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.