Published by ruin2it on 07 Sep 2008 at 09:59 pm
I just got back from a bow hunting trip for antelope in Eastern Colorado, where I spent four days belly-crawling in 90 degree heat through sagebrush, grass, gravel, and cactus after some of the sharpest-eyed, fleetest-footed animals I’ve ever hunted.
I had the pleasure (and good fortune) of hunting with two extremely knowledgeable and experienced bowhunters, Jerry Viera and the legendary Russell Hull. From the beginning it was obvious that they knew what they were doing. We had the standard antelope decoys with us, but we also had a cow decoy that Jerry and Russell had fabricated, and used successfully on other occasions to sneak within shooting distance of an unsuspecting buck. They schooled me right away on the proper techniques for stalking our keen-eyed quarry.
We chased several nice bucks around the huge cattle ranch all weekend. On one occasion, after helping me find an arrow after my first of many missed shots, Jerry spotted a huge buck and decided to stalk him, crouching with bow in hand as he crept in his direction, then stopping and hunching over every so often when the buck looked his way. To everyone’s amazement, the buck decided to take a closer look, and came right in! Jerry scrambled to get an arrow nocked, and took a quick shot just as the buck decided that things didn’t look quite right, narrowly missing him. What an awesome experience! Watching from a distance, we thought the buck was going to walk right up to him!
One buck in particular seemed to be pretty attached to his home range, no matter how hard we pressed him, never running too far ahead, and always returning to roughly the same area after a chase. One evening, we decided to try to see how close we could get if we just kept up with him no matter where he went. Jerry shadowed him for five miles that evening before he finally gave up, but got a couple more shot opportunities while he was at it.
By the end of the trip, most of the bucks were pretty familiar with us and our truck, and would get up and run off when we drove within a mile. We’d all seen some nice animals, even had shot opportunities, but just couldn’t make it happen. It was getting to be pretty discouraging. On the last morning, while Russell was hunting from his blind, Jerry and I decided to go after the “home range buck”, the one he’d chased for five miles the night before. Things were different this morning, though, because this time, he had a doe…We took up the chase and tried to split him away from her. Eventually we did, and it looked like we might have a chance at him. He would stop every 100 yards or so and make a scrape, so he was definitely frustrated. But the closest I could get was 92 yards, and he finally tired of the game and ran off at full speed. It looked like our last chance was gone.
It was getting close to time to leave. We had agreed to quit at 9am so we’d have time to pack up and drive back to Kansas. On the way to pick up Russell, we spotted a buck along a distant fenceline. I bailed out of the truck and hurried toward him, knowing this was our last chance. Using the fence as cover, I was able to close the distance to nearly 75 yards without alerting him. I crept closer, still apparently unnoticed. I was inside 60 yards, still creeping. He turned and looked at me. I drew and released. After a number of missed opportunities, and with just six minutes remaining on the last day of the hunt, I finally connected with a nice buck. Talk about down to the wire!
I want to thank Jerry and Russell, and the folks at B² Outdoors who helped get my equipment ready for the trip, for providing me with such an awesome experience! It’s one I definitely won’t ever forget…
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