“Yeah….well good luck with that.” These were the encouraging words offered by an old friend of mine as I set off to hunt Rocky Mountain pronghorn this year with the ‘ol string and stick. To be fair, my optimist pursuit of the prairie goat may have been over shadowed by a similar, albeit unadmitted, hint of doubt as well. But there are those special moments in a hunter’s life when preparation and patience are met with a little good fortune.
Anyone who has spent time in the field will testify to the fact that an archery spot-and-stock antelope hunt is likely to yield a success rate equal to that of the Denver Broncos and should be approached with the understanding that satisfaction may have to be found in the hunt itself. It was a mindset I quickly embraced by mid-day on the last weekend of the season after watching buck after buck jolt off just out of range. But like most hunters, with my own brand of stubbornness, I was hell-bent on sticking it out till the last glimmer of dusk.
The rolling hills just south of the Wyoming state line are mostly barren and don’t provide the natural cover one would like which makes for a difficult stock. Needless to say I had tried every trick in the book and hill after hill was met with the inevitable view of a quickly disappearing white rump. That was until I got the tip of the hat from Mr. Good Fortune.
Later in the afternoon, I sat nestled behind the only patch of rocks in view glassing the grasslands while strategizing my next approach. It was at that point a herd of roughly 40 goats crested a hill a half mile down the draw from where I had perched myself. The initial instinct was to circle behind them (down wind) and see if I could approach in a flank like fashion, in retrospect better wisdom prevailed as I decided to sit and wait in hopes that maybe, just maybe, they would venture up the draw.
For reasons passing understanding, a decent buck trailed by a couple smaller satellite bucks and a decent herd of does in tow started making their way up. Out of what I can only suspect was sympathy for my countless failed efforts the buck with steadfast determination made his way right to where I was perched behind a couple of mediocre boulders.
As I sat in full draw dreaming of that first red arrow antelope harvest, I saw a nose peak out behind the second rock that I was knelt behind. For what I am sure was only a few seconds but seemed like an eternity I wasn’t able to make out the sex, then with another couple of steps there he was: the herd buck!
For me the majesty of an archery hunt lies not in the draw and release but rather in the chess game that ensues between the moment when the arrow is knocked and when the critter first comes to focus behind the yard mark of the bottom pin. It’s that fleeting second that I live for.
With a deep breath and a quick prayer to the gods of harvest I let it fly. Moments later I had finally accomplished a bucket list item while whispering those sweet words to myself and the winds of time…..Buck Down!
Stay tuned for upcoming blogs from Team Surra Outdoors contributor Gaspar Perricone as he take us on a Colorado elk hunt and a Nebraska whitetail venture!
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