Thursday morning arrived with more snow and more wind.
The radio reports were telling a not too pretty picture: I-90 east of Sundance, Wy - closed. Wyoming 585 south of Sundance to Newcastle - closed. I-90 west of Sundance to Gillette - closed. Hwy 16, Newcastle to Moorcroft - closed. Hwy 14, Sundance to Moorcroft - closed. Wyoming hwy 24 from Hulett to Hwy 14 open to emergency travel only.

Along about 3:00 PM, my cousin and I were getting cabin fever. The snow seemed to be letting up, and down in the canyon where the cabin sits, the wind didn't bother us too much, though we could hear it moaning through the tree tops. It sure sounded cold.

We dressed for the conditions and decided to take a walk around, with our rifles, of course, just in case Mombo Buck decided to show himself. The trail out of the canyon is a pretty steep and somewhat winding. Total vertical rise is about 350 feet or so. For a 53+ year old from a desert elevation of 300 feet above sea level, this deep snow hike was real work. On the level, it appeared we had accumulation of 12" to 14". The wind had other ideas, though, and the drifts were rather impressive in some places and often where we needed to go to follow the trail.
It became suddenly obvious that the area had had heavy rains during the spring and summer when I had a large rock roll out from under my right foot and I slipped into the under-snow eroded gully face down and slammed the ocular bell of the Burris scope on a newly exposed (by my body wiping the snow away) rock. Wham! It bounced nicely into the deeper snow and instantly collected ice as the gun had not had the chance to cool completely from the warm cabin. The scope got a nice new scratch and there was an ice ball around the safety and the bolt. No big deal. I wasn't going to pull the trigger on it anyway because the barrel was obstructed with ice now, too. Helluva start!

We finished our climb out of the canyon and worked our way east toward the Black Hills National Forest fence line the cabin property shared, about a 1/4 mile away. It was a little higher that way, say 200 feet or so.
Suddenly, my cousin caught my attention with a light whistle. He was pointing to the trees on my right. At first I saw nothing. Then I saw what appeared to be deer ears. I brought my compact binocular out from under my hunter orange vest and took a look. Yep! Sure enough! 200 yards or so away, a whitetail doe was standing in the trees in snow midway up her legs with her rear toward us, but looking at us over her back. A minute of observation and it was plain to see she was alone.
We swung around a ridge, dropped into a draw and walked through a couple of oak thickets. No more deer. No tracks. The wind had a nasty bite and the snow stung my cheeks and seemed to be digging at my eyeballs.
It appeared the deer were staying under cover until the storm blew itself out. My cousin went to walk another canyon to the north of our position, but I headed around the next ridge and circled toward the cabin's canyon.

Thirty minutes or so after I got back to the cabin, I was warm and running a cleaning rod through the bore of my Tikka .270 with an oil patch to clear any moisture, when my cousin walked in. Nope. He hadn't seen any more deer or tracks either. It was getting late and there was tomorrow. The radio said it was supposed to quit snowing and blowing during the night.
"You got a spare rifle with you?" My cousin asked.
"Yes, I do. Brought my old Remington 788 in .308 as a back up this year."
"You might want to carry it tomorrow. Your .270 took quite a whack when you fell this afternoon."
"Yeah. I was kind of thinking the same thing. I think I will."

Friday morning dawned still, clear and cool. Just what the good doctor ordered! We were out the cabin door as the sun was coming up. It was immediately evident that the wind had continued to blow for some time after we had returned to the cabin as our tracks were mostly drifted over.
At the top of the trail we split up. My cousin headed east to the "saddle" and I went west-northwest to the "Big Meadow" where my brother and I spread Dad's ashes last year. I had brought a bottle of Crown Royal to hang on the old abandoned farmer's disc and was going to have a drink with Pop and enjoy the morning.
About the time I got to my destination, I heard two close shots. Bang, bang! The air was still and cold and the snow seemed to be amplifying all sounds. I could hear voices talking in a conversational tone but could not distinguish the words. I knew the neighbors' property fence in the direction of the shots was 800 yards or so away from my position. I am familiar with that particular area and know it is a very likely place for him or someone hunting his property to bag a deer. The trees between me and that westerly fence had to be 400 yards or so across the meadow from where I sat. These trees grow in and along the walls of what we call the "Homestead Canyon" because the old, original homestead cabin still stands there near a natural, flowing spring. Several nice bucks have been shot in that canyon over the years. Running roughly east-west, it splits into two pieces with the larger portion bearing more towards the north and the smaller bearing east-southeast.

Movement! There! In direct line of where the shots came from! Two whitetail bucks, walking nose to tail in the edge of the trees! The one in front is bigger than the other, but not by much. Mature bucks! I can see their antlers without my binocular.
Slipping the drawstring on the Crown Royal bag onto the rusted handle of the old disc, I whispered: "I'll be back for that drink, Pop! I'm going to see if I can intercept those bucks!"
I swear I heard Dad’s voice say, "Go get ‘em, Boy!"

TO BE CONCLUDED...