in the little camp on our land that i have been working on. Probably just me and the wife the Sunday before the opener, her Dad really doesn't want too and the kids will already be with the sitters, and my wife won't stay there by herself (thank god).
5.Oh yeah almost forgot I saw this on an 10 inch tree while walking the property yesterday, but in no way has this played on my mind…LOL

When I started this post last year I mentioned all the things that come up over the year that mess with your hunting plans. I was thinking more about job change, family commitments then etc..but low an behold I am now a land owner,and happen to have some nice bucks running around there and a wife that is more excited about deer hunting this year than I have seen her since she got back into it 15 years ago.

Decision time is coming, kind of a nice one to have, thoughts guys??

Right now , thinking first few days at home trying to get this guy to walk in front of my wife, then the first weekend and beginning of second week go after the Monarch in Potter....I know it sounds like I already made up my mind, but it changes about as much as the direction of the wind on the point of a mountain....LOL, got all the traditions and lore of opening day at camp on one hand, but what a year that would make if my wife drops this guy one week with me and I drop the Monarch the next with Dad and bro.
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I think the BIG Ole Boy AKA "The Mountian Monarch" that did this(below) has more potential to leave you with a Opening Week At Big Woods Camp memory second to none! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif I would be out for him opening week & go back to ur property second week. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

The other rub...could be one of those lil agressive spikers! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

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I knew you would say that /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif and you know exactly what I am struggling with...funny thing is that where my land is now, is the "big woods" for many but it isn't for me. Not enough elbow room.

In my mind, hunting for the Monarch will be just as good, if not better the second week, short of a late rut mistake he may make early on Day 1 until he bumps into someone. No doubt in my mind no major risk there, and if my Dad and bro would be there for the opener this year this is wouldn't even of come up and I would likely follow your suggestion. But they get there the evening of the first Friday- second Wed and that is why I really want to do the same, would be two great week's of hunting either way. But like I told my brother yesterday, I just want to be in the picture with the buck, I don't care which of the 3 of us are behind the horns. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif We don't get too hunt together much anymore, and that means the most.

For the record, the rub I found Sunday here was bigger than the Monarch's (didn't see as many point marks though), but the history behind this rub (buck) does not even compare. No matter what i decide the real test will likely come when that first decent 8 walks by...whether here or there.
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I'd say you have to go hunt him. After all, you've been posting about it all year and you don't want to let your adoring fans down. I don't think a fitting end to the story is, "I decided to stay home instead". Go get him, Tiger!
Oh I forgot fans. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/jestera.gif

I got 7 days to hunt over two one time this year that seemed like plenty. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif , but should still be enough to hunt both places. The more I talk with my Dad and brother, the more I want to get this buck with them as part of a deer hunting reunion on our mountain,I hate to just show them the gut pile. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif

Anyway, I think you have other motives and just want me saving this home grown buck, for our 2007 traditional bowhunt next year. That camp is coming along nicely by the way... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbs.gif
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Remember this could be your last year to hunt for that guy, I recall something about a mentored youth hunt on the horizon next year. Don't you have a young guy waiting to get behind the sights?

Just another thought to make your decision a little tougher.
Anyway, I think you have other motives and just want me saving this home grown buck, for our 2007 traditional bowhunt next year. That camp is coming along nicely by the way... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbs.gif

[/ QUOTE ]

It pains me to see how little you think of me. Accusing me of having selfish motives. Why do you hurt me so? Just because that deer on your property deserves to take one of my cedar arrows instead of a bullet doesn't mean I'm selfish. I'm only trying to fulfill the wishes of the deer. Whose the selfish one now, mister? /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
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This would just move my new plan ahead a year. If my son can hunt deer in 07 at the age of 10, I will definately stay home (no discussion) and hunt with him and the wife up there on our place. Then go to Potter the second week to hunt the way that makes me tick. I already decided that is how it will be for the next few years until he (and my other two kids eventually) have matured into a hunter that will like a truly tough big woods hunt over at camp.

This year it would be just to help the wife though , not both her and my boy. And to get a feel for the competition and a gauge of their manners.


"Death by Cedar" you just inspired the name of our new to form traditional bowhunting gang, in true minister of propoganda fashion. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbs.gif...selfish but useful.
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You know me. I just want to make my contribution to the team. You still shooting that bow I leant you? I'm hoping to get my buddy to build me a recurve now he finally got around to gluing up his first one. I think I'll be going a bit lighter than my longbow. Getting kind of beat up in my old age and finding #57 is a bit much to pull all day long.
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