Four Days in the Bridger National Forest - Hunting
Trip Start Sep 16, 2009
3Trip End Sep 23, 2009
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Where I stayed
Bridger National Forest
We headed out of Rock Springs, Wyoming for the Bridger National Forest around 10:30 am. Boyd and Danny headed to load up on some ammo while Glenn-Roy led Bo and I to the Fontenelle Store to purchase our Hunting and Fishing licenses. About 45 minutes from Rock Springs we arrived at the Fonenelle Store. Like a mirage it appeared out of the barren desert
Our next stop was La Barge, where we stopped in to meet Boyd’s wife at her office. The fun was quickly dampened, when Glenn-Roy realized that his keys were locked in his truck. It had taken us several hours to make the relatively short trip to La Barge and backtracking to Rock Springs for extra keys, would surely put a damper on the trip. Then Glenn-Roy remembered the OnStar commercial where they unlock the doors remotely. He got someone on the line and explained our predicament. We all had a good laugh as Glenn-Roy went through the verification process. Then suddenly the lock raised up and OnStar had saved the day. I told Glenn-Roy that he ought to look out for himself on their next commercial because that was comical. We all loaded back up after another couple of beers and headed for Big Piney, where we would gas up and ice up for our stay.
It was there in Big Piney, that we realized that we were quickly running short on beer, so Boyd suggested we stop a few doors down at the Marbleton Liquor store to stock up
Not far out of Big Piney, we turned off of the paved road and the terrain began to change. About half way down the paved road and after several breaks to reload on beers, we stop at this guy in this big road scraper. He gets down from his heavy machinery and my thoughts were soon confirmed; this was “Bear Piss”. The description Bo gave me on the ride up was right on, this was a mountain man, no doubt. He came over and I met the man, and soon the beer and the stories were flowing. “Bear Piss” loads ammo for all of these guys up here, and it didn’t take long for the 1000 yard shot stories to begin. The terrain up here is so vast, and in many areas extremely flat right up to the base of the mountains. Other than trained military snipers, if there was anywhere and anyone who could make shots like that; this would be the place and “Bear Piss” would be the guy. Another hour passed, before we made the final leg of our journey to camp
As we entered the Bridger National Forest, I found myself stopping multiple time snapping pictures. The combination of vast flat lands running right up to steep hills and mountains was something I had never seen before. We passed several lakes before turning into camp. Camp was amazing. There were 3 soft wall tents with stoves in them, there were horses, a ton of fresh cut firewood, a huge fire pit surrounded by chairs, several propane powered stoves, and a bunch of dogs. We soon met Steve, who was in from Reno hunting Elk with his bow. We met Britney, who is one of Boyd’s twin daughters, her 2 year old son and her 1 year old niece. We began unloading and at this point didn’t have much time to prepare dinner, but luckily, Bo had brought a huge thing of his famous chili, so it heated quick and we all chowed down. Not long after dark fell, Cody, Casey, and Arless returned to camp from their days hunt. We met all of them and offered them some chili. Casey is Danny’s son-in-law, Cody is Boyd’s son-in law, and Arless is a friend of Casey’s. Cody is married to Boyd’s other daughter, Bridget, who would arrive the following night. Casey and Arless are from Utah and were trading Cody a hunt in Utah for guiding them in Wyoming. Casey had shot a Mule Deer up in the mountains so we all had a look. I was anxious to get up the next morning as we were going to start our hunt with the Antelope
Morning came and I was so excited to see the ranch and with all of the Antelope I had seen on the way up, I was sure this would be a great day. Not long after leaving camp, we noticed a pretty good leak in the right-rear tire of Glenn-Roy’s truck. Much like South Texas, tires are crucial to your hunting success here. So we decided to head into town to get this flat fixed so we might be able to concentrate on the hunt at hand.
We got into Pinedale by about 9:00 am and found the local car dealer to inquire about getting the flat fixed. Glenn-Roy, being the serious hunter that he is, decided on a new set of tires for his truck. The tires had more than half of their tread remaining, but it seemed like a good time to swap them out. We all headed across the street to a small diner for some breakfast. Thinking this was a restaurant that serves normal man sized portions, we all ordered way too much food. This place only serves Giant Man sized portions. We ate all we could as to try and not offend anyone, and we all felt it for some time. Once the truck was re-tired, we figured now was as good a time as any to restock the coolers. We picked up just the essentials, before heading back to camp around 1:00 pm. I soon discovered something new and very different
We awoke the following morning and hit the roads. Once in the right area, we began vehicle-stalking herds of 'lopes. We would look at groups of 20 or more of these things from 1000 yards out each time ending with Boyd claiming there wasn’t anything good in that herd. I have real good eyes, so there must be some trick to judging these animals at such distances. We drove and stopped to look, and drove some more, before coming across a herd that piqued Boyd’s attention. There was a nice Buck in this group and they were only about 200 yards away. I got excited when Boyd finally gave the thumbs up on this one. I rested the old .270, loaded with “Bear Piss’s” hot ammo, across the hood of the truck and lined the cross-hairs up for a perfect shot. I squeezed one round off and watched in shock when dust kicked up behind the target. “You shot High!” Boyd said as I worked the bolt to chamber another round. The herd only moved about 20 yards and then stopped. Thinking I might have pulled off, I once again lined the cross-hairs right behind the front shoulder and squeezed one off. Again, I missed way high
The whole ride over I had to hear what a good ‘lope that was, and that we might not see one better. I decided it was time for a beer. Not 5 minutes after popping my first beer of the morning, we stopped to check out a small group of 4 antelopes just across the property fence. 3 does and one good buck! Even though we were 1000 yards from them, the doe’s seemed nervous and jumped the fence into our pasture. They headed down the fence line away from us, but the buck stayed. We drove a little further to try and get into better position if he did cross the fence, and wouldn’t you know he crossed the fence and started heading across the field in front of us. I quickly finished my beer and took up rest on the passenger side mirror. The antelope began grazing up a small hill giving me a semi stationary target to shoot at. Based on my first two shots at 200 yards, and this distance being between 500 and 600 yards, they suggested I aim for the top of the back just above the front shoulder. I aimed and fired, again missing high. I quickly re-chambered and asked where I should aim now? A semi-smart ass answer said I should just aim at the shoulder as if it were 150 yards out. I did, and the next bullet met its mark
We approached the area where we thought he would be from the high ground, and there he was laying down in the sage brush with his head high looking straight at us. I jumped out of the truck and stalked him on foot until he jumped up and helicoptered two of his legs. I threw the rifle up and squeezed, as he was too close for the scope. Missed. He went back down again with that head up high looking at me, again I stalked. When he busted again, I raised and fired, this time stopping him dead in his tracks. Upon walking up to him, it was easy to see that my first hit was a good shot right behind the shoulder, and the second two hits took out a front and a back leg right at the elbow/knee. What a tough animal. We posed with my kill amidst the sage brush, with the mountains behind us and it was a fine moment, captured forever
After loading the antelope, we crossed paths with Cody, Casey, and Arless. They were also hunting ‘lope, so we followed them until they came across the first herd they saw, quickly picked out the best buck and began unloading on it. The herd ran as their misses racked up. Just as they crossed a road at full sprint Cody takes aim and hits one. It limps off and we all get out to join on the stalk. The buck gets up and is running directly away from Arless as he puts one right in the top of its back. Forget about the backstrap on this one. Also, in the confusion as the herd started running, the buck they shot was not the “good one” of the herd; but it was a lot of fun to watch. We returned to camp, and Boyd insisted on cleaning my ‘lope. Within a few short minutes, he had it skinned, butchered, and on ice. We once again settled into camp for the afternoon.
The following morning we woke up to a heavy rain. This was to be our day to head up the mountains with the horses in search of the Mule Deer, but the rain had other ideas. We would skip the mountain trek for another day in the sage brush hunting sage chickens. These birds are members of the grouse family and prefer to stay on the ground. When you flush one, you have a big black target, and they are relatively easy to shoot. We drove around until we limited out on them and then headed back to camp. We grabbed the fishing poles and hit one of the lakes near camp and caught some small Brook Trout to cook for dinner. We fried the fish up and they were good and fresh.
The next morning we broke down our camp, loaded up, and I said my goodbyes to a great group of new friends. We made a few stops on the way, but nothing like the trip up there. We were back in Rock Springs by noon and even caught the first snow flurries of the year, before hitting the long road back to Texas.
This trip should be a once in a lifetime deal, that should have costed a ton of money, but I’ll go back. Probably sooner than later. The good people I got to meet and the good times we had, I will remember for years to come. Maybe one day my son will get to use the old .270 and I can live in that proud moment when we can make this a third generation thing.