Beep, beep, beep…3:30 a.m. felt like an early start, but after waiting over seven years to have a mule deer tag in her pocket again, she sprang out of bed as her phone alarm buzzed. Sadee Sholly Anderson has hunted alongside her dad, Todd Sholly (owner of Red Rock Precision), since she was able to walk. With dozens of hunts under her belt, hunting was an obvious passion of hers growing up. However, as she reached her late teenage years, hunting took somewhat of a backseat to her other childhood hobby. High school soccer happens to take place during the same time as most hunting seasons, consequently not allowing Sadee to follow her dad through the mountains as often as she would have liked. Once graduated, Sadee decided to serve an 18 month service mission for her church which also postponed her ability to hunt. These seven long years of waiting made this trip to the backcountry of Wyoming that much more exciting for her.
After a quick pit stop at the Red Rock Precision shop for some last minute supplies, Sadee and Todd were on the road.
They had a big day ahead of them so as soon as they made it to the trailhead, they wasted no time in loading packs on the llamas and heading up the mountain to 10,000 feet.
Fifty to sixty pounds in each of their packs was a good weight for dry ground, but just over the halfway point of their hike, Sadee and Todd found themselves in crusty snow breaking through with every step. This made the last few miles quite the leg-burner.
Base camp never looked so good. As the sun made it’s way behind the horizon, they raced to get a fire going, unpack, and dig out a place for their tent. After roasting some delicious ribeye steaks over the fire (benefits of bringing llamas), Sadee and Todd hit the hay anxious for what day one would bring the next morning.
As they left camp and hiked out of the basin, it was barely light enough to start glassing. Immediately they spotted a good buck bedded on one of the distant ridges. After some contemplation and calculations for a 958 yd shot, Sadee decided to go for it. “One of the benefits of your dad owning a long-range custom rifle company is that I get to shoot a lot, at all kinds of ranges and in all kinds of circumstances. I got down into the rifle with full confidence.” Just as Sadee got set up, another deer from above spooked their buck sending him running over the ridge before she had a chance to make her shot.
A little disappointed, Sadee and Todd felt fortunate to continue hunting and they wasted no time moving to the next game plan. They spent the better part of the day trekking around in the snow and glassing up more deer, trying to find another shooter.
They decided to quickly head back to camp and regroup before heading out that evening. With black clouds just over the treetops and heading their way; they ate a quick lunch, prepped dinner for later and stocked up on water in the “secret” spring. “My dad has been hunting out of this same base camp for over 25 years. The first time they hunted here, they found a natural spring and brought a PVC pipe the next year for easy access. It’s some of the best water you will ever drink.”
The storm finally blew over so they headed out to make the best of the last few hours of light. As they admired some of unique landmarks in this beautiful country, they found some promising deer sign amidst all the snow. This helped them make a solid plan for the next morning. The moon slowly rose over the distant mountains as they made it back to camp and enjoyed a hot meal around the fire.
The morning of day two brought beautiful views and extremely cold temperatures. There was a different feeling in the air and they were feeling confident.
They made it to a basin that had a few bare spots on the hillsides exposing food for the deer. Sure enough, the plan they made the previous night played out perfectly. As they peeked over into this basin, they immediately spotted a good buck bedded in a patch of pines 500 yards below them. They quickly dropped their packs and snuck down to the closest ridge to get set up. While they waited for the buck to stand out of his bed, they made sure everything was perfect so when he stood up, Sadee would be ready.
“I must have checked the scope a hundred times to see if he had stood up yet.” After what felt like hours of waiting, not to mention seven years leading up to this moment, the buck finally stood out of his bed. Sadee having already run the scenario through her head over and over, wasted no time pulling the trigger and sending one out of her 300 ultra mag.
With one perfectly placed shot, the buck collapsed right back into its bed. Just like that, it was over. They hurried back to camp and packed up the llamas so they could beat the nasty storm headed their way. After snapping a few photos and quartering out Sadee’s buck, they filled their bottles with Ignite and started the long journey down the mountain back to the truck. “This trip was a special experience for many reasons. I have always loved the time I get to spend with my dad doing something we are both passionate about. I was tested both mentally and physically on numerous occasions. It made the hunt more rewarding having to work so hard to get it done. I am blessed to have a healthy body that brought me to such beautiful country very few are able to see for themselves. I can’t wait to start training again for next year. Seven years was too long.”