Although my whitetail adventures will begin later this month in southern Florida for their rut (yeah, go figure!), I’m already daydreaming about bowhunting northeast Wyoming once again with Ralph Dampman of Trophy Ridge Outfitters.
I’ve hunted with Ralph on two other occasions and must say his part of the world is unrivaled when it comes to deer and deer hunting. Considered at the very western edge of the Black Hills, this part of Wyoming is beyond picturesque. It also holds way more deer than just about any other region I’ve hunted over the past 20+ years.
My last hunt at Ralph’s came two years ago, and 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 breathe 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 buddies 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 brought the Mathews Solocam bow to full draw, lips smooching for the bowstring.
Too late. The buck heard me draws and snorted. He took two bounds then stopped. He was only 28-ish yards away, but was now facing straight away from me. He stood there for a few moments, then started 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 will NOT be doing that this year!