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88 Inches Pronghorn

October 22, 2009

Deb and I spotted him Sunday morning. We made a stalk but were unsuccessful. We saw him again on Tuesday as Monday was a bad spotting day. (Too many heat waves)
We were watching him from 3 miles away according to the map. We made a second stalk a grueling 4 hour adventure down a canyon out of sight. We popped up exactly where they were only to have a smaller buck bedded between us and the bad boy. Might have been able to get a running shot at 400 yards but chose to wait for another day. We spotted him again on Wednesday morning, this time across the Owyhee canyon with 13 does, again from 3 miles away. The spotting conditions were perfect at the time with little to no heat waves and that's when I could see those huge prongs and they were well above his ears, at three miles when you can see that kind of detail, he's got to be big! I drove up to within a mile and a half so as not to spook them into a run. By then the heat waves were so bad you could just see blurry tan spots. Hiked sideways 90 degrees from them into the canyon then had to go about two miles up the canyon and popped up through the only cut we had in the rim to have a look. We were about where I thought we should be but no sign of them and began to wonder if they moved down to water or just fed out to the right as that was the direction they were headed when we saw them last. Started up the hill to a bench, but before we could get there, a small buck appeared from our right. He was curious and approached to within 200 yards looking at us. We were worried that he would blow out our buck, so it was a foot race to see who would get there first. It was neck and neck for several hundred yards, and then we got to where I could just barely see over the crest of the hill and spotted another buck bedded at 250 yards. We stopped and the little buck kept going. When he got near the bedded buck, he got up and went after him and started sparring with their horns. By now they were probably 300 yards, and then I finally see the big boy for the first time since the stalk began. He came from just over the crest of the hill just out of my sight and was headed over to have it out with the two invading bucks. I could have shot him then but Deb said wait, He's just chasing them off his herd, he'll be back. Meanwhile two of his does popped out of the canyon from our left and evidently had been down to water and were returning. They started heading right for us, then we knew that bad boy would follow. Sure enough! So I laid my pack in front of me to get a rest as we were flat on the ground and had been crawling through the rocks for 100 yards or so while bad boy ran off the two bucks. As I put my arms and gun over the pack a loud crunch from the empty water bottles sent a cringe up my spine. I laid with my head down for what seemed like two minutes and started thinking he was veering away from us. So I lifted my head to look and saw the two does at 150 yards, out of my peripheral vision I saw the tips of his horns more right than the does but at 100 yards and coming. If he heard the crunch I suspect he thought I was another buck and was coming to run me off. When you see the tips they are not very big so I began to wonder if it really was him. The tips kept getting bigger and bigger until we were looking at each other in the eye at 45 yards. Moment of truth, it's now or never as he was as surprised as could be. Boom!!!!!!!
Deb and I were wondering looking at him on the ground if he would make 15 inches. I was happy with them because he was one of the two that we spotted that had the heavy horns which to me makes them look so much better.
Now the work begins. We decided to just pack him out all at once so we wouldn't have to make two trips, cape and all. We were short on water but made it.
We fought to get the tape measure out and to our surprise he was 17 inches. We had been turning down 14 and 15 inchers the whole time we were out there and didn't know it! We had made a decision that if we couldn't get one of the two heavy horned bucks we probably wouldn't shoot one. As luck would have it, he turned out to be a real trophy and will end up in the top ten for the state.
Upon breaking camp the next morning and driving out still pondering about the hunt we drove right up to a herd that was bedded on a hill at 200 yards that had a buck that would have been the dream of most hunters with a harem of 13 does. He stood and looked long enough to snap a few pictures. I think he is as high as mine but not near as heavy. Unbelievable, I felt the most gratified feeling upon looking at this trophy at 200 yards from the road knowing that all the hard work and patience paid off. I owe it all to my guide. She kept me from shooting on our first stalk and had the gumption to snap a picture and then zoom in after taking it only to show me that his prong was even with his ears. (A buck that was bedded in with bad boy) she made me hold out for one of the heavier bucks as we had several opportunities for closer smaller bucks. She kept me focused and when I got tired of spotting she would pick up the slack and give me the report buck by buck.

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