Wyoming to Wyoming

April 22, 2010
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Standing on top of the horizon was an unrecognized figure. One we hadn’t all morning. It was the silhouette of a mule deer – the mule deer. We realized it was not alone. There was a doe with it, as there usually was. We sat atop the hill, studying their behavior, predicting their next moves. It was time to make a strategy; this would not be a simple hunt.

It would be dumb to walk straight at them; they could see us that way. We could not go left because there was a fence blocking the way, but we could not go right because then they could escape over the fence. Our only option was to approach from the other side. This meant taking a truck around the property, out of sight of the deer, and hiking into range. So we did – we drove to the back of the property and walked. And walked, and walked, and walked. The topography of Wyoming is very deceiving – it is easy to lose track of where you are. We underestimated our distance from the deer, and went too far back. This resulted in two hours of walking. When we finally got close to the deer, we ran into another obstacle. The deer had lain down in the tall grass and sagebrush. My uncle, who had his eyes to the binoculars for two hours straight, could not see the deer. He had never even looked away from them; they just lied down and disappeared. With him directing us, we knew approximately where the deer were.

Now I had to stalk blindly, compromising between staying close to the fence on the right, and trying not to allow the wind coming from the same side the fence was on from carrying my scent to the deer. I walked angling right, facing forward. My knees bent, my body leaning forward to keep a low profile, I crept closer and closer, ever so slowly. I was not sure exactly where the deer were, but I had an idea. Something happened. I don’t know exactly what it was, but something instinctive sent me a message that the jig was up.

I was right. At that very moment, I saw out of the corner of my eye a head pop up. It was the doe mule deer, staring at me. Wondering what I was and why I was there; wondering if I was just a harmless passer-by, or a dangerous predator. There was a moment of stillness. I was still and she was still. Staring deep into each other’s eyes, we both predicted the other’s next move. But it was not the doe I was interested in, there were antlers around somewhere. There was a buck. But where? Trying to stay still, as not to spook the doe any more, I searched the surroundings for the buck. After what seemed to be a whole minute, but may have only been two seconds, the buck jumped up.

My dad had told me ten minutes before that when that deer jumped up, I would have maybe one second to squeeze off a shot, and he was not kidding. Either way, I hesitated when I saw the buck. It was not where I had expected it to be, and I had a slight confusion. Both deer ran away, tails up, bearing the flags. Luckily they didn’t run for the fence like I know they wanted to, but I still had to get that deer down before he was out of my range. Both deer disappeared over a small knoll and I ran to follow.


I got down on one knee for a more stable shot and squeezed off a round. Miss. I squeezed off one more. Miss. I ran forward a little more for a better shot. Miss. Miss. Miss. The deer was running away still, quartering slightly left. Shot. I could tell I was close. At this point it was about 350 yards away and he slowed down a little. Shot. The deer stumbled a bit and stopped completely. It stood a moment and started forward again. I could tell I hit it, but I could not tell where, or how good. The deer was facing directly away from me and as it turned out, I shot it directly up the rear end. I took this chance to move in even closer. The deer was not moving and I took another shot. I was definitely not shooting to the best of my abilities given my shortness of breath and great adrenaline rush. I managed to hit the deer again and it ran a bit and laid down. I knew now that the deer was mine. I took one more shot from a distance of maybe 150 yards and I believe I missed it. My dad and I walked up to the deer, which was still alive, but dying, and I gave it one last shot through the shoulder to put it down once and for all.

I am not exactly proud to say that I went through ten bullets to take one deer, but I am very thankful for my experience. I had waited thirteen years for this hunt, and it turned out to be better than I thought. It was the best single week of my entire life and I enjoyed it to its full potential. I was given a great gift that week. My father went through a lot to get everything organized so we could enjoy this, and he did a great job. This was the first and last time that my cousin, my brother, and I all got to hunt with my Grandpa. There was a lot more to this hunt than just killing an animal. It was not about taking a life. It was about family. It was about everyone getting together and having a good time. I will remember this hunt for the rest of my life.





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