Wyoming, 2009, DIY, Private Land
For the first time in nine years, the elk tag I had been lucky enough to keep drawing finally went to someone else. I would not be in my favorite drainages in September chasing big bulls.
After spending the entire month of July pouting, my thoughts turned to antelope and deer. They had taken a backseat to elk during my lucky run, but now, with growing anticipation, I started scouting. My trips revealed a couple of dandy mule deer bucks and some good antelope bucks, with one that had amazing prongs. I nicknamed him “Digger.”
The season started on August 15, and I hunted the first week with moderate success. Anyone that has tried to spot and stalk antelope will tell you that it can be a nearly impossible task! Oftentimes, the tallest thing between you and a buck is a patch of prickly pear cactus or, if you’re lucky, a nice full Yucca plant. Even against the odds, I managed to get within 40 yards of Digger twice but just couldn’t get the job finished.
I didn’t see him again for a couple of weeks, so I spent that time chasing a buck that had a nearly solid black face and another 75-inch buck that ran his harem in the same area as Digger.
Finally, on September 12, I got another chance. He was bedded in a great spot for a stalk, and an hour of belly crawling later, I was in range. Before I could get my rangefinder on him, he stood up. I estimated him at 45 yards, then drew and watched him practically turn inside out when he saw the movement. Positive I had blown my last chance, I watched as Digger ran with his does for miles and miles. He had quite literally left the country!
After spending the next two weeks chasing an elusive 190 mule deer and taking a few days to do battle with the hordes of archery hunters in a general elk area, I returned on September 24. Most of the evening was spent glassing and ultimately resulted in a futile attempt at the black-faced buck when his does busted me before I got within 600 yards.
Figuring that the hunting Gods were conspiring against me, I decided it was time to head home for a date with my wife. On pure chance, I glanced out my passenger window and noticed a herd of antelope a mile away. Even though I had not seen a buck with these antelope, I decided I had nothing to lose. I parked the truck another mile down the road and headed for the draw on a jog.
I got to a point in the draw where I figured they would pass. After settling in and not seeing anything for 20 minutes, I decided to take one last peek over the edge and then head back. A moment later, I found myself face to face with a doe 30 yards away, with the rest of the herd close behind.
For a full account of Cory's adventure, go to page 34 in the January/February 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.