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Wyoming Antelope Success!

October 14, 2011 by  
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Here’s a great story about family and friends who headed out west for an exciting hunting adventure. If you’ve been on a similar hunt out west or in the back forty at home please send us your story and pictures, we might publish it too!

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On October third, myself, my son, Edson Waite III and Dave Allen headed west from Dayton, Ohio for a 3 day antelope hunt on a private ranch just south of Gillette, Wyoming.  My son and I would rifle hunt and Dave would spend at least the first two days in a blind over a water hole with stick and string.  We were hunting with Routier Outfitting out of Buffalo, SD.  The ranch belonged to his uncle Bill and our guide would be Ryan Routier, brother of the outfitter.  The ranch contained 35,000 acres or almost 55 square miles of rolling plains.

Dave was settled in his blind by 7:30 with lots of food and water.  We would not hear much from him for many hours.  Our guide returned for us about 8:30 and we set off in his truck to scope the surrounding acreage.  Within minutes we were seeing pronghorns all around us, not including the 9 or 10 that hung out around the ranch house.  They were out of bounds, period!

The first group we encountered were deep down in a ravine and we were atop one of the many hills about 300 yards away.  There were several does and one nice buck.  Ryan placed his spotting scope on the window and had a real good look.  He told us, it was a very nice buck indeed, but since this was the first buck, on the first day, he felt we should spend a little more time and see if we could find something better.

We continued to circle the fields in this 13,000 acre section of the ranch.  We saw several more groups of does, each being held close by a dominate buck and one or more satellite bucks.  Eventually, we left this section and drove on down the highway.  As we drove my son and I were amazed at the numbers of antelope on each side of the highway.  We passed a group with a very fine buck herding his does.  Our guide decided this one was a definite shooter.  we went up the road farther to a gate and got off the highway.  Ryan and I exited the truck and started a stalk to try to get in front of the group.  We had to climb a hill to get in front of them, I fell behind quickly due to the altitude, so Ryan had to stop while I closed the gap.  Did I mention we were fighting with 35-50 mph winds from the southwest!

We reached the top of the hill only to find another slightly higher one beyond.  When we neared the crest of the second, we dropped to our hands and knees and move to the top.  Down below us stood the buck, facing in our direction while tending his does.  He did not seem to be aware of use, possibly due to the fact he was 220 yards in front with all of the wind coming straight from left to right of our setup.  Ryan set up the shooting tripod and I knelt down to setup.  The wind was so strong I couldn’t get on the buck who was still straight on to me.  Off to the right about another hundred yards were two satellite bucks watching the herd.

After several minutes the buck turned and started to walk, then suddenly stopped and turned back to us.  He did this several times as the adrenaline started pumping big time.  Every time he would move, I tried to get on him, but the wind was so intense, I kept getting blown over and was unable to hold the spot.  The herd closed the gap to 210 yards and he was clear so I slipped off the safety and eased back on the trigger, only to hear a loud “Click”.  The first round had failed to chamber!  I worked the bolt and this time watched as the bullet slid home.  The buck was moving  slowly across our front, Ryan said he was still at 210 yards.  I aimed a bit high and forward and fired.  The bullet hit very low in front of the buck and ricocheted off the rocks and connected with his hind leg.  I quickly chambered another round and tried to steady up for a follow up shot.  He was struggling to run and my second shot was also low, missing by several inches.  However he stopped now and stood broadside.  I had the guide lean against me to stop me from blowing over and took my third shot.  I was now aiming over the antelope’s  head out in front of its nose.  I just nicked a front leg.

At this point my buck had mingled in with about 8 muley does that were in the valley and I was unable to shoot again for several minutes, or maybe seconds  I was very frustrated at this point but loaded another three rounds in the rifle and set up once again.  Ryan suggested I aim over the head about a foot and put the bottom of the vertical crosshair right on his nose.  However, before I could get another shot the buck had moved into high grass along a fence line and was trying to get under it and away.

While it was struggling to get through we took advantage and quickly closed the range by moving down the hill.  After a few minutes or so, we had closed the range to about 150 yards, when he reversed course and came out of the tall grass and made a break for the next hill.  He gained ground much faster than we had and was soon out past 200 years again.  He stumbled and fell, giving us time to set the tripod and I was finally out of the wind enough to get a clean shot into the rib cage, finishing the hunt.

Ryan and I had covered about 4-500 yards during the stalk and the ensuing pursuit.  We walked over to get a good close up look and then Ryan took off at a run for the truck while I waited.  It was 9:30 and I had a beautiful pronghorn on the ground.

We returned to the ranch, and Ryan skinned the antelope, then we settled down for a quick lunch and then off to get my son’s turn underway.  We drove to another promising area where the guide had seen a pretty good buck a week or so earlier.  We crossed the cattle gate and headed into the windswept hills once more.  This was a very large section, and it took some driving and scoping before we came upon another group of does with a tending buck.  As Ryan scoped him, it was noticed the buck had a limp.  This is the same one Ryan had seen earlier and he knew it was a good one.

While I remained in the truck to watch, they moved off to the right and away from the herd which was down in another ravine to the lefty.  I watched the antelope on one side and the hunters on the other.  The hunters disappeared over a hilltop and the goats moved out of sight down into the ravine.  After several minutes, probably 8 or more, a few of the does came back into view about 350 yards below me and still to the left.  Then I see the two hunters come at a crouch over the top of a hill and down into another ravine.  Within a few more minutes, all of the herd moves out of the bottom and heads for a fence halfway up the hill to my far left.  As I watched them, suddenly 2 does come up the hill toward the truck and they passed about 20 yards in front of me, followed by perhaps a satellite buck who had just stolen two of his does.

I looked back at the remaining does as they neared the fence, four of them acted funny then 1-2-3-4 they went over the fence and were gone up and over and out of sight.

The buck now had only two does left and he quickly herded them away from the fence and back into the bottom where his fate awaited him.  My son was set up in a good ambush spot and as Ryan counted down the yards, he readied for his shot.  “240, 235, 230, 225, 220 shoot now.”   Boom!  It was a beautiful shot and goat # 2 was down, it was 1:30.

Throughout the day, Ryan’s cell phone came alive with short text messages, “Nice buck, 52 yds, crosswind, no shot”

“Another one, closer, no shot”

“Here comes another”

“No shot”

“Maybe coming closer”

Finally around 3 PM.  “Buck down, 32 yards good shot but he is still sitting.”  It was quite a while before we heard from Dave again, this time his text was, “It moved on up the ravine and I can’t see it anymore.”

Ryan called to get more detail, and it was decided we would wait at least thirty minutes before we would come have a look.  It was a long wait for us, can’t imagine how Dave was doing as he was not allowed to leave the blind for any reason as it would ruin the blind for the rest of the season and they had more hunters coming.

After the given time, we drove over to that section which was about 3 miles away across the fields, but about 18 miles by road.  We stopped at the cattle gate and Ryan called Dave again.  We could see upwards of 50 antelope in the general area where the blind was located.  We glassed them for several more minutes then decided to drive into the pasture.  The antelope moved away from us, but did not dash off into the prairie as they are used to vehicles moving about.  We drove right up to the corner of the blind and Dave was then able to get out along with all his gear and get into the truck.  The antelope would be fooled into thinking he came from the truck.  Ryan pulled back from the blind and circled way up towards the nearby hills and then started driving along the ravine as 8 pairs of eyes searched for a white belly or black horns.  As we neared the water hole, we spotted the buck, belly up at the bottom of the ravine.  He had traveled only ten yards from where Dave had last seen him, then laid down and died.

Three nice bucks in one day.  We were done!  What a great day!  Our guide had certainly shown his stuff, and we were very happy to have had him.

Ed Waite

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