For the third season in a row I was privileged to draw a buck pronghorn tag on the Cage Ranch. This year would be a first for me as my oldest son, Ty, age ten, would accompany me on a big game hunt. Ty is a soccer player, and adheres to an intense schedule that prohibits him from regularly participating in varied outdoor pursuits. Ty’s weekend off from soccer commitments happened to coincide with opening day of pronghorn season.
I picked up Ty from school at 3:00 pm on Friday afternoon. We talked hunting, and observed the numerous pronghorn family groups during the drive through the Eastern Plains. Upon arriving at the Ranch, we decided to scout a few familiar pastures. Ty and I patrolled an area just east of headquarters, and then headed to the west when we could not locate any goats. As we drove the county road, we started to spot the white, tan and black animals grazing a few thousand feet off the road. Ty had his own binoculars so I asked him to start looking for horns. A setting sun prohibited optimal viewing, yet we were still able to observe six quality pronghorn bucks demonstrating seasonal rutting behavior.
Ty and I flipped between the Outdoor and Sportsman’s Channel while eating our dinner. Each hunting show viewed heightened the level of excitement for the next day. Bob arrived later in the evening, and Ty refused to hit the rack as he wanted to participate in the next day’s strategy conversation. When his eyelids became too heavy it was time to get some sleep.
Dense fog moved in overnight, and provided an unwelcome start to Saturday morning. This situation presented obvious challenges as our fast moving quarry would be difficult to spot. Once the wind picked up at around 8:30 am, the fog started to lift. Bob had spotted a nice buck running does in the Stacey Pasture earlier in the week. We decided to hunt that terrain first. As in prior years, we hiked our way to vantage points where we could stealthily glass unsuspecting animals. Minutes into our drive, Bob stopped his truck on a two-track, and then slowly walked to the crest of an adjacent hill. After glassing the area, he hurried back and announced that he saw the buck that he had found earlier in the week. He was an absolute shooter, and we would pursue him.
We made our way a couple of miles south in order to establish an ambush point. Bob spotted the speed goats moving in our general direction. There were two bucks in the group, including one that was obviously mature. With Ty trailing me, I worked my way into a position where I could see the animals. Although I knew they had not noticed our presence, given their vision, it would not be long before they busted us. I set my bipod down, and worked to pick the buck up in my scope. Bob provided me a range of 270 yards, and I let out a breath. Once I felt confident and calm, I squeezed the trigger. The shot missed and the entire group started to run. The big buck actually moved into a favorable position about 220 yards in front of me and stopped. Following Bob’s direction, I ran forward, took a solid position, chambered a round and squeezed the trigger. Unharmed, the pronghorn turned to his left, and started to move with speed. I regained my composure, and put the crosshairs between his shoulders. Once comfortable, I squeezed the trigger for the third time. Through my scope, I watched the buck crumble to the ground.
Hugs, smiles and high fives were abundant. Bob congratulated me, and I thanked him for his expert tutelage. Ty was visibly excited. He indicated that he is ready to go through Hunter Safety this next summer. I look forward to helping Ty on his first hunt.
|Knife||Knives of Alaska – Light Hunter Combo – Suregrip||Gutted and butchered 2 goats with ease|
|Ear Protection||SoundGear||A must have for hunters|
|Clothing||Under Armour Hunt||Warm, breathable & durable|
|Boots||Under Armour Speed Freak||Light, tough & comfortable|
|Rifle (.30-06)||Tikka T3 Light||Accurate & proven incredibly effective|
|Scope||Bushnell Elite||4 x 12 works great|
|Binoculars||Vortex Diamondback||Solid optics – upgrade to the Viper HD|
|Round (168g)||Barnes VOR-TX||Precise and lethal|
|GPS||Garmin with OnXmaps||A must have for hunters who hunt public|
|Camera||Intova||High quality video|
|Bipod||Bog-Pod||Great – get the tripod for additional stability|