Well we went hunting again for the third day since opening season. The first two days we saw mule deer (not hunt-able in the unit we were in), a pair of bobcats hunting rabbit (way cool), and a huge beaver by his pond.
We hunt for food, not trophies, so if the critter has horns or antlers, it's just a bonus and not something we strive for.
Antelope?That's when I spied the antelope, which were supposedly not in this particular area. My husband had drawn a very rare antelope tag for this unit (one of five for either sex; there were also five tags issued for does/fawns). Antelope season for rifle starts two weeks earlier than deer and elk and runs four weeks. We had seen some antelope on a ranch we had permission to hunt on, but due to distance and other limiting factors, we didn't get one. So, my husband stalked them and managed to get about 200 yards or so away. That's exceedingly tough. Antelope can see threats four miles away and have eyesight that ranges nearly 300 degrees. The wind was awful, gusting at 35 mph or so. Even so, he managed to get a shot in before they bolted.
Where Did They Go?When antelope bolt, there's no way you can hit them unless you're exceedingly good or exceedingly lucky. Preferably both. These guys can hit 60 mph for short sprints and up to 40 for long ones. They took off and we couldn't find any blood where the shot happened. So, we presumed a miss. Suddenly a raven appeared and started looking, suggesting that maybe my husband hit something, but after looking for a while, we went on to look for more animals. More on this later.
Waiting for UsWe drove away and went to look for deer and elk because the antelope were gone. I saw a big muley buck skylined some 400 yards away, but again because he wasn't legal for us to take in that area, we had to pass on him. We decided to drive back down as it was getting toward the end of legal light and that's when we saw the antelope buck by the fence. It had been about an hour since we had given up looking for him
The buck was a big buck and he had moved to the fence line much closer to the road than where my husband had taken a shot at him earlier. The guy was standing wrong and we soon realized it was because he had a bullet wound. The herd had left him and he had traveled in the opposite direction: toward us. My husband got out of the car and got far enough from the road to shoot the antelope legally and finish the job. Like goats, antelope take forever to die. My husband actually hit the antelope in the heart and it ran and needed another two shots. The wind had been so fierce that even accounting for wind had caused the bullet to move more than two feet and hit him in the flank.
Always Listen to the RavenThe buck was about the size of a good sized whitetail doe. We did a quick quartering tonight and I'll be butchering the buck tomorrow. Despite all the hits, we have plenty of good meat available.
We thanked him for the food and apologized for giving up on him when he had no blood to track. We have learned to always listen to the ravens.