2,008 Antelope Hunt (after the blizzard!)

Discussion in 'Antelope Hunting' started by VarmintGuy, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. VarmintGuy

    VarmintGuy Well-Known Member

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    Finally got to cross the "great divide" and get over to the eastern half of the state and mingle with the Antelope, Prairie Dogs and Coyotes!
    The recent blizzard that delayed my departure on the 10th of October lasted 3 days and put down plenty of snow. The fellow that manages the ranch I was to Hunt on called me and told me the other Hunters on the ranch had all canceled due to the impending blizzard and I should do the same. Once the 3 day blizzard was done it was another several days until the snow melted and the side roads again became passable!
    The "Gumbo" in the area I Hunt is horrific when its wet!
    Dangerous, as well as impassable!
    Anyway I headed out at 0500 hours Friday morning the 17th of October!
    A full 7 days after I wanted to leave.
    Trepidation was on my mind as I seldom Hunt a full 7 days after the Antelope opener and have much success!
    I saw three dead Rattlesnakes on the pavement in the area of my chosen ranch and the sun was out and bearing down at 70 degrees even on Friday afternoon when I arrived.
    I checked in at ranch HQ and off I went shooting a Coyote (as requested by the ranch manager) almost immediately.
    Then I bonked a couple dozen Prairie Dogs with my 17 HMR Varminter.
    Then I got down to serious Antelope recon!
    I found a high point and set up the spotting scope.
    I found a distant basin that held three large herds of Antelope and at least 22 mature Bucks!
    They were in full relax mode and I drove to within 2 miles of the furthest herd and within 800 yards of the closest!
    The sun was setting and I made full use of the low sun (at my back!) to sneak up on the first herd then the second herd then the third!
    I was amazed at the number of dandy Antelope in the 3 herds.
    I was having a hard time deciding WHICH Antelope to take!
    In the first herd was a good Buck which had thick high horns and whose "prongs" did not start until very high on the main beam!
    An unusual and yet beautiful Antelope.
    I decided I wanted him and did a U-turn to get back into his area.
    That herd had drifted off now and were near a remote reservoir. I used the exit coulee of the reservoir to sneak up to within 400 yards of him and his herd of 50+ other Antelope!
    I lay in wait at the crest of the reservoir dam and the herd was indeed intent on watering (in the heat!) once more that day.
    I lasered the now broadside Buck at 329 yards and held dead on his heart/lung area. The Antelope dropped in his tracks at the shot!
    I was using my Remington 700 VLS in 260 Remington with Leupold 6.5x20 variable scope!
    The 100 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip worked perfectly and not a mouthful of wasted meat was to be found!
    The herd had no idea where the shot came from and I had to shoo them out of the area as I made my way to the fallen Buck. He was not visible in the sage brush where he lay and I had turned my scope down to 6.5 power and left my Harris Bi-pods legs extended should a follow-up shot be needed.
    Well I had my Buck and the sun was getting real low now and I was 1 1/2 miles from the truck and my handy-dandy game cart!
    A decision was going to have to be made!
    My tag was notched and the Antelope was cleaned but I would not make it to the truck and then back with a light and the carrier until after complete dark!
    I decided to "hump" the Antelope and "ferry" it back to the truck alternately carrying the Antelope on my back and then returning for my Rifle and my daypack which was chuck full.
    I have carried many hog dressed Antelope on my back but always with "help" to get them up on my shoulders for the firemans carry.
    No such help existed.
    I drug the speed goat to a coulee crest and wriggled him up on my back. It was VERY difficult to get the Antelope up on my shoulders by myself.
    I humped as far as I could and then put the Antelope down and returned for my pack and Rifle. Each "ferrying" leg was getting tougher and tougher due to increasing darkness and my exhaustion. Finally about 1/3 mile from the truck I had to cease with the ferrying and take my pack and Rifle to the truck and get a light!
    I would have left the Antelope on the prairie and returned in the morning but there were Coyotes EVERYWHERE and in every direction howling and cavorting.
    The water back at the truck was cool and VERY welcome!
    I stripped down to a T-shirt for the final carry of this big bodied Loper.
    Once back at the truck I had another big decision to make. Should I stay the night and get an early start on Saturday or head out on the 7 hour journey back home then? The weather forecast had predicted 71 degree heat on Saturday!
    I decided to head out now and let the night air cool the Antelope on the way home!
    That would make a very long day but the Antelope would be cooled out properly for sure.
    I stuffed my ice inside the Antelopes chest cavity and put the hammer down!
    Well it was down for a while - the Mule Deer became so incredibly thick along the 100+ mile stretch of highway that follows Montana's Musselshell River that the fastest I could drive was 50 M.P.H.!
    I mean it was flat out dangerous driving and dodging the Mule Deer and trying to stay awake!
    Finally at 0200 hours Saturday morning I pulled into the rest area in Harlowtown and slept until 0700 hours.
    The sunrise was spectacular as I headed south for Big Timber and again the prevalence of countless Deer kept my speeds down!
    This Antelope is right up there with my best - I finally put a tape on it the next day and it went 15 1/2".
    But I could care less about its score - it was a great Antelope killed very quickly in a beautiful basin and after a tough start to this years season!
    I do KNOW where I will be next year on the Antelope opener though!
    Hold into the wind
    VarmintGuy
     
  2. Joel Russo

    Joel Russo Official LRH Sponsor

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    Congratulations VarmintGuy.

    I enjoyed the read.
     

  3. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    When you get a chance post up a picture.

    It must have been a good year for ratllesnakes, being as we saw several in Wyoming.
     
  4. jwp475

    jwp475 Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a you had an outstanding hunt....
     
  5. mark308

    mark308 Well-Known Member

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    congrats on your hunt:D I was not as successful. went to scobey on the opener. after 3 days of a blizzard it cleared enough to try hunt. only saw a small herd one day, they were running by the time we got to 1000yd. I think the bird hunters had then spooked. never saw any again for the next 5 days, and we searched ALOT of land. even the ranchers said they had left the area. we did see some about 50miles out of our area. oh well, next year.
     
  6. RedChili

    RedChili Member

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    Great story, I only had to carry out a fawn for about a mile and a half one year, no comparison. But even that was enough to persuade me to choose to hike back to get the buck truck next time!

    This year we hunted right at the first of October, and again after the blizzard (central Wyoming) had a chance to melt, and it wasn't too bad. My wife and son actually got their does within walking distance of camp (both did a great sneak). I got my third doe with a leftover tag via some dry wash sneaking. Fun fun. I know, rubbing salt in the wounds...

    Also interesting to hear about the Nosler Ballistic Tips. After shooting Sierra GameKing 150s this year (effective, but helluva exit hole), and blunting the soft points in the magazine from the recoil (300WSM), I ordered up some Noslers from Cabela's. When I shot factory loads I used Winchester Ballistic Silvertips (same thing, with moly), never had that issue, and they were accurate as all get out (oughta be for that kinda money), so I look forward to playing with the Noslers.
     
  7. VarmintGuy

    VarmintGuy Well-Known Member

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    RedChili: Bill, I hope the 30 caliber Nosler Ballistic Tips work for you as well as the 26 and 27 caliber Baliistic Tips have for me over the last many years.
    I also use the Nosler 130 grain Ballistic Tips in my Remington 700 Sendero (270 Winchester).
    I have a string of one shot kills going with these bullets that includes kills on Mule Deer, Antelope, Whitetail Deer and one 6x6 Bull Elk that is VERY impressive to me!
    And yes I have found these Ballistic Tips to be VERY accurate in my two Rifles as well as VERY lethal!
    Best of luck to you.

    Mark308: Better luck next year! That blizzard really hampered a lot of folks - moving the game from normal haunts and making travel especially difficult!
    Make up for it next year.
    Hold into the wind
    VarmintGuy
     
  8. FEENIX

    FEENIX Well-Known Member

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    VarmintGuy,

    Congrats on your hunt! I remember that day. Where we were hunting (area 450 in Cascade), it was overcast with rolling fog, the visibility was no more than 200 yards. I was guiding a young Airman (first time big game hunter). We called it quits before noon for safety reason.

    We went back the following day and filled his doe tag. My buck tagged was unfilled but I had a blast taking the young Airman and other new hunters afield. :D

    Ed
     
  9. Ol'Gator

    Ol'Gator Well-Known Member

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    VarmintGuy,

    Great read and it just shows how much smarter you than me. Knowing the storm was bearing down, I still decided to stay with the plan for my wife and my annual trip to eastern Montana for antelope. We arrived Billings with about a foot of snow. The next day much the same in our hunting area.

    What a difference hunting the critters with snow on the ground. Long story short, she got her buck, I took a doe since I had filled by buck tag during archery season. Doubtful we'll see so much snow this early again, if so I hope to follow your lead and wait for better conditions.

    Never having hunted antelope with snow on the ground I was surprised that they bunched up in such large numbers. We never saw small bands it was always fifty or more which made stalking a whole different challenge. Not only a lot of fun to hunt but some of the best eating, hands down.

    Bob
     
  10. Ol'Gator

    Ol'Gator Well-Known Member

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    Remembered taking a couple of pictures. This one was typical of what we were seeing. Actually, this show only about half the goats in this group.

    [​IMG]