Without A Doubt

By Dan Raftevold
Nevada, 2010, DIY, Public Land
Without a DoubtFeb/Mar 2011 EHJ (Issue 123) - I was trying to catch my breath and the sweat was pouring off my face. My heart was beating so hard in my chest that it almost hurt. I wasn’t sure if it was due to the climb or the excitement, but I didn’t care. I could see the tips of his antlers above the sage as he fed just above me and on the other side of a small ridge. If he stayed on course, he’d work his way within 30 yards of me.

Twenty minutes earlier, as I was sitting on top of that ridge in southwest Wyoming, I watched eight bucks feed in a draw a mile below me. I had been sitting in the shade of a small tree for much the afternoon, with plenty of time to think about what led me to this point. Earlier in the year, when I received the email that I was successful on a good Wyoming deer tag, I was thrilled beyond belief. I had been waiting a long time for a chance to hunt mule deer in a good area, but at the same time, my perennial, multi-application thought process kept creeping into my head. What if this is the year that I draw them all? Sure enough, when the Nevada draw results were available, I discovered that I had drawn a low-odds late season hunt.

So, with two tags in my pocket, I had to figure out my hunting plans for 2010. With one kid in college, one in diapers, and two in between, my time and finances were limited. I also didn’t want to squeeze in two hunts and not spend adequate time on one or the other. My plan was to scout the Wyoming zone during September and carry my bow. If the opportunity was there, I could harvest a deer and then hunt Nevada with a rifle. If I decided to hold out and come back for the Wyoming rifle season, Nevada’s user-friendly tag return policy would allow me to turn in my tag and keep my points. Unsure of what to do, I talked to two of my hunting buddies, Wayne Hopper and Dennis Cleland. They both liked the plan and agreed to help me.

Back to reality on that Wyoming ridge; I watched as three of the eight bucks broke away and started moving up the slope. When they went into a deep draw, I made my move. I had plenty of ground to cover including some steep terrain, but once I was close, I gave myself a chance to catch my breath and reacquire the whereabouts of the bucks.

After backtracking, running uphill, and a short crawl, I was now in a position where I could actually stand up while watching the antler tips of a decent fourpoint. In a few more steps, the sagebrush would open up and he would come up out of the draw - it was perfect. I was at full draw when he stepped into the opening and stopped to feed. He wasn’t a giant, but he was bigger than any deer I had ever taken.

The arrow found its mark and the deer ran 70 yards and dropped. I had just harvested a nice buck with my bow and had a great hunt. Plus, I still had over a month to plan the Nevada late-season rifle hunt.

Dan Raftevold

For a full account of Dan's adventure, go to page 40 in the February/March 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.