CO 2023 Muzzleloader Pronghorn Antelope Hunt

QELKhunter

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Joined
Nov 22, 2020
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171
Location
South Central CO
Today was the opener of the Colorado Muzzleloader Pronghorn season. This is only my 3rd ever Pronghorn hunt, all of which have been with the good ol' smoke pole. I made it out to the unit late yesterday evening, with only about 45 minutes to scout before sunset. I made the most of it and went to the area I have made the most stalks at and lo and behold there were antelope in abundance everywhere, more than I have seen in the past two seasons combined.

With the knowledge of my favorite spot primed with Antelope, I went and checked into my AirBNB for the night. I opted for the AirBNB this year as it is only 5 miles from my preferred hunting location and the heat wave was going to push Temps into the low 90's for the opener. I got some well needed rest and stayed more than comfortable in a nice soft bed with the ac going all night.

I woke up just before first light, had a nice hearty breakfast and headed out the door. I made it to my desired location just as the sun started to crest the horizon, but to my dismay someone had gotten there first. They were sitting in their truck glassing the two herds of antelope directly east of the only parking spot allowed to access this location. I was rather upset that these non-resident hunters from Wisconsin had beat me to "my spot".

Being the courteous and respectful hunter that I am I conceded this location to the hunters from Wisconsin. I did feel a bit defeated right out of the gate as my plan had foiled before it had even been started, such is life though, and in all fairness those Wisconsin hunters had traveled quite a lot farther than I had to hunt the magnificent animals that roam the Eastern plains of Colorado.

So on I went down the road, luckily I had a plan B. There was another location some 30 miles north east of the first location that had always had a bachelor buck or two wondering around. When I arrived at the plan B location I was amazed at the growth of the vegetation here. The grass and weeds were every bit of 4 feet tall or more, in places you could barely see the backs of full grown beef cows. How was I ever supposed to find an antelope in this type of cover?

I made my way to a high point and glassed down into the grass the best I could, but heck an antelope could have been 10 feet away and I would be none the wiser. So on down the road I went, I came to an area that had obviously been grazed much more heavily by cattle than the former as the grass was much shorter and the weeds were well trampled down. No sooner than I had started glassing I found my first buck pushing a single doe. The buck must have only been a yearling as his horns were no taller than his ears and his body size was smaller than that of the doe he was pushing. I decided to make a play on them as I had both a buck and doe tag in my pocket. I made a stealthy stalk on them and got within 160 yards, or so my range finder said.

I sat in a well worn trail for nearly 30 minutes watching the buck push the doe back and forth. Finely the buck started pushing the doe towards me, but she was quite adamant that she did not want to head my way, so she ducked a fence and ran off onto private property that I did not have permission to hunt.

So back to the pickup and back on the road I went. I checked many other public places and never saw another herd of antelope in accessible areas. I saw many small herds (3 or 4 animals) on private property along the way to other public lands, but nothing on the accessible side of the fence!

I decided I would head back to the AirBNB and get on my laptop and do some e-scouting of other potential areas to glass. From where I was the quickest route would be to pass by my plan A location, you know "my spot".

As I was driving the road through "my spot" I noticed the Wisconsin truck had left, I didn't see any antelope either. I figured he had made a play and either filled a tag and blown all the other antelope out or, made a play and pushed the antelope out. No matter, I decided to pull into the parking spot and climb in the bed of my truck and glass the area. I was amazed at what I saw! A mile or so off was a herd of 10 antelope, 1 buck and 9 does! They were walking away towards a dirt tank about 2 miles from the parking lot.

I got down out of the bed of my truck, grabbed my gear and headed off down a utility road towards the dirt tank. The utility road sits a good 10" below the surrounding ground and the weeds and grass were probably close to 3 feet tall. I used this to my advantage and slightly crouched down as I made my way as quickly as possible towards the dirt tank.

As I closed the distance on the dirt tank I would stop and glass to see if I could spot the antelope anywhere, however with the tall vegetation and the particular geography of this area I could not see them. I decided the dirt tank was the most likely place they would be as it was already mid 80's and only getting hotter. As I approached the dirt tank I saw the buck chasing a doe back towards the water, as I looked ahead I saw the other 8 does. There were also a few dozen beef cows by the water. I used the slickest cow turned broad side as my back drop for the range finder, 280+ yards. Perfect!

I slowly made my way through the tall grass to the perimeter of the dirt tank where the grass was only 4 inches or less. In a prone position I got setup and started the wait for the antelope to continue the move in my direction. Ever so often I would pop my head up to look over the berm and see where the antelope were. As I popped my head up again I saw the buck running towards me, I can only think he saw my blaze orange hat and wanted to further investigate as he ran right to me, and I mean right to me! I got a 30 yard shot, perfect broadside, as he circled me. He ran 40 yards into the tall grass and fell.

I had to walk gridlines through the tall grass to locate him, it took me 15 or 20 minutes to actually stumble across him!
20230921_113459.jpg

I drug him out to the clearing to field dress him and get some better images of him. He was a well fed buck and absolutely gorgeous!

20230921_114043.jpg
Screenshot_20230921_180314_Gallery.jpg

I field dressed him and tied his front legs to his back legs and carried him out like a backpack. This method works quite well! As I was walking the 2 miles back to the pickup, in 90 degree temps, I couldn't help but think about the previous years and all the experiences I have had in this same location. My first antelope hunt, was also my last hunt with my father. We had a grand time and I can't help but feel that he was there with me this time as well as the previous. It was a great feeling to share this harvest and experience with him yet again.

As I approached the parking lot I saw the Wisconsin truck drive up, they slowed down, glassed and saw me walking back with the antelope on my back. They also saw my waving at them like that Forest Gump seen where Forest sees Lieutenant Dan while driving his shrimp boat. The Wisconsin hunters drove off before I could get to my truck.

Screenshot_20230921_221830_Chrome.jpg

I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed living it and telling it!

Here are a few supplemental pictures for your pleasure.

Heart Shot.
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20230921_200353.jpg

Hooks and cutters.

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It's crazy to me that he didn't just drop in his tracks, especially given a perfect heart shot. I mean yeah he didn't go far, heck he was a whole 70 yards away from me when he died, but why not 30 lol.
 
It's crazy to me that he didn't just drop in his tracks, especially given a perfect heart shot. I mean yeah he didn't go far, heck he was a whole 70 yards away from me when he died, but why not 30 lol.
That's fairly common. I think both lungs is quicker than a heart shot. Doesn't make sense to me.
 
Today was the opener of the Colorado Muzzleloader Pronghorn season. This is only my 3rd ever Pronghorn hunt, all of which have been with the good ol' smoke pole. I made it out to the unit late yesterday evening, with only about 45 minutes to scout before sunset. I made the most of it and went to the area I have made the most stalks at and lo and behold there were antelope in abundance everywhere, more than I have seen in the past two seasons combined.

With the knowledge of my favorite spot primed with Antelope, I went and checked into my AirBNB for the night. I opted for the AirBNB this year as it is only 5 miles from my preferred hunting location and the heat wave was going to push Temps into the low 90's for the opener. I got some well needed rest and stayed more than comfortable in a nice soft bed with the ac going all night.

I woke up just before first light, had a nice hearty breakfast and headed out the door. I made it to my desired location just as the sun started to crest the horizon, but to my dismay someone had gotten there first. They were sitting in their truck glassing the two herds of antelope directly east of the only parking spot allowed to access this location. I was rather upset that these non-resident hunters from Wisconsin had beat me to "my spot".

Being the courteous and respectful hunter that I am I conceded this location to the hunters from Wisconsin. I did feel a bit defeated right out of the gate as my plan had foiled before it had even been started, such is life though, and in all fairness those Wisconsin hunters had traveled quite a lot farther than I had to hunt the magnificent animals that roam the Eastern plains of Colorado.

So on I went down the road, luckily I had a plan B. There was another location some 30 miles north east of the first location that had always had a bachelor buck or two wondering around. When I arrived at the plan B location I was amazed at the growth of the vegetation here. The grass and weeds were every bit of 4 feet tall or more, in places you could barely see the backs of full grown beef cows. How was I ever supposed to find an antelope in this type of cover?

I made my way to a high point and glassed down into the grass the best I could, but heck an antelope could have been 10 feet away and I would be none the wiser. So on down the road I went, I came to an area that had obviously been grazed much more heavily by cattle than the former as the grass was much shorter and the weeds were well trampled down. No sooner than I had started glassing I found my first buck pushing a single doe. The buck must have only been a yearling as his horns were no taller than his ears and his body size was smaller than that of the doe he was pushing. I decided to make a play on them as I had both a buck and doe tag in my pocket. I made a stealthy stalk on them and got within 160 yards, or so my range finder said.

I sat in a well worn trail for nearly 30 minutes watching the buck push the doe back and forth. Finely the buck started pushing the doe towards me, but she was quite adamant that she did not want to head my way, so she ducked a fence and ran off onto private property that I did not have permission to hunt.

So back to the pickup and back on the road I went. I checked many other public places and never saw another herd of antelope in accessible areas. I saw many small herds (3 or 4 animals) on private property along the way to other public lands, but nothing on the accessible side of the fence!

I decided I would head back to the AirBNB and get on my laptop and do some e-scouting of other potential areas to glass. From where I was the quickest route would be to pass by my plan A location, you know "my spot".

As I was driving the road through "my spot" I noticed the Wisconsin truck had left, I didn't see any antelope either. I figured he had made a play and either filled a tag and blown all the other antelope out or, made a play and pushed the antelope out. No matter, I decided to pull into the parking spot and climb in the bed of my truck and glass the area. I was amazed at what I saw! A mile or so off was a herd of 10 antelope, 1 buck and 9 does! They were walking away towards a dirt tank about 2 miles from the parking lot.

I got down out of the bed of my truck, grabbed my gear and headed off down a utility road towards the dirt tank. The utility road sits a good 10" below the surrounding ground and the weeds and grass were probably close to 3 feet tall. I used this to my advantage and slightly crouched down as I made my way as quickly as possible towards the dirt tank.

As I closed the distance on the dirt tank I would stop and glass to see if I could spot the antelope anywhere, however with the tall vegetation and the particular geography of this area I could not see them. I decided the dirt tank was the most likely place they would be as it was already mid 80's and only getting hotter. As I approached the dirt tank I saw the buck chasing a doe back towards the water, as I looked ahead I saw the other 8 does. There were also a few dozen beef cows by the water. I used the slickest cow turned broad side as my back drop for the range finder, 280+ yards. Perfect!

I slowly made my way through the tall grass to the perimeter of the dirt tank where the grass was only 4 inches or less. In a prone position I got setup and started the wait for the antelope to continue the move in my direction. Ever so often I would pop my head up to look over the berm and see where the antelope were. As I popped my head up again I saw the buck running towards me, I can only think he saw my blaze orange hat and wanted to further investigate as he ran right to me, and I mean right to me! I got a 30 yard shot, perfect broadside, as he circled me. He ran 40 yards into the tall grass and fell.

I had to walk gridlines through the tall grass to locate him, it took me 15 or 20 minutes to actually stumble across him!
View attachment 293438

I drug him out to the clearing to field dress him and get some better images of him. He was a well fed buck and absolutely gorgeous!

View attachment 293439
View attachment 293440

I field dressed him and tied his front legs to his back legs and carried him out like a backpack. This method works quite well! As I was walking the 2 miles back to the pickup, in 90 degree temps, I couldn't help but think about the previous years and all the experiences I have had in this same location. My first antelope hunt, was also my last hunt with my father. We had a grand time and I can't help but feel that he was there with me this time as well as the previous. It was a great feeling to share this harvest and experience with him yet again.

As I approached the parking lot I saw the Wisconsin truck drive up, they slowed down, glassed and saw me walking back with the antelope on my back. They also saw my waving at them like that Forest Gump seen where Forest sees Lieutenant Dan while driving his shrimp boat. The Wisconsin hunters drove off before I could get to my truck.

View attachment 293441

I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed living it and telling it!

Here are a few supplemental pictures for your pleasure.

Heart Shot.
View attachment 293442
View attachment 293443

Hooks and cutters.

View attachment 293444
View attachment 293445
View attachment 293445
Congratulations!! I really want to get something with my muzzle loader. Just need to shoot more to get use to the rifle
 
Congratulations!! I really want to get something with my muzzle loader. Just need to shoot more to get use to the rifle
I've really gotten into muzzleloader over the last few years. Now muzzleloader is about the only thing I hunt with or want to hunt with.

I am upping my game and going with a flintlock next year, but for this year I still have 1 one hunt to go. I have a NM mule deer tag at the end of October. First tag I've drawn in NM in 9 years. Very excited for the opportunity.
 
I've really gotten into muzzleloader over the last few years. Now muzzleloader is about the only thing I hunt with or want to hunt with.

I am upping my game and going with a flintlock next year, but for this year I still have 1 one hunt to go. I have a NM mule deer tag at the end of October. First tag I've drawn in NM in 9 years. Very excited for the opportunity.
Last time I went muzzleloader hunting, I threw it into the desert to never hunt with it again. (My buddy picked it up later and got a free $1000 rifle).
 
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