I have always been an elk and deer hunter, but early in 2006 my good buddy that I hunt waterfowl with asked me if I wanted to go on an antelope hunt in Wyoming that year. I never turn down a chance to hunt a new form of quarry. Up to this time I had only hunted big game in Colorado, so filling out another state's big game application looked Greek to me. I finally got it done and even though you are allowed to apply for two doe tags I choose to just apply for one....did not want to seem too greedy. This will come back to bite me later in the year.
Even before the draw results had been posted I have been working up loads and dialing in the trusty ole Remington .257 Roberts. This gun has taken my Dad's and my first elk. My dad's was a real nice 6x6 and mine was a big fat cow. So this gun means a lot to my family and I really wanted to take my first antelope with it. I got the gun dialed in real good and she was shooting a silver dollar at 200 yards. So I was pretty confident that I could take an antelope with it at 300 yards maybe more if the conditions were right.
When the draw results came out and I found out I had drawn my tag, I could not wait for October to get here and little did I know that the next few months would feel like it took and eternity to get here. My step son was gonna tag along with me on this hunt and it would be his second big game hunt. Back in March his grades were pretty bad and his Mom and I decided that he could not put in for a tag, but if he got his grades up he could go along on the hunt. He did a great job getting his grades up to come along. I told him that keeping his grades up all year is part of the hunting deal, just can't work hard when the season rolls around you have to work hard all year to earn the right to go hunting. That is the way my parents handled me and hunting, so I thought I would just pass it down and the same will hold true when my own son is old enough to hunt.
The Friday before the season opened found us heading to Wyoming to meet up with some of my buddy’s family and to get camp set up. When we got there at first I thought we had driven too far as I have never seen it rain so hard in Wyoming before. It was coming down so hard you could barely see 10 feet in front of you. Thru all the mud and muck we got camp set up and then just settled in and let it rain as much as it wanted. Rifle hunting is not like bow hunting them, when wet condition for bow hunting are not ideal, come rifle season it can rain all it wants you do not have to rely on them to come to your water hole for a shot, they just have to be within the range of you and your trusty rifle.
Opening day was a complete change from the night before, although it was chilly from all the rain the rain had stopped and the sky was clear. Worst part was all the mud, made walking and driving a real challenge. My buddy pointed me in the direction of where I would be hunting and told me just work my way up the cut in the bluff and find a good spot where you can see them coming. Now where we hunt Wyoming the antelope like to use these cuts for bedding and cover, there is also a lot of dried up wash outs where they also like to hang out. We got there well before daylight as to not let the antelope know we were in the area. Just as it was starting to get light I could see some movement from below us toward and old wash out. Also in this area is seems that there is a lot of antelope does that have some good size horns. We have seen them as long as four inches. When we first spotted the antelope it was about 400 yards away but walking straight at us and in the low light I could not tell whether it was a doe or a buck. It was getting lighter and lighter by the minute and the antelope was getting closer and closer. Finally I could make out that the antelope had some horns on it, but still could not tell whether it was a buck or doe yet. The antelope finally reached 250 yards and now it was getting right light out and I was pretty sure it was a doe as I could see no black patch on the cheek of the animal and in Wyoming if you see any black it's a buck. So I got down and called my buddy on the radio to tell him my dilemma as he was only a mile or so away. He said the same thing you see black it's a buck, but if no black and if the horns are less than 5 inches I can use my doe tag. So I sat there a bit still wondering whether it was a buck or doe and now it's at 200 yards. Just about the time I was gonna let it walk, out of the corner of my eye I spot a nice buck coming up the same path this antelope had taken. Once he spotted the other antelope he literally ran to its spot and starting chasing it around and thanks to that and great optics I was able to determine that it in fact was a doe. Now I just needed that buck to stop chasing her, as he was pushing her farther away. My step son was right next to me running the rangefinder calling out distances and he muttered the words, she is coming back and is at 205 yards I put the crosshairs on her neck and pulled the trigger. What I saw next will forever be burned in my mind. She was at bit of an incline and when the bullet hit her she fell back on her rear haunches and sat there for a second or two like a dog sitting for a treat, and then she fell over backwards and retired. Did not take the buck long to relocate himself to another county.
When I walked up on her I could not have been happier and she was a real nice mature doe and with that my passion for hunting antelope started and has not let up yet. Antelope camp is now a yearly tradition just as elk camp is. Was really glad my step son was there to be involved in the whole thing. I even let him have a few "hero" shots in the end.