An afternoon of cat and mouse

by Katie on September 30, 2011

After getting a look at the fresh kill, a quick sandwich and water bottle refill, we were back out on the range.

The first stop was back out to where we had our close encounter (otherwise known as the perfect opportunity). We glassed a bit, until Brandon found our should-have-an-arrow-in-him buck and his does out across a flat, not all that far from where we had left them the day before. But in absolutely awful position to attempt to set up a stalk on them.

We gave it a half-hearted attempt anyway, and had one of the other couples drive the truck near the edge of the flat, and we bailed out and crouched a little wash, as the truck kept moving. We hoped the antelope wouldn’t get suspicious if they saw the truck still moving along the road, a good distance from them.

But they did.

After just a couple minutes surveying the situation, we called our ride back and packed up to head out of that area.

We stopped by the blind again, and passed several antelope, including a couple bucks, as we made the drive around that end of the ranch, but they were all sent running, and didn’t include any herd bucks anyway. We decided to just go ahead and take the blind down when we got there, as the cows were all still right around that tank, and we just didn’t see ourselves going back. After talking to both other couples (they had all joined us at this point, now that they had dead, processed goats back at camp), we decided to pay a visit to the only pasture we hadn’t been yet – the one where the second buck had been killed that morning.

As we pulled up to the gate of the pasture, we caught a buck and five does working along a hill, several hundred yards in. Brandon and I immediately got our gear together, adjusted all our camo/disguise, and set off on the prowl. We didn’t get more than 40 feet down the fenceline before those does caught sight, pinned us, buggered out, and took our buck with them. Typical. Nothing like starting out with a bust.

Around to a far corner of the same giant pasture we went…

We got right on a buck and doe, which we thought was probably a long shot, and closed some distance rather quickly after they topped over a slight hill. The problem? We had no idea where they had gone on the other side of that hill, and couldn’t get the phone to go through to anyone who had them in a set of binos. We knew if we skylined on them, the whole operation was toast. But, we reached the point where we were kind of wondering what we had to lose in trying to top over real easy-like and get a glimpse.

They must have been waiting on us like lions down in that bottom, because after not being able to see them anywhere for five minutes, then Brandon glassing it up, wondering how they vanished into thin air, there they went…at full speed across the pasture. Unbelievable. Taken, by an antelope.

I realize this is sounding real down-in-the-dumps, but it wasn’t at all. We were still having a lot of fun getting out there right in the middle of these goats and trying to create an opportunity. Or at least I was. Brandon may have been trying to cry “Old Man” on me again at this point, I don’t really remember.

Regardless, there was definitely a “Hunt On” mentality surging at the time.

And hunt we did.

We tried another one of the “dump and rolls” from the back of the pickup, and camped out, laid out flat in a wash for a while, until we received word our unsuspecting antelope had gone back to their business. Then we began the slow, steady, creep-crawl in our prey. We just about literally belly-crawled up that wash for quite a ways, then began our practiced maneuver from cactus to desert bush to cactus, etching our way toward the goats.

This is the afternoon where we really put our call to work. I was the only one who had practiced with it prior to the hunt, and actually felt really confident about how I sounded on it in relation to the instructional CD. When we climbed out of that wash, I let out my first “bark”, just to let those antelope know we were there and we meant business.

And it worked. Like a charm. We had that buck’s attention. We obviously had our challenge decoy in front of us as well, with Brandon working it just right with the call. After we had his attention, I tried the “challenge” call, and we really thought we had him at this point.

We moved in a little closer, and got within that magical 100 yard distance.

Just then, a train blew by on the tracks that border the south end of the pasture. And let out no less than 15 big blows. The 14th of which sent our antelope running.

Game. Over.

Again. (Sounding like a broken record yet?)

And so went the rest of the afternoon. We got on several more good stalks that day, all of which closed in that 100 yard mark. This included our closer for the day, where we really thought we were going to get a shot opportunity, and turned out to be an exciting, adrenaline-filled adventure.

Definitely the second-best stalk of the trip, but also the last one…

[Still more to come. But we’re getting close, promise.]

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