By: Brady Miller
Spot and stalk antelope hunting will test your knowledge of archery, stalking techniques, and patience by taking it to the extreme. Hunting one on one with the speedsters of the prairie is something I am proud to take part of each fall.
First light found myself in a usual situation of switching back and forth between the binoculars and the spotting scope looking for a slight glimpse of antelope. I had high expectations of finding antelope in this section of public land in my home state of Montana, since a year ago I was bowhunting a mile north, where I was fortunate enough to harvest my first P&Y antelope. So after another year of planning, I decided to stick with the country I know, and hunt the same general area in hope of seeing some of the bucks that I glassed up the year before.
It wasn’t long before I glassed up three bucks and a doe working their way towards a pond. It was still early, and in the morning light I couldn’t quite tell the size of the bucks, so I put my pack on and used a natural fold in the terrain to get out of sight of the bucks and worked my way around with hopes to cut them off on their way to water. Soon enough I was on my stomach cresting over the hill looking out at the group of antelope, but to my dismay, the bucks needed a few more years to reach trophy class, so I just enjoyed the view for a little bit and watched them feed and water only 50 yards away.
After the group worked their way back into the prairie, I started picking out the sagebrush flats with my spotting scope and after 15 minutes I found what looked to be a good buck bedded down with some does. From this distance I could see mass, and decent digger length. After determining he was staying bedded down for awhile, I tried to come up with a strategy to put a stalk together. I decided to glass a bit longer since it was still early and cool out, so I turned towards the west to glass some rolling hills, and right away I saw a herd working their way parallel to where I was at. Opportunity knocked as I saw a handful of decent bucks, so I made this herd my focus for the time being in hopes if I messed up the stalk, I could still chase after the other buck I found in his bed.
As luck would have it, a fence was in their way. If you have ever watched antelope move around, you will soon find out how problematic fences are to them. Bucks and does always try to find a low spot in a fence to crawl under, rather than jumping over like a mule deer. I decided I was going to use that fence to my advantage, because any slight edge I can gain with my bow will slowly start to tip the odds in my favor! I worked my way out of sight, and I started running behind a rise to stay ahead of them while they slowly fed their way to this pinch point. Using the grain of the terrain, I setup below the herd and belly crawled my way the last 150 yards.
One by one, does and fawns started ducking the fence, but instead of walking after they went under the fence, they ran out further into the open. The bucks worked their way to the fence last, so once I saw the largest buck’s horns crest the grass, I got ready. He ducked under and I tried to stop him with my voice. I finally got him to stop and while he was looking around wondering what was going on, I quickly ranged him, and moved my slider sight to the right yardage and took my shot at 62 yards. The arrow found its mark, puncturing both lungs. Shortly thereafter I found myself giving a pretty energetic fist pump into the air (every archery knows the feeling!) as I watched the monarch of the prairie fall to the ground. There was no ground shrinkage on this buck. Walking up to him, and placing my hands on his horns was a great feeling! When I first glassed him, I knew he had good hay hooks, but I had no idea he had heavy mass above the diggers, and inch and a half ivory tips.
My buck gross scores 74 inches, and nets 73 3/8 inches P&Y, making this my second antelope to make the P&Y record book two years in a row!!! Chasing antelope with a bow is an experience not soon to be forgotten. Their keen eyesight, and seemingly flat terrain they call home, make them an archery trophy worth the extra effort!!
Next up I have a late season archery mule deer hunt planned the middle of November and if things work out a cow elk tag to fill.
Work hard, play hard, and bowhunt even harder!!!