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Bighorn Mountains

The Bighorn Mountains, its canyons and surrounding plains offer a visual feast for hunters.

“Do you ever get tired of looking at the country around you?” I'm sure that most of us have fielded that question from a visitor or friend from outside the region. I heard the question this past week from my cousin, Steve Krumm.

Steve came out to hunt white-tailed deer west of Sheridan, Wyoming. He has hunted with me for a number of years and has always managed to harvest a good-sized buck. We have hunted places that are fairly near the Bighorn Mountains, with most of the spots featuring grassy hills and brushy draws with an aspen grove or two. Most of the sites we have hunted offer an excellent view of the mountains and plains.

While I enjoy the views most of the time, there are days when I overlook the beauty. Perhaps I have gazed at Moncrief Ridge, Big Goose Canyon or Red Grade too often, or I have lost my sense of appreciation for the flaxen prairies that stretch off toward the Powder River. Anyway, it was good to be reminded of the awesome beauty that surrounds me each day.

Steve got very excited seeing the small herds of white-tailed deer, mule deer and antelope that we encountered as we drove to our hunting spot. He noted each herd as we drove the 15 miles to the ranch we were hunting.

“There are 10 muleys in the field on the right; three whitetails on the left,” he exclaimed as we drove west. In a one-mile stretch he spotted groups of mainly white-tailed deer every 200 yards or so, with the groups ranging in size from three to 20.

When we arrive at the ranch entrance he was expounding on the bucks he saw.

“That mule deer buck is a healthy four-point; what a brute. Look, there's a darned nice white-tailed buck, he must be a 5x5. There's some small four-points and forkies there, too. There must be 20 doe white-tailed deer and another dozen mule deer does.”

Steve's gaze would wander from the deer to the west and take in the mountains.

“Wow, isn't this the most beautiful sight you have ever seen. You are so fortunate to live here with all the gorgeous scenery.”

We continued on to the landowner's home and exchanged greetings. The landowner had a sleek-looking Brittany Spaniel that melted Steve's heart, for he had owned and hunted a Brittany for a number of years and missed it dearly.

“Your Brittany reminds me of my long lost dog; what a good-looking dog you have,” he said.

The landowner soon had us loaded up and headed out for a hunting spot in the foothills. The whole time Steve was commenting on the beauty of the area and all the deer.

“What a gorgeous spot; you are so fortunate to have a home here; what a view; look at the big buck; I can't believe I'm here.”

Eventually, we got out to hunt. The landowner took Steve on a short hike up a hill to a grassy flat. As they inched along, the landowner spotted a buck's antlers above the grass. They got down on their knees and scrambled forward for 30 or 40 yards.

Steve managed to raise up and take a shot at the buck, which was bedded down. The shot hit the buck but it wasn't a killing shot. Fortunately, we were able to track the buck down and kill it with a minimal amount of work.

The healthy four-point buck had heavy antlers and a pretty substantial body. Steve was ecstatic.

My appreciation lesson of the local environment was broadened when we realized that it was too warm to hang the deer to age before butchering. Also, Steve wanted to take the deer head home, but Michigan would not allow any brain matter from any area with chronic wasting disease to be brought into the state, so he needed to find a place that would clean the skull.

At Yallowizer's processing plant in Ranchester, Steve was referred to the Bone Shop in Ranchester, which would clean up the skull and make a great European mount. The processor and the Bone Shop managed to get the work done expertly and in a couple day's time so that Steve could leave early Saturday.

Now I'm praying that I'll not forget what a beautiful area I live in and to remember the many great people who live here.