Pump House 463

I was excited for the upcoming antelope season since this would be my grandson’s first opportunity to go on a buck antelope hunt. While we didn’t get the chance to go scouting together before the rifle hunt due to school and baseball conflicts, I was confident that we’d be able to at least slip in a weekend hunt sometime during the season.

 Full moon over Wyoming prairie  plinking with the .22 rifle

           Awesome full moon over the Wyoming prairie                                        Plinking with the .22 

August rolled around and I ended up going to Wyoming by myself. I couldn’t help but to go up early to see what antelope were in the vicinity. My hope was to find some giant buck hanging out in a general area that was considered his home turf, but that didn’t happen. What I did find were a bunch of decent sized antelope within the hunt boundary so I was satisfied. It was exciting to look over the various bucks; some at such close range that they could have easily been taken with archery equipment.

 Wyoming buck antelope  badger

             Pic from Aug. - buck looks to be the one we found in Oct.                        Lots of badgers in the area

Fast forward to Friday October 7th, it was well after dark when Daxton and I pulled into a camp spot. Camp really could have been anywhere since sleeping under the stars in the bed of our truck would be our camp. Well, that was until the rain woke us up. At 3:30 a.m. we were forced to move camp up into the uncomfortable cab’s front seat. We managed to survive the three long mostly-sleepless cold hours until our 6:30 a.m. wake-up time.

It was still dark when we climbed out of the truck and were surprised to find a thin layer of ice covering everything, including our 4 wheeler. Inconvenienced but not deterred we got an early start to the day. It was barely light and we had already seen antelope. Our plan was to cover as much ground as possible in hopes of finding that shooter buck. The BLM land where we hunted contained quite a few dirt roads which provided reasonable ATV access to the hunting area. At times the rolling hills limited our view such that we could easily scan the area for antelope with our naked eyes, but at other times it took looking through binoculars/spotting scopes to sufficiently scour the vast sagebrush terrain.

After a couple of hours of cruising the two-track roads and choosing not to shoot any of the antelope we’d seen, Daxton was getting anxious. We finally spotted a herd of antelope containing a few bucks; one buck that deserved a closer look. We crept close and managed to get within gunshot range when suddenly the biggest buck decided to chase off a smaller buck. All we could do was to watch until both finally disappeared far off across the horizon. About that time an interesting looking buck had walked in from behind us, to within 80 yards. This unique antelope had really curly horns with decent cutters, for a young buck, but lacked overall horn length. Nonetheless, having this buck at close range and completely unaware of our presence, Daxton was hoping that this would be our shooter. But to his dismay, we let the buck walk off. Daxton was now convinced that we just blew our chance to shoot an antelope -- he just needed to be patient.

 flock of sage grouse  lone coyote

                        Wishing it was sage grouse season                                                      Lone coyote  

Not even one hour had passed when we spotted a group of antelope with a buck worthy of pursuing. As we got closer, the antelope spotted us from across the sagebrush flat and started slowing moving away. It is interesting that sometimes the antelope spook and bolt as if being chased by a cheetah, but at other times they are only mildly concerned with our presence. Knowing that we probably couldn’t get closer without having to follow the antelope for a very long ways, I tried something that I don’t ever remember doing before. And that something was to use a technique that I had heard and read about since I was a kid which was to lure the antelope closer by tapping into their natural curiosity. It just so happened that we had a white towel with us, the one that we placed across the seat of the 4 wheeler to sit on earlier when we weren’t able to scrape off the overnight ice. I began waving the towel above my head – it worked! A doe was first to notice and stopped to look our way and then she took a few curious steps toward us. Before long the entire bunch did the same.

 herd of antelope  huge tractor tire

                                 Saw lots and lots of antelope                                        Huge equip. working gas/oil fields  

While the antelope were inquisitive, it was obvious that they were only going to come so close and had no intention of walking nearer than the safe distance of just out past 400 yards. As the buck meandered around his intrigued harem, Daxton and I were both able to get a good look at the buck through the spotting scope and decided this was the buck for us. After a couple of anxious minutes the buck finally turned and stood broadside providing the perfect shot opportunity. We ranged the buck at 463 yards and dialed the scope to match. With the crosshairs settled perfectly on the buck’s vitals, the blast from the 6.5 Creedmoor rang out. Instantly all but the buck antelope scattered, the buck was down!

Before long we were standing next to our prize. We snapped several memorable pictures and proceeded to clean the antelope. It was only then that we realized just how good of a shot had been made. As we examined the buck it was clear that the 143 grain Hornady ELD-X bullet had in fact pierced the pump house, a perfect heart shot! After a bit of work, we got the buck back to the 4 wheeler. We now had the rest of the day and several hours in the morning to relax and explore.

 438 yard heart shot, right in the pump house  big buck antelope

        Perfect heart shot at 463 yards                                      Daxton with a very nice buck 

We continued to view antelope (never seeing any bigger than the one we got), spotted badgers and coyotes and even found a few ducks to harvest. The weekend seemed to end way too quickly but we captured lots of pictures to remind us of the awesome time we spent together!

 duck retriever  ducks, wigeon, gadwall

                Lucky to have our retriever along                                 Not bad -- ended up with a total of 4 ducks