Backcountry Brotherhood

By Bobby Mick
Wyoming, DIY, Public Land

Bobby Mick - Backcountry BrotherhoodOctober/November 2013 EHJ (Issue 139) - I was trembling with excitement as I zoomed in and focused my spotting scope on the image of a magnificent buck raking his antlers on the willows. As he thrashed the brush with his heavy rack I could identify numerous bloody tines and long, loose strands of velvet flipping about his head. I was confident that this deer would exceed 190 inches. His mass and extra points had me mesmerized.

The evening before I had been sitting alone on a high Wyoming ridge, watching a beautiful buck until he was a mere silhouette fading into the darkness. This was exactly what I had been dreaming about for months – finding two exceptional bucks during the Wyoming archery season, except that there was nobody with me to share the moment. My intended hunting partner, Matt Eastman, from Green River, Wyoming had torn a ligament in his knee just two weeks before the hunt. As badly as he wanted to go, Matt knew it was too early for him to pack into the backcountry.

The anticipation of opening morning, a high country thunderstorm and heavy winds kept me tossing and turning through the night before the opener. As the sun rose, the storm continued. After an hour of cold, futile glassing in the relentless wind, I decided to cut my losses and retreat to the tent.

First light of Day Two found me tucked under a stunted pine, scouring the basin in search of the big non-typical. After 40 minutes, out of nowhere two bucks appeared, feeding high in the basin. Through the spotting scope, I identified the big typical that I knew shared this basin with the others. Bingo! He was a solid 180-inch typical that I would be happy to take with my bow and I knew the big non-typical couldn’t be far from him.

Sure enough, as I watched the bucks feed, the non-typical suddenly materialized out of the brush.

I did not know the basin or these deer well enough to attempt a blind stalk.

"Patience,” I told myself as I headed back to my tent.

A stalking opportunity never did present itself. The lack of stalking opportunities and long days alone on the mountain took their toll and with home calling, I made the tough decision to head back to Oregon. The two big bucks I had targeted, had won. Or had they?

Before I crossed the Wyoming state line, I started to entertain the idea of coming back for a weekend rifle hunt. Although I never had an opportunity to nock an arrow on my hunt, I felt like I had developed a solid understanding of the deer in the basin. Their unique personalities earned them nicknames. The big typical was "Grumpy,” as he had very little tolerance for any deer intruding in his space. The big non-typical clearly had the physical qualities to preside over the basin but instead was content to be submissive to Grumpy, thus earning him the name "Mister,” as in Mr. Nice Guy.

As soon as I had service, I called Matt to tell him what was going on. I learned Matt had not given up on the season. He had received a custom knee brace, some trekking poles and hope for making the rifle opener.

Bobby Mick - Backcountry Brotherhood

For a full account of Bobby's adventure, go to page 50 in the October/November 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.