Three Forks Hunt: A Hard Look

Guide Jeremiah Waugh and I were looking hard, scanning the sage for that big, mature buck in the heart of the Rockies.

The Heart of the Rockies
Clearly the Three Forks property was loaded with elk. We encountered dozens right around the lodge upon our after-dark arrival and first thing the next morning spotted herds on the surrounding hillsides. Deep, well-watered valleys offer lots of feed, and they sit protected by steep, timbered ridges that climb to over 9,000 feet. It’s everything an elk could want, and that works in the favor of elk hunters on the ranch and the neighboring national forest. Perched on the Colorado-Wyoming border, Three Forks is quintessential Rocky Mountain game country.

Mule deer are not quite as easy to spot, but if you look hard you’ll start seeing them scattered across the landscape. Guide Jeremiah Waugh and I were looking hard, because I was hunting deer and had my heart set on taking only a really big or old, mature buck. From the git-go we saw lots of bucks, mostly because Jeremiah is such a gifted spotter. Through a closed truck window while driving along at 40 mph down a rutted two-track, this guy can spot a buck bedded in tall sage 600 yards away up a steep grade. I swear to that—saw him do it over and over.

The one critter he couldn’t spot so readily was a 5½-year-old or older buck pushing the B&C minimumbut only because that rare specimen wasn’t where we were looking. He agreed with me though, that particular deer is worth hunting for and so we passed on several bucks that would satisfy any sane hunter. A native of Hulett, Wyo., this young man guides six months out of the year, and mule deer are his specialty.

For sure big bull elk are the crowned heads of the West, but for guys like Jeremiah and me, a big, heavily forked muley is the Rockies’ heartbeat.

Read Three Forks Hunt: Finding the Right Shot.
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