Sunday was a new day. The wind had died down but the antelopes were now a little more skittish. We snuck into the rings but no goats. We could see three bucks on a distant hill but D.J. said that was not our land; a phrase I would hear often the rest of the day. We checked several other pastures we had not been on yet. There were some goats but they kept a distance and were not trophies. We went back to the pasture where I had seen the big one with the herd. We found a big herd but the big boy was not in it. It did have a couple decent bucks. D.J. got out his fold up decoy, the Bog- Pod sticks and off we went on foot. They were over 1200 yards away and moving slowly from our left to right. We angled off to the right but the herd kept that constant distance from us. These animals have eyesight that is at least eight times more powerful than humans and they can see 300 degrees around them. They keep to the higher ground so they can be watchful for predators, including hunters.
The Steyr Pro Hunter, Quigley Ford scope, Berger bullets and my buck.
After lunch we were getting that end of the hunt attitude, especially for me. If I went home without one it would be disappointing but not the end of the world. About this time a doe came over a slight rise with a buck right behind her. They were walking right to left. We stopped at about 250 yards out. I got to the bed of the truck and I was ready. The buck stopped and looked right at me. He was slightly quartering to me. D.J. had always said put it right behind the shoulder where the white hair meets the brown. Well, the old whitetail hunter took over in my mind; I always shoot trophy bucks high in the shoulder. I took the shot. You could actually hear the distinctive “thud” when the Berger hit the buck. The sound from the bullet contact was louder than I had ever heard before in all my hunting. He ran about twenty yards and piled up. D.J. ran over and gave me a hug. We walked up to the buck and the shot was “exactly” where I had aimed using the appropriate cross hair. Everything had finally come together. He was not a trophy but a good average antelope buck, I was happy. We did the photos, and Ross who was close by came to help celebrate. D.J. field dressed the buck and we took it to the cleaning station. The front shoulders were gone but I got the rear quarters and the back straps.
The new Quigley Ford scope reticle.
Looking back I can say Ross Hastie’s outfitting service was just what we needed and did a good job. New Mexico was and still is suffering from the 2011 drought. The antelope were healthy but the horns were only average. Frank and I should have told D.J. our limit was 500 yards, not 300. This would have made it easier on him, even if we did miss. Shooting off a bench is far different than shooting off a truck or a Bog- Pod tripod. I realize it is hard to find a place that will let you practice field condition shooting. Also, I wish I had known the type of land and cover we would have to hunt. There was no cover and very few bushes. It was wide open and flat. It was the perfect place for a long range hunter. My rig of a Steyr rifle, Quigley/Ford scope and 115 grain Berger VLD/Hunting bullet were perfect for this hunt. It was a lot of fun and we will do it again, probably with Ross.
Thanks to Red Dirt Trail Outfitters (575) 403-5267
After twenty-five years with a major law enforcement agency, John Johnston retired to the hill country of central Texas. His law enforcement career was diverse with assignments with the tactical/motorcycle unit, patrol, and criminal investigation. After retiring, writing became his calling. He started with a newspaper column which, he still writes and then moved up to major magazines in the area of shooting and hunting. He is known for his unbiased product testing and evaluations. Having a full size range from 25-450 yards next to his home was his dream come true. 2010 marks his fiftieth anniversary in the hunting, shooting and reloading sports. You will notice his writing style is quite relaxed and he prefers to write like he is speaking to you around a camp fire. John welcomes questions and comments whether good or bad. You can reach John at email@example.com.
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