Casper, Wyoming 2010

In September of 2010, my brother Ron and I along with our wives hunted the Casper area for Pronghorn Antelope.  As in past years, we hunted private ranch property in Wyoming area 32.  We began our hunt on day two of the season, having used the opening day for traveling.  The weather was unseasonably hot, reaching the low 90's during our hunt.  Very unusual for the last week of September, but the region has had a mild winter, followed by a good spring and water and grass was abundant everywhere.  Excellent conditions for the wildlife, and we had no problem seeing plenty of Antelope. I began my morning by hunting into an area where I had taken a nice Antelope buck in 2006.  The terrain provides an excellent view of a mile or more in 3 directions, and I knew it would allow me to glass a huge amount of land with a good chance of spotting good bucks.  I was able to locate a very good buck and group of does toward the West, but they were barely over the fence on neighboring land where we could not hunt.  I spent a good portion of the morning watching this herd, but finally had to admit that they were not going to cooperate when they started grazing away from me.  I took a good walk down into the valley to glass some terrain previously hidden behind hills, but came up empty.  As I returned to the truck, I got the message from my wife, Carol, that Ron had his Antelope down.  He didn't mention retrieval, but it was likely that he could use some help with that chore, so we jumped in the truck and drove the several miles around to his location to help him with the last few yards of his drag.  We already knew where he was because we could glass his Dodge across the several miles of valley where he had parked on top of the rimrock.

After sending Ron and Sandy on their way to the butcher, and having a quick benchseat lunch, we moved into another section of property to look for our own buck.  Driving along one of the deeper two-track roads into the property, I spotted a good group of Antelope in the distance.  It was going to be a long walk before I could evaluate the quality of any buck, if even present, so I strapped up and headed out.  Later the GPS told me that it was right at 3/4 of a mile between the truck and where the Antelope were grazing.

Unfortunately, as often happens, the Antelope had moved.  At about 1/2 mile from the truck, a good buck and one doe appeared off to my right.  I should have been watching my flank better as I worked my stalk.  I spotted them at the same time they spotted me.  I put the laser range finder on the buck and he stood right at 320 yards out.  Now, I can take that shot, but it has to be done right and it takes some time to set up.  Just about the time I had my rifle on a rest and prepared to squeeze, the buck had had enough and lost his nerve.  A quick bound and he was gone, heading back toward where I had just come from.  Not knowing if this was the same group which I had been stalking, I continued on my way toward where the herd was last seen.  As you can guess by now, when I eased up to where my Antelope should have been, they were no longer there.  Situations like this call for more glassing, and a short nap never hurts either, before starting the long trek back to my bride in the truck.

It had been a long morning, and I was bushed when I finally reached the pickup.  As I walked up, I gave one last sweep with the binocs, and right there from the truck I spotted a nice buck!  I now believe this was the same buck that I had nearly got a shot at before.  He had continued on his way, and then bedded down at about 400 yards from our truck, but he could not see the truck from his position.  I motioned to Carol with the shusssh signal and pointed toward the animal.  She could not see him from inside the truck, but standing at the very rear of the truck bed I could just barely see him over the hillside.

The problem now was how to approach him for a shot.  I needed to close the distance a bit, but I am fairly sure he has seen my head by now.  He is staying in his bed, and is probably becoming complacent with my presence since he has escaped without harm once already.  I was able to close the range to about 300 yards by using the hillside, but that is as close as possible without totally exposing myself.  I am hoping to try a prone shot, but the grass is tall and that isn't going to work.  My new monopod shooting stick will have to do.  I took a sitting position next to a sticker bush, and using the monopod I had a very steady hold.

I am far from being hidden from view of the buck, but he has shown great patience with me and I am grateful.  But enough is enough and just as I am thinking about whether I should shoot him in his bed, he decided to casually stand up and turn quartering away.  I am sighted in 2" low at 300 yards, so I held on his chest and about 6" into the stiff Wyoming wind.  The shot placement was perfect, just behind the shoulder and took out the shoulder blade on the far side.  He went down, but jumped back up dragging his front leg and headed over into a dry creek bed.  It was 3:15 in the afternoon.

Not knowing just how hard he was hit, I gave him 15 minutes to harden up while glassing for any possible escape routes.  But when I reached his bed it was clear from the blood trail that he could not have gone far, and sure enough I found him just over the edge of the dry wash.  Since we had been parked on a road, it was a short drive and a 200 yard drag to get him recovered.

I took this buck with my .338 Win Mag Mauser.  The load was a Sierra 250 grain Boattail Gameking, backed up with 70 grains of IMR 4350.


My Antelope, 2010

We had separate vehicles for this trip, so Ron and I split up and hunted from opposite sides of a large section of property.  He entered from the North, while I entered from the South.  I am pictured above with my Antelope buck.

Ron and Sandy with their Antelope

Ron writes about his hunt...

We traveled along on this trail, stopping occasionally to use our binoculars to look for any sign of pronghorn on the distant plains. It has often struck me how easily pronghorn are spotted along the highways when you are not hunting them, but how scarce they can be when you actually have a tag and rifle in hand. Anyway, at one point Sandy and I had stopped to do some glassing of a likely area. Moving along, there was a slight rise to our left, with the rises lifting themselves to a couple of hundred feet above our elevation. Unbeknownst to us, the opposite side of this rise was rim rock rising a good 300-400 feet above the accompanying valley floor. As we moved along generally towards the west, there was a break in the ridge of about 300 yards or so. Through this break, we spotted antelope that appeared to be about 3/4 of a mile or so distant. At the same time, we spotted a rutted trail that led to the top of the ridge. Seeing an opportunity to get a better look at the goats that we previously spotted, we headed up the trail to the top of the ridge, parking a little below the crest and hoofing it up the rest of the way to the top. Once positioned, we spotted five (as memory serves) does in a herd browsing in the sage. Although they were aware that we were there, they were not particularly interested, considering we were still a good half mile or more away. It was a pretty sight, but I was not particularly interested, seeing there were only does present.

As a side note here, Sunday was actually the second day of the season, so the sight of a group of does with no buck present was not especially surprising to me. I was ready to move on, but Sandy spotted another goat two ridges away from the main herd. You guys know what that is likely to mean! Although it was far enough away that I could not tell much, even with 10x binoculars, we correctly guessed that it was probably the buck that we were looking for. I went back to the truck and got our spotting scope and tripod. After setting it up and getting a better look, we decided that this was the buck we would like to go for. He wasn't giant by any means, but he was certainly respectable and worth the effort.

Looking around at the terrain, we decided that we would be able to approach the herd, including the buck, by traveling down an arroyo to our left that ran perpendicular to the ridge that we were on. Then in front of us, there was a bisecting arroyo that ran parallel to our ridge. We felt that, if we kept quiet and moved carefully, we could get within 200-300 yards of the goats - that is if we could get there without alarming them. They already knew we were there, although since the wind was in our faces, they probably were not aware of what we were. So, off we went to try to get within shooting distance. We went down the arroyo, choked with sage and other unknown vegetation. It was obvious to us that this would NOT be a good place to be in case of a distant rain storm. Fortunately, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

I have to take a second here and compliment Sandy on her innate skill as a huntress. I had cautioned her to be quiet before we started our stalk. I have to hand it to her, although there were plenty of scratching bushes and pesky insects on our trip down the two arroyos, Sandy was as quiet as a mouse and looked eager to achieve our goal. She did however, at one time, ask the question "if we shoot one down here, how are we going to get it out"? Good question. I answered, "we'll worry about that after we shoot it". :-)

After feeling our way along the arroyo and finding the bisecting gulch, we felt that we had probably gone about far enough to put ourselves in position for a shot, so we very quietly moved up out of the arroyo, careful to keep our bodies hidden in by the brush, showing only our heads as we scanned the opposite ridge and the intervening distance for the herd we were hunting. All at once, we spotted a doe on a ridge a few hundred yards from us. Fearing that she would alarm the rest of the herd, we moved farther down the gully, putting some brush between us. We stopped and turned around and there, at about 250 yards (paced after the shot) was our buck. I was unaware of how he came to be standing there looking at us, but debriefing Sandy later, she saw him run up and stop, curiously looking at us, still unable to decide whether or not we were a threat. Bad mistake on his part. Although I had my fancy sissy sticks with me, there was a much more stable tree like bush right in front of me, so I rested my Ruger No.1 .270 on it, took careful aim and . . . . BANG! The goat was standing straight at me and although it's not the easiest shot, it's not that bad. But . . . Too high. I overestimated the yardage and shot over him. At the shot, he slightly quartered . . . not much but a little. I didn't make the same mistake with the second shot. That shot took him on the point of the left shoulder and knocked him in the dirt. We saw him take about 2 or 3 more breaths, but that was all for him. The shot went in his shoulder and out through his spine about half way back. He truly never knew what hit him. Upon autopsy during field dress, one lung was powder and the top of his heart was shot away, not to mention the big chunk of spine missing. That .270, 130 gr. Sierra did a great job, passing all the way through and doing massive injury on it's path.