May/June 2012 EBJ (Issue 71) - It was already a week into the archery antelope season, and just before sunrise on a Saturday morning, when my dad and I crawled into our blind. We were hunting near a windmill with a round water tank 25 yards away. I had my binoculars, and was looking around for any sign of life as the sun began cresting over the horizon. I soon spotted antelope in the distance and the anticipation started to mount. Lying by my side was my bow with four arrows in the quiver. This was my first time to hunt with a bow, and I was filled with excitement knowing there was a great buck using this water on a regular basis.
It was around 9:00 a.m. when I seen the antelope I had been waiting for. My dad and I had spotted him weeks prior to my hunt while out scouting. The buck’s horns had big prongs and lots of mass, earning the name "Forwards”. He was a definite shooter.
As he began his approach to the water, I slipped on my release and knocked an arrow with hopes of getting a shot. My heart sped up immediately as the buck, closing quickly, was now only 45 yards and still coming. My breathing got heavier and I could see my breath condensate in the cool morning air. As I drew my bow he stopped slightly behind the water tank, giving me a bit of a quartering on shot. I settled in for the shot with my nose touching the string, and I could see the little yellow pin settle on top of the white hair, right behind the tan colored shoulder. I touched off the release trigger and my arrow was sent flying toward the buck.
"Thunk!” I heard the arrow at the shot, and as I looked up my spirits dropped…I had missed. The arrow slid harmlessly in front of the buck. Without hesitation, the buck jumped back and sprinted out of sight. The feeling of the miss was sinking in as I crawled slowly out of the blind to retrieve my arrow. When I slunk back into the blind, my dad was looking at a spot just below the window, where I had shot. A perfect cut from my broadhead was now visible in the blind half an inch below the opening.
We waited the rest of the day and had plenty of other bucks visit the water, but nothing I wanted to shoot, so we packed up and left. When we got home, I had the misfortune of telling everyone that I had missed the big buck we had scouted for. Of course, trying to lift my spirits, everyone told me that I would get another shot, but I had my doubts.
My dad and I woke up early again the next morning. We gathered all our gear, loaded the truck, and drove out to the blind. As I was putting the chairs and coolers into the blind, two does and a buck raced down the hillside on our left to get a drink. I got a little energized and thought, "Maybe this is a sign of good things to come”.
Nearly an hour later, around 8:00 a.m., another herd with a couple bucks and a half dozen does and little ones came in for a drink. Continuing to glass, we spotted one more antelope approaching from a different location and soon realized it was Forwards. He joined the other antelope, and they cautiously walked slowly toward the tank. I quietly slipped my release on, and nocked an arrow. I was so excited I could hardly control my breathing, and my heart was beating a mile a minute.
They nervously walked around, stopping and staring at the blind and water tank from 60 to 100 yards away. After about twenty minutes of wandering cautiously just out of range, they all came in at once. When they were at about 25 yards from the blind, they all stopped and darted back away. They did this get close and dart back routine a couple more times, and my adrenaline was reaching overdrive.
My dad told me that my best shot might be before the antelope actually reached the tank, and to be ready for a shot the next time. As they edged their way back in, I was ready. Step by step they nervously approached within range…I drew back with the adrenalin rushing through me. Forwards was covered by two does in between the blind and him, so I waited for what seemed like forever. He finally stepped out of the group at 23 yards and gave me a perfect broadside shot. I held my breath and, with my hand finally calming down enough from nervousness, I touched off the trigger on my release, and sent the arrow flying. My heart skipped a beat as I heard the unforgettable "thwack” as my arrow smacked into his body. The buck made his last sprint across the prairie and dropped within 100 yards of the blind. I was overjoyed as I knew I had taken my first animal with a bow.
Words can’t adequately express my emotions, but if you can remember your first bow kill, and I’m sure you can, you have a pretty good idea of what I was experiencing as my dad and I walked up to my downed buck. As I laid my hands on his massive horns, I was amazed at how big he was. Not wanting to let go of his horns, several minutes were enjoyed just holding and staring at my buck; I just couldn’t believe I had done it!
After getting my buck officially scored at 84-3/8 gross and with a net score of 82-6/8, qualifying him for the all-time Boone & Crockett record book, I finally realized just how special this antelope was. Harvesting a better antelope may never come, but I won’t forget my first antelope and look forward to many future bowhunts.