Border to Border: Bucks in the Summer, Fall, Winter, and the Monsoon

Bluffgruff

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Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
876
Location
Colorado
Sleeping in a hotel is not conducive to early rising in someone who isn't into that type of thing anyway. I eventually drag out mid-morning, making my way the area with the highest chance of being able to walk away from roads, pressure, and other hunters. My plan is to park and head over a rugged badland ridge to look at 10 or 15 square miles of land on the other side that doesn't appear to have any road access. It is also where the buck I missed ran with his herd of does the afternoon before. As I pull in to park, I scan with my binoculars north a couple miles across a valley in the opposite direction, and shining in the sun is a herd of antelope bedded, out of the wind. The disappointing visibility from the day before had seriously bummed me out, but this day, bluebird and 60 degrees, with the grass starting to green up from the deluge, this day was going to be good.

I pull out the spotter, and there's an adult buck in the group, bedded towards the bottom of the group, with 8 does above him. As I'm watching, a pickup crawls up the road in front of me and I have a nice chat with the 2 locals who have the same tag. They're chasing a herd of 50 antelope back and forth around the same chunk of public that my herd is occupying, but they havent seen these, and I haven't seen the ones they're chasing. Being a hunter, I tell them I'm planning a walk, and we part ways. I get to meet up with them again later, and I can't remember their names, but they were super nice and as helpful as can be for direct competitors for limited animals.

I get parked off the road, a little worrisome due to the saturated ground, but it looks like I'll be able to extract myself when I get back. The stalk will come from well to the west, so I take a picture of the distant hillside to reference as I approach.
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I have my trekking poles out due to the mud as I put a hill between me and the antelope. I should have several opportunities to recheck their location without exposing myself except the top of my head. The ground is wet and soggy, but the grass almost floats on top like a tightly woven carpet. Moving about is easy, and I close the distance in just 30 minutes, despite the 2 mile route. It has been 10 minutes since I could see the group as I move from finger ridge to finger ridge. Crossing a creaky old fence should be my last obstacle, but as I stand up to get a leg over, there's a doe feeding at the back of the sheltered bowl 300 yards away. I crouch down, push my pack under the low strand and follow it under the fence. Rifle off my shoulder, poles collapsed and strapped to my pack, I still don't know where all these critters are, and they might be close, so I take a solid 5 or 6 minutes too cover the next 50 yards. Fortunately, the buck is farther up the hill than all but 1 or 2 does, so I'm able to creep up behind a small sage to rest over my pack. The wind has been perfect the whole time, loud enough to cover noise, and always either in my face or a crosswind.

I'm taking my time getting a range, getting set over my pack, and clearing grass in front of my barrel. I probably should have spent some time on a couple sage leaders. I get a single range of 246 yards on the buck, and my rangefinder stops working. It's probably the battery, and I could have replaced it, but I'm feeling okay about the range, and a little too much urgency to deal with that now. I dial my scope the 5 clicks to be perfect, and settle in. Up until this point, I am thinking this is the buck from yesterday, but as I'm looking at him now, ready to shoot, I think to myself, "that's a pretty darn good buck, looks real heavy," which may or may not have played into the next few moments. The buck is broadside, the does have all joined him, so I wait for them to get well clear and squeeze off a shot.

I'm staring at this buck through the scope after the shot, and he hasn't moved. Neither have the does, but their heads are on swivels. I work the bolt, get back on him and repeat. Both shots feel perfect, so I have no idea what's happening. I chamber a third round, move my pack 2ft right as the buck moves off 20 yards or so and stops, quartering back towards where he was standing. I can't rerange him, but thinking I missed high, I dial my scope back down to my 200 yard zero and put the crosshairs on his offside front leg and squeeze the trigger. There was definitely a little bit of panic brewing before the shot, but this time the buck goes down. I gather my stuff and walk towards him, and I feel something wet dripping down my nose. I must have been a little awkwardly positioned and a little too close to the gun, blessed with my first scope bite ever.
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I reach the buck, and he gets up, even with two broken legs. He makes it about 20 yards and collapses, but his head is up, so I quickly put a finishing shot just below his ear. I had asked myself if I was going to get him mounted before I did that, but that answer will likely be "no" for all antelope for a long time. That said, he's exceptionally heavy, with decent prongs.
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The buck is a little bedraggled, skinny, and one front leg is dimunitive compared to the other. I'm not sure if he had an old injury or not, but a few days later, butchering him, that flatiron was quite a bit smaller than the other.
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He weighs in at only 106lbs, but has a massive head, 14" long with flesh on.

I'm going over the first and second shots and the only thing I can think of at the time is that I adjusted my scope dial wrong since I hit right at 3" low of my aiming point on the 3rd shot, which was how low I should have been. Later, I figure I was probably hitting that sagebrush just off the end of my barrel with the first 2 shots, and the move for the 3rd cleared the obstacle. Or I just muffed it bad and got my stuff together for the 3rd shot, despite the urgency.

After the usual field butchering, I mush my way back to the truck. On arrival, my fellow hunters from before drive up and ask if I had found a buck, to which I replied by showing them the head. They also had found a buck from the group of 50, and were planning on sending me to find that herd with its remaing bucks.

Nice guys, and a very positive interaction.

After a snack, I drive off, get 80lbs of ice for the 2 bucks worth of meat in the coolers now at the nearest gas station, and head towards my next stop, getting to Gillette just in time to get a celebratory prime rib and a Pile -O- Dirt porter.

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A blizzard is forecasted to move into the area the next day, so I set my alarm for early and get to sleep.
 

Bluffgruff

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Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
876
Location
Colorado
I could start this episode the next morning, but I want to talk a little about the scariest part of this whole trip.

Fast forward 36 hours from the prime rib and porter, and I'm dragging my creaky carcass to the breakfast room of the motel. There are at least 10" of snow on the ground outside. Two ladies from Atlanta are complimenting me on my casual down jacket that I got from REI for $60 two years ago, saying they need something like that. I'm from Georgia, so I start chatting with them, finding that they have no winter clothes, no extra food, and little water, and they are planning to drive to Yellowstone that day. I ask them if they have checked to see if the park roads are even open, and if the roads between here and there are passable. I try my best to impress upon them that they could get stranded on the side of the road, and potentially no one would find them for 24-72 hours. They say they would be "careful," and leave the dining room. I pack up and get on the road south. I grab some mickey D's on the way because there isn't much open. The parking lot looks like you'd expect.
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Road conditions change from visible lines to 4" of packed ice and snow to 12" of drifted snow as I try to get south of the biggest part of the storm. Visibility is mostly good. I rarely feel like my vehicle is sliding, but other people are out driving and having much less success.

I pass the two ladies from Dekalb County (Atlanta) driving their rear-wheel drive sedan at 20mph, with a line of 30 or 40 vehicles behind them in the more open of the two lanes. They're still wearing their light pullovers from Old Navy, with no sign of having picked up any supplies.

I hope they make it where they are going.

The following 2 hours are some of the most intense driving I've ever been involved in, just 2 hands on the wheel, no radio, barely even reach down for coffee until I start descending into Casper proper and the icy roads turn to wet roads, then almost dry roads.

I never feel like my driving was going to be a problem, but there are numerous vehicles stranded in the ditch in various depths of snow, and I keep a very close watch on any and all vehicles around me (often zero, sometimes Granny out for a drive), to try to prevent collisions.

The typically 4 hour drive turns into 6 or 7, but I make it home in time to set up the butcher shop before my girls are home from school, and the heroes parade goes as usual, with the girls alternating amongst inquisitive, disgusted, and excited about the 230qts of meat and three sagey heads on the table.
 
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MarvB

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Joined
Apr 5, 2001
Messages
6,560
Location
₵tral Oar-e-gun
One of my girls, regardless and indifferent to how she was raised, reminds me of the two from Atlanta😖

She just got “home” (Canada to her) from here the other night and when I asked what route she took, her response was “whatever my phone said” OMG
 

Bluffgruff

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
876
Location
Colorado
And rewind.

Steak+porter+exhaustion leads to getting out of the hotel at checkout time. Who am I kidding, almost every hunting story I have starts with, "I got up late." The bow owner from page 1 of this thread used to say, "it infuriates me that you get up late and still kill more and bigger things than me." When I really feel it's necessary, I often channel his enthusiasm for mornings in order to be successful, see post #10 here. https://www.hunttalk.com/threads/luck-for-the-undeserving-nevada-bull.310580/

I eventually get on the road to make the one hour drive to a place I've been before.

I had sworn off this unit after a miserable hunt years ago, but pickings are slim these days, and when you desperately want to hunt antelope, you'll compromise to get a tag. I had applied almost 5 months before with a very specific plan in mind for the hunt, and until the day before, when I saw the blizzard forecasted, I was planning a 3 night backpacking trip about 10 miles into a piece of public without any public roads going through it. I had picked out deer and antelope areas well away from the few walking access points.

As I pull into the parking spot I have picked, with the storm clouds brewing, I feel I must finally pull the plug on the backpacking plan and just take my day hunt gear, plus enough clothes and food to stay alive overnight if it comes to that. I always promise my wife and daughters that I WILL be coming home, no matter what. I do some things that require extra care to ensure I keep that promise, and this "day hunt" seems to be one of those things, even from the start.

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The wind is intermittently whipping and snow is flurrying, as I ride my feet up and down the ridges and gullies, like waves in a vast sage ocean. About 4 miles in, I run into 4 hunters and 4 llamas from Alabama who are coming out from an unsuccessful deer hunt. The leader and llama owner tells me where they were camped, which is exactly where I had planned to camp, before my plans changed. Asking about antelope, he says they had only seen 2 bucks, but if I am interested, he could show me where they are spending time. I say, "sure, can't hurt!"

I was already heading there, turns out, but what a gesture! Two positive interactions on these last two hunts are restoring my faith in my fellow hunters.

Three miles farther and visibility is starting to suffer.

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I pass a sign telling me that this isn't public land.

Liars.

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I am getting close to where the gentleman says there should be antelope, and it turns out he's an honest gentleman. Out in the center of this picture are about 10 antelope, and at least 1 adult buck.

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It's 345pm. It will take almost 3 miles to stalk in over the hill behind this antelope, and this is probably my best chance because hunting antelope in the snow is a challenge I don't particularly fancy. They wad up and dive down hill into their wintering grounds, and it's feast or famine, usually famine.
 

Bluffgruff

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Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
876
Location
Colorado
I start my stalk on an OG road to the west. Curling around to the north, I leave the road to follow the back side of the ridgeline that should take me to the antelope. An hour later, I'm getting close, but the visibility is problematic as squalls move through every few minutes. As I crest one hump in the ridge, I can see an orange rectangle out in a grassy area off the ridge. This is several hundred yards south from where I had previously seen the antelope, but I'm able to count 7 does and maybe a young buck with that first bedded doe. The adult buck from before is nowhere to be found. The unfortunate situation is that these antelope are on a tiny piece of private land with a stock tank in a huge area of public land. I'm getting frustrated by the thought of being so close, but potentially out of luck. I decide to cut around the hilltop, skirting the private land border using my GPS, hoping to find that buck on public nearby. I'm in view of the herd of antelope, but the snow is coming down so hard they don't even notice the dark blob moving below the ridgeline 450 yards away.

At some point I hear a truck engine, and expecting an OG worker to come barreling through one of these roads nearby, I hurry forwards to try to locate the buck.

I get lucky.

As I pass through a slight saddle, 400 yards north is a fawn bedded in the windshadow behind a thick line of sage. Too young to know what I am, or too naive to care, she doesn't even react to my sudden appearance. At the same time, the engine noise dissipates without any disruption to my hunt. I'm back in business. I pick out an adult doe through the flurries, then another and another as I move north keeping my contour on the hill and my body low in the sage.

Theeeeere he is...
He's off to the side with a single doe.

It's muddy. Globby, sticky, thick, mud. None of the snow is sticking, the ground is warm still, and everything is just mush. At least the ground is quiet. I get down to crawl, still wearing my leather gloves to ward off the cactus. I lose my balance and have to put a closed fist down into a patch, but only a few spines penetrate and nothing stays embedded. I don't want a repeat of the previous day (was it really just yesterday?), so I slide forward to clear all the brush. I range the buck, new battery in the rangefinder, and he's 244 yards. I get down on my stomach, but there are stray cactus under me here, sticking into my gut and one leg. I push my pack forward several yards through the mud. I have switched to my 300 winmag, a 9.5lb bohemoth that Boris the Blade would be proud of, and I'm solid at 238 yards. Heavy is good, heavy is reliable. Just 2 clicks to be dead on from my 200 yard zero.

The buck is lying down quartering towards me, tucked into some chest high sage. The wind is blowing left to right, but should only be 1-2" of drift at this range on the lee side of the ridge.

I check my scope level and take a few more breaths before I put pressure into the trigger. The shot breaks clean and I lose the buck in the recoil and smoke. When I get back into the scope, he's struggling to his feet, standing broadside now. To be sure, I put one behind the shoulder, taking out the top of the heart.

He slumps to the ground in the next scope view, head down, a less chaotic situation than the buck the afternoon before.

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The first shot went end to end, entering between the neck and shoulder, and exiting through the offside ham, breaking the femur. Thanks to copper bullets, minimal wasted meat. The second shot is a perfect double lung (just kidding up there, everybody says their broadside shot "takes out the top of the heart" these days).

From 1.3 miles away, I had dropped a pin where I thought this buck was feeding, and now he's lying 35 yards from that spot.

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I love it when a plan comes together, and this is a long game for sure, 3 years in the making when I go back to my last hunt here.

I don't have as much time to revel in this hunt, but this buck is just magnificent. He's fully mature, 4½+ years old, with a deep orange coat augmented by the melted snow soaking him to the skin and the cloud-filtered light. I surprisingly have service out here, so I send a picture to a fellow hunttalker who's daughter had just filled a tag in a neighboring unit, a Ron Swanson inspired "Boolah Boolah Boolah" to my wife, and the best pic I have to my best friend.

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I then get serious. I unzip this buck with urgency as the storm intensifies and the light fades. Pack is loaded just over an hour after the first shot, and I'm in my heavy down and full raingear as the full fury of this blizzard bites into the high plains.

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The wind is just ridiculous, I'm mostly walking with it, along the OG roads where I can as the light fades to avoid using my headlamp, my navigation, and all my energy as the 95lb pack seems to get heavier every mile. When I do turn north at all, I can barely keep my eyes open, and the wind fights my every single step. The 5 miles as the crow flies turns into 11 miles as the hunter walks, as I'm trying to navigate terrain and private inholdings. I am so cold and exhausted, just miserable. I'm giving myself pep talks by quoting Letterkenny, "well **** boys, let's have a [slog]," singing my favorite songs into the gale, remembering my two daughters in their cutest moments. The last ½ mile before my GPS tells me I'll meet up with an OG road takes me over broken ground and down loose soil and rock, under 2 fences, and finally to the pad road branching from the main road. I become disoriented with the extremely limited visibility, and take several hundred yards of detours in that short span. I never think I will actually stop walking, but a small, steep uphill section on that last bit almost breaks me. I drop my pack and take a seat in the snow, now 6"+. I check my phone, send my buddy an update on my location, finish the last of my sugary snacks, take a long swig of nearly frozen water, then I get my pack on one last time. A few hundred yards later, I'm on the OG road and get to drop my pack for good, grab my keys, and walk to the main road and back to my truck.

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It takes almost 1:15 to go that last section. The 11 miles takes me just over 5 hours, and at this point, I've been walking, stalking, or cutting for 11½ hours, and over 20 miles.

The dirt roads are now sloppy and gross, but ice free. The places where the wind isn't blowing have 10" of snow. It takes me over an hour to pick up my pack on the OG road and make it to the nearest town. The dirt road is in better shape than the paved one, and the interstate is even worse than the secondary road. The ice on the road is bad, but 30-40mph winds are bringing visibility down to a few dozen yards as I realize I'm not getting very far tonight. I have everything I need to survive for days if I get stranded, but a crusty hotel seems like a better option. I have no dinner since it's almost 1am and nothing is open, but a fancy salami, some sharp Cheddar, and Pile O Dirt from the cooler take the edge off this 6000kcal day.

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nmassey

Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
66
Location
N Texas
It is a super slow day here at work so reading this whole thread seemed like the right thing to do. love reading about these type of adventures. You had a hell of a year. Congrats!
 

Bluffgruff

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Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
876
Location
Colorado
Now for the only hunt I spent points on this year.

A Montana antelope tag has eluded me. Tag cuts after rough winters, changing application patterns, being the guy with the most points who didn't draw the tag all describe my woes.

Of course, the year I've got four other tags is the year I pull the tag, but what a problem to have!

Right around the time I get my tag results, Randy posts this video about a habitat project near my tag area, and that gets me excited about the trip. Before this I don't think I was aware I
would be on a migration hunt.

With the 3 most recent antelope butchered, 3 heads in a black trash bag in the backyard becoming the most nightmarish hellscape, and my work finished for the month, I spend a day with my daughters enjoying the fresh air, installing poles for our sunsails. The next morning, I get the girls off to school and head north.

I love the drive. It is the same path as my my whole family took to Yellowstone over the summer. I have seriously reconsidered my previous elk unit choice in Wyoming based on these views alone.

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Next I pass "Livie's Moose," a bronze that won my daughter a prize for first moose spotted on the aforementioned Yellowstone trip.

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Next, a view that seems more New Zealand than Idaho

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Knowing I will arrive late, I have reserved the finest Best Western room under the stairwell in the corner next to the smoking station.

I also buy a new addition to my top 10 IPA list.

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The 12 hour drive is exhausting, and I rest well.

Up well before daylight, I'm on the road in the dark. I plan a methodical coverage of the unit, starting with a chunk of BLM chosen for its lack of public road access. On my way there, the light starts to filter through the clouds over a lake full of grebes, and I am compelled to stop for a picture.

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The antelope are there at my escouting spot, including at least one buck, which feels good, but hard to evaluate at 2.6 miles. Not knowing how rare a buck sighting would be, I lollygag around that area before planning a stalk. It is starting to snow, and it's pretty cold. The scenery is spectacular. A coyote stalks some small critter in a willow filled pasture on private land in the distance, a tempting target, but he seems to have OnX maps...

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When I drive to a spot about 1.5 miles from the antelope to start my stalk, I see that someone has driven a side by side right into the herd and spooks them north onto private land, gone forever.

I start covering more ground. A huge herd of elk is milling around a creek bottom, surrounded by almost 20 vehicles on the patchwork of BLM, ready to rain bullets on them if the chance arises, I assume.

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Around noon, I cross over a pass from an area relatively free of snow, to a valley with 6-12" of crusted snow. On my second glassing stop, I can see a large herd of 30 or 40 pronghorn heading for the pass, single file. I mark them on my map and drive up to the pass and make my way their direction. I expect them to be pretty close, and when I don't see them, I move ridge to ridge, glassing carefully as I go. After the third ridge, I think I figure out why they're nowhere to be found: two old farts dragging a cow elk uphill with a rope. They have ridden their side by sides up to a saddle in the ridge, and killed the cow, probably right after I saw the pronghorn. It was heartbreaking, as I was just sure I would have a line of bucks walking in front of me to chose from. When I get back to the main road, I see the gentleman loading the SxSes onto their trailers, and I wave to them with a thumbs up, no reason to rain on their successful public land hunt.

I spend the rest of the afternoon driving every area I can think of, just hoping to find some antelope. I waste quite a bit of time driving out and back roads that look like they loop to other roads, but I finally find a group of almost 30 antelope tucked up against a ridge lip a mile off the road. I find an access road that isn't on my maps, (but IS marked by the BLM, quite confusing at times) and loop above them. Once up on the ridge, I cannot relocate them. So back down I go. Road hunting is frustrating at times. Once back at the bottom, I find the antelope several hundred yards away from their previous location in a hidden gully, but closer to the access road. I look them over in the spotter, and the bucks have all dropped their sheaths, and I don't need the meat that bad. The sun starts to dip as I reluctantly leave the herd and head back to the bestwestern.

I drown my sorrow in a local porter, and a delicious BBQ sandwich. I would move to this town if I could afford Montana.

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I see the forecast for the next day, and it seems less than ideal. I would like another day, but I have an artsy date with the wife at 10am the day after tomorrow, so I only have until noon to hunt tomorrow, if I want to get home at a reasonable time, to keep things harmonious at home.

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The next day is warmer, but follows the forecast. I drive through a big chunk of winter range, thinking the antelope will be moving that way, but all I find are enormous numbers of deer and elk hunters. I get the sinking feeling that Im about to eat tag soup as I pick one more area to go before my self-imposed cutoff of noon. As noon rolls around, I text a buddy that I'm calling it.

I'm leaving.

Binos off my chest and in the seat next to me, sunglasses on, ready to drive, and I round the last curve before I leave the BLM for private ground, effectively the end of my hunt.

I've taken my last scenery picture, and I've come to terms with the hunt being what it is, a glorious drive through new mountains and valleys, some pretty decent food and beer, and a vision of what general elk and deer hunts in the Beaverhead look like.

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Then I get psychologically slapped in the face. Coming around that last corner is a whole bunch of antelope getting across the dirt road at high speed and crossing ONTO public land. "You've got to be ******* kidding me!" The antelope haul up and over the lip above the vast creek valley, and they're gone before I can even tell if any of them that I saw were bucks. I figure it is a good size group, but I have no sense of how many. 8? 12? 60?

I'm half mad about this. These antelope have put me into a bind. Either sleep or mariatal harmony must suffer to pursue them. I stop to think for 30 seconds, then I get ready for a brief chase. Binos, rangefinder, 6 shells, gun, and kill kit with tag. No jacket, no pack, no water. Out of the truck and on top of the lip, I see a doe and fawn 500 yards away and zigzagging up the hill to the north. Then they turn hard east and get after it down into a gully and disappear. I walk as fast as I can up to where they disappeared just moments before, and they're already 650 yards away, but now only slowly walking. I see no other antelope, but I'm hoping the rest if the group is close. I trot, gun unloaded, ¼ mile to within striking distance of the spot. When I sneak around the last ridge fold to where they were 5 minutes before, they're no where to be found, but there are a whoooole lot of antelope tracks.

I peel around the next ridge, and there are at least 40 antelope in a herd just over 300 yards away. Including 8 adult bucks longer than their ears. They're moving like a flock of murmuring sparrows, boiling away a few yards, then back down. Then left, now right. So many orange and white bodies it's hard to single any buck out. I do finally get a range on one that has stopped. I dial my scope and get down on the bipod. The wind is whipping, at 20mph I should have 10" of wind drift. Settling in, crosshairs 8-10" into the wind, just about center of mass, I squeeze the trigger as the buck separates from the herd.

Antelope run everywhere. The buck was distinctive enough that I'm able to get back on him and follow him through the scope over the next hill 600 yards away, but he never falls and never shows any sign if being hit. Did I do that? Or did the wind do something? Or did I not check my level on a steep shot with some distance to it? Combination? Either way, I decide to pursue. 2 ridges over and the herd is way out into the flat, walking towards private land. I'm done for. Once they get there, they won't come back to public. Next thing I know, 10 does come pouring off private, under the fence, and headed straight for this big herd. Kind of out of nowhere, they pick up 10 or 15 antelope including 4 adult bucks and move further onto public, and out of view. The biggest buck has headed to private, but several respectable ones are now fair game, and I get moving fast and low to intercept, or at least catch up to, them.

This ridge to ridge cat and mouse plays out 2 or 3 more times until I get a shot at 368 yards, with the same result. A buck that I can identify by his squirrely hide runs off clean without any hitch in his step. Feeling pretty low here, but I scurry up to the next ridge and it isn't really ridges anymore beyond that, more broken and bumpy terrain leading to a huge flat. The antelope are nowhere to be seen. How can 20 or more antelope hide in here? Then a doe pops out down my ridge to the east, she's heading somewhat towards me, for no reason I can figure, so I dive into the nearest sagebrush and extend my bipod to maximum length as I'm sitting there, waiting for the seemingly impossible to happen.
 
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Bluffgruff

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Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
876
Location
Colorado
A fence, the bane of this population, is leading this herd towards me. The lead doe is 100 yards in front of the buck, but they're all coming behind her. There's an open gate in the fence just under 200 yards from me and off to the left. The doe keeps coming, heading right for the gate, I range her several times until she passes the 200 yard mark. I set up pointed right there, tucked into my sagebrush, using one branch as an elbow rest. The herd files through. The buck I had just missed with his distinctive coat is near the back, but moving up. He gets to my 200 yard mark and stops to feed for a moment and I get a lull in the wind as I squeeze the trigger. Several antelope have already made it through the gate before the shot, and the rest follow at high speed after the shot, but the buck piles up just short.

I am so excited! Persistence pays off. I was going to have a really hard time calling my hunt unsuccessful all over again after getting so close, but now I have some closure. And he's got a lot of character, 4½+ years old, and a strip of missing fur on his back from going under fences his whole life.

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I don't have my truck, a cooler, or meat bags, and I don't know how long it will be until I get back. I haven't gutted an animal in a long time, I exclusively use the gutless method, but this situation calls for gutting. Fortunately, this was a good shot with all the blood is in the chest and I'm able to get him opened up and draining over a sage while I hoof it back to the truck. The good luck keeps rolling, there's a road 10 yards from the buck, leading almost directly over a ridge the 4 miles back to the truck, and that same road is legal public access. I'll be able to drive right to him. It takes me an hour to get to the truck and 15 minutes to drive back. I weigh him, 72lbs dressed.

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Cutting up an animal at the truck is luxurious. I'm rinsing fur off the meat,, washing my hands, I even partially skin and quarter him on the tailgate. It's windy and cold enough that evaporation takes him from hot to cool within minutes of skinning.

It's almost 430pm. I'm looking at a long drive so I find a more direct route to the pavement, and get going south. I stop to grab ice and some locals notice the horns in the bed of the truck. They're hunting deer and elk, but are very complimentary of the goat.

A few hours later, I stop to grab some fast food, then cruise by a familiar entity so close that I wish I needed pack stock for this trip.

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I make it home at 345am. The drive was relatively uneventful. The nice young woman at the gas station in Laramie took pity on me and let me have some coffee for free around 1am. Mmmmm brown hot water. I get 4 hours of sleep and zombie myself for what turns out to be a great art and lunch date with the wife.

Multimedia Van Gogh immersion experience, followed by a medium fancy lunch at a place that fancied itself "exclusive."
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Afterwards, I set up my meat pole and get to cutting. A chunk of backstrap straight out of the cooler in a hot pan turns out top notch.

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It's a great trip, and I'm intrigued by hunting a migration tag again in the future. Hopefully I'll have more time to do it, and maybe with fewer fences to block these critters' path.
 

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brownbear932008

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Joined
Jul 15, 2011
Messages
2,523
Location
SWVA
I sure enjoyed that but not nearly as much as you did I bet. You had one neck of a season and must be zonked.
 

EastTNHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
1,089
Sounds like a great season! Congrats on navigating the ruts in the bumpy road that leads to success, and taking us along for the ride.
 

gwhunter

Active member
Joined
Jun 16, 2014
Messages
656
Location
Michigan
Sorry I'm late to read the entire thread, but I've had the tab saved in my browser since New Years. Excellent writing and excellent hunts @Bluffgruff. It gets me more and more interested in dedicated pronghorn hunts when I read stories like this one.

4 tags was a ton to draw in the same year. You would think a guy had taken too many disco biscuits in the heat of Russian disputations to want to draw that many tags!
 
Yeti

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