Wyoming 2016 Antelope Hunt Report

dihardhunter

Active Member
Jul 27, 2012
170
0
Columbus, OH
www.skinnymoose.com
First off, every time I attack a new species or new area, I make it a point to contact as many "experienced" folks as possible. Eastmans is a great venue to make these digital connections and I deeply appreciate every returned PM as I got serious about cashing in a bunch of PPs late last winter.

To the hunt...

We decided to forego the opener and go 3-4 weeks into the season. Coincided with pre-crazy season for a UPS employee, avoided my September archery elk hunt in CO, and landed squarely on fall break for Ohio State University - where I am on faculty conducting research/teaching in wildlife sciences. The way I saw it, I was just doing critter research, escape behavior or something like that.

We hunted out of Casper and made the daily drive to our unit. Not ideal but I tolerated it for the sake of a few in our hunting party not amped up for less than 1st world living conditions. The hunting party consisted of my college roommate, my dad, a great friend who is about 10 years older than myself, and my dad's hunting buddy. 5 of us in all, each holding a buck antelope tag.

My dad killed a doe antelope back in the 1970s on a hunting trip, my college buddy and I hunted antelope in NE WY back in 2007 - both killing decent bucks, and the other two were Western hunting virgins. A rock-paper-scissors tournament on the first morning put my dad first up to bat. I threatened to lock up the ammunition for the first 2 days though, as we had a full 7 days of hunting time available to us and it was quickly apparent that antelope weren't scarce within the landscape. Quite the opposite - absurdly abundant.

With 2 hours daylight left on Day 1, I swung the spotter onto a distant buck just in time to see stunning mass and a lengthy prong. A quick confirmation from my buddy before the buck disappeared behind a rise, and we were planning our first stalk of the trip. From a mile out, we closed to within 350 yards - working around a few other herds of pronghorn as well as 2 nosy coyotes. We found a decently flat rock to prop dad's rifle across the spotting scope and one of my unlaced boots. Nerves, distance, and night closing in made for sketchy shooting conditions, but thankfully dad's first warning shot scared the buck 40 yards closer. His second volley connected and the buck never twitched. Rarely does ground "growage" occur, but it did in this case. We knew he was a good buck, but we hadn't had a long time to analyze him in the spotter. We caped and quick-quartered by headlamp and arrived back in Casper just short of midnight. A quick stretch of the tape and we knew the bar had been set quite high for the rest of us - 79" even!! High prong on the buck's left side squeezed in a 3rd mass measurement below and he wound up taping just over 14" on both sides, large prong was 5.5", and 5 circumferences went over 6.25".

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Day 2 and I was up but we didn't find anything worth tagging in a spot that was feasible for a stalk. The most excitement for Day 2 was finding a buck we believe would gross B&C. The only trouble was that he was half-mile in on private land. The hope was because "his" private section was surrounded by BLM in all directions. We would check back for him every day of the hunt but to no avail.

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On Day 3, we were approaching late afternoon with several more mid-70s located but again nothing in a stalkable location. I waived my rights to a nice buck so that we could stalk a buck that tripped one of the other guys' trigger. My buddy and I accompanied him to within 200 yards but were interrupted by a smaller group of antelope tucked down in an unseen crevice. That buck didn't trip his trigger but it did mine. Ended up having to "jump shoot" him and I made a single shot kill as he was kicking into top gear right at the 100 yard mark.

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He taped out at 73" and change with heavy heavy mass above and below his prong. Sort of a bummer that his one prong was busted off, but I was completely satisfied with my hasty decision to tag out.
 

dihardhunter

Active Member
Jul 27, 2012
170
0
Columbus, OH
www.skinnymoose.com
On Day 4, we lived on the edge by heading deeper into some good looking country even as the low-hanging clouds spit snow and sleet and the winds howled. Funny how the oppressive weather made the antelope a wee bit more approachable and by midday we located a nice buck feeding with some does down in a protected draw. It was a great stalking setup and within 15 minutes we had one of the guys prone over a pack with a dead rest. Boom. Speedgoat #3 down.

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A few more pics I took with my macro lens.

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Once we started the process of caping and quartering, the last two guys with unpunched tags went up and over the mesa to look at some new country. They spent the next 4 hours dodging squalls but managed to stalk within range of several decent bucks but a long-distance sighting of a LARGE buck spared their lives. We coordinated a pick-up for them and kept probing some new country - continually opening gates, parking the truck in protected ravines, and hiking out to points and overlooks to glass. With afternoon transitioning to evening, I spotted a short but heavy, long-pronged buck up in some ribbon cliffs. Totally bizarre place for a pronghorn but it had all the ingredients to get shooter #4 excited. A short 20 minutes later and we were perched on top of him and 2 does. The next 3-5 minutes weren't necessarily pretty, but a punched tag is a punched tag. Another late night with seriously nasty weather pushing in on us, but thankfully the precipitation never came down heavy enough to scramble road conditions and we got back safe and sound and tired. Even with shorter 12 1/2" length, the buck scored right at 74".

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dihardhunter

Active Member
Jul 27, 2012
170
0
Columbus, OH
www.skinnymoose.com
We slept in a couple hours the next morning to give the snow a chance to melt and the sun a chance to shine. My college buddy and I ventured back into the unit, making the usual pass to try and relocate Mr. Boon from Day 2 but to no avail. We ended up doing several several mile loops through rolling country and passing on a couple low 70s buck at close range. On to some different country.

From the road we spotted a nice buck on top with a big herd of does. It was far from the biggest buck he had seen, let alone walked away from with our rifle's still on safety, BUT...you know how it is when the predator switch gets thrown into gear. The buck was pretty, in beautiful country, and the stalk would be storybook if it worked. We parked and made a long haul around the far side of the mountain only to watch him drop over a ridge and out of sight. Unfortunately his does stayed high and kept us from approaching any closer than about 600 yards. On a hunch, we decided to drop back and try clambering around some rimrock cliffs. We were rewarded by finding ourselves between a watering hole and the thirsty buck. We watched him walk in to 100 yards from 400 yards distant, and tag #5 was punched as the buck fell in his tracks underneath our cliff-side perch.

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With 2 days left on our trip, the 3 older fellows purchased 1-day trout licenses to try their luck on the Miracle Mile down towards Alcova and we pit-stopped Friday evening and Saturday morning in Rocky Mountain National Park on our way back to Denver International Airport.

A great trip, hugely successful on all fronts and some very special memories made with my dad and buddies. Can't wait to draw these tags and hunt the beautiful sage country of Wyoming again!

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Ridgerunner

Active Member
Feb 21, 2011
308
0
Awesome write up and makes me wish next year would be here already so I could go chase some pronghorn again.


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Swedishhunter

Member
Jun 24, 2016
90
5
Congrats on a great hunt and what a nice write-up. I am looking at a similar trip next year, looking mostly in Kaycee area (units 20/21/22 or 113). We all have only one or two preference points so have to study public access and draw odds very carefully.