The next morning I had Frank up first to shoot. I knew he wanted to use this very special present from his son. We went in DJ’s Dodge, 4 door, 4x4 diesel. The first place we checked was what he called the “rings”, which are irrigated fields of alfalfa hay. The rings are made because the water is sprayed from long arms that slowly move in a ring. We snuck in there and saw a few antelope which they call speed goats or just plain old goats. Our guide said the bucks were definitely too young to shoot. We did see a couple bucks on the land next door that were pretty good size goats, but they would not come under the fence onto the property we were hunting. We eased out and decided to try back later. We drove and checked a few other pastures but never saw a real good shooter. Frank and I were not looking for a trophy but rather just a good size typical antelope buck.
Frank Miller, his nice buck and his new custom rifle.
We could only hunt certain pastures but these pastures were thousands of acres each. Altogether DJ had access to over 30,000 acres to roam but it was like a patch work of pastures, some miles away. The outfitter had access to close to 100,000 acres. During our travels from one pasture to another we only saw one other guide. There was not an overabundance of antelope, but just enough to keep our attention going. We glassed and drove. In fact the first day our guide drove over 190 miles during the hunt, usually in 2nd or 3rd gear. Around noon we came across a lone buck. He looked great to me with tall, massive base horns. The horns had a little character junk growing on them. He seemed not to be in any hurry. The guide set the truck up so Frank could use the door or the corner of the bed as a rest. We all got out. Frank took the shot. We all were not sure where the shot went but the second shot was right on the money. It was not a long shot at 139 yards but it was placed well and dropped the goat in his tracks. After the obligatory photo session the guide field dressed the goat and we headed to a centralized skinning station. It was around 90 degrees and the game had to get cooled quickly. A taxidermist caped and quartered the goat. He also removed the back straps. These were all bagged, tagged and frozen. Later Frank and I wished we had paid more attention when it was skinned to see if his first shot had been a hit. It was a nice antelope.
Frank sighting in his new rifle after we arrived in Logan, N.M.
Now I moved up to the front seat. We went to a 5200 acre pasture and found a few small groups but still no bucks big enough for D.J. I had to depend on him to judge. This was my first antelope hunt and all I knew was whitetail hunting and believe me, this is nothing like whitetail hunting. We did find a small herd with a buck D.J. wanted me to shoot. We stopped the truck and I jumped out. I put a round in the chamber, adjusted the parallax and steadied myself on the door. I took the 450 yard shot. Both D.J. and Frank said I just barely shot over the buck. The buck and herd ran a short distance. I ran to the corner of the bed of the truck for a better rest. D.J. called out, “He’s 500 yards”. I put the 500 yard marker on him and held off a little due to a cross wind. I took the shot and no one knows where it went. After a few cuss words, I looked down at the Q/F scope and it was set on 10X. Yes, I had read the scope instructions, which stated that for the distance markings to be correct, the scope needed to be set at full power, which for this scope was 16X. Sometime, bouncing around in the back seat, the power ring had turned slightly. The bouncing was so bad the windage cap had vibrated off. I was mad at myself. I still had confidence in the Q/F scope. Next we found a large herd of over 30 antelope working a slight rise, which they like to do so they can see danger coming. In this herd was a dark buck with very good horns in my opinion. I told D.J. “I want that one”. He agreed it was a trophy. He stopped the truck and I bailed out again, ran to the back of the bed of the truck. Frank and DJ were watching with binoculars. I set the scope up properly this time, and started trying to find my herd buck. The problem was at 16 power my field of view was far less than their binoculars. I just could not locate my buck in this ever changing strung out herd. I did not make a shot and watched as they ran off. Later I realized I should have just found him with my eyes, and then put the scope on him. Another lesson was learned. That was all for Saturday. We went back to the outfitter’s house and had a nice rib eye dinner and a beer or two.