After eight months spent planning this antelope bowhunt, I arrived at Table Mountain Outfitters on Saturday afternoon for the first four days of the Wyoming archery antelope season, which opened the following morning. By nightfall there were 11 hunters in camp, including me. This was a diversified group: one couple from New Hampshire, one couple from Texas, one couple from Louisiana, three guys from Ohio, and one from Maryland.
Opening day dawned clear with a slight chill in the air. Everyone was excited and anxious to be off. I can only speak for myself, but it was a long 14-hour day in the blind with the temperature climbing as the day wore on. I saw antelope, but only three came to the water tank: two does and a young buck. When Steven, my guide, came to pick me up, he was accompanied by two hunters. One of the hunters had gotten his antelope earlier in the day, and the other hunter had one in the back of the truck. When we returned to camp I found out that eight antelope had been shot with six recovered. That left five of us to hunt the next day.
Day 2 was cloudy and cool. I wore a fleece vest all day. Again it was a long 14-hour day with antelope sighted but none coming to my waterhole. I was beginning to wonder what I was doing wrong. When we got back to camp that night, four more antelope had bit the dust. That left only me, and I had not even been close to shooting.
Day 3 promised to be warmer than Day 2—clear morning skies and not as cool. I was the only hunter. The day progressed much as the previous two days, antelope sightings but nothing seemed to want to come to water. I had a small group of antelope wander past my blind a couple of times just out of bow range. There were two good bucks in the group. They finally worked they way to a nearby hillside where they grazed. I was beginning to think I was snake-bit when nothing had come in by 2 p.m.
Opening The Floodgates
Just about the time I was feeling sorry for myself, four antelope approached the waterhole. They ever-so-slowly made their way to the water. Antelope tend to scare themselves more than anything. There was one buck (not a shooter), one doe, and two fawns. They drank and, sure enough, bolted from the waterhole like something was going to get them. They stopped about 20 yards away.
Chuck Frick proudly displays the antelope buck that gave him so much trouble in finally bringing down.
That seemed to open the floodgates. The group I had seen earlier was now working its way toward the waterhole. Two does and two bucks were in front of my blind, and one was definitely a shooter. He was at 10 yards broadside, and I shot him through the mesh covering the blind window with a Rocket Meat Seeker broadhead, which I carry just for that purpose. The shot looked good, and he ran out about 70 yards and lay down. He did not collapse, as I had anticipated, but lay there with his head in the air.
OK, I told myself, he is hurting and will expire shortly, so I waited. Nothing changed, and it was getting hot in the blind. The only way I could signal Steven was to put an orange rag on top of the blind. The buck had not moved, so I took the chance of getting out of the blind. My mistake. He got up and ran another 70 yards and lay down.
Pursuit Of A Quality Buck
It was about 30 minutes before Steven and another guide, Adam, saw my signal and drove up in Adam’s truck. That put the goat up again, and this time he ran about 100 yards before he lay down. Adam needed gas, so we drove to town, giving the antelope time. When we got back he had not moved—a good sign. We worked our way behind him by a long indirect route. I eased ahead and could see his horns over the rise of the small hill.
While working my way closer I spooked him, and the chase was on. Two hours later and several miles from where we started, I finally got to within 40 yards; he was lying down with his flank toward me. I managed to get an arrow in his right flank that cut the femoral artery. He ran another 20 yards, lay down, and the final shot from 30 yards did the trick.
After a short picture-taking session, then field dressing the buck, we were off to camp. It was hot and we needed to get him skinned, quartered, and in the cooler. Jim and Ellie, the couple from New Hampshire, were still in camp, and they and TMO owner Angie Denny came to look at my prize. I was quite proud of this buck. It had been a long two-plus days with little action. To end up killing a quality buck, I thought, was an accomplishment.
As of this writing, he has not been scored but a best guess is from the high 60ths to the low 70ths. His black face and body size indicated that he was a mature buck. I was shooting a Mathews Drenalin LD, Easton Axis arrows, and Rage 3-blade broadheads.
Contact: Scott and Angie Denny (owners), Table Mountain Outfitters, P.O. Box 2714, Cheyenne, WY 82003; (307) 632-6352; www.huntingwyoming.com.