The Great Western Hunt, by Jim Collier

Len Backus

Staff member
May 2, 2001
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BB , what would

you do different ? Or should I say what will you do different ?

Enjoyed the article very much and your pix were a great aid in " seeing " what all you were up to .
I don't see how thing could have gone any better considering I had not been out west hunting in a quarter of a century. I had a great teacher to give me a refresher course on antelope hunting and Roy told me that it was rumored there were elk up in the Salmon units. Kirby had the gun ready and a good load developed for it so I did not have to test loads.

I am planning the same trip this Fall and these are the things I am going to do differently.

1. All my rifles are now a year old and they are dialed in and ready to go so I don?t have to be trying to establish a drop chart after I get there. I can just check my zero and then find me a nice tasty lizard on a rock at about 1200 yards and use him to check my drop chart. Plus, I will not need to bring my reloading gear with me.

2. I applied for the Wyoming buck antelope tag and have drawn out on a good unit with lots of public land and good reservoirs to camp at. I fully intend to break 1K this year. I will start my antelope hunt a week earlier so I can get to Idaho in time to spend some serious effort on getting me a black bear. I have researched places to shoot prairie dogs and coyotes in Wyoming so I will spend several days doing that. There seem to be good places in my antelope unit.

3. In addition to the two tents I used last time, I am going to bring a four person tent for my permanent camp and a cot so I have more comfort. Also, I will bring a two burner stove so I can cook more things at once. I am not going to haul so many groceries out to Idaho but buy most of them when I get there. I might even bring a spare chair in case I get some visitors. I have gotten my chainsaw out and got it running good so I will have plenty of firewood.

4. I have gotten an ultra-light internal frame backpack that is as light as my normal day pack but will hold my spotting scope and tripod securely so I do not have to worry about them falling out. It also has a rigid back so stuff doesn?t poke me in the back as I hike along. And I have better lightweight hiking boots that are more suitable to Idaho. I totally wore out my old lightweight boots.

5. Now that I understand better where the large bucks live in Idaho, I am going to see about getting me one this year. I saw them after I killed the elk last year but I was just too worn down from hauling out the elk to shoot one of them even further up that mountain.

6. I am going to give Roy more meat so my wife doesn?t complain about the freezer being too full. Who would have believed Roy would see only bulls while having a cow only tag. Instead of using sandwich bags for my meat I am going to use real freezer bags. I found rubber kitchen gloves on sale and bought 10 pairs on your advice because my hands got really cold cutting up that elk in the rain and snow.

7. BJ has all of my money, but I now have some good Swaro SLC binoculars.

8. I have modified the slings to my rifles so that they can be carried many different ways and used many different ways. Plus, I now have a drag bag so I can act wimpy and not lay in the pine needles to shoot.

9. More #6 shot for the birds and larger fishing gear for the steelhead.

10. On drive out to the Chris Matthews LSR Hog hunt I picked up a Motel 6 Directory. They are about as cheap as anything. When you are driving alone across country racing the clock to get your meat home you drive past dark and then it is hard to see the signs along the Interstate to find a cheap motel to spend the night. On the way out I camp at state parks every night but in November going home it is cold and I like to drive till 8 or 9 O?clock at night and get a running start in the morning.

11. My next truck will be BIGGER, MUCH MUCH BIGGER.
Good luck this year

So when do you head out on this years adventure? Looking forward to reading all about it!

Who would have believed Roy would see only bulls while having a cow only tag.
Been there, done that. Hope things reverse this year.
Here is the "missing picture" of the truck ready to go home. Just no place for that elk rack except right on top!

I really like to shoot doves so I try not to leave here until after I have been dove hunting a few times. I expect to be in Wyoming about September 20.

I truly enjoyed the reading. Very, very well done! Two things I want to mention.
1-- I have experienced that using a cot when is cold, having your body suspended like that causes it the get colder, yes, even inside of the sleeping bag. A good pad on the ground will let you be more comfortable than a cot; unless it's warm in summer.

2-- Is it possible that you have some one else with you? Just in case you bend a leg or break a foot? I would love to see you get someone to accompany you.

In any event, good writing, good hunting and good luck!!! Oh... Good Shooting!!!

Fantastic article and great reading. It couldn't have been done any better. :):D:)

Now all people have to do is follow your guidelines and they'll have a super trip just like you did. I don't know if they'll be lucky enough to hook up with friends like you did, but if they do, it'll just make it all that much better. Good friends just make a hunting trip that much better.:)

I'm looking forward to reading about your trip this fall, so make sure you take lots of notes on your trip and take lots of pictures.

Hunting alone is not nearly as much fun as having a good partner but being retired there just aren't many people who can spend the amount of time at it that I do. Hopefully, in a few years my son will be out of school and can delay getting a paying job long enough to go with me for one season.

You and James Staggs provided me with lots of advice and answered all of my emails concerning loads and bullets for the 7 Allen Mag and I appreciate it. Somebody had to go first and believe in Kirby the the 7AM cartridge and that was you who blazed the trail for the rest of us to follow.

Great write up. You have no idea of how lucky you were even with all of that time spent. Your scouting was good, and your plan was good. It was good that you stuck with it. You made some good decisions.

I doubt that I'll ever forget that message on the answering machine! "Roy! Roy! I got a BIG one!!!." The you voice revealed, tiredness, happiness and excitement. (my wife erased it. She's pretty much technically illiterate......)

When you called, passing through Idaho Fall, I was in the spud fields way west of Shelley and headed across the lavas to the Shelley exit to I-15 (#108). Just as I came out of the Lava Rocks the road is perpendicular to the Interstate, you drove with those elk antlers proudly displayed. It drew a bit of a grin...... I was happy for ya.

It was very enjoyable be a little part of you hunt.

I hope that things are just as successfull for you this year.

I may well be able to spend some time up there with you, one never knows what farmers are gonna do....
Here is the "missing picture" of the truck ready to go home. Just no place for that elk rack except right on top!

I really like to shoot doves so I try not to leave here until after I have been dove hunting a few times. I expect to be in Wyoming about September 20.


Buffalo Bob,
I am moving to Gillette in early August. If you are in my neck of hte woods give me a holler.

if I can figure the big deer and how they behave, I will give you a call. The range wil be about 1250 yards.

if you are going to hunt antelope does with a pistol I might be interested in seeing it done. We hunted last year in unit 23 which is just south and west of Gillette. Yoiu can read Jim Brown's article and see how much we paid to hunt.
I have Applied for area 31 (either sex permit) to hunt with some SP guys, but I may pick up a doe permit also to hunt closer. I'm not sure about how much time I will have, but I would enjoy getting together. Maybe if I don't hunt myself I would tag along and let you use and XP of your choice on a lope.
Great story of an outstanding hunt! Thanks for sharing.

I think I just figured out what to do when I retire in a few years; fish and hunt!

Regards, Guy
I hunted mule deer in Idaho and had a great experience. I was lucky enough to get a controlled hunt tag. It is some steep country. I will train very hard for next years hunt.
When are you going out next year? I may be able to join you on one of the hunts. I agree, it is much safer and more enjoyable to hunt with someone.
Great job and great story.
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