I’ve always been intrigued by different things, and when I’d heard there was a plan by my Dad and some other relatives to put a hunt together in Montana, I knew I was in. I don’t get very many opportunities to hunt with a rifle and when one does arrive, I’m right there waiting.
I started scrounging every nickle & dime I could just to make sure I had enough $$$ pooled together for the adventure. BTW, a Classico Spaghetti Sauce jar will hold $100 worth the quarters perfectly.
The moment I knew when we were headed west, I carved my name in stone on the vacation list at work. There wasn’t a team of horses or enough $$$ to keep me away from heading farther west than I’d ever been.
Our applications were in and I was checking the mail every day waiting and hoping to see if I’d drawn an Elk permit or an Antelope permit. Then that day arrived when the envelope showed up in my mailbox. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I ripped open the envelope revealing my Antelope tag.
Weeks seemed like months and most of my days would never end, as my time drew closer and closer to our departure date.
As I previously stated, I don’t get much time behind a long gun. Slugs and muzzleloaders are the tools of my trade. I looked at my trusty 22-250 and knew the bull barrel & over-sized scope were a touch too heavy for a hunt like this. After all that gun is custom cut for varmint hunting.
As luck would have it, my Father-In-law showed me this beauty of a .270 he’d recently picked up at an auction. The gun was in parts without a stock. After a trip to the gun shop it was re-blued and fitted with a beautiful laminated stock. It boasts a crisp Belgian receiver with a Shilen barrel. I asked to buy it outright, but I was told ‘No.’ However, I could borrow it if I got a scope put on it and bore-sighted. After putting a scope on it, and having it boresighted, I was out to the range. At 100yds, I couldn’t hit the side of a bus from the inside. So back to 50yds I went. At 50yds, I was over 12″ high, left questioning my boresighter’s technique….After making some adjustments,(somewhere around 60 clicks) I was exactly where I needed to be, a touch high at 100yds. At 200yds I was spot on and ready to go.
Then there was the flu bug….I clearly recall bathing myself in Lysol and wondering if drinking Germ X would rid myself of the flu bug from the inside out…. It hit everyone in my house like freight train. Thankfully I dodged that bullet and remained bug free(to this day).*knocking on wood*
Then that day I’d waited for came. With all my gear comfortably packed in the trailer I jumped behind the steering wheel with the GPS set for an address just outside of Poplar Montana. On the way out, we spotted a myriad of wild animals. Included were Antelope(yeah they got the blood pumping), MuleDeer, a couple Elk, many, many Pheasants and some beautiful ND Turkeys. 15+hrs later we pulled into the farm and introductions were made.
Our landowner told us he’d purposely kept people off his land in preparation for our arrival and the river bottoms were primed for Pheasants. Off like a bunch of kids we went.
After running through some prime pheasants grounds, we were back to the farm and unloading our gear. Tom, the landowner came over and asked us who had what tags. I told him I had an Antelope tag along with a Deer tag. He introduced me to his son Jim and said Jim would help me with the area showing me where i could find a quality Antelope.
That morning, Jim and I were on the road signing in to all the Block Management Area(BMA) boxes before we hit the rolling hills and coulees of Montana. About halfway to the third BMA box we come across 4 antelope standing right in the road… It couldn’t really be this easy could it….?? Passing on taking the easy target, we hit the road filling out the rest of or BMA slips. Afterall taking one of 2 Does or one of the 2 half rack Bucks didn’t pose much of a challenge or pique my interest all that much. Down the road we went, trading stories and laughing like we’d known each other for years.
After finding a large herd just down from the farm and getting busted by a bad wind we found a huge group on a hillside. A long sneak only yielded in finding the herd had moved up the hill and further out of range. After hot-footing it to the top of the coulee I spotted the last of the herd moving over the hill about 300yds over. That’s when I saw him, a silhouette of what I know was one of the largest Antelope I’ll most likely ever see. He had horns that looked like TV antennae….Uber-thick and incredibly tall. Jimmy, whispered “shoot that [censored]….* and just like that he was gone. In all that whole sequence lasted about 3 seconds. Good Lord, was that a huge Antelope.
Back down the hill and back on the road…..
It wasn’t too long after that and we were back on the track of the herd we’d spotted earlier in the day. Jim said they’d be out in the section we’d just entered. Out of the truck, I hit the ground running(more like a brisk step). Up and over more than a few coulees, we rounded the outer break of a long coulee when I froze in my tracks. “There’s one!” I darn-near shouted….. With a quick review of the overall size, I decided that was the one I wanted. Awfull-handed, I touched off the 270 sending a round through my target. “Boy” jimmy said, “You plugged him good.” Too bad it was touch low and my speed goat was up and over the fence-line onto private land we didn’t have permission to be on. No one ever told me I’d find an Antelope laying down…. Much less have to shoot one basically from the hip at an awful-handed postion….cripes…
Jimmy was on the phone making frantic calls trying to gain access. About 5min. later, we had access. Jim told me we’d get the truck and find a gate. I told him to get the truck and find the gate, I needed to find my Antelope.
Up to the top of the coulee I went, just in time to see my Antelope head down into a coulee about a mile over. Pretty much running that mile, I got to the coulee where I saw my Antelope drop down. I slowly started my stalk down into the coulee. Instantly, my Antelope was up and heading down the coulee. I instinctively drew my gun up and placed the crosshairs just behind the front shoulder placing a round perfectly through the chest cavity clipping the heart.
Just like that, my Antelope hunt was over. I’d successfully harvested and animal I’d dreamed about for months. To be perfectly honest, my Antelope is no trophy, but for me it’s something to scratch off my life-list. I’m extremely happy with my harvest and in my book it’s a trophy I’ll never forget.
One last thing, I’d like to thank Gamehide for putting together a last minute order I had. Their product line continues to impress me. My Blackmax Hoodie combined with a Blackmax Mock-T kept me very comfortable in those wild Montana winds during my hunt. I tip my hat to all the guys at Gamehide and I look forward to future hunts wearing their impressive hunting cloths.