By Sitka Pro Staffer Matthew Palmquist
Every year for the last few, I have headed to Wyoming for my first hunt of the fall. I love being able to start bowhunting in August, but this year I had to wait until Labor day weekend to make the trip, due to a training for work.
I got there, and with the large number of antelope roaming the sage-covered landscape, you'd think it would have been a relatively easy hunt. Yeah right! This was my fourth year to get a tag in Wyoming, and what I always expect to be a slam dunk usually turns into a struggle. This year wasn’t any different.
My good friend, Darris Meitler, and I spent Labor Day weekend sitting in a ground blind. Darris hunted Wyoming with me last year, and it was my goal to help him get his first antelope. I failed, and he wasn’t able to fill his tag. But I was sure we'd have redemption this year, and we did. Darris arrowed a nice doe and buck on the trip! I didn’t have any mature bucks come to the water hole I was sitting, but I was able to spot and stalk an adult doe and put some meat in the freezer.
After the first five days, I hadn’t had any luck. But I already had Thursday and Friday scheduled off work, so I kept hunting. The rut was on, but the season was later than usual, and the bucks weren’t being very aggressive towards the decoy. I found a pile of animals using a large wheat stubble field and decided to give them a shot. There were 15 antelope in the herd, but only eight were does. One really nice buck kept them under a watchful eye, but he wouldn’t run the satellite bucks off unless they were right on top of him.
Every time I got close they were one step ahead of me. After covering ¾ of a mile walking, crawling and sliding on my belly, I was within 100 yards of them. But just like the times before, they were moving away from me, keeping just out of range. I found a weedy pocket and admired the large herd buck from a distance. One of the satellite bucks started heading my way and I decided I would try to kill him if given the chance. The satellite walked right to me and stood broadside at 30 yards. I wasn’t in position to draw, so I had to wait. As he turned to leave, I shifted and was able to come to full draw. I let the arrow loose and watched it disappear behind his shoulder. I was amped and very glad that the four hours spent slipping through the field was well spent.
Lucas was able to get away Friday night, so we had two days to get it done. We both knew the odds were against us with the limited time and the fact that most of the antelope in Kansas had seen multiple hunters after seven days of pressure. However, we were excited to get to spend some time hunting together.
We headed out to find the gnarly herd buck from my hunt but decided we would try to get an arrow in anything we saw. After one failed attempt we resumed our search. Lucas was blessed when we found a very decent buck heading toward an open crop field where there were already a few other antelope. We were able to use the cover of a standing corn field to get into position. Like clockwork, the buck crossed the fence in front of us, allowing Lucas to put an arrow into the vitals of his first Kansas antelope. It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. We woke up that morning and decided that Lucas had been rewarded for being a good father and staying by his kids' side.