Bringing out the smoke pole

by Katie on October 1, 2011

By the end of Day Two, we were both happy with our hunting so far, excited we had gotten close to so many bucks, but in agreement that it was time to put a buck on the ground, especially with the other two tags already filled and everyone heading back home the next day.

Maybe it was a bit of overconfidence, and maybe it was a bad thing, but I think both of us felt pretty sound about our odds of bringing home an antelope if/when we got the gun out. (Although, we all know what happens with me and confidence.) And I wouldn’t have wanted to get it out a bit sooner, especially with all the excitement our final stalk contained.

Less than an hour before dark, we reached the pasture where we’d seen the biggest buck of the trip across the whole ranch (Because if you’ve seen 25 bucks and you have a rifle, you might as well at least try to go after the daddy antelope first, right?). Everyone got in their glasses and went to scanning.

Brandon was first to spot anything (surprise, surprise, even though I found my share of antelope on this trip), and let us know he had a buck and four does near the fence.

“Which side?” I’m pretty sure all five of us asked in unison.

“The wrong side,” Brandon replied.

And I’m fairly certain an audible collective sigh was released from the whole bunch.

“Well, boys, there’s our buck,” Brandon said (to two boys and three girls, might I add), disappointment evident in his voice.

The two of us decided to get a closer look anyway, to make sure he was the buck we thought he was and that the fenceline was indeed in front of him. The others stayed behind to try to glass up anything else we might find in that pasture.

We got to the far corner, verified the location of the antelope, and I got Brandon to put the spotting scope on him to determine if he really was the buck we were looking for. Between it being nearly dark and the roughly two miles that separated us from the buck, he never could really tell. In the meantime, I glassed our side of the fence, but only same up with one barely-more-than-a-nub, have-to-look-close-to-make-sure-it’s-not-a-doe buck.

Soon enough, dark came upon us, and we had to resign to call it a night. We were both a little disappointed to be leaving for camp without so much as a game plan for the morning, much less a bedded buck.

But we became more confused than anything as we talked on the way out…

“Brandon,” I started, “there were 25 antelope in this pasture this morning. Where did they go?”

“You know, you’re right,” he said, after considering it for a minute.

“And I would have sworn that good buck had more does with than that.” Remember, we’d seen a lot of antelope in the past 48 hours. Enough to get them all a little mixed up, for sure.

“Now that you say that, it does seem like he had more like 8 or so with him.”

“Something like that,” I agreed. “I just really think it was a lot closer to that than four. What happened to them?”

Our little conversation had enough impact on Brandon to make him begin scanning the nearly-dark slightly rolling ground of the pasture with his get-down-to-business eagle eyes. And without any more words between us, our casual drive out to camp turned into an intense window stare out into the gray light.

Just as we reaching about the halfway point to the gate, Brandon sat up straight. “I got ’em,” he said, “Nine antelope. That’s where our buck is. Guarantee it. Can’t seem ’em well enough to tell exactly what’s there, but I know he’s with them. That’s his herd.”

And I think we both swelled up with excitement for the next day right there.

Talk about some good fortune…

(And a good guide, of course.)

[Just a tiny bit more to come. But it’s the good part.]

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