With the coming of each New Year I always find myself reflecting on a hunting season that always seems to come and go in a flash. The seasons always start out with the same rituals, researching areas, looking at harvest data, and finally applying for the tags that we all dream of one day drawing. These rituals are followed by counting down the days until draw results are out, and scouring impossibly long lists for a familiar name, so we may either rejoice, or curse aloud at the powers in which our fate is controlled by.
The 2013 draw failed to reward me with a Nevada resident Desert Sheep tag once again, so after a self-pity session I called my brother to inform him that I could guide several hunts for him this season. He told me that was great because he had already booked four Pronghorn hunts for me. In an instant my heart raced, and although I did not draw the final sheep tag for my collection of the four species of wild sheep, I was excited for the season to get underway.
I immediately began my pre-season scouting, checking my usual water holes and hidden basins for trophy Pronghorn bucks. It had been a very dry year up to that point, and several of my small, tucked away springs had gone dry. I had put in a few more days scouting than usual, but it paid off with a few new springs that had no road access, and showed no sign of human traffic whatsoever. I began seeing larger bucks, and finally some that were definitely into the record book.
As the opener drew closer, the heat became almost unbearable. Highs approached 110°F and I began to worry about what little surface water I had found. More scouting trips leading up to opening day eased my mind, temperatures cooled down into the high 90's, and the water seemed to be holding its own against the heat. I was excited to get the new Core Hoody into the field and see how it performed. It didn’t let me down. The Core Hoody is the closest thing you will get to air conditioning, while sitting in rim rocks glassing in triple digit heat.
As with the majority of hunts we participate in, I was thrown a major curve ball by Mother Nature. It had been months since any measurable precipitation fell in the region but two days before the season, the skies opened up and severe thunderstorms blasted the landscape. The storms unleashed massive amounts of water that washed out some of my access roads and formed large puddles across the terrain. With ample hydration sources from almost any low point in the desert, the Pronghorn would no longer be forced to visit my new found, minuscule ponds. But I didn’t let it change my game plan at all. With each hunt I would still get to predetermined vantage points and use my Leica Televid 82 APO to pick apart the landscape. These tactics proved successful once again, with three of the four hunters harvesting bucks over 80’’. The fourth hunter held out for an 85 inch buck. We did locate a very large buck on the last day and tried to close in on him but heat waves made it almost impossible to score him and by the time we made it to his last know location, he had vanished. The hunter was very happy with the outcome. We had seen over 15 bucks that were very nice, but he wanted an exceptional buck.
Looking back at the Pronghorn season I am very pleased with the outcome. I logged hundreds of miles through three different counties, located some great new areas, and saw hundreds of animals. The season also taught me that no matter what the weather or conditions are, to simply stick to the basics. Do what has brought past success, and be confident in your skills. Every season and every hunt are different and challenging, that’s what makes it so rewarding.