My first antelope buck
After living in Colorado for the last three years and with the success we had there and in Wyoming we were starting to think we had it all figured out. We were wrong of course but we were still enjoying far greater success than we ever had before back in Wisconsin. Through some co-workers that hunted a little I aquired a couple of phone numbers for some ranchers in Wyoming that we should be able to hunt on their land for antelope. Back then we didn’t plan very well and picked up the only leftover buck tags we could find. I don’t even think we had any maps if I remember correctly. In addition to that I didn’t even have a box of bullets ready to go and I had to buy a box when we stopped and got our tags and habitat stamps. Good thing the old 30-06 is easy to feed and you can find ammo everywhere you go.
We made our limited plans and about a year later we were once again on our way north to hunt goats in Wyoming. We arrived a day before the season and found a hotel to make our plan for the next day. Foolishly we had not actually called the ranches we were supposed to be able to hunt on ourselves ahead of time and had trusted my co-worker with the advance plans. He had given us this information in exchange for some work from my dad and basically gave us some real but very bad hunting information, I found out later that he was that kind of guy and would never give up one of his good spots no matter what even if he never intended to hunt there again. We were in fact given permission to hunt in the area we had our tags for but the rancher informed us that his property was very poor for antelope and my "friend" had never killed one there. In fact it had been over a month since he had seen one on his property and was very surprised we had been sent to hunt there. My friend had gotten a really good one but not anywhere near where he had told me it happened and we did not have permission for the same ranch. We were a little lost for a while but the local game office gave us a list of phone numbers of local ranches that might allow some hunters in. An hour on the phone and a hundred dollars less out of each of our pockets and at least we had a place to hunt for a few days. The family was very nice and even provided us with a good breakfast before we headed out in the trucks to look for game. I am happy to say that things went well for the rest of the day and all three of us got our antelope in just a few hours. We split up and all went in different directions with the rancher and his sons. I was with the rancher himself and as we were waiting and glassing a little we heard shots coming from the direction the others had gone. Within a couple of minutes a herd of about fifteen antelope came running over the closest hill and skidded to a stop when they saw us. I did get excited with this being my first chance at a buck antelope but picked out the buck from this small herd and quickly made a clean miss with my first shot, They took off running again but I was able to get another shot as the buck stopped just below the hill top and gave me one more chance. At the time this was the longest shot I had ever made at just over 200 yards. I was still shaking but I placed the crosshairs on the bucks chest as I fired and watched him drop at the shot. It took me a minute to recover and get my senses back as I received my first case of scope eye with a nice cut that has left me a little scar to remember that day by. I was very surprised though when we got out there and found out I had hit him square in the side of the head. This was probably a result partly of my excitement and bad shooting and also from buying and using bullets that had never been tried out in my gun before. I only remember that they were 165gr Federals of some sort which is a weight I had never even used before. All three of us got bucks that morning and much to my surprise I learned that mine was the biggest. That was something I had never accomplished before as it was usually my dad that took those honors.
It would be nearly 20 years before I made it to Wyoming to hunt again but now it has become an annual tradition. And fortunately I learned my lesson and do my planning much better now.