30+ Inches of Memories

By Bob Mustard
California, DIY, Public Land

Bob Mustard - 30+ Inches of MemoriesFebruary/March 2012 EHJ (Issue 129) - My story starts with the decision to put in for the most sought-after California deer-hunting zone. Even with max points, the odds of getting drawn are still about 100 to 1. After the drawing took place, I checked the results online and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I drawn a tag in G-3.

Andre Legrand and I started planning a scouting trip combined with a practical rifle training session at Front Sight in Nevada for late October. Andre had observed the hunt in the past and his recommendation was to stay in a local motel due to the harsh weather conditions that can be expected for the high desert in December. I also contacted the local DFG biologist, Mike Morrison, numerous times to pick his brain about the quality and habits of the deer in that zone.

I chose to take my Dad’s rifle; a sporterized 1917 Eddystone .30- 06, although I needed to upgrade the scope from an old Weaver K4 to a Nikon Monarch 4-16x44 with a BDC reticle. I made sure the rifle was dead on at 100 yards and I felt comfortable with it out to about 500 yards.

Opening day began with ice on the windshield, overcast skies and no wind… perfect conditions. We decided earlier to avoid the "zoo” at Onion Valley and check out Division Creek. We made sure we parked at the base of the rolling sage ridges where we spotted a nice 30- to 32-inch three-pointer nicknamed "Crab Claw” the previous day and then waited for first light.

At first light, we found Crab Claw, his harem and a few other smaller bucks. We watched them for about an hour and also glassed the adjacent hillsides. We talked at length about how we could put a stalk on him, but at best the closest shot we estimated would be about 400 yards and he really didn’t fit my criteria for opening weekend. Just then, the game warden arrived and checked my license, tag and rifle. He then asked if we knew how many other vehicles were up the road, to which we replied, "a couple,” and then he was off to check them out.

Within 30 minutes, a truck came back down the road and stopped next to us, rolled down the window and asked if we encountered the same enthusiastic personality of the local game warden. We acknowledged that we had indeed and introduced ourselves. Jason Schillinger and Josh Schulgen had journeyed from Tehachapi and it turned out both these young men are Kern County Firefighters. Jason was drawn for this hunt back in 2004, showed us a picture of a real nice buck he shot and told us he and Josh had ventured over for the day to see some big bucks get shot. They had also seen a nice four-pointer just off the road a little ways up the canyon but it wasn’t big enough to shoot opening day. They went on their way and we went up the road in search of the four-pointer they spotted, but we never did see him.

Bob Mustard - 30+ Inches of Memories

For a full account of Bob's adventure, go to page 28 in the February/March 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.