My First WY Hunting Trip

Jsuss

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Joined
Oct 17, 2020
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11
Location
New York
Just got back from my first hunt camp out in WY. I’m from New York and have only hunted out west once (sept ‘19 Black Bear). My first hunt camp was a dual hunt - Mule Deer and Antelope. The trip was with my uncle, who introduced me to hunting. We have been planning to do a hunt like this together for years. Given the state of the world at the moment, it was an incredibly special trip that we will both never forget. Wanted to share some of the photos and thoughts with the rokslide community for my first ever post.

We went for a 4 day hunt, and were very fortunate to have seen a lot of really nice animals and successfully filled all of our tags. We met some great people, drank lots of good whiskey, explored beautiful land and each took a muley and an antelope. We were lucky enough to eat a lot of delicious meals, including the tenderloins from our antelopes, which were marinated for 12 hours in milk and butter, lightly salted and then seared 1 minute a side on the grill. They turned out perfect.

I'm officially a hunting addict now, and have spent all of my spare time reading, researching and listening to podcasts. I'm already working on 2021 and 2022 adventures.

Any comments/suggestions for my next hunt adventure would be greatly appreciated.

I recounted all four days of hunting with more photos and lots of detail in the comments section below. Keep reading if you want the full hunt write-up!

Larry and I with the view from camp behind us.
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Larry lining up his shot on his buck. The draw is now named "Larry's Draw."
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Riley and I down the hill where my buck fell. ~500 from Larry's Draw where Larry got his Muley on day 1.

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Larry and I standing in Larry's Draw where he had taken his buck 2 days prior.
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Jsuss

Jsuss

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New York
Nicely done.....congrats on some fine bucks! Interested in the Whisky you had in camp?
Thank you! Appreciate it. We were drinking high west American prairie. Felt appropriate given the label. Great bourbon out of Utah
 

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Jsuss

Jsuss

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Messages
11
Location
New York
Thank you, everybody. We had an excellent guide. In addition to doing a yeoman's effort finding animals, he was extremely generous with his time - answering all of my questions as I was trying to soak up as much info as I could to learn more about hunting. He is also the one who introduced me to rokslide...so a great guide all around!

Day 1 - pre hunt
The first day, we arrived at camp early - 10am. My uncle and I had flown into Billings, MT the day prior and drove 2 hours down to Sheridan first thing in the AM. We were so excited to get to camp, we did not want to waste any time. When we arrived at camp, there was one other set of hunters - a father and son who were in camp for the son's first hunt - white tails (his boy, also named Jake, had just turned 12....he turned out to be a great shot and took a really nice buck on his first day in the stand with his dad). We unpacked our gear from the truck, picked a bedroom and settled in to what would be our home for the next 5 days.

After settling in, we walked the grounds, taking in the beautiful scenery and immediately spotted a pronghorn buck about 200 yards off on the top of a hill, sky lined. It felt like a great omen and just a really nice way to start the trip.

Over the next 2 - 4 hours the rest of the hunting groups started to roll into camp. People unloaded trucks, picked bedrooms, sorted their gear and started introducing themselves. Around 2pm it was time to sight in the guns. I was hunting with a CZ 557 Sporter chambered in a 30-06. Old round, but classic and for what we were hunting it gets the job done.

Being as this was my first hunt camp, I was extremely nervous sighting in, in front of all the other, much more experienced hunters. I asked one of the guides, who as luck would have it turned out to be our guide for the week, to sit next to me as I sighted in to help and give pointers. Luckily, I had spent plenty of time at the range at home getting comfortable with the rifle (which was borrowed from my uncle). I took 2 shots at 100 yards, on top of each other 2 inches above bull and was ready to go.

My uncle had a bit of a different experience. His gun locked up. We had practiced and sighted in his rifle about 4 days before the trip, so we knew it worked, but something happened in transit and the bolt jammed. The folks in camp were fantastic. One of the other hunters (Jim) offered for my uncle to borrow his Savage with a Burris Eliminator III scope - also chambered in a 30-06. Uncle Larry took 3 shots with the gun, grouped also 2 inches over bull.

We were dialed in and rearing to go. We settled in on the porch, and watched the rest of the guys get their guns set.

That night we had a great dinner cooked by the house chef, had a few whiskeys and turned in around 9pm.

Day 2 - First Hunting Day
Candidly, I really did not sleep well that first night. The room was stuffy, and I was anxious to get out. I woke up every hour on the hour in a frenzy, terrified I had missed the alarm. Finally, at 430, it was time to get up, get dressed, eat some breakfast, sit on the throne and go.

The night prior, we had set out a plan with our guide, Riley. He was taking us to a place known to have really nice mature bucks. This was a trophy mule deer hunt, with a pronghorn. The primary goal was to get the right bucks and if we got our Mulies then we could focus on pronghorns.

We loaded into the truck around 5:15 and settled in for our 45 minute drive to the area we would be hunting. Uncle Larry is a bit less mobile than me, so the goal was to find him a really nice buck that he could hopefully shoot off of the hood of the truck. We wanted to limit how much hiking in the rugged terrain he needed to do.

That morning we were extremely lucky and saw a ton of deer. Nothing that was a shooter, but for us just seeing wildlife, being in nature and being a part of it is 90% of the fun. We ended the morning hunt around 1030 and head back to the lodge to relax, have some lunch and form a plan for the evening.

We decided that based on the activity that morning, we would head back to the same spot. There were just too many bucks to not go back. There had to be some big boys out there.

At around 330pm, we piled back into the truck with our 30-06's and went back out. Around 530, Riley stopped the car, turned off the engine, pulled out his spotting scope and announced he found a shooter. It was about 150 yards off and then it disappeared - what appeared to be down over a hill and into a draw. Riley fired up the engine of his Taco and slowly drove over the hill and down the side of the draw. Peaking out over some thick sage brush he spotted just the tips of a set of antlers. We came to a stop and all put our glasses in the area. Sure enough, the buck had just bedded down.

The events after that were wildly unique, and even Riley who has been hunting and guiding his whole life was shocked at what unfolded. Expecting the deer to move quickly, as we were only 50 yards away, he instructed Uncle Larry to get out, set up on the hood and be ready to shoot. The buck, he said would stand up and give him 5 to 10 seconds max to take a shot before it was gone.

Uncle Larry slipped out of the car, luckily he was on the passenger side of the truck, opposite the deer, so he was less likely to disturb him. He did as Riley instructed and set up quickly, got the scope on the deer and waited. And waited. And waited. The buck did not move. With my eyes on the buck, Riley slowly opened the car door. We all expected that would spook the deer to stand, but the buck just sat. And sat. And sat. We waited like that for 30 minutes, 50 yards, with the buck just starting directly at us. It was prime feeding time, the wind was not in our favor and that buck knew we were there but he was just not moving.

We made noises, we slammed car doors, we waved our hands and yet nothing. I was convinced the deer must have been injured. The way we were set up, there was no way to get a clean shot on him in his bed. It felt like we would be waiting all day and would lose shooting light.

We decided we needed to move to get a shot on him in his bed. We moved down the draw further and came within 30 to 40 yards of the buck. We were able to flank him and have a slightly uphill view of him bedded, now totally broadside. Still, the buck did not move.

I pulled my sticks out of the back of the truck, gave them to Uncle Larry and he set up. Still the buck did nothing. Larry put the crosshairs on the boiler room and slowly squeezed off a shot that hit the buck perfectly. Lung, heart, lung. Finally, the buck reacted. It just jumped up and took off. He ran about 20 yards and then crumbled.

Larry had gotten his buck on the first night of the first day of hunting. It could not have worked out better. Turns out, there was nothing visibly wrong with the buck. He was older, missing some front teeth and so we figured he was just very old and tired and could not be bothered to move if he did not have to. He felt safe in the high sage brush. Larry's shot was perfectly placed and a very clean kill on a buck that likely would not have made it through the upcoming winter.

Riley field dressed it, and then he and I dragged him up to the truck. We even found a nice shed that I collected to bring home for my 4.5 year old son.

Just before leaving the area, Riley announced, from now on this draw will be called Larry's Draw. Put a smile on all three of our faces and laughed about what a cool, different and interesting experience had been.

We celebrated that night with some more whiskey. Larry is stoic and mostly quiet, so we sat and listened to the others brag of their days, while we sat quietly smiling knowing Larry had gotten a really great buck. More to come later....
 
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Jsuss

Jsuss

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Messages
11
Location
New York
Day 3- Second Day of Hunting
Another 430am wake-up and another day of restless sleep for me. Nerves were taking hold of me, a few experienced hunters that day had some bad misses on big bucks and I did not want to blow my opportunity.

We got dressed, ate breakfast, sat on the throne and piled into the truck. On the way out, Larry announced he was not taking two animals before I took one. Riley and I both looked at him sideways, thanked him for the sentiment, but made it very clear if there was a good pronghong and he passed because I had not gotten a muley we would be wildly upset with him.

We started the day by heading to Larry's Draw. There were just too many deer in the area. We unloaded out of the truck and hoofed it in to a hill we had spotted the prior evening. We found a good spot that had plenty of visibility but kept us relatively hidden. Larry came in and did the hike with us, which was excellent and not expected. We sat for a few hours and glassed. We saw a few bucks, none of which we wanted and then Riley caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a big one, 1000+ yards off in his spotting scope. He was at the tip of what Riley had coined the "pizza slice." It was a strip of land that was flanked by hills, had no sage brush causing it to stick out like a sore thumb in the shape of a slice of New York pizza. Before we could confirm the buck's size, he dipped behind a hill and down the backside. Riley and I looked at each other and chatted about a plan. Should we make a stalk? If we did, we would likely find him but would surely scare off other deer that were in the valley. We decided, since we only got a glimpse and could not confirm his size, we could not take that risk. Instead, we sat a little longer, but did not see anything we liked. We got back in the trunk, drove out and around to the back side of the pizza slice in hopes of finding where the big buck was headed and where he would bed down. Unfortunately, we never found him and so we had to move on.

Side note, that morning I spent most of the time picking Riley's brain on how to glass more efficiently. He was gracious with me and pretended I found a few deer that he had not seen (highly unlikely).

It was now about 945 and the morning hunt was coming somewhat to a close. We decided, before heading back for lunch we would go to a pronghorn and muley spot and see what we could see. On the way in to the new spot, we passed a prairie dog town. We got extremely lucky and found a lone badger in the town chasing down and digging up prairie dogs. We sat and glassed on him for about half an hour, watching him work. We also saw a few coyotes off in the distance, but decided to let them go. We were coming back here for the afternoon hunt and did not want to spoil the opportunity at Mulies or Antelope to get a few coyotes.

Lunch, rest, conversation and then off we went. In the afternoon we saw a really nice mature buck bedded. He had huge rear forks, that were extremely deep. I felt my heart rate pick up slightly, but candidly was a lot less rapid than I had anticipated. As we crept closer, he turned his head and revealed he had really weak front forks. I had told Riley my goal was a really nice 4 by 4 and hopefully with some brow tines. Reluctantly, we passed as he was not the deer I was hoping for.

We decided to move to a different field, in hopes of finding a pronghorn. Almost immediately, Riley spotted a really nice pronghorn buck. The buck had with him 3 does. We were too far off and Riley announced he would get us closer. We drove up, slowly, what felt like forever. Riley told Larry we were at about 200 yards, time to get out and get a shot. Larry hopped out, set up on the hood of the truck and took a shot. The does took off, but the buck did not move.

Riley asked me if it hit, i told him i could not tell and he concurred. Larry had racked another and squeezed again. Again, the buck did not move. There was a big puff of dust behind the buck and I announced he must have missed. Riley agreed. Larry racked another and prepared to shoot a third time. Right then, the buck reared up on his hind legs and toppled over.

Both shots had hit in the boiler room and were so devastating the buck just did not move. We got back in the truck and Riley told us the truth. "Hey Larry, that wasn't 200 yards. It was 315, great shooting."

Riley dressed the animal and Riley and Larry dragged him back to the truck and loaded him up.

2 days, 2 really nice bucks for Uncle Larry. That night, Larry and I shared more whiskey and ate the tenderloins. I think Riley had a white claw and turned down our offer to share the tenderloins - he isn't a fan of antelope.

More to come....
 
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Jsuss

Jsuss

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Messages
11
Location
New York
Day 4 - third day of the hunt
Another day another 430am wake up. I finally got a good night sleep. No more jitters, no more waking up every hour. After Larry tagged out a calm washed over me. I was content. Even if I never saw a shooter, or if I didn’t make my shots, I was thrilled that his hunt had been so successful.

That morning, when we got in the truck around 5:15, Riley asked where I wanted to go. I told him Larry’s Draw. We all agreed that place still had the best buck activity we had seen and so we set back out to see if we would get lucky again.

Something I have not really mentioned enough yet is the number of deer and bucks we had seen the first two days was staggering. It also gave me a ton of time and reps to see small bucks, bigger bucks and to learn to read Riley’s tells. On the older buck we had seen on the second day, Riley was calm and steady in his approach. Pragmatic. He took time to see multiple angles, inspect, analyze and come to a conclusion the deer was not a shooter. On the bigger one over 1k yards off, he was the same. Did not get emotional. Did not over-react.

At about 7:15am we drove by Larry’s Draw. We waved hi to the spot that Larry had taken his deer and kept moving up over the next hill. We crested the hill, directly in front of us was a saddle. To the left was a long sloping downhill into a valley that we had been glassing the first day. To the right the hill sloped down at an aggressive angle a few thousand yards and eventually opened up into some plains after a few more rolling hills at the bottom.

Just as we came over the top, Riley slammed the breaks, pulled up his binoculars and glassed. We were about 500-yards from where Larry shot his buck. Without hesitation and without needing the spotting scope he urged me “Get out. Get out now. Shooter.”

I hopped out of the truck, Riley ranged the deer at 150 yards. There were 3 bucks. The middle one was mine. Perfectly broadside to me. As soon as we set up they started moving. They were headed up to the top of the hill and away from us. The bucks moved about 30 yards and stopped.

This time my buck was quartering away hard. I had kept the crosshairs on him the whole time as he moved and my heart rate remained at its resting rate

In my scope (10x) I had a view of a big white butt, his head as he turned back to look and about a 2 inch window on the upper part of his boiler room.

I felt steady on the sights and confident. Without breaking my line I sight I asked Riley if I was cleared to shoot. “If you feel confident, take it.”

That was all I needed to hear. I exhaled half way, squeezed and the CZ 557 Sporter 30-06 went boom. Out of my peripheral I felt Riley jump off my left shoulder pumping his fists and jumping up and down. I racked another round, got back on the scope and could not acquire the deer. Desperate for info, I asked them if I hit.

Larry informed me I hit perfectly and dropped him in his tracks. Through the scope I looked down 10 yards from where the deer had been standing and saw the buck had tumbled down the hill after being hit.

Riley and I started walking down the steep hill to go get the buck. The walk down was too steep for Larry, who stayed at the top of the saddle taking photos of our descent.

We reached the buck and he was everything I could have hoped for in my first mule deer.
Riley taught me how to field dress him. We then had to take out his hind quarters and pack them out. Me with my exo and him with his kifaru.

My Exo with one of the hind quarters.
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It wasn't much of a pack-out but I was thrilled to get even a little bit of experience carrying my animal on my back out of the field.

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After getting the quarters out, we went back and together pulled my buck up and out to the truck.

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By the time we had loaded him in it was about 930 and it was time to head back for lunch, relax, take a load off and then make a plan for the afternoon prong horn

more to come...
 
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Jsuss

Jsuss

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Messages
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Location
New York
Day 5 - Fourth and final day of the hunt
The last day of the hunt, Larry was tagged out and I had my antelope left. We decided to sleep in. After 3 long days of hunting, we figured we could get a later start to the day hunting the less challenging terrain for the antelope. We went to a field we had gone to on one of the prior days.

This is probably a good time to describe a failed stalk we put on an antelope herd a few days prior. Riley has spotted a buck with a handful of foes from a few thousand yards off. We had decided to double back in the truck, swing around behind the herd and approach them from the side and behind. As Riley and I were approaching and about 400 yards out, the winds changed on us and picked up considerably. We both knew it was a problem, but before we could adjust we got winded and the antelope took off. Luckily we were set up well for where they were headed, so we stopped, set up my sticks, pointed the gun down range and waited for the buck to run right into my shooting lane. I was behind the scope and Riley was on the glass. As the buck stopped Riley called it and suggested I waited for a better buck. Not being one to argue with experts, I pulled the CZ off the sticks and we trekked back to the truck. Despite not being a shooter it was my first stalk and was thoroughly exciting.

Now, back to the final day. We lucked out on the morning of the final day. The antelope were out and moving like crazy. We found a nice buck who had about 10 doe with him. Riley opened his door, I popped out of the back and got set up in the wedge between the front door and the door frame. Almost immediately the herd started to move, walked about 30-40 yards and stopped about 200-210 yards out. I adjusted my position into the hood of the truck, leveled the gun, let out half of my breath and squeezed. My shot hit, but was a bit low. Ended up being a single lung shot.
The doe took off, and the buck started to walk. I chambered another round and let it rip, dropping the pronghorn.

Feeling very satisfied we went to collect our final buck. Using the techniques I had learned from Riley, I field dressed him myself and then we loaded him in to the truck and headed back to the ranch.
There, Riley taught me how to butcher him. After breaking him down, I marinated the tenderloins the same way we had done Larry’s.

We three then settled into the lodge to relax. We all felt incredibly accomplished and just had a wonderful time.

When the time came for the night hunt, we decided we would head out as observers just to look at some nice whitetail.

We spent the rest of the day glassing really nice white tails, arguing about who makes the best packs and talking about backcountry elk hunts.

That night Larry and I polished off the tenderloins and the remaining bottles of whiskey.

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Huge thanks to Larry and Riley for making my first hunt camp incredibly special and memorable.
I hope everybody likes reading the story, I’ll keep sharing as my hunting experience grows.

In the meantime keep the comments and questions coming! I love the community engagement

Oh almost forgot! We got lucky and salvaged the round that took down my Muley. Will be integrating it somehow into the mount when it arrives.
Photo of that round, Larry dragging his antelope from the field attached.
 

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Jaden Bales

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Jan 25, 2018
Messages
329
Location
Wyoming
What a cool story and stoked you had such a good time. Riley's a good dude. We grew together - went from 6th grade through high school in the same class of 17 kids. We've killed a few critters together and educated wwaaayyy more than that. haha. Love to see guides getting credit where credit is due and I think you did a good job with this write-up.

I wish more guys would look at an outfitted trip as a great learning experience and a chance to have a good time like this. Especially for someone coming out west for the first time, it's so good to get that knowledge of someone who makes their living off finding critters and helping get folks in a good position for a shot.

Good on you for taking the time to share this experience with everyone @Jsuss I appreciate it!
 
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Jsuss

Jsuss

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2020
Messages
11
Location
New York
What a cool story and stoked you had such a good time. Riley's a good dude. We grew together - went from 6th grade through high school in the same class of 17 kids. We've killed a few critters together and educated wwaaayyy more than that. haha. Love to see guides getting credit where credit is due and I think you did a good job with this write-up.

I wish more guys would look at an outfitted trip as a great learning experience and a chance to have a good time like this. Especially for someone coming out west for the first time, it's so good to get that knowledge of someone who makes their living off finding critters and helping get folks in a good position for a shot.

Good on you for taking the time to share this experience with everyone @Jsuss I appreciate it!
Thanks @ jadenbales . FYI, Riley also introduced me to your podcast, so have been listening to that content - thanks for sharing. I really appreciate all the kind words and sentiments and glad you enjoyed reading my first WY story. Maybe one of these days I'll see you on a hunt!
 

Jaden Bales

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2018
Messages
329
Location
Wyoming
Thanks @ jadenbales . FYI, Riley also introduced me to your podcast, so have been listening to that content - thanks for sharing. I really appreciate all the kind words and sentiments and glad you enjoyed reading my first WY story. Maybe one of these days I'll see you on a hunt!
I dig it man! I hope so!

If you ever have podcast ideas, drop me a DM on here. Happy to take feedback.
 

KHNC

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Joined
Jul 11, 2013
Messages
1,825
Location
NC
Just got back from my first hunt camp out in WY. I’m from New York and have only hunted out west once (sept ‘19 Black Bear). My first hunt camp was a dual hunt - Mule Deer and Antelope. The trip was with my uncle, who introduced me to hunting. We have been planning to do a hunt like this together for years. Given the state of the world at the moment, it was an incredibly special trip that we will both never forget. Wanted to share some of the photos and thoughts with the rokslide community for my first ever post.

We went for a 4 day hunt, and were very fortunate to have seen a lot of really nice animals and successfully filled all of our tags. We met some great people, drank lots of good whiskey, explored beautiful land and each took a muley and an antelope. We were lucky enough to eat a lot of delicious meals, including the tenderloins from our antelopes, which were marinated for 12 hours in milk and butter, lightly salted and then seared 1 minute a side on the grill. They turned out perfect.

I'm officially a hunting addict now, and have spent all of my spare time reading, researching and listening to podcasts. I'm already working on 2021 and 2022 adventures.

Any comments/suggestions for my next hunt adventure would be greatly appreciated.

I recounted all four days of hunting with more photos and lots of detail in the comments section below. Keep reading if you want the full hunt write-up!

Larry and I with the view from camp behind us.
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Larry lining up his shot on his buck. The draw is now named "Larry's Draw."
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Riley and I down the hill where my buck fell. ~500 from Larry's Draw where Larry got his Muley on day 1.

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Larry and I standing in Larry's Draw where he had taken his buck 2 days prior.
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Nice job! What outfitter did yall use out there?
 
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