May 2016 Issue – By
Debra Sieloff, Subscriber Correspondent
Editor’s note: The Wyoming deer draw is open through May 31, 2018 (https://wgfd.wyo.gov/hunting). Hunting Report subscriber-correspondent Debra Sieloff (Report 11077) recommends bowhunters check out outfitter Brant Hilman of Rangeland Hunting Adventures (307-672-6717; www.rangelandhuntingadventures.com) in Sheridan, WY. She also harvested her first mule deer (Article 3943) with Rangeland in 2016. Here’s her story.
While hunting mule deer in 2016, I noticed whitetail deer roaming the plains around Sheridan. The prospects of completing my SCI Whitetail Grand Slam with a northwestern whitetail deer seemed likely with Hilman, so I returned there in 2017.
The blinds were situated in the path of deer moving from the wooded bottoms up the ridges to thick alfalfa fields. I harvested a nine-point buck with my bow on opening day. I cannot say how many deer I had between 20 and 40 yards of the blind, but it was at least 50 with 10 eight-plus-point bucks within 30 yards. My guide, Ellen Allemand, counted 110 that night.
Physically, it is an easy hunt. Ellen drove me across a half mile of alfalfa, right to the blind door, where I slipped out of the truck with bow and gear and dropped into the blind unnoticed by the deer bedded in the thickly wooded draws.
Pack camo and black layers if you’re going on this hunt—camo for tree stand hunting and black for ground blinds. In early season, morning temperatures can be in the 30s and afternoons can soar into the 90s.
WY Game and Fish (https://wgfd.wyo.gov/hunting) uses a draw system for deer tags. The types of tags are structured in tiers that improve your odds from the regular draw to the special draw.
Currently, Rangeland’s five-day whitetail deer hunt runs $3,500. It is all free range, wide open, private WY ranchland with 1:1 guiding. Lodging, food and Wi-Fi are included. Drawing a tag starts with the $15 application fee. If successful in the draw, regular nonresident deer tags run $374 in 2018. If you’re going for the special draw, tags now cost $662. The archery-only season requires a $72 archery tag in addition to the deer tags. Finally, there’s a $12.50 conservation stamp required of all hunters.
WY deer tag announcements are midsummer, which makes planning an early season trip tricky. If you’re concerned about buying flights before tags, wait to book flights after the draw notices are published.
Rangeland’s lodge is on an authentic working cattle ranch surrounded by eastern Wyoming’s rolling scenery. Private rooms have custom-made log cabin–style furniture and Western decor and private baths with full showers.
Rangeland offers multiple activities if hunters harvest early in the hunt, including more hunting, fishing or horseback riding—all priced separately. Hilman has a guiding concession in Big Horn National Forest and a permanent cowboy camp for guided hunting and horseback riding. I bought an over-the-counter tag for black bear hunting (nonresident tags $362, outfitter fee $4,500) for the four remaining days of hunting. Hilman had several bears showing up on camera.
A moderately fit person could handle this bear hunt, although I wouldn’t recommend it for the physically challenged. Parts of the hike into the hunting area are though a maze of deadfall. WY regulations close a hunting area when the sow harvest limit is reached. I passed on two smaller bears prior to the sow-limit closure.