|Sierra Ancha deer hunting, AZ|| |
Sierra Ancha deer hunting, AZ
|Hiking||5.66 Miles|| 3 Hrs 45 Mns ||1.51 mph|
|850 ft AEG||10 LBS Pack|
|After the trip to Utah Tracey absolutely loved the lower temperatures we had so I tried to think of something different for us, yet not too warm. After a little brainstorming (something I have to be very careful with) I came up with a great idea. With deer hunting season open it brings to mind tales of bagging the x-pointer and such, but more likely it was the one that got away & the deer we never saw.
So... we decided to see just how tough it would be to bag a deer if we were hunters rather than hikers. But where to start?
Let's see now... where's enough altitude for cooler temps yet somewhat prime deer country?
The western Sierra Ancha seemed like a logical choice.
Then, just in case we had the luck many hunters seemed to have, i.e. none, I cast around for at least one hike to fall back on. With only one hike icon in the area using Route Manager, the choice was simple... Slash X Ranch seemed like an interesting destination so off we set with our 'Canons' instead of rifles.
On the drive up toward Juniper Mountain we saw scads of hunters with their RV's, pickups & ATV's. With that many hunters wandering around we figured we would have to be careful when hiking, especially since neither Tracey nor I had any blaze orange... ok, so Tracey had the new fire-truck yellow-green so that would have to do. And of course Tracey neglected to bring her deer-antler hat so we were safe on that.
The plan was to follow FR416 to FR1936 and loop back via FR416B, taking short hikes along the way. That was the plan but what are plans for anyway?
First stop was to hike from FR416 up to the summit of Pine Mountain, which was nothing but a flat area with all the pines down the eastern slope. But no matter, it's where we encountered our deer. Ok, so the first deer bounded across the road in front of us a few miles prior but this was our first while on foot and first legal buck. We heard some snorting off to our left so I moved that way, which scared up a doe. It didn't go far so I circled one direction and Tracey the other direction. I already had a good shot so Tracey hoped for a good shot. But alas, it didn't wait for us and bounded away... boing, boing, boing.
Ok, next up is the J Slash X Ranch. While the Cherokee could easily had taken us right to it, the goal was to experience the nice fall weather on foot, so off we set. When we arrived at the location where it used to be we found a clearing with a row of five trees but absolutely nothing else... no signs of a foundation or anything. But no matter, the tree were APPLE trees! Of the five only three bore fruit, tow with good fruit and one with what appeared to be diseased fruit. Kind of weird that the two good-fruit trees were the only ones with practically nothing for trunks. They had only a semi-circle of bark for the first 3-4 feet from the ground, yet they provided some great tasting apples!
Of course the only apple Tracey could reach from the ground was a tiny one but after tasting it she was game to put on her monkey tree-climbing hat and with a little boost she was harvesting all within reach.
Check out the photoset for our haul: http://hikearizona.com/photoset=27278
After taking a wide loop up a drainage back to the car it was time for a PB&J lunch. Tracey's getting tired of them but I could live on them if I had too. Ok, time to finish our loop back onto FR416B.
Yeah right! After winding our way through rough and rocky terrain for some distance I realized we were on a narrow ATV track and not on FR416B. So we backtracked to where it should have branched off and found it simply vanished! Since the ATV track lead up into a box canyon that was out so we turned around and re-traced our drive all the way back around to FR416 again. On the back-track received a nice bonus of encountering a group of four wild turkeys.
By now Tracey wanted at least one more walk-about before our 2 hour drive back home so we found the next ATV track and set off on foot. In minutes we hit the jackpot of a group of four deer including our second buck of the day. I took the first shot from across a small ravine then began a descent to get closer. Even though I slipped on the piles of loose leaves and almost fell (making plenty of noise as well) the deer seemed more interested in getting their portrait than hastening away. So I obliged them, thank you.
Our last short hike came up blank but at the end of the day our total stood at 12 does, 2 bucks, 4 turkeys, dozens of small fish, 5 apple trees and 1-1/2 dozen apples! With only four short hikes ranging from .5 to just over 2 miles we felt we had accomplished our task for the day. All of them...
The fauna: Deer, wild turkey, fish of two varieties (not sure what) and a bunch of blue birds.
The flora: Apples, mint, pines, maples, etc....
The sounds: Babbling brook, wind whispering through the pines, snorting of deer and NOT one single shot heard all day.
Both the legal bucks would have provided prime shots if we had a rifle, but our memories will satisfy us for a long time to come.
On a side note... So many hunters were out and about we were very surprised we heard no shots all day. We wondered, was it bad luck, poor hunting skills, or 'hunters' too lazy to get off their ATV's?
Well, from our observations of reading the signs, ATV tracks, the boot-prints leading to and from the ATV's, I seriously doubt poor luck was the highest on the list.
I posted 30 of 45 photos here on HAZ, the rest are here:
I'll be posting an ant video soon... I just couldn't resist shooting a video of ants in slow-motion. No, I didn't film in slow-mo, it's just that they were moving so slowly, as though drugged.