Monday, October 10, 2016

Antelope Season Opener

I tried to shoot this antelope with a bow this year but couldn't get closer than 100 yards or so to it--even with my decoy handler, Patrick. So I decided to take opening day of gun season for antelope off from guiding anglers to try to seal the deal on this goat before someone else did. The bigger goal was to get Patrick out to see me harvest an animal and be a part of the process. I think it's important for kids to experience this and if they do and decide it's not for them, so be it.
We got out right as the sun was coming up and did see a group of antelope out in some state land where we could put the sneak on them. I brought my dad's old .30-.06 because I wanted to shoot one, just to say I did with that gun. My dad was a big hunter but he never got out West so I just think it would be cool to use his gun to shoot one of each of the animals we hunt out here as kind of a tribute to him.
We got within a couple hundred yards and I shot and of course, missed with the old gun. I was a little bummed as they took off but that's hunting, right? To say I missed is probably a little misleading and as embarrassed as I am for this, I missed 5 times. I also only brought 7 shells so time was definitely running out for the old Remington 760. Time was running out literally though as well because I only had one day to hunt so I was really thinking about busting out the .270 for the next opportunity.
The antelope took off to the North along the border of the State land and were heading right to Patrick's Grampa's house so we jumped in the truck to head over there and maybe get another chance to cut them off. On our way there, we saw a couple more bucks standing out 400 yards in the middle of the state land and after glassing them, realized one of them was the buck we had been chasing during bow season and he was big.
We parked the truck and snuck along the drainage ditch that dissected the section. Patrick and I climbed to the top of the ditch and peaked over to see that buck running right at us. I looked for what had spooked it but there was nothing out there. I looked behind us and across the road on a rancher's hay-field, noticed about 6 does standing alone with no buck in the group. He was heading for them and we were right in between them.
I took the shot at 63 yards and dropped him in his tracks. He was actually still closing the distance on us and I know I could have taken him with a bow but again, that's hunting and that's the irony of chasing antelope around in Montana. Sometimes things don't work out the way you think they should and sometimes it works out even better. 
I walked away from the hunt with one shell left and harvested the biggest buck we saw in that area. I was kind of glad the first shots didn't work out. It scored 80 5/8 inches, which is a pretty damn good buck. It's just big enough to get into the Boone and Crockett Awards Club but it is a green score so it may come up just short after drying but who cares? It's a big buck and I shot it with my pop's gun and with Patrick.
The best line from the day though was when I asked Patrick what he thought and he said, "It was cool but I did almost puked when you gutted it out."
That's understandable for an eight-year-old.

Here's where the story takes a bit of a turn. We were back at Patrick's Grampa's house to eat lunch and the Sherriff pulls up. I asked him what was going on and he said someone called in to report that I had shot the antelope from the road, which is illegal.
"Absolutely not," I said and explained to him how the hunt went down.
He checked my gun and my license and then asked me to show him where I shot the antelope from and where it was standing when I shot. I took him there and parked exactly where we did and then walked up the ditch and showed him where we climbed up and shot from.
I usually pick up my shell casings but fortunately, this time I forgot and the Sherriff looked down and said, "Cool, there's you shell casing. Can't really argue with that."
He took a couple pictures, thanked me for cooperating and took off but before he did, he told me that the folks that called in said that we had pulled up to the intersection of the two county roads that was about a hundred yards or so from where we actually parked and I shot out of the window of the truck. There is absolutely no way that someone, even from a mile away looking through binoculars could have mistaken what they saw that badly. These people made this up and they did it to try to bust me for something I didn't even come close to doing.
I don't want to speculate who it was but there were a group of hunters driving around in a black truck with a  crew cab from Bozeman who were getting to the antelope just after we did. Every where we went, they were a few minutes behind us and while I was showing the Sherriff where we shot from, they were watching and as we left, they left.
The actions of hunters on public land out here in Montana the last few years has been deplorable. If you remember, last year someone actually went up to the bull elk I shot before we could pack it out and stole the ivories out of it. These behaviors are ridiculous and all I can hope for is that they get what they deserve. As for falsely reporting a crime, I hope those guys got tickets. The definitely should have.
Keep 'em where they live...

No comments:

Post a Comment