We couldn't have been more excited for our 2014 hunting season and our 5th season overall. None of us had attempted a spot and stalk archery hunt out west and were excited to meet up with Trey Aars of Double A Outfitters in northeast Wyoming. Pro Staffer Jeremy Roland was the point of contact so rolling into camp I had only spoken to Trey a handful of times.
In prep for the trip we had all practiced a ton and if you ever want to attempt a spot and stalk hunt out west here are some things you should know. It's not just practicing in the back yard shooting at a target. One of the things I underestimated was how quick I would need to draw, aim, and release. Many times the mule deer would come up out of the bed and give you a matter of seconds to draw and fire before bounding over a ridge. Practice on getting settled into your pins quickly and efficiently. Next, practice on shooting standing, and from your knees. You would be amazed at the difference between the two. Many times the bucks would bounce out of his bed and then you were having to guess his range from where you had ranged him bedded. Work on being able to judge distance, many times you don't get the chance to range that buck a 2nd time.
After several failed stalks Jeremy was able to connect on his first antelope. The 60yd shot was back, what you don't see on the show is that we let him lay for several hours before going in to recover him just before dark. Now, the focus was on mule deer. The terrain of northeast Wyoming offered us the ability to see a long ways. And the saying "you get what you pay for" is true in this scenario when it comes to optics. If we didn't have great glass, we would have rarely gotten a chance to make stalk. As the mule deer left the alfalfa fields of a morning they would go into the canyons, find a shaded bed and get comfortable. It's amazing how these deer can blend in. We used Vortex Viper HD binos and the Vortex Diamondback spotting scope and quickly realized the need for them. Cheap glass will only lower your already low odds of success.
Much of our time in Wyoming wasn't spent stalking, it was spent spotting. If you get the chance to go be prepared to spend hours at a time glassing. It's heartbreaking to spend four hours searching for a buck, then to locate him and then put an unsuccessful stalk on. Unfortunately, you will have way more failed stalks than successful ones but patience is key. But having a well trained guide is huge. I can honestly say I have hunted with great guides and some REALLY bad ones and Trey is one of the best. We would watch these bucks come out of the fields and bed. If we couldn't get between them and the bed then we would plan a route to get close. Time and time again Trey got us in range of bucks. We either missed (we all missed multiple times) or the bucks just didn't read the script.
Trey rarely gets a chance to hunt. When he isn't guiding he is working long shifts in the local coal mines. Trey and his girlfriend Leslie spend most of the time scouting, glassing, driving hunters, planning meals, taking care of the beautiful lodge, and rarely have time to hunt themselves. We spotted a buck late in the week that we named Kenneth. He was big, still in full velvet and was the one we were all after. After many failed attempts the last night we made a plan. After watching this bucks pattern for several days we knew he would bed and that evening go to water. He had several options for water. Myself and Jeremy sat on the top water hole while staffer Brant Hill and cameraman Rob Campbell sat at another location. I told Trey if he got a shot on this big buck to take it. He argued but I insisted and quickly trained Leslie on how to run the extra camera we had with us. And wouldn't you know it, Trey was able to stalk into position to take a shot.
The arrows flight was true and the big buck dove into the water and swam about 40yds across the pond. The hunt meant a lot to Trey not just because it was his biggest buck with a bow, his first mule deer in 16yrs, but it was his first hunt that afterwards he wasn't able to pick up the phone and call his dad and tell him all the exciting details. Trey's father had passed away earlier that year. Like many of us, Trey's passion for the outdoors was passed down to him from his father. To be honest, this hunt was very special to me. I lost my father at a young age who was also a passionate outdoorsman. I can't explain how excited we were to get word that Trey was able to run an arrow through this buck. It was an amazing week and I can't wait to go back and do it again.
To see the full episode click on the video below!