Pheasants and Antelope

hobbes

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Jun 6, 2012
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Pheasant and antelope season both opened last Saturday. They open on the same Saturday in October every fall. I've had antelope tags but I usually find some excuse not to hunt them. My pastor, his son and I put in as a group this year and were supposed to hunt a private ranch on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but a family emergency prevented them from going. They were my access to the ranch, so we talked about going at a later date.

I considered just going into work on Tuesday since Monday was a Holiday, but decided that I already had time scheduled off and I wanted to hunt. I made hotel reservation in a mom and pop in Eastern MT, loaded up a bird dog, two shotguns and a rifle before heading east Sunday afternoon.

I didn't have much opportunity to hunt Sunday, but did let Finn out for a run at some block management about an hour before dark still a couple hours from my destination.



There was a nice sunset as we walked back to the truck even with the cloud cover.

 
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hobbes

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The next morning dawned nice but bird contacts were not up to what I'd hoped. I did manage to miss two roosters.



My antelope tag required a little over an hour drive, so I decided to try a new pheasant spot for a late afternoon hunt that was along the way. I accidentally found this spot while hunting mule deer last year. It's an old dried up reservoir surrounded by sagebrush except the rancher has planted soybeans on one side. Soybeans are not common in MT.

The hunt went much better than the morning and Finn and I came away with a windy limit of roosters. Finn also pointed a lone him, but I let it be. A big covey would have been a different story.





I didn't have much time left to look for antelope after hiking back to truck and the drive time but I did it anyway. The cloud cover didn't help. I didn't see any antelope, but the area looked to have potential for birds and deer, and maybe antelope. I did see a cool old tractor and another nice sunset.





 
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hobbes

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I went back and forth that evening on where to hunt the next morning and hadn't really settled on where to hunt when Finn and I crashed late that night. I opted for another spot that I've hunted before and hoped for the best. I like to get to a parking spot early, watch the sun rise and listen for roosters.

Another nice sunrise. I heard both roosters and sharpies on this morning.



Early morning glow.



I wouldn't say that we saw a lot of pheasants and most that we did see were this year's birds. It took all morning but I killed my last bird for a limit just before getting back to the truck when I'd already settled on two roosters a a sharpie being the day's take. We found around 15 or 20 sharpies that were scattered and got up multiple times and I missed several times before finally killing one that should have been a double.



 
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hobbes

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We now had time to make a real run for antelope that afternoon after a bath for Finn, lunch and a mid day break.



I decided to let Finn tag along while I looked for antelope. He had a sore foot and he apparently sensed that this wasn't a pheasant hunt. He was happy to chill while I glassed.



I found two big groups of antelope. One on property bordering the BMA I was on and the second just before dark on another BMA. The second group left a big broken up grassland area and we're feeding in some type of green field. I made plans for a sneak attack the following morning on the second bunch.

 
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hobbes

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I left Finn in his crate locked under my topper about an hour before daylight the following morning. I had to do a big loop to keep the wind in my favor and have cover to sneak in on the antelope. I don't normally leave my dogs when I'm out so was a little concerned that he'd bark nonstop. Cash would have for sure. Finn never made a peep that I'm aware of.

To my surprise, the only antelope left in the field were three does. I didn't want antelope meat bad enough to shoot a doe. The rest of the herd had disappeared, so I hiked back to the truck. If I hadn't had Finn, I'd have probably went in search of them.

While I didn't get any photos, I got distracted from antelope at the sight of a rooster on the edge of cover in a wheat field. The rooster wasn't a young one and I hoped he'd run into cover where we could trail him and finally kill him, but no such luck. He flushed 75 yards away and flew across the road to property we couldn't hunt. He'd played this game before. Finn did point a hen, and was working into a group of sharptails when one flushed within range that I killed

The most exciting thing was that when I shot the sharpie, a big whitetail buck blasted from cover and ran across the prairie. He was a stud.

We left there really with no intention of giving antelope much more effort than glassing from the truck as I drove by state and BMA property. I did drive past this herd of horses. While they aren't wild horses, they acted like I'd shot at them. I'd been listening to a couple Western books on my drives so the sight for right in on this trip.





 
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hobbes

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After topping a couple rises I realized that I could glass a state section pretty well from a mile or so away. From up close you can't glass it very well because your looking up a hill. I immediately spotted a good size herd of antelope, marked their location and drove to the corner of the state section.

I left Finn in the crate again and made three approaches from different directions before finally getting as close as terrain would allow. I belly crawled to the top of a rise with a posted private fence immediately to my left and state land to my right and straight ahead. There was a good buck on private along with more that I couldn't see and four antelope (2 bucks and 2 does) on my side of the fence. I couldn't get a range on them through the grass but knew it was a long shot for me. I was guessing at least 350 yards. I waited a while to get my breathing settled, aimed top edge of his back and tried to squeeze the trigger. I missed and antelope started running, then bunched up along the fence before starting my way. They didn't know where the shot came from, so I got very lucky. When the buck I wanted stopped at 200ish yards, I couldn't hold off anymore. That shot was dead on the money and he was dead on his feet.

I went back and got Finn and we recovered the buck.



Finn stood back for a while trying to figure out what the heck it was, but eventually decided he was good.





 
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hobbes

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I took a lot of photos of this guy. He's my first antelope and while I thought he looked like a nice buck, I really don't know. He was good for me either way.









After gutting, dragging and loading the buck, we pointed the truck west and headed back to reality. The buck hung in my garage overnight and until yesterday evening when I deboned it and refrigerated all the meat. I'll begin processing this evening.
 

slaton

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May 3, 2015
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Great story and congrats to you and Finn.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

twall13

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I enjoyed reading about your hunt. Your honesty was refreshing when talking about about missing birds and your realistic shooting range. I know some guys never seem to miss and can shoot lights out at 1000+ yards but I'm not one of them and I know I'm not alone. Well done and congratulations on the buck.
 
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hobbes

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Jun 6, 2012
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798
I enjoyed reading about your hunt. Your honesty was refreshing when talking about about missing birds and your realistic shooting range. I know some guys never seem to miss and can shoot lights out at 1000+ yards but I'm not one of them and I know I'm not alone. Well done and congratulations on the buck.
I'm not a long range guy. I spent too many years as strictly a bowhunter when I lived in the Midwest and centerfire rifles were not legal anyway. Since then I've not practiced enough to shoot any further than this antelope was. I have been working on that some, recently replacing this Rem 700s trigger and stock along with more time behind the trigger. My problem with this antelope was I couldn't get a range on him. At least I think that was the problem.
 

twall13

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I'm not a long range guy either, at least not by today's standards. I've killed a few animals out to 400 yards but that's about my max range where I feel comfortable I can consistently hit what I'm shooting at and even then the conditions have to be right. I'm sure, like anyone, I could become better at longer ranges with practice but I haven't felt the need or desire to shoot out beyond those ranges where I hunt so it hasn't been a priority. Good luck to you as you work on upgrading your rifle and practicing.
 
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