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  1. #1
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    Family Scouting Trip- Wyoming and South Dakota

    Just returned home from a nice scouting trip to Wyoming with my family. Had a great trip and am pretty happy with the tags I drew after seeing what lives in the units. I've been hunting out west for the past 5 years now and am absolutely addicted. My wife is a high school teacher, so unfortunately, she can't tag along on my hunts due to work. Knowing how badly she wanted to see the west (and take a vacation) I planned a trip for her, myself, and my 2 year old boy, Reed.

    The plan was to leave Ohio and make it to the Badlands, SD to explore and camp for a day. The car trip alone was ambitious. Thankfully, we planned it around my kid sleeping and made it with no issue. I am abundantly thankful for a well mannered, well behaved child!!!

    We arrived in Badlands National Park, drove a small part of the area and registered for a campsite at the campground. Typically, I find some BLM or a rest area to sleep (because I'm cheap) but with the family, we opted to pay a few bucks. It was worth it though. The ready-made campsite was a good starting point for a wife and kid who had never camped before.

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    We were pretty cozy the first night in out tents. My wife and I slept in my Badlands Mirage tent, of course we bought an air mattress for the trip. (I'm not exactly mad about it) Reed made use of my old backpacking tent, a child's cot, and a few comforts from home. He slept like....well...a baby.

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    Exploring the Badlands was pretty cool and worth the stop. It was blazing hot so we kept the hikes short. During an evening drive, I spotted a Bighorn off in the distance. Being in a park, it wasn't exactly a "spooky" sheep. But still really cool to see and take a million pictures of. I ended up seeing 3 different rams during that evening.

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    My wife and kid were amazed by the scenery and so far, loving the west!

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    We left SD early the next day and headed to Wyoming. I have a region Y tag and wanted to explore the Bighorns a little. With a combo of OnXMaps and Google Earth, I picked a campground on the map, put the coordinates in my GPS...and off we went. My wife and Reed both fell asleep as we approached the bumpy, steep, dirt and rock road heading up the mountain. I've driven these enough to not be uneasy on them, but I figured I'd let those 2 sleep. Of course we hit a cattle gate immediately before going up hill and woke them both up. My wife's knuckles were white and Reed antagonized "it's gonna hurt if we fall off." We snapped a few pictures on the way up and eventually made it to a beautiful mountain meadow.

    We made it to the campground, which to my surprise, required a small fee to stay. It was a really nice site and my wife was in love with it, so we forked out $28 (for 2 nights) and set up camp. As darkness approached, I grabbed my spotter and bino's and went for a hike. Glassing some tall grass I saw some pretty cool velvet!

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    Last edited by GOSHENGRUNTER; 08-18-2017 at 04:59 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Turns out, there were 2 stud bulls that called this campground home. And after spending 12 days in Canada last year and never seeing a moose, it was cool to get within bow range of them.

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    We spent some time the next day driving up to a reservoir in the mountains. This turned out to be my wife's favorite spot.

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    Reed loved throwing rocks in and watching the splashes. I will say, I doubt he has much future as a baseball player. It was a tad chilly and my wife hijacked some of my new Badlands camo. We took a few cool pictures before a rain storm forced us out.

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    Of course, I wouldn't be much of a hunting dad if I didn't scour Ebay for some camo for Reed. He's currently obsessed with John Deere...so this perfect.

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    We spent 2 nights camping, cooking, and enjoying family time. We saw moose and deer every day, I was surprised to see whitetail up so high. I didn't find any bucks until the drive out, but I ended up find this bachelor group. I doubt I'll hunt them, but at least I have an idea where they are.

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    Last edited by GOSHENGRUNTER; 08-18-2017 at 03:56 PM.
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  3. #3
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    The next day, we stayed in Buffalo. I planned this day to give Reed and my wife a break from the wilderness. I figured a shower and some touristy stuff would be a nice break. I had reserved a very girly room at the Historic Occidental Hotel. This ended up being really nice. If you travel with family and pass through Buffalo, call ahead and get a room. Really cool historic hotel. The old newspapers and stories were awesome! The old saloon inside is host to bluegrass jam on Thursdays...we got there too late.

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    We ate at the Busy Bee cafe on the other side of the hotel. Good food, high priced...typical tourist stuff. Reed got to sit at the ice cream bar and down a root beer float.

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    Sleeping in a bed was nice, although it was covered in rose decor. I scoured my maps once more to feel a little more manly! Breakfast back at the Busy Bee and we headed down to Kaycee where I have a few antelope tags.

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    I hunted unit 21 3 years ago and had a ball. I spent a lot of time on OnX and google before going back trying to find a good spot for my new tags. They certainly aren't coveted and It wasn't hard to see why. Driving in, the antelope were scarce and spooky. I mean SPOOKY! They acted like it was 3 days into rifle season. If I stopped the car within 500 yards- they bolted. Pardon the sucky antelope pics in this post. they just didn't stay still!

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    A couple days of driving, hiking, and getting off the road helped me feel better. I found enough antelope I know I can fill my tags. Nothing huge, but a few pockets held some 13-15" goats that I'll be going after. I didn't pack my spotter and phone skope the day I found the good bucks, so no pictures of them. Plenty of does though, many over 7,000 feet.

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    Last edited by GOSHENGRUNTER; 08-18-2017 at 04:09 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Rewinding just a little- after arriving in the unit, I again went to a spot I found on OnX/Google and pitched camp. This was more of a back country style camp. A little more rugged and rough, but we had an incredible view. We got pounded by rain the first night, so I made us a little extra cover. Worked out pretty well and kept a nice dry vestibule area.

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    I set up my spotter at camp and could pretty much see deer and antelope constantly. I was a little surprised to glass an opening a few hundred yards away and see a couple nice bull elk feeding.

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    For public land and 3 points....I'd shoot em! Elk hunt 2018 is in the planning stages!

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    The next day was my birthday. I got a pretty cool serenade of "Happy Birthday" and "Hello Dolly- Louie Armstrong" from Reed on the prairie.

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    As I said before, I spent a good deal of time hiking off the roads and finding antelope. After this year I'm going to build points for a good trophy goat, but man I love watching those little guys. Once I found enough antelope to ease my worry about my tag situation, I turned to deer. I expected to have a hard time finding shooters. I was happily wrong. Don't be too mad at me for withholding the pics of the big guys, but here are a few smaller ones I found.

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    Last edited by GOSHENGRUNTER; 08-18-2017 at 04:31 PM.
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  5. #5
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    I found this freaky buck. HE's probably gonna catch a round if I can't find the big guys after a few days. I saw him every day in a small patch of public. As long as an archery hunter doesn't find him, I don't think he will move.

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    This large bachelor group had between 9-13 bucks in it depending on the day.





    This 4 point was the best buck of the group, followed closely by a 20-22" 3 point.

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    If I'm being completely honest, I probably wouldn't pass either of them. I'm just not going to hunt them opening day. They were on a small piece of public and don't have much reason to leave unless they are pushed. If my gut is right, not many people with this tag are going to go where I was. Words like that will most likely come back to bite me.

    After seeing over 30 bucks the first morning of scouting, I started focusing on spending time at camp and introducing Reed to camp food....steak tips and taters for instance...

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    Last edited by GOSHENGRUNTER; 08-18-2017 at 04:44 PM.
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  7. #6
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    Reed eats like a champ. Campfire taters might be his new favorite food.

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    Of course, we wouldn't be camping without Mountain House! Even if it is only an ice cream sandwich. And yeah...he hijacked my camo too.

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    A second morning of scouting again found over 30 bucks. I'm guessing I saw close to 70 different bucks all in all in the 2 areas. 3 were real shooters, 10 or so would probably be shooters after a couple days. I'm really looking forward to this hunt. All tags with zero points, all pubic land. I know it will be a shooting gallery come October 15th. I'm hoping my hiking and patience pay off!

    If you're considering a scouting trip...try to take the family. It was a real blast and a blessing to take them. Especially Reed being so young and my wife never being west of Indiana before!

    Some other things to do with a 2 year old if you go include....Pine cone hunting....

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    Terry's Bison Ranch in Cheyenne

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    Last edited by GOSHENGRUNTER; 08-18-2017 at 05:07 PM.
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  8. #7
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    The bison train ride was pretty cool. Super touristy but fun...I mean C'mon, feeding buffalo is cool!

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    And find a random place on the map on the way home to camp to avoid a hotel! Who knew Nebraska had beaches? (Ogallala Beach Campground $18 per night)

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    Be prepared to pack wayyyyy more than need (thanks wife and kid!)

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    Family vacation was a blast! Can't wait to see what tags I draw next yer and plan another "scouting trip"!

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    Last edited by GOSHENGRUNTER; 08-18-2017 at 04:56 PM.
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  10. #8
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    Looks like a great time! Good looking family.

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  12. #9
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    Great looking family living the American dream.

  13. #10
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    Looks like a fun time. I'll be making a similar loop this October. Good luck.

 

 
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