Long, Cold, Hard Hunt


Oct 24, 2012
Missouri River, South Dakota
I am new to the site, infact this my first post. I have lurked on and off for awhile and decided I had to join. Here the first post and the story I wrote of the me and a buddies rifle Antelope trip along with a couple of pictures.

After not filling Pronghorn Antelope tags with archery equipment, my buddy and I were enthusiastic to head out west again after Antelope, but this time with Boom Sticks! I have hunted this area in NW South Dakota for about the last 6-7 years when I drew tags and there were always plenty of goats around for the opportunity to be selective and find a really nice one. But after the hard winters 2 and 3 years ago, huge amounts of the population succumb to the harsh conditions. We knew going in, this hunt could be a challenge to our skills and persistence, but not to the level we actually found there. On the 7 hour drive we were getting excited as we always do at the possibilities and all of the dreams and visions of shooting a huge one. But our tone started changing the closer we got, as we were not seeing groups of antelope out on the prairies like we were accustomed to viewing. After arriving, we setup camp and started checking out all of our Hot Spots and Hiding Holes where we have had success in the past. Much to our surprise we pretty much saw nothing. Blaming the 40mph winds and the temps in the 30's as the reason for not seeing any, we slept that first night hoping our "reasoning" was the truth and an explanation.

Next morning found us waking up to temps in the mid teens and frost on everything. Off in the distance of the North Dakota and Montana horizons, a haze could be seen of possible impending moisture. Listening to the weather forecast all that was said was a 30% chance of moisture, so we thought how bad could it be? We set out looking for antelope and by sun rise we had found a few but no big numbers and no bucks. We made a decision that first morning that it appeared that if we were going to find the bucks, we would have to get into the back country away from the roads. We started our first hike and got back in about a mile to mile and a half, and found a small group of two does and two fawns. We sat watching them waiting for a buck to show himself, but none showed. We were just about ready to move on and then heard some "wheezing", or whatever the sound an antelope makes and there on the horizon was the buck. He wasn't big, but wasn't small either. After much debate and studying we decided to pass on him and look for something bigger. After trekking back out and then on the way to checking another area, then the moisture started. It wasn't in the form of rain or drizzle, but Snow!! The flakes looked like cotton balls falling down! This made us a little nervous, because it didn't look like it was going to slow up anytime soon.

As we started into the new area, the ground was starting to turn white, and just as we crested a small hill, right in front of us a good buck stood up, all by himself. I told Eric, if you want him take him. I don't know if it was the snow falling or the lack of numbers we had seen, but let’s just say I didn't have to ask twice. His .308 barked and landed solid behind the shoulder and within a couple of minutes we had the first tag filled. It was pretty cool to see as the snow was falling and then just after we got done taking a couple of pictures, the skies open up and the sun started shining. After finishing up with all of the skinning and deboning of the meat, we were off to find the next buck to fill my tag. We searched hard and many miles, but we found only 2 other bucks. One was in the middle of a big flat, 3 miles away with no possible way to get close, and the other was 300 yards across the fence on private property. So again we decided to start hiking again.

We set off and got back in about one and half miles and found a group of about fifteen. This was the biggest group we found and we kept looking for the buck and couldn't see one in the group. Assuming the herd buck had been shot out of it already we were getting ready to leave and then we saw him. He was a good decent buck as well, and at this point we were starting to get the feeling that if we found one that we would be happy with, we better make it happen. The herd was moving away from us, and something all of a sudden spooked them as we were getting into position and within thirty seconds they were a mile away and still moving. By the time we stopped watching them and they slowed down, they were two miles from us. But we knew there was a back way to access this property that would allow us to get ahead of them. We got in the vehicle and headed around to the other access point, and by the time we got there and we knew we only had an hour and half, two tops before it would be too dark. It was going to be just over a two mile hike to get to were we thought they would be, but being the adventurers that were are, we headed out.

It was still cold, high of about forty degrees that day and temperatures were currently dropping, but despite that we were clipping along at a pretty quick pace to get there. We made it to the place we anticipated ambushing them and found them about six to seven hundred yard away. There was no way to close the distance as the country was wide open, but they started feeding around so I setup for a shot, just hoping they would work their way closer. After sitting for about thirty minutes the group had closed to about 350 yards, which I was confident I could make that shot. We sat there glassing, but we could not pick out the buck in the group. Maybe he didn't follow them? Maybe he took a couple does out of the group and left? We didn't know and now the herd was starting to feed away from us and we began to wonder if we should get back to the truck before dark. Just then we took one last look and low and behold he was there the whole time, just couldn't pick out. We got him spotted, I got the gun up, the scope on him and he looked pretty small in the lens! I asked the range and Eric said 480 yards. I asked him "where do I even aim?" and he said, “Line the top of your post in the crosshairs on his back line, and allow for some wind.” I had a solid rest, squeezed the trigger, had a nice crisp pull and I sent the bullet flying from the 25-06. I was already moving the bolt action down to reload, and we heard the "Whop!" of the impact. He ran a short distance and stopped and we watched him intently to see him tip over, but he never did. We could tell was hit by his actions and behavior. We finally decided that it was not an immediate lethal hit, probably too far back, and decided to back out and come back in the morning, hoping he would expire. After a cold walk back to the truck, some warm soup and a surprisingly good sleep, we headed out in the morning again. The thermometer in the truck on the way said 12 degrees! We were able to find a shorter route to get to where we last saw him the night before and headed back in there...again. We looked around for him, or any sign of blood or anything to go on, and found nothing. After looking for about 15-20 minutes I decided to get up on a little hill and try to get a better vantage point and no sooner had I got there, I saw the white of his belly under a sage brush. He had succumbed to the cold and the blood loss early that morning and didn't make it more than 30 yards from where we had last seen him. We were jubilant and relieved to find him there dead. Some quick pictures, some skinning and deboning and I was hiking the mile and half back to the truck with meat and the prize from our long, hard, cold hunt.



robby denning

Staff member
Feb 25, 2012
SE Idaho
Welcome to Rokslide! and thanks for taking the time to share. Good goats, too.

I had to move your thread to the antelope thread. The forum you posted on is for "Live Hunts". No worries, lots of us miss that. See you on the antelope thread and thanks for being part of Rokslide.