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Wyoming Antelope

By Paul Askew

This year (2014) my Wyoming antelope season had a bleak outlook. I had checked the WDFG website for left over tags and for the unit that I have hunted the last 2 years there were plenty of tags, so I figured that I would wait a few days until I had time to sit down and make the purchase. Well, that was a mistake, because they all sold or were pulled by WDFG in a short 5 day span.


This meant I would have to get on the phone with land owners and make the necessary calls to find a place to hunt in a unit that still had left over tags. After 5 hours of calling and ruling out a few land owners that sounded like they had way to many guys and not enough animals, I found a gentleman that charged a bit more for access, but assured me it was worth it.


My hunting partner for the trip was my friend Justin Z. I hunted with Justin in Utah back in 2009 and appreciated his no nonsense independent way of hunting. Show him an area and he will figure it out. That is the kind of partner I like. He goes his way and I go mine.


We left on a Sunday morning and drove all day and into the night finally arriving in Billings Montana around 9:00 PM. We grabbed a Super 8 motel, some dinner, and hit the sack. Monday found us on the road early and we arrived at our destination around 11:00 AM. The land owner was chasing parts for a truck, so we did a little scouting based on the conversation I had with the land owner and general location of his property. Yep, we found his land and there were antelope on it. Including a large mature buck.


Around noon, I got the call to meet the land owner at his house, which we did promptly. By 1:00 PM, we were in his little 4x4 ATV heading out to get the lay of the land. While doing so, we glassed up several herds of antelope. Wasting no time, we got back to our truck, got our gear, and headed out to the field.


Justin having never taken an antelope decided to go after the buck that we found while doing our own bit of glassing from the road before we met the land owner and I took off after what looked like a decent buck that we glassed up during our tour of the ranch.


Finding the buck I was after was tricky to say the least. I was entering from a completely different direction and had to navigate around 3 other herds of antelope before getting to this buck. I got up to the highest vantage point I could. At that point, I was able to glass 2 herds that had only does and a couple of smaller bucks. I did not want to spook these herds, because they were within a half of a mile of the herd I was after and often times if you spook one herd, the others follow suit.


I glassed up a solid route using a nice long shallow draw that would keep me undetected for about a half mile. Once I got through the draw, I was close, but I did not know how close and this is where my adrenaline starts pumping, because I now have to move slow looking at everything in front of me. I was in territory that I did not have a vantage point from, so I was now crawling on my hands and knees to top every small ridge. Crawl a step and kneel up for a look through the glass. After an hour, I finally laid eyes on some antelope. However, after glassing the group of 5 for about 10 minutes, I realized this was not the group I was looking for.


I continued along another small draw that led closer to where I thought I should be headed. A diversion ditch made for a nice terrain feature that allowed me to move a little quicker. I moved along every 20 to 30 yards and poked my head up until I saw some more antelope. As luck would have it, I found the group of 15 or so that I was looking for and for whatever reason, the closest antelope was the buck I was after.


The adrenaline started kicking in, so it was time to try and slow down and stay calm. I had to tell myself the check list I need to go through. First, I decided to range the buck from where I was positioned.  He was only 250 yards. I picked a small ridge between the buck and I that was just under a hundred yards, so I knew I was going to be with 150 once I got in position. On that little ridge was a clump of sage brush that I used as a reference point for my stalk.

 

I cut the distance to the ridge in short order and got to with 10 yards of the clump of sage that I was going to use for cover. From this point I pulled out my little tripod and attached my video camera. I got on my belly and moved my pack in front of me, my rifle and video camera to my right. One slow belly crawl at a time until I was in position. The buck was quartering towards me and lying down. He was right at 150 yards, I got the camera in position and hit record, nudged my gun up on top of my pack, found the bucks chest in my scope, left the safety on and practiced a couple of breathing cycles, took the safety off and squeezed the trigger.

 

The buck jumped up and moved about 10 yards, wobbled and went down. I was ecstatic. This was my biggest buck in 3 trips to Wyoming and I was sure I had it all on camera. I approached the buck and admired his beauty. I called the land owner and told him I got the buck we glassed up earlier. While waiting for the land owner to come out with his 4x4, I set up my camera and got some pictures. I reviewed the video and realized that the little bit of grass that was blowing around is what the camera focused on and completely missed the shot. Next year I will bring a taller tripod. All in all, Justin and I filled 4 tags each on this trip and had a great time doing so. Not to mention, we both came home with a freezer full of the best meat on the planet. The buck Justin went after, he got him.