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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.

 

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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