Dreams Do Come True - My 2006 Wyoming Antelope Hunt

In the early 1970's I read an article in an NRA publication about a rifle in the 25-06 caliber.  I ended up buying a Remington 700 BDL in that caliber.  The article talked about how this was an ideal caliber for hunting antelope.  The seed was planted back then and I wanted to one day hunt this animal.  That was the main reason I bought the 25-06.  I shot two deer with this gun then ended up not having a place to hunt where I could use a center fire rifle. I thought I would never have the opportunity to hunt antelope so I sold that rifle for $250 in the early 1980's.  The sale included the rifle, sling, reloading dies, and approximately 100 rounds of ammo.  I have been sorry many times that I sold that gun.

About two years ago I decided I wanted another center fire rifle even though I still didn't have a place to deer hunt with it.  Remington had stopped making the model 700 in the caliber I wanted, .308.  I purchased a Ruger model 77 MarkII and for glass added a Bushnell 3200 Elite scope in 4-12 power.  I shot the rifle some using handloads but never really got it tuned it in.  This past spring and summer I spent time at the range selecting a bullet and powder that would give consistent groups at 100+ yards.  I settled on  Hornady 150 grain BTSP and found that either 748 or H-380 powder gave good results.  I had to float the barrel to get the gun to shoot the way I thought it should. I zeroed the gun for 200 yards.

About Six years ago I met a friend through my wife that likes hunting and he also owned a Corvette as I do.  Bob is the type who is easy to talk to about any subject and loves hunting as much as or more then I do.  I hunted with Bob for the first time in Kansas in 2005 for pheasants.  (Another trip I had wanted to do for over 30 years) During that trip we decided we would both like to hunt antelope.  My dream of over 33 years came to past in September 2006.

Bob and I attended the sportsman's show in Harrisburg, PA in February 2006.  We attended on different days and yet both decided on the same outfitter to hunt antelope with.  We chose Wyoming Trophy Outfitters run by Sharon and Randy Brown. www.wyotrophy.com Both Sharon and Randy are licensed guides and Randy is a  licensed taxidermist. 

After a lot of prayer on my part we drew a license from the state of Wyoming to hunt in area 72.  We left Bob's house early Friday morning on Sept 15 to drive to Casper, WY a distance of just over 1800 miles for us.  We wanted to drive so we could take any gear we might need plus we would have a way to bring the meat home. We met Randy and Sharon in our motel in Casper the following Monday morning.  We took care of some paperwork, then followed Randy out to the "cabin".  The cabin was located approximately 74 miles NW of Casper on a 300,000 acre ranch.  The elevation of the cabin was 6200 feet according to Bob's GPS.  The closest home was one of the ranch houses which was about 3-4 miles away. The original part of the cabin was built in the late 1800's.  Water was provided by a 12 volt pump like a camper would use.  There was a 1000 gallon water tank on the back of the cabin that was filled by a gasoline powered pump that got the water from the stream behind the cabin.  Light was provided by a generator or propane lantern.  Hot water and cooking was done with propane.  The "facilities" was a little red house with no door about 30 yards from the cabin.

Since Bob and I were the only hunters that week, Randy did double duty by also doing the cooking as well as guiding us on the hunt. 

After dinner the first evening Randy drove us down some of the county gravel roads on the ranch where we saw over 100 whitetail and mule deer.  The whitetail deer had some of the biggest racks I have ever seen.  Randy said that in 2005 the top three deer in the state were taken off of that ranch.  Randy has exclusive hunting rights on this ranch and only takes 20 deer a year, all trophy class.

Early Tuesday morning after breakfast we headed out to another ranch that was in area 72 were we had drawn permits.  This ranch was about 30 miles from the cabin and was 200,000 acres in size.  After driving some of the dirt roads that wound though the ranch it was plain to see that we would both take an antelope, and it was just a matter of which one.  When Randy would spot a small herd he would glass them with binoculars.  If he spotted what he thought was a good "prairie rocket" as he called them, since they can run up to 60 MPH, he would then check out the size of the horns using a spotting scope attached to the window of his truck. 

Bob an I flipped a coin to see who would have the first right of refusal to shoot an antelope and Bob won the toss.  About an hour after entering this ranch Randy spotted a goat that he wanted Bob to shoot.  For some reason this group of goats didn't run as we approached.  Randy stopped the truck at just over 100 yards from them, Bob opened the truck door, stepped out of the truck, and used the open truck door window as a gun rest and dropped his antelope.  After the necessary pictures and field dressing the goat, we started searching again for one I could shoot.

We had only traveled a couple of hundred yards when Randy spotted another herd.  After glassing them he said, "There's the one we want."  He had an unusual spread of his antlers.  The antlers of most antelope go straight up out of the top of their heads where the antlers on this one were at a 60  angle.  Randy backed the truck up out of sight of the herd and parked.  Randy suggested we close the gap between us and the antelopes by walking up a draw about 1/2 mile.  As we topped a small ridge the heard was about 200 yards from us on another small ridge with a draw between us.  Randy told me which goat he wanted me to shoot.  The first mistake I made was having my scope turned up to 10 power making for a small field of vision, which made it difficult for me to locate the goat he wanted me to shoot.  Even though we had been walking slowly I was breathing like I had just ran a 200 yard sprint because of the elevation.  My scope was moving five feet either side of the goat as I breathed and I looked at him through my scope.  To make it more interesting there were small prickly pear cactus everywhere.  As a lay out prone for the shot using the bipod on my gun, I had to be aware of the cactus as I found out later their thorns would penetrate leather gloves like a sewing needle. 

Randy kept telling me, "To shoot him."  I fired and the shot when over the back of the goat.  Randy says, "You shot over the top of him, chamber another round!"  Before I could locate him in the scope the herd had walked towards us and disappeared down in a draw out of our line of vision.  We sat still for about 10 minutes waiting for them to come out.  Eventually they started to come out, all but the one I shot at.  Randy said, "Maybe you shot through him, let's walk slowly over to the draw, but be ready to shoot again."

As we peered over the rim of the draw there were no antelope in it.  As we watched we saw that they had circled around the back of the hill we had saw them on and were now coming up out of another draw.  Randy excitedly said, "There he is again, shoot."  Again I shot over the back of the antelope which was about 200 yards from us.  By now I'm wondering if I am going to get this one.  I had to move around to get my gun level as I was on a slight downward slope and could not get the gun level using the bipod. When the goat was about 300 yards away he stopped.  I said a quick prayer and shot again, this time connecting with my shot.  My official story is the first two times he was too close at only 200 yards so I just shot over his back.  I had even more satisfaction knowing I had taken my antelope at 300+ yards, with a handloaded bullet.  I shot a 150 grain Hornady BTSP over 51 grains of H380 powder.

After the necessary pictures we dressed my antelope and headed to the meat processing plant. One the way out of the ranch we stopped to adjust the prairie dog population.  A .308 will really do a number on a prairie dog at 80-125 yards.  There were more then enough of these rodents that reek havoc on the pasture land.  I would have enjoyed shooting them until I ran out of bullets but we needed to get our meat to the processor because the temperature was now in the low 60's.

The following day Bob and I just walked the mountains around the cabin looking for coyotes, but didn't find any.  Each morning we would see whitetail deer, antelope, and even elk in the hills and valleys around the cabin.  I've heard a bull elk bugle on the TV but to hear it in person sends chills up your spine. God gave us three prefect days of hunting weather.  Hunting antelope in this rugged, but beautiful country in the mountains of Wyoming was truly a dream come true for me.

Below are some pictures from our hunt and the surrounding area surrounding our cabin.

 

The Cabin
The "facilities" or outhouse (red building), and the corral for horses used during deer and elk seasons

View from the cabin porch
Bob with his antelope
My antelope, notice the spread of his antlers
The Area where we shot our antelopes
Bob pointing at the cabin about 1 mile from him in the grove of cottonwood trees
Me sitting on a moutnain top about two miles from the cabin taking in the view
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