This trip was initially to be, mainly a deer hunt on the edge of Wyoming's Big Horn Mtns. However, this years hunt was very lack-luster due to the fact that the place we hunt had considerable more pressure on it this year. We hunt both private and public land, but from the looks of the roads and trails the group that hunted the private land before us, rode their ATV's over every acre and ran nearly all the deer to the next county.
Our group did manage to shoot a few respectable bucks, but 2008 basically paled in comparison to 2007. Last year our group got a 170" muley shot by my buddy mo30284, a 165" whitetail shot by 7mmSTWuser and myself and another member of our party got a couple of 130" whitetails.
After our disappointing deer hunt, myself and mo30284 decided to check out an antelope area on the way home. This area usually has some left-over tags each year. The plan was to go into the area and check out a big valley which is all BLM land and see if we could locate a good goat. We arrived there around 3:30 p.m. and within 30 to 45 minutes we had located a herd that had a good buck for that particular area. Now, I should also mention that this will be the third time we have hunted this area, so we pretty much know right where to go to begin to look for goats. Now that I knew there was buck which appeared good enough to shoot, we now had to leave the area and drive to the nearest license vendor and purchase a tag. Mo30284 decided to be a spectator this year to what he refers to as my wild goose chase. With tag in pocket, we returned to the area with about 1 hour of hunting time remaining. The antelope were located about 1.25 miles from the dirt road we are on and there is no way to get within shooting distance with the time remaining. We kept an eye on the herd until sunset, hoping they wouldn't be far from where we last saw them; come first light the next morning.
This particular valley is vast and sometimes you can only get within about 1 mile from your quarry before you run out of cover. The valley does have one beneficial feature for the hunter; there is a ravine that meanders all along the valley floor. I told mo that I felt confident I could use the ravine the next morning to get close enough for a shot.
We arrive the following morning well before daylight. I wanted to hit the ravine in the cover of darkness and cover as much ground as I could before sunrise. However, I had forgotten how the ravine went where it wanted and not necessarily in the direction I wanted to go. As day began to break I knew if I stayed in the ravine I would be hidden from the keen eyesight of the antelope and would eventually end up in rifle range of the herd. The only uncertain factor this morning was the wind, the weather reports called for 15-30 mph winds. As I followed the ravine I would ease up to the top every 30 minutes or so to check for the antelope. I finally spotted the group they were about 800 yards from where we put them to bed the night before. I finally made it to the location I thought that I might be able to set up for a prone shot. I expected to have about a 600 yard shot and I was dying to break-in my newly re-barreled 300RUM, that 308 Nate(Nathan Dagley) of Straight Shot Gunsmithing had built recently. Nate did a fine job on my rifle, beside being a great rifle builder, he's also a heck-of-a nice guy. I am comfortable on shots out to 1K but with the wind this particular morning 600 or so would be plenty long. I slowly eased up to the top of the ravine carefully scouring the landscape for the herd, but see nothing. So I ease up a little more and start scanning the territory to my right when my binoculars suddenly fill up with tan and white. The herd is only about 125 yards away. One old doe must have caught a glimpse of me, because she never looked away from my direction. There was some yellow grass about 1.5 ft high between myself and her, that along with the wind must have fooled her just enough to keep her from bolting and taking the herd with her.
I quickly thought on what action to take; I couldn't just raise up for a shot with her staring in my direction. There were about 9 other does and 2 shooter bucks. I decide my only option is to belly crawl through the tall grass and try to get a shot. I slid my pack in front of me and used just my toes and fingers to propell myself. I could see most of the herd and the one doe refused to go back to browsing as the others were doing. I finally get to where I can see most of the goats bodies, at least enough to take a shot. But I'm going to have to shoot through the grass if I'm to get a shot. I slowly slide my rifle up on my pack, the two bucks are in sight but they keep milling around. Evidently, they were having to work out who was the head honcho. With the two bucks worring about each other more than their surroundings I decided now was the time to take a shot. Both bucks almost looked like twins, both were good bucks for this particular area. I settled the cross-hair on what looked like the head buck and sent the bullet on its way. My load is a 190 Berger VLD propelled by 97.0 grs of Retumbo and a Fed 215M primer. Muzzle vel is 3320 and at 100 yards Exbal shows vel is 3148 and energy is 4180. As soon as the gun went off I heard an awesome WACK the buck stumbled a couple of steps and fell right down. This was the first animal I shot with the 190 VLD and at just 100 yards the damage was fericious. I'm not sure what effect the grass had on the bullet, at the time of the shot I thought it would have a minimal effect. I could easily put my fist in the enterence hole, there was no exit. I'm glad I held behind the shoulder, I'm not much for rib meat any way. The buck was 14" and had good mass. After field dressing the buck I walked out the 1.5 or so miles to the truck to get my pack frame. There are no 2 tracks anywhere in this valley, which is a good thing to me. Mo actually suggested that I take my pack frame with me on the stalk, but I didn't want to seem over confident and jinx my wild goose chase.
Remember to have your local animal rights advocates spayed or neutered.