Land Wyoming Antelope
set camp in the dark. Our first-choice spot had not panned out and as
we drove a bit further and later than we had anticipated.
Such is Public Land hunting. When my hunting partner Phil moved to
Wyoming in 2019, on a whim I put in for an antelope tag. That I had
not a single preference point did not discourage me in the least.
But I must admit surprise when I drew the tag.
plan was for Phil, who would be a resident by October, to buy a
left-over tagin the same unit. But the best laid plans of mice
and men being what they are, there were no left-over tags to be
had. Phil insisted he would act as camp-host and “guide” and
accompany me anyway. I have never hunted antelope before, but I just
knew I had a sweet antelope rifle with my .257 Roberts. Reading
Boddington’s “Perfect Shot North America”
otherwise. In it he details poor shots due to wind and yardage from
any of the .25 caliber cartridges, and as a result, he now believes
the best antelope cartridges to be the fast 6.5’s, the
the 7mm’s. He’s been hunting antelope virtually
every year for
50 years, so I deferred to his expertise.
brought along my stainless/synthetic Winchester Model 70 Classic
7mm Remington Magnum. Not that the diminutive
antelope require a heavy bullet, but I like the 160-175 grain
projectiles in this rig, and I had some 162 grain Hornady SSTs
over IMR 4831 hand-loads ready to go. I brought along a tripod and
spotting scope as well as a butt-pad for sitting on while glassing.
OnX, we identified a sliver of BLM land that adjoined state land
which had a water source on it. Our plan was to side-hill along the
canyon towards the water, and sit and glass. I could reach out pretty
far with Remington’s Big 7 and with the extra set of eyes
for me, I felt pretty confident in finding a shooter. Although this
was my first antelope hunt, the criteria I apply for all my hunts,
applied here too: 1) enjoy the adventure, 2) fill a tag and freezer,
and 3) consider horns and antlers last. Love me an adventure!
in camp, we rose in the early-inky-darkness. After coffee and a bite,
hitched our packs and started out to execute the hunt plan. We
thirty-minutes into our hike when Phil spotted a buck
and a few does sky-lining
the ridge in front of us at 633 yards.
We hunkered down and they obliviously fed
to the right, and then
dropped over the ridge out of sight. The wind was unfriendly, blowing
directly at our backs towards the ridge. We skirted across the valley
floor, and started creeping up towards the ridge top. Some 30-40
minutes had elapsed since we first spotted the antelope when we
crested the ridge.
low-crawled along and cut the herd’s tracks, still traveling
right as they
were earlier, while losing elevation. Keeping an eye
on the distant hillside as we
crept along, we continued to attempt
to predict the herd’s movement and by
now, the wind was an ally
and blowing in our faces. The main ridge broke into a series of
fingers and ravines which extended to the valley floor. We traversed
them perpendicularly, about a third up from the floor, heading back
towards the general direction of camp. Belly crawling over each
finger while continuing to scan for antelope, we finally caught a
glimpse of a doe.
seemed to see us—or the movement anyway—but quickly
feeding, unconcerned. As she fed behind a bush, we finished our
belly crawl into
the ravine. I shed my pack and crawled up the
ravine side, nothing. We continued
up and over the fingers,
belly-crawling and sneaking looks through the brush.
while peering between two bushes, the buck spotted and stared at
Phil had not crested, but was to my side with my short
shooting sticks which he
pushed towards me. I was able to raise
slightly to clear the brush, as the buck
continued to watch, and
squeeze off a shot.
was slightly quartering away, and while my entrance wound was a clean
hit, the exit wound broke through the scapula, causing a
little meat loss. The SST
punched through with such devastating
energy transfer, that the buck dropped in
his tracks. I
immediately chambered another round, but he was down for the
Phil went back for my pack while I continued on to the downed buck.
beautiful. After photos and tagging, we started skinning
the buck in preparation
for the gutless technique, breaking down
the buck onto my Tyvek tarp. Once the buck
had been disassembled and his wobbly bits had cooled, into the game
bags he went.
self-imposed Boxes had all been checked; a fantastic adventure, meat
freezer, beautiful European mount. Complete success! It
was a short hunt, but it was definitely a hunt. A spot and stalk from
an initial 633 yards, to a shot at 94 yards. As it turned out,
that little .257 Roberts would indeed have been perfect yet I have
no regrets for having brought too much gun.