With some wet precipitation coming down in Casper through the night, we were unsure of what road conditions would be in the higher elevations where we had been hunting. After 4 consecutive days of long, hard hunting, we decided a couple more hours of sleep was appropriate. Waking up to a skiff of snow on the surrounding mountainside, we took our time eating breakfast, taking care of meat, and making sure capes were sufficiently frozen. Around 8, Andrew and I decided to trek west and check out the “grilled cheese” section for the B&C buck of days earlier and the others visited a few taxidermy shops in town and grabbed a couple coolers from Walmart for transporting meat.
Andrew and I couldn’t locate the big buck – same result as prior days – but we did decide to explore some roadless country immediately east of the area, maybe he had moved over and we could find him over there. The country was really broken with seemingly countless draws that prevented us from being able to see more than 100 or 200 yards at a time. Eight or 9 folds in, we finally stumbled onto a good herd of 25 animals or so. We could only see half-dozen or so at a time and the longer we sat there, more and more bucks showed themselves. It was tempting to tag a nice 13″ buck standing just 60 yards away and completely unaware of our presence, but after 30 minutes of looking everything over we decided to head back to the truck.
On our way to the general area we had already tagged 3 bucks, we glassed up on the hill where we had put the stalk on the big buck on top of the mesa. There was a good herd with a strong buck about 1,000 yards to the north of where they had been bedded 2 days earlier. They were on their feet and slowly feeding towards a steep cut on the backside of the mesa. We had been up through there and the country was familiar to us, it was time to make a stalk!
When we crested out on the mesa, we could see the big group of does and the single buck angling towards a notch that would drop them down behind the horizon and enable us to sneak up above them. We sat down to give them time to munch their way along and stood up to check on their progress every 5 minutes or so. On the second time we stood up, the buck was dropping out of sight and down into the coulee, but his does were still slowly feeding on the upslope in full view.
After 4 or 5 more 5-minute spaced checks, the does were still up above feeding and the buck had been out of sight for roughly 20 minutes, who knows where he’d gone by now! Time to re-evaluate our stalk idea. I looked back down the hill from where we had hiked and had a plan that perhaps we could slide around the rimrock shelf that framed the coulee containing the buck and that would hide us from the does. It was a gamble, but it seemed the only reasonable option that had a chance of working with the does showing no signs of dropping down in any time soon.
It was a hairy scramble along the knife’s edge of rimrock but we had made it only 50 yards or so when we looked up the coulee and saw the buck headed directly towards us. I took a quick range and he was at 400 yards feeding but pointing in our direction. Taking a quick glance over our shoulder, we could see a waterhole about 1/2 mile further the coulee and it seemed reasonable that he was eventually headed that direction. With a vertical face between us the floor of the coulee, we decided to get Andrew’s backpack pushed onto the cliff’s lip and set up a solid rest to shoot as soon as the buck cut the distance. Preferably a close shot because the wind was ripping a steady 20-30 mph.
Walk, walk, feed, walk, feed, feed, walk, walk, walk. 400 shrank to 300, 300 to 175, 175 to 125, and the buck showed no awareness of our precarious perch at all! This was a stalk and executed plan for the story books. At that range, it was just a matter of lining up a good broadside shot and finally at 90 yards, Andrew took the shot and dropped the buck instantaneously. We were tagged out in Wyoming!!
We hiked back to the truck to go meet the rest of our hunting party who had finished their town duties and were headed our direction. Within 45 minutes, we were standing back on top of the cliff recounting the story before climbing down into the coulee and getting our hands on the buck.
The rest of the day was spent butchering meat and getting things labeled, grilling some antelope steaks, and making plans for how to spend our extra 2 days before the departure flights on Saturday – what a great problem to have!!