Friends, Firsts and Fun in Wyoming

Huntinaz

Senior Member
Joined
May 12, 2020
Messages
112
I finally let my thirst for new hunting adventures get the better of me this year and started applying in other states. My little brother and I both miraculously drew antelope tags in Wyoming this year on a whim. The plan was to draw doe tags and of course we applied for buck as a Hail Mary. As lottery luck would have it we both drew buck tags on separate apps and zero doe tags. The odds of this happening in this way were on the verge of impossible but we got them and we had no complaints. We spent the last week in alien country to us in search of animals we've never hunted and it was nothing short of fantastic

We hit the road last week with a loose plan; to keep a mobile camp for 2 nights searching for antelope, spend the next 2 nights sleeping in the town of Lander Wyoming in an AirBnB as our base camp, and then continue the mobile camping for a few more nights if necessary. Should we be done hunting early we would meet our buddy in Utah on our way home for a few nights

We made the edge of our hunting unit in Wyoming at around 0130. We were tired and excited and decided that instead of setting up camp we'd just sleep in the passenger seats. This was a terrible mistake. The low was around 36F that night and we slept like crap. Just cold, restless garbage of a sleep. Had to start the truck a couple times for the heater and by the time the glow of dawn was faint against the horizon we were stiff and sore and in foul moods. This was immediately compounded by our inability to get coffee going. We had planned on setting up a camp when we packed the truck and once we got the grill started we realized our kettle and coffee were in both in separate totes and buried near the front of the cab. Our options were to take the time to get coffee going or miss the first 30 min of hunting light. We cursed and decided Copenhagen, Levi Garrett and anger would have to suffice in place of coffee

We put on our camos and got our rifles and glass ready just as it was light enough to see. We pulled onto the dirt road and made it about 3 minutes down it when we spotted our first antelope. About 250 yards off the road there was a buck grazing and he could care less about our presence. We glassed him and were trying to judge his height and cutters and curl etc. He was an alright buck and we considered plugging him. Then I remembered the advice I had received; antelope can be hard to judge if you've never done it, make sure you look at all the features and don't shoot a little buck early as there will be more opportunities. Seemed like a reasonable enough thing to accomplish so we said it'd be stupid to shoot the first buck we saw and we could probably kill him again in an hour if we wanted. Crisis averted, and we headed down the road as we could see a small hill we could glass from

About 3 minutes later we were assessing two bucks that were rutting and chasing each other. One ran the other off. We looked around and spotted more antelope and more bucks. We spent the rest of the day in constant view of antelope. They were everywhere. The buck to doe ratio seemed to be 1:1. We saw bucks chasing each other and fighting and actively mating does. Bucks were literally everywhere. Most were about the same size, average. We spent the day cruising around and getting to know the area and assessing bucks and just exploring

I immediately found Wyoming to be completely beautiful. I was amazed at how you could look across a large sage prairie and think there was nothing in it. Then as you hiked your way to a vantage point you'd jump maybe 5 lone bucks along the way, all cruising for does. You can walk 100 yards and gain 2 feet in elevation and your view of the landscape completely changes and there are antelope everywhere. It was maybe the best day of hunting we've ever had

Country roads


Evidence of hunters and warriors past


Bucks errwhere


Camped at the top of a plateau


Sunset only got better after the picture



My brother and I are trying to be trophy hunters and day 2 perfectly illustrates the folly we constantly inflict upon ourselves that keeps us from attaining true trophy success. We were raised meat hunters by my dad. Success meant killing an animal and eating it. Success was always measured chiefly by a bird in the hand. This has been a hard lesson for us to harness and apply towards trophy success

The morning of day 2 I had no intention of shooting a buck that day at all. Why would I unless I could plainly see it was a beast? I'd never been in such a target rich environment in my life. The action was nothing short of constant to the point it was annoying to stop and take a leak. There was absolutely no question as to whether or not we were going to be successful. As confirmation we spent the first couple hours passing and passing and passing bucks (or billies as we called them, the natural name for a male speed goat)

Finally we spotted a buck that appeared to be of the quality we could handle but he was in a spot we couldn't sneak on him and he was chasing other bucks and does all across the exact middle of a huge, wide open, miles long flat with zero texture. We decided to leave him at it and keep looking. As luck would have it we spotted another maybe even a little better buck and we devised a sneak. We found a 2-track road that allowed us cover and parked and made a walk behind cover to the point of a little ridge. We crawled to the top of the ridge and sure enough the buck was there with his 15 does. I ranged him at 400 yards and my brother set up the shot. He stood proud watching us, the does were oblivious, and I watched as my brother sent one right over his back. My heart sank but they only ran 700-800 yards and we took a ravine to see if we could get another shot. We crept up to a spot that allowed a shot and the herd had broken into two groups and were very agitated, My brother got on the rifle and said "I've got a shot." I was on the binos and now the buck didn't look as big. I said "I guess that's him" indicating I wasn't so sure but my bro wasn't hearing it. He dialed up 467 yards and there was no stopping him. They were clearly about to run. I heard his breathing settle and he let it rip. The buck hunkered and shivered and flopped. The rest scattered. We got to him and my suspicion was confirmed... some other buck had come in and that's who got thumped. Complete amateur move. We had seen bucks cruising in literally every draw we'd been thru in that area and the herd had just crossed two of these. Excitement got the better of us. Still it was an exhilarating hunt and we resolved to be happy. He made a good shot



While we took pics and dressed this buck the action never slowed. While that herd had split and left, multiple other antelope charged in and ran by and grazed thru and cruised for does. Between the time we got to his dead buck and back to it with the truck we saw 7 other bucks. Could have probably killed them all. This hunt was just lousy with potential targets, everywhere, all the time

 
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Huntinaz

Huntinaz

Senior Member
Joined
May 12, 2020
Messages
112
We finally got him to the truck and on ice despite the throngs of other bucks to distract us. We decided to get back to camp and pack up and then hunt the rest of the day and get to the house we'd rented for the next two nights. We talked about making it a point to not shoot another buck that day but I had the lust. Blood was in the air

After a very short drive and 3 bucks later we were on foot again trying to get a better look at a cruising buck we'd seen skylined. As we went we spotted the herd of 15 with the original buck we were chasing, or so we thought. This may or may not have been the case. We decided I'd stay were I was and he would get the truck as we could see a road that would take us near the herd. As he got the truck I realized I could crawl ~200 yards to a very small ripple in the land and probably be within range. I did this even though the spotter was with my brother and my phone was in the truck so we couldn't communicate. Unreal decision, but I was about to do even better

I got into position, kicking and passing another buck along the way of course. I only had my binos and it was noon so the heat disruption through the glass was mighty. The land was flat but it appeared the original buck was indeed there. There was also another about the same size there. There were also 3 others. The two biggest bucks were chasing and harassing all the other animals, does and bucks alike. It was a wonderful show. I could range the left herd at 508 yards but where the buck I wanted was I could not get a good range. Finally I decided they were at 480. My brother had brought the truck up along the road and stopped 250 yards behind me as he could see I was assessing them. We couldn't communicate and I didn't have the spotter. So naturally I decided to shoot him. Luckily I missed, I'm not sure 480 was correct. I was kinda glad. But then of course he didn't leave. He left the right part of the group that ran off after the shot and went to the left group who I was confident were at 508 and stood broadside. For an eternity. I knew it was wrong but got behind the rifle anyway and dobbed him at 508. Hunt was over



Exit wound:



Of course when I got up to him I could see he was not the caliber of buck I was after either. Which I guess I secretly knew before I shot him which was why I was glad I'd missed him the first time. His cutters were busted. Tall-ish but without curl. Mass average, kinda. Haha. But, he's mine.


If it sounds like I'm being ungrateful it's only because we had deliberate conversations about not shooting average goats until the last couple days of hunting. We're happy to have gotten bucks and the hunting was incredible. We'd have been very happy with these if we hunted 4-5 days without seeing anything better. However we made it only a day and a half and looked at 75 bucks this size. We should have looked at 375 before pulling the trigger. Either they are a hard animal to properly judge especially if you've never done it or we are just naturally bad at it. We chalked it up to a learning experience and celebrated, knowing our adventures weren't over despite having filled our tags very prematurely



We packed up camp and headed to the town of Lander Wyoming which was a few hours away. We bought ice and got the meat taken care of and checked into the BnB before hitting the town. Dinner at Cowfish/Lander Brewing was dynamite:


Lander is super cool little town. Lander Bar is a great spot and the bartender is freaking hilarious. We tied one on and then had a leisurely next day. We had antelope liver and eggs for brunch:


Mid day we decided to check out a different part of our unit just to see what else was around. We got into a more remote location and while there were far fewer antelope here we found the caliber of buck we should have held out for. Got very good looks at him and could have killed him about 5 times. Lesson learned and rubbed in our faces ;)

Went back to Lander and decided to put antelope meat to the real test. Some people say it's awesome, some people say it's lousy. Well, we were not disappointed by the fruits of the hunt. Cast iron seared antelope backstrap that night was nothing short of incredible. A delicate but excellent flavor and I have nothing but praise for it, one of the best steaks I've ever eaten:




After 2 nights in Lander it was time to check out and head to Utah where we met a good friend of ours. We spent a night in downtown Salt Lake and a night in Park City. Shenanigans ensued. As luck would have it High West Distillery just dropped this year's vintage of the coveted A Midwinter Nights Dram (2 bottles safe and sound in he whiskey cabinet)


Though roadworn and weary I was able to muster a meal of braised Wyoming antelope with rice and some Lander Brewing pale ale to wash it down


While the hunt didn't work out exactly as we planned it was still as epic as we hoped it would be. What an incredible hunt. I'm completely in love with hunting pronghorn. While I don't expect to draw another hunt for awhile I think we learned some valuable lessons and will get better if they give us the chance. The memories made though were well worth the price of admission
 
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silverbullet555

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Messages
839
Cool. I love hunting antelope in Wyoming. I always hunt does. I'll have 4 buck points next year so we will see. Its just fun.

Thanks for sharing.

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mparks270

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2014
Messages
35
Location
Michigan
Great write up of your hunt. Look like some pretty decent goats to me.

I like antelope burger over whitetail. Some pepper jack cheese and BBQ sauce makes a heck of a goat burger.


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Fowler530

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2019
Messages
1,194
Location
NorCal
Congrats on the great trip with your brother!! Looks like a lot of awesome memories were made! Great pics and write up, thanks for sharing! (y)
 

Want2hunt

Newbie
Joined
Sep 23, 2018
Messages
3
Location
CA :(
nice reading. almost made me feel like being there. Sadly being from Southern CA hunting is non existent here. I have been meaning to actually move to WY but family ties holds me down. I keep telling myself one of these days, one of these days. tnx for the story.
 
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Huntinaz

Huntinaz

Senior Member
Joined
May 12, 2020
Messages
112
Great writing and pics. Tell us a bit more about finding the arrowhead - very interesting.
We had gotten back from the first hike of the day and seen a ton of bucks. We were sitting on the tailgate splitting a beer and eating jerky and my brother spied it

It was in great shape
 

mlchase

Junior Member
Joined
May 8, 2020
Messages
10
Great writeup and pictures....on antelope, tehy are so tough and you don't always have time...you pick one, go after, harvest, and then often are surprised at the esult when you walk up. But gives you more reason to go again.
 

OG10

Newbie
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
9
Very nice write-up and looks like you had a great time.My brothers and I put in every year someone gets drawn and we make a vacation out of it, much like you did it is always a great time.Something to look forward to next year.Congratulations to both of you.
 
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