I have had the opportunity to travel west to hunt different big game animals a few times. One time, I traveled to Montana to chase pronghorn and I did not fill my tag. So, antelope stayed on my list of big game animals I wanted to hunt successfully.
This past August, I loaded up my truck with my trusty Remington 7mm-08 rifle and hunting gear, and I headed west, cutting through southwest Missouri and into the northern part of Oklahoma to reach the northeast corner of New Mexico. At times, I could see for miles, and I enjoyed seeing this new territory filled with open farmland of either cattle farms or wind farms. The closer I would get to the wind farms, the more I realized just how monstrous those windmills stood.
Just a few miles after I crossed into New Mexico, I arrived in Clayton. This is the area I would be hunting with Trophy Ridge Outfitters (TRO). I made my way to the ranch and met my hosts, Audrey and Roger McQueen. You may remember Audrey from her claim to fame as third place winner in the Professional Division of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s annual bugling competition in 2011.
The McQueens welcomed several other hunters in camp for the opening of the 2012 pronghorn antelope season. After dinner we all attended a meeting, met our guides and found out who would be paired up for the hunt.
TRO usually assigns two hunters per guide. I would be hunting with Jim Sylvester, a hunter from Colorado Springs, Colo. Our guide, Kyran Walker of Eager, Ariz, would take us to the antelope. The New Mexico Game and Fish conducts a drawing for antelope licenses annually. When you get drawn, your license is for a specific privately owned ranch. My ranch and Jim’s ranch lay close in proximity, making it easy for Kyran to accommodate our hunting needs.
We headed out before daylight on the first morning to Jim’s ranch, to a place where Kyran had seen antelope earlier. We hoped they would still be in the same area. We walked and did some glassing from higher vantage points. Jim and Kyran tried stalking closer to some of the groups of antelopes, but didn’t have any luck. I sat back at the truck, glassing and watching from a distance. No need to give the antelope another human to see, one trying to sneak closer and possibly spooking them off.
After several unsuccessful stalking attempts on this ranch, the men returned and we made our way on down the road to “my ranch.” We saw a nice buck. Kyran and I got out and put a stalk on him; at one point we crawled to close the distance. Unfortunately, cattle in the area found us interesting, too. We closed the distance to about 500 yards and then, as luck would have it, the antelope decided something was up and took off.
So, we went back to the truck and on the way, noticed another buck. We stalked within 400 yards of him. He just stood there broadside, but with the high crosswinds and the long distance, the conditions caused me to think I’d just watch him for while. He took off.
We drove around to the other side of this ranch and saw another buck. We looked in the direction he headed and it looked like we could get around him. So we drove on around to the next crossroad. We quickly parked. I grabbed my rifle and we started closing the distance on him. We had just enough of an elevation advantage that we could walk bent over without him seeing us. Of course, that meant we couldn’t see him either, so every once in a while we would stand up and look to see if we were still on the right track.
We got to the edge of a lip in the terrain and the buck traveled a little more than 100 yards in front of us. I slowly stood up all the way and looked at the buck through my scope. He stood broadside. I squeezed the trigger and he dropped right where he stood.
It was just a little before 4 in the afternoon on the first day of my three-day hunt. But, I was very pleased to be putting my tag on a trophy antelope and taking him back to Missouri.
I’d like to thank Audrey and Trophy Ridge Outfitters for helping me mark another big game species off my list. If antelope is on your list, New Mexico has the trophy you’re looking for. The deadline to get your application in for 2013 is March 20 at 5 p.m. This year’s dates for rifle season are Aug. 24 through Aug. 26 and for muzzleloader season is October 5 through Oct. 7. ()
Gear used on this hunt
Mossy Oak camo
Winchester Ballistic Silvertip 140 grain 7mm-08 ammunition
Bushnell Elite 3-9×40 scope
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 binoculars
Bushnell Chuck Adams edition laser rangefinder
LOWA Renegade GTX boots
Marti Davis Afield is sponsored by HERCAMOSHOP.COM.