Nov 10, 2014

Wyoming, a great way to start                                

By: Marc Drewek

The 2014 hunting season started out with a trip to Gillette, Wyoming to hunt antelope. Earlier in the year I was invited by John Volkman with Mike Weick Sales as a guest of Carbon Express. I was joined by five other archery dealers on this trip. I looked forward to hunting with a group of guys who have the same passion for the outdoors as I do. We hunted about ten miles south of Gillette with Center Of The Nation Outfitters who specialize in trophy antelope hunting. All used the Intercept Axon, a top of the line crossbow produced by Carbon Express. Most of the hunting took place over waterholes but spot and stalk was an option if the weather didn’t cooperate. As we all know Mother Nature rules all. Our hope was for hot and dry conditions because antelope need to drink; the dryer the better. Before we arrived, they had several inches of rain but the forecast looked good, highs in the 80’s and a slight chance of rain.

After a pretty flawless flight from Green Bay to Gillette, our feet were on the ground in Wyoming. Once the doors opened at the airport the smell of sage filled my nostrils, I knew I had arrived in the west. After stoping for lunch and refreshments it was off to camp. Upon arriving at camp, we were greeted by our guide, Damon, followed by a quick tour. Once we secured our gear, the first order of business was to make sure our crossbows were on. Six shots and a few adjustments later, I was comfortable with it. After a long day of travel and a delicious dinner prepared by our camp cook, Sherry, it was off to bed. As always, the night before a hunt is filled with little sleep and dreams of huge antelope.

I started the first day by grabbing someone else’s backpack and leaving my arrows at camp (rookie mistake). I had to be picked up by the outfitter Calvin Taylor for a ride back to camp to pick up some arrows. As we pulled up, Scott, from Bull’s Eye Sports, already had a beautiful antelope buck in the back of the truck. My encounter for the day was a small buck that had passed within two feet of the blind. Again that day the rain would come. I watched a thunderstorm come in from the east for several hours before it hit. When you’re out west and you look off into the distance things seem a lot closer than they are. Looking out across the vast landscape can be deceiving. The day ended with a call into the radio show for an update on the hunt.

Day two started with some spot and stalk hunting. You have to be creative and use the terrain to your advantage when you try to sneak up on these animals. Their eyesight is incredible. The land is pretty much flat but is scattered with small hills and valleys that can provide some cover. Carrying around a heavy crossbow provided its challenges as well. The previous night’s rain would keep the antelope off the waterholes until later in the day as the heat and wind would dry things up. The blinds we hunted out of were fiberglass huts with windows and observation holes on all sides. It was amazing to me how comfortable it was inside these blinds despite the heat. You had to be careful when you would open the door there might be an unwelcome creepy crawler inside. Although I didn’t have an encounter, we were, in fact, in snake country. I saw several really nice bucks that day but they were chasing does and keeping the younger bucks away as the rutting activity was starting to pick up. The day would end on a positive note, John, from Farmstead Archery, took a nice buck that evening.

Day three was one of the most memorable days hunting ever. The duck blind is where I was going to hunt. It looked like an awesome spot. I had a water tank behind me and a small pond in front of me. As luck would have it, my first visitors were a huge bull and a cow. It seemed this bull was quite fond of this cow and was expressing his feeling for her for over an hour. This activity began to attract more cows. I had over 50 cows and several huge bulls surrounding the blind. At one point, all my shooting ports were filled with cow’s heads. This had turned into an all-out bovine love fest! I even had the happy couple slam into the side of the blind. This went on for several more hours; I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to call Damon for an immediate extraction. After a meltdown and plenty of laughs, it was off to another blind. That night I had another opportunity at a buck at 17 yards, but he wasn’t what I was looking for.

The last day started out with Scott, from Dunham’s, taking his first antelope. It was awesome to share that experience. For me, it was back to the blind. By 4:00 p.m. I had enough, and asked to be picked up. After two misses the trip was coming to an end. On our way to pick up another hunter, we spotted three bucks. We just may have a chance! Damon put me 40 yards out and I took the shot. It hit him, but a little back. He took off and went down at the edge of a fence. We returned to camp and Calvin made a trip out and determined we needed to make another shot. After a short chase, I made a better shot and the antelope was down. As I walked up to the animal, I was proud and honored to have this opportunity to hunt. He was beautiful, with dark long horns and will have his place on the wall. Congratulations to Andy, from Broken Arrow, and Gary, from Bucks and Bulls Archery, who also took nice antelope.

The best part of traveling to hunt is meeting new people, the sights and sounds of a new hunting area and the experience of a new hunting adventure. Thanks John, Erik, Damon, all the guys I shared camp with and Calvin and Sherry Taylor, from Center of the Nation Outfitters. For a quality antelope hunt contact these folks at (307)687-0087. Remember to share your passion for the outdoors with someone it will make you a better person.