August Heat: Wyoming Antelope Hunt
The heat of the August sun began to turn my blind into an almost unbearable sweat box in short order with every minute. However knowing that the hotter I got the thirstier the antelope were getting, and knowing that I had capitalized on a solar well that was miles from any other water source, was somewhat refreshing, but not much.
We began to get parched visitors to the well at 6:30 AM, with my hunting partner, (Darren Douglas) arrowing a very respectable buck at about 6:45 AM. The buck he shot had made it over a ridge to the north of the blind, as we both started out to find him after waiting about an hour. I looked back to the south past the blind, after seeing about 20-30 antelope moving towards the blind I had to bail on Darren and left him to finish on his own. Being a good hunting buddy he didn't come back to the blind while there were any critters on the water making it back about an hour later. After gulping down a few bottles of water Darren again left to retrieve his trophy and left with the truck.
As he left I ventured out of the blind to the south to view the large herd, and to gauge their arrival time to the blind, as well as to determine if there were any shooter bucks in the bunch. As I knelt on the ridge glassing the herd I could see a very distinct mass of black on one of the bucks but with the distance and mirage it was hard to truly tell how good of a goat he really was.
As I sat watching the majority of the herd got up and started to feed in different directions. Finally a few does started to line out in my direction with the rest of the herd falling into line. As they drew closer, I jogged back to the blind folding up the chairs, spotting scope and moving the cooler making sure there was enough room to move around for any shot opportunity as they arose.
Finally a smallish buck came in to the west side of the tank slowly easing up for a drink, I peered through an opening in the blind and could clearly see 20 or more antelope Some standing staring in the direction of the blind and some feeding. Finally the bulk of the herd came in choosing the far north east corner of the over flow pond to slip in and get a gulp.
As they maneuvered around I noticed a massively heavy buck tucked into the bulk of the movement. I estimated his bases at close to 7" carrying his mass well over the cutter.
This is were it started to get frustrating, once one of them came in to water and finally made it, the rest of them all at once started in covering the buck for the most part against any possible shot opportunity. As the majority started to drink one would spook and all would gallop off a short distance, yes they were all bunched up no shot! Every time they came back in, the same scenario played out. Every time I'd pull my bow holding waiting for a shot opportunity, then letting down. I'm sure at least twice one or more caught some movement, simply gazing into the blind.
This played out about a dozen times in probably about half an hour, Finally the big guy made it in lowering his head for a drink, as he did the entire herd engulfed him as they all greedily started to drink.
It appeared that they were going to fill up on water and depart shortly and all I had was a very clear view of the tops of his horns sticking out front of the mob. The herd jerked and bolted again to the east, (Pulling my bow again) the buck stepped clear at 30 yards. Centering the 30 yard pin I touched the release. Just as fast as I heard the bow the arrow disappeared behind his shoulder. The buck raced off behind the blind over the ridge out of sight, with the herd scattering in all directions most of which still indicating they wanted to come back in for a drink.
I gathered my quiver, bow and pack and set out to locate the buck. As I crested the ridge I spotted a few antelope running in a group, but none that indicated they had been hit, slowly I edged forward looking down the other side still not seeing anything and nothing out in front. I took a couple more steps spotting a white patch in the sagebrush, there he was, one of the heaviest bucks I've ever taken with bases of 6 7/8 and carrying the mass all the way up his horns, grossing just over 80 P&Y.
Bow- PSE X-Force
Sight- Cooper John
Arrows- Black Hawk Vapors
Broadhead- Spitfire XP 100
Bino- Brunton 15x51