August 31: Mark Drury

This story started out with a call I didn’t want to receive. Aaron Bennett and I had been looking forward to this trip for a long time. We were headed to Solitude Ranch for the opening of Wyoming’s bow season. The day before we were to leave, I received news that Aaron’s uncle passed away in a tragic farming accident. Our thought, prayers, and condolences go out to the entire Bennett family. This definitely was not a call I wanted to get. I was scrambling around last minute to find someone to fill in for Aaron. After several phone calls, I spoke with Mike Schmid of Solitude Ranch and he offered to let Bob Lott go with me. I was pumped up with this news. I have known Bob for several years. He’s a super nice guy and producer of Intrepid Outdoors. I couldn’t wait to spend some time with him in the Black Hills of Wyoming.

As always, there is high anticipation for the first hunt of the year. The weather forecast looked great which furthered my anticipation. I hopped on a plane in Des Moines and landed in Rapid City a short time later, then made my way to Hewlett, WY. It’s a trip that never gets old and the scenery never fails to take my breath away. We got all the meets and greets out of the way, leaving us with a short night. We left the lodge by 4:30 the next morning and were in the tree by 5:15. First light brought immediate action and over the next two hours we saw about twenty-five deer, twelve of which were bucks and four of those shooters. I came to full draw on an eighteen inch wide eight point, but I wasn’t comfortable with my anchor point or the shot distance, so I decided not to risk the shot. The season was off to a great start, and I knew there was bound to be a better opportunity.

Towards the end of the morning, Bob spotted two nice bucks headed into a draw half a mile away. We glassed them and decided it was time to make a move. We devised a plan to get between the bedding area and the alfalfa fields they came from, and we were off. With two sets in tow, we scouted a saddle that was 300 yards off a series of alfalfa fields. Two trees stuck out to us. I went to work on one while Bob hung the other. An hour later we had two new sets in the air. We snuck out, rested at the lodge, and were on our way out by 4:30 that afternoon.

The stand Bob hung was perfect for the wind. While on our way in, a giant eight point walked ten yards under the stand. All we could do was shake our heads, laugh it off, and roll the camera. It always amazes me how early in the afternoon these mature Wyoming bucks get on their feet and move. We finally made it to the tree, climbed in, and it wasn’t long before several deer filtered by. Our scouting appeared to have paid off and I was thinking this ought to be an interesting evening. At 6:00, I looked up on top of the saddle, and out popped this guy. There was no need for my Nikons, I just whispered to Bob, “Here comes a shooter!”

There was a series of trails that all came together in the saddle, then spread out to ten yards, thirty yards, and forty five yards. Luckily the buck took the trail at thirty yards. My PSE Omen found its mark and at 6:05 opening day, my Wyoming tag was filled. It was a short track job, an easy recovery, and we found the buck lying under the set I hung earlier in the day! The perfect end to the perfect day.

I want to extend a big thanks to Mike Schmid and Bob Lott. This was one of, if not the best, Wyoming hunts I’ve ever been on. On behalf of the entire Drury family, our condolences are with Aaron Bennett and his family.