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Get Back to the Basics | Antelope Depredation Hunt

Get Back to the Basics | Antelope Depredation Hunt

Last week I had the great opportunity to join some friends on a late-season antelope depredation hunt. I love hunting antelope as there is action all day.

Well, I also love antelope meat. LOVE IT!

We were all hunting does and given the sheer numbers of antelope in the area, harvesting one would be easy. So easy, in fact, that I found I dropped my guard and made errors of the most basic grade.

I especially like to share these stories because I think it is extremely important to show the reality of hunting and the fact that people with extensive experience often make the most basic errors.

We headed out to the hunting properties in northeastern Colorado. The sun was bright, but there was a cold wind blowing across the plains. We hunted for about 30 minutes before we encountered the first herd of antelope. We worked our way closer to avoid bumping them to a run. I was with a group of men who in the most gentlemanly way wanted me to shoot first.

I didn’t have the heart to tell them, no, but I can get quite uncomfortable with the pressure of so many eyes on me!

We got to 300 yards of the herd which was starting to get jumpy.

I took time setting my MOA’s and tried to take into account the hard wind, but I just couldn’t stop the movement of my gun from the wind.

The animals bumped back another 150 yards and stopped. I readjusted my MOA’s again and took aim.

I still had a bit of sway and never should have waged a shot, but I did. 

I had a clean miss, but should not have missed at 450 yards. I broke the first rule of hunting—do not take a shot if you are not 100% sure it is sound. I KNEW I most likely had too much movement but opted for the shot.

Luckily nothing was wounded but my pride. After walking away dripping with self-loathing, I decided I had to get my shot more organized. I went through it in my head. I knew what I did. I reset my scope and waited for what I would hope would be another opportunity.

That opportunity happened a short time later as a herd of antelope was heading for the property line at high speed. They were roughly 200 yards out and going under the fence at a quick pace.

I wasn’t sure I wanted the shot, but set it up just in case I got a good opportunity.

Here is where I made error number two. The antelope were slowing, but not stopping as they went under the fence. I’m not a very sound shooter with moving animals, but I realize many people are.

After some encouragement to take the shot, I did. It was another clean miss. Once again, I knew not to take the shot, but overthought myself and took it. Again, nothing was wounded but my now non-existent pride.

I reset my scope, reloaded, and chided myself over and over.

We hunted for a couple more hours as others filled their tags. I rolled through my mind all of the missteps and errors.

I worked through each step in my head methodically and hoped there might be another opportunity, but I also knew I had 2 opportunities under my belt that I had blown. Gah. That is such a heartsick feeling.

After some extensive ribbing about whether my ammo supply would last for my particular hunt, I did get another opportunity. And now I was nervous.

I felt a lot more pressure than I had earlier in the morning. We located a single doe at 350 yards. I took an unusually long time setting up, but in my head, I decided that if I blew it by taking too long it was better than taking a rushed shot.

By the time I got solid, she was starting to get nervous and began to move out. I took the shot and got a solid hit on her. I was so relieved!

We tracked her into a ravine where we found her still up but mortally wounded. I gave her a final shot and thanked the heavens for the opportunity. It was a fun day with good friends and now I had some delicious antelope meat for the freezer.

My takeaway from this hunt is a solid reminder that no matter what experience a hunter has, he or she MUST go back to the basics each and every time. Failure to do so will result in missed shots at best…and wounded animals at the very worst.

I am grateful I got a final opportunity that let me move slowly through the steps. And rest assured, I will remember this experience for a lifetime and will keep it in mind each time I decide to put an animal in my sights.

About the Author

Kirstie Pike

Kirstie Pike is the founder and CEO of Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women, the leading edge for women’s performance hunting gear for nine years and running.
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