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Lake Meredith report, or Why I Like Pain

13,798 Views | 39 Replies | Last: 11 yr ago by Zone416
Log
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AG
This is why I am a gym rat during the week.

I had to make my yearly Lake Meredith trip solo this year, since my buddy that usually goes with me had family and work commitments come up at the last minute. I started off early Saturday morning to get in front of the other hunters. The areas close to the parking areas get slammed on opening day, so if you are first in, you’ll have pristine hunting conditions. The hunting strategy is to climb to the top of the canyons, skirt the rims, and then glass the bottoms. I passed up the first canyon north of the Plum Creek ramp, since it is easy to access and most hunters hit it. Get another canyon in, and you’ll most likely not see another person the rest of the day. Oddly enough, another group of three hunters went all the way in to the fourth canyon this year, but I was already in front of them. They were the only people I saw while hunting.



Second canyon north of Plum Creek, looking SW (upriver) back toward Plum Creek.


Mouth of fourth canyon north of Plum Creek, looking NE (downriver), toward Lake Meredith.

By the time I had made my way to the fourth canyon, I’d seen a few muley does and yearlings, a forkhorn muley buck, and a whitetail forkhorn. The third canyon is small, and I didn’t see anything in it. Once I got to the fourth canyon, I immediately spotted a small whitetail mainbeam spike tooling around in the bottom. More glassing found a mule deer forkhorn bedded down, and I spotted a group of three huge tom turkeys. First ones I’ve ever seen up there, even though they are legal game during archery season and during the spring. At one point, I was glassing the bottom right below me, and I noticed something light colored. Watching it for a few minutes, I was able to finally determine that it was a bobcat. A minute or so later, I spotted another one. One was larger than the other, and I think it was a female and her almost fully grown kitten. The smaller one was playing and pouncing on the larger one. It was pretty cool to see, and I got to watch them for about 15 minutes. I think she was teaching the kitten to hunt. These are only the third and fourth bobcats I’ve ever seen in my life, so getting to watch them for that length of time was a real treat.

After glassing the fourth canyon for a couple of hours, I decided to go on up to Evans Canyon. I’ve always wanted to hunt Evans, since it is absolutely huge, but it is probably one of the most remote, hardest to reach canyons in the whole area. I made the mouth of it one year, saw its size and the time of day, and turned around and went back. This time, it was early enough in the day, and I had already told myself that I wasn’t going to shoot anything that far in unless it was a real bruiser, since I was flying solo. I’ve also walked out in the dark before, and had my GPS to help guide me if needed.


Looking SW at fourth canyon from Plum Creek, as viewed from the rim of Evans Canyon.


Mouth of Evans Canyon, looking NE (upriver) toward Lake Meredith.


Upper end of Evans Canyon. It curves around to the left and has a couple of forks, so there’s a lot more canyon left to explore.


Canadian River Valley, looking east. Borger is just across the river.

About the time I topped out at the mouth of the canyon, I spotted a small whitetail buck below me. He was either a 6 or 8 basket rack. I glassed for a little while, then moved on up the canyon to glass a different area. I found my new spot, and started glassing. An hour or so later, I was getting ready to move on up the canyon, when I noticed a couple of deer in the bottom, up canyon and in the mouth of a small side canyon. I glassed them, and one was a forkhorn and the other a larger deer with oddly shaped antlers, but they were to far away for a clear view of them. The deer were posturing and had their hackles up and ears back, so the rut is kicking in. I backed off from the canyon, skirted the side canyon, and came up on top of them. By this time they had moved into some brush, so I didn’t have a clear view of them. But they’d picked up a buddy, a nice 6 or 8, but nothing too huge, so I decided to pass on him, since I’ve seen bigger there. About this time, the group started to move off in their own directions. I spotted another forkhorn a few minutes later, and he had another deer with him. I could tell the other deer was larger, and I kept getting glimpses of a decent looking rack through the brush, but I couldn’t tell how large he was. I watched him make a scrape, licking branch, and a rub. They moved off across the canyon, and when they got to a clear area, I was finally able to see his rack. He looked like a nice mature 8 point, although he did look kind of spindly, not very tall, and narrow. But he was the best buck I had seen so far.

They were 500+ yards away at this point, so I couldn’t rally tell much, just that he was bigger than the rest. They went into a clump of brush, and never left it. I could see them moving around once in awhile, but they were in a spot that was surrounded by open areas, so I knew they hadn’t left it. I decided to go up canyon a little ways, then drop in and sneak down the canyon to try to get a better look at him. The wind was blowing up the canyon, and there was a dry streambed with high banks running up the middle of the canyon, so it was perfect for me to get a hundred yards or so from him.

I made my way down into the canyon, and as I was walking down the streambed, I jumped my first covey of about 20 quail for the day. It must be a down year, since some years you bust a covey every hundred yards up there. I made my way to the landmark I had mentally marked to exit the stream, and made my way to a small hill where I would have a good view of where the deer were last located. I climbed the small rise and spotted a group of four muley does which I knew were below the other two deer. I was reaching for my binoculars to glass the area where I thought they were, when I suddenly saw him walking through the mesquite brush toward the streambed. He was about 100 yards in front of me. I glassed him, and all I saw was MASS. It was an instant decision to shoot. Binoculars dropped, rifle came up, and as soon as he hit a clear spot, BANG, FLOP.

I about crapped myself when I walked up on him. Simultaneous thoughts of “Holy Crap, this is a huge deer” and “This is going to be the suck packing him out of here” were going through my head. For reference, his inside spread is 14.75” and his outside is 17”. And his neck was absolutely massive. He was so big that it made his antlers look small, which is why I was having a hard time judging his rack. He's not the largest buck ever, but he came off of public land, and I earned him the hard way. He'll look good next to my elk.







I managed to get him quartered, boned, caped, and loaded into my backpack. I had lay on my side, get the backpack on, roll onto my belly, then get on my knees to get off the ground. The pack out was about 4 miles and was absolutely brutal. Coming up out of the canyon was the worst, and I managed to hyperextend my knee at one point after I topped out. But, I finally made it out, and am dosing on Ibuprofen at this point.

My white whale is a large muley. I know they are there, they’re just a lot more elusive. I’ve still got some vacation left, so I may get a wild hair and decide to go up again next week. After my legs, knees, and back recover.
Ol Jock 99
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AG
Nice story, deer and pics.
austinags
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Great action Log! Nice work man. I enjoyed the write up and felt like I was on an adventure.
Hard work and persistance pays off once again.
Thanks for sharing and some nice pictures to boot.

[This message has been edited by austinags (edited 11/23/2008 5:31p).]
ursusguy
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Man that is some amazing pictures. I'm going to have to try it out there some day.
Bottlerocket
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Now THAT is deer hunting. Not sitting in a stand waiting for the feeder to go off. Awesome stuff.
Troutslime
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Great story! It must be nice to be young.
chocolatelabs
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That is really cool, and a very good deer. I hunted similar to what you did in palo duro canyon a lot during college. If you can find a lease or place to hunt there are some really big deer in that canyon.

jayelbee
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Sounds like a fantastic trip. That sounds like some deer hunting I could get into. I bet it's not the type of trip you'd take as a beginner though.
texrover91
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That looks awesome Log. Congrats.

See many quail up there?{nevermind, just saw your note on quail} And where do you camp? The maps I've looked at don't show designated camp areas....{found the right map, but would still be curious to know where you camp.}

I took my first mulie hunt last year near Ft. Stockton--canyon hunting is by far my favorite now! It got even better when a blizzard moved in. Good stuff.

[This message has been edited by texrover91 (edited 11/23/2008 8:06p).]
matthewj042
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Kenner
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Looks like a very large deer. I don't envy you hauling him out. Very nice report of a hunt and great pictures.
Log
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I camped at Plum Creek. I just slept in the back of my truck this time. There is an old asphalt/gravel boat ramp parking lot there. You can set up a tent in the surrounding grassy areas or park a camper. There is also a campground on the other side of the Plum Creek area (SW of boat ramp), but it isn't on the main road; there's a dirt road going to it. It's at the trailhead to the Devil's Canyon trail.

If you go up to Blue West, there are designated picnic sites, with tables and covers, which also serve as campsites. There's also a boat ramp (out of the water right now) and parking lot as well.

None of the campsites at either location have power or water, and there is a chemical toilet located at the information area.

As far as quail, I remember the first year I went up there (2004) not being able to walk without busting a covey or hearing them calling. I've seen fewer the last couple of years, but I attribute that partly to the major drought they went through up there.

[This message has been edited by Log (edited 11/23/2008 8:59p).]
texrover91
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thanks log!
terlingua
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Great story. I've walked a lot of the country you hunted and it hasn't changed much. Congrats - the mass is impressive. Let us know what he scores out at.
Puryear Playboy
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Great story! I have always wanted to deer hunt Meredith. We have duck hunted the tail end of the lake several times while on Panhandle safaris.

Check out http://bullpacs.com/ . I have one of these and I know it will make your pack out a lot more tolerable.

Can you just camp in the canyons? The right lightweight gear would make for nice weekend hunt.

PP
Log
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Oh, believe me, I know all about good fit vs. bad fit in backpacks. I used a Badlands for a couple of seasons, and it never felt right and would rub my hips/back raw. Badlands are good packs; mine just didn't fit me well. Finally mustered up the cash to get a Kifaru last year. Spendy, but more than worth it.

You could pack in, but then you'd have to carry everything + deer back out. I packed my own gear in this year during my archery elk hunt, and bare minimum, for only one night, I would have had at least a 20 pound pack. As it is, I'm already carrying water, food, knives, game bags, camera, binos, spare ammo, survival kit, GPS, map, game calls, and a headlamp. Add in a sleeping bag and pad and possibly a tent, and you're getting up there. I've thought about doing it, but I'd rather just come back out. Getting up early and hiking/climbing in is relatively easy, it's just the coming back out with a load that sucks.

[This message has been edited by Log (edited 11/23/2008 11:14p).]
texrover91
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Log, have you hunted south of plum creek, or used any of the south camps like mullinaw or mcbride? Just wondering if there is less pressure later in the season if you move south of the lake.

Your post has me seriously thinking about heading up there this year and giving it a go....
Log
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I've always used Plum Creek or Blue West. The area gets slammed opening weekend, but most people hunt within a mile of the roads. There is a maintained trail in the river bottom that goes south from Plum Creek to Devils Canyon. I've hunted down that way once, and there are some nice canyons down that way. There's also a crossing at McBride, but whether it is open depends on the river level. The river has more water in it this year, so it may be closed. BTW, the river bottom is solid 6+ foot high cattails, interspersed with higher grassy areas and small channels filled with water, so don't even think about trying to cross it on foot at any area but the McBride crossing.

I usually go opening weekend, but I went the weekend after Thanksgiving one year, and there was hardly anybody else there. I've stayed over and hunted on Monday before and I was the only one there. So, during the week and other than opening weekend it is pretty much dead. I think it is mostly locals that hunt there.

Get up high early and glass. You'll see something. It might not be the largest buck, but you never know what you're going to run across.
lostboy
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Great post and awesome deer!

Ever think about going lighter with your rifle? Not a darn thing wrong with the wood/blued combo - just wondering.
tx4guns
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I think we all need to pitch in and get this for Log for Christmas!

WildcatAg
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Nice story and deer.
bigjordo
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good grief that is how I want to hunt
Sean98
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tx4guns, those things (sleds/drags) don't work very well at all. I assure you that caping/quartering/packing is a much better alternative.

I like reading Log's stuff. You never hear, "the deer hunting is so tough this year... I mean, the feeder goes off and nothing is coming in!"

Great stuff! Congrats!
tx4guns
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Sean, I know. It was more of a joke. I thought the picture was funny when I saw it. Most of us aren't in the shape that Log is in either. I don't think I would pull off a hike up a mountain with a deer in tow.
Sean98
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Well, I wish I had known prior to dropping some cash on one last year. Boo for me.
tx4guns
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That must be a NASA deer in that picture. See the RF collar!
Log
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My rifle is actually pretty light. I lugged my M-14 in last year and shot a 5 point muley with it. Talk about a beast. It weighs about 12 pounds altogether. I am thinking about upgrading to something with a synthetic stock though, since the rocks in that area aren't friendly to a wooden stock.

In regards to the sled, back in 2005, we saw some guys who had just shot a nice 8 point in Evans canyon. We were on the rim when we spotted them, and they had just finished gutting it. No backpacks, so they started dragging it. 100 yards. Stop. 50 yards. Stop. 25 yards. Stop. 20 yards. Stop. 20 yards. Stop. Repeat ad infintum. They had another 2.5 miles of that to do through thick brush and uneven terrain, before they even climbed out of the canyon. As bad a packing one is, that had to have been worse.
Ol Jock 99
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quote:
They had another 2.5 miles of that to do through thick brush and uneven terrain, before they even climbed out of the canyon.

Unless they took turns fireman carrying it (which would SUCK), I'd wage you'd find a headless skeleton less than a mile from where you spotted them.
lostboy
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quote:
It weighs about 12 pounds altogether


Ouch! If I ever get into backpack hunting, I'll be getting one of these;
http://www.kimberamerica.com/rifles/84m/84m_montana/35/

5lbs 2oz of perfection.

[This message has been edited by lostboy (edited 11/24/2008 1:30p).]
Streetfighter 02
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Oh, I think I see one of my wells pumping in the background there.
Hagen95
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Nice story, Log. Sounds like fun. My dad used to pack hunt, now he does it on horseback to save his back.

Lots of mulies in the panhandle this year, at least according to the family.
Professor
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Great story...that IS hunting.
goadius6
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rough tough, real stuff
queso1
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Log - that looks like a lot of fun. Is that public land or do you have a lease? I mean can anyone who is up for it just walk in? Or do you need some special permit? Give me some info because frankly, I am sick of sitting in the stand. Working out for hiking is fine, but working out for that would be great. Please let me know.
Ol Jock 99
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Actually, if you wouldn't mind posting a google map of the appx (more or less) location, I'd be obliged. I tried looking myself, but don't know enough about the area.
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