August/September 2013 EHJ (Issue 138) - This story started when I was five years old and was with my dad when he shot his Boone and Crockett antelope. It had thick, tall, prongs and a perfect heart shape. I remember the ride home from the taxidermist and my dad telling me not to touch it or even breathe on it. Since then I have tried to get a Boone and Crockett antelope myself, but to no avail. That was, until this year.
I have been putting in for out-of-state tags for seven years and this year I was fortunate enough to draw a Wyoming antelope tag. How it came to be was weird. The night of the deadline I was on the internet trying to put in for the same district I always have but my computer would not accept those numbers. After logging in and out several times I began to panic. I grabbed my Eastmans’ magazine to see if there was another blue chip area that my computer would accept. The computer accepted one and I was able to register. Months later when I opened the envelope and saw I had drawn a Wyoming antelope tag I was excited, to say the least.
I started my research by contacting biologists, game wardens, and my friend from work, Mark Leyba, who has lived in the area most of his life. Everyone was super helpful. I gained a lot of good insight of what to expect and look forward too.
In preparing for the hunt I bought a 6.5x.284 Savage Long Range Hunter topped with a Scheels Paragon Hunter scope. What a combination, definitely the most accurate gun out of the box that I have ever owned.
The hunt was just days away when I lost my job. I was pretty bummed out and contemplated not going on the hunt at all. My wife suggested I go and get my mind off the situation. So I threw my stuff in the truck and headed out.
I had eight days to scout before the season opened. The first few days I drove the perimeter and talked to the locals. After eight days of scouting I had seen two shooter bucks and was anxiously waiting for opening morning. Finally, opening morning came and I headed out to the area where I had seen the two shooter bucks. Due to high temperatures there wasn’t much activity.
On the third day I decided to try a new area. I had overheard a couple locals talking about a monstrous antelope buck they had seen while deer hunting. Around 8 a.m. my phone rang. It was my buddy Powell Steckel from work. He had been calling every day asking me what I’d seen and if I had shot anything. I reassured him that the minute I got something he would be the first person I called.
A little while later I decided to check out a watering hole I had seen while scouting. About a fourth of a mile from the watering hole I came around the corner and there stood a buck with two does. Right away the buck came to high alert, turned and took off running. My first impression was to just shoot, so I readied for the shot. I could tell he had really good mass and big prongs, but he didn’t look really tall.
I hesitated because I kept hearing those words of advice in my ear – "Boy, don’t shoot the first one you see, there are some big goats out there and you have all season to get one!”
I figured when he stopped and looked back I would judge his length and either shoot or not shoot. He ran out to 250 yards stopped quartering away, looking back. I could count two-and-a half good ear lengths, so I knew he was at least 15 inches or better. I steadied the cross hairs on him and shot.
For a full account of Blake's adventure, go to page 18 in the August/September 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.