Having been out of high school and away from my hometown for quite some time, I was talking with a high school buddy of mine who was fascinated with my stories of hunting in my new home in Wyoming.
So Bryan decided to fly out and purchase an excess tag to hunt that season. There was a small problem with this plan. Bryan is in the Navy, so getting time off can be extremely difficult. So when he applied for leave, he received 3 days. Bryan was to fly into Casper on Friday, hunt on Saturday and return first thing Sunday morning. Quite a fast pace for an out of state hunt, but I was determined to do my best, regardless of weather, hell or high water.
Bryan arrived late on Friday and we had dinner and prepared ourselves for getting out the next morning at 4 am.
We arrived to our destination as the sun was just first starting to gleam in the horizon. Which, for spot and stalk hunting, is the perfect time. As we walked down a dusty game trail we were coming around the side of a small hill roughly 300 yards from my jeep. A nice 12 inch antelope buck was standing with a doe right there. As Bryan tried to ready himself, he foundered and after several moments, he allowed the buck to walk off without firing a shot.
We followed slowly in the direction that the pair had gone in. Just another 1/4 mile I used my Leupold Mojave bino's to spot yet another buck, this time, about a 14 incher. We carefully planned our stalk, wind in our favor, we proceeded to the site of the impending massacre, or so we though. As we popped our Orange-clad heads above the horizon of the hill, the buck stood at 150 yards feeding from right to left slowly. He was completely unaware we were watching him. "Excellent" I thought, as I heard the safety come off on Bryan's Mossberg rifle.
After the report of the rifle, the animal seemed to founder, Bryan reloaded, and fired a second shot. The goat took off like a blur and now, nearing 300 yards away in the opposite direction, Bryan fired a third shot. All three shots were misses.
Disheartened, sweaty and low on ammo, we continued our hunt. After 2 hours, we finally spotted another buck. This buck was bedded on a small ridge with about 20 other antelope and a dozen mule deer. We climbed to the other side of the draw; I ranged the buck at 247 yards. I took my spotting scope out and discussed with Bryan that believed this antelope to be a good representative animal, but at 12 inches or so, we might be able to find a better buck even though we had such a limited amount of time. Bryan continued to size up the Goat. Upon consideration, Bryan decided he was too anxious to take another opportunity at a shot and he was going to shoot.
This time, when the shot rang across the small wash out basin, a loud thud was heard after the report of the rifle. The buck was hit and the other game animals scattered in a flash. I could tell the buck would need a second shot to anchor him, so at my request, Bryan put another shot into the antelope from the same distance.
Unfortunately, the buck rolled partway back down the hill, so we drug the buck back to the top of the ridge where it was lying. This is where we took our photographs of the hunt. I caped the buck and quartered him at the top of this ridge.
It was roughly 10:00 am when we got to my Jeep. We traveled back to Casper for a good lunch and to share our excitement with my wife. After a Lunch at Samson's in Casper, we headed to Sportsman's Warehouse to purchase an antelope doe tag. We hunted the rest of the afternoon and were not able to close the deal on a second animal. But that night, we celebrated the kill in my driveway while I prepared his cape and horns for the airport the next day.
With the time constraints we held for the trip, I think everything went more successfully than we could have planned for. We had great weather for the trip, we had very little wind for the high plains, and we saw tons of goats. It was a very memorable trip for the both of us.
I haven’t seen Bryan since the end of that year, we still get to talk from time to time, but one day he'll put in for leave again and we'll make another hunting trip out of it. Hopefully an elk or mule deer trip.
Bryan's goat was 13.5 inches on the longer horn (one was broomed off) I believe it weighed 165 pounds and was killed on BLM land outside of Casper all before 10:10am.
This hunt reminds me often of how important it is to take opportunities to visit your friends and family, even when you only have one day to hunt. Frequently, I get too wrapped up in planning certain aspects of my hunt. And it helps to remember that I'm not the one in control. Hopefully, I'll be able to sit back, put my life on autopilot and let the clouds just roll past me.