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HBM Hunt Club Report: 2011 Antelope Roundup

by Daniel James Hendricks 28. November 2011 14:17
Daniel James Hendricks


As sure as the last days of August signal the dusk of summer, they usher in the breaking dawn of the fall hunting season.  And of course the hors d'oeuvre of the fall hunting buffet is Pronghorn Antelope.  Now Douglas, Wyoming is the historical birth place of the Jackalope, but, in my humble opinion, it is also the Pronghorn Capitol of the world.  There may be better places, but I have yet to see one and I would require a pile of documentation to make me think otherwise.  For the second consecutive year the HBM gang gathered at Douglas to do our part at thinning out the flourishing goat herds of SW Wyoming.  Last year there were but three of us; this year our ranks swelled to sixteen.  And for five days we romped and stomped creating memories that none of us are likely to forget.

Our host for this year’s adventure was George LeBar of the LeBar Ranch and his Gamekeeper, Mike Judd.  The LeBar Ranch is a mere 65,000 acres and is covered up with antelope, mule deer and a hundred other species of wildlife.  The only sparse feature on the LeBar Ranch is trees and that characteristic exposes the vast Wyoming sky for exactly what it is…knockout gorgeous.  The billowing cloudscapes and brilliantly colored sunrises and sunsets were inspiring, especially to a country boy from Minnesota where most of the sky is hidden from view by a thick wall of green forest.  On the eve of the hunt, we gathered at the Kimbal Headquarters which served as the team’s gathering spot, providing our campers with running water, a shower and electricity for emergency uses; and also with a great location for processing our game and sharing the camaraderie that is so very important to an HBM gathering.  

The ranch catered a huge feast of wonderful food to feed our hunters as they were introduced to George LeBar and his mother, Victoria; as well as Mike’s wife Kristi, his mother, Lois and his son, Skeeter.   Final registration was taken care of and the hunters were shown to the blinds that they would be using the following day.  Spirits were high and all were excited to begin the hunt.
Young Nick McElwee was the first to score with a short 85-yard chip shot made with his vertical bow, a feat that was held in awe and perhaps ever some disbelief by the elder crossbow hunters in the group.  Once Nick broke the ice, goats began to fall everywhere. 

We had a total of 15 hunters on the LeBar Ranch and one other member who was hunting on a neighboring ranch and to properly tell all of the stories would require a novel akin to War and Peace.  Some of the shenanigans of the week-long adventure have been permanently filed away under the label of What happens in Wyoming, stays in Wyoming.  Suffice it to say that a good time was had by all and memories were made a mile a minute.   At the end of the week every license was filled but one; and that hunter has to resign because of the pain and discomfort of sitting for long periods of time.  I had purchased an extra doe tag and filled that along with my buck tag so technically one could say that we went 16 for 16.

 Ron Williams, a veteran hunter in the HBM Hunt Club, donated a dozen of his beautiful handcrafted crossbow arrows as the prize for the person that shot the largest antelope.  As luck would have it, Ron shot the largest antelope, but then presented the arrows to Gene Strei, who shot the second biggest goat.  Thanks Ron, you are indeed one of the great ones.  Our entire team would like to thank our host, George LeBar, his sparkling mother; Victoria and the ranch staff.  We wish to especially thank the LeBar Ranch Gamekeeper, Mike Judd along with his family for the exceptional service, the kind consideration and the wonderful conversations shared during the down times of the hunt.  Mike went out of his way to see to our needs and to make sure that we got the most out of our visit to the ranch and for that we are very grateful; thank you, Sir.  

We are going to do it again next year and the twelve spots are already being spoken for.  If you want to join us in 2012, give us a call at 320-634-3660 to get you name on the list.  You won’t be sorry.




Crossbow REVIEW – Barnett’s Ghost 350

by Daniel James Hendricks 19. October 2011 01:53
Daniel James Hendricks

  Over the years I have watched as Barnett crossbows steadily evolved, getting better with each passing year due largely, I believe, to the creative genius of David Barnett.  Many still consider Barnett products to be inferior to most crossbows on the market based simply on the fact that Barnett is priced at a working man’s level of affordability.  One hears chatter about break downs and mechanical problems from the Barnett line, but based on my vast personal contact with grassroots crossbow hunters, there seems to be no more problems with Barnett than most other brands. In an age where crossbows are becoming far more complicated and increasingly powerful, I truly believe that a large part of mechanical troubles originate with improper usage by the owners.  Users who believe that an Owner’s Manual is a guide to refer to when you have a problem and not a instructional guide from which to learn proper handling and use of their new hunting implement.  Regardless of which crossbow you purchase, please spend the time to read the Owner’s Manual from cover to cover, at least once.  The time invested in that little booklet will pay big dividends in the safe use and longevity of your crossbow.

 The unique and artistic design of the Ghost incorporates the foot stirrup right into the bow.

 Barnett’s Ghost 350 arrived at my door in two pieces, which was not a transportation tragedy, but instead the traditional manner that it is shipped.  Once assembled with a single bolt, which firmly attached the bow to the stock, I careful inspected the crossbow.  The first thing that caught my eye was the classic design; one that incorporated the foot stirrup right into the contour of the bow in an undeniable artistic manner, giving the Ghost 350 a very unique and quite handsome appearance. 

 The 3x30 scope on the Ghost is enhanced by reticules are illuminated circles.

 The overall length is 37”; its only 24” wide and has a 12” power stroke; that combined with the 175 lb draw weight produces a stunning 350 fps.  The carbon riser and aluminum flight deck keep the total weight to right around 7.5 pounds.  The bow is enhanced with the Barnett AVI technology molded over laminated limbs reducing noise and vibration up to 30%.  Whiplash cams, a very sensitive anti-dry fire mechanism and one of the finest triggers I have ever seen on a crossbow top this package off.  The stock is beautifully adorned in Realtree APG Black camo.  My Ghost 350 package included an illuminated 3x32 scope, four 20’ arrows, a 4-arrow quiver and a rope cocking device.

 The overall appearance of the Ghost 350 is second to none.

 It all made for a very striking package in appearance, but I was anxious to see how the Ghost 350 preformed on the range.  My first observation was the bow’s extreme comfort when shouldered.  The fit was accented by the raised cheek rest, a thumb hole stock and the extra wide fore-stock (which also keeps one’s fingers clear of the string when firing), which naturally forms the bow to my body.  The scope was very close to zero and within the first half dozen shots the Ghost was impaling the bull's-eye with every release.  We zeroed the top mark in at 20 yards, which automatically placed mark #2 at 30 yards.  Mark #3 zeroed in at 35 yards and mark #4 was right on at 43 yards.  (Never assume that the reticules of the scope on your new bow will automatically be zeroed in at 30, 40, 50 and sixty.  Shoot and move until you have determined the yardage for each mark and then mark it down on a piece of tape and adhere in plain sight to your bow for reference.)  A note of the yardages was made and then there was little left to do but enjoy the smooth performance of the Ghost 350. 

 The trigger on the Ghost 350 is one of the finest I have ever seen on a crossbow.

 It was quiet, fast, consistent and deadly accurate, just what any person would expect from a state-of-the-art, respectably scary Ghost.  The thing that I am most impressed with, however, was that darn trigger.  It’s just as fine a trigger as I have experienced on any rifle.  Smooth, light and with a surprise release; it is just amazing to experience that well-crafted of a trigger on a crossbow.

 Since I present my reviews from a hunter’s point of view, the question is, “How did the Ghost 350 perform in the field?”  The targeted game for the test was Pronghorn Antelope on our annual pilgrimage to Douglas, WY.  I combined the Ghost with Lumen-Arrows and Grim Reaper broadheads experiencing excellent results.

Buck taken at 16 yards. 

 The buck was taken at 16 yards and went perhaps 50 yards.  I was not pleased with the shot as the nervous animal, from a standing broadside shot, actually began to spin away from the arrow before it arrived.  Entry was back a little far, but due to the angle of the body as it was turning away, the exit was just behind the front leg on the opposite side.  The buck expired within five minutes.  The Lumen-Arrow passed completely through the goat and was intact, although buried deeply into the sloping bank of the waterhole.  The doe was taken from a standing broadside shot of 18 to 20 yards.  The arrow passed through the heart damaging both front legs causing the animal to collapse in less than 30 yards, in all probability, being out before hitting the ground.  The arrow was broken due to the major contact with the front legs of the goat, but the Lumenok was retrieved in excellent shape and still burning brightly.

 The doe was taken with the Ghost 350 and a single arrow to the heart at under 20 yards.

 I ran into only one problem while using this bow and guess what?  User error!  And that is where, experience has taught me, most crossbow problems originate.  This problem was self-inflicted and occurred while trying to uncock the bow by firing an arrow from of it.  It occurred on the first day of hunting.  I had passed on a shooter-buck because I had been caught with a camera in my hands (that same buck became a victim of the Ghost 350 the following day).  When I attempted to take the bow off safe, the latch would not budge.  At first I thought I had gotten dirt into the latching mechanism, but a quick shot of WD40 had no visible affect on the problem.  After a few minutes of painful pondering the problem, the solution to dawned on me; I recalled that the Operation Manual had specified moon nocks and upon checking my arrow, I discovered that I was trying to unload my bow with a flat nock.  The anti-dry fire mechanism on this bow is so finely crafted that even this minor detail prevented the bow from being discharged.  That kind of engineering can only be admired and respected, which is more than can be said for my personal attention to arrow selection.  

The thumb-hole stock and raise cheek piece make this bow extremely comfortable to shoulder.

 The bottom line is that the Ghost 350 is one fine crossbow from this hunter’s point of view and the fact that you can get completely set up for around $600 only makes it better.  Barnett has been manufacturing some excellent and reliable crossbows at friendly prices in the past few years and if you are in the market, you owe it to yourself to check them out.  But whatever crossbow you decide upon, do yourself a big favor and study the Owner’s Manual carefully.  It will save you a lot of headaches, not to mention the inconvenience of service calls. 

The safety release and anti-dry fire mechanism are extremely well designed.











2011 Wyoming Antelope Roundup Part 2 - Two For the Doe

by Daniel James Hendricks 18. September 2011 23:44
Daniel James Hendricks

  The only thing better than hunting antelope is eating it.  So this past year, when I learned from my guide, Mike Judd that I could acquire a doe tag for a mere $34 dollars, I had Kristi Judd purchase a doe tag for me.  After all, my biggest complaint about an antelope is that they are not very large, but even a doe is worth an extra $34 based on the undeniable quality of antelope meat. Once my hunt began, I filled my buck tag on the second day of my hunt clearing the way to harvest the first doe antelope of my hunting career.  In the stand shortly after daylight, I began the task of locating the animals that were scattered in that pastures around me.  I choose the particular blind I was hunting in because the hunter that had taken his antelope there earlier in the week, had informed me that he had cell reception.  As far as we were out of Douglas, cell reception was difficult, especially on my cheap phone.  Reception was a positive, but the view was a negative.  I had a lot of blind spots where I was unable to see what would be coming to water until it got right on top of me. 

 So I just closed down most of the windows in the blind leaving small cracks from which to check for critters.  The waterhole at the front of the blind was the important spot and I had a wide window there to take care of business should an opportunity present itself.  After glassing the surrounding pastures for a while to locate the visible goats, I dug out my cell phone called my mom and dad in Florida.  Dad was running an errand so mom and I began to solve the world’s toughest problems like the true experts that we have become from years or diligent practice.  As I talked, I glanced to the east and saw antelope silhouetted against the morning sun, running towards the windmill.  I rapidly explained to my mother what was happening and excused myself.  Her last words were, “Go get `em, son!” 

 I tucked the phone away, grabbed the bow and waited for the arrival of my guests.  The small group consisted of a doe and two fawns and a yearling buck.  I had not wanted to take a wet doe, but since the fawns were both good sized and they had a chaperon, I was in a hurry to hit the road, so taking this doe would allow me time to skin and quarter, check out of the hotel and be in Longmont, Colorado by 5 pm.  Decision made, I clicked the bow off safe and waited for a broadside shot.

  I was able to range the doe at 18 yards, before the animal turned broadside giving me a perfect shot as it scanned the horizon to the west for danger.  Placing the zero on its heart, I slowly squeezed the trigger until the snap of the bow’s limbs startled me.  The antelope exploded into a blur of action, but for the doe, it was too late…She was a goner!  The doomed doe ran directly away from me I watched her life-fluids gushing out of both sides of her body.  As I watched the antelope collapse, I never did see which way the other three disappear.  They were just gone when I looked around.  The doe had gone down in a matter of seconds, not even covering forty yards before succumbing to its wound. 

 I dug the phone out and hit redial and my mother answered on the very first ring. 
 “Well?” she inquired.
 When she learned that I had bagged my doe and she just giggled like a teenage and congratulated me.  We talked for a few more minutes and then I told her I had to get to work.  Hanging up, I called Mike right away and told him I was done.  He said he would be there shortly so I ventured out to collect the photographs I needed to wrap up my mission.

 When Mike arrived he took some shots of me with the goat and then I field dressed it.  The heart had a hole in it, bringing me a great deal of satisfaction.  If one is going to hunt an animal, he should try to make a shot that will dispense it as quickly and humanely as possible.  Nothing is more effective at doing than a broadhead-tipped arrow through the heart.  It had been a compassionate and merciful end for creature and for that I was so very thankful.

 We hauled the animal back to the Kimbal HQ where I skinned and quartered it, placed it on ice and then packed my hunting gear.  After bidding farewell to Mike, I drove to Douglas, checked out of the hotel and headed for Colorado.

 This was my first doe antelope and I was convinced, especially after noting how easily the hide pulled away from the carcass, that there could possibly be no finer eating that what Karen and I were going to experience from the flesh of this doe.  The antelope is the first thing to disappear from our freezer and for the next year, we would have a little extra of it to be blessed at our table.  I can’t thank George LeBar enough for his kind hospitality and sharing the family ranch; the same heartfelt gratitude is also offered to Mike and Kristi Judd.


2011 Wyoming Antelope Roundup Part 1 - One for the Billy

by Daniel James Hendricks 18. September 2011 23:19
Daniel James Hendricks

 My #1 reason for hunting Pronghorn Antelope is the fact that the season opens a full month before that of the Minnesota whitetail.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to get out there and do some hunting while one waits for the local deer to become legitimate targets.  Reason #2 is that their flesh is more popular at our dining table than venison is, especially with my Redhead.  That alone is reason enough to pack up my gear and head for the picturesque landscapes of SE Wyoming in pursuit of wily pronghorn.

 Reason #3 for hunting goats is that the only thing this hunter enjoys more than eating antelope is photographing them, and the area around Douglas provides plenty of opportunity to do just that.  This past season, the LeBar Ranch played host to our annual HBM Hunt Club expedition and we were treated to the excellent guidance of Mike Judd, the ranch’s Gamekeeper.  Mike is a local Wyoming boy that knows his way around hunting the range and is extremely knowledgeable as well as being very intelligent and personable.

 The first 2½ days were spent helping Mike serve the 14 other HBM members that were attending the Antelope Roundup.  By Wednesday, most of them had filled out so Mike gave me the nod to begin my hunt that afternoon.  We were setup at one of the ranch’s unique windmill blinds by 2:30 p.m. in a slab-wood structure that protects the machinery of the windmill; but also provides the perfect cover to conceal a ground blind. 

 The single downside of the setting  is that the only vista is directly ahead, overlooking the waterhole and beyond.  Mike, however, cleverly selected a blind with a zippered opening in the roof, which allowed me to stand and poke my head through the top of the blind providing a clear 360° view of the surrounding countryside.  Experience quickly taught me that the antelope found nothing threatening about my big head poking out of the structure that they accept as a permanent part of the windmill. That first afternoon, the only animal that came into the waterhole was a shooter buck that caught me with camera in hand shooting Meadow Larks that bathed in the pond.  It was the first afternoon so I didn’t even pick up my bow, but instead shot as many photos of the old goat as I could.  

 The next morning I was in the blind before sunrise, ready to lower the boom on the first Billy that wandered it for a drink.  As I glassed the area at first light, I saw antelope all around me; all far away, but there, nonetheless.  The waterhole is located in a shallow bowl that was perhaps a mile long and half a mile wide. The lowest part of the bowl was covered by high grass that had turned as brown as the surrounding pasture from a lack of rainfall.  Were it not for the windmill with its rotary energy filling the waterhole, there probably would not have been and animal for a mile.  But the area around the pond was green and prosperous thanks to the towering pump that noisily sucked the water from the deep recesses of the earth.

 All day long I glassed a shooter buck on the south side of the bowl; it was so far away, I could barely see it with the naked eye.  It would eat and then bed down; then it would rise, eat some more and bed down again.  This went on until 4:30 pm when it finally headed across the bottom in the direction of the windmill.  At times it completely disappeared into the tall grass, but then would magically reappear as it continued in my direction, albeit at a very slow pace.

 Adrenaline began to pollute my system as I monitored the buck’s advancing progress from the skylight of the blind.  When it was just about step out of the tall grass, I sat down, grabbed my crossbow with quaking hands and waited for it to appear in my shooting window.  The antelope took its sweet time about it; apparently it was in no big hurry to die.  When it came around the blind it walked quickly to the water’s edge and began taking long, noisy slurps of the refreshing liquid while providing me with a standing broadside shot. 

 I brought top reticule of the scope to the goat’s rib cage, steadied the bow by resting my elbows on my knees, then slowly squeezed the trigger until the bow noisily spit its projectile at the watering buck.  The alert animal almost spun out of the way of the arrow, but the bow was too fast and the distance too short for it to make good its escape.  The turning motion of the antelope caused the arrow to enter further back than intended, but because of the angle of the twisting body it exited further ahead having the same effect of a quartering away shot; it sealed the fate of the hapless pronghorn.  It trotted about fifty yards, stopped and then collapsed within a few short minutes.

 I waited until the head lay motionless then went to retrieve my vehicle.  Once back at the blind, I took some photos, dressed the goat and then drug it to the water hole to wash it out.  Once it was squeaky clean, I posed the critter, shot some photos of me with the goat using the camera’s 10 second timer.  When I had the photos I needed, I took down the blind, packed my gear into the jeep, policed that area and then went to get Mike to help me transport the animal back to the ranch so that I could get it on ice ASAP.  It had been a very good day.
 A very special thank you is extended to George LeBar and Mike Judd for their kindness and support in making this hunt and photo safari most memorable and productive by sharing the Lebar Ranch. 

Wyoming Antelope Hunting Success

by Dan Schafer 31. August 2011 14:32
Dan Schafer

While driving to Wyoming on August 14th, my hunting partner John Herrmann and I were talking about what we expected from our antelope hunt.  In all honesty, it was more about getting away in August to hunt and hang out with our good friend Dustin DeCroo and get to know fellow Staff members Neal McCullough and Grant Jacobs.  We were just as equally excited about the possibility of fly fishing in the mountains as we were about antelope hunting.  With temperatures in the low to mid-90s, it’s hard for a couple of midwestern guys like us to get into the true hunting mood.  That all changed after we crossed the border into Wyoming that evening.

It was a welcome sight to see the Welcome to Wyoming sign.  Forever West and home of many antelope.

After spotting our first antelope in the sagebrush, we started to forget all about the weather.  We started talking about what it was going to be like to hunt these speedsters.  If you’ve ever been with a good friend on a hunt you know exactly what I’m talking about.  You start envisioning different scenarios and how each one will play out.  You even feed off of each other’s energy and begin to get more and more excited.  Yeah, we were starting to talk a little bit less about the trout and more about the antelope.  Our game faces were starting to come on.

A couple hours later we were at Dustin’s travel trailer, which was parked in Daniel Peak’s yard, just south of Gillette.  Unfortunately, Dustin was a couple hours away taking care of some last minute business and John and I felt a little bit like we were intruding in a stranger’s yard.  The feeling of trespassing soon faded when we met Daniel.  For our 6 days in Wyoming, we couldn’t have asked for a better host. 

With a couple hours of daylight left, we called Dustin and he gave us directions to the area we would be hunting.  From the time we pulled out of Daniel’s driveway, to scouting the land we would be hunting and back to Daniel’s house, I don’t believe there was more than 2 minutes that went by where we didn’t have antelope in sight!  Trout?  What trout?  By this time, we were in all out Fall hunting mode and couldn’t wait for the morning. 

That evening, back at the trailer, our esteemed guide Dustin showed up and our mouths were moving more than an 8th grade girl’s at a slumber party about all the antelope we had seen.  After watching the full moon rise and sharing a couple cold drinks, it was time to hit the sleeping bags.  The morning of August 15th couldn’t come soon enough. 

After waking up, it was decided that John would be up first.  To be truthful, having him shoot an antelope on this trip would mean just as much as shooting one myself.  It wasn’t long until we spotted our first good buck of the morning that we felt we could put a good stalk on.  Then, after a short 1-mile walk and 20 minute blown stalk, it was apparent to these two Wisconsin boys that we were in for a serious challenge.  Never having stalked big game in the open sage country, we sounded like a herd of buffalo.  Well, at least I did!  All we could do is laugh and head back to the truck. 

This same scenario played out pretty much the whole first day.  Spot, stalk and watch the antelope run away.  Repeat.  Getting within range of the amazing eyesight these animals have is one thing, but to do it all on film was an extra challenge we were starting to think might be impossible to overcome.  After the final blown stalk in the evening, John looked at us and said, “Well, that was number twelve and thirteen is my lucky number!” 

The next morning we were able to spot a buck not far from where John had a very close encounter the day before.  Without giving away all the details of the hunt before the next episode of Bowhunt or Die comes out, John was able to seal the deal on his first antelope!  You guessed it, on lucky stalk number 13!

John Herrmann with his first Antelope!  The smile says it all!

Now, unfortunately, I would love to tell you exactly how the rest of the hunt unfolded, but I won’t.  I know, you probably hate me right now, but the wait will be worth it for Episode 7 of this season’s Bowhunt or Die webshow that will be released shortly.  I can tell you this though; I was able to take my first antelope.  The events that unfolded around it still mystify me today.  If I weren’t able to put my hands on him, I would have thought he was a mirage.

I was also able to shoot my first antelope.  You'll have to check out the next episode of Bowhunt or Die to see how the hunt unfolded!

Sometimes a hunting trip goes way beyond the animals we chase.  To tag out on this trip was great, but can’t compare to the strengthened bond between good friends and meeting new friends.  I honestly don’t think I would do half of the things I do if it wasn’t for the people I share them with.  Those bonds and memories will last for an eternity.

Hunting trips are more than just about the animals we chase.  The friendships we strengthened are the true trophy.

Oh, those trout we were so jacked up to catch?  We didn’t completely forget about them!  We were able to get to the mountains and catch a few, share even more laughs and finish off an unexpectedly amazing trip with great friends.

We were even able to squeeze in a little trout fishing.  John with a beautiful mountain brown trout.

A big thanks goes out to Daniel Peak for letting us cut up our antelope in his garage and open up his house to a few strangers that he didn’t know.  Thanks again big man and I look forward to the day when our paths cross again!  Hopefully with you packing an elk out for me!

Our host, Daniel Peak was able to tag this beautiful antelope while we were in Wyoming.  Congrats and thanks again Daniel!


The sun may set on one adventure, but it always rises again to begin another.

Countdown to Wyoming Antelope Hunting

by Dan Schafer 11. August 2011 17:33
Dan Schafer

The anticipation of an upcoming hunting trip can seem to slow down the hands of time.  Your mind starts to wander; you have a hard time concentrating on everyday tasks.  All you can think about is the game you will be chasing.  You picture your trophy standing there, you’re at full draw, hearts racing and you settle your pin.  As you’re about to release your arrow, you smell smoke.  Smoke?  You’re burning the steaks, your wife is yelling at you and you snap back to reality.  Actually, this was me this evening! 

I’m having an extremely hard time concentrating just to write this.  All I can think about as I sit here is endless skies, the prairie and the animal we will be chasing in less than one week, antelope.

Concentrating on everyday tasks has been tough lately.  My mind continues to wander as I daydeam of my first antelope hunt.

This trip is a very special one for me, as I’ve never had the opportunity to hunt antelope before.  What makes this trip even better is that I’ll be making it with my good friend, and fellow antelope rookie, John Herrmann.  John and I will be making the 900-mile trip from Wisconsin to Wyoming to meet up with another great friend, our guide and fellow staff member, Dustin “The Nomad” DeCroo.  To top it off, two days after our arrival, we’ll have the privilege of spending our first hunting camp with another couple staff members, Neal McCullough and Grant Jacobs. 

Preparing for this trip has been unlike any whitetail trip I have been on.  The biggest difference has been in my shooting routine.  When practicing for whitetail hunting here in the Midwest, I rarely shoot past 40 yards.  For this antelope hunt, I was doing more shooting with my NAP Spitfire Maxx at 50 and 60 yards than I was under 40.  Though it is very unlikely that I will attempt a shot over 50, the shooting at 60 yards has given me the confidence that I can extend my effective range, if the conditions are right.

Shooting groups like this at 50 and 60 yards will give me the confidence I need when the moment of truth arrives.

The NAP Spitfire Maxx will be my head of choice for Antelope.

One reason that I have been practicing at longer ranges is because we are going to try our hand at spotting and stalking them.  Though it will be too early to decoy rutting bucks, Dustin has assured us that we should still be able to get into bow range.  One new product that we will be using on our stalks is the Hide-A-Bow.  The Hide-A-Bow screws into the front of your bow where your stabilizer would normally be and allows you to shoot through the opening on the attached blind without having to expose yourself to the sides or above.  The Hide-A-Bow comes in Lost Camo as well as photo realistic animal blinds, including an antelope, which will give us a bit of an edge on sneaking in close.

The Lost Camo Hide-A-Bow will help to conceal movement when drawing and shooting.

The antelope Hide-A-Bow should give us extra time to shoot.  Though we're not hunting the rut, this would be a blast when the bucks start decoying.

Being physically prepared is another thing a lot of guys overlook on a trip like this.  No, there are no big mountains that we will be climbing, but crawling on your hands and knees, as well as belly crawling, can be physically tiring.  I’m not ready to chase any mountain goats right now, but my light workouts will help make the physical aspect of the stalk much easier. 

Honestly, my mind is wandering back to Wyoming again.  Time to get the last few things packed; throw the Mathews Z7 Extreme in the truck and get ready to head down west.  To see how our hunt turns out, be sure to look for it on a future episode of Bowhunt Or Die right here on

Table Mountain Outfitters - Top Notch Hunting Guides

by Dustin DeCroo 31. July 2011 16:11
Dustin DeCroo

The late summer of 2010 brought with it all the common anticipation of any upcoming hunting season, but with a few new opportunities.  One of these opportunities was to hunt with and film my friends Justin Zarr and Todd Graf of the Hunting Network.  It was a pronghorn hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  It was during this hunt that I was fortunate enough to meet the owners of Table Mountain Outfitters, Scott and Angie Denny. 

Justin and I with his first antelope, taken at Table Mountain Outfitters in 2010.  Click here to watch the video of this hunt!

Fast forward to this Spring 2011.  Knowing I had a fair amount of experience not only hunting out West but also running a camera, Scott and Angie asked if I’d like to film some of their bear hunters at camp in Idaho. The only experience that either one of us had with the other was based on a few conversations at antelope camp eight months prior.  They were taking a chance with a camera man they didn’t know very well and I was committing almost a month of my life to film with people that I barely knew, in a place I had never been.  With that said, it turned out to be an incredible time and allowed me (an outsider) a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run a successful outfitting operation. 

When the general hunting population thinks of “bear hunting,” we typically render immediate images of sitting over an afternoon bait waiting for a bear to make its way to a bucket filled with goodies.  At Table Mountain Outfitters, you have the opportunity to sit at bait sites in the afternoons, but the morning hunts are filled with what can be fast paced, adrenaline filled hunts with hound dogs.  As a long time bird hunter, I have an extreme respect for any type of working dog, but I was still slightly hesitant about hunting bears with dogs. 

On the first morning, my uncertainty had evaporated.  There is no possible way I can explain to any reader how incredible and unique this hunt can be.  It really is something you have to experience for yourself to understand and appreciate.  From the hours of care and preparation that the guides put into 22 dogs before and after the hunt, to the sometimes super steep and long hikes in to a tree where the dogs say, “we’ve won,” to the determination of the dogs and the people involved.  All that work and that’s just for one aspect of one part of the hunt.  That doesn’t include the time spent preparing meals for a whole camp full of hungry hunters, setting bear baits, and maintaining an entire camp in the meantime. 

Here's a few of the bear dogs that Scott & Angie use to track down bears in the remote Idaho wilderness.

It was neat to be a “neutral” party with Table Mountain Outfitters, I wasn’t the hunter or the guide and was able to see both the client side and the business side of this industry.    I was able to form my own opinion about everything I encountered.  Somewhere around 15 hunters were in camp while was in Idaho, I interviewed several of these hunters during hunts and after hunts and to my knowledge there wasn’t a single hunter that didn’t leave with a feeling of success in regards to both; their hunt and their overall experience.

Hunter Mike White killed this beautiful black bear with his Mathews Z7. This was Mike's 7th hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters

Teri and her husband Steve traveled from Tampa, Florida to hunt bears with Scott and Angie.

After seeing all the pieces that must fit perfectly together for an operation like this to be successful, I am amazed at and have an incredible amount of respect for Scott and Angie and the team they’ve put together to make Table Mountain Outfitters atop the list for hunting outfitters.  If you’re in the market for a guided hunt of almost any species in the Western United States, give Table Mountain a shot at your business, I would bet you are not disappointed.   You can visit them online at

Scott & Angie Denny - owners of Table Mountain Outfitters.  These two work incredibly hard to make sure their hunters have the best chance of success on each and every hunt.  Their hard work is what has made them one of the most popular outfitters in the US today.



Mike Lutt's Incredible Season of Nine P&Y

by Brenda Potts 25. February 2011 13:27
Brenda Potts

It is not unusual for a person who hunts for a living to kill nine animals with a bow in one season. It is great deal harder for the guy who works two jobs and can only hunt on weekends or vacations. Being self employed does help, as in the case of Mike Lutt, a taxidermist in the fall and winter, and landscaper in spring in summer. During the 2010 hunting season Mike tagged nine animals, all of which qualify for the Pope and Young record book.

"During a normal year I usually shoot 3 to 4 animals," said Mike. "But with the kids out of the house and an employee who stays behind to take care of the animals coming in to the taxidermy shop, I was able to spend more time hunting this past year."

It started with antelope in the early season. Mike got permission to hunt on some private property in Wyoming. The landowner, Jay Butler has since decided to start an outfitting business and Mike helped him book 20 clients for his new Antelope Outfitters.

In late August he shot a mule deer, still in velvet, on public land in Colorado. It was the second day of the season and he was spot and stalking mule deer coming off private land onto public land. He watched the buck for a couple of days, and was able to sneak up on the bedded buck and make the shot.

Mike shot another antelope, this time using a decoy, while hunting in South Dakota. The buck was in a wide open area of a wheat stubble field. Mike laughs at how they all hid behind a single decoy. "We had a guy who was 6 foot 4 inches tall holding the decoy, a cameraman that was 6 foot 2 inches, and me, all behind this decoy." But the ploy worked and it was all captured on film, as were most of the hunts for the season.

A 33 inch wide hard antlered mule deer was the next buck to wear Mike's tag. He was hunting on private property owned by a friend in South Dakota, in September.  On the first attempt as spot and stalking the buck in a sunflower field, he missed the buck at 20 yards. This did not discourage the hunter.  He kept after the buck and finally shot him 4 days later in the same field.
While hunting another buck in Nebraska that same month, Mike spotted him in velvet . He was hunting on an Indian reservation. Although it was private property you still had to draw the tag for the area. Circumstances did not allow Mike to take a shot until a few days later when he found that same buck, now hard antlered, feeding on acorns. The Hoyt Alpha Max performed as expected and another P&Y was added to the list.

In November, Mike headed to Iowa with a buck decoy. He set up near a spot where a big 160 class buck traveled a fence. The spot where the buck normally jumped the fence was near a scrape and an alfalfa field.  Everything worked as planned and the big buck presented a 4-yard shot. Needless to say, another buck went down.
In late November Mike was in his home state of Nebraska , cold calling for rutting bucks. He rattled in 2 bucks from 80 yards away. The bucks circled each other, but soon left. Mike quickly grunted and brought the buck back within range. The only problem was the buck came in head on to 5 yards. "He saw me and we stared at each other for 5 minutes. I know it was at least 5 minutes because my video camera shuts off automatically after 5 minutes of no activity. The buck turned toward the other buck that was also returning and offered me a good shot." Mike took the shot.

Buck number 8 came from a walk-in property in northern Kansas. "It was 2 degrees," Mike recalled.  "I had the decoy out and saw a buck chasing a doe. I think the doe saw the decoy first. She came closer, then a 150 inch 4x4 crossed the creek and gave me a 5 yard shot.

Mike finished the season on his own property in Nebraska. The year before he had passed on a nice buck that he rattled in. In early December he had another chance at him. "I grunted at him and he stood still for 5 to 10 minutes before finally making his way to 20 yards."  Once again, Mike connected on his trophy.

Most of his hunts from last fall can be seen in the Great Plains Edition of Bill Winke's television show. After the hunting season Mike goes to work in his taxidermy business, mounting about 100 deer between January and April. Then he switches gears and directs 25 employees in his landscaping business until late summer. When fall returns, Mike will be back in the field filming, hunting and working hard for another great season.








Planning Your Out of State Bowhunt for 2011

by Dustin DeCroo 15. February 2011 14:08
Dustin DeCroo

The Fall 2010 season comes to a close and it’s time for many hunters to start planning their Non-Resident Fall adventures for 2011.

While many bowhunters are having treestand withdrawals in February and March, I enjoy the excitement of doing research and planning my out-of-state hunts for the upcoming Fall.  The reality of nonresident hunting is that, generally it is significantly more difficult to be successful (in terms of harvesting an animal) than in the region that you call home.  Let us be honest, it’s expensive, time consuming and can be a lot of work but at the same time it can be one of the most gratifying and memorable experiences you’ll ever have.  As Americans we’re blessed with a plethora of big game animals to hunt and it is up to us to take advantage of it.

I was fortunate enough to film's Justin Zarr as he traveled from Illinois to hunt Wyoming Pronghorn.


My good friend Steve Abbott also traveled to Wyoming to hunt pronghorn

I have been fortunate enough to travel the country to hunt for the last five seasons and the planning can almost be overwhelming.  What do I hunt?  Which state do I visit?  Which unit do I hunt?  When do I apply?  How much will everything cost?  These questions and a million others have to be answered before the ball gets rolling.

There is no doubt that I love chasing whitetails but bugling bulls and spot and stalk type bowhunts are my true passion when it comes to bowhunting.  I would love for everyone to be able to experience those hunts, so let me give a little bit of (hopefully) helpful information.

The real work begins after you decide what you want to hunt and the more research you do, the better chance you’ll be rewarded in the end.  Every state has a DNR or Game & Fish website that will tell you the process for hunting in that particular state.  With that said, I have never found a more frustrating group of websites to visi.  For all of the Western states, I have not found a more useful source than the  MRS or Members Research Supplement section found in Eastman’s Hunting and Bowhunting Journal.  The MRS is found only in subscription issues of the magazine but is incredibly informative.  It provides you with application deadlines and prices, drawing odds, trophy qualit y, percentage of public lands, season dates and non-resident success rates, to name a few.  The MRS includes this information for nearly every big game animal that resides in the Western united states.


My friends Trey Kolar, Tony Stickland and drew Wyoming Elk tags in 2007.


In my experience Iowa, Illinois and Kansas are the three main whitetail states that require you to apply for a non-resident tag.

Starting the planning process now assures that you don’t miss any deadlines, can save some hard earned cash and get your body in the proper physical condition for whichever hunt you choose.


My dad drew non-resident elk and moose tags in 2009 killed this great Wyoming bull.

How To: Skinning Your Own Trophy!

by Jessica Edd 14. February 2011 05:30
Jessica Edd

After a short hiatus from the site due to work, the holidays and my grandfather’s passing, I’m finally back. Hopefully I was missed by most, if not all of you as I know I definitely missed the whole crew and their fans. As you may have noticed, I euroed Justin’s and Todd’s antelope for them this year and while I was skinning Justin’s head (that sounds terrible, but I am in fact speaking of his antelope head!), I took a lot of pictures in the hopes of teaching others how to do it. It’s pretty easy and hopefully this will help you next season. 

Learning to skin your own animal can be very beneficial to you when you kill that monster buck. You take the time to know all of your gear, your hunt area, and the animal you’re hunting, why not know how to process it so you can get it mounted; and so your taxidermist doesn’t want kill you. If you have the option to freeze the entire head with the hide still attached, you should, but if you kill a 200” deer or even a small elk, you’re not going to get the antlers in a freezer and by the time you get it to someone to skin it, the hide may start to slip. To test whether or not the hide is slipping, simply pull on the hair. If it pulls out, it’s no good. Antelope are some of the worst animals for slipping because their hair is hollow but also because it’s usually so hot when they’re harvested in August and September. Keeping the hide cold is key to keeping the hair from slipping. 

If you opt to skin your trophy yourself, start by making a “Y” cut up the back of the head, branching out to each antler/horn. There are a variety of cuts you can make between the horns but the “Y” seems to be the most common and easiest to sew. 

Antler bases can be tricky to remove the skin from and a horn base like what is found on an antelope can be somewhat confusing. Because the horn itself is made from hair, the transition between the hair on the hide and what’s turning into the horn can be hard to find. The base of an antelope horn, however, is soft around the edges and turns very hard as it moves up the horn. You can cut through soft base of the horn, detaching the skin, while turning your knife against the bone in order to detach the skin from the skull. If you’re working on an antlered animal, run your knife along the underside base of the antler, cutting the skin, but not the hair. Again, you will want to turn your knife along the bone in order to cut the skin away from the skull. 

Skinning around the rest of the skull is pretty much the same as skinning anything else; until you get to the eyes. The setting of antelope eyes are much closer to the base of the horns than on a deer or elk so once you get passed the horns, you’ve got to start skinning the eyes right away. This is usually the part where your taxidermist will start cussing you for skinning your animal yourself. Most taxidermists use the inner eye lid to tuck into the form so you want to try to save as much as you can. Sticking your index finger into the animal’s eye and pulling the hide away from the skull while you’re cutting will stretch the skin enough that you will essentially pull the inner eyelid out far enough to start cutting. You will want to cut as close to the eye orbit of the skull as you can, giving you as much eyelid as possible and hopefully giving you a discount from your taxidermist for saving him (or her) the hassle of doing it themselves.

To begin skinning the mouth, pull the lips open, giving you access to where the lip attaches to the gum. You’ll soon start to see the cartilage from the inside of the nose but you can cut right through it leaving about 1.5-2” of cartilage. At this point you can continue skinning the skull until the hide is free from the skull.

Now that you’ve got your hide separate from the skull, you can fold it up, (skin to skin) and throw it in the freezer or even the fridge if you’re taking it to your taxidermist within a few days. Be sure to wrap the hide tightly in a plastic bag in order to avoid air contacting the skin. If the hide is frozen it can get freezer burned easily if there is too much air moving over the hide. 

I hope this assists some of you in skinning your own animals and I urge all of you to try it at least once. Try skinning a doe or a small buck your first time so you can get the hang of it if you’re nervous about wrecking your trophy kill. If you have any questions about processing hides or taxidermy work, please feel free to email me at and I will be glad to help. I’m definitely not an expert but I know a thing or two and would love to answer any questions. Good luck and have fun!


Categories: Blog | Bowhunting Blogs

My "Oh No!" Antelope at Table Mountain Outfitters.

by Brenda Potts 25. January 2011 03:22
Brenda Potts

My "Oh-no!" Antelope at Table Mountain

My guide slowly opened the window flap of our ground blind to check for antelope. "Oh-no!" wasn't exactly what I expected to hear him say.
I was on an early season bowhunt for antelope in Wyoming with Table Mountain Outfitters. It was my first experience hunting antelope from a ground blind on a waterhole with my Mathews bow. Everything went as I expected for the first 2 hours, then my hunt took an odd turn.

We had arrived the day before at Table Mountain Outfitters in time to check the bows after a long plane flight. Our hosts, Angie and Scott Denny greeted us and showed us where to put our gear. They have a roomy lodge with different wings that give you plenty of space. Vicki Cianciarulo and I settled in to our assigned room and proceeded to organize our gear for the next morning's hunt.

Vicki and I were filming our hunts for SHE's Beyond the Lodge TV. We decided that our cameraman would go with Vicki and Angie. Scott would be filming me, so we piled into the trucks shortly after daylight and headed to a separate blind. Scott and I were hunting on a waterhole supplied by a spring. A solar powered pump assured that the waterhole was always full of fresh water making this spot very attractive to thirsty animals on hot days. And it was predicted to be a very hot sunny day, with temps in the 80s by late morning and heading into the 90s in the afternoon. Just the right conditions for our chosen method of hunting.

Scott told me that the antelope usually don't begin coming to the waterholes until mid-morning when the temps rise, so we didn't have to be in position before daybreak. This would be positive-point-number-1 on my list of why I like bowhunting antelope from a ground blind over waterholes. Positive point number 2 (PPN#2) = comfort. We were in a big pop-up blind with a nice breeze coming in the front window, sitting in comfortable chairs with a beautiful view. I could get used to this. PPN #3 = close range set ups. If everything went as planned my furthest shot would be to the opposite side of the waterhole, a mere 20 yards, down wind.  It appears that Scott and Angie certainly know how to set up locations for bowhunters. Hunting well managed private property makes it on my list as PPN #4. The folks at Table Mountain Outfitters have long term leases and know their properties well. My opportunity at a speed goat should good.

PPN #5 = preparation. I am not talking about practicing with your bow, which is a given. I am talking about the bag of books, videos, magazines, playing cards, or whatever else you may need to occupy your mind to pass the time, along with the big cooler filled with plenty of cold water, lunch and snacks.  If you didn't bring your own, the folks at Table Mountain have a pantry full of food, and a shelf full of books etc. ready to go with you to the blind. Sometimes your hunt goes quickly, and other times, not so quickly. They recommend staying in your blind all day as the animals may suddenly appear on the horizon coming for a drink, at any point during the heat of the day. Vicki's hunt lasted about 2-3 hours. Her antelope arrived at mid-morning and she was tagged out quickly. Mine took a bit longer.

The first to arrive, were sheep. Scott said this was a good thing, as the antelope considered the sheep sentinels that all was well at the well. A few antelope filtered in from across the vast terrain from all directions throughout the morning. Some approached quickly and deliberately. Others stood like statues, staring at us from a safe distance, before finally deciding to come closer. They did not make a bee-line for the water as I expected, instead they meandered around, bedding behind us, mixed in with the sheep. Apparently they were not thirsty yet, but wanted to be in close range the second they got thirsty.

We spent a couple hours carefully peering through 1/4 inch cracks, slowly moving the window flaps just enough to get a visual on the antelope, but not enough to spook them. Scott said they would bolt if they saw any unusual movement from the blind. And with their excellent eyesight, could easily see through a window opening that exposed movement inside the blind. As long as we stayed back in the darkness of the blind we were fine when the antelope looked into the open windows in front, but any light that filtered in through a crack could give us away.
Scott was looking for antelope through a small crack in the window on his side of the blind, as he had done dozens of times. This time, he uttered a quiet moan and said "Oh-no" quietly, almost under his breath. I waited, wondering what might be the problem. He turned and said, "It's a Great Pyrenees, and he is coming our way." "Huh?," was my intelligent response.

Scott moved the window covering just enough for me to get a look. I was surprised to see a giant white dog walking across the prairie, his eyes glued to our blind as he closed the distance. The dog was huge, and his demeanor was that of a predator, with a wildness about him that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Now, I am not afraid of dogs, I like dogs, but something about this dog was different. Scott told me this breed of dog is used to protect the sheep from coyotes. They will attack anything that they perceive might harm the sheep. Scott said one of these dogs had chased him on a4-wheeler once, nearly biting his leg. I immediately began trying to think nice thoughts about all the sheep surrounding us, lest this giant long-legged, half lion-like creature decided we were not good for the sheep population. Scott was sure this particular landowner did not have these dogs on his property, so this one must have been a wanderer. He certainly looked unkept and homeless.

The dog came to the water, giving us a closer look. He appeared half-starved and dirty. Between drinks he would look carefully at our blind, assessing us. When he finished drinking the dog came to the blind, creeping slowly like a feline predator. He moved to the front of the blind and had no trouble peering inside as his head was eye level with the windows. His nose was an inch or two from Scotts camera lens. We held our breath and didn't move. I had my Nikon camera focused on the dog's face less than a foot away but was afraid to press the shutter in case the smallest of noise might startle him. After several tense minutes the dog decided we were no immediate threat to his sheep. He circled behind us, walking through his herd, looking for trouble. We breathed a sigh of relief as the dog continued on his way, presumably looking for coyotes, doing his job.

It wasn't long before I began to notice a sort of "thermocline" in the blind. The temps in the bottom half were comfortable. The temps in the top half were getting hotter by the minute. A thermal stratification was taking place where an invisible line separated the lower section of the blind identified as, "Ok, I can survive in this area," from the upper half known as, "Wow, I just stuck my head in the oven." My phone told me the outside temperature was in the upper 80s. Thankfully we did not have a thermometer because I did not want to know how hot it was getting inside the blind. It was approaching the noon hour, and it occurred to me that another 6 or 7 hours in the blind with rising temps might not offer anything to add to my positive points list.
Super hot, sunny days offer excellent conditions for hunting waterholes. The animals have to drink in these conditions. But, the same weather can be tough on humans, both physically and mentally.


 Finally, I spotted antelope bucks headed our way. They were behind the blind and walking fast toward the waterhole in front of us. Scott noticed one antelope would appear on his right so he moved the camera in preparation. Just as he did, another goat came in from our left. He was at the waterhole and stood broadside, head down, drinking at 20 yards. Staying far back in the darkness of the blind enabled me to draw my bow unseen. When Scott gave me the ok, I released the arrow and sent it through the antelope in the perfect spot. He ran less than 100 yards and went down just out of the camera's view, disappearing over a slight rise in the terrain. The Great Pyrenees was within sight as we recovered the antelope but fortunately he did not feel the need to chase us.  It was an easy recovery, and a great ending to my first bowhunt for antelope.

Early Bowhunting Season Recap | Wyoming Antelope & Wisconsin Doe

by Todd Graf 29. September 2010 10:46
Todd Graf

October 1st signifies the opening day of archery season here in Illinois and although my bowhunting season has barely begun, it's already been an extremely successful one.  I'm sure many of you have already read Justin's blog about our trip to Wyoming and no doubt seen the video as well.  But for those of you who haven't, let me tell you it was a great time!

Just over a month ago Justin and I, along with our cameraman/editor Brian, flew out to Table Mountain Outfitters for an early season antelope hunt.  After a few delays at the airport we finally settled into camp around 1 am on Friday morning August 27th.

After some much needed rest, unpacking our gear and sighting in our bows we headed into town to pick up our archery tags and some supplies for the day.  Once that was done it was time to head to our blinds and see if we couldn't lay down a couple goats.

Justin reading over the regulations before heading into our blinds.

Our home for the next 9 hours while trying to kill my first antelope with a bow.

Justin had the lucky horseshoe this day as he was able to take a nice antelope just 3 hours after getting into his blind.  In the meantime Brian and I were sitting in our blind wondering if anything was ever going to show up.  After a long day of napping, playing games on our phones, reading books, and staring off into the Wyoming landscape we finally had a nice buck approach our blind.

As Brian, the rookie cameraman on his first hunt, was struggling to hold himself together I got ready for the shot.  After ranging the buck at about 35 yards I drew back and let my 2 blade Bloodrunner fly.  The shot was a bit low and forward, but the Bloodrunner sure did the trick as the buck didn't run more than 100 yards before going down. 

Following a quick celebration and interview I snuck out of the blind to make sure the goat was down for good.  You can never be too sure!  By the time I got to the buck he was already expired and I claimed my first ever archery antelope.  What a great feeling!

My first archery antelope.  What a great way to start the season!

That 2 blade Bloodrunner sure did the trick on this goat.  It flew great and left a HUGE hole!

A nice Wyoming sunset.

The full gang on the final day of our antelope hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters.  From left to right: Brian McAlister, Justin Zarr, Dustin Decroo, Angie Denny, Todd Graf, Vicki Cianciarulo

If you haven't seen the video already, click here to watch it.  There's some really great footage!

After we returned home from Wyoming I was able to head down with my dad for a quick dove hunt with my friends at Graham's Outdoor Adventures in Central Illinois.  As always we had a great time with those guys, shot a bunch of doves, and enjoyed a nice summer day.  Thanks to the Grahams for having us down, it was a blast!

My dad, me, and Derek Graham after a fun day of dove hunting.

This past Sunday up in Wisconsin I was fortunate enough to take a really nice doe on film with my new cameraman Cody Altizer behind the lens.  Cody and I spent a few days at my property the past two weekends trying to get on one of the nice bucks we've had on trail cameras this summer, but they were nowhere to be found.  So when this nice big doe presented me with a shot I took the oportunity to start filling the freezer up with some fresh meat.  Next time we just need a nice buck to come by!

Cody getting ready to head out for our evening's hunt.

Me with my first doe of the season.


Back at home, or at least at my hunting property which seems like my 2nd home, my fall food plots are coming in GREAT!  All of my stands are hung and I am just about as ready for Opening Day as I can be.  Good luck to everyone who is going out hunting for the first time this weekend.  Stay safe and shoot straight!

The view from one of the stands I just hung last week.  I can't wait to get in there and do some hunting!


My native grasses are doing much better than I expected, which is going to provide some much needed security cover for not just deer but all sorts of wildlife.

Turnips are looking good!

Antelope Down! Bowhunting Success in Wyoming

by Justin Zarr 7. September 2010 14:19
Justin Zarr

A few months back Todd and I decided we should go on a bowhunting trip this year.  Most of our bowhunting time is spent chasing whitetails in Illinois or Wisconsin and we figured it would be good to get out and experience something new.  After all, life is short and if you don't do it now who knows if you'll ever be able to.  So with that said, we settled on an antelope hunt with our friends Scott & Angie Denny at Table Mountain Outfitters.

The next few weeks we got our flights booked, rental car reserved, and tags ordered.  All that was left to do was wait for August to come and make sure our bowhunting gear was ready to go.  When August 26th finally showed up we were Wyoming-bound.

After a full body scan at O'Hare we boarded our plane and headed for Salt Lake City.  Unfortunately a mechanical failure with our connecting flight to Casper caused a 12 hour delay in our trip, but we managed to pass the time by working out at the local Hyatt hotel, watching a movie on Pay Per View, and of course getting in a nice relaxing nap.  We finally flew out of Utah at 10 pm and landed in Casper, Wyoming at around 11:30.

Our good friend and Pro Staff member Dustin Decroo was nice enough to pick us up from the airport and drive us up to camp.  Being a Wyoming resident Dustin had already filled his antelope tag earlier that week and volunteered to run the video camera for me during my hunt.

Six a.m. came all too quickly the next morning, and after a cup of coffee and making sure our bows were sighted in we headed into town to get our archery licenses.  By 9:15 our guide, Mr. Scuba Steve, was dropping us off in our blind which was located roughly in the middle of nowhere.  So Dustin and I packed our gear into the blind, got set up, and began our wait.

The terrain in Wyoming in quite different than Illinois!  Beautiful country though, I love it.

Within 2 hours we had our first visitors of the day as a group of 3 mule deer does paid us a visit.  This was my first hunt out of ground blind and with these deer at eye level a mere 15 yards away I thought for sure we would get busted.  But low and behold they never knew we were there, even as I snapped photos with my Nikon DSLR.  Eventually they moved off into the vast expanse of sage brush and cactus.

Our view from the ground blind.  Exciting, I know!

Dustin ready for some action with our new Sony HDR-AX2000 that we picked up from Campbell Cameras.

Our first visitors of the day.

Yours truly, watching for goats to show up.

Awhile later another mule deer doe approached with a fawn in toe, also looking for some a drink of water.  Around this time Dustin spotted a group of 5 antelope bucks on the horizon about 1,000 yards behind the blind.  Over the course of the next hour the bucks made their way slowly toward us as we munched on some cookies, drank some Ginger Ale and relaxed with our boots off.

Eventually the 5 antelope made their way directly into the water hole and started drinking.  The biggest of the bucks, an easy P&Y contender, offered up a perfect broadside shot but I couldn't take it as another buck came in and stood shoulder to shoulder with him.  I was afraid a pass through shot would take out both bucks, so after being at full draw from a minute or so I had to let down.

A few seconds later the biggest buck moved off the water hole and I came to full draw again.  Unfortunately the buck turned quartering into me just as I settled my pin on him and once again I couldn't take the shot.  At this point I started getting nervous that they were going to leave, so I told Dustin to swing the camera onto the 2nd biggest buck who was still drinking. 

When Dustin confirmed that he was on the buck I touched off my release and sent an NAP Nitron tipped Gold Tip straight through the buck's vitals.  He ran a mere 30 yards before tipping over on film - he never knew what hit him!

After a brief celebration in the blind Dustin and I put our boots back on and set out to recover my goat.  I picked up my arrow, which had passed cleanly through the buck, and headed over to where he fell.

My first-ever antelope - taken a mere 3 hours into our hunt.

For my first antelope ever, he's a great buck.  Certainly not the monster that many people hope for, but plenty big for this goat hunter!  To say I was excited was an understatement.  Less than 3 hours into my Wyoming antelope hunt and I was already tagged out.  I'll take that any day of the week!


Dustin and I with our trophy.  A big thanks to my cameraman for coming out and spending some time in the blind with me.  We'll have to do it again soon!

First kill for the Edition Quikfletch.  "James Westfall" did his job well.

Once our guide came to pick us up and we headed back to camp Dustin and I took the opportunity to ride around the area and glass for other animals.  We saw and incredible amount of game including TONS of mule deer, antelope and even a few nice whitetails down in the river bottoms.  Wyoming truly is a hunter's paradise, and Table Mountain Outfitters certainly has an abundance of trophy animals.  During our time in camp we got to hang out with Vicki Cianciarulo from Archer's Choice Media, Brenda Potts, and Joel Maxfield from Mathews who all tagged out on nice antelope as well.  What a blast!

Some WY scenery.

This was a great way to start off our season and I'm really looking forward to October when I can get out and start chasing whitetails.  For now, my antelope high will carry me through the next month!  A big, big THANK YOU to Todd Graf for allowing me to tag along on this trip and to Scott and Angie Denny with Table Mountain Outfitters.  These guys put on some of the best hunts in Wyoming, and I wouldn't hesitate to go back hunting with them.

Gear used on this trip:
(Click the red links to buy any of these products from the store)

NAP Nitron Broadheads - fly like darts and tough as nails.  A very underrated broadhead in my opinion.  I've been shooting them since 2006 and they've never let me down.  Just be careful with the blades, they're scary sharp!

Gold Tip Velocity Pro 400 Arrows - lightweight, fast, and strong.  My first animal harvested with these new shafts and they worked great.  All washed up and ready for the next animal!

NAP Apache rest - you may have read my review of this rest earlier.  It's pretty much bulletproof and deadly accurate.  A great hunting arrow rest. Edition Quikfletch - by far the coolest rendition of the popular Quikfletch products.

Axcel Armortech Sight - much like the NAP rest this thing is pretty well bulletproof and very reliable.  I can't say enough good things about this particular sight.  I'm shooting the 4 pin .019 "HS" (high speed) model.

ScentBlocker S3 Silverback Loose Fit Shirt - a super comfortable base layer that is breathable and kept me cool despite the 90 degree temps.  I'll definitely be wearing this as a base layer come October.


Getting Back to Basics | Bowhunting for Antelope

by Jessica Edd 7. September 2010 02:07
Jessica Edd

After spotting a decent buck the first day on the trail, my stubbornness kicked in and I knew this was the antelope I was going to focus on. Hunting with my parents and sister Erica, who was in town from California, we were able to keep a close eye on the buck and what pattern he was making. It seemed like whatever we did, the buck was able to outsmart us without trying very hard.  My last several hunts have been with people other than my family which have been wonderful experiences, but I really wanted to have them there on one of my successful archery hunts.

Although Erica has lived in California for over 4 years now, she’s yet to lose her natural, Wyoming born hunting abilities. After getting her decked out in some camo and face paint, we were on the war path to killing this goat. However, after several failed attempts at even getting close we began finding ourselves tired, hot and goatless but were still having a blast. Even with her help, I seriously doubted my spot and stalk abilities and began referring back to my previous blog on antelope hunting: should have set up a blind! Like I said though, my stubbornness was getting the best of me.

Erica doing a little scouting from the trail.

After about a half hour stalk, I was finally able to close the gap between me and aforementioned goat to 52 yards. I did everything a bowhunter should do: used my Leupold 750 rangefinder to get an accurate distance, nocked a brand new Beman arrow with QuickFletches, held the 50 yard pin on my Apex Bone Collector sight, took a deep breath and released. What I failed to do, however, was hit my target. I was dumbstruck and so was my family. My dad said, “I’ve seen her group arrows at 50 yards all day long at the archery range! How did she miss?” My sister was lost in disappointment and I was considering throwing my bow at the goat as I watched him gain distance from me once again.

Watching these two monster bull elk were one of many distractions during this hunt.

Life was calling back in California for Erica and after an extended stay she had to return to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. My parents and I continued on our hunt of the same goat, wondering if I would ever get another shot at him again.

As we came over yet another hill in what seems like a sagebrush flat, I stopped and said, “There’s just got to be a goat out there.” I held my Bushnell binoculars up to the sage landscape and locked in on the wirey goat we had been chasing the previous days. I couldn’t believe it. We watched and waited for him to make a move and when he dropped out of sight is when I made mine.

I creeped and crawled through the sage brush trying to get my advantage over him, only to see that he had circled all the way around me and was headed back up the hill he just came down from. He still hadn’t spotted me with his binocular-like eyes so I began my half-mile stalk. It wasn’t long before I had covered enough ground to get in close, only this time I did things a little different. I let instinct take over. Instead of letting my gear do my job for me, I relaxed, drew back and released. I knew he was within 50 yards but didn’t range him. I felt like I was back on the 3D course and let my natural ability take over.

When the arrow stuck just behind his right front shoulder, I felt like I couldn’t breathe until he stopped breathing. It wasn’t long before this elusive goat expired a mere 70 yards from where I shot him. I ran, skipped and jumped back to the truck to get my parents. Bouncing over the top of the hill, they knew the stalk was a success. I don’t know who was happier: me for just spot and stalking an antelope or my parents for being there when it all happened. They had been in it with me from the beginning and although I had reached new heights of frustration, they stuck by me and kept encouraging me like they have always done which is hard to come by and something I am very thankful for. It felt good hunting with them again and being able to share success right alongside of them. I wished Erica could have been there to see it as she put in just as many miles and as much work as I had, but her phone soon blew up with picture messages and phone calls telling her the story.

The antelope was small, measuring 13 ½ inches but it’s something I can definitely be proud of and more importantly something my family is very happy about.

2010 Archery Success in Wyoming

by Dustin DeCroo 23. August 2010 11:56
Dustin DeCroo

The first morning of my 2010 archery season was anything but what I had intended.  The archery antelope season had been open for almost a week before I was able to escape to the public land and sage flats of Northeastern Wyoming.  I woke early to complete a few minor tasks prior to the hunt, the first of which was to screw-in three brand new N.A.P BloodRunner Broadheads.  After looking through the one tote and the one bag that I had taken on the weekend trip, it was apparent that my broadheads were at home.  Rather than get too fired up about it, I went back to sleep for two hours knowing the local sporting goods store opened at 8am.  Arriving at the store, I found the broadhead selection very limited and opted for a four-pack of N.A.P Spitfire mechanicals.

This guy needs another year, but he has potential!

My shooter buck standards were fairly low, knowing that my September schedule is already packed with other hunts.  The first day provided several shooter bucks but between the cows, bordering property owners and an errant arrow… I went home with an empty truck bed.  Thankfully, the next morning would prove to have a different outcome.

A bachelor group of Wyoming Pronghorns in difficult stalking terrain

I drove nine miles South of town to a section of state land where I had seen a nice buck the previous day.  I drove to the back of the property only to find that buck on private land in an adjacent pasture.  On the way out I spotted a decent looking buck bedded with two does, they were bedded just off of a sage flat where it falls down to a dry creek bed.  Unfortunately, the only way I had to stalk the buck was from upwind.  I decided to test my luck and began the sneak.  When I got to about 50 yards from the edge of the sage flat, I knelt down, knocked an arrow and tried to fine tune my plan.  I knew that I was within 60 yards of the goats and that my scent had to be dangerously close to giving me away so I pressed on...  Seconds later I saw horns and ears jump up and run parallel to me and hoping they would stop to see what smelled, I immediately came to full draw on my knees.  The buck did just that and with no time for my Leupold RX-1000 to tell me how far he was, I made a quick judgment.  I placed my bottom pin slightly below the top of his back, my arrow made a quick flight before I heard the “thump” and watched my fletchings disappear.  The buck spun around in a circle several times before coming to rest only five yards from where he was shot.  I raised both hands and my Allegiance to the sky and said, “Thank you.”  The Spitfire did an excellent job on the quartering away animal.

Wyoming Pronghorn

My 2010 Wyoming Pronghorn scores out at 72 2/8” which will well reach the minimum SCI and Pope & Young minimums after drying time.  This goat won’t be entered, but the memory of an exciting, public land, spot and stalk hunt will tell the story much better than the paper pages of any record book.

Bowhunting a Brawling Buck

by Jessica Edd 19. July 2010 13:48
Jessica Edd

With over one million pronghorn (nicknamed antelope) in the American West, most of which inhabit Wyoming and Montana, one would assume that these animals would be an easy kill. However, thinking like this can have you eating tag soup for years to come. These animals are highly specialized to live in their vast prairie environment. Their incredible eye sight allows them to pick up movement as far as three miles away which the human eye would require at least a 6 power binocular lens to acquire.

Along with its eyes used to spot predators, antelope also have speed on their side to out run them. An adult antelope can reach speeds of up to 60 mph and maintain 30 mph speeds for miles if necessary. Catching one is a near impossibility for most predators unless said predator is a 125 grain bullet. However, when you’re launching arrows at the quick footed antelope, you need to change your approach. There are several different methods to hunt antelope but most people choose to use a blind on a waterhole. Spot and stalk is also popular especially combined with the use of antelope decoys.

Deciding where you’re going to set up your antelope blind is no different than picking a good tree for your deer stand. There are a lot of factors that go into your blind placement including location, wind direction, type of blind and timing.

Finding a good water hole is a must because like every other animal on the planet, speed goats need water and in the high mountain deserts these animals inhabit, sometimes it can be hard to find. Watching the antelope in your area will tell you what time of day they are moving into water and how long they stay there. Because these animals have such a large territory, however, you may never see the same goat twice but you can get a good idea of what’s going on in your hunt area by doing some scouting.

Wind direction is an obvious key factor because as we know all too well, your scent can bust you more than most anything else. The wind in the area I hunt generally comes out of the southwest (and in Wyoming, the wind is always blowing) so it’s usually a good idea to try to set up a blind on the northeastern side of a water hole. Obviously because the wind can change direction at anytime this isn’t fool proof but it can be helpful information to have and deserves a little research.

Choosing what blind you want to hunt from is as personal of a choice as any of the equipment we use but there are definitely some that work better than others. Because there isn’t the advantage of trees when hunting the sage goat, a full blind is much better than a partial blind. A group of antelope can easily come up on your back side which will then require you to hold solid until they are able to get you out of their line of site. The Bone Collector blind from Ameristep is a good design because its venting system allows for a little bit more air movement which can be a lifesaver when enduring mid August temperatures that reach into the 90’s. The blind’s dull finish also reduces the reflection of the sun which is essential when trying to outsmart an animal with such good eyesight.

When you set up your blind is also very important. Because it’s not something that’s going to blend in what so ever as it sits alone alongside the water hole, you want to set it up early. The antelope will notice something new has moved into the neighborhood but if it’s there for several weeks and doesn’t present a threat, they will get used to it and it won’t bother them.

Because not everything needs to be made a beer drinking sport like blind hunting sometimes is, the spot and stalk method will get you on your feet or even your hands and knees and keeps you moving all day. As has already been mentioned, the antelope’s eyes are nothing short of amazing and will most likely spot you long before you know the goat’s location. A good pair of binoculars will give you a much needed edge and is essential to looking out over the plains in hopes to find your big buck. The Leupold Cascades 10x42 binocular have proved in the past to hold up to the winds and dust of the west which are known to be hard on equipment. Sage brush doesn’t lend much coverage so the terrain will fast become your friend. Big bucks who don’t have does in tow will try to get on a higher point or edge of a ridge in order to scope the landscape for predators and threats. No matter how good they can see though, they still don’t have eyes in the back of their head and putting a sneak on their back side while they lay in the sun is a good way to get an advantage. When reaching within the 50-70 yard range, dropping to your knees and sometimes even belly crawling is going to be required in order to stay out of their line of vision.

If crawling through cactus, sage brush, thistles and rocks doesn’t sound like a good time, employing the use of a decoy such as the Carrylite EZ Goat Antelope Decoy can also be useful. If you’re within 60 yards or so the buck will notice the decoy and will start to get uneasy. Throughout most of the year, antelope maintain a peaceful herd but during breeding season, the bucks can get a little wound up. Dominant bucks will have patience for subordinate bucks at water holes and out in the open but they fast lose them if the smaller buck thinks he’s going to move in on the does. Mature antelope bucks will charge a smaller buck in order to get rid of it and when he’s packing 120 pounds behind a 50 mph punch, he can definitely do a lot of damage.

Most antelope decoys come with labels warning people not to stand behind the decoy but I can’t stress the seriousness of this warning. People don’t realize how fast these animals can move and will not necessarily mean to be standing behind the decoy when a buck has charged them. Basically, the best recommendation is to set up and get out of the way which is not only safer but will provide a much better shot.

Whether you choose to wait out the antelope in the hot summer sun or put your body through pain as you crawl over cactus, successful antelope hunting isn’t always easy. Picking the right equipment is important and knowing the land of your hunt area is key, but having patience and a plan is what will get you your goat. 

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