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Happy Holidays From HPO!!

Posted by on January 1, 2013

     Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New year!!  My….how time flies by!  It seems like just yesterday we were gearing up for the spring bear season and pulling out all the tents and outfitting gear.  Now it’s all put away, winter is here, and it’s almost 2013!!!

     Needless to say it was a good season, and there’s more to come.  The fall ended up being very successful….ending up 100% on rifle elk, rifle antelope, Mule Deer and moose!  We had the privilege of guiding a fantastic archery moose hunter named Doug Strecker.  This gentleman was in his early sixties, in great shape, and had hunted with a stick and string his entire life.  If I remember right, he’s never harvested a big game animal with a rifle, but has dozens and dozens of archery kills from all over the world. We hunted pretty hard for a moose the first couple days, having a couple close encounters but no chance of letting an arrow fly.  On the third day of his hunt, we stumbled onto a nice bull chowing on some willows in the bottom of a small drainage.  After sneaking as close as we could, there was just no shot opportunity.  The bull began to slowly move away, grunting the whole time,  and we followed…trying to stay in close range.  I grunted back and finally was able to get the bull stopped at 49 yards. Doug made an incredible shot from one of the toughest shooting positions I’d ever seen.  From where we were standing when the bull stopped, there was no flat ground.  In fact, we were seated on a river bank that was on a 45 degree slope.  Not a typical shooting position that you would practice at the range!  The bull went only 110 yards before piling up in the timber and Doug had his long awaited shiras moose!

     We packed out of that hunt a couple days early and I had the opportunity to help out another fellow outfitter with his moose hunter.  On the first day that I would help guide this hunter, we spotted a really nice bull just after sunrise.  After a short stalk, we got within rifle range and he made a perfect shot, dropping the bull in his tracks!  Two good bulls down in three days!!

     Once the moose hunting was over with it was time to unleash the hounds and start chasing Mountain Lions!  This has become one of my favorite hunts of the whole year.  It’s also one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, which is probably why I enjoy it so much.  Catching a Mountain Lion is extremely rewarding, but the chase and pursuit can certainly test the heart and determination of houndsman and hunter.  Dr. Owen Martin came out to hunt with us late in October for his first Wyoming Lion hunt. He had hunted several other states, but had not harvested a cat.  We got some blessings from above on that last week in October, and got a nice dusting of snow that layed about 4 inches throughout the hills.  On the first morning of Owen’s hunt my dogs cut a track in the snow from the previous day!  The dogs covered dozens of miles, and after a long day of trailing, the cat won.  The next day we tried to start the same track where we had quit the day before.  By this time we were probably 3 days behind this cat.  The hounds gave it all their heart, but it was too much and too far to go to catch him.  We decided to let the hounds rest up and utilize horses, and 4 wheel drive vehicles to cover a bunch of territory in hopes of finding a fresher track.  After a couple more days and a few hundred miles, we decided to free cast the dogs again.  Sure enough….they cut a track of a nice Tom that had walked within a couple hundred yards of our camp.  The track was frozen in the snow, it was late in the day, but the dogs were moving it fast!  My hounds trailed many hours, and I finally had to gather them up in the dark and try again the next day.  Needless to say we were unable to put a cat in a tree that week, but it wasn’t due to lack of effort.  I’ve never been so proud of my dogs, they worked some of the hardest tracks we could have put them on that week, and they gave it their all.  We were just a day late each time. 

     Since that last hunt, we’ve gotten all our gear, camp, and horses put away for the year.  Snow is all around us and it’s certainly a white Christmas!  We’ve had some lion hunters come and go, and have more scheduled to come this winter.  My dogs have caught six big cats so far in the last month, and hopefully there will be more to come.  Check out the Mountain Lion page for pictures, and I’ve also added a “Videos” page where I’ll be posting some videos of what’s been going on. 

     Don’t forget that January is the application period for elk licenses!  All applications must be submitted to the Wyoming game and fish by the end of the month.  We are in a “General” elk area, and I will be more than happy to assist filling out applications.  If you are thinking of hunting any big game this fall, give me a call soon.  We are nearly booked up for 2013 and there are a limited number of spaces left.  In the meantime…..have a wonderful holiday and a great start to 2013!!

          JR

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