Only two years ago, I took my first archery buck. We were hunting a walk-in area that’s private land but is open to the public to hunt. This was a tiny piece of land between a highway and some railroad tracks that most hunters wouldn’t even try to hunt. So that spot always had highway noise and often train noise. We went out early that morning to drive by and look at that little place to see if an antelope buck was there. If we didn’t see a shooter, we had several other places that we could see from the road to try and find a herd of antelope.
This little piece of property was a hayfield. The hay had just been cut and baled in big round bales, and I spotted a buck in the back of that hayfield bedded down. We continued to go down the road until we were out of sight of the buck. Then we pulled our vehicle off the side of the road. I got my archery tackle, and Chad grabbed his binoculars. When we reached the hayfield, Chad climbed up on top of one of the hay bales and started looking at the buck through his binoculars. I had my GoPro video camera on me as I made the stalk.
The stalk seemed to take forever to get to the spot where we’d seen the buck. But when I reached the spot, the buck wasn’t there. I hid my movements by staying behind the bales of hay before sneaking up to the next bale of hay. When I didn’t see the buck, I was really concerned that I had made this long stalk and wasn’t going to get a shot. I stayed there for a few minutes. Finally, I saw the buck had moved to an irrigation ditch and was drinking water. I kept moving through the rolled-up hay bales - always keeping a bale between me and the buck, so he couldn’t see me move.
When I was about 60 yards from the buck, the buck came up out of the ditch, and I released the arrow. But I was so nervous and filled with adrenaline, I shot right under the buck. The buck looked up and saw me. I had on full face mask and gloves and was covered from head to toe with Mossy Oak camo, so the buck didn’t really know what I was. I nocked another arrow, and the buck ran out to about 100 yards from me. Then he turned around and looked straight at me. The buck and I were locked eyeball to eyeball for about 10 minutes. Neither one of us was willing to move.
I started using a mouse squeaker like I did when I was coyote hunting. One of the things I've learned about antelope is that they're very curious and want to understand what’s happening in their environment. Now, I can’t tell you why that buck started walking straight to me after I started using my mouse squeaker, but that’s exactly what happened.
I had used my range finder to determine the different distances I was from several different bales of hay. I started side stepping to be in a position to take a shot if the buck kept coming. If the buck turned broadside, I’d take that shot. I knew that the buck was at my 60-yard bale of hay. When the buck walked behind the bale of hay that I had ranged at 60 yards, I knew he was in my kill zone.
Once he stepped out from behind that bale, I drew my bow, and he presented a 60-yard broadside shot. Even though I didn’t have a 60-yard pin sight, I’d shot my bow enough to know that if I put the 50 yard pin sight on top of the buck’s back, then the arrow should drop in the kill zone. I saw that arrow hit right behind the buck’s front shoulder, and I knew it had taken out both lungs. The buck ran about 200 yards and tipped over.
I looked back at Chad on top of the hay bale, and he gave me two thumbs up.
“I had watched the entire hunt through my binoculars,” said Chad. “I saw the buck take the arrow and then tip over.”
After I watched the antelope buck go down, I had that huge adrenaline crash to the point that I wanted to throw up. I was using a 53-pound Grim Reaper bow with 65 percent let-off at full draw. Although this antelope buck had straight cutters, the tips of his prongs turned in so that his horns were heart-shaped.
Rena Parsons names as one of her most memorable antelope hunts as when she took Sara Banning on her first antelope bowhunt.
I met Sara at the local archery range where we both shoot our bows. She was attending the University of Wyoming at that time, and we fast became good friends. She lives here in Wyoming, but she never had hunted antelope. I suggested that she put in for an antelope archery tag, and she was 21 at the time she drew the tag.
We went out to a Hunter Management Area (HMA) that had a natural pond on it, and a drainage came out of the pond. We set up about 30 yards from the waterhole. All morning we watched a herd of antelope about 600 - 700 yards away. At about 11:30 a.m., a group of antelope started coming toward the water, and a really nice buck was with that group. I told Sara, “I’ll range the buck for you as he moves toward us. If he gets close enough, go ahead, and take the shot.”
At that time, Sara had never taken any animal with a bow. She’d only shot paper targets. The does came in and drank, followed by two fawns, but the buck hung back. I didn’t think he was going to come in. However, he finally moved in to drink. He turned broadside at 32 yards, and Sara took the shot. She double-lunged the buck. He ran about 100 yards and then fell over. She couldn’t believe that she had made the shot until we walked up on the buck. Then she was really excited. The buck scored 74 inches on Boone and Crockett. Although that antelope was good enough to go into the record book, Sara didn’t really care. She was just excited that she had taken a really nice buck with her bow.
Day 4: Rena Parsons’ First Archery Antelope