Beyond Thunderdome

bowieknife50

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2015
Messages
318
Location
Northern Michigan
Hi everyone,

Thought I'd share a few thoughts about my first pronghorn hunt.

By my calculations we spent 478% more time in the truck this trip than out of it. Didn't help we had a 20hr drive to WY but still a lot more truck time than we're used to. I wonder if anybody knows how much WY pays their antelope herders who shew them all close to 90 and the highways and town so when you arrive you think there's a million of them? This had to be happening in our leftover unit because they were extremely sparse out in the huntable areas. Also if anybody tells you it's possible to find private land to hunt on give them a good hard stare down to see if you can call their bluff. We couldn't even find a trespass hunt which ended up saving us some money (that's called foreshadowing).

What we did find was a righteous dude out on his own first antelope hunt. Although at first impression he didn't seem so because he worked for a major ammunition company and was toting a bow. After a day of scouting we were planning on hunting there area he was camped. We caught him by the road mid day and stuck up a conversation. He was so straight up it was scary. There were a decent number of antelope here and we were welcome to hunt it with him. Buuuuttt..there was another spot down the road with a great big pile of goats but probably more people because a two track cut it. Driving to check it out we found him an antelope right next to the road and called to tell him. But the guy behind the wheel wasn't up on his stockmanship skills and couldn't keep it on public for him.

Anyway the other spot was as promised. Lots of critters in every direction easily spotted from the conveniently placed high ground right in the middle of it. We were now calmly picking out the animals we would each shoot shortly after daylight the next morning. Oh hey there's a dude jumping out of a truck with a crossbow about 200 yards from a group. Surely he can see them all starring at him and won't try a stalk. Well that didn't take long so there's one more group in our spot. Time to try to sleep for a while. It's very soothing when the wind flutters the tent wall real hard and fast on the side of your head all night.

At least it was pouring rain when we woke up and got going, that should keep some people home. Drop the two chumleys off on the East side and gumby and I take the truck West. We both were pleasantly surprised to have seen only one other truck in the area-du du dunnn-so far. Five minutes into the walk the circus comes to town. We counted twelve more sets of headlights but I'm not a math major so could be more. Luckily only 5 of them drive right past us on the little two track we were hiking in on. Did I mention the rain? It's hard to keep it on the right side of your coat when it's blowing 27mph. Looks like none of the truck guys are stupid enough to get out of the truck in this so at least we have a head start.

I guess some people have a lot more experience than me and I listened to those people say lopes will be within 100 yards of where you saw them at dark. Except my group. But there's another group and I'm soaked and shivering and up for a hike. Ok they should be right over this hill, yup. Pack off, cactus gloves on, sage brush in front, wind in my face, 392 yards. That's what I closed to before I started getting the old girl ready (I love my old .270). Bipods out, scope wiped, doe, doe, doe, doe, BUCK. Oh hey there they go running the other way what the heck. Scan surroundings. Maybe it has everything to do with the dude walking fully upright 100 yards behind us. I know he could see us because there weren't but 3 blades of grass between us. I'm left to assume he had never hunted before and thus was unable to ascertain I was fixing to kill something. Let's get away from this road.

So Gumby and I go back almost to the line of demarcation and pop a squat. I sure wish I could stop shivering. Hey there's some scattered groups about a mile off on the private. This is where I need to pause and thank Randy Newberg. On his advice (NOTE: I don't mean to imply that I have his direct line and was getting counsel on the fly) I just sat there and watched them, patiently. I'm grateful for his knowledge and more so that he shared it with me. 4 hours later those goats had covered about 5 miles only to end up back where they started. Their constant movement really made the hours pass butt even though the sun was trying desperately to dispel the clouds the shivers remained. PSA: don't get wet because you think your rain gear is too noisy or the shower is just going to pass right over.

In the end my gift was received as they all are: by the grace of God. The does tried to cross the fence onto the battleground that is WY public land in a leftover unit 3 times. 3 times the buck was able to shepherd them back to private land safety. In the end he was no match for the providence that pushed the lead doe right to us. Aided in a similar manner by 5 trucks lining the two track with hunters too lazy to leave them. So anyway we're crawling. We're quite literally hugging the ground because the only cover is about 8"of grass. If I'd researched a bit more of the region's geological history I'd call it an esker we were on because it's stature did not merit the term ridge. It have us a line of sight though and we were too far from the two track for any hum dee dum hunters to screw this one up.

So because of Gumby's generosity in giving me the first opportunity it was just me and the rifle and the critters. Goofy critters from way back when in time. Still lacking familiarity to a person not sure this was all really happening. Gumby was already trying to call ranges when my reticle crossed paths with the buck, but rain and mist and grass conspired against a good reading. I figured they were within 300 and when I was sure they were within 200 I'd fire without a reading. Finally came a definitive 240, they're 240 right now. It's hard to explain how much everything slows down when you're about to put a shot on a critter that has no idea you're there. Don't just aim at the animal aim at a spot on the animal. At 240 I only need to come maybe 2" high. About 10mph cross wind but he's walking the opposite way those will cancel, maybe just a little nudge for the wind. Deep breath, 3/4 exhale, you got this, squeeze until further notice. Down goes Fraiser. I am not a sniper and it was not a perfect shot but down he went. I could hardly hear my own shoot, I'll always remember that. The does didn't triangulate it well either because they ran right at us then stopped at 133. Gumby is already on them and I'm calling ranges for him now. His rifle is a little louder than mine. Two tags filled in less than 30 seconds. Elation ensues.

After filling out packs with the harvest we make the 3/4 mile "pack out" (air quotes) to the truck and inquire after the chumleys. We find them on private land next to a local pickup, from 500yds away on the road it looks amiable but lack of cell service makes that impossible to confirm. As if some sort of race started the pickup peels out of there and the two chumleys grab the antelope and literally run to the fence. I won't tell their story because I didn't live it. The cliff notes are chumley A dropped a doe within 5 minutes of shooting light after seeing the aforementioned circus coming to town. Chumley B got a new rifle a week before the trip (guess where I'm going with this) and fired somewhere in the vicinity of 10 rounds that morning. As is his luck a near booner buck ran into the path of one round, then ran onto the private ground to die. They were good they hadn't even touched the fence when pickup comes rolling up. Despite their lack of transgression the ass-chewing of the decade came next but after a half hour they got permission to get the big dude out.

I feel I haven't yet properly conveyed the craziness that lived on that section of state land that day. If a buck ran on there from private it wouldn't be 10 min before he had orange hats coming at him from 4 directions. And he would die. There were at least 30 people in that 2 mile section that morning. My group went 4 for 4 but it was major stress the whole time. I can't handle being that close to that many people with rifles. Consequently we are not itching to repeat this hunt. We are happy and grateful for safety, memories, and little white 1 pound packages in our freezers.

If you made it this far congratulations, your reward is this picture. Bonus points if you can identify me, Gumby, and chumley A & B.

Thanks for listening,
Tim
9f3fc446436b17c6e4776f7cff4e8331.jpg


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pointer26

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2015
Messages
148
thanks you for sharing. I feel you about being that close to people with guns.
 

Crawfish-MI

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2017
Messages
44
Location
Michigan
Thanks for the story. Sounds similar to our experience this year. Due to work obligations, we were not there for the opener, and after reading your account I am glad we arrived a couple days late. Two of us hunting 6.5 days averaged 8-10 miles per day on foot, with one day at 15 miles, four miles from the nearest public road. We saw hundreds of antelope on private, and a handful of antelope within 100 yards of private. We saw a total of 3 does that were onto public land more than 100 yards from the private land, and all three were on the run. We filled three tags out of six, all three were within 100 yards of private. Even four miles back from the nearest public road, the antelope were on private. After reading numerous accounts that "if you get a mile or more from the roads, you will be covered up in antelope", I call B.S.

I didn't personally see it, but others that I talked to witnessed outfitters herd antelope onto private land, and guys with experience in the unit say this is common practice. This would explain all the animals along I-90. However, I don't believe they do this for advertising to hunters. To the contrary, the outfitters and landowners feel that they own the public land, the public roads, and the public game, and if you aren't paying an outfitter, they don't want you in Wyoming. Public land that is posted, public roads that are posted, foot travel gates on BLM land that are wired shut, landowners screaming at hunters for hunting "their antelope" too close to the property line, etc.

Based on conversations in the field, parking lots, restaurants, motel, gas stations, etc., there is no free or trespass fee private land access in the unit we were in. To fill a tag you either hunt property lines or pay an outfitter to shoot one from their truck.

After seeing what outfitters have done to this area, I'm sending more money to BHA...
 

Cinch

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
136
Location
Wyoming
Congrats... you guys got some decent antelope for being on public land. And the "circus" gets worse every year it seems. Antelope hunting in WY has gotten very popular...
 

Rich M

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2017
Messages
1,762
Location
Orlando
Excellent Writeup! Glad you-all were successful.

I too, lived that out on opening day. Was waving guys off of where I was the first 2 hours of daylight, then they'd glass me to see if I was still there - was left there all day until buddy comes to get me. Lots of trucks, one after another.

It was an eye opening experience and sitting tight made a big diff for me as well. The bucks don't like to cross the fences, and the public lands seem to have an extra wire strand at the height to block easy antelope access.

Managed to tag 2 fawns, thought I was on the lead doe (big buck, almost as big buck, 2 does, and 4 fawns) at 25 yards and then later knowingly shot a little one at 340 yards. Didn't have any other shots but did put buddy on a doe the third morning.

I also had to dig into my emergency kit to tarp-up as the predicted 0.1 inch of rain was considerably more. Ended up huddled in a tarp with a small fire to dry off and warm up to stop the shaking.
 

Bobbyboe

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
441
Good write up.

I also hunted a leftover unit this fall and my experience was very similar. I arrived 4 days after opening and still found many pickups on every piece of public land within the unit. After driving around for hours I only found antelope on a small 1 sq mile piece of blm, that butted up against a private alfalfa field. The large flat area that was adjacent to the private field was not visible from the road because of a 300ft hill right next to the road. People are LAZY.

Anyways, I sat there for a few hours one evening and a few hours the following morning. I saw over 40 antelope using the ag field and every now and then a group of antelope would come onto the public to stretch their legs and run around. I ended up taking an "average" buck the second morning. Overall, this piece of public I was on was quite peaceful. I saw about 40 antelope and probably just as many mule deer. I even had a decent 3 pt come within 60 yards of my position.

In the end, it was very stressful hunting this leftover unit and I will not be back again. I did not see a single antelope on any other piece of public in the entire unit!
 

tyeager2964

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
342
So with the leftover licenses narrowing down the options what units did everyone hunt

I only ask because I am planning on building a few points and also maybe hunting some leftover units while I wait but I don't think your experience sounds like it is worth the $1000 or so to hunt a leftover unit

Pm me if you want. Thanks in advance
 

tallbuchholz

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2017
Messages
45
Location
TX
That sounds terrible. I just got back from a leftover unit along 90. We hunted the second week of the season and saw lots of antelope on public and no hunters off the roads. Had a really nice week of hunting and killed 2 goats and 2 deer. Probably helped a lot that we hunted Sunday through Friday. Saw some trucks pulling in on Saturday morning as we were pulling out. If I went back to the area I'd definitely take the same approach.
 

Robinhood21

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2016
Messages
561
Location
Kansas
Sounds like a nightmare. At least you guys were smart and tough and all tagged out!


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Hall256

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Messages
359
Location
Virginia
Great write up...you have to hate when the circus comes to town.

When it gets that bad it only takes one bad decision and then you have another story for the thread "Craziest thing that happen while hunting". A few guys in that thread have been on the wrong side of another hunter rifle...

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Hill Difficulty

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
418
Thank you, OP - well done!

Caused me to think about CS Lewis writing about humor and humility. So, in contrast to what we often see on this forum:

The point is, God wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble – delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life.
 

Rich M

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2017
Messages
1,762
Location
Orlando
This should be a must read for all those guys who just gotta go. Better to just hunt, etc.
 

tbowers

Member
Joined
May 29, 2019
Messages
82
You'll never know if you don't go. Take every experience you read about online with a grain of salt. Set realistic expectations and control what you can control
 

FLAK

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Messages
2,149
Location
Gulf Coast
Yeah, that story sounds about like my Fester-Cluck public land experiences, only that they actually killed something.
 
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