It was the fall of 2008. Steve and his wife, Donna, along with some other good friends had once again drawn mule deer tags for an area in north central Wyoming. This was the fourteenth year that he had been out there, and he and his hunting partners knew the area quite well – at least the part of it that they normally hunted. The terrain varied from flat to rolling with lots of stones on the ground weathered by years of being exposed to the elements. From rolling, it transitioned to steeper draws and small canyons. Some of these were relatively open, but many had a lot of scattered clumps of mahogany and pine. Between the up-and-down terrain and the scattered, sometimes thick vegetation, the resident deer had many places to find security from the annual influx of hunters.
Rolling terrain, draws and canyons in the hunting area of this story
On opening morning, the plan was for five of the hunters to work together to try to collect at least one buck. They were going to target a fairly long draw in which the deer had been found on previous hunts. Barry and Jim had driven their truck near the head of the draw, parking it out of sight behind some pine trees. Steve, Ron and Kay had driven along the 2-track that paralleled the draw and had dropped Kay off about ½ mile from where the first two men were. Steve and Ron were to drive to the end of the draw and start walking toward the others, hoping to move deer toward them. When they reached Kay’s position, she would join them for the rest of the push to the head of the draw. A well-formulated plan that would take most of the morning to accomplish – except it didn’t last very long.
Steve and Ron had not yet driven to the end of the draw when they came around a large clump of mahogany to see three nice bucks only 60 yards away. One was a 3x3, and the other two appeared to be 4x4’s, with one being noticeably larger than the other one. Steve said to Ron, “There you go, shoot him!” “No”, said Ron, “You saw them first – you shoot!” This back-and-forth good sportsmanship went on for a minute or so, until they both finally got out of the truck and got their rifles. They were still trying to give the other guy the first shot when the deer began walking off! Two of them went down into the draw but the largest one stayed up on the rim. The only problem was that it was almost 250 yards away when it stopped.
Steve finally decided that Ron wasn’t going to shoot, so he laid down to try to get a shot at the buck, but it was a longer shot than he felt comfortable taking, so he passed it up. That deer also then walked through the trees toward the draw and disappeared.
The two men guessed that it was going to go back the way they came, so they started to cut through the mahogany to head it off. They began moving through the waist-high bushy vegetation and picked up the animal’s tracks in the snow that was scattered about the ground in patches. Surprisingly, the deer exited the cover of the shrubbery and traveled across the 2-track and back into cover on the other side. The hunters split up and began a slow push to try to spot the deer and get a shot at it. All the while, they were moving back in the general direction of their friends.
Ron jumped the deer, but it was running and he had no shot at it. He hollered at Steve to alert him that the deer was headed his way. When the deer came across an opening about 150 yards in front of Steve, one shot from his .25-06 put the buck down.
It turned out to be a 3x4, but was a nice one, and definitely the largest-bodied of the three bucks that were in the group. Ron and Barry also got bucks that year, but those are different stories.
A nice 3x4 for Steve in 2008