It had been five years since the last time I notched a pronghorn tag, so when the opportunity arose to return to the west and give them a go, I gladly jumped at the chance. I’d be hunting with Scott and Angie Denny of Table Mountain Outfitters. Like a lot of folks, I’ve watched Scott and Angie’s TV show, The Life at Table Mountain, on the Sportsman Channel over the years and knew these guys had the Wyoming antelope figured out. I was stoked for this hunt, knowing I’d be in as good a place as any to notch my next antelope tag. Little did I know just how good the hunting at Table Mountain would be.
I was speaking at a wild game dinner event the previous night at a buddy’s church in Iowa, so I was arriving a day later than the rest of the crew in camp. When I arrived that first afternoon I learned that nearly everyone in camp had punched their tag that first morning. These first-time antelope hunters, as well as a few old veterans, wasted little time in putting meat in the camp freezer when the action unfolded on day one. I shot my bow on the camp archery range out behind the lodge to make sure my bow hadn’t suffered any damage in flight. With all my gear dialed in and ready to roll, I was eager to get in on the action. My chance to do battle with these goats of the prairie would come in the morning.
Late summer antelope hunting can be brutal as temperatures often hover above the 90 degree mark. 14-hour days in a sweat box (ground blind) will test your patience like nothing else. Fortunately for the hunters in our group, shot opportunities were coming much earlier in the day than what you typically hear about. In fact, several hunters had shot bucks shortly after sunrise as they made their way in for an early morning drink at the water hole. “My hunt was over in 34 minutes,” one hunter boasted as we sat around on the deck that night. And I’ll admit it. I was jealous. I could only hope that my opportunity would come that quick rather than an all-day sit in the sweltering 92-degree temperatures we’d be experiencing on day two.
Little did I know, my hunt would be over just as quick.
Before the sun popped up on the horizon on day two, my guide, Adam, drove me down to a ground blind situated next to a small pond in the middle of a monstrous pasture. Like a spider web, cattle and antelope trails came to the water hole from nearly every direction. With antelope standing on the horizon, Adam waited for me to climb into the blind with all my gear before he left in the truck.
I arranged all my gear and goods in front of me within easy reach and got ready for the show. And no sooner had the truck cleared the top of the hill behind me when antelope appeared on the hillside making their way in my direction. The first on the scene were a couple of does. But with the rut fast approaching, I knew the bucks wouldn’t be far behind.
A few minutes later the boys arrived. I glassed the hillside as several young bucks topped the hill and headed down the trail. I didn’t get real excited until the boss of the bunch came over the hill and made his way down a trail that led to the water hole in front of me.
That surge of adrenaline that comes with knowing things are about to get real kicked in, and my heart began to thump in a way that only comes from close encounters with big game in bow range. The bachelor group of bucks dropped into the drainage in front of me as they made their way in my direction. I scrambled to make my final adjustments in my chair and get to where I needed to be for the shot. The bucks would be in bow range when they came back into view.
The bucks first hit the right side of a bigger pond in front of me, but soon made their way around to a smaller hole on my left. As a right-handed shooter, it was the perfect set up for a shot. The big buck stepped into the small pool of water first, but before I could come to full draw the smaller bucks stepped up beside the big buck and cut me off. I prayed for calm nerves and waited for somebody to make a move. And as if on que, the two younger bucks stepped back from the water leaving the big boy alone and broadside at 20 yards. I drew back, settled the pin, and dropped the string.
The buck exploded out of the water and went just 10 yards before nearly hitting the ground. He made it back to his feet and scampered another 30 yards before it was all over. I was testing out the new Rage Trypan broadhead and needless to say, I was impressed. The entry and exit wounds were oversized and ugly. It was one of the most devastating shots I’ve ever put on an animal.
I told myself I’d wait 15 minutes before climbing out of the blind, but just a few minutes later I gathered my gear, grabbed my bow and camera and bailed out of the blind. I immediately found blood where the buck whirled around from the shot. The blood trail was easy to follow over the hill. When I looked up, my Wyoming pronghorn was laying just ahead in the sage brush. I fist-pumped the sky and thanked God for the time as I hurriedly made my way over to my buck.
After a five year break from antelope hunting, I had killed my biggest buck yet. And it all happened in just 30 minutes. The weather and timing were perfect to catch plenty of thirsty bucks coming to water in front of the Table Mountain ground blinds.
The Life at Table Mountain
Hunting opportunities abound with Table Mountain Outfitters. Scott and Angie, as well as their great team of guides, work hard to put their hunters in front of animals. In addition to pronghorn, they offer hunts for deer, elk, bear and mountain lion with hunts available in Wyoming and Idaho. The lodge for our antelope hunting location was more than comfortable and offered plenty of room for our entire crew. The camp cook did a tremendous job of keeping us well fed all day long with some of the best meals you’ll ever find in hunting camp.
Table Mountain Outfitters is located within easy driving distance to some of the country’s most popular scenic attractions. Our whole crew tagged out on antelope in the first day and a half so we had plenty of time for some sightseeing, shooting prairie dogs, and bowfishing. We made a one-day roadtrip and visited Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devil’s Tower and the little town of Deadwood. You can honestly check off a lifetime’s worth of bucket list items when you plan a hunt with the crew of Table Mountain Outfitters.
Hunt Gear List
Bow: Mathews Halon 32
Arrow Rest: HHA Virtus
Sight: Rocky Mountain Driver 3-pin Dovetail
Broadhead: Rage Trypan
Camo: ScentLok Nexus Active Weight
Arrows: Carbon Express Maxima Red SD
Optics: Vortex Razor 10×42 binos / Vortex Ranger 1000 rangefinder
Ground Blind: Primos Double Bull Blind
Cooler: Yeti Hopper Flip 12
Bow Case: Sitka Nomad
Boots: Danner Explorer 650
Backpack: Tenzing TC 1500