Friends, Lessons and Antelope
In 1994 my buddy, Corey, and I decided it would be fun to hunt Antelope here in Utah. We knew it was extremely hard to draw a buck tag so we put our applications in for a doe tag in an area we have never even been to. After the draw results found us successful we started to what we call "The Plan". Of course the plan was, there is no plan. We arrived at our "campsite" well after dark and pitched the tent, fixed some dinner and hit the sack super excited for our luck to have this tag. When we finally made it out of camp the next morning on our ATV's we decided our best option was spot and stalk, so we started to spot. A couple hundred yards out of camp I saw a herd of Antelope running across the road, stopped, waited for Corey and proudly exclaimed, "check out those Antelope", not realizing that they just happened to be the animal we were here to hunt. We were out of luck trying to catch up to them on foot so we set out for a distant ridge to do some spotting.
We parked the bikes and headed out on foot following a fenceline that ran perpendicular with the road, heading South. After we got to the top we realized just how easy this Antelope hunting was going to be. Standing fully exposed along the fenceline, we could see Antelope everywhere we looked. The problem was, they could see us. I don't know how two hunters could be so stupid as to stand there gawking out in the open but there we were, for all to see. I think even the prairie dogs took off running. Lesson 1 was learned. These Antelope could see anything within a mile. After a quick lunch back at the bikes we decided that leaving the bikes where they were gave us the best chance of filling at least one tag that day, so we headed North along the same fenceline. This time we followed it about 10' down the bank to keep from being seen and snuck over the ridge on our knees to scope the vally below. As we crawled over the third ridge we spotted a doe and buck about 400 yards away slowly grazing perpendicular to us. This is when Corey learned lesson#2 of the trip. It is nearly impossible to hunt Antelope with a handgun especially when you are hunting spot and stalk. After deciding that he indeed could not stalk this doe with his Ruger .44 he graciously gave me his first shot opportunity.
Now it was my turn to learn lesson #3 of this hunt. Always and I mean always wear knee pads if you are going to crawl across the desert prairie to shorten the distance of your shot. Me? I made it 5 yards and promptly placed my knee on a cactus. The gig was up. I was in pain. Corey was laughing so hard I thought for sure the Antelope were going to hear him. I was done. Now for lesson #4. Never place a bet with a buddy while hunting if you aren't positive the result will be in your favor. Corey learned the lesson by exclaiming "I'll bet you can't hit her from here!" Well, my .270 can reach out and touch, but 400 yards? I had never taken a shot that far at any game animal. Now, I may have been 19 but I wasn't stupid. I wanted the terms of this bet. Camp cleanup for the entire trip was at stake. I was game. Nothing would make me happier than sitting in the shade while Corey cleaned up camp. It was time to make this happen but I had a cactus in my knee still and I could not lie in a prone position to make the shot. I had to search for options. I just happened to be sitting next to the only post in the fence that spent it's previous life as a small tree, forked branch and all. The perfect rest. I hid all 6'6" of my 300 lbs frame behind that 5" post in the ground. Being spotted was just a matter of time and I was out of it. I placed the cross hairs about 4" above my targets back, took a deep breath and saw her look at my eye right through my scope. I squeezed the trigger and felt the pleasure of a shady seat back at camp run through my bones. She was down. I had won, but just as every hunt prior to this day Corey celebrated none the less.
Now this story doesn't end here. Corey tagged his doe in a very under toned fashion from 25 yards with my .270, an easy shot to be had with the .44 Ruger he left back at camp. Lesson #5, don't give up on the weapon you brought.
Lesson#6, always dig a rain trench around your bottomless military tent.
Lesson #7, never leave home without a handyman jack (handle), bailing wire and duct tape. They are essential in fixing a broken axle on the ATV trailer.
Lesson #8, Always hunt with good friends
Corey and I drew buck Antelope tags for Colorado this year along with his brother-in-law. Between the three of us I think we have at least 10 more lessons that I can write another story about.