The Old Idaho Ghost

By Robert Hartwig

The Old Idaho Ghost

Robert Hartwig
Idaho, 2009, DIY, Public Land 

Daylight was breaking and I couldn’t contain a smile as I drove with anticipation toward where the old monarch called home. It was an hour drive from our house, so I had a little time to think. I didn’t get much sleep the night before – only two hours - but I felt alert to what was ahead of me.

I’m a firm believer that when you go after a big Boone and Crockett buck, he’s the hardest to hunt. They’re usually old, extremely cautious, wise beyond belief, and their home territory fits them like a glove. Testing my wits against his, I knew my mistakes had better be few.

This hunt started with me going out scouting every chance I had. The days were sunny and I knew if I could see for miles, so could the antelope. This particular spot is unusual. It sports lava flows, some extremely jagged and others more smooth. There are also some grassy flats, tall sagebrush, and scattered trees growing gnarled and twisted right up out of the lava. Three grown men couldn’t collectively wrap their arms around some of the tree trunks.

I had taken a 15-inch antelope out of this same area last year and had spotted a couple other big bucks, so I was hoping my luck would hold again. You don’t see a lot of antelope here like in Wyoming or New Mexico, and it’s not known for Boone and Crockett bucks, but it’s still a fun hunt. Through September I glassed 20 bucks between 13 and 14 inches. I use Mike Eastman’s field judging system from his book, Hunting Trophy Antelope, and it works! I am always very close to what they actually score.

As I scouted and glassed the next few days, I found one that was about 15 inches. He was heavy and I judged his prongs to be seven inches. I named him “King” and put him on my save list. I watched him all the time, but knew he was going to be hard to get close to. He lived in the wide open and never showed signs of leaving.

I found another good buck I named “Brutus”. He was the dominant buck with about 20 does, and you could tell he was a real ladies’ man. He was about 14 inches and quite massive, but sported short prongs. He was my second choice. My luck was holding when I found my third choice, “Flat Top”. He was 13 to 14 inches, and above his prongs he flared straight out.

The weekend before the season opened, I went scouting to make sure King was still there. That’s when I saw two bucks far up on a ridge. I got out my spotting scope to take a look and a 14-inch buck came running out. The buck that was chasing him had a doe and hadn’t come up out of the draw yet, so I patiently waited. Finally, he came barreling up the ridge and my heart started pounding like crazy. He was massive, tall, and just plain huge!

His prong was at the top of his ear, so I had a hard time judging his length, and his one prong looked to be broomed off. I only had a minute to look at him before he chased the other buck over the ridge.

By the time I got to the top, they were way out on a big flat and the heat waves were so bad I couldn’t field judge him. Regardless, I knew he was what I had been waiting for, so I named him “Monarch”. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my wife about him. Amazingly, in all my scouting trips over the years, I had never seen this buck.

The old idaho ghost

For a full account of Roberts's adventure, go to page 30 in the October/November 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.