My buddy Steve’s 2004 Wyoming trip for the Mule Deer season started much like many of the previous years.
After two and a half days of travel they reached Casper where he and the others in his party gathered at Walmart to make sure they had all their supplies.
They filled the propane tanks in their rigs – 5th wheels and trailers - got extra water and topped off their fuel tanks.
Then it was north for a 2 ½ hour drive to cover the 70 miles or so to the BLM land where they would hunt.
They set up their camp near a favorite canyon, and then with a couple of hours of daylight remaining, drove around some to do some “windshield scouting.”
It was still two days before the season opened, and they liked to be able to spend the entire day before the opener doing some serious scouting.
Next morning, after a good breakfast, they drove around the canyon to the area where they would begin hunting on the following day.
Seeing several small bucks feeding not far off the two-track road was encouraging, and got everyone thinking that it was going to be a great season.
After spending the rest of the day scouting on foot and seeing good sign, they gathered back at the camp for supper and an early lights out.
It was their habit to not shoot anything except a 4x4 or larger on opening day.
Several deer were spotted, including some more smaller bucks.
Steve saw this group of does at the head of a draw he was scouting.
No one saw a buck that they wanted to take on the first day.
On the second day Steve and Kay, the wife of one of the other hunters, were going to walk along the top edge of a draw, hoping to push some deer to Kay’s husband, Ron and another friend, Barry.
Ron and Barry were posted roughly a mile ahead, having taken positions about ¼ mile from each other.
As Steve and Kay slowly walked along through the waist-high buck brush, they would occasionally get a glimpse of a tail fleeing ahead of them.
At one point, they could count eleven deer in front of them, but too far for a shot.
They could see that there were at least two good bucks in the group.
They kept slowly working their way ahead, and saw the deer drop down into a draw that ran adjacent to the one they were following.
The hunters were just about to enter the draw when Steve caught movement back to his left. A nice buck, probably one of the group they had seen, had been bedded and now stood up after they had walked past him.
He was standing broadside about 75 yards away, and was just starting to turn to vacate the area.
Steve leveled his .25-06 on the deer and shot, knocking the deer off his feet.
It appeared that he was down for the count.
This was one of the larger deer that Steve had ever shot, and he began trotting over to see his prize.
But when he was only 30 yards from the buck, it suddenly got up and stood looking at the hunter.
Steve had always wanted to shoot a deer with his handgun, and had tried stalking close enough several times in the past without connecting. This looked like a great opportunity to put his .454 Casull to use.
He pulled it from his holster and was just getting it in line with the buck, when it decided to turn and run for the draw, 50 yards away.
Quickly holstering the pistol, Steve shot at the deer again just as it launched itself over the side of the same draw they had just come out of.
“You hit him!”, yelled Kay. “I saw where the bullet hit right behind his rib cage!”
So now the tracking began down the side of the steep draw.
Since Steve has poor color perception, especially red and green, he asked Kay to take the lead.
After following the spoor for a ways, they jumped the buck, but because Kay was in front of him, Steve didn’t take a shot.
Kay didn’t want to shoot because it was Steve’s deer, so they waited a few minutes and continued to follow the blood trail.
A ways further, the buck jumped up again, and this time, Steve got a shot at it, but didn’t connect.
The deer only traveled about 30 yards that time and they saw it lie down.
Carefully moving in to where he could see the deer clearly, Steve put a final shot to the base of the skull with his pistol.
Where the buck finally fell was on the opposite side of the draw, right up against the steep wall.
After field dressing the deer, Steve and Kay went back to the top of the other side of the draw (puff, puff, puff) to continue the push toward the other hunters, who were still in position.
As it turned out, they pushed another nice buck, a 4x3 into Ron’s sights and he put it down.
A lot of work followed, as Ron’s deer was loaded into his truck and then Steve and Barry went back down and across the draw again to pack his buck out in two halves.
It was a pretty good season - everyone got their buck – 7 deer for 7 hunters.
You Gotta Love Wyoming!