Last spring I drew out for a North San Rafael antelope hunt, any weapon. It took a number of years to draw out for this permit, too many for me to remember. But it's just one of those things you do each year, put in and then you don't draw out over and over.
So when I finally did draw out, I was very shocked. It seemed a long way off in the future when I would get to hunt this antelope. But, in the back of my mind, I thought I want to get this antelope with my muzzleloader and not just any muzzleloader, but a flintlock muzzleloader rifle I won several years ago at Fort Bridger, in a raffle, lest you think I can shoot good enough to win a gun.
I regularly shoot in blackpowder shoots with our BookCliff Muzzleloaders black powder club and attend shoots throughout the state. So it's not a stretch for me to hunt black powder as I've taken deer and elk with black powder.
But, the antelope is a different breed. They are so fast the second fastest animal alive and probably the fastest for continuous speed. And, they have great eyes, they can see behind them and all sides at nearly the same time. Sneaking up on an antelope is a challenge, if he catches a glimpse or a whiff of you then he's gone, or not. It depends on the antelope. Some really don't seem to care that you're around and others will take off immediately.
Bucks this time of year have one thing on their minds, they like to keep their does herded together and will fight with and chase off all the younger bucks to protect their does from intruders.
All these things considered, we took off antelope hunting late the first day after I had attended the Melon Day festivities. My husband was a little annoyed that we had to wait until after I got home from work, but what do you do?
He loves driving the desert looking at these creatures and trying to figure out if it's a nice one or not. I wasn't really concerned if it was a nice one or not. I just wanted to get close enough to shoot it with the flintlock and that would be trophy enough for me. Who knows I could be the only woman who has taken an antelope with a flintlock.
The first day I saw a nice buck with a blue collar around his neck. He was a "shooter" as my husband said, but he was too far away for a shot with the muzzleloader and he wouldn't let me get much closer. That same night I could have taken a small buck who was only 100 yards away. But, not on opening day, maybe the last day, but never on opening.
The next night I snuck close enough to a buck to get a shot, but I wasn't for sure it was the right buck as there were a couple of small ones in the herd too. So I was looking through the binoculars when I should have been shooting. Didn't get that one, no shot.
The next day.....no hunting......must get the paper out.
But, Tuesday, an entire day to hunt as I cleared the calendar. Started out earlier, but we kept stopping and looking and going on roads and never made it to where we initially started for; the Mounds area, we started there three times, but never quite made it.
We took a bit of time to sightsee and went to the MK tunnels and then started back on the road and there was another road leading off so we took that. We saw a small buck and he wasn't worth shooting and then I saw a larger buck running full speed at the smaller buck to scare him away. My husband said this one was a "shooter" so I jumped out and walked behind trees until I came into muzzleloader range. I sat down and aimed at his chest just like when I shoot the paper targets or silhouettes and set the set trigger and squeezed the trigger and boom. The gun went off and if you've ever shot flintlock you know that's not always the case, but it did. I thought I heard a thud like the round ball had hit him. He jumped and ran off a small ledge. I loaded again just in case and we headed down where he was last seen and he hadn't gone too far. About 20 feet and he had dropped. One shot through the lungs.
The worst part about getting one is that it's all over and who knows when you might get this opportunity again. But, I did get a decent buck and I'm happy with him and that's my hunting story and I'm sticking to it.