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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 Bowhunting.com 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 Bowhunting.com 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 Bowhunting.com 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 Bowhunting.com.

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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