Antelope Hunting – the masquerade
By Arliss McNalley
Nov 13, 2006 – 11:20:00 AM
The sun was setting in the rear view as we left Red
Deer, bound for the barren plains of southeastern Alberta. With the back seat
of my F-150 full of hunting and camping gear, my brother, Bryce and cousin,
Dalan piled into the front seat beside me for the three hour drive. Just didn?t
seem long enough to catch up on life?s events since our last adventure
together. That was all right, though. We had the next three days to talk guy
talk and forget about the busy agenda of daily life, for we were in antelope
country?with a new agenda.
The fire was crackling when we reached the shores
of Blood Indian, a small trout-filled reservoir just outside the north border of
our hunting zone. My Uncle Albey and his son-in-law, Carman, made the journey
earlier in the day and had the camp prepped for our arrival. The handshake
greetings turned to congratulations when Carman confessed that one of the two
antelope tags had already been filled! The conclusion of our last antelope hunt
three years prior saw Carman holding the only unfilled tag; he was not going to
be the odd man out this year. Seizing the opportunity, he made a nice
20-yard shot on a good antelope around supper time. After absorbing the
details and setting some basic strategies for the following day, we reluctantly
climbed into the fifth wheel for some shut-eye.
I rose first, wanting to prepare the
video camera and fine-tune the sights on my new Switchback LD. Dalan
carried the remaining antelope tag, but I didn’t want to be unprepared
should a nice mule buck present itself. Before long, four other
die-hards emerged from the trailer into the wet and windy weather of
Day 1. Undeterred, we put the bows in the Bowkaddy?s and drove to the
local gas station to fuel up the trucks.
Although we take our hunting very seriously, we
seldom let a comical opportunity slip by. Donning our antelope head-dresses,
Dalan and I strolled into the Blood Indian Trading Post just to see what the
reaction would be. Still laughing, we exited the store, jumped into the trucks
and headed south towards our hunting zone.
We had just reached the border when we noticed some
does and a great buck just behind a ridge?an excellent setup for a sneak!
Unfortunately, they were on the wrong side of the road and we had to carry on. I
clicked off the video camera, hoping the next herd would land me some good
Almost 24 hours after Carman
felled his redemption buck, we came across a promising herd of a dozen
antelope. Dalan put on his decoy head and pulled his PSE from the grips of
Bowkaddy. As I was soaked to the bone from several unsuccessful sneaks, I
turned the soggy costume and camera duties over to my brother who was more than
happy to oblige. The two of them crossed the fence and headed single-file
toward a small rise between them and the herd. The remaining three of us
went into standby mode, our spirits dampened by the grey, leaking sky.
Then I peered out the window,
thinking they should soon be back. Sure enough, there they were, side by
side, coming over the rise. But what was between them?!…an antelope!
We busted out of the truck and ran out to meet them. High fives and
handshakes all around as they filled us in on the fortunate turn of events.
The ridge they had snuck over got them closer than expected to the herd and the
buck was immediately intimidated. Dalan motioned to Bryce that the buck
was coming and to get ready. A few seconds later, barely enough time to
focus the foggy lens, the arrow was loosed and the buck was down – just like
It’s not often you get to sleep
late on a hunting trip, but with both antelope tags filled and the rain playing
drum-rolls on the trailer roof, we took full advantage that night. When we
finally awoke mid-morning of Day 2, we decided to trade our bows and arrows for
rods and reels. The first Rainbow trout hit the bait within about 3
minutes and the fun was back on. We took turns baiting, setting and
reeling as the feeding frenzy continued until late afternoon. By that
time, our “keeper pile” had grown to 13 fish. Bryce couldn’t hold any more
trout, so we decided to call it a trip. Shivering from the cold and
grinning with satisfaction, we packed up the gear and exchanged farewells.
Next thing on the agenda…a hot shower and dry clothes!
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