Location: Seven J Outfitters in Sundance, Wyoming
Dates: September 31-October 6, 2006
Hunters: Bill Jordan, Joel Maxfield with Mathews Inc. and David Blanton
Our first trip of the year finally arrived with much anticipation. We'd been in the office all summer long editing TV shows and preparing for the season, and we were ready for some quality time in the stands. We planned to start the season off right with our eighth hunt in a row at Seven J Outfitters in Sundance, Wyoming. We were all really excited because we usually had great luck at Seven J; well that is all of us but Bill Jordan.
We believe Bill has been cursed. Bill had hunted at Seven J for seven years in a row without harvesting a buck, while the rest of us had experienced great success on the property. We hoped that this year the curse would be broken.
A Hopeful Start
On August 31, Bill and I met up with Mathew's Joel Maxfield at Seven J Outfitters. Joining us were cameramen Nick Mundt, Rodney Evans and Realtree Outdoors host John Tate.
Several days before the hunt, I had talked to Seven J owners Jeff and Deb Smith who had said the conditions were perfect for our hunt. They'd seen tons of deer with very nice antlers. This was good news for us. During previous years, our hunts at Seven J had been hurt by hot and dry weather, which had turned the alfalfa fields brown. The conditions had not been good for deer.
We'll they were right. The conditions couldn't have been any better. Because of abundant spring snow and late summer rainfall, the alfalfa fields were green, and the deer were concentrated around the alfalfa in great numbers. Thanks to the heavy precipitation, the antler growth was really good. With such ideal circumstances working in our favor, we felt sure that this would be the year that Bill's curse would be broken.
When we arrived in Wyoming, much to our delight, it was unseasonably cool outside. The high that day was 60 degrees —just perfect. That first day, we shot our bows, hung out at the lodge with everyone and got ready for the next day's hunt.
At about 3:30 a.m. on opening day September 1, lightning began to illuminate the sky as a fierce thunderstorm moved in. We all got up at around 4:30 a.m. anyway and decided to head to our hunting spots with the hopes that the rain would let up by the time we got there.
Nick and I headed out with guide Kenny Morga. Bill and John left with guide Jeff Smith, and Joel Maxfield and Rodney drove to their hunting spot with guide Robby Stevens.
Instead of decreasing, the rain actually increased in intensity as we arrived at our hunting location. I was anxious to hunt, but I definitely didn't want to expose our cameras to this type of weather, so Nick, Kenny and I ended up spending the morning sitting in the truck telling stories, laughing at each other and just enjoying our time away from the office.
John and Bill saw a break in weather where they were. They decided to go ahead and hunt, but to no avail; they ended up getting soaking wet and saw very few deer that morning.
That afternoon, much to our relief, the weather cleared. There was little humidity with a high in the 60s — just phenomenal weather for September. We knew that the evening hunt would be great.
Kenny took Nick and me to a stand next to several deer trails that lead to the alfalfa fields. Rodney and Joel had a similar setup hunting the opposite side of the field. Bill and John hunted some big deer that the guides had spotted earlier in the summer.
John and I immediately started seeing a ton of deer. The first evening proved to be non productive as far as taking a deer, although all three of the cameramen videoed numerous whitetails. When we came in from the hunt, we were all really excited and hopeful about the following days.
The next day, we still had remarkable weather, and all three of us spotted many deer during both the morning and evening hunt, but no one scored.
On the third morning, Sept 3, Nick and I decided to hunt a different tree stand along the river about three hundred yards off of the alfalfa field. As daylight broke, we could see several hundred yards up the river. We watched at a distance of 300 yards as buck after buck crossed the river and the field on the way to their bedding area.
Here Comes A Good One!
We were both chomping at the bit to get out of our stand and move it down to the crossing. We got really anxious and about the time we were ready to climb down, I spotted some deer moving our way though the thicket along the river. I looked up and saw a deer 50 yards from the stand coming our way along the trail.
When I got a glimpse of the antlers, I told Nick "Here comes a buck, and it looks like a good one."
Nick started recording, and I got my bow ready as a big 8-point stepped out. I knew immediately that he was a shooter. As he walked down the trail next to river, I grunted and stopped him. My G5 Tekan II 125-grain broadhead did its job well. The deer wheeled around and ran. We heard him crash in the thicket between us and the alfalfa field.
I knew exactly where he had fallen. When I walked up to him, I was pleased to see a big, mature 4 ˝ year old, 136-inch 8-pointer laying there. My broadhead had gone completely through the buck's shoulder blade, yet the broadhead was undamaged.
Scoring on the first hunt of the year felt good. Nick captured some great footage of that buck and the hunt. When we got back to lodge, everyone was waiting to see the deer. They were all happy for me.
One Down and Two to Go
At that point, Bill and Joel had still not scored. That morning, Bill had spotted numerous good deer, and felt certain that the curse would be broken during that evening's hunt. Joel planned to move his stand where he could hunt deer as they returned to the field to feed that evening.
That afternoon, after seeing numerous good bucks, Joel had a 135-inch, 10 pointer come by his stand. He made a great shot on that deer.
At that point, Bill had not taken a buck, but he was seeing some really good deer, and he was starting to close in on them. He was one step closer to breaking the curse. But then, the weather began to warm up. By mid week, the temperatures climbed into the high 70s and low 80s. With the addition of a full moon, the deer activity decreased dramatically.
The hunt came to an end without Bill tagging a deer. Bill has now hunted at Seven J for eight years in a row without harvesting a buck. He was very disappointed to say the least. Perhaps he'll be able to break the curse next year.
As always, we had a fantastic hunt at Seven J. We left Wyoming with two out of three of us harvesting deer, which are great odds that we'll take any time. As far as Bill's luck goes, there's always next year.
For more information, check out www.sevenjoutfitters.com, or call 307-283-3443.