I've been hunting antelope for 10 years, and I've taken a buck every season. But I never will forget my first hunt that took place in 2007.
We had moved from South Carolina to Wyoming. The first year we were here Chad put in for a non-resident tag, and I went with him on this hunt. By 2008, we had established our residency in Wyoming, so Chad and I could get resident tags.
We went out on the first morning of antelope season. The weather was calm, and we were hunting on public land northwest of Laramie, a Hunter Management Area (HMA) where you have to draw a permit to hunt. We spotted a herd of antelope about a half mile away from where we were. I saw a halfway decent buck. I wasn’t as skilled then as I am now about judging the size of antelope horns. But when I saw him, I knew right away he was the buck I wanted to take.
The terrain between Chad, me and that buck didn’t have much cover. Sparse sagebrush was about all that was there. There were no ditches or hills we could get in or behind to sneak up on the antelope. When you don’t have any cover, we’ve learned that the best way to sneak up on an antelope is to walk in single file. For some reason, antelope seem to spook more when hunters walk side-by-side. So Chad and I crouched down and walked toward the antelope.
We felt like the closest we could get to them was 400 yards. I started getting nervous, because I’d never taken an antelope at that range. I lay down, put my pack in front of me, tried to slow down my breathing and took the shot. I hit the buck a little bit high, but he went straight down. I got so excited and was so full of adrenaline. After I calmed down enough to speak, I told Chad, “I love this antelope hunting. I'm totally hooked on it.”
On that hunt I was shooting a .30-06. Today I shoot a Remington Ultra Magnum 7mm. My scope was a Nikon 3-9x40 with mildots. Chad told me which mildot to use to aim at the antelope. When I saw the antelope go down, I had three conflicting thoughts going through my head at the same time. I was excited, amazed and a little sad. Actually, I get somewhat sad every time I take an animal. When I got to the antelope, touched him and saw what a unique animal he was. I was really amazed.
At that time, I wasn’t very proficient at field dressing an animal, quartering him and carrying him out, but I watched Chad and learned how to do that part of the hunt, too. Anytime we take an antelope, after we gut him, we skin him. Then we quarter him and put him in our packs to carry him out. Since we’re usually hunting antelopes in warm weather, we've learned that the sooner we can get the hide off the animal, the better the meat tastes. Back then, we didn’t have frame packs for carrying our animals out, but we did have a game cart that we loaded the meat in with the head on and rolled the buck out. But now, Chad always carries a frame pack, and he can carry out the entire animal on his frame pack.
Day 1: Hunting Antelope with Veterans Each Year
Tomorrow: Rena Parsons Loves Hunting Antelope