It seems that Bates was not the kind of man to just stay at home and paint the house and fix leaky plumbing, so when ever he could he would sneak off, round up a bunch of guys and cows and go roaming around the countryside drinking beer and partying. So he would drive his cows here and there and when people could not think of a good name for a road or place they would name it after him because he had been there partying hard. Because Bates was off having a good time with the boys and cows there was no one to keep up the home place and it fell into disrepair. So when all of his partying days were done there wasn’t much left in Bates’ Hole except for his fallin down house, some antelope and some grouse.
It is unclear how me and Bates came to inhabit the same piece of real estate but here I was in Wyoming hunting antelope in Bates’ Hole. The really intrigueing thing about Bates Hole in Unit 32 is there is a rim or cliff along one side of the creek about 1000 yards away from the creek and a road all along the top of the rim. The antelope like to eat the green grass that grows down along the Bates Creek so you have lots of opportunities. The curse of the place is the abundant sage grouse population which attracts hunters from far away. Being a bird hunter at heart I was tempted to join them.
I had killed a doe over in Poison Spider Creek the day before so that tag was filled and now I needed to take care of the buck tag. The wind was supposed to be as calm as it ever gets in Wyoming so I was trying my best to get a buck properly positioned at a range between 1000 and 1400 yards. The Bushnell 1500 is not a very good range finder for hunting antelope being as it needs more terrain features to reflect from than sage brush. I was having a very bad time figuring out the ranges. Finally I had a small buck at 1100 with 8 mph winds and had the scope dialed and was fixing to put a bullet in the chamber to fire when a white suburban drives into view up hill and behind where I plan to shoot. So I don’t shoot and the guys drive around and around and finally scare the buck and his does off. Later, I got another one lined up but noticed a hunters campsite about a mile away directly in the line of fire and there was nowhere else I could move to and still have the correct ranges. I found a buck that was perhaps a trophy buck but he was way smart and stayed out at 2K or beyond. That was pretty much how the first day went, except for the following little adventure.
I saw the herd of sheep coming down the road and a guy on a horse and another guy driving a truck towing a shepherds house. So I turned my truck off the road to let them pass and went over to the edge of the hill to glass for antelope. I spotted a herd of about 30 antelope and I can see that there is a nice buck and maybe a great trophy buck. So I am sitting there on a rock trying to remember that I am here to shoot an antelope at 1K not to drag home another set of horns to be stored in the garage. All of a sudden this big wet nose jams into the back of my neck and goes “WOOF”.
My first though was “Damn, I dead and gonna be eaten by a bear”. So I turn my head and there is this big black nose about two inches from mine and it is attached to a massive white head. So I think, ”EATEN BY A POLAR BEAR IN WYOMING”. After my brain regains rational thought, I recognize that this is the largest white dog I have ever seen in my life and it wants to be petted. Turned out to be one of those sheep guard dogs and he had just come over to be friendly and had just scared the fool out of me. I had read about them before but never ever seen one and it was a treat.
Late that afternoon, another Wy F&G guy came by and checked me out. It was not the same guy because he had a black lab instead of a white lab. I guess the labs come with the pickup truck they are issued.
Well, the calm day ended without me ever firing a shot and I was greatly discouraged because the weather forecast was for high winds the next day. I went to bed that night and would wake up and listen for the wind and it was still very low so I got up very early the next morning. I got to Bates Hole before sunrise and there was no other hunters moving around so I went slowly along the rim getting out and checking for antelope. Some were found that were too close and some were found that were too far. Finally, I found a herd that was just exactly 1000 yards away with a reasonable size buck. The wind meter would not register at all it was so still. I got set up and once more I was getting ready to fire when a grouse hunter in his truck comes over a rise and stops. Of course the buck is on his way out that country immediately. The grouse hunter and his dog start hunting grouse so I move on. Thirty minutes later the wind is up to about 10 mph and by an hour later is gusting to 15mph. Poor me, my one small window of opportunity is gone and there is not forecasted to be calm days in the foreseeable future. I need to get finished in Wyoming and get over to Idaho to get the bear population under control.
So I fool around for a few more hours jockeying on a couple of herds and nothing is working out when I spot a herd bedded down. I range them at 800 yards so I move over to another spot and for whatever reason I get a reading of 1503 yards. Well, I cannot shoot 1503 yards in gusting 15 mph winds so I work back to a different location. The rangefinder will not read anything so I sneak off the rim down to a small rise and get a range on them and then range back to my shooting position and add the two distances together to get the total range, which will be 1023yards. By the time I get back to my shooting position the grouse hunter has decided to call it a day and drive out of Bates’ Creek and naturally he upsets the antelope so they all stand up and mill around. I measure the wind once more and based on my experiences in Poison Spider Creek I dial in for the maximum gust and crank in exactly 1K of elevation. The 240 Wby just lays there like a rock in the Roy C bipod and the rear bag. The wind does not move it at all and the crosshairs are dead steady behind the bucks shoulder when the trigger breaks. Well, sad to say I see the dust from the impact and if the antelope had a bigger tail I would have shot it off. The dam ole wind died away just as I fired and I shot right behind it. Finally, I had cranked in enough wind!!!! So the herd ran in a little half circle and wound up 800 yards away in front of me so I grabbed the PDA and turned it on and up came the drop chart. I look at 800 yards and crank back down on elevation and windage and then back off some extra for less wind. The shot took the buck right in front of the near shoulder and then through the spine and out through the far shoulder blade. The 115 Berger performed as always with a hard to find entrance and a pickup truck sized exit hole. I still had 1.0 MOA too much wind cranked in though.
The Roy C bipod worked well and was very steady in the gusting winds. This is the bipods one great advantage, it lock down on the stock and becomes one piece and does not have any wriggle. These antelope were way too spooky to be unrolling a drag bag and so I had to shoot lying in the stickers.
As you can see from the picture he is not a big buck as the fork in his horns is even with his ears but 800 yards is a decent shot in the wind I was dealing with. Most important was that I felt I had hunted long and hard and had made my best efforts to take shots that were safe for other people and I have no regrets over the outcome. I hunt for the fun and challenge and it was certainly more of a challenge than I had anticipated.
As you can see from the pictures this is a nice place so shoot long range and I enjoyed my time in Bates Hole and I will get a small game license next time I hunt Unit 32 and shoot me some sage grouse too.
My only regret from this hunt was that my plans had included a couple of days for shooting prairie dogs and hunting coyotes that did not happen due to hunting does early.
Looking back toward the shooting spot