Back in the saddle

by Katie on September 28, 2011

Brandon wasn’t lying when he said he was an old man after our exciting stalk. He was still half worn out when we went back out, and wanted to try to sit the blind, at least for a couple hours.

We mainly just didn’t know what to do, so this seemed to be a reasonable alternative until we conjured up our new game plan. There were just two problems with this idea:

  1. I wasn’t a big fan of returning to my roots and hunting Texas-style. I just kept feeling like we needed to be out doing something. And sitting at a water tank didn’t seem much like doing something. I would have felt a little differently had we known beforehand there were antelope hitting this water tank. But we didn’t, and on a three-day hunt, I wasn’t up for wasting much time sitting around.
  2. We decided to do this at the absolute hottest time of day. So there we were, stuffed into blind, nearly sitting on top of each other, wearing long-sleeve black shirts Brandon insisted upon (to blend with the inside background of the blind), and with me having to forego positions which provided a bit of ventilation in the 1.46 windows Brandon let me open in favor of being in good shooting position.

And for good measure, all 350-plus head of cows on the ranch were camped out near the water tank where we’d set up the blind. All these things combined for a less than pleasant afternoon.

Thankfully, after only about 2.5 hours, and seeing nothing but a rabbit I almost shot from the blind out of sheer boredom, Brandon heeded my pleas for air circulation and a little more action, and we closed up shop.

It was getting a little late to get on any big stalks, so we decided to drive through a couple pastures we hadn’t gotten familiar with yet to see if we could spot a buck and get him bedded down for the evening for a morning stalk.

This plan was fruitful, and we located a buck with four does on what appeared to be a very huntable corner of the ranch. We probably would have put a stalk on him that night, but the does had already pinned us and we just didn’t have good position. We decided it would be better to leave them unstirred for morning, when we could hike right into them in the dark. This was designated our Plan A for Day Two.

To get our back up plan, we decided to head back over to our first pasture, to see what the two herds there were up to.

Well, we found our two herds. Not where we left them. On the neighbor’s side of the fence. Both herds. Four bucks. Discouraging, to say the least. But at least there was a Plan A, right? We’d worry about Plan B if or when we needed it.

Well, come to find out, we would need it alright.

We left camp a little earlier the next morning, determined to be in the middle of our antelope herd, in position to make a good stalk, before there was a hint of sunlight and those does could have us pinned down with their laser-beam eyesight.

We thought we made a really conservative (i.e., far enough away) hike in, based on where we’d seen the herd the evening before. When we got about halfway to our destination, near a little water hole, I let Brandon know I swore I heard some movement. He brushed it off as the wind, and we trudged on. We reached a spot where we had a bit of elevation, and made our way over while we still had the advantage of darkness. Skylining while hunting antelope equals certain failure.

When we knelt behind some cover there, Brandon let me know he swore he heard a little antelope bark at some point during our half-mile or so hike. I should have brushed it off as the wind, but I didn’t.

Soon enough, we found ourselves in the gray light. And we found our antelope just to the northeast of us. Which had already found us. Busted before daybreak!

We put it all together, and decided we must have hiked through them on our way in, even though we were expecting to find them quite a bit to the southwest. We hunkered for a while, and decided to make an attempt after they settled down anyway.

Come to find out, we should have just left then.

Because after a couple more miles of hiking through the pasture, trying to close some distance and create an opportunity, the antelope made a round less than 50 yards from the road, then busted out of there at who-knows-how-many miles per hour.

Game. Over.


[Still more to come. Yes, really.]


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