Boy has the season been a roller coaster.
Montana’s antelope season opened on Oct. 11. My son Bill and I drove to Augusta, Mont. the night before in hopes of finding a few speed goats.
We located several antelope and devised a plan for the next morning. On Sunday, as the sun was coming up, we discovered that about 20 other hunters had the same idea we had, so we backed out of the area.
Our plan was to use our antelope decoy from Montana Decoy’s to stalk to within shooting range, but we decided it was a bad idea because of the number of hunters.
In my past columns, I have said that scouting and knowing the area will help you fill your tags. We had hunted the area before and had patterned the antelope, so we had a very good idea what they would do when pressured.
We drove about two miles away and set up our antelope decoy in an alfalfa field and backed off a safe distance. At 8 a.m., we looked across the field and saw several antelope heading our way.
When the antelope got to the edge of the field, they saw our decoy, came right in and I took a nice buck.
We field dressed the buck and pulled him over to where we were hiding and waited. Later, we heard several shots and knew that another group would be coming our way. At about 10:30, we saw another group heading our way when they saw our decoy. My son took a nice doe.
In Montana, everyone has to participate in the antelope draw for a tag. Last year, my son Bill drew a buck tag and I was left holding an empty bag. This year, I drew the buck tag, and Bill was able to pick up a surplus doe tag.
As in the past, my son and I try and look back on all of our hunts and see what worked and what didn’t. On this hunt, we had scouted the area before, patterned the animals we were hunting and used a decoy.
The antelope were spooked by other hunters, but when they saw our decoy it seemed to settle them down and give them the false feeling that the field was safe. When using a decoy, it is important that you have some idea of which direction the animals will be coming so that you can have your decoy facing that direction.
On Oct. 25, the general deer and elk season opened, and we were making our plans. My son and his wife, Karen, were heading to Las Vegas on the 22nd to see her dad and my grandson, Chris, and I would be heading out for the opener.
Chris is a staff sergeant in the Air Force and is stationed at Malmstrom Air Force base in Great Falls and has never been hunting.
At 0 dark 30 on the 25th, I picked up Chris and we headed out. At 6:30, we were set up at the edge of same alfalfa field where his dad and I shot our antelope waiting for the sun to come up.
At 7:30, we saw several deer in the field, and being that this was Chris’s first hunting trip, I told him to take the first shot. Now, this was his first trip, and he was a little excited and was having trouble getting on the deer with the scope and missed the shot.
At the sound of the shot, the deer headed to parts unknown, so we packed up and headed to another field.
We saw several deer in the next alfalfa field and tried to sneak up on them. Chris took two more shots and missed. I did the same.
It may sound as though we were just walking into the fields and shooting wrong, but this ranch covers about 135,000 acres, so a short walk is several miles. After returning to the truck, we headed into town for lunch.
When we returned to the ranch, we saw several deer bedded down on the back side of a hill so we parked the truck and headed after them. There was a dry canal running across the field and it came out just below the deer, so Chris and I jumped into it and headed out.
We managed to close the distance to 150 yards, and I told Chris to keep low so the deer would not see us. Chris is 6-foot-4, and for him to keep low is asking a lot.
When we got into position, Chris redeemed himself and made a great shot on a big fat mule deer doe. At the sound of the shot the deer scattered, but I was able to pick off one as she ran up the hill.
Just as Chris and I were checking out our deer, several more deer came over the hill and we collected two more for a total of four deer in 30 minutes.
After field dressing the deer, Chris walked back to our truck and got our deer cart. My cart will carry two deer just fine, but not four. As dark settled in on us, I finally called the rancher and he gave us permission to drive back and get them.
Now, you might think this is a lot of deer, but not really. I have taken four deer and one antelope, and all were donated to the food pantry at our church. That will feed a lot of people.
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