I contacted Shannon Yeske of Northern Plains Outfitters and we set some dates. We were gonna be heading out in 3 weeks! Ryan is hard on the squirrels behind the house with his compound but we'd need something with a little more ass on this hunt so I picked him up a CenterPoint Wrath crossbow and we started practicing.
Shannon said 40 yards would be a decent distance to have him practice so that's what we did. We shot every afternoon that we could and he was confident going into the hunt. I did hear "do you think I'll make a good shot" no less than 25 times a day! I loved it. I thought it was really cool that he was putting so much focus on the shot. I told him that if he put as much effort into his shooting until we left as he did his TKD practices that he'd be fine.
After a few weeks of shooting and reviewing shot placement pics it was time to get on a plane. The weather in Athol looked decent (mid 40's) for the first 2 days then super cold (subzero temps) the rest of the trip. We needed this to happen sooner than later.
We arrive in SD to a wind storm. It was ~46 degrees and would have been a perfect day if not for the wind. Ryan was concerned about having to adjust his shot left of right depending on the wind. I liked that he just asked the question and didn't need to be told. It shows that he's thinking and I loved it! We landed around 12:30 and after getting our baggage we headed to camp with Jason. Shannon had been scouting a few days prior and had a few nice cows spotted. We got changed into our huntin' clothes and headed out. After a 30 minute ride we get to the field and unload. We had about a 2 mile walk to get where we needed to be.
Once we got there we saw two cows. One was in a decent spot with a little longer shot than I'd like him to take, the second was taking cover in the trees and looked like a better option. Off we went! After about 45 mins we got close enough to take a good look. Unfortunately it had a busted off left side. We decided to back out and try to make a play on the other cow. She was bedded at what looked to be 70 yards off of a tree line with her back to it. We had quiet a good walk ahead of us to get the wind right so we got to it. Once we circled around and got into position Shannon and April stayed back while Ryan and I continued. Before we set out I explained the play to Ryan. We needed to crouch down and move super slowly until we put a big tree between ourselves and the bison. I told him to stay as close to me as possible and we started stalking. I'll never forget looking back at him about halfway into the stalk. The nervous excitement on his face was pure gold. Once we got to the tree I threw a range on the cow.....50 yards. 10 yards further than we'd practiced. When I told him the range he said he could do it. It was his hunt and I trusted his call. He was all over it at 40 yards during practice and the wind wasn't much of a factor at that moment. I loaded a bolt on the crossbow, set it on the shooting sticks and turned him loose.
Once he was stable I whipped out the phone to try to catch the moment on video. He took his time and settled in before touching off the trigger. I watched the lighted nock disappear right behind the cow's shoulder. He smoked her!! Ryan busts out "Oh my god, that's a perfect shot!" The video of his reaction is amazing! He was super proud of the shot he made and a few moments later his bison was down. It took 20 minutes for him to calm down. This was what the trip was all about!!
We got to the business of trophy photos and his face says it all! I chose not to process my bison from the first trip and that turned out to be a huge mistake. This time we chose to get the butcher to process it for us. We decided on a bison rug and euro mount for the skull so after we skinned her out we cut her in half and left her to cool over night. The job the butcher did was amazing! Totally top shelf job with all the cuts vacuum sealed and labeled. Once the meat was back we packed it in totes and weighted it all out. 4 totes with 50lbs in each and around 40lbs of burger in a carry on bag. Our freezer was officially full, Ryan got to see what one of my trips looked like and came away from it with a huge sense of accomplishment. We've talked about his next hunt and he's torn between Bear or Antelope. I couldn't be more proud of this little guy!
This was my second time with Shannon and Northern Plains. Great folks all-around. The food is killer, the lodging is very clean and well maintained and there are no shortages of beer in the fridge. I wouldn't look at another spot for bison other than Shannon's outfit.
Congrats Young Man and your Mom and Dad are raising you right,
JK obviously. Congratulate him twice for us!!
Bringing him up right there! It takes a lot of discipline to get to a black belt level and to learn about use of a weapon… At 8, he definitely has it together and will go far with that foundation! Congratulations to you and his mom for raising him to be a solid man!
Congrats and thx for sharing!