Game: For Sinclairs, it's what's for dinner after filling three tags
Every fall, I hear about a local family or two who hit the big game tag jackpot.
But rarely does the family who draws a lot of tags fill them all.
Bu that isn't the case for the Sinclair family - Shelby, Dyan, Quinn and Nathan.
This year, every one of them EXCEPT Shelby drew a tag.
The kids - Quinn is 11 and Nathan is 16 - both drew junior muzzleloader deer tags in the 15 units. There were just 230 tags issued for that hunt.
Dyan drew one of 550 bull only tags for the late general hunt in Unit 10.
The kids would go out first, led by Quinn, whom I am proud to say is one of my Hunter Education graduates.
Assisting in her hunt would be her father, and uncle Socki Kogianes.
It was the first evening when some serious glassing produced a deer of a lifetime a long ways off with a group of does.
It was a wide 4 x 4 buck and it was going to take some stalking and serious shooting to get into range.
Quinn was going to be using a special muzzleloader that is manufactured by Remington Arms. It is called the Ultimate, and properly set up, shooters have easily taken deer and elk out to 500 yards with this gun. It is a .50 caliber, and uses 325 Parker bullets.
To say it is not a normal muzzleloader is a fair statement.
But even though she is young, Quinn has been shooting for a long time and wasn't bothered at all about using the Remington muzzleloader.
The plan was that Shelby would stay on the glass and watch the deer, while Socki and Quinn would move in and get as close as they could.
The entire process took a very long time, and Quinn was behind the gun for over an hour while they waited for the buck to give her a perfect shot.
Finally, with everything in place, she slowly squeezed off a shot that was followed up by a loud WHACK, and the buck crumpled to the ground.
Odds are he never even heard the shot.
This was one of the better bucks in these units. It was tall and 27 inches wide.
They would later determine that the buck scored over 160 inches.
What tremendous buck for this young hunter's first mule deer.
Though it was her first deer, the young hunter did draw an antlerless elk tag in Unit 9 in 2014. However, she was not successful on that hunt and is looking forward to going on another elk hunt in the future.
The buck was taken to Down and Mount Taxidermy where Amber Kirby will do the honors.
Now it was time for her brother to take over the gun.
Nathan is no rookie when it comes to deer hunting and he had taken two bucks prior to this hunt. He had taken a buck with a rifle in Unit 18B, and one with a muzzleloader in the 15s.
Nathan had school on Friday, so it was Saturday before he could head out.
Hunting with his dad and uncle, they were back in the same area that Quinn had taken her big buck the evening before.
"We saw fresh deer tracks over our tracks from the day before, so we felt there were probably other bucks around," Shelby said.
And sure enough, serious glassing once again produced results.
The trio found a small group that consisted of a 4x3 and two smaller bucks. Working to within 180 yards, the young hunter got set up and made a perfect one-shot take of the 4x3.
With two mule deer in the freezer, now it up to mom to put a bull elk down.
Dyan had drawn one of the 550 bull-only tags for Unit 10.
While the Sinclairs are very familiar with this unit, and have taken great bulls there in the past, this hunt by design is not a trophy hunt. Matter of fact, most of the mature bulls will have broken antlers as a result of fighting before this hunt ever starts.
But this wasn't going to be just a hunt for any bull. During the earlier muzzleloader hunt, Ryan Chan had glassed up a very big bull that was unbroken.
A couple of other Kingman sportsmen had actually got a shot at this big bull during the muzzleloader hunt, but had not hit him.
Sinclair felt the bull was still in the area, and was alive. The plan was to hunt for this very special bull.
The family went up on Thanksgiving Day to set up camp and scout, but could not find the big bull.
On opening morning they found another bull, and Dyan got a shot with the 6.5x284 that Shelby had built for some long range shooting, but unfortunately she missed. Friday afternoon they found a group of bachelor bulls, but it was snowing so hard, they couldn't tell if the big bull was in the herd.
Saturday morning, Shelby was glassing when he found the big bull bedded on a faraway hillside. There was no question this was the bull they were looking for.
A stalk started, but when they were still 1,000 yards from the bull and his couple of buddies who were in the area, other hunters spooked the bulls and off they went.
Sinclair thought he knew where they might be going, so they hiked back to the truck and started heading to that area.
As they were driving, they saw eight bulls come over a mountain, and sure enough, the big bull was with them.
Dyan got out of the truck and took aim at the bull, which was 230 yards away.
At the crack of the rifle, the bull crumpled to ground. Dyan had made a perfect shot and she had the bull that has eluded many hunters.
The big 6x6's massive rack was still unbroken, and scored 373 inches.
Though Dyan has taken two cow elk in the past, this was her first bull.
Once again, Amber Kirby at Down and Mount Taxidermy got the call.
The Sinclair family had a lot of friends and family on the elk hunt. Shelby said besides his son and daughter, and brother Socki Kogianes, his good friends Matt Howell and Jeff Pinatelli also assisted with the glassing duties.
With two deer and a big bull in the freezer, there's not much chance that the Sinclair family will go hungry this fall.