10-05-2008, 05:05 PM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Blanchard, OK
Oklahoma Antelope ~ My First
Odds are, well - odds are you are not going to be drawn in the Oklahoma Controlled Hunt antelope lottery. You can’t win if you don’t play so every year, year after year I fill out the form and send it in. My only expectations are increasing the odds for next year.
Each year, if not selected for the controlled hunt you entered, you will be given a “preference point”. That “preference point” will increase your odds for success next year. The more you play, the higher your odds of winning a tag.
For me, 2008 would be different in a positive way. I have wanted to hunt antelopes for years and this year, much to my delight would be my year, my once in a life time chance to hunt an Oklahoma antelope. To increase my odds of hunting, this year I entered the draw for a doe. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation allow the harvest of more doe than bucks, so ones odds are increased by entering for a limited doe tag.
Cimarron county Oklahoma clearly offers the best antelope opportunity in the state. Located in the western most portion of the Oklahoma panhandle. Cimarron county is boarded by Texas to the south, New Mexico to the west and Colorado and Kansas to the north. You will find 1,841 square miles in Cimarron county and less than 3,150 humans. That’s about 2 persons per square mile. The dust bowl years in the 1930’s surly account for some of the sparse population.
Once a tag is secured the task of finding a landowner that will grant written permission to hunt is second on the agenda. A phone call to the Cimarron County Chamber of Commerce yielded a list of 20 potential landowners. With my list in hand I sit down one evening and started making contact. The first handful of ranchers I called greeted me with open arms. Everyone I made contact with during the initial outreach were more than accommodating.
Full of confidence I would have a place to hunt I arrived Boise City, the county seat and only “big-city” in the county on Thursday night before opening day on Saturday. After a quick look around town, it does not take long to look around Boise City, I headed to the Black Mesa State Park to set up my Jayco Baja camper.
Located about 30 miles west of town, Black Mesa State Park is very well maintained. A peaceful location with plenty of wildlife and all the sounds of nature surround you at the park. With full hookups the park made for the perfect “base camp” for this trip.
On my drive to town on Friday I must have seen 50 or more antelope along the roads. It seamed that “speed goats” were scattered about the county side in equal portions. Once in town I pulled out my trusty landowner list and started making calls. The first rancher I reached was a great gentleman named Mike Glass. Mike invited me to the Strong Ranch for a look around. Located 12 miles north of Boise City I found his directions simple and accurate. After first pulling onto the ranch I spotted a heard of about 30 goats ˝ mile south of the main ranch road. After meeting Mike at his home we boarded his truck for a drive around the ranch. Mike showed me 4 pastures and I was assured if I could not find a shooter doe on Saturday to come get him and he would give me a hand.
Another call and a another pleasant conversation landed me permission to hunt another ranch south of town, just in case I needed a back up to the Strong Ranch. Was this to good to be true? Back home you get bit by farmers and ranchers porch dog when you attempt to ask permission to hunt. Here, the welcome mat was rolled out.
The sun dawns late that far west in the central time zone. I found myself parked on the main ranch road well before daylight. Not wanting to move around before I could see required waiting, the wait would prove worth while. As the darkness gave way to braking light I found myself easing down a two-track moving south towards the water hole where I had seen the heard the day before. Sure enough, not having ventured far I spotted the first antelope grazing about 100 yards from where I had left them the day before. Backing out so not to be seen, I circled around using every bit of the limited landscape to conceal my advance.
As I topped the hill, really not much more than a slight rise in elevation, I duck walked to the crest and sit down. The heard was still grazing, unaware of my presents. Using my Predator Stix to steady my custom Savage 25-06 AI I zoomed in the Leupold 4x12x40 to 12 power and reached for the Leupold RXiii range finder, it indicated 312 yards to be the True Ballistic Range. It was the moment of truth.
Having confidence in your equipment makes a big difference. I built the Savage with a Bell & Carlson stock and a Douglas Air Gauge barrel chambered by Sharp Shooter Supply. Using a Sharp Shooter trigger and recoil lug and bedding the action makes this gun a real shooter. Using a 115 grain Berger VLD bullet at about 3375 feet per second it will poke holes in paper close enough together to cover with a nickel from 200 meters. More that adequate to shoot an antelope at the range I had positioned myself within.
I know that at 300 yards the bullet path would never raise or fall more than 2.25 inches from the line-of-sight. All I had to do was hold steady on fur and squeeze the 2 pound trigger. Just as I picked out the biggest doe in the bunch, I realized the gig was up. One set of eyes had spotted me and sounded the alert. The group started moving from my left to right. As the speedsters started to pick up speed I took aim on the fat doe and let copper fly. The bullet struck home and the doe rolled up in a plum of dust. The rest of the heard ran towards me, off to my right and stopped at about 150 yards looking back at the doe. It was only after I got to my feet that they took off to the north at speeds that would make an Indy driver proud.
The quest for my first antelope ended almost as soon as it started. This adventure has not quenched my desire to hunt antelope, only made me look forward to the next hunt, perhaps in New Mexico, Colorado or Wyoming. Next time it will be a buck to grace my fireplace.