2006' WY Deer Hunt,
Drove to WY early to do some pre-season scouting. Weather was a very comfortable 70 deg. My buddy and I pitched our base camp and were finished by noon. My hunting partner had an antelope tag. We were going to hunt antelope the next day, but got bored so we decided to drive to the lower desert and have a look around. We spotted 2 young bucks laying in the sage.
Drove the truck behind and dirt bank and snuck over the hill toward bedded goats. I stayed behind as my buddy stalked forward. No cover except for a lone telephone pole. Sitting behind the telephone pole my buddy tried to get steady for a 345 yard shot. He could not get steady on his shooting sticks and was about to abort, when it came to him, Use the phone pole as third leg on shooting sticks. That worked, he got steady and dropped the goat in his tracks. I ranged him after the shot, 345 yards. Rifle - 270Wby, held dead on and hit right thru chest, looked like heart shot.
We were on BLM land so you can drive right up to the animal. Pronghorn hunting is almost too easy sometimes. We were done with the hunt withing 2 hours. When going out of state antelope hunting always plan on doing something else in addition to goat hunting. Fishing, bird hunting something or it will all be over before you know it.
The next day we were in base camp again. We climbed up to our deer hunting area and set up spike camp. In the evening I hiked up higher and did some glassing. Spotted 2 small bucks 3/4 of the way up in a steep chute. Does near the bottom of chute. Came back down an incerdibly steep hill in the dark. Grouse exploded at my feet, scared the hell out of me. First time I actually muttered explicatives out loud. Grouse had a surprise too, I could hear it crashing into trees breaking big limbs as it flew into to darkness.
Next morning buddy and I climbed up above spike camp to the chute where I spotted the 2 small bucks. As soon as we got there, we spotted 6 does down low and a little way over and above them 4 bucks. A decent fork horn, small 4x4, a 3x4 that looked like he was still in velvet and what looked like a 27" 3x4 with a nice long sabre tine (flat like a blade). We watched the bucks feed up the chute and enter the trees. I ranged the bucks at several locations on the chute, approx. 305 yards near the bottom to 385 yards where they entered the trees to bed.
We backed out of there and went back down the mountain. The season did not open for another 2 days.
On the day before the season opened I hiked up to spike camp. My buddy had surgery 2 weeks before and said he couldn't make it back up the mountain so I was alone. Went to bed that night and heard elk bugles. Made my way to the edge of the trees and saw about 40 head of elk. 2 small bulls, a 5x5 and 6x6 were with the group. Had fun watching them and went back to tent to try and sleep. Elk bugled thru-out the night. That evening it started to rain. By morning there was 2 inches of snow on the ground. I hiked up to my vantage point to see if my sabre buck was there. He was not! No deer were in the chutes. Instead about 10 cows came out and the 5x5 bull. I watched for 2 hours and decided to go up higher.
Then it seemed like a blizzard hit. High winds and serious snow flurries coming down sideways. I was hot from hiking and as the snow hit me it melted. It wasn't long before my wool coat was dripping water from my sleeves and my boots were sloshing with water, pants soaked.
From the top I glassed into the adjacent bowl. spotted a decent buck at 540 yards. Wind was howling and he was just laying in a spot that could only be viewed from above. Well deer season was open and there was a nice buck, what to do. My pack frame was down in the next bowl in spike camp. Going back down to retrieve the pack and climbing back up would have been about a 6 hour ordeal. Not enough time to get out before dark. I decided to pass on this buck and headed back to spike camp. On my way to spike camp I glassed the deer chute one more time and saw 2 bucks crossing the chute. They looked like 2 3x3's. Not bad but not what I was looking for. I saw the deer cross the open chute and head into the trees. I thought they would come out the other side but they never did.
Once in spike camp, I took off my wet boots, socks and pants and tried to dry them. The tent that I have, came from a garage sale that the neighbor had purchased for their dogs to sleep in when they went camping. Melted snow was dripping thru the walls. I found myself hunched up in the middle of the tent with my down sleeping bag under me as I was blotting water with little peices of toilet paper to keep my bag dry.
After about 2 hours of drying and using up my stove fuel, I was still 70% wet. The temp. was 29 degrees. I decided that staying in spike camp would be mega miserable, so I decided to shoot down the mountain to base camp where we had a propane heater and canned food!
Day 2 was more snow with very poor visibility. Drove to some canyons and hiked up some chutes at lower elevations. Saw only 3 does the whole day. Seemed all the critters were bedded inside the thick timber.
Day 3, I decided to go back up to spike camp, spend the night and hopefully get a chance at that Sabre buck early in the morning. Started hiking at day break and got to spike camp around noon. By the time I got to spike camp I was soaked again. Had different boots this time that were a bit more waterproof, but clothes were soaked.
At 12:30 I made it to my glassing spot. I looked at the chute and there was a 3x3 crossing the chute. One of the bucks I saw opening day. I did not think he was big enough on opeing day, but now he looked pretty good. I did not want to spend the night up here in wet clothes if I didn't have to. The buck was slowly moving across the chute and was heading for the trees. I did not have time to range him. I remember calclating my elevation from the scouting trip and all I could remember was 2.5 MOA elevation. I dialed up rested my gun on a branch and tried to steady the crosshairs. The buck was about to enter the trees, so I had to rush. I squeezed the trigger. The buck ran into the trees and out across the next chute, followed by a second buck that must have been in the trees. They both then dissappeared into the trees. I thought it was a clean miss. I ranged the yardage after the shot, 350 yards. I checked my MOA and I had it set for 325 yds. I didn't think I hit him but had to go look.
After hiking down and up the next hillside to where he was when I shot, I found blood. I followed his tracks into the trees and found a large pool of blood that melted a good hole in the snow. I thouht wow I must have hit him pretty good. To make a long story short, I finally caught up to him 5.5 hours later and dispatched him. I never layed eyes on him until the end. He was one cagey buck that had a lot of tricks up his sleeve for throwing me off track. Like working his way down the mountain out of the snow onto dry ground where the tracking was much more difficult. Then jumping other bedded deer and mixing his tracks with theirs. Or going down an established deer trail and jumping down hill and back the way he had come from. Their were lots of times where I had lost his track and had to just sit for about 5 minutes, staring at the last track and then surveying every possible direction that he could have gone in, only to find the tinest speck of blood that confirmed his direction.
When I finally caught up to him, he was almost out of blood and laying in the trail with his head down. He started to lift his head and I put him down before he got it up all the way.
It's ironic that I finally had the best equipment that I ever owned, and made one of the worst shots of my life on this buck. I was finally able to see that I hit him low just behind the ribs. Gut shot is what you would call it. I felt real bad about that, but as all hunters know, not everything goes as planned.
One thing is for sure, I have imense respect for that buck. Also I must mention that he is one of the tastiest deer I have ever eaten! So much for adrenalin charged deer tasting bad.
Almost forgot, Rifle Specs: Kirby built 270Wby, Rock Creek 5R cut barrel, 16X Super Sniper Scope, Bell & Carlson Medalist stock, rifle wt=11.25 lbs.
Ammo: IMR7828-69.5gr., 140 Accubonds @ 3,375 fps.
Lessons learned: This rifle is too heavy for this kind of steep country. It can ofcourse be done, but I would rather have a lighter gun. Binoculars and scopes will fog when you need to view thru them the most. A fixed 16X scope is not for hunting. A good tent and water proof gear is extremely important during times of rain or wet snow!
Good luck to all those that still have tags to fill!