Wyoming Mule Deer Hunt - Region H

eshorebwhntr

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Time is a crazy thing, and as we all know it’s extremely relative. I feel like it was just a few months or weeks ago when I was cobbling together the pictures and words that made up my last story on the LRH deer section. That story pulled together all the parts of my first ever western hunt for mule deer with Gary Amerine and Grey’s River Outfitters. My best friend Adam and I killed 2 awesome bucks and had a great time. Story and pictures for those who haven’t had a chance to read it will be linked. Since that time a ton of stuff has changed. I’ve had 2 kids, started a new career, and bought a house (just keeping myself occupied); Adam is now married and expecting his first kid in May right about the time his first house should be finished being built; Gary Amerine has since sold GRO and from what I hear is enjoying retirement these days. Lots of stuff happening for sure.

Well, with any good western game hunt for easterner’s or even non-residents they take good planning to be enjoyable in my opinion. I un-officially started planning for the hunt we took this year within about 2 weeks of returning from the first one. I wasn’t totally set in going back to the western Wyoming high country but it would have definitely been hard to talk me into going anywhere else. To me it really has it all. You have a great experience factor with the horses/camping/wilderness aspects, pretty good draw odds, and unbelievable trophy potential. It’s not trophy potential like some of the units; for instance, the Henry Mountains or the Arizona Strip where if you draw it’s almost like a guaranteed 200” muley coupon with 12 guys out glassing a mountain side. But truly amazing deer come out of that region every year. Not knocking the other places, they are amazing, but would you rather hunt Wyoming 6 times in a 20 year span or one of the others once?

After returning from the first hunt we got a lot of family and friends asking about the whole deal with hunting out there and showing pictures of everything. Everyone almost always says the same thing: “Man, I’d love to do that one day. Let me know if you ever plan to go back out there.” I always tell them “Sure”. Well, Adam was on fire just like me after the first hunt. I knew he was good to go again. Long story short, we whittled the herd down to 2 guys that were committed early enough to get in on the bonus points and everything to make it work. The 2014 trip would be 4 of us and include 2 of our friends, Tommy and Jesse. Tommy, Jesse, and Adam grew up together in Western Maryland. I’ve been friends with Tommy through Adam for almost 10 years and the same with Jesse for about 3. Both good guys.

After finalizing who was going we had to figure out what outfitter we were going to go with this time. Like I said, Gary Amerine had retired and sold his outfit. We could have gone with the guy that bought his operation but I thought I’d take a look around to see what other outfitters were out there. For those that don’t know, the WYOGA catalogue that comes when you apply is a great resource. Even if the outfitter doesn’t buy an ad, all of the outfitters that are in the WYOGA are listed in the back with their contact info. Going by that magazine I made my way to Trophy Mountain Outfitters’ website and eventually talked on the phone with Dustin Child. From my days of following my Dad around the Harrisburg Sportsmen Show with all of those outfitters trying to sell hunts I guess I somehow picked up how to tell when people are bull-shitting me or not. One thing I can tell you about Dustin that immediately comes across is that he is a straight forward, to the point, honest guy. I got that from Gary when I spoke to him 4-5 years ago and I got that from Dustin as well. Both ended up being great outfitters but even more importantly, great people.

Dustin took his time in answering any questions I had, went over every option, always responded to every email, and was extremely helpful from beginning to end with the whole deal. He has 2 basic options for hunts. One is wilderness hunt that you pack into and hunt from horse back out of camp every day and the other is a drive to tent camp on the edge of national forest. We went with the drive to camp option for our hunt and the last week of the season was all that was open on Dustin’s calendar. Each has their pro’s/con’s…drive to camp has the flexibility to hunt a ton of different country by trailering horses from camp but higher probability of running into other hunters. The wilderness camp pretty much guarantee’s that you’re the only one on the mountain but most likely you’re on that mountain the whole trip because you are regulated to hunting only as far as a horse can walk in a day. Without having gone on the wilderness trip, I would imagine that experience is pretty cool though. So that’s another plus for the wilderness hunt.

Well, once we knew that we were actually going came the agonizing 18 months leading up to the hunt. Trying to make sure that you have everything in order so that the trip goes off without issue can be nerve racking. We had decided that since driving out last time worked out so well that we would do it again. Luckily that worked out perfectly. Jesse and Adam live east of Cumberland, MD and Tommy lives in Columbus, OH. So if I were driving out from the eastern shore of Maryland I would go right by their houses anyway so no crazy route was necessary. Last time that Adam and I drove out we went through Nebraska and through the southern Wyoming desert. This time we decided to cut north through Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and across Northern Wyoming. I essentially left my house at 7am on September 30th to start the trip. I stopped at Adam’s house and gathered up Jesse and Adam and all of our gear. Then we were on to Columbus to get Tommy.


Our plan was to drive straight through to Cody, WY and then stop at a hotel before our hunt started so that we weren’t totally burnt out when we arrived. Cody is an awesome town to stay in. I have worked all over the state of Wyoming with my previous job but had never had a chance to stay in Cody. We got a really reasonable hotel room, a good dinner at Proud Cut Saloon, and all our extra game tags and stuff at Sportsman’s Warehouse. We were instructed to meet Laura Child at the Daniel Junction Store the following day at 2pm so all we had was a casual ride through Yellowstone and past Jackson to finish out the driving. The route through South Dakota, the Bighorn Mountains, Cody, and Yellowstone was way better than the one we took last time. We saw a nice buffalo, some elk, a few young bighorn sheep, a shiras moose, waterfowl, and a whole section of Yellowstone I hadn’t seen in my previous short trip up there. It was an awesome bonus to the hunting trip. We met Laura in Daniel as scheduled, settled up on the balance of our hunt costs, met our guides Nate and Drew for the first time, and then followed them into camp from Daniel.








We got into camp about 3-330 the day before the hunt started. Of course the first thing we had to do was check zero on all of our primary rifles. We put a piece of cardboard up on a tree at 100 yards. Everybody was on paper, I think Tommy had to adjust down about 5 clicks. We then found a nice stump at about 700. Everyone got on it and fired a few shots. Adam, Tommy and myself hit it no problem. Dead center every time. Jesse was a little different story. His first shots were high and low without any adjustment change and the third shot was dead center. In hind sight I should have made a little bigger deal out of it. I don’t get to shoot with Jesse that much and didn’t want to have him questioning everything and shaking his confidence the night before the hunt started. So we moved on to unpacking the rest of our stuff and starting picking gun scabbards, sizing saddles, and getting ready for dinner.

3:30 came early the next morning and it was tough getting out of the sleeping bags. Neither Adam or I had manned the fire stove that night to make sure it stayed lit. It takes a little fortitude to climb out of a nice warm sleeping bag at that hour when it’s about 20 degrees in your tent. We eventually got dressed and made it into the breakfast tent. That day we actually saddled up and rode in about 2.5 hours in the dark from right behind camp. The 6 of us split after about 2 hours of riding to cover more country. Adam and I rode up near the peak of the tallest mountain in the area and started glassing. We spotted a ton of deer in every direction that morning and a ton of elk as well. We were mainly there to glass this one rock outcropping that the guides had spotted a really nice 190 type deer in earlier that year. Whether he had been killed or moved I don’t know but he wasn’t there that day. We saw probably 40-50 deer that day and I think about 15 of them were bucks. Just smaller frame stuff that wasn’t worth it on Day 1. We rode back to camp that night after glassing a lot of country that day. It was a blast to that point and everything that I had hoped it would be.









Day 2 started a little earlier than Day 1. Once again, neither of our lazy asses manned the fire…so it was cold…again. We hopped in the trucks with our stock in tow that day and rode to a new area. We were once again in the middle of a bunch of deer from daylight throughout the morning. I spotted an average deer right at daylight that I thought we might take a better look at but he fed through some brush and we never found him again before heading to a new glassing spot. We rode through a bunch of country, got to a good glassing point, heard some elk bugle, spotted a few deer and then made our way back out towards where we started the day around lunch.

At some point that morning Drew had found a group of deer for Tommy and Jesse. All bucks feeding around together mid-morning. Tommy decided at that point he liked one of those deer and decide to pull out the 7 Mag. It was a 350 yard shot. The 168gr Berger did its job and the deer never took another step. It ended up being a 3x3 and Tommy admitted to probably jumping the gun a little too fast and being a little over excited. They snapped some pictures and hauled the buck down to the trailhead. After they off-loaded Tommy’s buck the three of them went back in looking for a deer that Jesse might like.






Apparently they hit the honey hole. Shortly after lunch they found a group of 8-10 bucks in a bowl near the top of the basin. Amongst those bucks were 2-3 160-165” deer and a really nice 180-185” deer. Jesse got on the biggest of the bucks and shot twice. He thought that he hit the deer well but it didn’t fall down immediately. They tracked the buck for a good while that evening but didn’t turn anything up. They returned in the morning and looked that whole day for any signs of the buck but never found him. To say the least, Jesse was a little deflated. I can certainly understand as I would be too. They gave that deer 2.5 days of looking before they finally decided to give up. It was a tough situation. Before going back on the second day to look Jesse decided to check the zero on his rifle and it turned out to be the culprit. The scope would absolutely not track or hold zero. Something internally had gone bad and unfortunately ruined what would have been a hunt of a lifetime for him.

Day 2 back with Adam and I went pretty well. We spotted a nice group of deer mid-day and decided to try and slip in on them to no avail. We set up to glass that evening and saw a ton of deer. I saw a glimpse of what I thought was a nice framed deer and couldn’t get close enough to him before he disappeared to get a better look. That evening we also spotted 2 big black bears; one was really really big. Probably 650+ lbs according to the guide. We also spotted a collared doe in a group of about 10 deer which was pretty cool. The day finally concluded and we made it on back to camp for dinner.

Day 3 started at 2:30am. Once again…lazy asses=sub-freezing temps in the tent to get dressed in. After breakfast we got to meet Dustin Child. Unknown to us he had rolled into camp at 1am after breaking down a wilderness camp the previous day and stopping in at home to visit his wife and kids. I just have to say that is true dedication and passion for what you do. No one had said one thing about him needing to be there from our group for being disgruntled, no guides were down and out, no horses needed to be delivered. He could have easily taken the day off after 3-4 weeks of setting up wilderness camps, deer season, bow elk season, and sheep season. He didn’t. He came out to his only drive to camp just because he didn’t want to lose a day of hunting. And he hunted his *** off too.

On the previous day we had spotted a group of deer mid-day that we thought had a nice buck in it. We decided to get directly across from them on the opposite ridge at daylight and see if we could locate those deer again. Sure enough, right at daylight we picked up a group of deer right where we thought we would and there was a nice buck in there with them. We looked at him for a minute through the spotter before we decided it was a nice buck and definitely worth going after. We got to a better spot to tie the horses up and started side-hilling the ridge across from the deer we’d spotted. Dustin, Adam, and I would mainly move in and out of cover when the deer would to minimize the chances of being picked off. We left Nate further back the ridge on a spotter to keep track of the deer in case something happened during the stalk. Eventually the buck fed back into his bed and laid down. We worked into a spot in the timber directly across from him and got set up.

I offered up all the packs and jackets I had for Adam to build a decent rest to shoot from. It was a tough position, the toughest in my opinion…uphill shot from the prone position laying on a pretty good downslope. Awkward as hell if you’ve never done it. But eventually he got settled in good. Meanwhile I’m juggling all kinds of optics and camera equipment. We were running a spotter with a DSLR on the back, I pulled out my $50 Walmart pocket DSLR to catch the reaction, coupled with my bino’s and a Terrapin rangefinder. But eventually I got all that figured out and clicked the Terrapin a couple times…602, 602, 602. Adam was 2 yards below so it was 600 on the dot. His calibrated Suunto was reading 9400’ charts were built for 9250’. Perfect. Dialed in the 8.75moa elevation. Slight uphill, slightly higher elevation, 1 click off – 8.5moa. Now, figure out the **** wind. Well the wind shouldn’t have been too tough to figure out but I still screwed it up a little. I figured it and called it for full value – 10mph cross – 2moa left to right. Adam was ready/prepped and decided to get up off the rifle for a quick break so that he didn’t stay cramped. We began to relax a little for 5-10 minutes and waited for the buck to stand up out of his bed.






At some point while we were sitting there relaxed the buck stood up and I noticed it in the viewfinder of the camera while it was running in standby. I let Dustin and Adam know and they both got ready. The buck got up because some does started to move in and bed down near him and his focus was on them with his body quartering to us. After about a minute or two he relaxed and started to turn full broadside and pall at his bed to lay back down. We were ready, Adam asked for a wind confirmation, I re-affirmed full value, and he broke the Jewell trigger sending the 210gr Berger out at 3035fps across the canyon. I tracked it as best I could through flinching in the binos and saw the bullet hit its mark, the buck fall down, and start rolling. We were all elated. We started high fiving and going crazy. During that time the buck rolled probably 75 yards downhill. Long story short, he got back up, ran a little ways, got 2 more bullets put in him, and was recovered about 150 yards away. As you’ll see from the video the shot wasn’t a bad one but was a touch far forward. Again, my fault on the wind call. It was a little gusty all morning from 2-15 mph…just all over the place. Plus I didn’t account for the wind gradient and the fact that 80% of that bullets path was 500 ft about the ground. So the fact that I guessed 10 mph wind value at the deer was probably right, but it was probably more like 15+ up over the canyon where that bullet was. Another minute wind hold would have been ideal. My fault. Live, learn, get better.




He was a great buck, awesome mass that he carried all the way out, eye gaurds, and good width. His forks were a little mis-matched; the top left and front right forks are awesome, the top right and front left are a little weaker in comparison. I think if he matched he’d be around 180-185 or so, maybe more. As is I’d say just shy of 170. We haven’t put a tape on him as of yet, it didn’t really matter to be honest. It was an awesome time and we were even luckier to get some of the experience on camera to relive it over and over again. We got him cleaned up and packed up after some pictures and made our way down the valley. Dustin and I hunted out the rest of the evening and saw plenty of deer but no shooters. After dark we made our way on back to the trailhead and headed back to camp.








On Day 4 we decided all of us would ride in to the area that Jesse shot at his buck and maybe look for one of the bucks that was in the group with his for me. After prime glassing time was over, I would keep on hunting and the rest of the guys with Adam would break off and look more for Jesse’s buck. We spotted a ton more deer that day. Probably the most deer spotted of the whole trip for one single day. Dustin left mid-day to go check on a wilderness camp that had some elk hunters in it. We said our goodbye’s and thanked him for a great hunt to that point. Me and Nate glassed until dark only turning up smaller bucks, piles of does, and another huge black bear with 2 cubs – 1 black, 1 cinnamon. Pretty cool to see. We decided that night we would go back to the general area we hunted on Day 1 and possibly look for the big 190 buck that we had hunted earlier.

On Day 5 we rode into the same general area as Day 1 but a pretty good distance away. Right away I glanced up into this bowl from the horses and spotted a bunch of deer. We got off and gave them a look through the spotters. There were a bunch of does and some smaller bucks but we could only get pieces of a lot of them due to all the benches in the bowl. So we jumped back on the horses and rode up and around the side of the bowl to try and look in from above. At that point we spotted 2 deer with some better frames on them and it was now decision time for me. It was Day 5, we’d hunted hard, I’d passed a ton of buck this size but most were younger 4x4’s that looked to have potential. These 2 deer looked older and were kinda goofier 3x4’s. I eventually decided to take one of the two and we began to setup for the shot. The grass and vegetation was way too tall for a prone shot so I got my tripod out and flipped the grip head around to use a rest in the sitting position with my pack jammed up under my right arm for rear support. I clicked the Terrapin…350 yards. Dialed up 2.5moa. Checked the wind, right to left, steady 5mph. Held .2 mil in the Mark4 reticle. The bucks wouldn’t separate for the longest time and even sparred for a minute or two so I had plenty of time to get settled down and get ready for the shot. Eventually the bucks separated, I settled the crosshair, clicked off the safety, and started to apply pressure with my right index finger…boom! I saw the hit was good and then heard Adam yell “Got him, dead, top shoulder”. I worked the bolt and when the buck stopped rolling down the hill I put another in him just to be sure after what I saw Adam’s buck run away with. The 6.5mm 140gr Berger had done its job and anchored the deer for good. We also got some pretty good video through the spotter of my shot. All the extra money in equipment for that stuff and the space it took up in Adam’s pack was definitely worth it on this trip.








The hunt was really relaxing from that point on. We snapped a ton of pics of my deer, tagged him, quartered him, and loaded him up for the ride down. Just like last time it was an extremely, extremely bittersweet moment. Dusting had told Jesse that on the last day, if he wanted to, he could go out and hunt a management buck to have something to take home…2x2, 2x3, or the like. He went out but didn’t turn anything up. The rest of us went back to camp and skinned out hides, quartered meat, and began to start packing. That’s when the depression really started to hit…when I began to pack my stuff. I had felt invincible for 4.5 days on 3 hours sleep after walking and riding miles each day but for about 2 hours I had no gas. I wasn’t tired, I couldn’t sleep, I just layed on my cot and looked out at the peak outside camp and sulked like a 5 year old girl that just had the stuffing ripped out of her favorite teddy bear. Eventually before it got dark I got my stuff packed before going over to chat with Nate for the last few minutes I had there. Jesse and Tommy wanted to leave when Jesse got back that night so we had the truck packed and ready. We left shortly after dark and headed for the interstate.

The results might not bust the Boone & Crockett books but I sure as hell had a good time. I did exactly what I’d wanted to do, every day. The scenery is unbelievable out there, nothing compares to it. The people out west and our guides in particular are everything you could ask for. Hardworking, knowledgeable, tough, personable, relaxed, intense, honest, and a ton of other attributes that extend beyond my vocabulary. I love the time I get to spend with them. It’s easy to forget when you show up, a ball of energy from months of anticipation, that these guys have been hard at it for about a month or more now in preparation and guiding hunts for sheep, elk, and deer. Our guys never caved and wanted to sleep in an extra half hour. I can hear them now after dinner

Cook – Jack: “What time you guys want breakfast ready tomorrow?”

Drew & Nate: “To get back there at daylight I’m thinking 2:30? Yeah Jack, 2:30.”

Jack looks at them like they’re crazy but they don’t even flinch. That’s what needed to be done, so that’s what they did, and it meant a lot to me. And again, the fact that Dustin was in that same boat of exhaustion and drove out to our camp just to get in a day of hunting was really cool. It would have been a lot easier to just sit in bed and catch up on his sleep but he didn’t want to miss out. I’m glad he didn’t, it was fun hanging out and hunting with him. As long as Dustin is involved at Trophy Mountain I’ll probably never hunt with another outfitter in the state of Wyoming. I think the next hunt we do with him will be a wilderness pack in hunt for either deer again or maybe deer/elk combo. We’ll have to see how that works out. I know one thing, high country hunting has completely ruined me forever. I don’t want to do anything else. The thought of hunting from your truck on a ranch or having to sit in a deer stand back home here in Maryland is just torture now. High country horseback is all I want to do now.

A few months removed from the experience and looking back I’m really lucky that all the factors in play on this adventure fell into place as well as they did. The friends, the area, the outfitter, the points situation with everyone, the group, work schedules, daycare arrangement for my kids, travel logistics, etc…it all came together pretty nicely. And I can’t wait to start planning for it all again. I mentioned that I had a kid at the beginning. Well I’ve actually got 2, a boy and a girl. But my boy will be 8 in 5 years. At some point around that age I want to take him out there with us just to tag along and be part of everything without getting to hunt. I think that would be cool. Hopefully it lights his fire and sets him down the right path one day. I know one thing, when I got back home with my new Trophy Mountain hat he wasted no time snatching it off my head when I was buckling him up for daycare… “Daddy, this is my mule deer hunting hat.” Hopefully in a couple years he’ll have it on sitting behind his own buck in the Wyoming back country. I can only hope….and I can’t hardly wait.


 
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KLL87

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Mar 2, 2014
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Good story. Sounds like a lot of fun. I just started acquiring points last year, but look forward to going out west to hunt.
 

Len Backus

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Nice story.

Next time just place the extra words in the second post.
 
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eshorebwhntr

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Apr 11, 2009
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Good story. Sounds like a lot of fun. I just started acquiring points last year, but look forward to going out west to hunt.

Thank you. It's a lot of fun. You'll enjoy it.

Nice dtory.

Next time just place the extra words in the second post.

Thanks.

I think I would have been ok but the links to all the pics I had were really long and put it over the limit. I just cut some of the pics out and that got it down. The whole story is still there.
 

Topgun 30-06

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Excellent write up and fantastic pictures---Congrats! I'm going in G on horseback in September and hope to get a mulie like that best one and can't wait to see all that gorgeous country.
 

eshorebwhntr

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Apr 11, 2009
Messages
606
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MD
Excellent write up and fantastic pictures---Congrats! I'm going in G on horseback in September and hope to get a mulie like that best one and can't wait to see all that gorgeous country.

Thank you. You'll love the experience out there. I know I do.

Good luck on your hunt and let us know how you do.
 

BCinKS

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Dec 23, 2006
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Great story, I'm going to do one of those back country hunts before I get too old or too fat!
 

eshorebwhntr

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Great story, I'm going to do one of those back country hunts before I get too old or too fat!

I joke with my dad about that all time. Keep begging him to go with me one of these years before he is too old. The horses help a lot but I did a lot of walking and running before going out there and I'm glad I did. I live at sea level and that is the only thing I can't prepare for..0ft to 10,000ft. I never truly get use to it on a 5 day hunt, but the first day or two has been really brutal both times.
 

eshorebwhntr

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Putting this one back up to the top with my first story from Region G. Wish I could go every year but that's life.

Good luck to anyone else going out this year.
 

Topgun 30-06

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Allegan, MI
My buddy and I both got real nice bucks on our horseback hunt in G the third week of September that were as good or better than we had hoped to take. His was wider with a little better mass than mine and had several stickers and was taken in the Salt River Range. Mine was 25" wide with one short sticker on a back left fork and was taken in the Greys River Range east of Alpine. The picture with the Grand Tetons in the background was taken right from the ridge where I shot my buck from. The country is absolutely awesome and I wish NRs could draw a tag there every year like the residents can!
 

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