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Eric Bailey
09-20-2013, 02:25 PM
My first hunt (at age 39) was a solo backpacking muzzleloader trip to the Holy Cross wilderness in unit 45. I was lucky and thankful to get this buck.

Thanks to lots of folks here for sharing your knowledge with me. You helped me decide on a season, unit, weapon (CVA Wolf Compact) and load (110 grains of BH209 pushing a 300 grain Thor bullet). I think the most valuable information was the tip from Pete to read "The Still Hunter." I was taking 5 silent steps at a time then waiting when a group of three bucks got up from their morning bed to have a snack not 30 yards away. This guy was the biggest and I was delighted to harvest him.

I had to make a solo trip this year because I didn't have a single friend interested in hunting. That is until my friends heard my stories and figured that if I could do it, they could. I expect to have 3 friends join me for a hunt this time next year. I can't wait!

64856484

ivorytip
09-20-2013, 02:27 PM
well done eric! thats is indeed a nice buck, and for your first! well played

Ikeepitcold
09-20-2013, 02:30 PM
Congrats for sure! Great buck you should be very happy to have him. I bet your buddy's are jealous.

Work2hunt
09-20-2013, 03:05 PM
Awesome. That's a great deer no matter what. Great job.

BossBrott
09-20-2013, 03:25 PM
Awesome buck, and pics worthy of a frame. Good job

mattdeere
09-20-2013, 03:54 PM
Awesome story and Congratulations Eric!

mt-mike
09-20-2013, 04:22 PM
Super buck, especially for your first. Hope you are going to put that guy on the wall. His mount will be meaningful for you the rest of your life. Good going Eric!

hardstalk
09-20-2013, 04:34 PM
No turning back now!! Congrats!

AT Hiker
09-20-2013, 04:43 PM
Awesome man! Need a new friend!!!

lookinforwater
09-20-2013, 05:17 PM
I'm glad your first experience turned out so good,congratulations.

sjsmallfield
09-20-2013, 06:13 PM
What an awesome first buck! Congrats!!

JEandAsGuide
09-20-2013, 06:14 PM
Congrats on a great buck!!

Kentucky hunter
09-20-2013, 07:14 PM
Ill go lol!! Hell of a buck!! Good job man!!

bigmoose
09-20-2013, 07:21 PM
Congrats on a great buck!

Moose

BleuBijou
09-20-2013, 11:17 PM
Congrats! My first deer had just enough horn to drag him! Almost had to drag him by the ears! Was it worth the wait? How did that Thor work out? I am changing my name to jealous!!

markhunts
09-21-2013, 01:27 AM
Congratulations on a great 1st buck. That would be nice for the 50th buck!

ando_31
09-21-2013, 05:55 AM
That buck makes most seasoned hunters jealous. Nice deer and great story. I'll have to give that book a read someday.

N.Y.ArcheryMadMan
09-21-2013, 07:42 AM
Very Nice...That is A Great Buck... Hope there is Many Great Hunts in your Future..... Maybe even A few Archery Hunts... Congradulations...

NVbowhnter
09-21-2013, 10:12 PM
Awesome first buck!!

ando_31
09-22-2013, 06:23 AM
You should elaborate on then end of your story a bit. I'm curious as to how the quartering/dragging/boning/gutting went for you since it was your first deer and no one was there to help. I bet that can be an overwhelming feeling, especially if you were miles from your vehicle.

TooFarEast
09-23-2013, 12:16 PM
Nice buck for sure, and your 1st buck ... wow. That is something to be proud of.

dhershberger
09-23-2013, 12:44 PM
Congrats and great buck!

Eric Bailey
09-23-2013, 01:30 PM
You should elaborate on then end of your story a bit. I'm curious as to how the quartering/dragging/boning/gutting went for you since it was your first deer and no one was there to help. I bet that can be an overwhelming feeling, especially if you were miles from your vehicle.

I'm glad you asked. Right up until I took the shot, I was debating about it because I knew how much work I had ahead of me. I really didn't relax and feel happy until the meat was at the processor. That is when I finally felt a sense of accomplishment. Up until then I was scared that I would waste the meat of the beautiful creature whose life I had taken.

I got him about 5 miles from my jeep and I had never seen a dead deer before. Thank goodness for YouTube. I had watched quite a few videos about the "gutless method" and pretty well memorized what I needed to do. I started skinning him just behind his front shoulder. I got all the skin off of his rear quarter except evidence of sex. Finally got that quarter off, put it in a game bag, then in a white 3mm thick contractor bag, tied it up and put it in a shaded pool of the nearby creek. Then, I took off the backstrap, front quarter, and neck meat and got them in the creek. Then I rolled him over and did the same for the other side. Finally, I cut open his stomach cavity, shoved the guts out of the way, and reached up to get the tenderloins. The whole process took me about three hours. I know it takes some of you less than one. I felt very lucky that there were not more than a dozen or so black flies buzzing around me until the end when I was joined by yellow jackets, butterflies, and even clark's nutcrackers. The thing I was most concerned about was all the hair I got on the meat. Because I did the skinning and quartering more or less simultaneously, I did get a fair amount of hair on the meat. After I got home I cleaned each quarter in the sink before taking it to the processor.

The real work was carrying him out. I took half of him (the first two bags were already pretty cool by then) plus most of my camp and rifle on the first trip. I was about 3/4 to a mile of steep nasty stuff from a trail. Then about 4 miles on the relatively flat trail back to my jeep. In my jeep was a 120 quart cooler with gallon jugs of frozen water covered with an old sleeping bag. The ice held up really well. By the time I got to my jeep, it was 7pm. So, I tossed him in the cooler and spent the night at a hotel in Leadville. I came back the next day for the second half which was much easier but still very hard work.

I left his head and antlers on the mountain. My wife said she didn't want any trophies in the house. Up until I came back from this trip, she was actually downright against hunting. Luckily she understands that we are different people and that this was important to me. So, she sent me off with good wishes. Now, she is proud of me and can't wait to eat the lean healthy meat. I know where I left his head, so I'll go back for it in the spring. Even if I can't mount him, I can at least keep him in the garage as a memento (married guys here know you have to pick your battles). In the meantime, I keep looking at the pictures of him on my phone and growing increasingly proud of my hunt. :)

Thanks to everyone here for your congratulations. They mean a lot to me.

Bitterroot Bulls
09-23-2013, 02:09 PM
Awesome Eric!

What a great hunt. Congrats!

Now go get the head. Trust me, do it now.

ando_31
09-23-2013, 03:36 PM
Well done! You deserve to grab those horns every now and then to remind you of the meat you personally provided for your family and for the dedication you had during your first hunt. That battle might be worth the fight.

Timberstalker
09-23-2013, 04:18 PM
Great job on your fisrt buck! Still hunting is becoming a lost art, I love that style of hunting. I agree with the others, go get those horns, they are great reminders of the hunt. I have all but one or 2 sets of mine, I still look at my first set from 30 years ago.

BucksnBulls
09-24-2013, 11:26 AM
Wow, that's a heck of a first buck. Great job! I hope you get back up there for the rack.

Old Hunter
09-24-2013, 12:50 PM
Great job Eric. Was I right about still hunting? Fun wasn't it?

You need to study up some more on the gutless method. If you do it right the hair won't get near the meat, and there's no need to gut it to get the loins. It's done from the spine side.

Eric Bailey
09-24-2013, 03:10 PM
Thanks, Pete. It was great fun. I look forward to doing it again next year.

I definitely did some fumbling around which I won't have to repeat. I don't think I would have got any hair on the meat if I wasn't so tentative about skinning him. I had it in my head that the tenderloins were right underneath the backstraps. I didn't realize they'd be so far back. But I still can't imagine getting them out from the spine side. So, I'll watch another gutless video. I have plenty of time until next year. :)

If I hunt the same unit next year I won't bother carrying binoculars. I thought you were crazy for saying that. I almost packed a scope and tripod too. But with a muzzleloader in the type of country I was hunting binoculars were just extra weight swinging around my neck.

Old Hunter
09-24-2013, 03:41 PM
Hunt light and sneaky like an indian. :D

kesand72
02-23-2014, 10:08 AM
Awesome buck and awesome story! Congrats all the way around!!

ando_31
02-23-2014, 10:53 AM
I noticed under "older hunters" name it mentions he is banned. I'm just curious of what one has to do to become banned from the site...

Kevin Root
02-23-2014, 12:05 PM
That's nice advice about moving slow. It sure looks like it payed off well for you Eric. Well done and it sure had to be a great feeling going out solo to get that buck. There are some upsides and downsides I suppose to solo trips. I'm glad you had a successful one. That sure sounds like a trip you will remember.

gonhunting247
02-23-2014, 12:09 PM
That is awesome, way to go!

Topgun 30-06
02-23-2014, 12:37 PM
I noticed under "older hunters" name it mentions he is banned. I'm just curious of what one has to do to become banned from the site...

***Click on this link below and read the thread. That's where the OH ban took place and you'll see why.

http://www.eastmans.com/forum/showthread.php/5774-Ist-Rifle-Season-over-2nd-starts-Saturday

ando_31
02-23-2014, 02:29 PM
***Click on this link below and read the thread. That's where the OH ban took place and you'll see why.

http://www.eastmans.com/forum/showthread.php/5774-Ist-Rifle-Season-over-2nd-starts-Saturday

I read a lot of the threads, but not all of them. Thanks for the clarification.

Eberle
02-23-2014, 08:02 PM
I actually miss OH. I know he could be a pain & disrespectful at times. He did have alot of good knowledge. You got a be respectful, bottomline!

AT Hiker
02-23-2014, 08:04 PM
Very cool dude! Very impressive of the for thought and planning you put into taking care of the meat, that speaks highly of your character as a new hunter and gives hunters all around a good image. I rarely hunt our early season archery here in TN for whitetail because its always too dang hot and you must be quick to save the meat, so when I help a new hunter out that is the first thing I stress about early season hunting. Kudos to you man.

Thanks for sharing

Musket Man
02-23-2014, 11:37 PM
I left his head and antlers on the mountain. My wife said she didn't want any trophies in the house.

That was a very nice buck! How could you leave the horns behind?

Eric Bailey
02-24-2014, 11:17 AM
That was a very nice buck! How could you leave the horns behind?

Thanks, MM. I appreciate it.

I doubt many of you on this forum have the same problem. My wife was downright anti-hunting and had a hard time understanding my new found interest. She did not want me to be successful and even after I got back from my trip, she didn't want to hear about it.

It wasn't until I was describing my hunt to a friend that she changed her mind. She heard me mention that I thanked the buck and the wilderness for their gift to me and my family. After that, she understood better that sportsmen revere and protect the animals they hunt. She has since really enjoyed eating mule deer and she hopes I get an elk this fall. However, I don't think she'll be ready for a shoulder mount in the house anytime soon.

I'll never forget how beautiful my first buck was. I have thought about the experience literally every day since. I'm sure that is a problem we all share! I don't need his antlers around to remind me. That is not a nock on trophy hunting. If circumstances were different, he'd be hanging over our fireplace. My wife just really doesn't want that, and the meat and experience were far more important to me anyway.

Wild Country
02-25-2014, 08:01 AM
Thanks, MM. I appreciate it.

I doubt many of you on this forum have the same problem. My wife was downright anti-hunting and had a hard time understanding my new found interest. She did not want me to be successful and even after I got back from my trip, she didn't want to hear about it.

It wasn't until I was describing my hunt to a friend that she changed her mind. She heard me mention that I thanked the buck and the wilderness for their gift to me and my family. After that, she understood better that sportsmen revere and protect the animals they hunt. She has since really enjoyed eating mule deer and she hopes I get an elk this fall. However, I don't think she'll be ready for a shoulder mount in the house anytime soon.

I'll never forget how beautiful my first buck was. I have thought about the experience literally every day since. I'm sure that is a problem we all share! I don't need his antlers around to remind me. That is not a nock on trophy hunting. If circumstances were different, he'd be hanging over our fireplace. My wife just really doesn't want that, and the meat and experience were far more important to me anyway.

Very impressive.....and congratulations. I am very impressed with your ethics and want of trying to do it right! I completely understand picking your battles as a married man. I am fortunate enough that my wife has no issues with animals on our walls. Welcome to the world of hunting and I have a lot of respect for you and the way you went about it.....if all new hunters took the time and effort to do it the way you did we would have a better image as a group. Keep your high standards and I wish all the best in your new found passion,

Fink
02-25-2014, 09:04 AM
It wasn't until I was describing my hunt to a friend that she changed her mind. She heard me mention that I thanked the buck and the wilderness for their gift to me and my family.

I'm not sure how I missed this thread originally, but congrats on a great buck, Eric. No one can understand the feeling of killing a big game animal, and the thanks that we give to that animal for it's sacrifice, until they've done it themselves. I hope you eventually go back and get the antlers, cause there's something special about holding them and thinking about the hunt years later. You don't want to deprive yourself of that.

robiland
02-25-2014, 11:26 AM
Nice Buck. That is a shooter in my book! Congrats!!!

Allnighter
03-04-2014, 08:54 PM
That's a awesome first. I hope to pull a tag for my first in Wy this year and bravo to you on doing it alone.