Busy weekend last week for yours truly. Made the 360 mile trip to Billings Friday night(10/5). Got there just in time to get a few hours sleep before the 2012 season opener on Pronghorn Antelope. Needless to say, my hunt was a success.
Saturday morning started off a little colder than I am used to on opening day of Antelope. Snow flew across eastern Montana Friday night, leaving about 1/4 inch of snow on the ground Saturday morning. The cold air also made for REALLY foggy conditions at sun up. Making it hard to spot any goats.
As soon as the sun started to warm up, the fog lifted. It was game time. After scanning the prairie for possible targets, we immediately spotted some and made our first attempt at getting within range for a shot. But sneaking up on an animal, known for its amazing eye sight, in an area with little cover. Is not easy. After a few failed attempts we regrouped and focused on a new batch of Antelope to sneak up on.
By 10am, most of the members of my hunting party had filled their tags. Leaving me with the pressure of filling mine before everyone started to ridicule me. My hunting partner, Matt, had spotted what seemed to be a wounded buck. After planning a stalk using what little cover we had, he was off on foot. Through my binoculars I noticed him belly crawling through sage brush and cactus. He eventually snuck up within 75 yards of the young buck and took the shot.
Now I was the only one left with a tag. The pressure to fill my tag with a doe was getting heavier. But I was holding out for a buck. After pausing for lunch, we took a quick scenic drive to see if anything was still out moving. We came upon 12 Antelope with a decent buck. But they were running at top speed and there was no catching up. We decided to drive in the direction they were heading and set up above them for an ambush.
The group of goats had ran right to where we thought they would and had calmed down enough to start feeding. I could only get within 500 yards without blowing my cover. Confident with my .300 win mag’s ability to reach out that range. I casually took the shot. The buck ran out of sight and I wasn’t sure if it was a good hit. We watched as the rest of the herd ran off, but the buck wasn’t with him. After peeking up over the small patch of dirt between us, we saw him lying still.
My tag was filled. And just in time to enjoy the celebratory shots of whiskey and high fives from the rest of the crew. (Above is the photo of Matt’s buck. My photo was lost with the phone that is probably lying in sage brush somewhere)