Well, I reported on my Dads success on the opening morning of the 2006 Montana Pronghorn season.
Still pumped up about that we headed out early the next morning which was Monday morning in hopes to get another good buck taken by either my brother or myself.
The morning started out in the usual manner as far as taking a trip around the "loop" of our hunting area. There were no hunters at all on the loop which was a drastic change from the day before and was a pleasant surpise to be honest.
Only thing, there were no pronghorns again!!!
We continued driving to different points where we would stop, unpack the high powered glass and look for herds off in the distance. We spotted a couple small herds but none had what we considered a shooter buck, that being one over 14" with good mass.
Again we packed up and headed to a spot which is the highest in the area hoping to get a view of a herd with a good buck in it and try to plan a stock.
WHen we set up at this location, we only spotted one herd but it was a dandy with nearly 50 animals in it and from what we could tell over the nearly 10 miles between us, there were at least 5 very noticable bucks in this group.
The only problem is that the herd was halos around another high spot out in the middle of a huge open area. The approach would be extremely difficult if possible at all from the location of the herd. These animals are very good at staying safe and when trouble comes into their area they either head to huge open bowls or get up on high points so they can see trouble coming in any direction.
We set there and glassed the herd to make sure they were not on the move and had some lunch while we waited. It was about 11:00 in the morning and we knew this may well be a serious hike to get into position.
We planned out approach and packed up the gear and headed out. After a decent drive we came up to about as close to the last known location of the herd as we could get the truck without fear of spooking the herd. The wind was in our favor so we were actually able to get closer then I had first expected without being heard by the pronghorns.
We eased up over a draw and saw that the herd had broken up in two main groups. One still on top of the hill, the other had worked its way down closer to the bottom of the hill. We were about a mile away at this point and we could clearly see that the closer herd, the one on the bottom, had at least 6 shooter bucks in it and two that were very impressive.
The upper herd fed its way around to the back side of the hill and out of sight and then by some sort of luck, the lead doe in the lower herd decided to take her herd down into a shallow draw and nearly out of sight. Only goats that were in view were a couple young bucks so my brother and I made out move. We grabbed out war packs and rifles and headed along an old farm road toward the hill.
We moved as fast as we could while still watching to make sure none of the alert does in the herd were visable. Finally, after a very quick and relatively long walk, the lead doe fed out into the open and we dropped to the ground. This was as close as we were going to get as the herd began to move out of the draw and we were in plain view if we moved anymore so it was here or nothing.
As the herd moved out of the draw we had gotten all of our gear out of our war bags, rear bags, rangefinders and drop charts for my brother. Mine was taped on the scope body of my Mk4.
First range measurements were 750 yards. My bother was first shot on this hunt and he had set a personal limit of 620 yards with his 25-06 using the 110 gr Accubonds. We watched the herd and they slowly moved closer to us until after 20 minutes they were right at 610 yards. The only problem is that they were all bunched up together and getting a clear shot at one of the mature bucks was extremely difficult.
Finally, one of the old bucks cleared the herd and I hit him with the Swari which reported 618 yards. My brothers drop chart reported a hold of -2 1/4 mils for this range.
He lined the rifle up and as the trigger broke I did not hear that Whack you expect from a solid hit and there was no sign of a hit on the buck. The herd rolled up into the draw again and out of sight but they stayed there suprisingly. With the wind and the range and the fact they had no idea where we were, they did not leave the draw.
We replayed what had happened and what could have caused the appearent clean miss and then he realized he took a - 2 mil hold instead of the -2 1/4 mil hold and with that the shot would have landed low which would make sense as if it landed in the tall grass we would have never seen any sign of the impact.
Now we were waiting again and hoping the herd would move one way or the other slowly enough to allow another shot. After a long 10 minutes we started seeing ears and horn curls in the grass as the herd moved up out of the draw. The range was 715 yards on the first full body we could see.
My brother passed on the shot if one came and told me to take any shot I could get. as we watched, we saw the buck he had shot at previously and he was very healthy and untouched by the shot.
The only problem was that the mature bucks stayed in the draw only allowing short glimpses of their necks and horns when they lifted their heads from feeding. With 6 bucks that were roughly the same size this became a real problem trying to get on one buck and stick to it and keep track of it.
Finally two good bucks worked their way up the far side of the draw. I Could see they were both very narrow. not overly tall but solid bucks and the first one that presented a quality shot was going to get a 200 gr ULD RBBT thrown in its direction.
I ranged them at 730 yards and looked up the drop and settled into the rifle. The scope level was good and the paralax was tuned in just right. There was a slight breeze on my right cheek so I decided to give the shot a 1/4 mil into the wind.
Finally one of the mature bucks turned broadside, head to the left. He was still slightly quartering away but slightly. I found my hold, gave the 1/4 mil hold into the wind and the 2 lb trigger broke clean as glass and I watched that big WIldcat Bullet land EXACTLY where I was holding!!! I knew this was a bit far back and the big ULD did not seem to give any mind to the slight breeze at all!!
The buck whirled around and I could see a large red spot on its offside, roughly on the last three ribs so I felt a little better but knew the shot was still to far back. He disappeared into the draw as the rest of the herd ran up and over the hill. After a few seconds the buck staggered out of the draw and stood there for a couple seconds. I was about to send another bullet his way and then his knees buckled and he was down.
We set there for a minute or two watching him but he was obviously passed so we packed up our gear and headed up to check and see what I had shot.
When we got to him we found a good buck, solid 14" tall but he had broken off his left prong. Something I missed on 10X at 730 yards. His other prong had a very unique up hook on it. I do not mind broken prongs. Just like broken points on deer and elk, just more character!!
The shot had landed just as I had witnessed. Basically three inches behind the last rib on the onside and exited at about the third to last rib on the off side with a very large exit wound. The shot had centered the liver which resulted in the very quick kill as there was simply nothing left of the liver or diaphram.
Here are a couple pic of the buck.
While I was not overly happy with the shot placement it was a clean one shot kill at 730 yards with a 9.5 lb rifle. Can not complain to much about that. Those big 200 gr ULD RBBTs just require a completely different mindset to sind drift when launched at 3150 fps. Still learning some with those.
My brother was pretty upset about his miss but that soon passed when we spotted another small herd after getting my buck cleaned out and loaded in the truck. There was one nice buck in the herd so we set out on the stalk to see if we could get a shot. We crawled to within 400 yards of the herd which was under a shallow bluff and as luck would have it, the remains of my chest cold spoiled the stock as I started into a coughling attach and the does simply would not stand for that and they blew out of the area.
Imagine me face down in the middle of the Montana prairie shoving cough drops in my face despreately to try to stop the tickle in my throat but to no avail!!!
That muffed stock was on me!!
We headed back to the truck and decided to call it a day.
Funny thing, as soon as you do that is generally when something happens. As we were driving out of the area and back to the main highway, we drove by a small coulee and tucked back behind a small hill I saw a set of pronghorn horns!! We drove up out of sight and My brother and I bailed out of the truck and my dad continued with the truck down the dirt road so the buck would think we were still heading out of his area and not spook.
We had no idea what he really had on his head but he was a mature buck and in an area that should provide a solid stalk.
We crawled up over the small rim and there were his horns through the grass at about 250 yards. We crawled up slightly more and the buck caught our movements and stood up out of his bed and ran out into the flat. I ranged him at 375 yards when he stopped and at the crack of my brothers 25-06 the bucks shoulder rippled from the perfect impact. He took three strides and was down.
Dad came back and we all walked out to the buck. He was not overly tall, around 13 1/2" but had above average prongs and good mass. It was a hell of an end to the day and all our buck tags were filled!!
Now it was time to fill the doe tags we had. I had two, my brother one. We took the regular "loop" and again no easy goats. We did spot some herd far off in the back country but we decided that would be far to much work for a couple of does this early in the season. This was however my brothers last day of hunting before he had to go back to work.
We got up on another high spot again and glassed and spotted several small herds in a large bowl. The ranch hands were moving cattle and pushing the herds around quite a bit and luckily, one herd started heading to an area that would afford a favorable stalk.
We drove over to the back side of the bowl and as we pulled off the main highway we passed a truck with some out of state hunters that were walking about 1/2 mile out in the prairie. As we drove by them we saw a herd of goats they had pushed off the area they were on.
The herd dropped down into a creek drainage and we knew if we could get up in front of them we may be able to set up an ambush and let them walk right into us.
As we got up to where we wanted to park the truck, the herd we had spotted from the other side of the bowl also dropped down off the hill and headed in our direction. My brother and I got out and snuck about 400 yards down closer to the creek drainage.
It took about 2 minutes for the herd from out left to make it into sight and suprisingly, the lead doe spotted us somehow laying in the grass 500 yards away. She had no idea what we were though because she headed right up in our direction. They ducked under a hill and I told my brother to drop the lead doe when they came over the hill.
In seconds they started to appear one at a time but were steadily walking toward us. I told him to take her whenever he had a good shot and I would concentrate on the next mature doe and hopefully if he dropped the lead doe the others would give me a couple seconds to try to fill another tag.
I did not even watch his doe, I was locked on the one I wanted and tried to stay that way until I heard the crack from his rifle. Just as I was about to ask him what he was waiting for his rifle barked and the solid smack of a solid hit came back. I never took my scope off the doe I wanted but the rest of the herd bolted away from us. I stayed on her and after they ran about 100 yards. Like they always do when the lead doe does not lead the way, they stopped and actually came back toward us. My doe was looking directly at me when my trigger broke and she simply folded at around 300 yards.
I came off my scope and looked down the draw to the other side of the drainage. The other herd was moving out face but to my surpise, the lead doe in that herd was still in the bottom and broadside. I swung the rifle over, ranged her at 581 yards. My drop chart on the scope reported a -1 3/4 mil hold. I found the hold high on the does shoulder and tickled the trigger again. Again at the break of the trigger she folded.
And just like that we were done with the 2006 pronghorn season. I will admit, that is the most animals I have seen put on the ground in under 25 seconds. It was truely a sight to see!!
My brothers shot was picture perfect on the shoulder.
My 300 yard doe was facing directly toward me and the big 200 gr Wildcat pulverized about 8" of spine as it traveled directly down it and then exiting out the top of the does back.
My 581 yard doe almost got away. In the excitement of trying to get the second shot off, I did not realize how stiff the breeze was blowing down the drainage and had I been shooting any other bullet it would have been a clean miss as my high shoulder hold actually resulted in the bullet impacting right on the crook of the neck. Just as fatal but certainly not intended. In this case the big Wildcats saved my bacon if you will!!
The funny thing is I only loaded the detachable magazine on my 7mm AM once before opening morning and it filled all my tags. It only holds three rounds so I guess the little rifle did well. I am really starting to fall in love with this rifle.
The last couple days I have been up to my ears trying to get customer work done in the shop and cutting up 6 pronghorns when time allows. Got that all done and in the freezer and now its another weeks of work before out deer season starts. Hopefully I can get a few more rifles out by then.
Was a hell of a pronghorn season. No monsters like last year but all good bucks and some very memeroable stalks and shots as well. Hope the deer season goes just as well!!