Speedgoat Hunting

Thanks to my hunting partner Jason for submitting this post on his Wyoming pronghorn hunt

The end of a hard hunt

Adventure is My Business

Thanks for the title Mr. Annabel. Borrowed the title but I’ll give it back later.
For a great & logical beginning, middle and end. For descriptions of scenery for places I’d like to be. For Highs, Lows, Hope and Despair & Triumph, I’ll take the ‘classic’ hunting story over the conventional ‘classic’ any day of the week. Faulker got nothing on Capstick and I’d rather read the worst Ruark piece over the the best of Dostoevesky. Nothing like great tales of glory told over a roaring campfire. Hunters are naturally great liars anyway, Hemingway, and great lies make for great fiction. Fifty yard shots become 500 hundred…a two-point buck becomes a 12-point and a gun become a bow and arrow. Pretty soon a hunter has tackled a charging mastodon across a vast expanse of tundra by blowing the paper off of a soda straw or an improvised catapult. This is not one of those. Every word is true and just a good ole hunting tale.

I had racked up a helluva lot of debt on an expensive 2009 elk hunt, so when it came time to ‘go west’ this year as I do every time the leaves start to die, I decided to go with a slightly less expensive antelope hunt. And talk about a high-octane, exciting, fun hunt. Mine as well have been following the great wildebeest migration across the Okavango Delta. Imagine sitting in a tree-stand on a farm along a travel route as deer after deer after buck after buck after doe, files past your location. Easily saw 200 antelope, all on public land, and got to turn into a trophy hunter for however briefly. Got to look for the magic 14-inch inch speedgoat. Normally, I’m a believer in if it’s brown it’s down – but on this one got to make several stalks, examine them closely and mumble “he’s a little small.” “I think we can do better.” “We’ll let him live another year.” Just like they do on the canned hunts on the hunting shows.

I can hunt deer all year in the GW National Forest, with a few times at Phelphs or Thompson thrown in for good measure – hunt maybe a dozen times in a season and not see a single deer. In fact, I’ve gone two consecutive years in archery, muzzle loader and rifle and not seen a deer. I do appreciate a nice (trophy) rack however, and believe Jack O’Connor’s adage “Big is big and you’ll know it when you see it.” Lucked out in that regard on my 2009 elk, as well as my 2010 antelope.

And speaking of the great outdoor/gun writer. Jack O’Connor was right in another regard. The good ole gunwriter/hunter’s conundrum of velocity versus energy. When it came time to select a bullet for a September 2010 antelope hunt, I went with the smaller 130-grain Barnes Triple Shock. Flies at a great velocity and dealing with an animal the size of a small doe. For elk or moose I’ll still opt for a 180-grain bullet at a minimum, preferably of at least a .30 caliber. Imagine the difference between a sewing needle flying at 3,500 feet per second compared to a brick flying at 2,000 feet per second. The greater the bullet the greater the energy and I’ll take the knockdown power for the 1,000-pound barrel chested, big shouldered ungulates. But the smaller, flatter shooting bullet was perfectly adequate for the wide open spaces of Wyoming and my Model 70 Featheweight .300 WSM served me well once again.

The hunt only last six hours but got to make several stalks. I flew into Jackson Hole where the guide who picked me up said, “The billionaires are pushing the millionaires out.”

Spent the first evening in a hotel that the outfitter owned in Afton and headed out in a 35 degree rainstorm the next morning for my hunt. Thankfully, it quit on the way down two hours south. It was still kind of chilly but warmed up later in the day and got still warmer throughout the week. As soon as we started to hit Kemmerer, Wyoming, where I drew, I started to see tons of antelope out in the fields. The Teton Mountains give way to impressive and open sage brush bottoms. An antelope hunt would be a great hunt for a first time hunter – lots of action and lots of animals.

I saw my first huntable goat and it was a half-mile off through a sagebrush flat. I used a little rise to make a stalk and got within a hundred fifty yards but decided to pass, 1. cause it was the first of the day and 2. because we thought we could do better. That was the plan for the rest of the day. You basically see a lone buck in the distance and plan your stalk. We did that a couple more times but the antelopes spooked.

We ate lunch and popped some prairie dogs with my gun and the outfitter’s .223. Then we saw a terrific antelope from the road a mile up on a ridge. He was bedded with some does and he looked like a great buck. We drove around to its right and tried the tactic of just walking right at them in a small profile – hunched over and single file. They were a mile off and we were walking behind a fence when they moved off the ridge. Something had spooked them and wasn’t us. Might have been some hunter up on the ridge. We then drove off a mile to their left and tried the same low walk. We figured about where they might be and there was a mountain in front with the antelope two draws over. We made it up to the first ridge and had walked quickly across the deep draw in case they were still moving. Out of breath I crawled up over the ridge and peeked over the top, and they were right there about 200 yards off. Set up standing on the shooting sticks and picked out the buck, who had his head down feeding. None of the antelope were looking so the outfitter told me to move up a little bit. Kept the gun on my shoulder and moved the stick with my left hand and took a few quick steps forward. They still weren’t looking so he said move up again and moved another five yards. The does were starting to look up but not spook so moved up one more time. Found the buck and squeezed of a shot and he dropped so quick, I didn’t even see him hit the ground of leave the scope. The Featherweight and I had made a great 200-yard shot to the vitals. Not as much meat as an elk but got some great jerky and tenderloin steaks.

Got to spend the rest of the week on horseback at Double Y Outfitters elk camp & will be traveling back for wapiti in the near future.

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