Kaibab early rifle!

Alabama

Veteran member
Feb 18, 2013
1,277
57
Sweet Home Alabama
Well I wasn't successful. I hunted my tail off for 7.5 days (missed the first 2 days of the season because of an audit at work). I hunted until noon on the last day but I called it quits at that point. The deer were up high just like the biologist and everybody said they would be. It was just tough hunting in the pines with it being so dry, they could hear you coming from a mile away. The 1st night was spent in 30-40 mph winds and well below freezing temps, it's the coldest I've ever been. Dust was coated on everything and all of our water froze. Those first 2 nights were brutal for 2 Alabama boys in a tent lol. By the end of the week it was pleasant 60 degrees during the day and high 20s at night.

We tried hunting the burned areas and on the fringes of those burns is where we saw most of the deer (does mostly). We tried still hunting in the pines around fresh sign with no luck. We wasted one day down low in the sage and another day in the Pinyon/Juniper country over water. There were a few deer in the P/J transition country but not a lot of sign and an afternoon sit close to water only produced a single 2 year old 3x3. We averaged seeing about 5-10 does per day and 1-2 bucks. We were out most days from dawn until dusk but just couldn't turn up an older age class buck. We saw some decent 3 year old bucks but I just couldn't shoot them because I knew what this area was capable of producing. I had such high hopes for this hunt and I was probably more excited about this tag than any other I've ever drawn. Ultimately I had fun but I was a disappointed I didn't get to wrap my tag around some antlers.

We did get to see some amazing country and meet some great people. We had 2 flats and both times people offered us help. We were offered dinner from other camps and offered tips from guys that hadn't even tagged out themselves. I met a guide from A3 who was more than willing to give us some pointers. The people in general were some of the warmest I've ever met. I made some good memories and hopefully get to return to AZ this fall with an elk tag in my pocket.
 

swampokie

Veteran member
Jul 29, 2013
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Haworth Oklahoma
Dang brother I been gone a while. I had no idea till tonight that u drew az Sorry to hear u ate the tag. Sounds like a heck uv an adventure tho. Kinda like the gila rifle elk hunt a few years ago. I hope to draw an archery tag out there in the next couple years and maybe u can give me some pointers. Good story and adventure and good luck in the draws this new year!
 
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Alabama

Veteran member
Feb 18, 2013
1,277
57
Sweet Home Alabama
Dang brother I been gone a while. I had no idea till tonight that u drew az Sorry to hear u ate the tag. Sounds like a heck uv an adventure tho. Kinda like the gila rifle elk hunt a few years ago. I hope to draw an archery tag out there in the next couple years and maybe u can give me some pointers. Good story and adventure and good luck in the draws this new year!
That NM elk hunt was the poster child for Murphy's law, if it could go wrong it did. I almost got lucky on the bull of a lifetime for me but it would have been blind luck. Elk hunting was completely foreign to me and I had no clue what I was doing at that time. This hunt was completely different, it seemed everything fell into place and I was prepared. We saw a decent amount of deer just not the one I wanted. My best friend came along and it was his first hunt out west, he didn't have a tag but he had a blast. He is a die hard turkey hunter but his interest in deer hunting has waned over the years. He's already asking about applying next year. Odds just went down guys!
 

JimP

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Mar 28, 2016
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Gypsum, Co
It was a finicky year for deer this year in a number of states and it sounds like northern Arizona was no different.
 
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Naturebob

Member
Feb 28, 2016
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phoenix, az.
Alabama, You did what You could , its a tough hunt. A few guys get lucky on big ones but not many. The only ones that do good on the early hunts is with guides or guys that had Cameras and spent a ton of time scouting. That can't happen if You live out of State. The late hunt is Completely different. Big Bucks all over , Thats why it takes years to draw. One of the best Muley hunts in the country. I ran into the same as You category in Colorado this Year. Had unit 70 , 3rd season. Big Bucks were not seen on public, only Private, very frustrating and to cold this desert boy . I was not feeling good either. 8 day hunt and I went home after 3 days. Glssed my but off. Could shot spikes or fork horn ,but I don't. A lot of Toads came off the late Hunt in the Kaibab this year. It was banner. You just had the wrong tag. ...Good luck next time ........BOB!
 
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Alabama

Veteran member
Feb 18, 2013
1,277
57
Sweet Home Alabama
I feel the same way after hunting it. You need a ton of scouting or a lot of luck to get a mature buck in the early season. The biologist said a few good ones were killed on opening day, but the rest were in the thickest cover shortly after the shooting started. I did see the buck the guy hunting with A3 got on opening day. It was a giant, I'd guess 200"+ non-typical but every other deer I saw that guys had taken were all less than 140". Most were just happy with a 2 or 3 year old 3x3. We found a little 4x4 somebody had shot but the meat was already spoiled, it had been there at least a couple of days. The condors and coyotes enjoyed it, I'm sure.

Sorry your hunt didn't work out. There's always next year!
 

Colorado Cowboy

Veteran member
Jun 8, 2011
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Dolores, Colorado
Alabama, You did what You could , its a tough hunt. A few guys get lucky on big ones but not many. The only ones that do good on the early hunts is with guides or guys that had Cameras and spent a ton of time scouting. That can't happen if You live out of State. The late hunt is Completely different. Big Bucks all over , Thats why it takes years to draw. One of the best Muley hunts in the country. I ran into the same as You category in Colorado this Year. Had unit 70 , 3rd season. Big Bucks were not seen on public, only Private, very frustrating and to cold this desert boy . I was not feeling good either. 8 day hunt and I went home after 3 days. Glssed my but off. Could shot spikes or fork horn ,but I don't. A lot of Toads came off the late Hunt in the Kaibab this year. It was banner. You just had the wrong tag. ...Good luck next time ........BOB!
Unit 70 in Colorado is a tough hunt in 3rd season unless you get lots of snow. I hunt it regularly as I live about 100 miles to the south. I have seen and shot some nice bucks from it, but I always hunt 4th season.
 
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