Table Mountain Pronghorn

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.

luggage-in-truck

With gear loaded in the truck, it was time to head for the lodge at Table Mountain.

After my flight touched down in Casper, WY, I loaded my gear in the truck and made the quick drive down to the Table Mountain camp near Douglas. I know a devilish grin was smeared across my face as I drove past field after field full of antelope. My antelope hunting experience had been limited to the state of Montana. And while I knew Wyoming was the go-to state for antelope hunting, I really had no idea of just how many of these critters roamed the prairies there.
table-mountain-banner

A sign at the entrance of Table Mountain welcomes hunters.

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.

block-target

There’s plenty of targets behind the lodge at Table Mountain to help you get dialed in when you arrive in camp.

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.

wyoming-sunrise

Sunrise on the prairie.

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.

antelope-gear

With plenty of snacks, drinks, and the good book, I was ready for a long sit. I had no idea just how fast the action would unfold.

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.

antelope-on-hillside

The first herd to come on the scene.

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.

 A minute later  I saw horns coming through the sage brush. Several bucks were the first to the water hole for a drink. As is often the case, these bucks were paranoid when they stepped up to drink. They’d drink for a few seconds then jump back like they’d been stung by a bee. But regardless of how spooked they appeared to be when they jumped away from the water hole, the bucks continued to come back to drink.
antelope-at-waterhole

These bucks drank from the bigger pond to my right before making their way around to a smaller pond of water to my left.

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.

antelope-buck-at-waterhole

One of the young bucks checks things out before returning to drink.

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.

vortex-optics

Don’t even think about doing battle with antelope without good quality optics. I was using the Vortex Razor binos and Ranger 1000 rangefinder.

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.

dead-antelope

The Mathews Halon 32 and Rage Trypan proved to be a nasty combination on this big Wyoming pronghorn.

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.

brodie antelope

Stickin’ and Grinin’! I was excited to lay hands on a great buck in Wyoming.

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

Scott and Angie of Table Mountain Outfitters work hard to offer one of the best hunting experiences you’ll find anywhere in the country.

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

 

 

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