Magnum's story began in early August on a scouting trip with a good friend. We were scouting an area that we hardly ever hunt. Out of the timber stepped a Wyoming giant. The buck was headed to water. He walked across an opening on a timbered ridge, in the open for only minutes. We could identify the cheaters, in-lines, drop tine, and of coarse, the MASS!! In seconds his name came to mind, "MAGNUM". As fast as he appeared, he disappeared even faster. We had no idea if this was going to be our only encounter with this giant or if he would show up again. For two more days we searched the mountain side with no luck. It was about a week and half later when I returned on a solo scouting trip for another chance at locating this hammer buck. This was the day my dreams were realized. I spent the evening 400 yards across the canyon from the most beautiful non-typical I had ever laid eyes on. If I were to have sat with an artist to draw the perfect non-typical muley, it would have been Magnum. It was on this trip that I really got a taste of how elusive and secretive this giant was. He would hardly come into the open at all. Magnum would stand and scan the opposite ridge for danger constantly. He spent a lot of time frozen, looking for danger. During this trip, I really got a feel for his size as well. The cheater with a cheater complex was huge and heavy, the inlines blades and extras were MASSIVE!! "What a gift" I kept thinking. This was a special moment to say the least. Admittedly, a tear came to my eye as I sat in true amazement. I took pictures and video for the rest of the evening and simply enjoyed the moment and payed my respects. From this trip on I knew we had a chance to hunt a Wyoming legend.
Planning this hunt took a lot of time. This was not going to be like any of the hunts we normally do. We were going to have to travel long and hard just to get to where this buck lives. None of the big deer live in easy places these days! From the very first moment that I saw Magnum, all I ever wanted was to make sure we did this hunt RIGHT! That meant not taking unethical long range shots or anything else that wouldn't be respectful of the gift of hunting such a magnificent animal. In the end, if Magnum beat us, or another hunter got the jump on us, we were going to walk away like gentlemen, knowing we at least had a chance to hunt one of the best bucks Wyoming has ever produced. It seems that in the hunting world today, more and more hunters are willing to cheat and do almost anything, right or wrong, to get their trophy. We were not going to be one of those. This hunt was not going to be about money or score or ego it simply was going to be about enjoying and appreciating the gift of hunting the most beautiful non-typical mule deer we had ever laid eye's on! For a short moment I thought about hunting this giant myself, but that thought quickly passed. This buck was a product of all the hard work and scouting that I put in for our clients at Non-Typical Outfitters. Knowing I could have sold this hunt for big money, I held true to sharing this hunt with one of our clients who was already booked for the year.
Brenda and I looked at our scheduled hunts for the year. By the time we found Magnum the schedule for our hunts was already made. We did not have a 1on1 booked for the October 1st opener, so I made a few calls to clients who had planned hunts for the year and explained the "CHANCE" to hunt Magnum. The first two clients I talked to about Magnum passed on the opportunity for different reasons that I completely understood and respected. Brenda and I started looking at other hunters who had hunts booked for the year. Some had schedules or vacations locked in, others had requested guides they had hunted with before. This decision was the hardest of the hunt for sure. Every hunter who hunts with us dreams of this kind of buck just like anyone else. My job is to get everyone the best deer possible. This was when I called Brian Ingram. He had booked his hunt for 2011 as soon as he made it home from his hunt in 2010.
When I called Brian and explained the situation the phone began to vibrate! I continued to explain that we may never see this deer again. Magnum could move or go completely nocturnal. I also explained to him how far we would have to travel to hunt this deer at daylight and that this buck lived in some of the most challenging terrain I have hunted to date, loads of timber and a mountain of loose rocks. I told Brian, "To say the least, this hunt will test your love for hunting mule deer to the limit." Brian never questioned the challenges once. Brian has actually hunted our area in western Wyoming 10 times over a 15 years span, this was not going to be his first rodeo. I explained to Brian that I wanted to hunt this buck with a bow first and asked if he would be willing to hunt twice if necessary. I wanted to be there just in case he would give us a chance in velvet and also to learn his habits better. Brian had done a lot of bow hunting for deer so, "Hell yes!" was his answer.
The Alarm went off at 2 AM our first day of hunting. It took over 4 hours to reach the ridge line we would glass from. James (one of our long time return guides) and I had had located Magnum a couple of days prior to the opener of Archery so our hopes were high. We turned up nothing. Magnum had disappeared once again. This went on for a couple more days. This is when you really find out who you're hunting with. Some hunters, and even some guides, can't handle the pressure of not seeing "THE" buck, or for that matter, any bucks for days. We had only seen a couple of does and one small buck in those days of hunting. A lot of hunters would have started to crack. They would start questioning themselves, questioning the skill of the guides or if the buck had left the country. Brian remained positive with James and I.
Brian has an old hip injury that necessitated a total hip replacement only weeks after this hunt was over. As we continued the search for Magnum, it was obvious that Brian's mobility was slipping. I ask about his pain level, and his answer made it clear that we should save his ability to continue for the rifle hunt. It did not appear that there was any reason to continue pushing it. Magnum was going to be hard horned soon, if he had not done so already. In my experiences with hunting old bucks, going hard horned usually means they disappear deeper in the cover. That might have been why we couldn't locate Magnum during the archery hunt.
We never got a look at Magnum again until the day before the rifle opener. He was hard horned and gorgeous!! Completely intact, not a broken point. What a sight, to say the least! We had all dreamed about what he might look like hard horned. An unreal sight! The night before the opener we talked about our game plan and bedded down for a sleepless night. I am confident that we never slept more than an hour.
Opening morning found us a couple of hundred yards from where we had watched Magnum the evening before. Nothing but three coyotes that walked about twelve feet from us. They had no idea how lucky they were. We backed off for the rest of the day, glassing from long distances. This went on for three days... Still nothing.
In the early hours of the fourth morning it began to rain. "This could be what we need", I remember thinking as the rain pitter-pattered on the roof. Daylight found me across the canyon glassing in the early morning gray light. Sure enough, after scanning the open pockets inside the timber "THERE HE IS!" I can not put into words the feeling of seeing this buck lying there in all his grandeur.
We ended up killing this True Wyoming Legendary Buck at 60 yards after a very long calculated stalk that took the rest of the day.
Brian is planning on telling the rest of the hunt story in his own words in an up coming issue of Muley Crazy Magazine. We will have Brian's story posted here after it hits the readers and news stands. You can find a link to Muley Crazy Magazine on our links page here on our website.
Being able to hunt this Magnificent animal has been a gift to us all. We at NTO, along with Brian Ingram understand and appreciate how rare and awesome this buck is, especially on public land in today's hunting world. We feel very fortunate to have experienced such a "once in a 100 lifetimes" experience. We want to thank the BTNF, NTO staff and close friends for helping us with this hunt. No doubt, we ALL will continue our respect of this animal and this experience for the rest of our lives...
Magnum is a true testament to the genetics and potential that this western Wyoming mule deer herd still has. This herd is, like many western deer herds, facing many challenges, is not at full potential, and is, in some ways, slipping every year. Magnum is more proof that, together, we need to be doing whatever we can for the best management of this herd. I hope to be able to pass this gift on to the next generation as well as share this experience with our family, friends, and clients of today.
If you have any interest in hunting the best this unit has to offer give me a ring. I can not promise that we will find another Magnum, but I will promise that we will not stop looking. You will have a hard time finding a group of guides that are more committed to their clients overall success. We look forward to continuing to do our very best for YOU and EVERY client who comes with us.