By Jared Behr
In 2004, I became a member of Huntin’ Fool, and along with other species, I started applying for bison tags in multiple states, including Wyoming. In 2018, a new hunt was planned within the north fork of the Shoshone River drainage between Cody and Yellowstone National Park. At the time of applying, I did not know how many tags would be available, but since the area had not been hunted in many years, it was expected to be a great hunt. In fact, bison hadn’t been hunted there in decades. Some people who are familiar with the hunting history in this area speculated that the last people to hunt this area with bow and arrow could have been Native Americans. The area was known to hold a small herd of older bulls that had moved away from the breeding herds in Yellowstone.
After the results came out, I found out there were only three tags given out and only one of those was for a non-resident. I started planning right away for the four-month season that would open on September 1st.
What weapon would I use? I wrote a story about a 2013 Hells Canyon Idaho sheep hunt that was published in the March 2014 issue of the Huntin’ Fool magazine. After winning the Readers’ Choice Story Contest, I received a Mathews Monster Safari bow. Since then, I have had rifle hunts each season, so I had yet to hunt with the bow. I was excited to have a tag to use it on.
Due to other obligations, I was not able to go until November 3rd. At that point, the other two hunters had harvested their bison, so we had the hunt area to ourselves. Five friends (Richard, Jordan, Beau, Brandon, and Harold) and I made the 16 1/2-hour drive from Bend, Oregon to Cody, Wyoming in one day, arriving close to midnight.
After a night of sleeping in my snowmobile trailer/mobile hunting camp, we were up early and heading into the hunt area. It’s a beautiful drive from Cody west toward Yellowstone along the north fork of the Shoshone River. There are great views of the cliffs and mountains, and plenty of wildlife greeted us.
At about 9:45 a.m., we found a large bull. After getting video and photos, we continued scouting until we covered the rest of the unit. After we left that bull, my 8-year-old friend, Beau, kept insisting that we go back and hunt him. In his words, “It is the biggest and best one here.”
Satisfied that we had looked over all of the small unit, we went back to find the first bull. We found him in the same area where we had left him earlier, feeding close to some trees.
With the wind in our faces, we walked up a draw just north of the bison and worked closer under the cover of trees and brush. With snow falling, I stepped up on a small rise behind a short sapling 22 yards from the feeding bull. Just as I pulled back my bow, he turned and faced straight away from me. I waited for him to turn to the right for a shot. The first arrow went in at a sharp quartering away angle that sent the broadhead into the chest cavity. He walked a short distance, and I quickly followed up with two more shots – one to the heart and one to the lungs that passed completely through him. Before the third shot, he was getting wobbly on his feet, and afterward, he lay down and expired quickly, only 11 yards from where he was standing for the first shot. I was really thrilled to harvest a bison the first day I had ever hunted with my Mathews bow!
Walking up to him, we were struck by how huge he was. Tony, the wildlife biologist for this area, estimated his weight at 1,800 pounds. The game warden, Travis, happened to show up while we were stalking the bull and watched everything play out through his binos. He explained to us some of the history of this bull that added to our appreciation for how incredibly tough these animals are. About five years earlier, he had been hit by an F-250. The truck was totaled, but after being rolled down the road by the truck, the bison got up and started feeding. The evidence of the vehicle accident was large patches of hair that never grew back, so he had been nicknamed “White Patch.”
With the concern of grizzlies, we processed the meat as quickly as we could, with one of us always on the lookout. We felt relieved when we got the last of the meat loaded into the truck before dark. Stopping by the site the next morning, we saw that a grizzly had been there after we left.
Wyoming is one of my favorite states to hunt as it has incredible scenery, plentiful game, and very hospitable people. I really appreciate all the help the locals gave us leading up to the hunt and afterward. Thank you, Travis, Tony, and Tom. I especially appreciate my friends who traveled with me from Oregon – Richard, Jordan, Beau, Brandon, and Harold. The Huntin’ Fool magazine is an incredible resource and a great way to stay up to date on tag opportunities like this one. Thank you, Huntin’ Fool Team!