After driving in from Colorado on the previous night, I woke up to 0 degrees outside our ranch house rental with hot coffee and antelope feeding 300 yards off the back patio.
I showed up to my hunt area with my wife and my dog in tow mid-morning, with a few inches of fresh snow on the ground. The ranches air was as crisp as could be as we drove through the Hunter Management Area. There were antelope everywhere. Not 3 minutes off the highway, we had herds of 100+ on both side of us, all within 400 yards, and within a reasonable distance of ranch buildings. My wife wanted me to jump out and get it done, but it just didn't quite feel like hunting yet.
We eventually got into the main hunting area where my buddy Steve and I had quick success last year. The uphill travel increased the snow by a couple inches and there weren’t as many antelope here, but a herd of 7 with one good looking buck was feeding on the side of the hill a little over mile away. Unsure of the antelope’s (particularly late season) comfort zone, I took the truck around a half mile to get into an irrigation ditch I wanted to use as cover.
I cruised low for a few minutes at a time, and popped up to check on the herd. I meandered for a half hour, slowly cutting the distance as they fed away calmly. Finally, the next turn of the ditch was well out of my favor, and it was decision time. They fed away towards a large cattle pond (distractingly covered in ducks) just outside my rangefinder’s capability, I’d guess 850 yards or so. I had no cover available, except the herd of cattle that just popped up in between me and the 7 antelope. With nothing to lose, I decided to take chase, and I mean literally run after the antelope if I was going to get to my comfort shooting distances.
I hooked around the cattle to keep them from getting excited and found myself out of the antelope’s view temporarily. It is truly amazing how these grass-only, rolling hills are so huntable. I kept low and steady until the pond started to look shootable and the lead doe finally appeared. She ranged at 410 yards, and a second doe followed close behind. I got down prone and flipped the scope caps open to see nothing but grass. Thankfully, for the second year in a row, the Harris bipod 27” extension came into play and I got comfortable above the vegetation. The buck stepped out, I took a breath, and squeezed one off. The newly installed muzzle brake on my 7mm really changed the game on calling my own shots. I can’t say for sure if my scope even left my sight picture after the shot, I just know that immediately, I saw curling hooves in the air and 6 confused ladies.
For this easily drawn tag, I can't imagine going for the opener ever again. Last year's opener had dozens of vehicles and people pushing antelope around like crazy. This year, I was the only person in sight, and it may have been the most enjoyable hunt I've experienced.
Great Hunter Skullz did an excellent job on my euro and had it cleaned up the same day I dropped it off! It was great dealing with Draysen and his right hand man. Thank you guys!
Fishing was great along the way. I caught browns and rainbows fly fishing drys and nymphs throughout CO and many rainbows on streamers in WY after the hunt. One CO rainbow was ~ 24" 8 lbs. It took me an hour and half to land him and another 25 minutes to get it successfully released.
The three of us had an amazing week and my wife understands this may become a semi-regular trip for us. I feel full of fortune. Go try Wyoming if you haven't yet, and take the family.