One Very Fine Day
2007 DIY Wyoming High Country Mule Deer Hunt
by Rebecca Francis
I knew that committing myself to school full time would force me to make many sacrifices, but hunting was not one I was willing to give up. I was accepted in to a program with a stringent attendance policy. I could not miss one class. So when hunting season rolled around, I knew I better make the most of the ONE weekend I could hunt. The Wyoming deer hunt has always been my favorite hunt, so naturally that was the hunt I would not miss.
My husband Lee was waiting for me by the front door of the school on Friday morning, loaded with four horses and all our gear. We had several hours to drive and even more hours to ride our horses in to our favorite hunting spot. I knew we would be arriving well after dark this year, but I didn’t care, I would do whatever it took to get the highly anticipated time I needed in the Wyoming mountains every year.
We rode the horses into camp around 11:00 pm, and quickly set up our tent, so we would be well rested for opening morning. However, I never sleep the night before opening, as I lay awake imagining all the big bucks I hope to see during the hunt. I was a bit more anxious about it this year, since I knew we only had one good day of hunting before we had to make that dreadfully long drive back home for school Monday morning.
Before light, we got dressed, loaded our packs, and headed out for my lucky sidehill. Just after sunrise, Lee and I spotted five decent bucks on the skyline. One of the bucks was considerably larger than the others. Lee asked, “What do you think, do you want to take a shot?” I looked at the buck for quite awhile before I finally said, “No, I think I will wait”. Lee decided to go ahead and take him, since we were in a time crunch, and may not see anything else. We worked our way around the sidehill to get a closer shot. The bucks noticed us before we made it to a spot with a solid rest, so Lee took off on a dead run up the ridge to catch them before they got away. Moments later, I hear boom...boom, from Lee’s .300 Weatherby rifle. I ran up to meet him, and he was standing at the top of the ridge. I said, “Well, where is he?” He pointed down the hill, but I couldn’t see the buck. We worked our way through the brush, down the hill, and were so excited to see what a big and beautiful buck Lee had shot. I was so elated for Lee, but knew the chance of finding another buck of this caliber, on the same day, would not be likely. I was totally content with that, because for me, just being in the mountains, riding the horses, hiking around, and living in a tent for a couple of days, was more than I could ask for. We took some great pictures, hauled the buck back to camp, and quickly took off hiking in search of another buck.
It was early afternoon before we began to see the deer coming out to feed. I set off on a stalk after one buck we had seen from a distance, but to no avail. We lost that one. That evening we watched about 50 deer feeding on an open, grassy sidehill, but there was not a single buck that was big enough to shoot. I had come to terms with myself that I just may not get a buck this year. However, I still felt successful to be there with Lee when he got his great buck! One day is just not enough time to hunt. Disappointed, I started to rummage through my backpack to find my headlamp, since I knew it would be dark by the time we started to hike back to camp. Just then, out of nowhere, a couple of great bucks hit the skyline right as the sun was going down. It was a no brainer, I took off running, without saying a word, over to where I could make a shot. Breathing heavily, I dropped down on a rock outcropping, and got the bucks in my scope. Knowing I had to make a quick decision, I settled the crosshairs on the buck I thought was the biggest, held my breath, and squeezed the trigger. I watched the buck drop, 150 yards away, after one shot from my .300 WSM. We hugged each other and hurried over to take a look at the buck just before dark. Wow! What an amazing buck! It was my biggest buck ever! He had points everywhere! He scored 210, with 7 points on one side, and 11 on the other. He was 29 in. wide.
Lee and I both felt so unbelievably blessed and lucky this year. I don’t know what we did to deserve it, but we both got great bucks, it was beautiful weather, and we slammed it in one very fine day! Lee’s buck was 29 in. wide, 5 x 6, and scored 187.