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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 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.

2011 Turkey Hunting Recap

by Dustin DeCroo 22. May 2011 11:52
Dustin DeCroo

 

Turkey season is always highly anticipated for me and the Spring of 2011 was no different. I received my new Mathews z7xtreme at the end of March, waiting for the opener was much the same as a kid waiting for Christmas morning. I had hoped to hunt Turkeys in Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma but only accomplished two of the three. The season was still an extreme success as I was able to kill three toms on video and have some great hunts with my best of friends.

These Wyoming Merriams were fired up well before opening day.

The first weekend following the 6th of April in Oklahoma has become a new found tradition with my friends Tony and Trey. The birds are plentiful as are the laughs and good times. My flight to Oklahoma city was delayed four hours in Denver and after a two hour drive we finally arrived and went to sleep around 4:30am. Three short hours later we woke to a risen sun and the smell of Folgers brewing in the pot. Before the strike of noon there were three Rios in the back of the Duramax. The afternoon hunt would be my first chance to draw blood with the new Mathews.

The Oklahoma Red Dirt was our hot and dry home for the weekend

Trey and I set up the Double Bull and decoys on a flat where the birds generally pass through on their way to roost. It was 98 degrees when we left the truck and one degree less than it would take to melt a human body, on the inside of the blind. After an hour of heavy perspiration didn’t we had birds working. A group of jakes spotted the B-Mobile and quickly came to investigate. The biggest of the birds was sporting a five inch beard and with three tags in my pocket, he was worthy of my new bow’s first kill and to test the new NAP Gobbler Getter broadhead. The bird stopped at 22 yards and my NAP Quikfletch disappeared behind the wing bone, bird number one was in the dirt. The rest of the evening supplied more jakes but no long beards. The majority of the rest of the trip I spent behind the camera, but the birds escaped our efforts. The footage of this hunt should be on Season 2, Episode 3 of Bowhunt or Die in June.

My first kill of 2011 and the first kill with my z7xtreme.

 

The following weekend Bowhunting.com Prostaff member Dan Schafer traveled to my house in Wyoming to chase Merriams. We had a fantastic hunt killing four long beards in two days, but I’ll let the video tell you the story... Check it out here.

Dan's spot and stalk Merriams in Wyoming!

Tagged out!

Unfortunately, other commitments kept me from hunting Easterns in Kansas but hopefully next spring, I’ll pick up right were I left off in 2011. Now it’s time to start stickin’ wild hogs and Alligator Gar in the South!

A Lesson in Tracking: Finding a Wounded Elk

by Jessica Edd 15. October 2010 03:02
Jessica Edd

Although my elk hunting season started with archery equipment, it ended with a rifle. I realize that this is a sight dedicated to bowhunting enthusiasts, but I learned a very important lesson in hunting, no matter what weapon you choose to use. After spending 14 days in the field over the course of 6 weeks without seeing a single bull elk, just hearing their teasing bugles, I began wondering if my Area 99 tag would have to wait until the next draw to be filled. On the last day of our three day hunt we walked about two miles passed the wilderness boundary to an open park mixed with grasses, sagebrush, willows and aspens with small running creeks throughout the bottom.

 

Perfect setting for a nice bull elk.

It was a perfect scene after seeing a cow, calf and spike elk and I just knew there had to be a bull running around somewhere. Soon after, my friend, Joe, stopped me and said, "There’s a bull and it’s a nice one." That’s all I needed to hear. What I saw could have been different, however. It was certainly a bull, but he was quartering towards me and was soon on the move. I took my shot and knew it wasn’t a good one. This is when the painful task of tracking a wounded animal began. Anyone who has ever hunted elk knows they are some of the toughest animals to take down and sometimes they simply refuse to hit the ground. This was one of those elk. When we started our pursuit, we saw one single drop of blood and another about 20 yards away. I knew we were going to have a challenge in front of us and anyone who knows me knows how negative and impatient I can be. I immediately thought the worst and had to get a small cry session out of the way before we could continue. Thankfully Joe is single-handedly the most patient person I’ve ever met and while keeping his wits about him, was able to get things under control and we began looking for more sign of the bull together. The elk was bleeding very little, the snow from the day before had melted and the muddy ground was frozen from the low temperatures of the night before, so we had little to work with. After covering close to a half mile, winding through the trees, we totally lost any sign of him once again. It looked in the dirt like the bull had maybe hit the skids and stopped suddenly, or possibly laid down, turning up fresh dirt. We assumed he would move down hill as opposed to climbing over the rock hill to the east but after finding no further sign of him on the slopes below, we started over once again at the sight of the scuffled dirt. This was the fourth or fifth time we had circled back to the last known location of the bull and I was beginning to get desperate. Joe kept me calm all the while hiding his anxiety about the potential of not finding this bull and what it would do to my hunting in the future. We began heading up the rock slope to the east and I was stunned to see the bull running up the steep, slick rock using only three legs. It didn’t take long to realize why the bull was able to move so far, so quickly, without losing a lot of blood. As he ran, I was able to connect with two more shots before he lay down on the highest point he could find. When I saw he wasn’t getting up, I realized I wasn’t either. I had sat down and literally couldn’t get to my feet. Killing a good bull is something I’ve only ever dreamed of and after losing one 4 years ago, I was sick at the thoughts of possibly losing another one. No one likes to lose an animal, but I’ve yet to find someone who takes it as hard as I do. It’s not something I can let go of easily and knowing the will power of an elk was not helping calm my nerves throughout the ordeal. After seeing the downed elk, I could have lost it all over again, but I simply just had to sit down. Joe helped me to my feet and we were able to claim the trophy together as we worked equally as hard to get it.

After retrieving the 5x6 bull, I don't know who was more excited that it was over: me or him.

I suppose my entire purpose of writing this is to advise people to be patient when tracking an animal. You never know what direction they could take and getting frustrated simply will not be beneficial to your cause. Having a good hunting partner that is as stubborn and smart as someone like Joe is also helpful but is not always available. Had I been by myself I honestly feel I would not have found this bull and the ending to my story would be much different. We were able to end our hunting trip with pictures of success and a story I have learned a multitude of lessons from. Hopefully, anyone out there reading this, learns something too and is able to keep composure while tracking a kill and they too can bring their trophy home with them.

 

Though packing wasn't easy, it was a task I was grateful and thankful for.

 

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.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF THIS EARLY SEASON DOE HUNT.

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 Bowhunting.com 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!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF OUR ENTIRE WYOMING ANTELOPE HUNT - NOW IN HD!


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 Bowhunting.com 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 Bowhunting.com 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.

Bowhunting.com 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 Bowhunting.com 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. 

Bowhunting.com staff member Jessica Edd is featured in Eastman's Bowhunting Journal!

by Scott Abbott 14. June 2010 02:52
Scott Abbott

Bowhunting.com staff member Jessica Edd has been recognized in the 2010 May-June issue of Eastman's Bowhunting Journal, for a Pope & Young bear taken in Wyoming. The bruin's skull scored 20-7/16 placing it 2nd all time in the state of Wyoming for black bears taken with archery tackle. Congratulations to Jessica on a phenomenal bear and for the recognition from Eastman's.

 

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

My Antelope Hunting Adventure In Wyoming

by John Mueller 13. September 2009 14:23
John Mueller

It was quite an adventure hunting with a bunch of friends from the forum as well as a few Bowtech Staffers. This hunt was more about the friendships than the actual hunting, although the hunting was fantastic.

 

Even though most of us knew one another, few of us had actually met face to face; we just knew each other from the forums. It was neat to have a camp full of guys that got along like brothers the whole time, it really made the hunt a pleasurable experience.

 

Miller Outfitting knows how to put hunters on good antelopes and also show them a first class time, their operation is second to none. We all arrived at camp by 3:00 on Saturday with our hunt to begin Sunday morning. Doug the owner said if we wanted to shoot our bows a few times to see if they were still on he would put us all in blinds that evening since the hot weather was perfect for hunting. So we all took a few practice shots and changed clothes and were in our blinds overlooking water holes by 5:00. Within 10 minutes the first goat was down. Bill had connected on a good buck. One more speed goat would fall that first evening. I had a doe and young one come to my water hole that evening but no shooters.

 

A doe and fawn that came in the first evening.

 

The first morning I went to same hole Bill took his buck at the night before, it was located in a good travel area.

 

A view of my water hole the first morning.

 

I had numerous small bucks and couple of does come in early.

 

One of the small bucks that came in early.

 

I received news via text Kevin had killed a goat a little ways from my blind and they were taking it in to get it in the cooler. It had been a while since I had seen any so I texted Rob and Greg asking if this was the 10:00 lull. Soon after that text I got word that Greg had hit one, but just grazed its back. What seemed like just a few minutes later I got the message that Greg and Rob had both tagged really good bucks. That meant I was the only one left hunting and it wasn’t even noon of the first day. At 2:00, after not seeing an antelope since 9:30, I called Billy my guide asking what the weather was supposed be like the next couple of days. He said cooler with a chance of rain. That meant the antelopes wouldn’t be coming to water as much as in the 93* heat of the day. I decided if a decent buck came in I would take him instead of waiting for a bigger one later. At 2:30 the antelopes must have gotten up from their naps. I had a steady stream coming to water, but they were all small.

 

Around 4:00 I got my sandwich out of my pack. I thought to myself, I better take a look around before I start eating. I peeked out the back of the blind and saw a huge buck running a good buck away from his doe. I quickly put my sandwich down and grabbed my bow. I decided I would shoot either of these bucks if presented with a shot. The bigger one didn’t want the smaller buck anywhere near his doe and kept running him off. Finally the smaller one started to make his way to my water hole. But he came in to my left just the opposite of all of the rest of them. I had to reposition myself for the shot. I ranged him at 22 yards and drew back. Almost at full draw my elbow scrapped the Velcro on a window causing my goat to leave the water, but he stopped after couple of steps. I aimed and touched off the trigger, my arrow struck low in the chest just behind the front leg. I immediately thought heart shot as he climbed out of the water hole and stumbled over the damn, blood pouring out of the wound, I knew he wouldn’t go far. I called my guide Billy, and told him to come get me I’m done.

 

In a few minutes Billy arrived with Kevin and Bill. We loaded up my trophy and drove a little ways away from the hunting area to take pictures and field dress my antelope. The guides actually take a bunch of pictures in different poses and when they get back to camp, they print out a beautiful 8 x 10 print for you and at the end of the hunt each hunter gets a disc with all of the hunters’ pictures on it. That’s definitely not something you get on every hunt.

 

Trophy shots sporting the BH.com colors.

 

 

One of the 8 x10 glossy that Doug gave me.

 

After we had all tagged out Doug suggested we all take a ride to Devil’s Tower National Monument, it was only about an hour and a half away. So Tuesday we loaded up into 2 vehicles and headed to Devil’s Tower. It was a neat ride through some beautiful country. Devil’s Tower is a huge mass of rock that rises straight up nearly 900 feet out the landscape, truly an amazing sight.

 

The whole gang at Devil's Tower.

Then after lunch at a local diner we headed back to camp. But Doug took us home on gravel country back roads almost the entire way. We stopped many times to view deer and antelope as well as take in some awesome scenery. That ride was another one of the many highlights of the trip.

 

If you are looking for a fun hunt with a group of friends by all means consider an antelope hunt with Miller Outfitting. Definitely not the most adventurous hunt, but one to relax on and have a great time in camp and enjoy the services of a first class outfitter. And antelopes make a pretty darn good looking mount too.

 

Rob and Greg actually shared this water hole the first evening of the hunt.

 

 

Some goats just a couple a hundred yards from camp.

   

 

The equipment I used on this hunt was:

 

Diamond Iceman

Easton FMJ Arrows tipped with Rage BH 

Octane Bantamweight Quiver  http://www.bowhunting.com/shopping/Products/Octane-Bantam-Weight-Quiver__90625.aspx

Apex 4 pin sight

QAD Drop Away Rest

Octane 7” Stabalizer http://www.bowhunting.com/shopping/Products/OCTANE-7-STABILIZER-HWDGRN-__90541.aspx




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