September's Sabbatical

Sunday afternoon, while checking out our supposed hunting area, we were turned out of a whole section of WMA, so we had to rescout - quickly.

It seems that on some WMA blocks you have to apply for a permit to hunt there -separately from the license area tag you get drawn for, but after you're drawn. Nowhere in all the Wyoming literature we received or saw online was this mentioned. At this writing I can’t remember how many square miles were affected - Skinner's got our map - but it was considerable.

After cruising all the places we thought we could go on public land without seeing shootables, we headed for Interstate 80, to get some coffee eye props. There was a single square mile next to the highway that was open, and I mean open. The ground we were looking to hunt on was flat, featureless, grassless, cactus ridden, and made of rocks. And pretty darn flat.

All the hunting stories I read and listened to before this trip said you, “spot and stalk”. Bug eyed antelope stared straight at you across the tabletop tableaux wherever you saw them. Not quite like sneaking through the river bottom trees and shrubs, hunting deer in eastern North Dakota or Manitoba.

About eight antelope were bedded in the middle of that section, with perhaps a two foot undulation to the south of their position. I got the idea that if I crawled under the fence, then crawled another three hundred yards, slowly sat up, aimed and fired - I might have a chance. So I tried it.

I got Ron to let me out behind the antelope's resting place, and together with Terrel, crawled across the cactus. It's not a good idea to yell every time you get stuck with those spiny prairie ornaments, as you could alert your prey, so you bite your tongue until blood drips down your chin. Shredded hands hurt too.

On another crawl, a couple of days later, I found the answer to my lack of cactus proof gloves - rocks. They're everywhere, so I grabbed a couple and used them to keep my hands from contacting cactus, thorns, and other sharp rocks.

Terrel and I crawled far enough to get within about sixty yards, sat up and surveyed the herd. With my .260 EABCO 26 inch barreled Custom Shop Encore, I thought I could get a double . . . maybe . . . on two does that were so perfectly aligned that it was tough to see the offside one. But Terrel was on my right, the two does were on the right, and you always shoot what's on your side, right?

I had Terrel, with his ubiquitous XS7 Marlin .243 loaded with 100 grain Partitions, line up with the possible double. Those Partitions had proven phenomenal penetrating capability on midwestern Whitetails, and 'lopes were littler, so I gave up the idea of my sending a 140 grain Remington CORE-LOKT toward them.

Terrel missed on the agreed upon, whispered, count of three, I didn't, and we had a dry doe down. Pictures were taken, entrails removed for easier dragging, and I got a phone call - “You've got one coming your way at a dead run!” Ron sure was an excitable feller! When I hunt Whitetails I use a technique I came upon by accident - I sit down when I'm startled by a deer I didn't anticipate. It works almost every time. In fact, it's never not worked when I hunt alone. They always stop and look to see what I was, where I disappeared to, or something - I don't know what's really in their heads, but even in a cultivated field I've had running deer stop like a reining horse if I go prone, or sit. They may not stay planted long, but if you're ready for it, you've got a great chance to end your hunt by sitting.

The author and his Monday antelope. This was about fifteen minutes before the next one busted out across the prairie and caught a CORE-LOKT too.

So, we sat. Right beside the carcass of the doe weʼd just eviscerated. And here came another shootable antelope with his cute little head held high. We had doe/fawn tags, so the fact that he was a he was okay.

He ran straight north, on our right, along the fence for a while, saw us sitting with the “sleeper”, and looped around west, then south. At about sixty yards he stopped broadside.