Wyoming, 2009, DIY, Public Land
My friend, J.T. Geddes, has always admired the beauty and free spirit of antelope, so the chance to harvest a Wyoming antelope was something I knew he would treasure. I grew up in the rolling hills of central Wyoming and knew just how to make his dream come true. Our plan was to try a DIY hunt on south-central Wyoming public land. We would be hunting late in the season, which is not an easy task. The antelope have been shot at and act very elusive. However, we would soon find out that the challenges of late season hunting can have huge rewards.
J.T. and I, along with my dad, started our journey from Texas to Wyoming with only five days left in the season. As the snow started to fall and the temperatures plummeted, we weren’t surprised to find I-25 closed due to weather. We spent the next 18 hours sheltered by the awning of a gas station and mesmerized by the lazy falling snow. Once the highway finally opened, we continued our drive to pick up my cousin, Matt Swartz, and some last minute items.
Our first day found us hunting in whiteout conditions, freezing temperatures, and occasional snow flurries. The plan was to let J.T pick out and harvest the first antelope. I’ve taken several antelope, so I was looking for something a little different - possibly a trophy, something with some width, or a freak. We saw hundreds of antelope and several nice bucks, but each one lacked trophy qualities in one way or another. Some were tall but lacked mass; some were massive but lacked height; some had good hooks like J.T. wanted but lacked prongs or mass.
Toward the end of the day as the sun was setting over the snow blanketed hills, we spotted an extremely wide buck we nicknamed “Wide Glide”. Since J.T. didn’t want him, I decided to close the distance with only ten minutes of shooting time left. I steadied my crosshairs at the top of his back and began to squeeze. The muzzle blast lifted snow off the rocks in front of me and when I could see again, I knew my shot was just below him. We watched as Wide Glide trotted off into the sunset.
My family and J.T. tried to lift my spirits by telling me that I’d get another chance. After a sleepless night and replaying the shot in my head a hundred times, I was eager to try to redeem myself.
Our second morning we were focused on finding J.T. a good buck and giving me another chance at Wide Glide. As we watched the sun break over the horizon, it was starting to look like a repeat from the day before. We saw plenty of good bucks but none that “had it all”. We saw antelope everywhere, probably 300 just in one valley.
We proceeded over a little rise and about 15 antelope were gathered around a pond, including several bucks. Matt anxiously said, There’s a shooter in there.”
For a full account of Nick's adventure, go to page 36 in the August/September 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.