Flashback Friday

Colorado AntelopeOf all the hunting I’ve done over the years, few hunts stand out in my mind as much as the pronghorn hunt I went on last August.  It was so many things in one it’s almost hard to describe.  It was hot, uncomfortable, frustrating, dirty, tiring, and at some points, just downright shitty.  It also turned into one of the coolest things I’ve ever done afield.

Summer of 2012, my dad and his friends did this hunt with some of his friends from Missouri.  They had pretty good success and in general, enjoyed the trip.  It sounded pretty straight forward.  Sit in a blind by a water hole and when a buck came for a drink, shoot him in the ribs.  Yeah, sounds simple enough.  Sign me up.

By the time we landed in Colorado Springs, I knew shit was about to get weird.  Our flight had been cancelled, re-scheduled, and then delayed.  Dad’s bags didn’t show up at baggage claim.  We were late getting in camp and by the time we arrived, everyone was in bed.  The next morning, when everyone hit the prairie, we were standing around, thumbs firmly in our asses, waiting for the store to open at 8 so we could buy our license.  I’m somewhat superstitious, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned.

Since dad was in full street clothes mode with no bow, he sat that afternoon with me.  It was the only fun day I had.  We were together and were able to talk and we even saw one doe come to water while the rest of the harem and the giant buck guarding it stayed 200 yards away.  The next 2 days I saw exactly zero antelope.  None.  Zero.

At this point, I started questioning my outfitter’s judgement.  I’m a guide myself, and I know the rules of being a good client.  Rule #1 is don’t guide the guide.  I couldn’t help it.  No one in camp was having anything close to success.  They simply weren’t coming to water.  It was readily apparent that something needed to change.  But being the good client is sometimes hard, and I sucked it up and sat where I was put, hoping these guys knew what they were talking about.

The last day of the hunt started out a little later than usual and as we were driving in, our guide, Oscar spotted a lone buck bedded across the prairie.  He stopped and asked if I wanted to try and go kill him.  Hell yes.  Finally we were going to try and make something happen.  Even if this didn’t work, it beat the hell out of sitting in a hot blind all day with 4 million flies and no cell phone service.

Antelope Stalk

Oscar grabbed a decoy from the truck bed and we started our approach.  It is important to note here that the decoy we used was meant to be stuck in the dirt and left, not carried on spot and stalk mission.  It was similar to a 3d bow target and weighed about 20 pounds.  When we got half a mile or so from the bedded goat, the buck spotted the decoy and locked on to it.  Luckily, he failed to notice the absurdity of an antelope moving sideways across the open prairie with two grown men crouched behind it.  At the 200 yard mark, he stood and started toward us.

I watched him coming toward us with his head lowered and mane standing.  He walked with purpose across a small draw and up the other side.  At this point, I realized he was committed and a shot opportunity was close.  “When he gets to that cactus, you shoot him,”  Oscar said.  “It looks about 50 yards.  When I say draw, draw.”  As soon as my view was obscured by the decoy, I heard the magic word and cranked the Hoyt to full draw.  Oscar slid the decoy to the side and there was nothing between me and the antelope but air.  Deep breath, pin settled, and release.  I watched the arrow bury to the feathers right through his shoulder.  He made one big jump and fell right where I shot him.

Colorado Antelope2

Success!

 

I stood up kind of in awe of what just happened.  Did that really just go down?  Oscar and I exchanged a high five and I let it all set in.  The week started horribly and continued on just about the same.  The last day we tried something new and it paid off.  A weeks worth of 15 hour days sitting in that blind became totally worth the 30 exciting minutes of the stalk.  While I’m pretty sure I’ll never sit a water hole for an antelope again, I would absolutely jump at the chance to spot and stalk one.

Very rarely does something that starts as rough as this end up well.  I got lucky.  Very lucky.

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