This trip all started coming together about 3 weeks ago when, what would be our 1st trip to Alberta got postponed until next year (Long story). . My hunting partner and I didn’t get to take a ‘big’ trip last year and had to settle for kick ass pheasant hunt in South Dakota. While hunting birds is fun, we all know it just doesn’t compare. We started making phone calls and found a spot where we hunted in 2008 and 09 with great success. The last couple times we hunted this place; it was nothing to see 20-30 bucks a day, sometimes more. We were excited as hell to try and get a couple more for the wall! This year was a little different. I guess the eastern side of Wyoming has been pretty hot over the last couple months; it was 92 degrees 2 days before we arrived. We also had the full moon right in the middle of our trip. I guess these factors may be part of the reason we weren’t seeing the deer like we had in the past. I have never looked through binos and spotters as much as I did up there. And the 15 hr days of glassing really start to wear on a guy. Basically, we camp down in the flats away from the mountain range. It is about a 45 minute, rocky, rough as hell drive in the pickup along the one road that winds around the back side of the mountains and gets us up close to the top. It is at this point we get out on foot and start hoofing it.
I must say here that I built me a new rifle back at the 1st of the year. A 7 SAUM on a long action with the 180 VLD’s specifically in mind. It was never meant to be a hunting rifle, mainly competitions and some short walk whitetail hunting here at home. I really wanted to shoot something w/ it! It didn’t even have to be that far, just as long as I got some blood on her. I had been packing this heavy son of gun(19 lbs) around for 3 days and was too stubborn to leave it in the truck and pull out my lucky lil hunting rifle, although it was very tempting.
Day #3 started with us still having both tags in our pockets and I was getting nervous. I really didn’t want to smoke a little 2 yr old just to fill a tag. Mid afternoon we decided to drive down to the base of the little mountain range we had been hunting and start glassing up. We didn’t find much for the 1st couple hours and then I spotted this guy. We looked him over for about 35 minutes as he was bedded between 2 cedar bushes. We’re whitetail hunters from Oklahoma and still don’t have this field judging of mulies quite figured out! We looked him over good and I was still not convinced he was a shooter in my book. But after 2 ½ days, they all start looking good. He was a little over halfway up the mountain and we didn’t think we could go over a canyon, hike up even w/ him, and try to close the range. So I decided to try him from here. Ranged him at 730 yards several times with the swaro, spotter and video camera was set up, dialed in elevation and made a 12 mph wind call. I didn’t care if he was lying down or not and I sent it. I didn’t see the impact but Rhett hollered HIT. He jumped from his bed and started a slow trot diagonal up the mountain. I jacked another one in very quick and 5-7 seconds later he had made it about 20 yards and I sent another one. I didn’t have another range and was trying to lead him, hold over, and the wind, etc, etc, etc. I hit just in front of him. He stopped and was quartering away from us. Ranged him again at 747 yard and dialed up 3 more clicks on the Premier. Rhett’s saying, “He’s wobbling, he’s bleeding, I think he’s gonna go down…….BOOM. I usually keep shooting till their on the ground and this time was no different. Right through the boiler room and down he went. The 180 vld’s do the trick! He slid down the mountain about 25 yards and ended up dang near where he was originally laying. Turns out the 1st shot would have done it, but you never know.
Now the work began. Once we arrived, I was very pleased. Not my biggest mulie, but a damn good one. 25” wide, 16” tall, still had a little velvet on a G2 for some added character and plenty of mass too. The 180’s were devastating to say the least. I was very pleased with them and can’t wait to stretch em out on some whitetails this winter.
Now on to finding my partner one. We had seen one particular buck every evening in 1 canyon. We never saw him in the morning and I still don’t have that one figured out because we looked and looked and looked. The 1st night it was too dark and couldn’t tell much other than he was worth another look. The 2nd night he came out it was 1086 yards with only 30 minutes of light left. I must also say here that Rhett is an accomplished hunter and a good shot, but he has not been bitten by the long range bug, yet……………………….. He just isn’t comfortable with some shots past about 4 or 500 with his trusty 300 winnie. The 3rd night we think it was him that we had at 600 but once again ran out of light. Our 4th day was the last day of season and once again hunted our butts off and about 4:30 decided we would go back after ole 3X4 and he would eat tag soup if he, or something else, didn’t show.
I spotted him about 5:00 in the shadows lying down. He was only 460 yards but we were losing light. We cut the distance down to 320 and it would have to be a 20˚ downhill angle. The buck was also laying quartering away in a difficult position to get a good shot. But we were out of time and there wasn’t much we could do. I tried a couple coyote howls hoping he would stand up, but to not avail. I could tell Rhett was in a very awkward shooting position, but said he was ready. At the shot, I seen it impact a touch far back and the buck rolled twice downhill and got up on the full run! I am still not convinced that he didn’t get a little bullet interference from a cedar limb that we couldn’t see or something. The shot had clipped his right side and come out the bottom and through a leg. He was hurt bad but managed to make it about 300 yards and camp underneath a cedar. At this time the decision was made for me to hike back up to where we started and grab my long ranger for him to finish him off. This little hike was not easy as I was in a hurry. After we moved down to a better spot and repositioned, the buck was covered up in thick brush at 480 yards. All you could see was each antler and a little bit of his neck and once again, we were losing light fast. We got set up and I dialed the rifle in for him. The shot barely grazed him but did get a little hide and he baled out of there and stopped broadside at 503. I dialed him up a couple more clicks and told him to send it. That was all she wrote. Once again, the 180’s didn’t disappoint. Pretty hectic and dang sure some tense moments but we got er done. Now, we were ¾ of the way down this mountain, it was pretty much dark, the truck was way up top, and the deer was at the bottom. So we decided to both pack all of our gear back up to the truck and drive around to where he was. This took us 2 hrs, even though it was a rough wait wanting to get our hands on him, it was the only way to go as we got us a sandwich and enjoyed a couple cold ones to celebrate the finish of a tough few days.
I’m gonna have to start taking pictures of my game at night! His looks huge in this pic and they ended up being right about the same size.
The rifle is 7RSAUM built on a Surgeon RSR long action, Surgeon DBM, Kreiger barrel, Jewel, A5 stock, Premier 5-25, shooting 180 VLD’s. We each used Swaro 10x42’s, a swaro rangefinder, and a leupold gold ring spotter.
And yes, the freakin rattlers were still out and that made the tough hunting even more tense.
Man I didn't know you could read, more or less write!!
I just layed there on a couch telling the whole story to some lady who typed it up for me. Ha Ha Ha
By the way, I got to thinking about it and I believe that every single piece of equipment used, binos, spotter, rifles, ammo, etc etc. came from you boys at 3rdGSS.
I'll bring a pic over for the board in the next week or so.
Cool! Glad you got the shots and not the bites! One reason I ELK hunt above 9K in CO. Yellow jackets can't carry as much venom at that ALT and no-shoulders has been a no-show. LOL
Congrats on the Bucks.
Son, The first shot is the important one - the others just make him run faster! Grandpa 1949 NRA Life Member 1970