column By: Brad Fenson | March, 18
When Kevin Wilkerson made plans to take his father, Henry, on a trip to build a great memory, little did he know how much of an adventure it would become. He planned and researched extensively, spending hours looking at maps, deciphering trails and planning routes to access points. It took two years of accumulating points for Wyoming mule deer and antelope, and on the third year the two were able to draw tags.
They drove straight to Wyoming from Arkansas, fueled with anticipation. The hunters were able to backpack in, set up camp and glass evenings and mornings, but didn’t find deer. The skies of the arid West had opened and rained on the hunters, making for cold, damp conditions. After 36 hours of hunting, they decided to backtrack in hopes of locating animals. Their plan worked out perfectly.
As they slowly walked up a ridge, Kevin spotted movement below and left of the hill. A 3x2 mule deer buck jumped up and stared at them. Henry knew immediately he wanted to hang his tag on the deer, so both hunters moved up the ridge. One well-placed shot dropped the buck in its tracks. At the report of Henry’s rifle, a bigger 4x4 buck jumped up more than 200 yards away. As the deer trotted off, Kevin grabbed his father’s rifle and whistled as loud as he could to stop the deer. The buck stopped, and the rifle sounded off again. The shot dropped the deer cleanly. The father and son team were elated with their success.
They decided to clean and pack Henry’s mule deer back to the campsite, then return and pack out Kevin’s buck. They were almost done boning the 3x2 buck when Henry’s knife slipped off a vertebra, causing it to stab into his wrist. Henry takes medication every day to keep his blood thinned, which was cause for immediate concern. He began to bleed, and the duo applied pressure and used the only medical supplies brought on the trip.
The Wilkersons packed the buck 1.2 miles to camp, and by the time they got there it was 4:50 p.m. and misting. The decision was made to leave all the camp equipment but retrieve Kevin’s buck and pack it to the truck so that they could get Henry to urgent care before morning.
It took all the energy the hunters had to walk through the dark, sleet and cold with 80 pounds of mule deer meat and antlers on their backs. They arrived at the truck at 11:45 p.m. and carefully managed to drive out on the two-track, making their way to Casper, Wyoming, by 1:45 a.m.
“Packing out my mule deer meat and antlers on a 36-degree night, in the sleet and rain, over 4 miles of rough terrain is something that will not soon be forgotten. I distinctly remember the weight of my boots from the clay soil feeling like Play-Doh, sticking with every step.”
The hunt was challenging and provided unique rewards. Henry did not have any complications from his wound, and they went on to shoot two great pronghorn on their do-it-yourself adventure.
On the third day of the firearms elk season, Ken Buyers and his son, Casey, drove high into the central Idaho mountains. They knew the area well, having bowhunted in the region in the past. They drove up the long, winding mountain roads, arriving well after dark. Ken and Casey parked and slept in the truck for the first night, anxious to hit the trails in the morning.
They had to carry everything with them, so they packed light. The truck was parked at an elevation of 7,700 feet, and they walked horse trails along the Salmon River breaks before setting up a spike camp at 4,400 feet. Ken liked the area, as he knew several good spotting points from which they could glass a long distance. They knew for sure it was a good place to camp when a spike bull wandered within 70 yards of their tent. Ken had the only license and opted to pass on the bull.
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