The "Long" Ranger's Nephew's Horse

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Sorry for the "Christmas Story" plug in the title but I just saw the movie for the millionth time and it is seared into my brain.

My brother is fascinated by long range shooting. And he's got the caliber for it. His 7mm WSM is quite the sniping rig. He practices regularly with a 12x12 AR500 steel plate out to 600 yards and it has paid off in the fact that he is quite the shot. On this hunt, he needed this particular set of skill sets. This was his first antelope hunt and we had heard from a friend that the area was full of antelope and that we should expect to punch our tags early with a short shot on oblivious antelope. It didn't turn out quite like that.

We had driven up on a Friday after my brother and I had gotten out of class. We made it up to our camp on BLM land and got to know the new hunters in camp. They turned out to be great guys and I look forward to sharing many campfires with them in the future. One of the other guys and his son had already filled all thier tags and told us of a spot that they'd seen antelope while driving back to camp. Through a simple game of rock-paper-scissors, we decided who would get the first chance and it turned out to be my brother. He was also the only one out of us to be holding a buck tag. We geared up and headed for the area that our buddy had mentioned. He wasn't lying. There were antelope not two miles from camp. Here it was, just a couple hours after we had made it up to this unfamiliar area and we were already on antelope. We were hooked!
Three young bucks ran across the road in front of us and stopped about 200 yards up into a small canyon. My brother got out of the truck and started a stalk. I was to man the video camera and he would wield his long range rig. As it turned out, he needed to have done more practice shooting on the run because his first chance at them came while they were on a full on sprint. He ended up missing the shot and we watched where the bucks went. They disappeared into a deep ravine about 3/4 of a mile away. Once they got out of sight, we took off across the prairie. My brother was determined to make up for the missed opportunity and assured me that if I gave him the correct range, and the animal cooperated by presenting a standing, broadside shot, that it would be a done deal. He was right.
We crept up to the edge of the ravine just in time to see the first of the bucks climbing out on the far side. My brother asked what the range was. I pulled out my Bushnell Yardage Pro and leveled it on the bucks brisket. It read 511 yards. But the buck was still putting distance between us. He hadn't seen us yet but was still acting a little skittish from his earlier encounter with humans that make big noises. When he came to a stop I ranged him again. This time the rangefinder said that the buck was 552 yards across the canyon. I was getting ready to let my brother know what I thought about a shot that far, when the rifle cracked. The buck went three and a half feet... from standing on four legs, to the ground. He had put a perfect high lung shot on him that departed enough shock to the spine to not allow the buck to take a step. He was a young buck, but any first in a hunter's career is a trophy. And the fact that all of his practice on the rifle range had paid off was just icing on his backstrap laden cake.


jim boyd's picture


I find accuracy like that to be stunning!

That he can repeat it, which is verified by practice shooting, is all the more reason to pay homage to a young man that I will use the word I do not use that often on - he is a "shooter".

There are a lot of wanna-be shooters out there - but folks that can consistently shoot at 500 yards (and can prove it) are rare indeed.

What usually happens is a friend of someone's uncle shoots a deer (one time) at 300 yards, says it was 400 and by the time the fire dies down that night and all of the Bud cans have been smashed, it was 547 laser measured yards and the deer was in a dead run when he was shot.

You likely know the drill.

A well written, concise story about a hunt that went right - way to go Hawkeye, I appreciate your writing and your contributions to the great stories we read on BGH.

GooseHunter Jr's picture

That is a great story and a

That is a great story and a great shot on an antelope.  Without causing a debate I do not care for long range hunting.  I always think there has to be a way to get closer.  I should also say that I do practice at longer ranges but only to make a shorter shot seem like a cake walk.  I would take a long shot only if I felt that there was NO way I could close the distance.

CVC's picture

I got to thinking about your

I got to thinking about your brother and his long distance shooting.  Does he handload yet?  Handloading or as some say, rolling your own ammo is fun and really improves performance and accuracy.  I have bought factory ammo with primers missing  so it made me question the quality control of some factory ammo.  By handloading I am the QC inspector and I can try a variety of loads and bullets to tighten my groups.

The actual shot is up to me, but eliminating other controllable variabes is not only fun but helps when it comes to take that one shot on an animal you've been stalking for an hour.  Initial costs to get started are probably around 300 dollars for new, but you can find used cheaper.

hawkeye270's picture

Sorry for the late reply I

Sorry for the late reply I must have missed it in my notifications. Yes, my brother has started to "roll his own" and repeated a similar shot this year on another buck at 430 yards. The buck in this story was shot with premium factory ammo though which had proven to shoot very well in his rifle.

jim boyd's picture


Man, you guys are just some great shooters out west!

I am feeling a little inadequate over here in the south - for us, a 200 yard shot is a long one!

I can see now that I am going to have to do some serious long range practice work before I can get out that way and hunt with great confidence...

Another at 430 yards - again, simply stunning - great work on his part!


CVC's picture

Long range shots are a

Long range shots are a necessity in the west.  Some people criticize people for taking long shots, but when I am hunting in WY for antelope, the terrain and quarry just does not allow a hundred yard shot all the time.  I have belly crawled over three football yards through rugged ground, nasty cacti and pokey sage bushes to run out of any cover and still face a 400 yard shot. 

I am sure you will be able to make the shot as I can tell from your posts that you take hunting seriously and will be prepared when you go west.    i personally think a range finder is an important tool when hunting out west to help determine distance.  The openess of the terrain can make determining distance difficult.

The one thing that is to your advantage is that since you are a good ways away from the animal, you often have time to get a solid position and rest and to take your time to make a good shot.

CVC's picture

Hey, better late than never

Hey, better late than never :)  Nothing wrong with factory ammo, it just seems a natural progression for people who like to shoot long range accurately to start reloading their own ammo.  Congrats again to your brother.

CVC's picture

I wonder what percentage of

I wonder what percentage of hunters spend time at the range, not just sighting in their gun, but practicing shooting?  When I hunt, I want to not just make the shot, but to make a good shot.  I want the point of impact to be where i was aiming.

Good for your brother to take shooting seriously.  It obviously paid off.  A running shot has so many variables it is tough to make even at close ranges.  I am impressed with hunters that can make a running off hand shot - it is not in my bag so i just wait for them to stop or pass on the shot.

I believe it is not the size of the horns that make a trophy, but the size of the hunt that went into taking the animal that is the trophy.

jaybe's picture

Nice Shot!

It's amazing what our modern rifles and loads are capable of.

That was a really nice shot! I'm sure he was pretty pleased to be able to do that.

You didn't say how the hunt went for the rest of you.

Did you get your does?

Thanks for the story.