BY DANIEL E. SCHMIDT
What a long 8 months it has been!
I kicked off my bowhunting season last week with a trip out to Ralph and Lenora Dampman’s Trophy Ridge Outfitters place in northeast Wyoming. Wyoming has long been a sleeper state for big whitetails and for fantastic bowhunting opportunities.
This is the same place where I hunted with a rifle last November and shot a dandy 10-pointer. Imagine my surprise when daylight filtered across the landscape and I literally saw deer everywhere. Didn’t matter that it was hot. Deer were up and out, moving about, on this untamed landscape.
That’s kind of how the morning went. Like most opening days, I forgot something back at camp … my bow holder. No biggie. I sat quite comfortably and excited in the ladder stand with my Mathews Creed across my lap. Yes, even the sight of does and fawns still gets me excited. You can probably see that really well in that above video clip … just look at the tips of those Carbon Express Arrows and Rage X-Treme broadheads shaking as the doe walks past my stand!
It didn’t take long, however, for the sun to heat up that Black Hills landscape. Although the temps were in the 40s in the predawn darkness, it got warm real fast. That made for a short morning hunt, but I still saw an absolutely amazing amount of action. At least 75 deer. Not a typo. That’s why Wyoming is going to be front and center of my mind every year that I can possibly make it back there.
The highlight of the morning came about an hour into my sit. While watching does and fawns pouring out of a nearby thicket to head to a nearby pond, I noticed velvet antlers sticking up out of the brush about 50 yards behind my stand. Within moments, the buck emerged and starting walking up a cattle road toward my stand. I didn’t take enough time to process what was happening. A very quick glance revealed that he was a 4-by-4. I had previously told myself to hold out for a 10-pointer.
As the buck approached, he grew bigger and bigger. And bigger. I was stuck. Couldn’t move because he was so close. I dared not even breath through my mouth. At his closest point, he was 4 yards from the base of my tree. And he was an absolute toad. A “gagger” as one of my buddy’s always says.
He was “only” an 8-point all right, but this dude had at least 9 inch brow tines and 10-inch G-2s. His beams swept wide — about 18 inches for a spread — and curved back in. This was easily a 140-class buck.
I’m a complete idiot, I thought. This buck is full velvet! Do not pass him up!
The buck did not know I was there and soon proceeded to step toward the nearby alfalfa field. In one motion, I bring the Mathews Solocam bow to full draw, lips smooching for the bowstring.
Too late. The buck hears me draws and snorts. He takes two bounds then stops. He’s still only 28 yards (ish) away, but he is now facing straight away from me. He stands there for a few moments, then starts walking toward the field. At one point, I could have zinged one in there, but it was just too risky. I didn’t want to blow the opportunity.
So I “passed” him up.
I sure hope I don’t regret not being more ready. I know I have a few more days to hunt, but this is one memory that will never leave me for the rest of my bowhunting days.
Editor’s note: Dan Schmidt’s Wyoming bowhunting blog will run in five installments this week.
TOMORROW: PART 2: A 10-POINTER SHOWS UP NEAR DAN’S STAND!
DAN’S GEAR PICK OF THE DAY:
•Smokey’s Preorbital Lure. Now is the time to make your mock scrapes. This stuff is a secret ingredient to success.
Dan says: “This is the real deal. Smokey McNichols is a trapper friend of mine who bottles this lure from real whitetail preorbital glands. Put a trail camera over your mock scrape to experience the difference of the genuine article!”