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An Antelope and Duck Hunt for Maddy


Donnelle Johnson, also a Mossy Oak Pro Staffer, and I were teaching a hunting course at Cabela’s. We met 20-year-old Madelyn (Maddy) Crowley, a student at the University of Wyoming. Maddy was working at Cabela’s and took some time off to come over and watch our “Introduction to Archery” seminar. Maddy asked us if she could go an archery hunt with us. She met us out in the Walden area, because we had heard that there was some good bull elk there. But after hiking all day long, we never saw or heard an elk. At the end of the day, our Fitbits reported that we had walked 15 miles. Donnelle and I were both really surprised that Maddy never complained during the entire hunt, even though we hadn’t seen an elk or had a shot at an elk. I decided to mentor Maddy, if she was still determined to learn to hunt. When I drew a coveted antelope tag that I had been applying for about 13 years, I asked Maddy to go with me.

This hunt was in the Walden area where there’s limited access. In that region, you see more antelopes than you see people. Because few bucks are harvested, each of the bucks has an opportunity to live longer and grow bigger horns. Many people want to hunt that place. My husband couldn’t go with me; and Donnelle whom I normally hunt with and is my regular hunting partner, couldn’t go because she’d just become a grandmother. Maddy asked if she could come with me on this hunt, so I said, “Sure.” Maddy was going to college to study wildlife in the outdoors, and she’d just taken a job with the National Wild Turkey Federation for a year before returning to college to finish her degree. Maddy drove from the University of Wyoming 60 miles to meet me for this antelope hunt in Walden, Colorado. I already had made my mind up that I really wanted to take a trophy buck, since this antelope tag was so difficult to draw, I knew I wasn’t going to come home with an antelope tag in my pocket. 

In two days of hunting, Maddy and I saw between 50 and 75 antelope bucks - many of them so nice that all the antelopes began to look like brothers. Both mornings when we’d go out, the first buck we saw, Maddy would say, “I’d shoot that buck.” I told her, “No, I wanted to take a trophy buck.” I taught her how to field judge an antelope. During that 2-day period, we put on a couple of good stalks on bedded-down bucks. As we got closer to the bucks, and I studied their horns, I realized I wasn’t ready to pull the trigger on them, since I’d waited 13 years to have the opportunity to hunt a nice antelope. 

LisaThompson_day5I decided if I saw one of those bucks that I thought was a good-enough buck, I would take him. On day two, we found two bucks bedded down. As I studied one of the bucks, I decided he was the buck I wanted to take. I got as close as I thought I could. I had brought my Winchester .300 short mag, even though I realized you didn’t need that large a caliber to take an antelope. However, I knew this the gun was flat shooting, and I’d taken animals with it at long ranges. I felt that to get the antelope of my dreams I might have to take a long shot. When I reached the spot where I wanted to take the shot, I asked Maddy to check the range on the range finder. I assumed that the bucks were at about 300 yards, but later I discovered that the bucks were at 400 yards. All of a sudden the bucks got up and started to walk off. I aimed, using my .300 yard MilDot, and shot between his legs. He shifted into high gear, and I missed him at 600 yards. After missing that buck, I wished that I had ranged before I took the shot. I thought about could have, would have and should have, and I was really aggravated with myself. 

After that shot, Maddy and I walked over a ridge; and a buck and a doe came over the ridge and looked straight at us. I realized that antelope were very curious animals, and the area that I was hunting rarely ever had hunters. I told Maddy, “I’m taking that buck. He’s the biggest buck we’ve seen.” I laid on the ground, set up my bipod, ranged him at 230 yards, squeezed the trigger, and the buck dropped. I always shoot off a bipod. I use a Snipe Pod that only weighs 8 ounces and is made by a man in Montana. The buck’s horns green scaled scored 83-1/2 on Boone & Crockett, but once his antlers dried, they only measured 79. To go into the record book in Colorado, an antelope buck has to score 80 or more. He was officially scored by a Boone & Crockett certified scorer. 

When we got up to the buck, Maddy observed, “Lisa, this was a huge buck.” I thought he was a nice buck, but I hadn’t realized how nice he was. I didn’t keep the head out to be mounted as I should have. I boned him out, cut off his horns and packed the meat and horns out in a frame pack. Maddy carried out my day pack and my gun. I was able to drive my truck to within 100 yards of where we had left the pack. During the time we were hunting, antelope season and duck season were both in, so when we came up to some ponds and saw some ducks sitting on them, I stopped the truck. Maddy got her shotgun and stalked in close to the pond. When she was in shooting range, the ducks came off the water, and Maddy tumbled two green head mallards. So, we had a great antelope and duck hunt all in the same day. Since then Maddy has also become a Mossy Oak Pro.

A Doe for Kelli

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