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20 ft. Up!

This year we tried hunting from a tree stand for the first time and had some luck. We also hunted from a ground blind and couldn't resist the good old standby spot and stalk method.


archery hunting from deer and antelope
            Another great time hunting with my son


First, let me tell you that hunting from 20 feet up in a tree is an interesting experience, especially when the wind blows and the old sturdy quakie you are sitting in doesn't seem so sturdy anymore. I'm not one to be afraid of heights, but the thought of the tree falling to the ground with me harnessed to it caused me pause. Especially when I looked around and noticed several similar sized trees lying on the ground with leaves that were still green!


archery hunting from tree stand
Sitting in tree stand...notice the fallen quakies...


A couple of months before the archery hunt we scouted our hunting area for both deer and elk since we had tags for both. We placed trail cameras in a couple of different locations and had mostly elk on film, but did have the occasional buck caught on camera too. The trail camera at the spot where my son would be hunting had a picture of a nice big 4 point buck that was definitely on the hit list. And since our elk tags were good for either a spike or cow, we were encouraged by the footage at both locations.


herd of elk
                Herd of elk at Dallas' location


Opening morning and I was sitting in my tree stand waiting for sunrise when I got my first text message from my son, fortunately we both had cell service and could keep in touch, “6:37 AM tree is swaying like crazy no way I could shoot feel like I've almost fallen like 3 times". Luckily by 8:00 AM the wind had subsided and within minutes I had my first encounter…but it wasn’t with the 4 legged kind. Hunters...two guys walked right below me at 15 yards and never knew I was there. After several days of sitting in my tree stand I realized that "my spot" was located in a way-too-heavily-hunted area. Dallas on the other hand had much better luck.

It was the 8th text message of the morning at 10:57 AM when Dallas said "Just shot a spike elk". It turned out to be one of the spikes that we had seen on our trail camera.

i went hunting elk, spike elk, cow elk archery hunt
                         Spike elk that Dallas shot


In the 3 days of hunting from my tree stand I never saw an elk. But Dallas had elk and deer walk beneath him every single day. He passed on several small bucks early on in anticipation of having the big 4 point walk past, but that never happened. Finally on day 3, his last day to hunt, he had a group of 4 bucks come within range and took the one that presented a 42 yard broadside shot.

velvet mule deer buck
                Dallas' buck taken on the last day


All alone the next week, I headed back to the same hunting area but was unable to hunt from a tree stand due to the heavy rain. Actually the weather would be best described as a torrential downpour lasting all 4 days. On a positive note the saturated ground made for perfect spot and stalk hunting conditions, even though hunting in the rain was miserable. I did manage to shoot a cow elk and a small buck and even got a shot at a 4 point buck that I unfortunately missed.

One week later found me sweating in the hot dry Wyoming high country plains as I hunted for pronghorn. What a difference a 450 mile drive can make. Spot and stalk conditions were not ideal as dry stubble crunched under my feet at every step. I did spend one afternoon in my ground blind setup over water, but not a single antelope ever showed. After at least 10 failed stalking attempts with my bow, I finally connected at 7:15 PM. I'd have to say that it was all about being in the right place at the right time, with just the right conditions.

pronghorn antelope buck  herd of pronghorn antelope bucks and does

    One of many bucks I tried to stalk                         Too many sets of eyes to make this stalk work...


Two pronghorn bucks paralleled my position while working a small ridge from west to east. On this particular evening there was a slight breeze blowing in my face, unlike the 20 mph winds I experienced during several other stalks. There was no doubt that I was getting more excited as it appeared that I might get a shot. Only 45 minutes earlier during a phone conversation with my wife, I was explaining the difficulty of the hunt and stated that I didn't know how I would ever get a shot, but that was all about to change. At last both antelope were finally within range. I nocked an arrow. Waiting… The trailing buck stopped and presented a mostly broadside shot, quartering slightly away. I drew back and let an arrow fly. The arrow hit its mark, straight through the liver and clipping a lung.


wyoming sunset
                    Spectacular Wyoming sunset


i went hunting antelope pronghorn buck
            My first antelope with my bow!


As I gave the antelope 30 minutes, I sat and watched the sun disappear over the horizon barely able to contain my excitement over the thought of my first pronghorn taken with my bow!