Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 Wyoming Antelope Hunt

Way behind on my blog, maybe one of these days I'll go back and try to get it caught up.

In the meantime I figured I would post on my latest hunting adventure in the meantime.

We had some prior commitments and had to miss opening morning, but we got there about 10 am Sunday morning and saw antelope alongside the highway on public land on our unit before we even got to where we were going to drop our travel trailer off. Stopped a couple times on the side of the road and glassed, but nothing too exciting so we just kept going to get the trailer parked.

One thing for sure, there were plenty of antelope in the unit. Even getting the trailer unhitched there was a herd of 15 or so antelope just over the fence on private property. We drove around for 3 hours on 2 track roads and saw probably 100 antelope and 15 or 20 bucks. One thing that really surprised me was that they didn't seem very skittish at all. I had 2 average sized bucks about 12"ers stand and look at us with the truck stopped from less than 100 yards away. Saw one prospect buck but it was probably 1,000 yards away and pushing a doe but with the boys and the wife with me I decided not to go after him and he was heading away from us anyway at a pretty good clip.

Ended up on one 2 track road that was marked on the maps and the gps, but not very well marked on the ground at all. The wife didn't enjoy that part much at all. The boys really had a hard time understanding why I wasn't shooting the antelope we were seeing and I kept telling them I was looking for a bigger buck, and after passing on about the 10th buck they seemed to lose interest and after some back seat whining they ended up playing video games instead of helping me look for antelope.

We got out to a main road finally and headed back to where the trailer was parked. I bet we saw another 100 antelope on the way there and a couple slightly nicer bucks. Most of those were on private land, but if I had seen a really nice one I was thinking I could watch them and see if they decided to venture onto the public land across the road.

We got back to the trailer and hung out a little bit while we figured what to do. They were ready to go visit our friends in Powell, and they were running late so we ended up heading up to meet them and swap stuff out. My friend Mike was coming to hunt with me the next few days while the boys and my wife were going to hang out at their house in Powell.

On the way over a couple of game wardens were checking folks. We didn't have anything to check, but we talked about 10 or 15 minutes and they were very helpful. One of them said that this was his unit and he had done the counts in August and that there weren't very many large bucks due to the drought conditions that they had this year. He said they had only checked one really good buck, but most of what they were seeing were 12" and under with a smattering of 13" and 14"ers. I was starting to second guess passing on some of the bucks we had seen earlier now, especially since it would have been neat to share that with the boys.

We swapped everything out and headed back to the unit about 5:00. The thought process was to head back to the eastern side of the unit and see if anything jumped out at us. The light was very odd for the time of day as a front was coming in and it was overcast, plus the smoke in the air from the fires almost made it seem like twilight, but it was still well over an hour before sunset.

Getting back to the unit we saw one good buck almost in the city limits of Shoshoni well onto private land and several other bucks that were all that average 12" or so. We went by several groups of antelope off of the highway on public land but nothing to get excited about. We ran out of public land along the highway and it was starting to get closer to actual sunset so we took off on a nice gravel road going north off the highway.

The crazy thing was that the nice gravel road wasn't on the map, although we had been on some terrible 2 track roads that were on the map. Sure enough a few miles later and we were dead ended at a gas well pad. Oh well, we backtracked and ended up on another 2 track road that was on the map and headed east. Sun was setting now and we were several miles in on the 2 track and had several more miles to get out and we tried to decide what to do. We ended up crossing some private land and checking out some public on the other side of it and it was getting close to dark now. We'd seen several more antelope, but again, nothing exciting. We had maybe 10 or 15 minutes left before dark and we decided to just head back to the highway. We turned around and hadn't gone more than 1/4 mile and a buck and 2 does popped up onto the ridge we were on from the bottom in front of us.

We stopped and checked them out and the buck was decent. After talking with the game warden at the check point, I was starting to think my standards might be set a little too high, I was looking for a monster and this buck wasn't a monster. I got out of the truck and actually chambered a round for the first time that day and walked up a little way to check him out. He saw us and looked at us, but didn't seem too concerned even though we were only 250 yards away. I glassed him some more and debated and decided not to shoot. They ended up trotting off in the direction we were headed and then stopped about 400 yards away just a few feet off the 2 track. Walking back to the truck I was still second guessing myself. This buck was tall and had good mass, just not very good cutters, he was obviously a mature buck and the best one I'd seen all day and I'd seen 25 or 30 bucks that day. I told my buddy that if we drove up there to within 100 yards and that buck was still there I would shoot him. We got in the truck and drove toward them and stopped at 100 yards away or so and he was just standing there with his does. I got out and set up and he starts walking toward us. No idea why, but I guess this buck just had a death wish. He angles a little bit sideways so he is quartering to me and I punched a hole in him with my 7 mag. He wheeled around and ran about 20 yards and then went down.

Walking up to him there wasn't any ground shrinkage. I had guessed him at around 14" and decent mass and he was every bit of that. Here's the glory shots.

He had a really dark face and nice cape. Ended up measuring him out at 15" on the right side and 15 1/2" on the left side with 6 5/8" bases. Cutters obviously the weakest feature at 4 4/8" on the right and 4 2/8" on the left. Green gross score was 78 1/8". 

Not a monster, but I'm happy with him. Looking at his jawbone, his teeth were worn almost to the gumline so he was for sure a mature buck. Not sure how he got that old as stupid as he was acting, but love will make a fellow do some pretty stupid things I guess. 

Have him caped out and in the freezer, planning on getting a shoulder mount done on him when I get home.

That's it for the first part of my hunt. Heading west now to chase some Wapiti on my general tag.