This story is about a guy named Ken who went on a mule deer hunt to Wyoming with his dad Steve, and several other good friends. Ken is really an archery guy. He is one of those who think that shooting deer with a rifle is just a little too easy. But his dad and some of his friends had been going from Michigan to Wyoming for a few years, and he was talked into going along this time, partly because he had never been out there before, and partly just because he ought to try it once. This particular year, there were 15 in their party, all hunting except Steve’s wife (Ken’s mother). They had all pulled trailers out with them and made their camp near the area where they would be hunting.
No full hook-up out here!
So October 15 found Ken walking around the hill country (if that’s a proper description) of North Central Wyoming with a Remington 760 Woodsmaster in his hands instead of his trusty bow. They had hunted all day without seeing a buck that he was able to get a shot at, and were driving back to their camp on a two-track that crossed through BLM land. Dusk was almost upon them.
Suddenly, a good-looking buck ran across the road only about 50 yards ahead of them and continued to run for another 100 yards before stopping at the base of a hill. It stood there broadside, looking back at their truck. They figured that the next time it moved, it would run up the hill into some mahogany trees and would be gone.
Ken jumped out of the truck as quietly as he could, stepped behind the cab and laid his rifle across the back of the truck to take aim at the buck. “Don’t put a hole in my tonneau cover”, said Steve. “Lay your rifle on your hand to raise it up a little.” Ken was nervous and afraid that the deer was going to jump at any moment, but he settled the cross hairs on the buck’s vitals and squeezed the trigger.
Before he could go into panic mode, Steve said, “You forgot to rack a bullet into the chamber! Take it easy, he’s still standing there. Just put one in the chamber and shoot him.”
Somehow, Ken managed to slide a round into the chamber, get the scope back on the deer and touch off the shot. They both saw the deer stumble and turn to run up the hill into the trees. As it was later discovered, Ken’s 165-grain bullet had hit the deer in the front shoulder, too low to hit the vitals, but enough to severely break the shoulder and upper leg.
Getting out of the truck, Steve walked with Ken over to where the deer was standing. They found blood, though not as much as they had hoped for. They followed the trail up the hill by flashlight, but by the time they reached the trees, it was getting too dark. They marked the last spot of blood with a handkerchief tied to a branch and drove back to camp to resume the search in the morning.
The next day three of the other hunters volunteered to help them track the deer. They picked up the trail at the handkerchief and began finding a few drops of blood, then fewer and fewer. They spread out and began heading toward a fairly deep draw that they thought a wounded deer might head for, but without the aid of any more blood to follow.
The group of hunters had just crossed over a ridge and were about to go down into the draw when they heard a shot, and looking up, saw a puff of smoke on the other side. Then they saw another hunter stand up, wave at them and holler, “He’s down. Come and get him.” When they arrived at the other hunter’s location he told them that he was sitting there, watching the draw when he saw them come over the top. At the same time, he suddenly caught the movement of a deer that was sneaking through the brush in the draw, obviously wounded. He quickly figured out that they were following it and that the deer had probably been bedded down in the draw during the night. He had put it down with a shot in the neck.
It turned out that this hunter was from Missouri, and had also hunted there before. Since his truck was much closer than theirs was, he helped them load the deer into his truck and drove them and the deer back to their camp. He was a true sportsman who helped them to collect that deer and quite possibly prevented it from escaping to die at a later date.
Ken and his buck (left) and another of their party with his.