It Was a Long Shot, But . . .

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  The year was 1999.

  With his wife, Donna, my buddy Steve headed out to Wyoming for their second year of Mule Deer hunting.

  Traveling in a caravan with four other rigs, they would be living in their 5th wheel camper – not exactly “roughing it”, but still a far cry from the comforts of home, or even their cabin in northern Michigan.

  The season for the area they would be hunting runs from October 15th through the 21st, so they had left in time to allow for three days traveling.

  The first night they stopped at a rest area in Iowa.

  The second night was at Cabela’s in Sidney, Nebraska.

  By noon of the third day they were at Casper, Wyoming, and after filling their tanks and getting extra water, they headed north about 70 miles to Willow Creek Ranch.

 Once there, they set up camp with the trailers in a circle (sort of) and the campfire in the center.

  Part of the campfire conversation focused on the fact that they were in a rather historic area – only about 5 miles from the famous “Hole in the Wall”.

  

 Wyoming's Red Wall that runs over 100 miles is the flat-topped feature in the background.

  All together, there were sixteen people in their camp; 12 hunters, including two women, and 4 non-hunting women.

  The weather was beautiful with the temperatures dropping into the 30’s at night and the afternoon highs close to 65.

  They didn’t hunt on the ranch, but drove anywhere from one to five miles to BLM land.

  Days one and two, Steve didn’t see any shooter deer. A few does and small bucks, but not what he wanted to shoot so early in the season.

  One of the women took a dandy 4x4 with heavy antlers on the second day.

  It had a fairly heavy body as well, tipping the scales at 163 pounds at the meat locker in Casper.

  Some of the other hunters also tagged deer, so they helped their companions glass for deer on succeeding days.

  On the morning of day three, Steve was out by himself.

  He had walked to the top edge of a canyon, only about 300 yards from where he had parked his truck.

  This looked like a good place from which to do some serious glassing, so he settled in and began searching as much of the canyon as he could see from his vantage point.

  

 Looking over the canyon from a ways back from the edge.

  After a while, he spotted a deer far across the bottom of the canyon.

  Looking closely with his binoculars, he could see that it was a decent buck.

  It was slowly moving along, feeding on the low-growing mountain mahogany bushes that were generously sprinkled over the landscape.

  It was a long ways to that buck!

  Back in Michigan, he hardly ever got a shot at over 100 yards, and often quite a bit less.

  This boy was way out there!

  Steve knew that his rifle, a Remington 700 in .25-06 was capable. Sighted in 2 inches high at 100 yards, the 117 grain bullet would only be 6 inches low at 300 yards.

  Some of the guys in the camp had told him not to be afraid to take a long shot if he got one, but he wasn’t used to shooting anywhere near this far.

  He took his pack off and laid it on the ground and got into the prone position with his rifle over the pack.

  Cranking the 4-12X scope up to 12X Steve was amazed at how much closer the deer seemed to be.

  He thought about it for a minute:

  He did  have a steady rest in a good position.

   He did  have a clear shot at the deer's vitals; all he could see was his head and vitals through the shrubs.

  The deer was practically motionless as he contentedly munched on a bush.

  Steve took the safety off and squeezed the trigger.

  The rifle boomed and the deer was immediately gone from his sight.

  Raising his binoculars, Steve was somewhat surprised to see six or seven other deer bounding away; but he was busy marking the spot where he had last seen the buck.

  Finding a way to get down off the top wasn’t a simple task, but after some looking, he found a game trail and followed it down to the bottom.

  At first he couldn’t locate the deer, but he finally found the buck; it had dropped in its tracks, but had rolled into a small depression.

  Two of his hunting companions heard the shot, and knowing where it came from, they also knew that Steve would need help getting the animal out.

  When they arrived at his location, one of them said, “Where were you when you made the shot?”

  Steve pointed back to the top of the canyon wall (which later turned out to be 340 paces away).

  “I told you that you could make a long shot.”

 

Looking back at the top of the canyon wall from the location of the deer.

  Because of the steep climb back out, they decided to field dress the deer and take it out in two halves, one part on each of two pack frames.

  During days four to seven, Steve helped the hunters who hadn’t already tagged out locate deer.

  Of the 12 hunters, 11 bucks were taken out that year.

  The only one who didn’t tag one had several opportunities at small to medium-sized bucks, but was determined to take a trophy or nothing.

  Steve’s 1999 forkhorn wasn’t the largest deer taken from that area, but it sure was a long shot!

  

Comments

Deer Slayer's picture

Thank you for the story. I

Thank you for the story. I really enjoyed it. It sounds like you guys all had a great time out there. That would be a blast to take a hunting trip with friends and family and just havea great time. Congratulations on the muley buck. Going 11 for 12 on the hunt is awesome in anyone's book and it could have beeen 12 for 12. Great job. Thanks for sharing. 

ManOfTheFall's picture

Congrats on the muley buck.

Congrats on the muley buck. Going 11 for 12 is pretty darned good and it easily could have been 12 for 12 the way it sounded. I've never had the experience of rifle hunting but that seems like it must have been one long shot, nice job. I enjoyed the story and your pictures.

jim boyd's picture

Great story!

Jerry, I love that story!

 

To me, the campers rounded up in a circle like that remind me of the wagon trains of old circled against the night – or worse yet – against the Indians that often attacked in the old movies!

 

Speaking of campers – yes, that is the way to “rough it”, for sure.

With temperature swings like you are talking about, you should not need the air conditioner during the day – but you might want the heater at night, so generator use could have been kept to a minimum.

 

The images of going out west – man, I can not get them out of my mind.

 

I dream more of a higher altitude elk hunt – but your images are still awe inspiring!

 

340 paces is a long way in any shooters book – I bet that buck looked like he was a mile away with the naked eye.

 

You talk about the scope cranked up to 12 power – that is one of the keys of a good scope – a unit that will shoot the same on 3 power as it does at the top end of the magnification range.

 

Sounds like your buddy was dialed in perfectly – dropped the beast with one shot.

 

Having to cut him in half and tote him out does sound like some serious work, however.

 

With a success rate of well over 90%, to say that they had a productive and successful hunt is a big time understatement.

 

I am sure the trip back home was a great one indeed, as the hunters and campers likely relived every moment over and over again – with the bucks getting bigger, the shots getting more difficult and their exploits getting more grand by the moment as they sped east bound.

 

Loved the story, the pictures and mental images of your buddy propped up on his pack taking that great shot.

 

Way to go, Jerry – send us some more!