By Dustin Hall
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Due to my success in Colorado, I decided to cut my Wyoming hunt short if I had to. My plan was to hunt Wyoming until the day before my Colorado hunt opened and then head straight to Colorado. Well, this is exactly what I did. I knew the best days to hunt my Wyoming unit were the two I was about to give up, but I had to do it and I'm sure glad I did!!
As always, I was most concerned with the weather as it is so critical to the deer and their movements and behavior. There had been some significant early snow and there was more in the forecast, so I knew that the odds were in favor of there being lots of deer in the area because it was on the migration route to the winter ground.
We packed up our Wyoming camp and set out on our 800 mile trek to Colorado. As we closed in on our destination, I was glad to see the temperatures and accumulation of snow. I had also noticed a lot of deer movement and signs of rutting along the highways that afternoon, so I knew the deer were moving good. We arrived and settled in and then went and did some glassing until dark. I had glassed several mature bucks, but no jaw droppers or first day shooters. So going to bed that night, I was excited, yet not anticipating the first day harvest luck I had had the previous year.
We woke the next morning to a balmy 4 degrees, but it really didn't feel that cold as I was pumped with excitement. We began glassing the first basin as we had done the previous year. There were lots of deer, but nothing to get to excited about. We continued to work our way through several draws as well as the same area I had taken my buck last year. By now, it was getting late enough that the deer were beginning to bed down from the their morning feeding. We decided to work our way around the rim of where a sage hillside met a thick pine draw on the other side that many of the deer used as a bedding area. If we did this we could hopefully catch a few remaining deer moving from the feeding area to the timber bedding area.
As we approached the vantage point we had wanted to set up on, we were busted by a group of deer in front of us that we hadn't seen. As I looked up I was staring directly into the rising sun and for a second time in a row in this very same basin my eyes were drawn to an AMAZING AMOUNT OF BONE on the ridge ahead. Only this time the buck knew we were there and there was no stopping him. I quickly steadied my gun and tried to take aim on this giant, but all I could see was sunshine. I knew that I had a tough decision to make because I would have to take a shot with him on the move before he hit the timber or let him disappear and take the risk of not finding him again. The buck reached the edge of the ridge and the start of the dark timber where I could now see better through the glare of sun that had filled my scope previously. I knew that if I shot it was going against my better judgement, but I knew just what I was risking by letting the deer disappear.
I let the 7 RUM buck just as he dove off into the timber and heard that un-mistakeable "whack" of a hit rang back!!!! I made my way over to where I had last seen him expecting to look over the edge into the timber and see him piled up, but guess what? he wasn't. I was completely deflated as I knew without a doubt I had hit this animal, but there was no blood or evidence to support it. We decided to back out of the timber and move to another vantage point where we could see directly into the timber from the opposite side. I was sick as we made our way to the other side, how could this be?!! We reached a good spot on the other side of the hill where you could see the timber as well as a sage opening on a shelf directly below the timber pocket and began glassing.
After several minutes of glassing, we caught some movement on the edge of the brush and timber. We were 1100 yards away so we quickly got the spotting scopes on the movement. I couldn't believe my eyes, there he was and there was no doubt he was sick. I knew we would just have to wait him out and let him expire rather than risk trying to get closer for a clear shot and bumping him out. So we watched patiently as he had his head laying sideways flat on the ground and he would raise his head occasionally and it would fall right back down. I thought that it wouldn't be long, but much to my surprise, he got up and slowly walked just out of site. Again I was sick!!! I still felt like we should wait and see if he re-appeared as we could see every possible escape route that there was for him.
We waited and glassed all afternoon and any deer that would get near the spot we last saw him were on high alert and some even scattered when they got close, so I was pretty sure he was right where we had lost sight of him. As the evening light faded all of the deer we had watched bed in the area started getting up and feeding, and there was no sign of my buck so I knew one of two things ... he had expired there where we last saw him or he had made an escape and some how eluded us.
I decided that we should wait until the next morning to go investigate, and believe me, that was the longest night of my life. The next morning we carefully made our way down along the fringe of the timber pocket from the ridge top. As we made our way down we carefully glassed the landscape and the deer we encountered along the way. We looked at several nice bucks including a mid 180's class deer that was 30" wide. As we made our way to the bottom of the pocket of timber and to the edge of the sage I knew we were close. We slowly crept down the edge of the timber and as we neared the crest of the hill where I could see the lone pine that was our landmark for our last sight of him, I saw the most magnificent site I had ever seen. There he lay, the biggest buck I had ever seen in my life lay before me and he was right where we last saw him. He was hit a little far back and had been liver shot. When I got my hands on this buck I was speechless to say the least. He had an amazing amount of mass and character and was truly a TROPHY!!! The buck ended up scoring 224-3/8" , he has 46.5" of mass and is 32" wide.
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