I hadnít even realized it, but I had deployed the bipod legs on my rifle and set it on the ground in front of me as I had kneeled next to my father, cussing at him. My eyes slowly glanced downward at my rifle sitting right in front of me, scope caps still in place and an empty chamber. The barrel was pointing to my left, well away from where my father now remained motionless. I adjusted my stare back to the antelope who were now starting to mill nervously about, not quite sure what to make of our presence. My right hand gracefully moved downward and touched the top elevation turret of my scope. I slowly moved my hand forward and quietly opened the objective scope cap then rotated my hand down under the stock. As I kept my hand in contact with the stock surface I moved my hand rearward until I felt the trigger guard, then deliberately moved upward and quietly worked the bolt of the Remington M700 long action. As I pushed the bolt forward, the rattle of the round seemed to echo as it popped free of the internal magazine, but the antelope remained where they were. After chambering the round, my hand slowly crept over the top of the bolt handle and my thumb moved the safety rearward, engaging the safety. The antelope were now starting to move further down toward the valley, keeping a watchful eye on the strange objects that made them nervous. My rifle was ready though and all I needed to do was point the rifle in the direction of my target and my eye would find my prey in the scope without effort.
The skittish antelope finally had enough and started a half concerned trot away from their current location, but further into the open area. As soon as I noticed this behavior I quickly told my father to lie down. As he did that I also assumed a prone position and I informed him that I was going to put the bipod against his leg and the barrel would be over the top of his calves. There was enough barrel length that I wasnít concerned as the muzzle would be clear of his legs. This only took a couple seconds and I quickly spotted a nice buck in the herd that I hadnít noticed earlier. As I suspected, the antelope only ran a short distance and turned slightly to check behind themselves. As the buck came to a stop, he turned his entire body slightly to his left and looked back mostly with his head and in doing so gave me a nice enough quartering away shot at about 200 yards. I often daydream of hunting and had envisioned this exact scenario several times. The mil-dot crosshairs of my Leupold 3.5-10X40 scope came to a steady rest a moment later creating a straight line through the bucks left side to his right front shoulder. My thumb instinctually pushed the safety forward making the rifle ready to fire.
The very first crack of rifle fire erupted from that valley less than an hour into antelope season. My 190 grain 30 caliber bullet impacted the buck a fraction of a second later and he collapsed immediately, not even taking a step forward. The whole encounter after first spotting the antelope took probably less than two minutes, but provided my father and I many memories each time we recount how I cussed at him while antelope stared at us. That antelope season ended quickly for me, but is the most cherished hunt I have been on. Spending time with my father driving the back roads, glassing beautiful terrain and animals, huddling in a tent eating Manwich while it rained outside and spending a brisk morning hunting antelope provided memories that will last a lifetime.
Nicholas Gebhardt has been an active hunter primarily pursuing mule deer, antelope, coyotes and prairie dogs since he was old enough to legally hunt. Nicholas is a precision rifle competitor and uses the knowledge he gains from competition shooting to aid in his ethical taking of game in the field under most any condition. He enjoys custom rifles and is usually in some form or another of either planning or building the next one. Nicholas earned his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana and is a Captain in the Montana National Guard.
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