I go to Wyoming fishing. I wanted to hunt mule deer in Wyoming, but I had been guiding so much that I hadn’t had a chance to go to Wyoming and hunt for myself. 2016 was the only time in 10 years that I was able to make a mule deer hunt in Wyoming. When I drew my tag, I knew I’d be hunting in a really good unit.
I made six scouting trips before the season. I found a buck in the middle of July, then I didn’t see him again for 1-1/2 months. I found him again five or six days before my hunt started. I had pulled my trailer up to the area that I wanted to hunt five days before the season. When I saw this buck, his antlers had grown from about a 210-inch buck to a 252-inch buck in a little bit more than 1-1/2 months.
I came back home to Utah for a couple of days, and all I could think about was that mule deer buck. I went back to Wyoming two days before bow season started on Thursday. I arrived on Tuesday, and I found that buck again on Wednesday. The buck was holding on a peak at about 10,000 feet - almost above the tree line. I saw a grizzly bear, two wolves and about five or six black bears. I could see the Grand Teton Mountains off to my west.
I was hunting along the Wind River where one of the tallest peaks in Wyoming is and it’s called Gannet Peak. This is a really remote area of Wyoming, and I rarely see any other hunters when I'm up there. The first time I found this buck and every time I found him until I took him, he was on the same peak. I had put some trail cameras out on this mountain, and I got trail camera pictures from when he scored about 210 inches.
I was hiking in to my stand before daylight on the day I took the buck. My Dad and a friend of mine were hunting on the opposite side of the mountain from me. All the way in to where I was going to setup, I thought about the bears I had seen when I was scouting. I had one hand on my bow and the other hand on my bear spray as I moved silently through the dark woods. I hoped that the buck would be feeding at daylight on a south-facing slope where I had seen him before. One of the advantages of bowhunting mule deer in the early season is, because their antlers are still in the velvet, they tend to stay in open places more often than when they're in hard horn.
The buck I was hunting was with another buck that would score about 180 on the P&Y scale. About 8 a.m., when the sun started warming up, the bucks would usually leave the open areas and move to the north side of the slope. I decided to try and intercept the buck as he went from his feeding area in the early morning to his bedding area. When I spotted the buck, I knew I had to climb the mountain to get above him. I climbed between 1,000 and 2,000 feet up above the buck. I was only about 100 yards from the top of the mountain when I set up. As the two deer moved toward me, the smaller buck was leading my buck up a trail about 50 yards from me.
Once I finally took the shot, the arrow hit the buck hard enough to turn the buck around and cause him to start going back down the trail he had just come up. Then the buck bedded down about 80 yards from me. After about 30 minutes, I saw the buck come rolling out of this patch of trees where he had bedded down. If he hadn’t hit this one tree while he was rolling, he would have fallen off a ledge, landed about 500 feet down the mountain and probably would have broken his rack.
He was a 252-inch buck, and he had a total of 25 points. The buck was also the state record for mule deer taken in the velvet in the state of Wyoming.