4:00am came early. After waking early for 9 of the last 10 days, I really liked the idea of a day of sleeping in but, it was not to be. It was supposed to be my last full day in WY.
My son and his wife Jennifer had set this day aside to persue buffalo. Jennifer had drawn one of the much sought after cow tags for the wild Bison herd of WY.
For the most part, most tagholders wait for the Bison to enter a park or, rather, a reserve area in the Jackson WY area. Only 40 tagholders a day are allowed in the hunting area and, it is a mix of rifle, bow, muzzleloader, pistol and shotgun hunters. There are areas set aside for the primitive or lesser weapons but these weapons are also allowed in the "general" area.
I knew it was going to be a good day or, at least, an interesting day. On the way to the hunt area, we had to pass through the limited weapon area. While passing through the area, we had to stop to allow the buffalo to clear the road, so we could pass.
While in the hunt areas, you are not allowed to stop on the roads to drop off hunters or pick up hunters. There are designated hunter parking areas and the 40 tagholders a day that are allowed in share these parking areas as their starting point.
We were the second rig to park at our first chosen parking lot. Everyone is calling around to others to make their plans before shooting time. My son get's a call from someone in another part of the hunt area and we take off to a different starting place.
Half of the people that were staged at the first parking lot follow us to the new starting point.
After it gets light, we can see buffalo in the distance, in the lesser weapons area. It's snowing and the wind is picking up. The cold cuts through our clothes.
A young woman, with a cannon of a hand gun, takes a direct approach to the buffalo and spooks them further into the limited area. An assortmant of shotgun people and a muzzleloader make attempts, unsuccessful attempts, at the herds and the buffalo split back into smaller groups. Soon after, a bowhunter lowcrawls on his belly to a resting bull and, after what must have seemed like hours to him, takes a shot as the big resting bull stands. His shot was too high and too far forward. The bull runs off with the arrow sticking out of his shoulder.
At this point, it becomes apparent that the buffalo are splitting up to leave the limited area. People move into ambush areas ahead of where they believe the most likely travel route will be. The buffalo, like most wild animals are using the terrain to their advantage and hitting low spots in the terrain that leave them out of sight for hundreds of feet or yards at times.
My son and his wife Jennifer leave with a group of people, to get out ahead of where they believe the herd will travel. I decided to stay at the rig for this stock as the previous stock we made was still fresh in my mind. I admit, I was a little cold and it seemed more people would only make it more likely the herd would spook away. As the pictures will show, there really was nothing, other than elevation and relief, that you could use for cover and concealment.
After they were out of sight, I began hearing shooting in the distance. Soon the phone rang. It was my son asking about the other herds and their position. Apparently, once people started shooting the buffalo were moving and it had already been decided Jenny would not take running shots, for any reason. Unfortunately, there was one young man that felt different about it and he took a number of shots into the herd balled up and running.
From what my son explained, it was somewhat of a cluster at that kill site. No animals were taken with single shots. These people and their "magnum canons" were taking several shots to attempt to drop an animal. The anatomy of a buffalo is nothing like other big game. I think several thought they could neck or high shoulder shot a buffalo and that wasn't working. We watched this scenario play out several times through out the day as we persued the herds for Jenny's cow.
Most of these guys carrying rifles had huge muzzle brakes and even bigger scopes with all kinds of dials and covers and it just didn't help them. It takes a well placed shot and the patience to wait for the right shot, and right shot placement.
Jenny was almost out of place in this crowd, with her Remington model 710 chambered in .270 and the scope it came with out of the box. Her pink camo sling may not have lended to her "street cred", so to speak.
Finally after a number of stocks and walking down the herds several times through out the day, Jennifer's chance presented itself. I believe her first shot was an attempt at a neck shot but, it just seemed to have no affect on the chosen buffalo. We kept track of the cow through binos and eventually, the cow presented another clear broadside shot. She was convinces that everyone was going about it all wrong trying to "knock" the animals down and she refered back to a statement the G&F lady had told her. "Everyone shoots too high on buffalo, aim lower, for the heart". Jennifer settled in and calmed her breathing. She picked that spot nearly against the elbow and squeezed of the shot. Instantly, you could see the blood pumping out of the animal's chest. The cow immediately started to stumble and stagger and then fall and that was it, except for a few nerve twitches.
There was a man there, with a cannon of a rifle, that had been keeping stride with us on the last stock. He saw Jennifer's hunt unfold close up and, it took no further thought to convince him of the shot needed to drop his Bull Bison. I have to mention, I give this guy a great amount of credit for the animal he decided on. He chose the bull that had been hit by the bowhunter earlier in the day.e could have easily chose another animal to tag with his "once in a lifetime" bull tag. No one would have even thought anything of it. He selflessly did the right thing.
So, here are some pictures as my son and Jenny as they approached the cow. What's the first thing you do when you reach the kill and check it is actually dead? Well, you start taking pictures and texting everyone in the world you know. LOL
So, what do you do when you have an animal like this on the ground. Well, you call your friend at Trefferen tag and drag. He shows up with his Clydesdale or friesians and a drag mat. He also has a boom truck to put it in the back of your rig too.
For all the naysayers on smaller nonmagnum rifles, here is a shot of the heart. There is no doubt, that the .270 did the job better than any of the mis placed "cannon" rounds we saw through out the day.
To see the heart from this angle, you would have second thoughts.
But, for the flip side.
I am so thankful, that I was chosen to be there for this unconventional hunt. It's got me thinking if I might want to try it myself someday. If I ever do, it will be a heart shot that I choose.