Bowhunting Western Deer: 2 Days, 2 States, 2 Bucks

By Bow StaffSeptember 4, 2018

Bowhunt or Die team member, Josh Sturgill, was hoping for another good hunt when he headed back out west for his annual early season deer hunt in Wyoming. This year he also added a Montana deer tag to the mix hoping to increase his odds for success. Despite all the excitement for the hunt, Josh had no idea just how “good” his hunt would turn out to be this year. Here’s the story on his bowhunting western deer adventure this past week in Montana and Wyoming with Decroo and the crew from Big Horn Outfitters.


The western landscape is a target rich environment for deer hunters.

Josh Sturgill

Day 1 started out with us covering lots of ground looking for deer in Montana. We saw a ton of deer and several monster elk while hunting a ranch in eastern Montana. We pretty much glassed all day, then finally put a stalk on a buck that we decided to back off of since he was a little young. Good friend, Paul Morrison, had spotted 3 good bucks bedded on a tall knob 3/4 of a mile away so we decided to go after them. When we drove in, we actually spotted the bucks bedded just 100 yards off an old 2-track. We drove on past the bucks and pulled off further down the road to assemble a game plan. As we assembled our gear and made plans for the stalk, we heard a dirt bike. As luck would have it, the ranchers mechanic was out riding around. He drove over to us and apologized for ruining our hunt after he realized he had bumped the bucks. We were in disbelief at our luck.

However, after checking things out, the bucks hadn’t gone too far and were actually in a great spot for us to make our move. Morrison dropped me and Dustin off once we were out of sight of the bucks and we then began our move toward the bucks. We stalked the deer for 80 yards before Dustin could see the antler tips of the two smaller bucks, just 10 yards away. The bigger buck was 40 yards away but coming closer. I drew on the bigger buck but didn’t have a shot before he walked behind a brush pile. However, as soon as I let down, the buck turned back our way and closed in to just 30 yards. I drew my bow, settled the pin and made the shot. The NAP Killzone went to work and the buck only ran 200 yards before he bedded down and died.

It was my first Montana hunt, first mule deer and first velvet buck. It was an amazing experience!

bowhunting western deer - Josh-muley

The first leg of Sturgill’s western deer hunt started off with this beautiful velvet mule deer buck.

Little did I know, our hunt was just getting started. With my Montana buck tag punched, we headed back down the road to Wyoming in hopes of filling my deer tag there as well.

We spent the morning of Day 2 scouting for whitetail deer in Wyoming. We found a fence crossing in a little draw that led to a beautiful alfalfa field. The only way to really set up on it was by building a natural blind about 40 yards from the crossing. We also set up a Tink’s mock scrape on our side of the fence to hold their attention. We spent the afternoon getting things in place in order to hunt that evening.

After being in the blind for several hours that evening, we saw several does cross behind us about 80 yards out. We also had a nice 8-pointer come through the crossing in front of us. Finally, two nice bucks started walking down the draw toward us on our side of the fence. They walked within 14 yards of us before I drew back to shoot. I let the arrow fly and cleanly missed the buck. I just got too nervous and torqued my bow. As I sat there with my head in my hands, Morrison excitedly whispered, “Get ready! Here comes three more bucks!”

Daylight was fading fast as the three bucks came through the fence crossing and walked directly to the mock scrape and started checking it out. The 10-point stopped at 26 yards. This time I managed to stay calm and make a perfect shot. The buck ran up the hill 40 yards before flipping over in a perfect back flip.

bowhunting western deer - josh-sturgill-wy-whitetail

One evening sit in Wyoming was all it took to wrap up a 2-day deer hunting road trip for Sturgill.

2 days, 2 states, and 2 perfect western deer – I had been blessed beyond measure. It was a trip I will never forget.

Be watching for the 2018 deer hunts coming soon in upcoming episodes of Bowhunt or Die.

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