Each year my family and I plan at least one out of state hunt. We have been doing this for the past 7 or 8 years, and have had some pretty successful trips -- including being able to harvest some good animals. Between researching new spots and the current number of points we have in each state, we pick one that offers good odds and at a big buck and promise of high adventure. This year, the numbers, as well as the deer populations were pointing to Wyoming. We have hunted Wyoming in the past and knew Wyoming had a lot to offer for those willing to get after it.
As is usually the case, scouting time came at a premium. I was able to make a couple trips into our intended destination in July and early August. The trip is was a 5 hr drive followed by a 5 hour pack in. We were able to locate some good mature deer, as well as some decent numbers of deer on the short trips; but even with the limited scouting time we knew we could find an opportunity to kill a big buck.
When opening day came around I already had a few days of the Utah archery season under my belt, which really helped out. The country we were hunting is some really big, steep country. Anything you get up there is earned. The weather was still really warm averaging around 80 degrees during the day. Two of the guys in our group were able to take great bucks opening day, one of the bucks we had found scouting was taken on day three. This buck's face said it all; he was an old warrior, 28” 2x3. We packed out on day four, between the 3 bucks we had plenty of weight on our shoulders coming out from 9500 feet. On the drive home I was already planning my next trip back up.
Two weeks later I found myself with my dad and hunting buddy Ryan following a snowstorm back into the high country of Wyoming.
We changed locations by a few of miles and this time the pack in was longer. After a nine hour pack in I was finally to the spot we had been looking forward to since we had left. After quickly setting up camp I had my pack back on and was again heading for higher elevation. I didn’t make it far before I had a good buck in my spotting scope, it being my first night back with no pressure around us I decided I would leave him alone and see what else I could turn up before I punched my tag. The next day would offer more of the same; I watched a number of good deer and found one I would be happy to pack out with me. The big typical was feeding at 450 yards with 5 other bucks. There was very little wind and the sun was at my back. I took the range, started my camera rolling and doped the appropriate yardage, so I thought. I let the buck turn broadside and settled the crosshairs on his front shoulder. As he turned his head to look behind him I sent the 180gr bullet down range. Just as the scope fell on him again I watched the buck jump and turn down hill into the trees. After all the work and time at the range I was sure I was going to watch that typical's head rock back and start sliding down the hill. Instead I was watching him along with the other 5 move away through the trees. I couldn’t figure it out. I had plenty of time and the buck gave me a great shot? That should have been a done deal. I enjoy filming my hunts for a number of reasons one of the big ones is for the instant replay. Watching the film I could see the bullet just miss him by about 2 inches. In a moment of dyslexia I doped my gun for 540 instead of 450 and sent one right over him. At least it was a clean miss and I still had a tag to fill.
The next day I left camp about an hour before light and headed back in to the same canyon about a mile from where I had missed the day before. It was one of those mornings that things felt right, yes my confidence was a little shaken from the day before but like every failed attempt I had learned from my mistake and I wasn’t going to let another opportunity get by me. I had made it to the place I wanted to be at the perfect time. Just as there was enough light to start to glass I began to pick up deer. As the light increased so did the antler. This morning I was hunting with a buddy, someone to help spot, confirm yardage and hopefully help pack meat. As we looked over the bucks we knew there were a couple of shooters, I laid my pack down, put my 300 wsm over it and settled in behind it. The bucks were feeding in and out of the trees at 420 yards and keeping track of the best buck wasn’t easy. My buddy Ryan was watching them through a spotting scope, unfortunately my camera had died the night before and I failed to charge it over night. All the pieces were in place and it was time to capitalize. As the buck I wanted to take fed into an opening and stopped I put the crosshairs on him and touched one off. Before the characteristic sound of a hit echoed back across the canyon I watched the buck go headfirst into the dirt. He rolled out of sight into the trees just below just as I put a second round into the chamber, although I was confident I wouldn’t need it. We watched the other bucks head off down the canyon before we made our way across. Although I knew he was a good buck there is always some trepidation when approaching your animal. Those feelings were put to rest when I saw his antlers sticking up behind some deadfall. The buck had a little better of everything than I had thought. He had a few extras and better mass that I was expecting.
After taking care of the buck we packed up and made our way back out the 9 miles we had come in.
When I was finally able to put a tape in him he came out to be a 32 ½” wide 7x4 that scored 187”. I spend a lot of time in the mountains each year chasing these amazing animals. Its experiences like these ones that keep me coming back.