My 2005 WY Pronghorn antelope quest began in March by filling out the applications, contacting the landowner and working out dates. By July we found out we had drawn and contacted the landowner to let him know we drew.
There was a bit of a mixup and the initial dates he promised us were not available and he wanted us to hunt Wednesday instead of the previous saturday. We were able to work it out and he let us hunt one half of his ranch while the other hunters hunted the north half.
We drove up Friday in good weather, although it was pretty uneventful (took along a portable DVD player which made this trip MUCH better).
Saturday morning we met the landowner at 7am. It was windy... EXTREMELY windy. He introduced us to his son whom we hadnt met before on previous hunting trips and let his son guide us while he took the other hunters.
Right off the bat I knew it was going to be very tough due to the wind, sustainted 20mph winds gusting to 35mph. I knew I could shoot in it but I was concerned about my wife who had little experience with wind. Soon after entering the property we noticed a sever lack of animals in general. All previous years the ranch had tons of small bands of Antelope... we passed area after area with nothing visible. When we finally did spot a band, they took off running immediately... from 800 yards away. We hiked to the top of a mesa they ran behind thinking they would hole up there to get out of the wind. After a dismal hike to the top we spotted them... on a run a mile away.
We spotted / hiked up on several other bands but they seemed to never stop running from the moment they first saw us. Quite disappointing to hike a mile to look over a hill where you think they would be, then to see them 1-2 miles past the hill running hard.
We finally came down a gully to where a water hole was and we saw a couple does and fawn antelope coming up out of it. I used my spotting scope to look through the thick brush to see a mature buck's horn move. It looked pretty tall. He hadnt seen us so I thought we could get closer.
Me and my wife tried to close the distance before the buck finished watering and came up into full view. As we get within 250 VERY windy yards I can see hes headed up out of the watering hole. I tell my wife to get the SteadyStix setup and take a shot when she can. I get my gun ready as well figuring he was average for the area, and with the lack of goats and how skittish they were, I'd take a shot if she missed. The buck came up and stopped broadside... I tell her to shoot and she did, right over its back! The goat took a step and stopped, curious about what the sound was. I held off my shot, telling her try again... I watch it through my scope in kneeling position while the wind gusts push my scope around. I then hear a "click" ... She didnt pull the bolt back far enough to catch a new cartridge! Knowing the goat was about to bolt I clicked off my safety and squeezed the trigger, at the report I saw the goat drop right in place. Not the best shot I've ever made but it was sufficent. Getting closer we saw the buck was pretty tall but had a deformed flag on the one side (I thought it had been broken off prior to the shot).
Heres some squinty picks (I was looking right into the sun)
After snapping some pictures we cut it up and put it in the cooler. Antelope is excellent meat but you have to get it on Ice ASAP after a kill. We usually have them quartered and on ice within 15 min of the kill.
With that over I stored my gun then we began the quest to find another buck. It was more repeats of the morning, hike over a hill to find they had already ran out. I've never seen antelope in this area, on opening day so skittish. She got a couple shots at a nice broadside goat at 300 yards but couldnt connect.
We headed back around the ranch following a band with a soso buck in it when they ran up to the base of a steep mesa and stopped. Glassing them over I noticed a couple other goats in some tall sage browsing, with one being a nicer buck. We back out of there and circle a couple miles around to the backside of the mesa and hiked up over the top. I was disappointed to see the herd at least a mile away running off... I continued to ease up to the mesa edge and looked down off to suddenly see a doe antelope browsing. Knowing there had been a buck near her before we circled around I carefully moved around to not skyline myself, and was able to finally see the buck feeding 150 yards below us in thick sage. I tell her to come up to me and get the steadystix ready... she does and crept up until she was able to get a shot. She squeezed the trigger and was rewarded with a nice "whap" as the bullet hit perfectly.
Amusingly right after she shot, about 30 yards below us a big wyoming 3x3 mule deer jumped up... he had been bedded there below the ridge and was watching the antelope when he saw the buck fall over from the shot. It was quite comical to watch him try to figure out what was going on... it was obvious he knew he was in deep crap but wasnt sure what to do about it... I whistled to him and he finally looked up to see us... boy I wish I had had the video camera with me because when our eyes locked at that close distance it was like I could read his mind... and he was thinking "OH CRAP!". He bolted out of there like he was on fire. Too bad we didnt have deer tags as well LOL
After watching him run off we eased our way down to her buck while the landowners son drove back around to pick us up. We broke out the camera and got some nice picts.
All in all it was a fairly hectic hunt. Only a fraction of animals around compared to previous years, the animals themselves more skittish than I've ever seen, and it was extremely windy. Patience, persistance and good old fashioned luck won out though.
The area we hunt doesnt produce monster sized horns unfortunately, but it's still alot of fun.
Heres a pict of both side by side
PS: Mine had big bald spots on its neck from fighting so it wasnt worth caping. My wifes had a couple bald spots but we decided to cape it anyway and take pictures for a soon to be completed Caping guide for those who might want to know how to do it.
PSS: I also took pictures of the "gutless" quartering method we use to cut them up in the field. I get alot of requests to do a guide on it so I finally remembered to take pictures of it. Look for both guides soon.
PPSS: Remember in the top of the story me mentioning getting our initial date to hunt changed from Wednesday to the previous Saturday? Well it was a darn good thing... here is what it looked like in the town we hunted WEDNESDAY MORNING, The day we were originally schedualled to hunt!