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lancetkenyon

Fast-paced 2021 NM Pronghorn Hunt

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2021 NM pronghorn hunt is one for the books.  We were 7 strong heading to NM on the ranch we hunt.  Brandon and his buddy (who you have already seen their goats), a buddy of mine's son, Taylor and I, and two other members here.  It would turn out to be an epic opening day.  I didn't get as many photos as usual, because we were run-and-gun all day long.

Drove out on Friday, with excitement high.....

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and got to the ranch about 4:00PM.  Driving and glassing the ranch for bucks, we saw at least 25 different bucks.  With several shooters.  We watched a bachelor herd of 10 bucks up until last light.  

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Opening morning had us split into three groups.  Brandon and buddy, Taylor/myself/my buddy's son, and the other member and his daughter/son-in-law.

We knew where we wanted to be at first light, and got there 20 minutes before legal shooting light, and started glassing.  We picked up 4 separate groups of pronghorn.  But the bachelor herd was the one group we were after.  And we found them.....about 3 miles from the trucks.  My buddy's son and Taylor had first opportunities, so I left my rifle in the truck and we headed out at 5:30AM.

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We stalked out and closed the distance to about 1400 yards, and told my buddy and his son to cross the small valley and come up the other side to get a closer shot opportunity.  Most of the bachelor herd commenced to walk off, but left 4 of the bucks either bedded or feeding across the valley.  We watched as the guys got close to the top, and spotted two of the bucks up and feeding.  It was cool to watch the buck drop through the binos, THEN hear the boom and whop!  8:00AM, 1st pronghorn down!  

Taylor and I took off after the other 7 bucks that had disappeared over a small rise.  We found two of them bedded about 10:00AM, and 2 miles away.  We put a stalk on them, and got to within 808 yards, and the other 5 bucks stood up from their hidden beds too.  The big one we were targeting lit out back into the huge no-mans land, and the other 6 circled us.  Tried to get set up for a shot, but the tall grass and moving buck made a shot attempt impossible.  At 1200 yards, the big buck just turned on the afterburners and was gone.  I got a text that Brandon had killed his buck at 10:00AM, 2nd buck down!  So we walked the 2+ miles back to the truck, my buddy and his son showed up with their pronghorn in packs, and we left the area to let the bucks calm down.  About 11:00AM now.

We drove and glassed, and I glassed up some does about 1.5 miles away down at the end of a valley against some foothills.  While discussing the goats, my buddy's son says, "I only see the one on the hillside."  Umm....OK.....ooh!  That is a decent buck moving in on the 6 does!  A quick discussion and looking through the mirage, we can tell he is a decent buck.  So Taylor and I grab our gear, and take off after him to get a better look.  We dropped down in the valley and crossed to the other side to keep a small rise between us and the pronghorn.  We get 80% of the way there, and a truck drives up the road to recover a downed goat they had shot earlier (3rd buck down!  The other member's son-in-law killed his first pronghorn ever!).  Well, that actually worked to our advantage.  We got to the rise and kept the only bush between us and the goats, and peeked out.  They were watching the truck drive 1000+ yards away, and did not notice us, 400 yards away.  Taylor tried to get down for a shot at the buck, but with the unusually tall grass, and the rest of the slight rise blocking her view, had no sight/shot of the buck.  So we had to get closer.  With a single patch of 3 yuccas to try and hide behind as we made our approach doing the Army crawl, we closed the distance to 260 yards, and Taylor could finally see the pronghorn....and they spotted us too!  A slow and steady (with me telling Taylor to hurry up, but move slow) setup with Taylor sitting, bipod front, pack cradled in her lap, the pronghorn started moving off.  At 380 yards, Taylor was set, I ranged, she dialed, and pop....whop!  Her 6.5SLR pushing the 130 OTM had claimed another victim.  The buck ran 30 yards, stopped, stood splayed-legged shaking his head blowing blood, and dropped!  12:30pm, 4th goat down!!!  Good mass, good cutters, curls way back on itself too.

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So we got him cut up and in the cooler on ice, ate some lunch, then got back at it.  We were going to go back to the morning spot, but I glassed up another truck over there, so we went and looked at several other goats that ended up either being way out on public land, off the ranch, or just WAY too far off to make a reasonable attempt (plus, I was already getting tired).  At about 4:30PM, the truck at our morning spot had disappeared, so we drove over to start glassing for the bucks again.  Well....I glassed up the other group stalking out after a group of 5 bucks.  So we sat and watched them from 2+ miles away.  They got close, but something didn't work out, so they backed out and headed back for the truck.  While they were heading out, the bachelor herd of 7 bucks showed up below them but apparently out of sight.  When the group got back to their truck and started heading out, my buddy and I decided to make a move on the bachelor herd....who were about 2 miles out.  After about 3/4 mile, my buddy and I formulated a quick "I hope this works" (notice I did not say a "plan"), and I left my 15s and took off solo while he stayed back to watch the "rodeo" as Brandon calls these situations.  I walked straight at the bucks, stopping every few hundred yards to try and range them.  After what seemed like another half mile, I finally got a range at 1200+ yards.  I knew I had to cut that distance.  My 25SST was shooting really well, but I knew I could get closer.  At 875 yards, the bucks started to move.  So I got down, sitting with front bi-pod and my pack tucked up on my lap, ranged, dialed for 875, and waited for the bucks to sort themselves out.  The biggest in the group was not having it, and so the 2nd biggest got the attention.  Pop.  I didn't hear the whop, but saw the impact through my scope.  A bit low, but a decent shot.  Broke the front shoulder, and the bucks all ran into the valley separating me and them.  I grabbed my rifle and ran towards where I figured they might be....and here comes the group on my side of the valley.  Saw my limping but miraculously still moving buck, and put another round in him at 550.  5:30PM, 5th buck down!  Incredible.  We took just a couple photos because I was in a seriously bad mood for my buck suffering those few minutes.  (I would apologize later for my mood)  Quartered him up, and packed him back to the truck.  as we got back, I got another text, Brandon's buddy has HIS buck down!  #6 of the day.  Absolutely unreal opening day.  We put 13.28 miles on the boots according to my pedometer app.  We were wiped out.

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The next day, my buddy and his son left for Phoenix, we stayed, slept in, went to Pueblo for a nice lunch and a movie.  Packed up and drove home on Monday.  

Have to thank God for the absolute bounty He blessed us with, the great time, the great weather, the great friends, and the great memories we will share.  2021 was definitely a whirlwind of a day.

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Great write up as always!

You guys have been slaying them in NM year after year.

Congrats to all of you.

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Awesome job. Looked like a great hunt and priceless memories. 

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heck ya!!!!  Great job buddy.  We had no doubt that Sharp Shooter Taylor would make her shot count.  Congrats!!!!!

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Great write up as always that sounds like one action packed day of hunting congrats to all

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Great stuff, as always, Lance!!  Love it!!!

As you know, Nick and I had a great time roaming that place last weekend.  My favorite hunt of the year! ;)

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6 hours ago, stanley said:

Great stuff, as always, Lance!!  Love it!!!

As you know, Nick and I had a great time roaming that place last weekend.  My favorite hunt of the year! ;)

I know you did!  ;)

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