Went out to do some scouting for my son and cousin over Labor Day Weekend. Since I didn't draw a tag, I decided to get an archery permit and bring the bow along. Here is my story. . .
Drove out west to within 20 miles of Wyoming last Friday evening. The main intention was to scout new private land for BadShootinGriz (Luke) and my son, Kyle, for rifle season. I figured I’d just as well drag the bow along and buy a bow permit. Scouted on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Saw a number of bucks, most all by themselves. Did find a few bucks with a bunch of does. These must have been the Alpha bucks. We spied the largest buck of the trip with 17 does on Saturday in a pasture that looked so flat you could bowl on. On Sunday, he was in the same pasture with 20 does. On Monday, there were 26 does and no buck.?.?. After some glassing, we spotted him returning from quite a ways off. . . perhaps returning from running another buck off. Shortly, we spotted another decent buck about a mile away in a different direction. The Alpha buck spotted him at about the same time. Again, off he goes to run him out of the country. This sparked an idea. . . if I could get between him and his harem, perhaps I could pull my Montana Decoy (See here for what it looks like => Montana Decoy ) out of the plastic wrapper and see if it works like it says it does. Luke would keep watch from the top of a hill and we would communicate via radios. When he disappeared in a valley, I slid down the hill into a slight depression. I didn’t get 200 yards and Luke tells me he is returning. I pick him up and watch him make his way back to his harem. I’m part-way out in the pasture, so I lay flat to watch his next move. Shortly, they all start bedding down. When they do this, I cannot see them. So, I decide to start crawling towards them. Keep in mind that antelope survive due to the eyesight that is equivalent to 8-power binoculars. I need to stay out of sight of 27 antelope on a flat pasture. Initially, I cover the first hundred yards at a hunched-over crawl. I see the ears of does, so now the next hundred yards is on hands and knees. Again, I spot the ears of does, so now I am flat on my belly with 500-600 yards to go. It’s left elbow forward, right elbow forward, pull the bow, pull the decoy, repeat. 2 hours into the sneak and I can go no further as I can again see the tops of the does ears. From where Luke is at, he cannot see the buck and I cannot either. But we figure he has to be in with the does, I just can't see him. I sure as heck can’t raise my head off the ground, or all this punishment would have been for naught. I figured I am 200 yards from the furthest doe, so the buck is something closer than that.
Laying on my stomach, I position my bow and knock an arrow. I move the buck decoy in front of me and prepare to flip it up. My plan is to quickly stick the decoy in the ground in front of me and come to my knees behind it where I can draw my bow. I know that if it works as expected, the buck will always come in from my right to my left (per the book Trophy Antelope Hunting by Mike Eastman – an excellent read that I HIGHLY recommend). Mike says this is a given when coming in to a decoy; and it works well for a right-handed archer.
Up goes my decoy and I come to my knees for the first time in almost 2 hours and start to push the rods into the ground to hold the decoy up. Immediately, Luke is on the radio telling me that the buck has jumped up and is charging towards me! (Editorial note: Luke says that when I flipped the decoy up, the does that first saw it about got whiplash from turning their heads so quickly to look at it. Once they did that, the buck immediately jumped up and as soon as he saw the decoy, he took off straight for it.) I peek under the belly of the decoy and ‘Holy Cow! He is right!’. I let go of the decoy to grab my bow and the decoy falls onto my head. I use the top of my bow to hold it up. Luke is now telling me that he is broadside. . . . just what I want. I peek under the chin of the decoy and he is still 85 yards out. . . too far. Off he comes again, so I get ready for him to show up on my left side. Mike Eastman says that when the buck sees the hunter behind the decoy, the hunter will have 2 to 3 seconds to shoot before he figures out what is happening. Next thing I know Luke is telling me he is coming to my right. This can’t be true! The books says so! I peek under his chin and he is 30 yards from me on my right. I’m pointed left. It’s now or never. I draw back my bow and have to raise it up and over the head of my decoy. In the process, my decoy falls over as it was never stuck in the ground very well. I shift my body and reposition my knees to shoot to my right. He immediately bolts from all of this commotion and takes off. But I see the familiar lope that I have seen in lots of coyotes over the years and I know that he is unsure of what he just saw and he is going to stop and take one more look. I get on him and follow him already guessing 75 yards as to where he will stop. He stops and looks back and I quickly change my estimate to 60 yards. I place the pin behind his shoulder and touch my release.
This next part I can still vividly see in slow motion. I only pull back 58 pounds, so my arrows have a lot of arch in relation to other folks who pull a heavier weight. When I released my arrow, I immediately thought, ‘Oh man, I way overshot him.’ I watched that arrow arch way high in the air and then curve and start to drop towards the earth. I followed it all the way to its mark! Hours and hours and hours of practice this summer for this one shot! And it couldn’t have hit him more exact where I wanted it! He spun and just went screaming back to where the 26 does stood. If you have never seen how fast an antelope can run, I can’t explain it. You just have to experience it to appreciate it. He covered the 150 yards in probably no more than 5-6 seconds. And as soon as he reached them, he flipped head over heels and it was over.
I have had a LOT of great hunts with a lot of great species over the years and this spot and stalk of 27 antelope tops them all! When I am old and sitting in an easy chair and can no longer hunt, this will be one of the first hunts I always reminisce.