Desert Rhino

By Wade Cavender
Wyoming, DIY, Public Land

Wade Cavender - Desert RhinoJanuary/February 2013 EBJ (Issue 75) - Pursuing different big game animals has become a real passion for me, but over the years I have gained a new appreciation for hunting pronghorn antelope throughout the open plains of Wyoming. Many of us are aware that antelope permits on public land and permission on private ground can be difficult to come by, but even during those unsuccessful years, I have always enjoyed assisting other hunters so I could participate in these annual trips. It was during one of these outings in 2011 that I realized we had found an area that showed promise and held animals that could reach their genetic potential to become trophy pronghorn. Needless to say, my hopes were high for the 2012 archery season when a good friend, Ken Cain, and I were lucky enough to draw a tag in this region.

Living just over the border in Utah, I volunteered to begin scouting for watering areas and any antelope that could be found in locations with spot and stalk potential. After several preseason trips to the area, I soon realized that this year’s drought conditions had dried many previously identified watering areas and that we would likely be in for a very challenging hunt. By using Google Earth as a scouting tool, I was eventually able to secure permission from several landowners with partially irrigated properties that contained two natural waterholes and another watering area that supported cattle. During these trips I was also fortunate enough to photograph a mature buck with good prongs and exceptional horn length, which put him at the top of our list. I also identified several other bucks with great prongs that would require a closer look come hunting season.

We scheduled our hunt to begin just after the season opened, so once Ken arrived after a ten-hour drive from northern Idaho, we wasted no time in heading to our camp to prepare for the rest of the week. That evening we set up blinds at each of the three water holes in the area. We also decided to hunt the natural water holes first, feeling that cattle at the man-made waterhole would negatively impact antelope activity. Since the cow blind at the man-made waterhole would not contain a hunter, we decided to install a trail camera in it so we could record and review daily activity at this site.

Even though we were at 6,000 ft. in elevation, the temperatures were expected to be high. Full days in the blind would certainly take their toll and prove to be long and grueling. In order to stay motivated, I enlisted an old bowhunter’s mantra… when temperatures are at their highest and you begin to feel the perspiration on your face and you just can’t take another minute under the baking sun, that’s the time to expect the unexpected. With the mantra in mind, I settled in and hoped to at least get a glimpse of a mature buck.

The first day resulted in many encounters with does, fawns and several smaller bucks, but most animals were still wary of our blinds and reluctant to come within bow range. It was a long, yet entertaining day! That night we checked the trail camera, and to our surprise found a number of antelope mingling with the watering cows. After a brief discussion, we decided that Ken would sit there the next day. This turned out to be a good call. Antelope activity was high, allowing Ken to fill his two doe tags early that morning.

Wade Cavender - Desert Rhino

For a full account of Wade's adventure, go to page 40 in the January/February 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.