We didn’t know what to expect out of the 2018 mule deer season. With the extremely severe winter of 2016-17 and the super mild winter of 2017-18, it was hard to predict how the herd would look. Our herd had two years of polar opposite conditions that affected their health. After our 2017 mule deer season, it was very clear that the herd needed our help.
Here at NTO, we made the decision to put the mule deer before our business as well as our personal desires. We did something that isn’t normal for this industry; we gave our 2018 mule deer clients the option to continue with their 2018 hunt in spite of our concerns, or to move their hunt to a future year. Many of our 2018 deer hunters chose to postpone. As a result, we ended up taking fewer mule deer hunters than we ever have at NTO. It was completely worth it, for the mule deer and our clients.
Credit To God For Our 2018 Mule Deer Season
During the 2018 mule deer season we experienced a very rare, miraculous event. All of our 2018 mule deer clients fired a shot at a trophy mule deer! That’s right, every single mule deer hunter fired his gun in an attempt to kill the buck of his or her dreams. In the trophy mule deer hunting arena, 100%, is rarely accomplished. Every guide strives for 100% success for his clients, but very rarely it is ever achieved. We did not drop our high standards to achieve this success and we are not at all shy about giving God credit for much of our tremendous success. I believe He partnered with us to make this season happen.
Why We Hunt
This year we also focused on the most important reasons that we hunt:
- Those primal desires deep in our heart that only a hunter can explain.
- The deep powerful callings of our warrior identity that every hunter feels.
- A thirst that is only quenched by wild, majestic, rugged mountains.
- A craving for adventure, challenge, fellowship, His presence, powerful horses and gunpowder.
- A calling that comes with a deep love of the rugged wide open spaces and the game we chase.
- Deep respect for the privilege of hunting we get to experience here in Wyoming.
There is no other place like western Wyoming for mule deer hunting. We did our best to manage the things that we had control over. We turned to God for help with the things we had no control over.
Twenty-eighteen was certainly a challenge, like all the other years. Success doesn’t come easy, it needs to be earned. We fought hard for every opportunity given. Although challenging, 2018 was an extremely rewarding mule deer season. The monstrous efforts given by our world class guide staff and clients brought home many incredible trophies and memories to last a lifetime! Many lifelong dreams were answered and lives were changed. Tremendous bucks were taken and some unbelievable bucks were missed (I can’t stress enough the value and importance a shooting class could be for every single mule deer hunter). This herd never stops amazing me! The credit for our success goes to this tremendous herd (as always). With a mild winter this herd can surprise us all. It sure surprised me!
A Look Forward To Another Mule Deer Season
We look forward to sharing this truly authentic, high alpine, mountain mule deer hunt with our clients who moved to other years and our other future clients booked in the coming years. I believe we have some tremendous hunting to share with you in the years to come, especially if we don’t experience another bad winter for a few years. We saw a good number of up and coming bucks this year. The two major fires we experienced in western Wyoming also saved a bunch of bucks from being harvested due to the area closures around the fires. This could be the shot in the arm this herd needed. There is always good that comes from all bad, if you’re willing to look for it.
With our truly amazing success of 2018, it would be easy to assume that this herd doesn’t need any more help from us. That is definitely not the case. The same concerns that I brought up on our Mule Deer in Crisis page still exist. We still need a better long term management solution for the modern hunter. I hope that collectively, resident and nonresident, wildlife managers and outfitters, we can put preserving this amazing herd at the top of our priority list. I think it is undeniable that this is the last stronghold of public land, high country, world class mule deer hunting. This herd is worth ALL of us sacrificing to preserve it. It is our responsibility. We certainly will be doing everything that we can at NTO to pass this amazing herd on to the next generation as healthy as we received it, or better.