It's happened again; I have waited until the last week or two of a Wyoming deer season that opened Sept. 1 and runs until Dec. 15. I bought my general deer license and three doe/fawn white-tailed deer permits for area 24, which is west of Interstate 90 to Banner, Wyoming, and off Bighorn National Forest land.
I have excuses, of course, but the long and short of it is that excuses don't stock the freezer with venison. I wanted to wait until November so I would have cool weather and snow to allow me to hunt under optimal conditions. The upshot was that November wasn't that cool and definitely not very snowy. I also wanted to reserve the place I wanted to hunt for my cousin, Steve, since he was driving all the way from Michigan in hopes of getting a nice buck.
My cousin shot a nice buck, and I didn't have much of an opportunity to shoot a deer. Though I could have taken some long shots at a pasture full of does, the irrigation equipment that was around the does made me pass up the chance. I didn't need a bill for putting a bullet hole in an irrigation pipe or pump.
When I finally got back into the field the buck season was over and I knew that I would have to settle for does to fill the freezer. I was granted permission to hunt a spot that I have frequented for the past five or six years. I was very familiar with the property and had a favorite spot where I liked to sit at dusk and wait for the deer to come out of the brush and woods to feed in the open.
I drove about 10 miles that afternoon and had just turned the corner to the road that my hunting spot was on when I realized that I had left my deer licenses back in Sheridan. I hastily drove back, searched frantically for the licenses and finally found them after I turned my dresser into a disaster area.
I managed to get out to the spot at about a half-hour before dark. I had seen numerous white-tailed deer on the last couple miles of the drive and was sure there would be some hanging out at my favorite spot.
When I drove in to my parking spot there were three deer about 150 yards to the east, unfortunately they scurried off before I could get my gear together. I eased out of my car, put on my orange vest and hat, donned my pack and loaded my rifle. I walked 40 yards and glassed the hillside and valley to the south and west of the knoll I was standing on.
Along the edge of the aspen grove below me stood a healthy doe looking at me. I glassed the deer to make sure that it wasn't a small buck. Nope, no pencil antlers or forks; it was a doe. I rested my rifle on a sturdy branch and aimed for the deer's throat (it was standing head-on toward me) and pulled the trigger thinking that this was too easy.
At the rifle's blast I expected the deer to drop where it stood. It didn't drop and it didn't run; it just stood there. It looked around a bit and maintained its location. I cranked another round into the chamber and shot again. Same result: no hit, the deer stood momentarily and then vacated the premises.
Suffice it to say I didn't shoot a deer that evening nor the next day; though I had a couple more similar opportunities to bag a doe, my shots were errant.
Thinking that I must have messed up my scope since I sighted in my rifle a month ago, I went back to the rifle range and shot. My shot group wasn't the best I had ever fired, but the group was on paper and near enough to the bull's-eye to tell me that something else must be going on.
Just as I was about to leave, my good friend Chuck Holloway drove up. Holloway has helped me solve my shooting problems before. When I told him about the deer not running when I shot the first time and guessing that I had shot high, Holloway offered this advice. “It sounds to me that you are looking up just as soon as you pull the trigger. You must follow through on your trigger pull and keep the crosshairs on your target. If you look up too soon, you will invariably shoot high.”
Well, I had about one hour left to hunt that day so I hurried back out to my hunting spot. Again, I saw plenty of deer on my drive. When I arrived, I quickly walked to my vantage point and started glassing. Nothing was to be seen in a 200 yard radius though I could see 20 or so whitetails on the lands beyond where I had permission to hunt.
Somehow I missed seeing a doe that had walked out of the aspens and up onto the open slope to the south of me. I glassed it and didn't see antlers so I propped my rifle on a rest and carefully settled the crosshairs behind the front knee and squeezed the trigger. I kept my head down and was pleased to hear the “whap” of the bullet hitting home. The doe didn't go down but she was hit and tried to escape with a broken front leg. I lined up again and fired. This time she went down.
I was so thankful that I had gotten a deer and had solved my shooting problem. I'm hoping I can still fill a couple more tags before the season ends. I hope, too, to remember the shooting advice that Holloway gave me.