I had such a great time antelope hunting this past weekend!!! We have a family friend that my dad has been doing business with for almost 20 years who loves to hunt. Him and my dad have actually been hunting once a year together for close to 15 years. My first memory of shooting a gun is at Jimmy’s ranch in east Texas when I was about 13.
My dad has always taken my younger brother hunting (makes sense, he loves guns and is a boy) with Jimmy. We’ve owned acreage so I’ve gone and sat in a deer blind before but never seen anything within shooting range or of high enough quality to merit a bullet. Back at thanksgiving, we were talking about the next hunting trip my dad was thinking about planning. I asked why I never get to go. My dad was floored that I wanted to – he had never considered that I would want to. So for Christmas, I got invited to go antelope hunting in New Mexico with him and Jimmy.
At first I was terrified, actually, I was terrified right up until I got on the plane on Friday morning to fly to Albuquerque. It had been a couple years since I had shot a gun, the last one I shot was a pistol, and I was going to have to stalk and shoot one of the fastest moving land animals in North America. Hunting trips are also an expensive habit and I didn’t want to waste someone’s money. I actually almost didn’t accept the invitation to come because I was so concerned with being able to hit one. I am so thankful to God that I prayed and came. 🙂
Looking back, I should have been preparing and packing longer than I did but it worked out. I’ve got my packing list suggestions with some links at the bottom of this post for anyone who wants to self teach.
I ended up wearing a khaki fishing shirt, khaki zip off pants, and my steel tied boots. The original plan was to wear my trail running shoes that we had bought while in Florida but when the guid started talking about rattle snakes, I was thankful I had been at the job site on Thursday so I had my steel toes in my luggage. They are pretty comfortable, just heavy. I’d suggest boots above the ankle for anyone who wants to stalk animals. I also had packed a wide brimmed hat. I’m just not a hat-wearer in general so I wore a bandanna and some sunscreen on my ears. Dad wore camo head-to-toe with a camo baseball hat and lace up mountain boots.
When Dad gave me the trip, he told me to find someone in Kansas City that owns a rifle to take me to a gun range for practice. I tried and tried but despite Kansas and Missouri having excellent whitetail deer hunting, I couldn’t find anyone who actually owns a rifle.
He also had me watch Eastman’s hunting guide to antelope hunting while we were in Florida in July. It was good to watch to get an idea of what we would be doing and what an antelope looks like. Stalking antelope is a lot harder than hunting whitetail deer and even harder than it looks like on the film!
Back in May, I ended up in Phoenix after my grandmothers funeral so for Mother’s Day we went to the Ben Avery gun range. After shooting the 30.06 about twenty times, my shoulder was sore but I was pretty comfortable. I tend to spray laterally (as opposed to vertically like most) so I was within 6″ of the target at both 100 and 200 yards. The plan was to use the 30.06 for our hunt.
We flew to Albuquerque first thing Friday morning, rented a car, and drove three hours to Logan New Mexico. We stayed at the budget inn express (the newest hotel in the county, according to their sign). The room was nice enough and breakfast tasted good. I wouldn’t recommend their coffee however.
Friday afternoon we went to the gun range where I was able to shoot the gun I’d be using for the fist time (a 243 with 100 grain bullets). Dad bought a new gun for this hunt. I’m sure we could have used one we already owned but this was an excellent excuse for a new toy. 🙂 I hit within 3″ of my target at 116 yards three times so I felt pretty comfortable. Then we went out to the head guides house for dinner and cold drinks before calling it a night.
Saturday morning we were eating breakfast by 5am and in the truck heading down country roads by 5:30am. Dad had let me pick if I wanted to go first or second and I definitely wanted to go first – no time to get nervous – so I was riding shotgun.
Our guide’s name is Danny. He is very friendly and was a great guide. He had scouted on my ranch the weekend before and had picked out a buck he referred to as “the toad.” I was going after a big buck. 🙂
The toad liked to hangout about half a mile north of the skinning shack so we stopped at the skinning shack to pick up Mike, the taxidermist, and Ian, the father of the head guide and videographer which meant I had an entourage to watch me hunt for the first time.
Danny spotted the toad within 3 minutes of driving away from the skinning shack. He and I jumped out of the truck and started walking towards him. He turned, looked to the right at a group of does, and started trotting. We started hiking the 50 yards back to the truck and he turned to the left and started running. By the time we got to the truck, he was running across the road in front of us about 250 yards away. He ducked a fence and stopped. Thankfully the land on the other side of the fence was also on my tag property so Danny pulled the truck closer. I jumped out, got set up about 10 yards in front of the truck. I paused and toad started to run. Danny started making some noise, antelope are extremely curious creatures, and he stopped again. This time the fence post was between me and him so I moved about 6 inches to my right and reset. He thought about running again but was snorting trying to smell me to be able to figure out what I was. I pulled the trigger. He faultered, ran in a small circle, and fell down dead.
Ian was filming and I remember hearing him say that it was now or never to shoot because he was getting ready to bolt, thankfully my finger had the trigger halfway pulled back by that point. Mike was saying that he was a gorgeous buck and to get him. Dad was quiet but I’m sure he was holding his breath and praying I’d hit him.
I shot him thru the heart, like mutilated the heart, and death was pretty instant. My family likes to hunt but we don’t like to cause suffering. My heart was beating close to 800 miles an hour (Danny swears he could hear it beating over his hollering) but I wasn’t really shaky like I thought I would be. Actually, shooting at toad felt more natural than shooting at a gun range.
Everybody was so excited when I hit him. Mike was actually drooling over him when we got out to the field to retrieve him. After tons of pictures, a video plug about what happened, and lots of hugs, we field dressed him and took him back to the skinning shack. I shot at 6:43am and by 8am he was totally deconstructed and in the freezer. Mike is a master having been a butcher for 30 years and now being a taxidermist. He’ll be mounting toad for me. 🙂
Our family tradition is to have Dad spread the blood of your first kill on your face. My brother was highly concerned with this tradition holding for me so here’s the proof:
Then the hunt was on for dad. We rode around, stalked, walked about 7 miles, but after 2 possible shots and one miss, the sun went down without a second antelope in the freezer. 13 hours of hunting will wear you out so a quick dinner and bedtime it was. I slept so well but dad struggled worrying about being able to get one on Sunday.
Sunday morning we were out the door at 5:30am again. Dad spotted the same antelope he had shot at and missed the day before out in a cattle pasture with about 20 does. Danny stopped the truck in the middle of the road and dad climbed up the bank to get set up. He laid down in some burrs and propped on his backpack.
His shot from 258 yards hit low and as he was turning which meant it was gut shot and would require another hit. Thankfully the deer didn’t take off running – if you wound one, you have to hunt and find it. I didn’t want to be doing that all day. When he turned and paused, he had his butt towards us. Dad took two more shots, one missed high and the other missed right before Danny suggested they walk down the road and try to get closer to him. He laid down in a bunch of yucca plants with only his head and neck showing which was going to make for a hard shot.
I stayed with the truck spotting with a walkie talkie. They walked about 250 yards down the road and then started cutting thru the pasture. When they were about a 100 yards away, dad set up again and about that time the cows started grazing close to the antelope. After a couple minutes, they moved on. I think that actually helped distract the antelope from running. Dad shot and hit his ear but he didn’t get up. I think he knew this was the end and his lungs were filling up at this point. Dad shot and hit his neck the second time.
The fun part came next when we had to drag him 285 yards out of the field and thru the barbed wire fence to get him in the truck. Danny even ended up removing the fence stabilizers at the bottom level for all of us to get out.
Then we went to try to help Jimmy and David (Jimmy’s friend) get ones. After driving and walking for a few hours, Danny field dressed Dad’s antelope and stuffed in some ice to keep him from spoiling.
The original plan was to have a local processor process the meat and ship it to me. Apparently there are no processors within 150 miles of Logan New Mexico (business opportunity anyone?) which meant we bought a cooler and stuffed two antelopes in it. 79.5 pounds of antelope meat were checked on Southwest Airlines back to Kansas City. Dry ice froze them solid so they should make it for me to take them to a place in KC. Anyone have suggestions for someone?
Overall the trip was amazing! It was wonderful to get to spend time with my Dad and do something totally new and different. It was also great to be in enough shape to do it (reason 800 why I Crossfit 🙂 ). It is incredible to see one of God’s unique creations. He made the antelope perfect for being able to run from predators and He made them tasty for humans to eat. Thanks to God for blessing me with such an incredible experience!
Ps. Jimmy and David both got good antelopes pretty late on Sunday afternoon and I’ve got buck fever! 🙂 I’m ready to go hunting again.