The conversation was something like “Rose we are going after the Pronghorn Antelope if you want one” Want one. Are you kidding me, I need one! Growing up in Pennsylvania I had never gone west and hunted. I had, however, committed to the super slam, and that requires learning the behaviors of and hunting the 29 North American animals so of course, I was in.
I started making arrangements for flights and dog sitters and employees to cover shifts, and before you know it August 2017 was here, and I was off. The excitement was almost more than I could stand. I would finally get to hunt Colorado, I had read, watched videos and tried to soak up as much information as I could. I needed to learn so much about hunting the North American Pronghorn Antelope, but honestly, nothing could have prepared me for this self-guided archery antelope hunt.
I got off the plane in Denver and had to grab a rental car, I would be sharing a car with three other hunters that would be at camp. The start of the adventure was entertaining; the rental car was so small, a Kia SUV. There are so many reasons I will never forget this car. There were a lot of weapons, luggage, two average size guys, me and then there was Bethune I cannot describe the size of him, but I will just say he alone took up 1/4 of the car. I think everyone was as excited as me, but I couldn’t tell, they hid it better.
I was exhausted from a lack of sleep and the travel, but the mountains captivated my attention while my backseat companion fell asleep snoring on the window. I couldn’t close my eyes for a second; the opportunity to see such a beautiful place kept me staring out of the window with a smile on my face the entire ride to camp.We spent the rest of the day scouting out our spots; I would be on my own for this hunt as it was a self-guided hunt. I had never hunted antelope, so I had a good idea it was going to take some watching and studying and moving setups, and it did.
This day of the hunt was in a blind not far from water, but it was a wet year, and the antelope spent most of their time wandering a minimum of 200 yards in the distance. Growing up a rifle hunter and being in this situation was slightly frustrating. I had practiced with my 50# Elite Spirit out to 60 yards but did not want to take a shot at 60 yards let alone any further, so it was a day of watching and deciding what the next day would bring.
It was very hot, and the hunting blind felt a lot like an easy bake oven. My ride finally called just before dark; they would swing by and grab me so we all regrouped and new decisions had to be made about where everyone wanted to go so we worked on new strategies and thoughts.
My setup on this day was made up against a wooden fence lined with a wire fence. A backdrop was made by pulling tall weeds and placed them around and hanging over the wooden fence. I would perch against this to make a more natural blind. I got to my new location in the dark and waited eagerly for light. I knew this new spot could bring a different kind of hunting from the day before.
After having many close encounters with the does’ wandering the area, which was a fun experience in itself because it was only my backdrop and my camo keeping them from picking me out otherwise I was exposed. Finally, a nice male pronghorn was making it’s way closer to me, and the closer it got the more I realized just how neat these antelope are. He zigzagged between 70 and 80 yards as I sat for so long on a little piece of a cinder block unable to even blink at times, he finally after feeding for about an hour, wandered off and never came close enough for a shot.
A couple more hours passed and after seeing what I would estimate to be approximately 50 plus antelope, I was finally able to see a bachelor group coming down off the hill.
My thought was if I could watch them and maybe see if there were a pattern or a reason, it would still give me three more days to try a spot and stalk. I watched the male group of 7 Pronghorns, and I decided I might as well try a spot and stalk now. They had moved off to where I could no longer see them, so I at least wanted a better position to make this decision. I grabbed only the essentials, my bow, range finder, arrows, and release and started towards what would be the official start of obtaining my first super slam animal.
I took my shoes off so I could be as quiet as possible and crawled to the edge of the wire goat fence. The only way out of the fence was to unwire the bottom portion from the post and pull myself through. I layed on my side and slid my bow above my head through the fence then started to pull myself through sideways. I grabbed my arrows with my toes and handed one up to my hand and set it with my bow then grabbed the next with my toes and went to hand it up but caught the bottom of my other foot with my broadhead.
I kept army crawling a little closer and a little closer to the edge of the windmill, and then it started raining, I remembered that all of my stuff was out of my pack. I left my bow and arrows and headed back, slowly crawling in the rain to my equipment
After packing everything up, the quick storm had stopped, and I didn’t know if the group had wandered off yet or not. I had to decide if I would sit tight or crawl back and take a chance of scaring them off, I decided to crawl back I had to do it. It took me about 20 minutes to crawl back to my bow and once there I was almost busted by a small group of doe’s that kept looking at me from about 75 yards wondering what that lump of camo might be, so I waited them out, and they wandered off to graze elsewhere.
I was at the base of a windmill drum and needed to look around to see if the any of the pronghorn bucks were still there. I grabbed my rangefinder and peeked around, there stood the whole group, so I ranged them out at 50 yards grabbed my bow and nocked my arrow. As I brought myself up to my knees, I thought how in the world I am going to get around and get a shot without one of these antelope seeing me. After I thought about it for what seemed like a long time, I peeked around and ranged them again at 52 yards my thought was “well I still have three more days,” but I knew if I did not take this shot then I would beat myself up over this missed opportunity. So I gathered myself drew my bow and stood up, as fast as I could hit my release the antelope dropped and lunged, and my arrow connected just seconds before he would have run.