Yeti

WY 2020

thomas89

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Joined
Apr 9, 2015
Messages
382
Back home and got the truck cleaned up from the 14 hour drive. Settled in enough to do a write-up. What you are about to read is the wordiest write up for a doe antelope hunt in the history of ever, but I've got the time. A few of the guys on this page reached out to help me with this unit and I am truly very appreciative.

TL;DR ... shot some does.

Rough start to the trip forgetting the rangefinder a few hours into the drive but I've hunted enough out west to be decent at guesstimating range so wasn't a huge deal.

All of Day 1 scouting turned up one small group of antelope in the bottom of a bunch of nasty ridges and another smaller group on another piece of public. Hiking in to scout ran into three separate parties eyeballing that section but none seemed to have seen the antelope I found. On the hike out I ran into a couple guys heading in to camp on state land for the deer opener and when I told them I was looking for doe antelope, they gave me the number for a landowner that makes a liqeour that my mother really likes after having tried it when I first moved to WY 11 years ago. Small world, just thinking of all the stars that have to align for that to happen. After scouting all day I figured out this unit was completely different from the other units I had hunted in and that it was going to be a tough hunt.

Day 2/Opening day: Plan for opener was to hike in to the little basin with the small group of antelope and hopefully be waiting for them to be around when the sun came up. A drive by that spot at 0500 showed no fewer than 6 trucks, no doubt deer hunters but it ruined my plan. Plan B spot was not as good and sure enough the sun came up and there was nothing but other hunters around. Was a bit disheartened to see the other side of the bowl I was on had a road that I had somehow missed during scouting. Saw one small group of antelope a couple miles back but by the time I got to them they were 1/2 mile over the boundary. Oh well. Got back to the truck after that failed "stalk" and moved over to another section I hadn't been in. Saw a group that would have also been close to the boundary so set off after them. A couple hundred yards into that stalk a yearling buck came over the hill and was blowing at me from 100 yards. Ornery little bugger, but no girls with him. Driving home from the other side of the unit I was thoroughly discouraged at the lack of action and antelope seen. I am used to seeing loads of antelope and more or less being able to pick and choose which group to set off after. I had already taken my bino harness off and was making a plan of where to go the next day when I saw a string of antelope not 200 yards from the parking lot of a place I had scouted the day before. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I slam the brakes on, grab my rifle, fiddle with my bino harness, duck under the fence, and get settled in to shoot. Back doe is a big one and when she stops I let a round off. Immediately the herd takes off and I watch the one I shoot at continue with the group. They curl behind a hill and I hustle up to get another shot. Field is wide open up to the base of this steep ridge and there's not a sick/down antelope in sight, so I take aim at the last one again as they start to walk over. As soon as she stops again I rip another round off, same reaction, only this time they rocket over the edge and out of my life. 20/30 minutes of looking for a hit at both spots I shot and come up with nothing. At this point I have a hunch my rifle is off and am wondering if during the move this summer it didn't get bumped a bit.

Day 3: Planned on walking back on a state section bordering a walk in area on the north end of the unit. Hiked all the way to the top...no antelope. Hiked even further...no antelope. At the very back corner, I see a single doe on the other side of the fence and write it off as she's on private. Technically true, but after double checking my GPS, it was the walk in area. Make a sneak, get set up about 300 yards away (based off the far edge of the prairie dog town/ridge I was on) get my pack out for a rest and settled in waiting for her to stand up and the wind to settle. Out of no where a buck walks up and bumps her out of her bed, but she runs closer to me so I start thinking, hey, easy money right here. When she gets 200 yards away, I hold dead center of her chest and shoot. Good sounding THWACK and she runs off with her leg flopping in the wind with the buck in hot pursuit. Watching her in the binos I see her leg all bloody and thinking she's going to tip over any second I put my head down for a bit. When I look back, she's still standing, looking like she's regaining her composure. At this point they are within 100 yards of the edge of the walk in area ... and she beds down. I watch her for a few more minutes hoping she'll put her head down and die, but the buck continues to pester her and I know they can and will push does a far ways away. With no shot from my spot (over 500 yards now) I have to loop all the way around the ridge I'm on, down a wash, to the border of the public so I am between them and an escape. Halfway through the stalk I check to see if she is still bedded where I left her, and he actually has gotten her out of her bed and is breeding her. If I had had a buck tag I would have undoubtedly shot him if for no other reason than to defend her honor. The nerve of that guy. Thinking he'd have his fun and move on, I move all the way between them and the boundary and sneak up the hill to where I can shoot (should be about 100 yards). Only problem is, he'd stayed around for round 2 and busted me. He takes off and she stumbles to go with him, I sit down quick using my pack as a rest and take another shot as she hobbles away, no reaction. She stops slightly quartering away, I shoot again, down she goes. Thinking it's over, I give her a minute and walk up, only to find she's still alive. One more to the neck to end it. Poor thing, my rifle was so low it was hitting her in the joints of her lower legs, just missing her chest. Also explained the misses from the day before. Felt awful, but the only thing I could do was keep shooting. First one of the trip down. Almost a one mile pack out.
 

thomas89

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 9, 2015
Messages
382
Day 4: After a switch to my back up rifle, this is by far worst day of the trip. Saw antelope wayyyy back off the public, feet were acting up. Something about my boots/lacing wasn't right. I had purchased some decent little Salomon hikers this summer and broke them in with 20 or so miles of backpacking/hiking/walking. These boots were more high top sneakers that would have been perfect in every other unit I'd been in up to this point. Not the steep inclines/declines of these hills, so I switched to my back up pair of Asolos which I hadn't worn in the past year or so. At this point the pain at the front of my upper ankle/lower shin was aggravated by the boots being laced tightly at all, which, made hiking really rough. Had the start to a blister from my heel slipping on one foot. Just an absolute cluster. On the way back to town I stopped at the game and fish check station and the biologist was actually surprised I'd killed one where I did the day before. I didn't know whether to be proud of myself or discouraged at how crummy the hunting was. After that there was one little funky 3/4 square mile piece to check on the way home, saw a bunch of magpies messing with a carcass way off and figured someone had gotten lucky. Looking a little closer I noticed an antelope fawn bedded up hill from the carcass watching the birds. As tough as this hunt was, I couldn't bring myself to put a stalk on it, between feeling sorry for the thing and having no interest in the 10 pounds of meat I'd get from it, I truly felt bad for that little guy (or girl).

Day 5: Last day, made the decision I couldn't just wander the hills anymore, had to have something to stalk. Stopped a few places and turned up nothing, finally made it to a piece of land I hadn't been to yet at the far eastern part of this unit. Boots barely laced at this point, flopping all the way, I had to walk 1/2 mile to get up this little rise to see the entire section. Made it to the rise and off in the distance saw one of the bigger groups of antelope I'd seen this whole trip, well on private but working my way. Decided to get as close to the boundary as I could and see what happened. Turn to hike off, and up near a stock tank, I see a couple more antelope, WAYYYY closer to me and WAYYYY closer to public. Do my little sneaky sneak and end up next to the cows and in a pretty cool little spot they had wore down into the hill. Peak over the ridge (through cow legs) and see the two does bedded 80 yards or so away. PERFECT. Only one problem ... they are clearly next to a farm road ... on private. Not by much, but they are. I don't have time to sit and wait for them to maybe walk onto public (about 100 yards away) or go further onto private, so I start to do some internet sleuthing. Somehow, I have cell service. Thanks to OnX, I find the landowner name. No listed phone number. Sh*t. Not on facebook. Sh*t. OK, let me check for his wife. BINGO BANGO. Turns out his wife runs a dairy around there, the dairy has a facebook page, and the facebook page has a phone number. It's on like donkey kong. Call the wife (still next to bedded antelope... in the middle of a herd of cows) and say something along the lines of "I know this is highly unusual, but I see some doe antelope on your property, and I was hoping to go after them." (Meaning as soon as I get off the phone with you I'll wait til the cows are out of the way and shoot one in it's bed.) She informs me it's up to her husband but he'll probably say no, he's in town right now so can't say one way or another, but it was a bad year for antelope and they shouldn't have issued as many tags as they did. Well Sh*t. Again. Thank her for her time, and I'm thinking that's all she wrote. Stand up to leave, clearly in view of these things, snap a few pictures to capture the absurdity ... and they just lay there. Have a crazy thought that maybe if I move around a bit they'll realize I'm a person and go one way or another and either give me a shot or not. Wander around in a tight circle (I'm right on the border remember), wave my hat a bit, flap my arms like an idiot ... and they still lay there. Turn to leave (I'm really gonna do it this time), and see the herd of antelope I originally spotted, cresting the ridge to come drink at the stock tank. These are just inside the public at this point so I turn my focus to them, but the two does I had been watching also notice, and stand up ... and start to walk around me to meet up ... but they angle towards the public. Get set up for a shot, they keep going further onto public ... and further...and further. When I'm sure they aren't going to make it back to private (if I do my part), I settle on the back doe and squeeze off a round. Hear a good thwack and she runs a little ways, gets a little wobbly, not wanting a repeat of the day before I put it on her neck and shoot again, miss. Go back to her chest, because at this point I'm a little excited, and shoot again. Dumped her. As I sit there and play the past few minutes back in my head, I notice the second doe hasn't run off, she's just standing in the sage waiting for her buddy, maybe 75 yards away. I've got 2 tags still, tell myself this is why I'm here, put it on her shoulder and drop her with one shot. Last day double, hey I'll take it. Get them tagged before I do anything (I'm paranoid about that stuff) and as I'm getting ready to start cutting on them, a couple walks up the rise, sees I shot them both, and turns and walks away. With as hard of a hunt as that was, I have no doubt it was deflating for them to find a couple and get so close, only to hear shooting in the last couple hundred yards of their stalk. Anyways, got them all quartered up and loaded in the backpack, but at this point I can't really call the landowner and say, "hey mind if I cut across your place to get to the road faster, shot some antelope, but they weren't on your place they were on public...I swear." Would have taken the mile pack out and cut it in about half, but what do I care, I'm leaving the next day anyways.

Overall, a hard hunting trip. I don't consider myself lazy, or unmotivated, but to put this much work and effort into an antelope hunt (especially does), just didn't seem right. On top of that, normally my dad and I make this trip together, but with COVID happening this year it was just too up in the air earlier in the season for him to plan on being able to go. This was a really hard unit for me to hunt. I was not expecting it to be so hard to find antelope. It's NEVER been that hard for me (that's what she said), but I spent a great deal of time walking without seeing anything. I think I saw maybe 40/50 antelope the entire 5 days I was actually looking for them. Normally, that's less than a days worth, and I've tried to stalk individual groups that big before. Just rough. Physically, other than my feet, I felt really good. I am not even sure my dad would have been able to put that kind of mileage in, it was that bad.
 

thomas89

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Apr 9, 2015
Messages
382
Few photos.
 

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thusby

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Joined
Apr 2, 2019
Messages
1,273
Location
Douglas County, Wisconsin
You can call that a success for the unit you were hunting. If you get a shot opportunity every couple of days you are ahead of the curve. I have to admit that I don't think I will travel to hunt units like that anymore.
 

thomas89

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Joined
Apr 9, 2015
Messages
382
You can call that a success for the unit you were hunting. If you get a shot opportunity every couple of days you are ahead of the curve. I have to admit that I don't think I will travel to hunt units like that anymore.

Had I known that would be the experience, I probably wouldn't have applied in the first place. Results may vary in the limited access units that's for sure. Eastern WY units even with limited access I dare say are 10X better than this unit. All about the experience in the end I guess.
 

MaxPower

Active member
Joined
Jan 26, 2013
Messages
147
Location
Wyoming
Brutal. I hunted western Wyoming for goats last weekend. It was a challenge, but not this tough.

What unit were you in?
 
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EastTNHunter

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Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
679
Thank you for the write up. Sounds like a lot of work, but sometimes that is what makes it so fulfilling. Congrats
 

bpitt

Active member
Joined
Oct 1, 2018
Messages
66
Location
Hattiesburg, MS
Awesome! We hunted 15 last year and my daughter and I each scored our first antelope (doe tags). We'll be back there by this Saturday evening, as well as 109, doe tags again. Disheartening to hear you didn't see many. We hit a state block last year, hiked a couple of miles in and saw several in a far, back corner. Also so 3 on a walk-in area.
 

manitou1

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Joined
Oct 29, 2017
Messages
257
I hunt pronghorn every year out in WY. Always tag out with a 70"+ buck and 2 does. This year I went 5 days early for scouting (muley and goat). I killed my mule deer buck on opening day, leaving eight days for antelope. I have put over 1200 miles on gravel roads, dozens of miles in boot leather. To date, I have seen ONE antelope buck on public in my GMU and maybe three does. None would let me within 800 yards. Never thought this was possible. Talked to the Sheriff yesterday and he said numbers are dismal in the area... that even bow season hunters complained about no antelope. A local buddy of mine said he has never seen it lime this. I have coming out here 24 years and have never seen it like this.(wife grew up here, we are building a house here at present time). I would have bet a month's pay that I would never get skunked on a antelope hunt in WY. I have thrown in the towel this season. Two days left to hunt and I have decided it is a waste of time. I don't know what has happened, but it leaves a pit in my stomach.
 

bpitt

Active member
Joined
Oct 1, 2018
Messages
66
Location
Hattiesburg, MS
I hunt pronghorn every year out in WY. Always tag out with a 70"+ buck and 2 does. This year I went 5 days early for scouting (muley and goat). I killed my mule deer buck on opening day, leaving eight days for antelope. I have put over 1200 miles on gravel roads, dozens of miles in boot leather. To date, I have seen ONE antelope buck on public in my GMU and maybe three does. None would let me within 800 yards. Never thought this was possible. Talked to the Sheriff yesterday and he said numbers are dismal in the area... that even bow season hunters complained about no antelope. A local buddy of mine said he has never seen it lime this. I have coming out here 24 years and have never seen it like this.(wife grew up here, we are building a house here at present time). I would have bet a month's pay that I would never get skunked on a antelope hunt in WY. I have thrown in the towel this season. Two days left to hunt and I have decided it is a waste of time. I don't know what has happened, but it leaves a pit in my stomach.
That's weird. We saw tons of antelope last year. We hunted a few days in 15 then drove over to see the Tetons, saw antelope everywhere. Did they have a bad winter?
 

Mnbogboy

Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2020
Messages
87
Congrats on a successful well earned hunt. You learned the same lesson i learned years ago, check that rifle when you get there!
 

manitou1

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Joined
Oct 29, 2017
Messages
257
That's weird. We saw tons of antelope last year. We hunted a few days in 15 then drove over to see the Tetons, saw antelope everywhere. Did they have a bad winter?
I don't know what happened. A friend told me today he found a lot of healthy looking dead antelope during the spring...on the ranch he works. He is an antelope fanatic and has about 30 mounted ranging from mid 70s to mid 80s.
 

huntinsonovagun

Active member
Joined
Oct 21, 2018
Messages
144
Location
NE Oklahoma
I don't know what happened. A friend told me today he found a lot of healthy looking dead antelope during the spring...on the ranch he works. He is an antelope fanatic and has about 30 mounted ranging from mid 70s to mid 80s.


What town/general area of the state is this (not looking for a specific unit number necessarily). Just curious if this is a regional thing or what...
 

manitou1

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Joined
Oct 29, 2017
Messages
257
Just visited with two guys this morning that are throwing in the towel and going home early. They said they cannot find an antelope on public in this area either. They walked 16 miles in a couple of days! Told me this morn they have found a lot of dead antelope and WY Game and Fish told them the drought is killing a lot in some areas. Hard to believe... but something unusual has happened in the area.
 
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