Since Buffalo Bill guided the Prince of Monaco in 1913, hunters have traveled to the peaks and grasslands of Cody Country to capture their game. Along with the stories of strategies and near misses, these folks always seem to have a fun story worth repeating year after year.
Beau Tipton tells the story of an antelope hunting trip south of Cody. Young Beau and his buddy were a bit full of themselves that day as they prepared to win their match.
“We were two young guys acting a little smug when we left,” Beau says. “We were sure that we would succeed; we never thought otherwise.
In the end, it was a fruitful journey, but not without drama. As Beau recounts, he had just shot an antelope and was beginning to train his game when, about that time, a gunshot was fired in his direction.
“I was wondering what was going on,” Beau says. “I rushed to my friend to find out why he was shooting at me. It turns out that when I briefly turned away from my game, a coyote descended on it hoping to share my success. I didn’t even know it was there! Luckily, my buddy had only fired at me to scare him off.
Atop Willow the Mule, 14-year-old Madison Rosencranse caught a huge bull elk in mid-October. For those who care about such things, the elk was a 7 by 9. For those who don’t have a clue, it’s a huge set of woods. Don’t ask her where she found the elk; like any seasoned hunter, she keeps it to herself.
“Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to go hunting,” Madison says. “But first I had to be nine and then take the hunter safety course.”
And of course, his father, Dustin, had to confirm that it was “his time to hunt”. Meanwhile, Madison practiced shooting the .22s and BB guns the family has around the house.
Fast forward: To date, Madison has pocketed four deer, three elk, an antelope…and a bear. “I was 12 when I had my bear,” she adds. “It wasn’t easy because other hunters scared the bear away and we had to find it.”
She wasn’t afraid? “The secret is to be mindful, not fearful – and to listen to Dad,” she says. “You just need to be safe.”
Besides winning game and achieving a big goal, Madison mentions some benefits of hunting. “I love being outdoors,” Madison explains, “and Dad cooks tasty food.” Because animals are most active early in the day or late afternoon, a successful hunt means an early start and the required noon nap. “Sometimes we also fish in the afternoon,” she says.
According to Dustin, one of her biggest challenges is “having to feed her constantly.” For Madison, she doesn’t like being cold too much, but in the end, the hunt is worth it. “I couldn’t ask for more,” she adds.
Kim Stambaugh Zierlein comes from a family of hunters and outfitters. When she was a junior in high school, she remembers a typical “zero-dark-thirty” early morning for hunting day. She got up at 3:30 a.m. to do her first job: fill a thermos with coffee. Then she put on her long johns, jumpsuit, oversized winter coat and her “pumpkin top,” her tag for the mandatory hunter orange beanie.
“Outside, I helped Dad catch and load horses so we could get up the mountain by 6 a.m. at the latest,” Kim says. “My uncle joined us as we hunted from the homestead of Southfork.”
“Around 10 a.m. we came across a herd of elk,” Kim continues. “As the three of us had elk tags, it was perfect. Then it happened: the herd caught wind of us and started circling. A cow retreated to take the point, stopped and turned about 250 to 300 yards from me. It was the perfect moment for me since I always shot first. I had a sideways angle and the momentum was still.
Kim says she was so excited she had to say to herself “inhale, exhale”. In the meantime, the men had grown impatient with her patience and filming. Their complaints came loud and clear, and they decided to do the climb themselves.
“I was ordered to go to the horses, and the guys were going to ‘sneak’ on the moose to try and get their attention stopped,” adds Kim. “No – I got to an elk 45 minutes later and a breathless uncle who thought he could outrun an elk. Ha ha.
“I can’t help but laugh every time I think of an 80s deer hunting trip on Southfork with my buddy Roger Aurand,” said former Cody resident Rod Poole. “We had a late start and knew we wouldn’t reach camp before dark. We decided to stop along the trail to sleep under the stars.”
Rod describes Roger as a manly man – a tall, tall, burly guy with a bit of a “mountain look” and a loud voice.
“Knowing that, it’s easy to understand my confusion when, in the middle of the night, I heard a soft, almost childish voice call my name,” Rod explains. “At first I thought I was dreaming but soon realized I had really heard a voice.”
Rod shouted, asking who was there and what they wanted. “It’s me, and I’m lost,” Roger replied.
Roger found his way back to camp by following Rod’s voice. Back at camp, Roger explained that during the night “nature” had come calling. He wandered away from the campsite to mind his business, then couldn’t find his way back.
“The next morning, as we were about to hit the track, Roger said he needed to find his wallet,” adds Rod. “His wallet? Really?”
Apparently Roger dropped it where he had been otherwise busy the night before. He told Rod that at the time he forgot to pack the “necessary paperwork” to complete the job. To get by, he pulled out his wallet and used the paper money to “close the deal.” Once he realized he was lost, his wallet was the last thing on his mind.
“We spent a lot of time looking for this wallet – or ‘dirty money’ – but we never found it,” Rod continues. “By then we had lost interest and decided it was best to try again another day. Roger passed away in 2019 and I miss him everyday. Thank the Lord for these hilarious memories!
Carl House loves to hunt in Cody Country. Over the years he acquired several different horses, almost all of them a certain shade of brown. This posed a problem for Dr. Stephen Mainini who was part of a hunting party with Carl and his friends.
“When Carl announced it was time for each of us to saddle our horses, they all looked the same to me,” Doc says. “In my defense, they were all brown and it was still dark outside. How was I supposed to know which one was mine?
To solve the problem next time, Doc told Carl that he would borrow a friend’s light horse. He headed for the pasture where he was to pick up the easily identifiable horse but had a real problem getting there.
Around that time, a man he didn’t know arrived and asked what Doc was trying to do. “I explained that I was borrowing the horse for a hunting trip,” Doc continues, “but I couldn’t understand why he balked at the horse trailer.”
The man offered a quick explanation. “It’s my horse; you are in the wrong pasture!