USA: Wyoming Moose & Deer Hunt

gillettehunter

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This hunt starts a long time ago. 23 yrs ago Wy instituted a point system for resident hunters for moose and Bighorns sheep. This past winter I took a good long hard look and decided I could no longer wait to try and draw a premium unit to hunt moose. I had 21 preference points. It looked like probably 8 plus years to draw one of those premium areas. Too long as I just turned 61 and had a double knee replacement in the summer of 2017.
At SCI I found Bob Beck of Star Valley outfitters. He operates south of Jackson Hole, perhaps 40 miles. He had been hunting his unit for around 10 yrs and told me he had never seen a dead moose on the ground, a horse or in a truck. He also said they often saw moose going out deer hunting. I decided to take a chance and try for a big bull that I hoped lived in their area relatively unmolested. They have seen good bulls each year but have not had a moose hunter in camp.
I talked to him about their deer also. Last yr they took 2 over 200 inches! Big bucks. He said they try to average 180 on their deer. Very nice indeed. So I booked a moose/deer combo for not a lot more than what some outfitters wanted for moose alone.
As a Wy resident I wanted to drive to camp so I could bring the meat home in my truck. Camp is about 8 hours away. The evening before I was to leave my 2016 GMC truck started missing, Badly. So bad the truck shook. We could little that night so the day I had planned to leave I showed up at the Gillette local dealership to see if they could look at it. I had a couple of days leeway as I planned to see my parents for 1 1/2 days in SE Idaho on the way. The Gillette dealership refused to even look at it to see if it might be a minor fix. Soo what to do. I had planned to drive through Billings MT to get there. The truck was bought there so I called to if they could help.
Luckily they save some time in each days schedule for travelers/emergencies. After deciding additional travel should not hurt it more we departed Gillette. Got to Billings at about 12 noon. At 2:30 they had a answer for us. Collapsed lifter. Result would be 5 days to get it up and running and a top half overhaul. Then the good news. First all under warranty. Next they would get a loaner vehicle for us also free. We explained due to the fact that we were hoping to haul back a moose we needed a truck. They were able to oblige that request with a new 2018 GMC with just 700 miles on it! By the time we were done we put almost 2500 miles on it. When we brought the truck back they just wanted to see pics. Great customer service!
My wife and I arrived in camp around 12:30 pm on Sept 14. The day before season opener. Maryann, my wife, is an avid photographer and took the truck to Jackson to spend the next few days looking for leaf changes in the landscape. In camp I found out that my guide, Brian who was one of the former owners, had foot issues. He had been working on a roof 5-6 weeks prior and slipped off landing on his feet. He crushed some bones and made walking tough for him. In fact he was still suppose to be in a boot and on crutches for another 1-2 weeks when I arrived.
So to make things interesting they had also assigned a new guide Spencer to help out. Bob also said he would accompany me when hunting to help out walking/guiding when Brian may not be able to Then Bob asked if they could film the hunt for their Extreme Outer Limits TV show. That meant 5 of us hunting as a group. So I agreed. The camera man's name was Ben. Great eyes. Big help finding and evaluating game.
There were around 9 other hunters in camp. Horses for all. The deer hunters were up by 3:30 and leaving camp at 4-4:30 to get up near timberline. Camp was about 7000 feet. Timberline near 9500 feet or so. We waited for first light as moose had been seen on the creek bottom near camp. Perhaps a mile out of camp we heard elk bugling in the distance. Something that I heard every day and never tired of. Lots of elk around. Archery season was open and we had a elk hunter in camp.
About 2 miles in we found our first moose. In fact in perhaps 400 acres there were 5 moose all told that we could see eventually. A cow and her calf. 2 small bulls perhaps 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 yrs old. Then there was one old bull. He was nicknamed the melk bull. Moose body and elk horns. No palmation. Nothing we wanted to take. As we rode further up the valley Bob spotted a great mule deer with a doe down low. Bob took a good look and exclaimed "that buck needs to die". So bailed off the horse, put in ear plugs and pulled my rifle out of the scabbord. I tried to get comfortable behind a downed log. I finally thought I was solid enough to take the shot. I could only see from the shoulders forward....... I pulled the trigger and just flat missed.... The next 2 shots were me trying to thread a bullet through a small hole in the brush. Maybe 5 inches... My 4th he was clear of the brush but in front of the doe. So I tried to stay up on the shoulder to clear the doe. At the shot Bob yells you hit him. He ran towards us briefly and the headed away. We ran down the trail and I took one shot as he was disappearing out of my life and this tale forever..........
When we looked at the video the 4th shot clipped hair and appeared to put a hole through the base of his antler... So near, but so far. I knew I had got excited and slapped the trigger, but that bad at 215 yds? As I looked at the scope I realized that the turret had caught on the scabbord and rotated to 6.25 MOA up from my 100 yd zero. So something like 12 inches high instead of the 2 1/4 I had set it at. Brand new Swarovski scope on my .30 nosler set up for long range hunting...... So I screwed up. I can tell you that for sure. The moved turret contributed..... So as I close my eyes I can still see him. My guides thought him to be a mid 180's buck... Close to a B&C buck.....
We continued up. My heart was about like whale crap. Right on the bottom. We saw some does and a couple of elk, but nothing to get excited about. Put almost 20 miles on the horses. Long day for all. Food in camp was good. First am was pancakes,bacon and eggs. That night was pork chops. Good solid meals. Beds were pads on a wood frame in canvas tents. Wood stoves in all of the tents for when it got colder.
The weather was terrible for this hunt. Highs in the 70's and lows in the upper 30's. Way too warm. Animals bed early when its that warm and stay in bed until late.
So day 2 we headed up the main valley trail. We saw one small bull on the way up. We saw some good looking habitat, but no more animals. We wound up high where we could see a large hillside. In this area the deer were bedding early. Often around noon they would get up, pee and eat a little and go back to bed. The they would do this again around 4 pm. If you spotted a good buck then a stalk could be made. We saw perhaps 10 bucks, but nothing to get excited about. The ride back to camp had the elk being very vocal and we saw a couple of small groups as we rode back.
I arrived back in camp to find my wife there. She had been called for jury duty. Fed court in Casper.... So the plan was she would call the clerk and see if she could be excused. If not she would pick me up in camp between 11 and 12 the next day so I could take her to get a rental vehicle. Steak for dinner that night. I'll try to continue on my phone. Laptop out of power...

upload_2018-9-26_18-24-15.jpeg
 
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BRICKBURN

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Quite an adventure already for both you and the guide just getting to the hunting camp. Looking forward to the rest of the report.
 

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Keep it coming, UR bringing back lots of memories for the record turrets and scabbards probably not too compatible. I’m sure this report gets more productive. Cheers
 

gillettehunter

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The pic shows part of camp. Nights were interesting. Mice move in under the tents. So at night when the generator goes off you hear them moving around .
Day 3 I kinda felt was wasted. Bob was so sure that there was a good bull in the creek canyon above camp he decided we would walk it. So as daylight broke we left camp on foot. Working along the hillside above the creek got difficult quickly. Eventually Bob and Ben went down to the creek while Spencer and I headed up to the trail. Brian stayed in camp to rest his feet. We made it less than a mile from camp before giving up and heading back to camp.
When we hit the trailhead the game warden pulled up. He checked my license and talked about a new fire that we had seen the day before.
Apparently a woodcutter taking a break in a lawn chair dropped a cigarette. By the time he saw it the fire way out of hand. In describing the man and vehicle our group determined it was the fellow that was to supply wood to our camp. He apparently was apprehended the next day......
Waited in camp and no Maryann so we assumed she had gotten out of jury duty for that week. Late aftn Brian and I took a 6 mile ride. Bob went to town and Ben was with him. Looked over a lot of willow filled creek bottoms. No moose. Brian got a glimpse of what may of been a shooter deer but he didn’t hang around.
While in camp that day I got to see a big buck one of the other hunters had gotten the night before. They were hunting 2X1. First day one fellow got a nice buck that green scored 174. 2nd night the other fellow got a bigger one. Green scored 204!
upload_2018-9-27_11-23-55.jpeg

Stud of a deer with a outside spread of 32 inches! The bad part was the hunter was loaded down with meat. Tried to get on his horse and went all the way over. SS he hit the ground he impaled his leg on a stick..... Went in 3-4 inches. They wrapped it up and took 2 hrs getting to camp . Then to the ER in Jackson. Back and in bed at 3:30. Bet he remembers that deer.
Loved the scenery. Leaves were just turning color. I’ll add a cpl pics showing some of the areas we were hunting.
 

gillettehunter

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The first 2 days I was on a horse named Chalupa. Rode her the first 2 days then I was on Apricot. Horses like people are different. Chalupa didn’t want to be left behind. She wanted to have her nose right in the tail of the horse ahead of her. So I had to hold her back some. She still got kicked a cpl times for being too close. She also cut right turns a little close at times catching yourleg or foot on trees or branches. Also she rarely drank.
For days 3-5 I had Apricot. Bigger horse. Saddle pommel was over my head . Made getting on a bit more interesting. Before I knew her name I had named her molasses in my mind. Never saw a horse so slow and careful on rocks... she would go slower than the lead horse and then trot to catch up. Annoying whe your backside is fresh. It just hurts at the end of the day... She disliked a horse behind her. I quickly figured out that a horse close behind her pushed her lots faster. She was also badly out of shape. She quit 3 times on hills and started to back down. That can turn into a rodeo that I don’t need.
So one of the hunters and guide saw a big bull moose in the dark. So day 4 finds us trying to find him. They had seen him about 1/4 mile from where we had seen the 5 moose on day 1. This is an old burn. The area pictured above. There are sections on new pine tree growth that is very thick. Smoke from 2 large fires had begun to be an issue. Especially in the mournings. It would hang in the valleys and greatly reduce the distance you could glass.
upload_2018-9-27_13-34-1.jpeg

We found 3 moose where there had been 5 before. Only one very small bull. After a couple of hours of careful looking around no big bull was anywhere to be found. Bob asked if I wanted to try a walk down a small creek that fed into the main one that went by camp. I said yes so Spencer, Ben and I headed out. The old burn had lots of down timber. Not easy walking. When we hit the old growth we had some areas that were better and some backtracking from areas that were worse. No moose. No animals at all.
So back to camp around 10:30. At 4 we saddled up to hunt an area near camp. There had been 2 moose work their way across the hillside above camp. Each as single cows. We headed back up into the timber for a look around. Elk and a couple of doe deer. On the ride out it was pretty dark. We were breaking trail through the brush when suddenly Brian stopped his horse and doubled over in pain. It took a bit before he could tell us what happened. He saw a log and tipped his foot back to clear it. The horse lurched down at the wrong moment and his toe caught on the log! The seam of the shoe caught and the horses forward pace forced his toe back. Excruciating pain from his earlier injury. This was a tough time to re-aggregate his foot injury. Thus ends day 4. I spoke to Bob and Brian that night. We weren’t seeing moose so let’s focus on deer the last day. Bob had already suggested I come back in October for the moose when it cooled and hopefully had some snow to track. More to follow.
 

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Excellent report very similar to what typically goes on in elk hunting camp. If luck is on your side, it can happen at any moment that the right animal shows. If luck isn’t on your side, you may never see any animal.
Anxiously waiting on the next episode!
 

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Exciting to hear your hunting report! I would love one of those high country mule deer. I will be in Wyoming hunting moose the third week of October. I got my fingers crossed that we find a nice one!
 

gillettehunter

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That's great news enysse. Hope you get a big one. Which unit?
I'll finish up this tale later today.
Bruce
 

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Day 5 last day of the hunt. Bob had business in town so he sent us out as a 4 some. We left around 5:15 am in the dark. Its always interesting riding a horse in the dark. They ask you to leave your headlamp off so as not to distract the horses. Their night vision is better than ours. They usually kept us on the trail. The ride take a good while with pine needles gently brushing your cheeks. Twiggs catch at your sleeves. You get to see mother earth wake up as the sun rises.
Today we went up pickle pass. So named because"it tickles your pickle". Some steep spots for sure. At the top of the pass we spotted a buck to the East and some does to the North of the pass. The buck had some "crab claws" instead of deep forks. Not what we are looking for. So we pressed on. Went the bucks general direction to see if their happened to be another buck with him. That was a no go for us, so we pressed on.
Came out on a ridge with a beautiful basin beneath us. Smoke in the basin made glassing difficult. Where the sun hit you could see through it somewhat. Couldn't find a deer in there. A raghorn 5X5 bull came to a wallow. We jumped into some trees and Brian cow called him in. Last we saw of him he was perhaps 150 yds. He started out around 600 yds or so.
As we started to leave we saw a few cow elk. Perhaps they had com to the cow call too. The elk rut was well and truly on. We then dropped into the head of Willow cr. Stopped at an old campsite and let the horses feed while we had lunch. Then back on the horses and up a big ridge till hit another basin called the heart.
I walked over to look into the basin first. It was 1:20 in the aftn and I could hear elk bugling. Got to the edge and looked down to see 5 cow elk up feeding. I worked my way down the ridge to get in some shade. I could hear at least 5 different bulls screaming in this basin. All aftn. The other guys stayed higher and could see 3 different bulls, but no deer.
Ben walked back to the horses and looked the other direction. He found 2 bucks up feeding. He got the spotting scope on them and filmed one for a few seconds. When I got the horse he was out of sight and presumed bedded. I was shown the video and advised that they thought he might score about 170. A solid 4 point with decent brow tines and good mass. Deep forks. I said lets kill him so we got on the horses and headed out. The deer was perhaps 1200-150 yds away, but we had to go about 2 miles around to get at him and have the wind in our favor. We jumped a couple of more bucks on our way over. Brian got a look and said the one was wider than the buck we were stalking, but not as high.
When we got close to the deer we tied the horses and began a careful stalk down through an old burn with some downed timber. We didn't know where they had bedded but knew they were close. Brian spotted something that he was trying to decide if it was a log or a bedded deer. Ben got a different angle and could see horns. Then the smaller buck stood up and fed away.
The bigger buck was situated behind a plant with some larger leaves. I could see his left antler face and hind quarters clearly. We moved up the hill away from the buck to try and get a better angle. I could see the buck through a couple of holes between the leaves. Because the buck was close to the plant I felt that Even if I missed the hole that the bullet would still hit vitals. I decided to shoot him bedded because we had no idea when he might stand up and how fast he might move when he did get up.
The shoot to distance was 373 yds. Actual was likely between 390 and 400 yds. I checked my shooting program which called 3.7 MOA. I dialed the scope up and found a good rest. I had a tree with a L shaped turn in it. One leg of my bipod was right in the corner with the other on a section that was horizontal, mostly.... Put my backpack on my lap and another one braced under my left elbow and leg. I shoot left handed.
My rifle is a Christenson arms Ridgeline in a .30 Nosler. I'm shooting a 215 gr Berger hybrid bullet. I gently squeezed the trigger and made a perfect shot. The bullet caught the edge of the shoulder and exited just behind the off side shoulder. The buck jumped up and got behind a tree. Then backtracked and died a yard from his final bed......
We went down to the deer and spent a few min getting him ready for pics. I'll post some from my phone in a few min. Killed him at 6:30 or so. The pics and gutless dressing. We loaded up and headed out. While working on the deer 5 elk ran by. Be a great place to elk hunt.
The ride out was relatively uneventful. Had a couple of bull elk bugle at us in the dark a couple of times. Ride was all downhill so its hard on the knees. Got back to camp at 10:30. I was glad to get off that horse, although, it hurt to walk. Everyone was sore. So the deer has a spread of 24 1/2 inches. Good height, deep forks and mass give him a gross green score of about 171.
Leaving camp the next day Maryann and I drove around a little just to see if we might accidently find a moose. We did, but once again just a youngster. 8 hours to get home so we were tired and glad to get there.
Bob has invited me back to hunt in mid Oct. 15,16 and 17. The elk season will be on then and maybe a little snow which would help a lot. So my story will continue next month.
Bruce
 

gillettehunter

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Parting thoughts.... This is a great place to hunt deer as well as elk. Its a wilderness experience. For deer I'd suggest either the first or last 5 day hunt that they have. Elk I'm not sure, but later may be better for a rifle. For a bow anytime in the 15-24th should hit the rut. Food, facilities, livestock and camp are all very good.
Bruce
 

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Beautiful country!! Great mule deer, congrats!!
 

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A great hunt and a great report. Thanks for sharing. Good luck on your hunt later this year.
 

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That's a great buck!
 

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What a great hunt. That is awesome country!
 

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Great buck and wish you Success in October. I was going to contact you last time I flew into Gillette to see if you would like to have supper and lie about some hunting but I got tied up down in New Castle longer than expected.
 

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How grand! Congratulations on a fine muledeer! And best of luck in October for elk!
 

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