On our first hunt day at Elkhorn Outfitters in Craig, Colorado, I awoke at a quarter to four in the morning to the sound of howling winds and driving rain. There’s nothing like pristine conditions to put a hop in the step in the pre-dawn hours.
Nevertheless, we rolled out of bed, chowed on some eggs and sausage and hit the road. By the time we left the ranch, the deluge has converted itself to a quick blizzard, which ended up coating the ground with about 3 inches of snow by the time our hunting party reached the parcel of land on which we’d chase pronghorns today.
We were in search of a particular animal, an older antelope with unique horns that came out from its head at a 45-degree angle and had lots of character. Ranch Manager Tony Bohrer, who was guiding my buddy Pete and myself today, said he’d been hunting this goat for three weeks, but none of his hunters had been able to seal the deal. Within minutes of arriving at our hunting grounds, Tony put his glass on the buck, as it ran lesser bucks off from its harem in an open bowl.
We watched him for 40 minutes before the herd broke and started moving to the north through some rolling terrain. We drove around to where we thought they might end up, parked the rig and hiked up a hill. When we got to the top we found the buck we were targeting, along with a smaller buck and a doe, moving away from us up a distant hill. Tony set out the sticks, but I was unable to get on him before the trio disappeared over a ridge. Before long, though, they reappeared and started to work back across the hill.
He was at about 330 yards when he stopped and presented me with a decent broadside shot. I fought the wind as I attempted to put the crosshairs on him and when I was confident with my hold, I touched off a shot from my Browning X-Bolt in .300 WSM, but as I did so I realized I pulled the shot a bit to the right of the animal. The bullet sunk harmlessly into the snowy ground. The goat ran another 100 yards up the hill before stopping again, presenting another broadside shot. I had sighted the rifle two inches high at 100 yards the day before, so I knew that I needed to hold right on the buck’s back for a clean shot at this distance. I did just that, squeezed the trigger and made contact with his mid-section. He slowly walked about 10 yards and lied down as the other two antelope high-tailed it.
A follow up shot wasn’t possible immediately, so we decided to try to close the distance. As we approached him, he stood again and started to move. Wanting nothing more than to end the hunt and put the animal down for good, I rushed a shot and missed. He lied down yet again, and again, we attempted to close the distance. When he stood once more, I finally delivered the killing shot into his vitals and the hunt was over.
He’s a great old buck with a lot of character in his horns. He was a warrior, as evidenced by two broken off cutters, the result of more than a few sparring matches. His length pushes 15 inches and his bases are about 5 inches around. I couldn’t be happier with my trophy.
Tomorrow we’ll attempt to get Pete his goat and then try for trophy mule deer. Be sure to check back, and I’ll keep you all posted on how we do.