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lancetkenyon

Father/Daughter Speedgoat Quest

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Last year, after getting frustrated with 24 BPs not getting me an AZ pronghorn tag, I bought a NM landowner pronghorn tag to get my feet wet.  I had a blast, so this year, I bought two.  One for my hunting buddy Taylor who would get first goat, and my second tag for me (only if Taylor killed early).  What I didn't know at the time, was that NMGFD changed the way the landowner tags worked, and that the ranch owner's application to partner with NMGFD would get lost in the shuffle and not get approved, severely limiting the land access and hunting opportunities.  Thank God for OnX Maps.

We left on Friday morning @ 3:00am.  Taylor could hardly contain her enthusiasm on the 11 hour drive out...

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We got to the ranch and got our written access paperwork by 2:30pm, and drove out to do some scouting to locate some good pronghorn. 

We covered quite a bit of ground, and glassed 10x more.  Only locating 5 pronghorn by sunset, I was quite concerned.  But right at sunset, I climbed a hill and glassed up a big herd to the south with a good buck, and a big herd to the north with a good buck.  They were both about 2-3 miles away.  But I could clearly make out decent horns on the two bucks.  I stayed up.on that hill until full dark, checking back and forth for what the herds were doing.  Both were active until I couldn't see anymore, and both had been moving about a mile each.

We hatched a plan to go after one of the bucks first thing, and then the second if the morning didn't pan out, so as not to pressure either enough to spook them out of the state.

Got to the house at 10:00pm, quick shower, and slept like the dead.

Opening Day #1:

Up at 3:30am, opening day excitement had me hopeful!  Out to the parking spot by 5:15, leaving 30 minutes until legal shooting light.  Grabbed the 15s, glassed up a bunch of does where we left them the night before.  Grabbed the gear, and dropped.down in the wash that meandered through the huge valley the pronghorn were feeding through.  We popped out about halfway out, right at legal shooting light, and see the buck walking to the does at 801 yards.  A makable shot for Taylor, but not while he is moving.  But he is moving towards the edge of the ranch property....and NM State land, which is off-limits to us.  We drop back in the wash, and hurry to cut the distance, and hopefully catch the buck before he goes off ranch private property.  Come out of the wash behind a low rise, and creep up to the top to see where they pronghorn are.  404 yards away....and on public land!  Aargh.  Feeding broadside.  A chip shot....that we can't take.  We stayed there, and eventually, the pronghorn started moving towards the public/private boundary.  So we dropped back into the wash, and took off to close the distance again.  When we peeked out again after about a half mile, we could see only a couple of the does.  So we crept towards a small hill about 6' high that the pronghorn should be behind....peek over the top....there is the buck, bedded, at 390 yards!  Yes!  Still on public land, so safe for now, but the herd was slowly making their way to the private land.  I told Taylor that we just needed to stay put as we were right on the boundary and knew exactly which direction the line was, and as soon as the buck stepped across it when he moved, she would have a decent shot.  We waited for about 30 minutes, and some of the does were starting to move towards the boundary line very slowly.....then...we heard two shots at least 4 miles away....and the pronghorn were up and long gone onto a mesa and public land so fast.

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Well, that was fun and frustrating. Not expecting to see them again for a while, we head to check on goat #2 on our hit list.  After hiking back about 2.5 miles and getting back to the truck, moving about 2 miles, we glassed him and his harem up about 3 miles away.  So off we go, and lose them about a mile out.  We glassed and could not relocate them again.  So went and grabbed some lunch to rest and refuel.  

Opening afternoon, we went to a high point and glass up buck #1 and his herd about 4 miles to the west of where we left them in the morning.  So we drove around to the other end of the valley and drive in a ways to try and locate them.  We found them right on the top of the mesa, where private/public boundary stair-steps along the mesa.  They kept staying about 1.5 miles head of us.  I said if they got to a certain point, they would be on private land, and we might get a shot at him.  Well, they had been hugging the edge for an hour, and went just up on top out of sight.  We jumped out and closed the distance to the point on private land and waited...and waited...and waited some more.  About 2 hours.  Nothing of course.  So hike back to the truck to check the high point and possibly locate buck #2.  Drove out and around...and glass up buck #1 and herd exactly where we needed them to be!  Aargh!!!  Not enough time to get back, and probably wouldn't work anyway.  We glassed up a bachelor herd of mule deer that rival some of the bucks on the Kaibab/Strip.  We glassed up buck #2 as well.  Possibly enough time to get to him.  So off we go.  Hiked in and was hoping to seal the deal with more cover to stay behind.

Long story short, we got within 600ish yards, and his lookouts busted us.  We were hugging a tree line, and those freaking pronghorns have amazing eyesight.  They moved about 2 miles further in before they stopped.  We tried to get close, but knew we were not going to make it after a mile, and would run out of light.  Exhausted, we made it back to the truck right at sunset to head home.  We put 14 miles on the boots through the day.  On our way out, we saw a other bachelor herd of mule deer bucks that were jaw dropping.  Back to the house by 10:30, shower, and fall into bed.

 Day #2:

Up again at 3:30am.  Out to the valley by 5:15.  Glass up the herd of #1, but cannot locate the buck.  He has to be there.  Grab the gear, and book down the wash to close the 1.5 mile distance.  Come out slowly and the herd is about 900 yards away.  There was a small rise, and we kept low and crept up to within 330 yards of the nearest does, who were right on the boundary of private/public.  We sat down to wait for buck #1 to show himself.  An hour goes by, and the 22 does are all over.  But still no buck #1.  Then...I see 3 small bucks top the mesa rim and start heading down towards the does.  I told Taylor, "Watch this..".  We were in for an epic show.  Out of literally nowhere, here comes buck #1 like a raging freight train.  Ears back, flat out.  The two smaller bucks were like, "We are OUT!" and booked it back up the mesa and gone.  Little buck #3 must have been feeling lucky (or was trying to get lucky), and ran towards the ladies....and the chase was ON!  For 30 minutes, Buck #1 chased little #3 at full speed.  Mouths open, tongues out, up the ridge and down, a mile wide, in and out of the does.  They even came within 330 yards onto private, but no chance for a shot.  Finally, Buck #1 chased little #3 up and over they ridge and didn't return.  They had riled up 6 or 7 does, and even they were running around chasing each other.  Does chasing fawns, fawns chasing does, does chasing does.  Itnwas amazing to watch.  Eventually, 16 of the does followed them up and over.  The 6 that were running went out in the valley.  So we decided to get close to the base and wait for them to come back down.   There was no water up top, and I was hoping Buck #1 needed a drink after the chase.  We crept up to another small wash and got set up next to the only bush around...about 2' tall.  We sat there for about 4 hours as the sun and temps rose.  Taylor was set up for them to come back down.  I set up tripods with sweatshirts for shade trying to stay cool.

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After 4 hours, me dozing 10 minutes at a time crawled up into the bush, mosquitos/flies/grasshoppers invading, Taylor was hot, hungry, and ready to get lunch.  We stayed for another 30 minutes, hoping the goats.would come down.  So we packed up, and headed back towards the truck 3 miles away.  Got about 1/4 mile away, looked back....and 15 does are on the ridge watching us walk away.  Are you serious?  Well, we cannot go back now without spooking the pronghorn, so we wait right there until the does turn and walk away.  Back to the truck and go check for buck #2 with no luck, chug some Gatorade, and head to grab some lunch.  Just as we get back on the property, I got a call from Brandon who was out hunting too.  He knew where we had been hunting, and had just seen our buck #2 we had been hunting and gave us the location, and a great plan for the stalk to get close.  I told him to go shoot it, but he was gracious enough to decline since he knew we were chasing him, and we met to verify location.  We stopped at the lookout point to glass for both herds.  Buck #1 was nowhere to be found, but I glassed up buck #2's herd about 2 miles up a canyon, right where Brandon said they were.  I couldn't find Buck #2, but knew he would not be far away.  So we parked right off the main dirt road, grabbed our stuff, and set out to try and locate buck #2.  Straight up a ridge and 1.5 miles along it, we kept an eye on the herd.  We went as far as we could, and luckily the end had some trees on top.  Got close to the edge and peeked over....buck #2 was bedded in the middle of his herd about 400 yards out.  Brandon's suggestion had worked perfectly.  So we dropped the pack, got everything ready, Shooter app up, rifle set up, and did the Army crawl the last 10 yards through the prickly pears and rocks and got set up for the shot.  Buck #2 was bedded away from us, with no good shot available.  We laid in the sun for 45 minutes waiting for a shot opportunity.   Finally, the buck got up, turned broadside and started walking.  Took about 5 steps amd bedded back down, but broadside this time.  391 yards, 2° downhill, 4mph L-R breeze.  Taylor dialed, and was uncharacteristically shaking like a leaf.  I told her where to hold, and take some breaths, and relax.  Squeeze slowly, breath, squeeze.  BOOM!  That buck never even kicked.  Flopped over, stone dead!  The 130 Berger OTM @ 2888fps from the 6.5SLR worked like a charm.  Taylor had her 1st pronghorn ever.  A nice heavy buck with good prongs, and a beautiful heart shape.

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Got him quartered up and packed him back to the truck in an hour.

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I told Taylor I was pulling out all the stops for buck #1 the next day.  

Got back to the house by 6:00pm, grabbed a shower and some groceries so I could pull an all-day chasing buck #1.  Put down another 12 miles for the day.  In bed by 8:30pm.

Day #3:

Up at 3:30am, told Taylor she could stay at the truck if she wanted, or go with me.  She opted to stay and relax at the truck...which would turn out to be a smart move and a huge help to me as well.

Out in the valley by 5:15am.  Glassed up 6 does, and figured buck #1 had to be around.  Grabbed my gear and doubled timed it down the wash to close the 2 mile distance.  At about 6:00am, I came out of the wash thinking I should be pretty close to the does, and hoping I had just not seen the rest of the herd in the dark.  Buck #1 was coming out of the same wash 350 yards away!  Of course I have my rifle in my pack scabbard.  Took 2 steps back, grab the rifle, deploy the bipod, and creep back out of the wash....to NOTHING!  No does, no buck.  I really doubted they could have made a 1 mile dash in the 1 minute it took me to get my rifle out and not be seen, so I just KNEW they had to still be down in the valley somewhere.  So I spent the next hour sneaking across the floor glassing over every little rise I came to...with no sightings.  Now I figured they had to have either gone up top, or were hanging out in one of the fingers along the mesa edge.  So I climbed to the top and started a long walk along the edge glassing and checking the fingers.  Nothing.

About 10:30, I texted Taylor and asked if she thought she could find the other road on the west end about 8 miles away.  She said she could, so I told her to start heading over so I could cut my walk back to the truck from 6.5 miles to hopefully less than 2.  

10:45am, I see two does walking out of the mirage about 400 yards ahead of me.  We are right on the public/private boundary, and they are on the private side!  I texted Taylor to pull over and wait.  Then...more does....and more does.  I am standing on a mesa, with grass about 6" tall and just a small 2' high slight rise between me and the herd of pronghorn we have been chasing for 3 days.  Then.....I see him heading toward the does from my left....it was my turn to start the shakes.

I figured I could get to two short yuccas about 10' away.  I took 2 achingly imperceptible slow steps....and those first 2 does bust me cold.  The rest of the does are heading towards them, but angling away.  So I slowly dropped my pack and deployed my bipod.  I kneeled down behind the rifle, but the two does started getting nervous.  Well, my hat is tan on the front, with a white mesh back.  So I slowly reached up and turned my hat around backwards with the white forward.  Those 2 does seemed to really relax and get interested.  They started towards me!  The rest of the does angled my way, and so did buck #1.....I could only see the top of his back with the slight rise between us.  I couldn't get a range on him!  So I ranged a yucca he was behind @ 410.  I figured he was at 430, so I dialed 1.2MIL on my 6 Creed.  I knew it would have 19" of drop, and the bullet should clear the rise by 10-12" hopefully.  When he stopped, I exhaled slowly, and touched off the shot.....I saw him spin, butt drop, and go over backwards in the scope!  The does scrambled.  I jumped up and glassed the pronghorn milling about....no horns anywhere.  I knew he must still be down. 

5 seconds later, I get a text from Taylor, "Was that you?"

"Yep, he is down!"

Grabbed my gear, got to the rise, and see him down.  3 days, plus 6 hours & 6.5 miles it took to get a shot at him.  (Total of about 20 miles of stalking him)

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He must have been a bit further than I figured.  Shot hit about 3" lower than I figured it should.  But it broke the front leg, and liquified his heart.  The 105 Hybrid stopped just under the offside hide, almost exiting.  It blew the hair off, and started to rip the skin.

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And here he is...

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Taylor drove to the base of the mesa, hiked up, we took some.photos, tagged him out, cut him up and hiked own to the truck in about 90 minutes.

Entrance side....who says match bullets shouldn't be used for hunting?

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Expansion seemed to be pretty good.

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Weight retention is about 49%.

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The trip back was pretty much like the trip out.

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I thank God every day I have my girl to share my love of hunting with, the beautiful and free country we live in, the magnificent game we have to opportunity to pursue, and the bounty He gives us to grace our dinner tables with.  

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I thank my loving wife who puts up with my nonsense and childish antics, and my spending and time I put in with shooting throughout the year to make this all possible.  I thank Brandon and Stan for helping out with info and sightings as well.  

My buck was green scored at 82 3/8" gross, 81 2/8" net.  But either way, with the memories I made with Taylor this week, both pronghorn are true trophies.  

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  • Great Buck! 1
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Lance Congrats to your Daughter and you, That is Awsum. They grow up way to fast. Your story almost gave me allergies ;) Your Pictures are fantastic

Archery deer Hasnt even started yet and I am already missing our Daughter and even talking/planning about hunting. this will be the 1st deer season we missed since she was 10. that was 8 years ago and shes been going out with me since she was old enough to walk.

I just wrote her a letter about this very subject (hunting with our kids) and sent her pictures of our past hunts, she is in boot camp till Oct.

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Congrats to both of you! I just saw Taylor at school the other morning. She's all growed up and driving herself to school. I hope the boys know you have guns!

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Way to go man!  Taylor is very lucky to have a great Dad like you .  Good for both of you!

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What an  awesome hunt congrats to both of you. I leave with Tessa tomorrow morning for our speed goat hunt cant wait  

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Outstanding, Lance!!!!   Love all the pics!

Great running into you out there, and SO glad that the adventure turned-out so epic for you all!!! 

S.

:) 

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Congrats! Those are a couple of dandies to boot. Love how shiny the horns on Taylor's buck are. looks like they were hit with clear coat

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