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.