Go West Young Man
I am a transplant in Kansas from the East Coast. I hunted strictly with a bow in my home state of Maryland because there were few areas that you could use a rifle. Firearms season was limited to shot guns and I just don’t enjoy using a shotgun so I stuck with the bow.
This changed when I moved to Kansas. After being here for a while I struck up a friendship with some hunters who traveled to Wyoming each year to antelope hunt. They suggested that I join them and I quickly agreed. Only one problem, I didn’t have a rifle.
I quickly did research and settled on a Remington .30-06 and selected Remington Core-Lok 150 grain bullets. Now I had the rifle, but I had to find somewhere to shoot it. Lucky for me there was a gun club not far from my home so I joined and soon was practicing my shooting skills.
I equipped my rifle with a Harris bipod and after sighting in the rifle started practicing with the bipods. They offered a more stable hunting position than just sitting, but less stable than the bench. I kept at it because I knew there would be no benches in the field.
Greg took the lead on the hunt and for those that know Greg, knows that he doesn’t do anything small. For this trip he decided we should camp. Camping sounded good to me, but I didn’t realize that for Greg, it meant that he would go out a buy a wall tent and wood stove for the trip. Bless him for doing it because it is the way to go when you’re camping. The stove was used for warmth and cooking and the tent was big enough for our cots plus a table to play cards at.
I have to admit I was nervous about shooting at long distances. It was a long time ago that I shot a rifle before buying this one and I didn’t want to miss. The only thing I could do was practice and practice some more.
The time for the trip came and we left at night driving through the night. We arrived in Saratoga Wyoming late the next morning and found a spot to set up camp on BLM land. It was a perfect spot near a creek and at the base of a large hill. Elevation was about 7500 feet and I could tell it lacked the oxygen I was used to.
By the time camp was set up there really was only time to do a little scouting. The next day we decided that Greg and Randall would hunt together and I would hunt with Dewey. Dewey asked who would get the first shot and I told him it didn’t matter to me, but he was intent on doing it fairly. He found a pointed rock and flipped it. Whoever it pointed to would get the first shot. My lucky day as it pointed to me.
After a little discussion we decided that since this was our first time hunting speed goats, neither one of us really knew what we were doing, but we pushed on. I recalled the antelope hunts I watched on television and tried to imitate those hunts.
We spotted a buck with some does about a half-mile away and planned a stalk using draws and ravines. Using the contour of the land got us close, but not close enough. We would have to belly crawl the last 500 yards using sage brush for cover. Dewey and I picked a sage brush near the top of the ridge as the point that we needed to get to so I would have a shot.
We crawled and we crawled and I decided that cacti were the nastiest most worthless plants on the face of the earth. We hadn’t reached the sage brush when we got to a point where we thought we should be able to see the buck. He wasn’t there and I was discouraged and ready to call it a blown stalk, but Dewey reminded me of our original plan and said let’s do it. So we belly crawled for another hundred yards and there he was. The buck had bedded down with two does.
Taking a position behind the sage brush for cover I set up for the shot. Dewey was impatient and said, “Shoot him.” I told him that sage brush was covering his vitals and I was going to wait for him to stand.
I waited and he finally stood. I squeezed the trigger, heard the boom, but the goat didn’t go down. I exclaimed, “I missed.” Dewey informed me that I didn’t miss and in a few seconds the buck dropped. I had taken my first antelope and my first big game animal.
It was a wonderful feeling of accomplishment to go west and do a do-it-yourself hunt with a group of friends who, by the way, were all successful. Since then, I’ve been back three more times and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.