2020 Antelope

D-Mac

Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2017
Messages
88
Location
Loveland, Colorado
This antelope hunt almost did not occur. This was a leftover tag. I am building points for a better unit with a rifle. However, my Elk and Deer hunting plans for September were falling through, so I decided to pick up this leftover Muzzle loading Buck tag. Now hunting Antelope generally means long shots with a rifle or close shots with archery from a blind. I do not own a blind, nor do I really have the patience that requires. So, I planned for this hunt with a muzzleloader to be involving lots of blown stalks as I tried to work my way into a responsible and effective range. I had a similar tag in 2018 and I managed to fill that with a small 11″ buck after many failed attempts. With this in mind I wanted to ensure that I had at least one weekday to hunt as I figured I would need fewer people around in order for this plan to work.

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My 2018 Antelope, a small buck.
I arrived just after sunrise in the hunting area and parked in a semi-central location. I loaded up my pack with some snacks and two Nalgene bottles of water. Later I would discover that this was not nearly enough water for the distance I ended up going. I set off in search of any legal antelope to chase. I headed first for a creek that showed up on OnX maps. I figured this would offer a few things. Obviously, water in an else wise rather dry area. I decided if I could find an active watering or crossing location it might be worthwhile to sit it in the coming days. I also figured the ground would be more broken along the water and allow for concealment and better stalking. Lastly, I have read about many folks finding old buffalo skulls along creek washes in the prairies and wanted to find one.

So away I went walking the cuts and draws, turns out the creek was dry, although muddy in some spots. It did allow for concealment in an otherwise featureless environment. There were draws leading up from the creek that were several hundred yards long each. Within each draw there were small ravines and cut banks where the ground would drop off about a foot and half. It was not to long before I spotted a lone buck feeding slowly along. I immediately dropped to the ground and began to plan a stalk. The animal was about 300 yards away feeding to my left. I backed up into the creek bed. Crouch-ran for a few hundred yards until it looked like I was in a draw that would put me about even with him but in front of where he was feeding. I continued to work up this draw now in crouch keeping a keen eye to the horizon. Of course, every bush appeared as antelope horns and required through checking out with the binoculars. Finally, I spotted him. As often happens he had fed faster than I thought he would, and he was directly in front of my at around 150 yards.

I dropped and began to belly crawl towards him, I figured if I could close the to around 125 yards it might work. For reference I took a buck with the same gun and load at 163 yards the previous year. Long story short, it did not work. He actually started walking towards me for a little bit, before he solidly locked onto me and then, as Antelope are apt to do, ran all the way to Kansas I believe. I walked back to my pack, drank some water, and figured if I repeated this stalking plan enough, eventually it would work. So off I went back down the draw and repeated this several more times.


I hope this happens to other people as well, but with some amount of frequency I find that I am very observant for the first few hours of the day and the last few hours. However, that middle portion, when the novelty has begun to wear off, when the sun is high, when I’m day dreaming that’s when I tend to discover I’ve managed to sneak within shooting distance of a herd of antelope. Unfortunately, I only discover this once I notice they are stock still staring at me. At this point all is still working well, as long as we just stare at each other. The second I go to move my rifle up though, then they will run and run they did, right away.

At this point I realized I had about 4 ounces of water left, and it was noon. I decided to head back to the truck to regroup for the afternoon. I was a little over 5 miles from the truck. I headed back by going along the top of the draws, it was easier walking with less up and down. I was being careful and glassing into each draw as I came upon them looking for antelope. With just over a mile yet to go this strategy paid off. There about halfway down the draw was a buck. He was bedded down facing away from me against a cut bank. The wind was blowing lightly up the draw from him to me. I hit the ground and began to crawl towards him. When I was on the ground, I could see his horn tips, this allowed me to crawl when I knew he was looking away. I had estimated him to be about 200 yards away. I crawled until I reached a small rise, I could no longer see him at all, but I knew I was well within range at this point. I rolled up to a seated position and could make out the tips of his horns.

I extended my shooting sticks out to a standing length and readied myself for the shot. I checked his horns; he was still looking downhill. In one motion I stood up, brought my rifle to my shoulder, and steadied it on my shooting sticks. He continued to face downhill away from my location, he had no idea I was there. I placed my sights onto his front shoulder and squeezed the trigger.

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A good albeit unnecessary blood trail.
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Muzzleloaders are jarring. No way around it. They are explosive. At the shot the buck jumped up and ran about 10 yards, before slowing to a walk. His right front leg hang limp, and he was losing blood quickly. I quickly reloaded. He was hurt bad, he stood there looking down at the ground, kind of wavering side to side. I am certain he would have died very quickly, but he was still standing so I was still shooting. I took aim at him and sent another round through him just behind the shoulders. He bulldozed into the dirt and quickly expired. I had done it!

I quickly took celebratory pictures and sent texts to my wife and some friends bragging of course. With temperatures into the 90’s though I made quick work of quartering and caping him. I had him broken down and packaged on my pack in about 45 minutes. I downed my last drops of water, wished I had more. I began the hike back to the truck. Another half an hour and he was on ice. Elation is the best emotion to express. A left-over muzzleloader public land Antelope. A stud at that, he ended up measuring over 70 inches!
 

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Sask hunter

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 20, 2016
Messages
1,516
Nice goat! I have shot two both with muzzle loaders. Next time I draw or Wyoming hopefully some day I want to use my rifle
 

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