I wanted to share my experience at fulfilling one of my bucket list items, a wilderness hunt on horseback and the opportunity to hunt with Non-Typical Outfitters. Robb Wiley, who helped me book this hunt recommended a solo hunt, just me and a guide. His strong encouragement was 100% spot on and the additional cost, although a burden, was worth every penny. I always had other priorities, like expenses that were more important at the time, but recently I figured, finally, I had one more shot at doing this and if I didn’t do it now, I may never be physically able to do it later. I had one more shot. I learned quickly that I would not have been able to keep up with a group and that I would have held someone else (younger) back from being more aggressive on the mountain.
My first two days at elevation were pretty miserable, as I worked my way through the altitude issues. The guys were placing bets on me, particularly after the second day, that I wouldn’t continue, but I was determined to check this off of my bucket list. Thanks in particular to Gary Lockwood, my guide, on morning three, I woke up and was feeling much better and ready to go. In those first two days, Gary and the other guides were most encouraging, and kept me going. I told Gary on day one that I wasn’t going to quit on him. This meant too much to me. I was limited on how much walking I could do, but Gary compensated for that and I have to tell you, he was the perfect guide for me. We became close during this week and shared personal stories, and I consider him a new and true friend.
By the end, the hunt turned into as much an emotional and spiritual event for me as it did a bucket list hunt. If I had not harvested an animal, I was perfectly content to just have been there to share the time with Gary and to soak in the amazing Wyoming country. He is an incredible guy and took care of me, got me on the mountain and best yet, off the mountain safely. I look forward to continuing my friendship with him over time, and will keep in touch with him. Gary is a special guy and Non-Typical Outfitters are fortunate to have him in their outfit.
Bob, the cook was in control of the camp, and helped me out with my CPAP machine battery, built our tent fires in the evening, and provided great food. I wish I could have eaten more of it the first couple of days, but that wasn’t in the cards. There isn’t anything that I could point to that would need improvement. I think he did set a world record on the vermin that he caught that week, but none of them invaded my tent fortunately. The rest of the guides, Sam, Johnny, Ben, and Nick, were excellent, good with all of their hunters, and helpful to all. I was impressed that Nick and Sam in particular were hunting around the globe at their young age. That is pretty impressive and NTO is fortunate to have them too.
There are many stories of this experience I could tell and I will, over our campfires at my local hunt club. I was told that this was a tough hunt and it was. I rode “Pilgrim,” who I understand is Robb’s horse every other day, and both he and “Jackson” were surefooted and I felt pretty safe with them. I don’t think one has any choice but to trust the horse in some of these instances and they were troopers.
I held tight to the saddle horn and they didn’t let me down. Well, once I did find the ground, but that was my fault. I thought Gary had gone through two specific trees and when I got there, it was the wrong two trees. Pilgrim ducked his head and the branch that was going to smack me in the stomach didn’t give. Pilgrim walked out from under me as I held on to the branch and dropped to the ground. Pride hurt, but nothing else. I Remounted and kept going.
On day 4, our hunt Plan A didn’t work because of clogged trail and permafrost; we just couldn’t go where we had planned. Gary was most apologetic, but I told him to go to Plan B. Neither of us knew what that was (maybe it was meant to stand for Bucket List), but we continued riding up the drainage. The next thing I know he is jumping off his horse and saying, “there’s an elk, get off and get your rifle.” I fumbled at that pretty bad and never saw the elk, but he got on the ground with me and pointed it out. From there, instinct took over and it took two shots; one not so good, and one perfect. The bull was on the ground. So, Plan B worked. Luck and Gary’s skill at spotting the bull was on our side. Gary said he had prayed a bunch the night before, so maybe there was additional intervention that put the bull in front of us. I sent a couple of photos the other day, but include some here as well.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to hunt with Non-Typical Outfitters and want you to know that I truly enjoyed every moment of it, even when I wasn’t feeling well. We saw a lot of elk, glassed and located some good bulls which were out of our range, saw two moose and lots of great country. I’ll cross this trip off my bucket list, but will add another trip, I hope, in the future.