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Wyoming Antelope Hunt 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Doug Koepsel   
Tuesday, 05 October 2010 13:58

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Read Doug Koepsel's account of his

2010 Wyoming antelope hunt. 

The second day of my first Wyoming antelope hunt began with a colorful sunrise. My thought was “Red in the Morning, Sailor Take Warning”, or in this case, the antelope should take warning. This second day was to be the day to uncase the rifle as I had decided to spend the first day of my hunt looking over the unit and many antelope in search of a nice buck. Preliminary conversations with others had said to expect to see hundreds of antelope each day and to not shoot the first nice buck.

Second Morning’s Colorful Dawn
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Since I had accumulated four preference points for antelope in Wyoming, one of the better units was applied for this in year’s draw. While not one of the fabled Red Desert units, publications had suggested that this unit, among some others, possessed good trophy potential. A conversation with the biologist suggested that it may be better this year than even the Red Desert due to differences in previous winter kill and this year’s moisture.
After entering the central portion of the unit to set up camp on Monday evening, the plan for the day of scouting was to first drive and glass from roads heading west with the morning sun at the back. Since I did not have the opportunity to scout prior to the season and locate a great buck that would require me being there at opening light, I had arrived a few days after the opening weekend to create a more enjoyable hunt with fewer hunters to contend with. This proved true as I saw only three other vehicles each day.

Westward at Sunrise
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During the morning’s scouting drive, one area of sage hills surrounding a large water pond held two potential bucks was found worthy of returning to the next day. One buck with deep curls, albeit short in length, was seen from very short range of twenty yards when I crept over a rise to look at the basin below and we found each other in a stare-down. A second basin near the northern edge of the boundary held a satellite buck of maybe 16” and prettier than the dominant buck.

In another small bowl, a buck and about a half dozen does were spooked from their feeding as the truck crested the ridge into the basin. As he fled with his harem, I said out loud to myself “Now that’s a good buck.” The small group ran to the head of the draw and began feeding again, so I circled around to the back side of the ridge on the north side of the basin to where I would be even with him, exited the truck, and slowly walked over the top until his horns appeared on the horizon maybe fifty yards away. What I saw through the Leica Binoculars confirmed my earlier thoughts about him being a prime candidate.

Good Buck’s Basin
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In the sun-drenched afternoon, I drove easterly to the southeastern end of the unit to keep the sun at my back. The terrain was flatter, less conducive to stalking, and the numbers of antelope fewer. Only one buck was seen that was better than average. He was wandering alone, but no telling where he would be in the morning. But he was not as good as the previous ones to merit a drive east the next day. Nearing sunset, a 5-point bull elk with two cows was seen in the sagebrush hills far from typical elk summer habitat. The first day’s scouting did indeed reveal many antelope with plenty of bucks as people had said would happen. Most bucks would score around 70 inches or less. Some had length but little mass, tip curl or prong length.

Back at the meager camp at the end of this first scouting day, I decided to make the “that’s a good buck” the prime target of the next day’s hunt. After sunrise and a quick breakfast, I headed the Chevy west to the small basin where hopefully the buck would still be with his harem. Taking a different two-track across the sage hills showed another nice buck, but he was not as massive as the target buck. Pressing onward, I arrived near the base of the draw the buck lived in and noticed a single doe on the slope, and a buck sky-lined on the ridge top. “There he is”, I exclaimed to myself.

Buck’s Ridge and Road
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Not wanting to spook the buck by stopping the truck, I continued driving along the road to a spot undetectable from the two. I assembled my pack and rifle, left Rica my German Wire Haired Pointer, in the cab of the truck, and hiked up a shallow cut to near the top of the ridge and downwind where I could hopefully creep over the top and spot him before he saw me. In the time that elapsed since I first saw him and had gotten my gear together, he had moved back into the draw on the other side of his basin. Fortunately, I had seen him without him seeing me first. I backed down the slope, shucked the pack shucked and the rifle attached to the tripod with the Gun Claw, I crept slowly over the rise trying to keep a low profile as I gained enough ground to clear shooting line over the ridges curved horizon. The rangefinder gave a reading of 335 yards and the elevation turret was dialed. Conditions were virtually windless, so no horizontal adjustments were made for this condition.

When the crosshair was still on his lung cavity, the 130 grain Berger VLD from the 6.5 WSM Winchester Super Grade was launched. The definitive thwack of bullet impact was heard, and the buck took four steps before collapsing. I was thankful for a quick kill, but was curious where the rest of his harem was as only one doe was seen minutes earlier.
Arriving at the downed antelope, I was surprised at the mass and prong length and also the body size of the buck. I feel that the North American Pronghorn may be one of our most beautiful game animals, and I had taken a trophy that will grace my wall for years to come.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 12 May 2011 02:10