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Big Game Hunting => Backcountry Hunting => Topic started by: MerriamMagician on June 30, 2020, 04:05:20 PM

Title: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on June 30, 2020, 04:05:20 PM
Howdy everyone. I have to admit, even though were only a month into summer, a have a severe case of the hunting offseason blues. I don't mind doing a bit of fishing and boating and a few other warm weather activities during the summer, but deep down I'm always longing for the return of hunting season. I thought I would help ease the struggle by writing out an detailed report of how my Wyoming deer hunt went last year and everything leading up to it. I always thought it was cool when others shared their stories in this manner on this forum, so hopefully I can provide an entertaining story of how it all went down last year. Stay tuned to this thread as I will be added a lot of pictures and content on how the hunt went.  :hello:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Karl Blanchard on June 30, 2020, 04:11:08 PM
Hurry up! It's been 2 minutes!  :chuckle:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Buckhunter24 on June 30, 2020, 04:38:57 PM
 :peep:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on June 30, 2020, 05:57:03 PM
It was around 7 years ago that my dad informed me he was going to begin buying preference points for us in Wyoming for future hunts. After a couple years I took over buying my points and began researching different options. One thing I didn't want to do was hold out for the best units that would take years upon years to draw, especially with point creep and license fees increasing seemingly all the time. It got to the point where I had 6 deer points and during that time frame had found my way over 3 different times on Antelope hunts. Those were great fun, but I was itching to get after my favorite big game species, Mule deer!

After doing lots of research and watching a lot of videos, I wanted to try my luck at the highcountry mulies in Regions H and G. In September of 2018, I took my girlfriend on a part vacation-part hunt scouting trip to Yellowstone, Teton national park, and all over the Greys river country. I had two goals on that trip: Propose to my girlfriend at her favorite place in the shadows of the Tetons and decide if that was the hunt I wanted to do. It was an emphatic yes to both of them. I had a specific basin in mind I had found over countless hours of Google earth research. I liked this basin because it was all cross country to get in it, no trail anywhere near it. I never hiked into that basin that year, but I found a elevated spot where I could glass into the basin from far below. The first morning I glassed into it, I saw 27 bucks in there. And that was from a vantage spot that only allowed about 30% of the basin to be visible. It was hard to tell size from glassing the bucks with my older spotting scope almost 4 miles away, but I could definitely make out some big frames on quite a few of them. Needless to say my mind was made up that I wanted to hunt Region G!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: actionshooter on June 30, 2020, 10:05:53 PM
tag
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: jackelope on June 30, 2020, 10:41:59 PM
Here we go... just in time ... we need this thread.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: boneaddict on July 01, 2020, 05:21:30 AM
 :tup:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Skyvalhunter on July 01, 2020, 06:08:53 AM
So you must not have been hunting a wilderness area?
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: kellama2001 on July 01, 2020, 06:18:34 AM
Here we go... just in time ... we need this thread.

 :yeah: tagging also
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: ganghis on July 01, 2020, 08:13:15 AM
tag
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: 2MANY on July 01, 2020, 08:31:04 AM
You bought a ring before you bought good optics????
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Jonathan_S on July 01, 2020, 08:32:33 AM
You bought a ring before you bought good optics????

Haha. Added the wrong Swarovski product to the online shopping cart!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: archerykraze on July 01, 2020, 08:32:59 AM
 :drool: :drool: :drool: :drool:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Widgeondeke on July 01, 2020, 08:57:54 AM
You bought a ring before you bought good optics????

Haha. Added the wrong Swarovski product to the online shopping cart!

    :yeah:    :chuckle:   :chuckle:   :chuckle:    :chuckle:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: BoomWhop on July 01, 2020, 08:58:18 AM
I have 9 deer and 8 elk points for Wyoming.....Been sitting on the side lines, can't wait to read this.  :tup:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 01, 2020, 10:54:05 AM
With 7 deer points going in to the 2019 draw, I took a gamble and applied for the regular deer draw and not the special. Early in the year I began a new fitness program designed to make me a better hunter. I've been a gym rat since my late teens, however most of my work was weight lifting. My aerobic fitness was not that great and I wanted to burn some excess body fat. All year long I trained hard doing weight lifting sessions, 2-4 hikes a week with
 a moderately heavy pack, and a good deal of HIIT workouts. I wanted to be in the best shape possible for the hunt and I was doing just that. Another challenge that I faced was that backcountry hunting was something new to me. I've spent plenty of time in the backcountry hunting and hiking, but always just day trips. I realized that I needed to invest in backcountry gear also. I spent most of the year slowly accumulating all the gear I would need.

Soon enough it was June and Wyoming published the draw results. I had drawn G with my 7 points. I breathed a sigh of relief as I looked at the draw odds. If I remember right about 34% of non-residents with 7 points failed to draw the tag! Talking with others I know how have hunted the same region before, one use to be able to draw with just 1 or 2 points. Gotta love point creep and tag demand out west.  :yike: I kicked my training up even higher over the summer. Late in July I wanted to test myself in a real backcountry adventure. I loaded up everything I would need for my deer hunt and packed 5 miles into the GPW for a 3 day trip. It was 4k of elevation gain and I felt I handled it pretty well. The next 2 days was a bit frustrating as I spent a lot of time glassing and seeing just a handful of deer. I couldn't help but wish I was already in the Wyoming highcountry at that moment. I know what awaited me there was a heck of a lot better than anything that can be found in Washingtons highcountry areas. The countdown to Wyoming was on! 
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: 2MANY on July 01, 2020, 11:24:09 AM
Trekking poles!!!??

You had to bring trekking poles into this already...??

Oh my.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: DOUBLELUNG on July 01, 2020, 12:55:44 PM
Good stuff keep it coming!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 01, 2020, 06:36:03 PM
Even after working out hard all year long, I realized my diet also needed improved. I scaled way back on the carbs and ate a lot more clean starting in August. This helped me shed about another 12 pounds before I left for the hunt. In mid August I wanted to test myself again, so this time I packed up and went on a bear hunt in the ALW. I went in 7 miles on trail and another 2 off to get to a ridge that I found on Google earth that afforded views of three different drainages. This time I tested out a few new ideas to save weight like taking a tarp shelter setup over the tent and using all stoveless food. It was a grind getting in there with 5500 feet of elevation gain to get to my ridge. However I had no sooner sat down where I wanted to camp when something caught my eye. A quick glass revealed a small bear feeding on an open hillside about a mile away. Completely exhausted I elected to set up my camp and relax for the rest of the day instead of chasing the bear. To my surprise I spotted 3 more bears that evening. All 4 of them were hanging right in the same area. I was worn down, but excited to get after it in the morning.

The wind screamed on that ridge all night. After a long noisy night without much fitful sleep, it finally grew dawn and I was ready to spend some time glassing. I immediately spotted the same small bear. Within an hour I spotted 5 more working the same area. I fueled myself up with food and began my approach. The distance of a little over a mile ended up being some of hardest terrain I've ever been in. I crossed 5 or 6 boulder fields and made quite the discovery at one point. There was a whole mule deer skeleton stuck in a crevice between two truck size boulders. I've seen pictures in magazines of stuff like that before but never thought I'd run into anything like that myself. After navigating all the boulder fields, I then had to pick my way across a half mile section of steep hillside with chest high wildflowers. It was surprisingly difficult getting through them. I couldn't make it 10 yards without tripping and slipping all over the map. Finally I make it to a knob I had marked after what took me about 6 times longer than I thought it would have to cut that distance. Its nearly noon by this point and I peak over the knob. Aha, perfect, good size bear feeding 200 yards away.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: 2MANY on July 02, 2020, 05:24:23 AM
Sweet stuff.
Nothing beats the high country.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Widgeondeke on July 02, 2020, 07:38:16 AM
I am enjoying this so far  :tup:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: jstone on July 02, 2020, 08:37:41 AM
Great so far
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Alchase on July 02, 2020, 08:51:52 AM
Trekking poles!!!??

You had to bring trekking poles into this already...??

Oh my.

Those are "incognito Shooting Sticks" to everyone but the "uninformed"

 :hello:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: 2MANY on July 02, 2020, 09:50:02 AM
I thought they were rain fly poles and trail aerators.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: ELKBURGER on July 02, 2020, 10:13:02 AM
Tagging.....
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: whacker1 on July 02, 2020, 10:19:57 AM
tagging
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 02, 2020, 10:55:14 AM
As soon as I saw the bear, I decided to try to take him. Generally I'll take what I can find when it comes to bears. Any bear is a good bear to me as long as its at least around 150 pounds. This one was mid size, I guessed him to be about 250 pounds. That was more than big enough for my liking at nearly 11 miles back at this point. I struggled to get set up for a shot. I was in a sea of chest high wildflowers and could not go prone for a shot. Not sure what to do, I elected to sneak down the hill a little closer in search of more open ground. I had no more than took 5 steps and slipped on the slick mountain heather and slid uncontrollably over 100 yards down the slope. When I finally stopped and collected myself I was dang near right on top of the bear and somehow he hadn't seen or heard me. Still on my back from the slide, I slipped into a sitting position for what was now only about a 80 yard shot. Too late! In an instant he caught my wind, looked up, and scrambled off into a thick patch of jack pines. I climbed back up the slope a ways and got onto another knob, this one right in the center of where all the bears had been hanging out.

I pulled out some lunch and got situated for an afternoon sit. Only about 20 minutes later I spot 2 more bears, a chocolate and a black, both good size. Still tired from the hike over there, I watched them feed for about an hour, while considering a plan of action. The chocolate was about a quarter mile away and in a good spot to make a stalk on. The black was 500 yards below him feeding in a creek bed. I made my way over to the chocolate and got to 180 yards. I debated moving one knob closer to him that would have set me up for a chip shot, but decided against it after the first bear caught my wind at close distance. It really is amazing how tricky it can be to set up for a shot in the backcountry. After being impeded by tall wildflowers on the first bear, I now faced the challenge of trying to get steady on a steep downward slope. I got my spotter on him and starting recording through the phone skope. After quite a bit of adjusting I finally got into the best position I could muster. It was so steep I had my ankles wrapped around a sapling and my elbows buried in the dirt just to avoid sliding down the hill. I waited for a good shot and touched one off. He whirled out of a little stream he had been standing chest deep in and dashed off into some big timber. It was now 2 in the afternoon. I moved to a flatter spot and settled in to give him plenty of time before starting to track him.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Onewhohikes on July 06, 2020, 06:26:01 AM
Yea that's a popular area for hikers and peak baggers. Glad you were able to at least see some bears there.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 06, 2020, 10:17:46 AM
While I was waiting, I decided to check out the video I had took and ran it in slow motion. To my disappointment, I discovered that my shot had gone just high. As disappointed as I was, I'm glad I had recorded the shot. I thought for sure I had drilled him, and probably would have spent a long fruitless search if I didn't have the phone skope footage. With time still left in the day, I hiked a ways up to a stream and filtered some more water and made my way back up to a vantage knob. I spotted 2 more bears later in the evening. One only showed for a couple minutes a good ways out of range. The other was a small black that popped out of the jack pines just below me. Before I could get the crosshairs lined up he popped back into the jack pines and didn't come back out that evening.

That first day was the biggest highlight of the trip. The next 2 days I didn't see any deer or bear. I packed up camp and made the long descent out. Next stop Wyoming!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: 2MANY on July 06, 2020, 11:31:03 AM
Looks like you grazed the top of his head??
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Onewhohikes on July 06, 2020, 11:32:40 AM
Parting a few hairs there!!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 06, 2020, 02:24:24 PM
Its mid August at this point. I have all my new backcountry gear tested and ready for action. I've created gear lists, weight lists, and have detailed hunt plans and backup plans. Despite my best efforts to cut as much weight as possible my pack weight is hovering between 50-60 pounds based on a 5 day hunt. But its the best I could do in my first real year of backcountry hunting. I've trained with heavy packs all year and felt ready for the challenge. I found one of the most tedious parts of backcountry planning was food prep. I spent most of the summer tweaking and re-tweaking my meal plans. By the time the hunt actually came around I had nearly a whole months supply of backcountry food neatly organized. Gear wise, food wise, and fitness level, I was dialed in and ready.

My plan since the scouting trip had always been to climb into and hunt the basin I had seen the 27 bucks in the year prior. Hardly a day went by I didn't daydream about that basin. I spent countless hours studying every detail of it over google earth, topo maps, Onx, and more. I had my camping spot picked out, backup camp spots, glassing points, stalking routes, and so much more. I printed out color satellite images from multiple orientations and view angles. And that was just for that basin. I did the same thing for about 8 possible different backup plans.
And finally it was September. With an older truck nearing the end of its long distance trip lifespan and a 14 hour drive to the unit, I elected not to do any summer scouting trips, but instead arrive several days early and hope to find a shooter to sit on. The opener fell on a Sunday in 2019. I left WA on Monday night and arrived in Wyoming early Tuesday morning to the sight of a fresh snow covered highcountry.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 08, 2020, 09:49:45 AM
On that first day I mostly hung around the trailhead and did some short hikes, glassing up into the high country. The trailhead elevation alone was around 7600 feet, which is already 6400 feet higher than where I live. I would be hunting between 9500-10500 feet, so I was doing my best to acclimatize and super hydrate myself. There was the slightest skiff of snow down around the trailhead area and what I guessed was 4-6 inches up high. Over the course of the day it warmed quite a bit and the snowline receded quickly. I spotted a few bucks from long distance that day up in my basin and a few other areas. Nothing that got my attention though. That evening I made final preparations to my pack. I was going to be hiking in with all my gear except my rifle the next morning. My plan was to get everything in there and scout the next 4 days, trying to find some shooters. I would then hike back out the day before the season, grab my rifle and some extra food and water.

At dawn the next morning I ate a quick breakfast and made my way up and into the basin. It was a bit of a grind for about an hour as the cross country route I took ended me up in the thick, nasty creek bottom. Eventually I popped out and was able to navigate my way a bit easier on game trails. As I made my way up I noted a ton of fresh elk sign. Several bulls were welcoming me with a chorus of bugles as I kept chugging upward. I was pleasantly surprised when I made it to my destination in under 2 hours. It was over 4 miles and 1800 feet of gain and I made it there much quicker than I anticipated. I set up camp, hung my food, and was off searching for a good glassing spot. I spent all afternoon glassing and turned up 7 bucks. None of them were what I was looking for. The elk really put on a show too. It was constant bugling from 5-6 bulls around the basin all day long. I have yet to hunt elk in Wyoming, but I know where to go when it comes time for that! Around 4 pm a herd of around 70 elk feed out across the canyon. There were 4 satellites and one really nice 7 point bull. I got so distracted watching them I barely remembered I was hunting for deer! 4 other bulls ended up showing themselves around the basin later that evening, all of them good solid 6 points. As the day drew to a close I was hopeful for what he morning would bring. The snow was completely gone by now and the basin was back to its stunning hue of green and red colors. I crawled off to bed excited to see what bucks I could spot in the morning. Sleep came difficult that night. Excitement, nervousness, and what sounded like half the country's elk population bugling their brains out made for a tough time getting any real sleep.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 08, 2020, 09:51:41 AM
If anyone knows how to fix the photos to post regular and not sideways, go for it.  :hello:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MooseZ25 on July 08, 2020, 10:18:37 AM
I drew a Region H tag this year and will be headed to Alpine next weekend for my first scouting trip.  I have a buddy who lives in this area so I have a good start.  I too am concerned about my physical abilities and have been doing hikes 3-5 times a week.  The plan is 8-9 miles to camp.  This is a great post for me,  Thanks
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: jjhunter on July 08, 2020, 10:24:10 AM
I prefer to hunt the deer that motivated folks walk by.   :chuckle:

Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: ctwiggs1 on July 08, 2020, 11:18:30 AM
This is a fun one, tagging along!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: 2MANY on July 08, 2020, 11:25:10 AM
Actually it is a very accurate statement anymore in that sector.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 08, 2020, 01:22:01 PM
I prefer to hunt the deer that motivated folks walk by.   :chuckle:

With the obsession of most hunters to go as high as possible, I think a lot of nice bucks in the mid elevations get overlooked. I seen a 170 class buck right from the Greys river road the year before the hunt. He was feeding mid day just a few hundred yards off the road around 7400 feet elevation.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: CaNINE on July 09, 2020, 10:23:10 AM
On my way to Alpine for 2 weeks....following along.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: ctwiggs1 on July 09, 2020, 11:41:08 AM
It's been over 24 hours man, we want more!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: RightPlace-RightTime on July 09, 2020, 08:19:40 PM
Tag
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 10, 2020, 09:29:03 AM
The excitement I had carried for over a year to hunt that basin faded to disappointment over the next few days. There were only 10 bucks in the whole basin, none of them anywhere close to being a shooter. The best buck in the entire basin was maybe a 140 class 4 point at best. For three days I kept glassing the same bucks over and over again. I was pretty surprised I was not seeing more bucks in there, based on what I had seen the previous year. They were also not hanging out in their normal bachelor herds. The biggest group of bucks was 4, the biggest buck in that bunch just a 3x4 still in velvet. Then there was a group of 2 hanging together, and the other 4 bucks were all hanging solo. The previous year I had seen 4 good size bachelor herds up in there, as well as some smaller groups and singles. And again, that was from a low vantage point that only gave glimpses into about 30-40% of the whole basin.

Meanwhile the elk just kept going about their business in full rut. At that point, part of me wished I was bowhunting for elk in there. The big 7 point and his harem were extremely predictable after watching them for 3 days, and there were satellite and challenger bulls running around everywhere. There was one evening where I saw some 11 bulls out and about, all of them screaming.

I did get to see some pretty cool feats of nature while in there. One of the bucks closest to me was a small 4 point still in full velvet. On the second day I watched him thrash a tree for 2 hours and shred off every last bit of his velvet. His antlers were blood red for the rest of the day, but by the next day had dried and looked like normal hard horn antlers. I also seen a big black bear display some interesting behavior that could have had something to do with fewer bucks being in the basin. He popped out mid day on the third day and was frantically running around over the exact route one of the solo bucks had taken that morning. He almost appeared to be tracking the deer, running with his nose close to the ground on the exact travel route the buck had been on. Later that evening he was back again, and this time he actively chased a solo buck around for a bit and then the 2 bucks that had been hanging together. I certainly wonder if his harassment of the bucks is why there was less in there last year.  :dunno: And of course there was plenty of elk fights going on.

With only 2 nights and one more day till the season started, things wern't looking the best. I jokingly created a hit list of the 4 biggest bucks in the basin, naming them the grand and glorious names of Average Joe, Subpar, Red Hook, and A bridge too far.  :chuckle: At that point I decided I was gonna bail. Some advice I had got from multiple people was that if you were scouting a basin for 2-3 days and didn't see anything good by then, you had probably seen most of what was in there and should move on. I waited till the next morning to get in one last glassing session to see if anything else would show up. It was the same 10 bucks the next morning, so I took down camp and made my way out of the highcountry.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: RightPlace-RightTime on July 10, 2020, 10:55:01 AM
Got to be more :hello:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: jstone on July 10, 2020, 01:14:31 PM
Great pictures and story
So far.!!
 :hello:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: High Climber on July 10, 2020, 01:21:17 PM
Must have been a bummer hiking out of there before the opener, but I have a feeling you made the right move  :tup:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: idaho guy on July 10, 2020, 03:20:14 PM
tagging
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 10, 2020, 03:28:48 PM
I was back to my truck by 11 am and ready to go back to the drawing board. I had a plethora of backup plans, the hard part was deciding which one to go with. I contemplated going to another spot that was all cross country and tough to access, but it was all the way across the unit and would take a long time to drive to on forest roads. I didn't think I could get over there and get hiked in before nightfall. After spending a few hours going over maps and weighing my options, I elected to head to another trail head not far away. I took advantage of being back at the truck to eat some extra food and hydrate as much as possible. The trail head of course, was packed the day before the season. Oh well, I reload my pack and start grinding my way back into the highcountry.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: SemperFidelis97 on July 10, 2020, 08:00:18 PM
Fantastic write up so far.

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk

Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 12, 2020, 10:23:54 PM
The second hike into the highcountry really kicked my butt. This time it was on a trail with about 3200 feet of gain over some 4.5 miles.  What surprised me on this hike was that my legs kept burning out on me. My legs are pretty strong from years of weight training and basically never burnt out on me in all my training. Normally if I needed to stop in training it was always just for a breather, not because my legs needed a break. I supposed the high elevation probably had something to do with that. So the hike in took me much longer than I expected and I got to where I wanted to be with only 45 minutes of daylight to spare. I was in a saddle that afforded views into 2 different drainages, but they did not reveal as much terrain as I thought I could see. I got ready to hike another 800 feet up to a knob, only to spot 2 other hunters already set up glassing there. Unsure what to do, I decided to camp in the saddle for the night. I glassed till dark seeing just does. At last light a buck stepped out high in the cliffs a long ways away. In the fading light I could tell he was big, just not how big. I made a plan to hike up another hill opposite from where the 2 other hunters where in the morning. From the summit I would be able to see the same 2 drainages, plus everything on the other side of the mountain. Then it was off to bed for a night of difficult sleep.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 14, 2020, 06:01:28 PM
Opening day I was up early to make a vantage point by daylight. Up I climbed, 1200 feet up to a peak that was 10,900 feet in elevation. By far the highest elevation I have ever been on for a hunt. I made it just in time as dawn light revealed the magnificent Wyoming range. I immediately started glassing hard for the big solo buck I had seen the night before. He wasn't there. Soon after first light 2 small bucks appeared on the ridge behind me. After watching them for a bit to make sure there wasn't something big with them, I returned to glassing the 2 big drainages visible from the peak. There wasn't much going on. I could see some does down low and a few real small bucks. I then switched my attention to the country on the opposite side of the peak. I immediately began picking up bucks. In under a half hour I had spotted 6 separate bachelor groups of bucks and a few lone bucks. All of them were a long ways off. I could barely pick out the antlers on most of them, but got enough good glimpses to tell there were some good bucks in at least 3 of the herds. By this point, its about an hour into shooting light and there are plenty of shots echoing throughout the mountain range, but none of them close to my basin. I glassed the entire basin looking for other hunters and could not find any. I knew I needed to cut a lot of distance to get a better look at some of these bucks. I quickly gathered my stuff, set some waypoints on OnX and bailed off the peak.

Getting down off the peak into the basin was a tedious chore as I had to descend 1600 feet down a sheer rockslide. When I finally hit the bottom it was getting warm so I quickly got out of my thermals and extra layers. I began working my way across the uphill slope of the basin. I still need to cover about a mile to get into good position. Just before I was into a good spot, things began to happen quickly. Out of seemingly no where the basin filled up with hunters. Things got hectic as deer blew out everywhere and shots rang out left and right. I couldn't believe it. What had looked to be a great morning was quickly reduced to a bust! I was beyond frustrated. I knew full well that the region gets lots of hunting pressure, but certainly didn't expect the sudden swarm of hunters all showing up around 10 am. Unsure what to do, I looped around to a high point where I could see down into all the basin. Amazingly, no one had killed a deer after all the shots fired and as fast as all the hunters had appeared into the basin, they all disappeared just as fast. Not wanting to climb up any more tall peaks, I elected to sit in the top of the basin the rest of the day. It was very slow and I only saw small bucks down much lower than I saw the other bucks. As the day drew to a close, I pondered my next move. Part of me wanted to climb up another peak in the morning to get into another basin, but I also considered staying in the same basin. I was pretty sure the other hunters had blown out all the deer, but there was one herd that I had lost tabs on during the hectic mid morning action. I decided to stay, and moved just a short distance away into a stand of alpine firs and settled in for the night. Despite it being just day one, I was extremely frustrated on how the day turned out. My biggest fear was that all the bucks were blown out and I was wasting my time staying in there. I called it a night, only to have another tough time getting any sleep.
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: ctwiggs1 on July 14, 2020, 07:42:14 PM
Youíre a good writer.  Iím glued!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: RightPlace-RightTime on July 14, 2020, 07:53:06 PM
This is a great read.
I'm hooked
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 14, 2020, 08:49:26 PM
On day 2 of the hunt I woke up and walked a short distance to where I had spent most of the previous day glassing the basin. After ten minutes turned nothing up, I felt I needed to check out another draw just out of sight. One of the buck herds had been in that draw yesterday and I never saw them exit the basin the previous morning with all the other bucks. I had a feeling they may have holed up somewhere in there and be back out today. I walked about 2 hundred yards over to a finger ridge and looked into the draw. I immediately spot 8 bucks with my naked eye. A quick glass of the herd revealed at least 3 dang good bucks. Their only 500 yards away. I quickly crept out of there and rushed back to get my pack and supplies. There's a good patch of trees along the finger ridge that provide good cover. After checking for a good wind I hurried along the back side of the ridge to get into position. I can honestly admit that there was a bit of panic going on in my mind. The previous day, no hunters had shown up tell at least 3 hours after light. But for some reason I was worried some hunters were going to swoop in on me again like they had the previous day and bump them out. Either that or some long range hunter may spot them from a distance ridge and start launching long distance shots. My own gun at the time was equipped with long range optics and performance bullets, but I hadn't practiced much past 300 and wanted to sneak in as close as possible for a high percentage shot opportunity. With all that stuff whirling around in my head, I blitzed over to where I could have a chance. I arrived at a spot where a little gap in the trees and brush presented a shooting lane. I hurriedly double checked my optics chart, chambered a shell, and belly crawled up the slope to the top. I peak over and see that the bucks have separated into 2 groups of 4 now. The first group I range at 220 yards and the others are out near 400. In my peripheral vision I see some hunters behind me up on a ridge, glassing my direction. I set up for a prone shot on the closer group of bucks. The lead buck is clearly the biggest in the bunch. He looks like a dandy from my now buck fever stricken, shaky hands holding up my binos. Before settling for him I glass the 2nd group to see if there is a bigger one. But they've suddenly gone out of sight and I am feeling the pressure big time that any second now shots are going to boom across the basin and the bucks are going to bolt! I notice a second group of hunters on a ridge way off to my right. I ease my backpack under the back on the gun with the bipod solid in the front. I'm rock solid on the lead buck and I let one fly! BOOM!! He's hit! He scrambles forward about 75 yards, hurting bad. He stops and is hunched over. I lock onto him again and put another in the boiler room. He explodes straight up into the air on impact and rolls into a patch of alpine firs. Buck down!!  :bfg:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: idaho guy on July 14, 2020, 09:04:30 PM
Picture of the buck now!  :chuckle:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Widgeondeke on July 14, 2020, 09:52:10 PM
Leaving us hanging for the night???  >:( 
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Skyvalhunter on July 15, 2020, 05:40:51 AM
Yea I had to go to bed, it was a rough day
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 15, 2020, 09:29:25 AM
He had fallen in basically an island of cover in the alpine meadows. I carefully walked around the whole patch and couldn't see him in there. Not wanting to take any chances in case he was only wounded, I sat a hundred yards above the cover patch and forced myself to wait an hour before going and looking for blood. It was the longest hour ever. Finally, I eased up to where he had last stood. Lots of blood and a trail of it going into the cover. I carefully moved into the cover and spotted him laying a few yards away. He was expired. Upon walking up on him I immediately noticed he was quite a bit smaller than I thought he was. I do have to admit, I think I let the pressure get to me a bit to much that morning and I had severely overestimated his size. The whole time I watched him I only really had a side view of his antlers. And from those side views he looked huge. He had looked very wide, moderately heavy, and I could have sworn I saw cheaters on his rack. Later on upon arrival home I scored him several times. He barely made 160 class, checking in at 161. I was definitely a bit disappointed, but also proud of how my first season of backcountry hunting went. I very nearly killed a bear 11 miles deep in Washington and harvested a respectable buck in the amazing Wyoming range. I ended up putting the entire deer and my camp in my pack and took everything out in one shot. The pack was so heavy I ended up on the ground over and over on the pack out. I had 4 liters of water to drink and still ran out with still a mile to go on the packout. It was definitely a good feeling though returning to the busy trailhead with a successful harvest. I can say for sure I love that Wyoming highcountry. I can't wait to go back. I think there were some really good lessons learned for me and the experience should help me in all my future backcountry hunts. Now if only point creep wasn't so bad and those tags could be drawn more often.  :bash: I'll probably try for H instead since its a touch easier to draw still. And then theres those elk to go after. Anything to get me back into that highcountry!  :drool: Thanks for following along.  :hello:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: MerriamMagician on July 15, 2020, 09:33:40 AM
Pictures
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: ctwiggs1 on July 15, 2020, 09:35:31 AM
Fantastic deer, and excellent story.  Thanks for letting us ride along on this one!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Widgeondeke on July 15, 2020, 09:48:24 AM
Thank you for the sharing your story. The smiles in your pics tell me you were happy with your buck  :tup:

I'd take that buck on day 1
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: ganghis on July 15, 2020, 11:37:35 AM
This is the content I come here for!

Awesome buck, story, and pictures.  Thanks for sharing and congrats
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: jstone on July 15, 2020, 11:39:03 AM
Awesome story. It is a nice change from all the drama these days.!!
Thank You for the Adventure
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: Skyvalhunter on July 15, 2020, 11:41:56 AM
Congrats that's a beautiful animal
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: trophyhunt on July 15, 2020, 01:10:12 PM
Great job, awesome story, thanks for posting!  Now go get that elk!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: teanawayslayer on July 15, 2020, 01:37:48 PM
Thanks for sharing. It was a great read!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: kellama2001 on July 15, 2020, 01:44:05 PM
I really enjoyed the getaway while reading your story, thank you so much for sharing!  And that is an awesome buck!  :tup:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: DOUBLELUNG on July 15, 2020, 04:43:21 PM
Great hunt and a fine buck!
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: RightPlace-RightTime on July 15, 2020, 07:53:36 PM
Enjoyed your story
Great buck and super cool experience you had.
Thanks for the story 👍
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: CaNINE on July 15, 2020, 08:43:10 PM
Buddy great memories and fantastic buck  :tup:
Title: Re: 2019 Wyoming High Country Deer Hunt
Post by: lewy on July 17, 2020, 09:02:55 AM
Great read :tup: