Antelope hunting with a bow and arrow can be one of the most enjoyable and budget-friendly hunts an archer can book out west these days. These hunts can be done for a small fraction of the cost of mule deer, elk, or even some upper-end whitetail hunts.
The hunts generally take place in August or September so they can be a wonderful filler hunt to keep your skills honed for the fall season. Not only that, but in many states, tags are readily available and can be purchased over the counter.
Excited To Hunt And Meet The Guides
In September of 2016, I found myself with just such a tag burning a hole in my pocket! My trip was planned with a good outfitter and I was on my way. It had been several years since I had hunted antelope and I was excited to give it a go.
I would be traveling to Trinidad, Colorado to hunt with C Bar Z Outfitters. I arrived to quaint but sufficient and clean accommodations. No frills, just the way I like it!
I met the guides and other hunters in camp and got an overview of the operation and plans for the first day. We were going to be sitting near water holes and we would be sitting all day.
The plan was to be dropped off at our assigned blinds an hour before light and picked up after dark sometime. Generally, antelope need to drink once a day and you never know when that will be.
"At 18 yards, I let the 650-grain Grizzlystik arrow fly. It flew true and disappeared right into the heart. I was elated, to say the least."
Arrival At The Blind
I was told the blinds were big and to pack everything I wanted to be comfortable all day. I took that really seriously! I had a cooler with drinks, snacks, a full lunch, and my iPad. I figured I may as well get some work done on the long sits. It was surprisingly cold on my arrival at the blind. It was all the way into the thirties in the early morning but had warmed up by ten or so. By noon, it was just plain scorching hot.
Plenty of Goats ... Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
The first day I saw plenty of goats but nothing came to drink at my water. It was a long day but nice. The heat was pretty extreme but the blinds provided excellent coverage.
The blinds were large and made of paneling and a thick covering. I figured out that by noon if I was in my underwear only and had cold drinks it was bearable.
And so went the next two days.
After 3 days I was pretty worn out on the heat but I was seeing goats and determined to stick it out.
A Change of Scenery
My guide told me on the third night they had a ranch I would probably like that hadn’t been hunted much but it was an hour and a half away. I jumped at the chance for a change of scenery.
So the next morning we left extra early for a blind on the new ranch. At first light, I instantly started seeing antelope. The rut had turned on! I watched bucks all morning in the distance running and fighting. I knew it was just a matter of time before one of the ole boys needed a drink.
Things happen fast when hunting, and I got caught not paying attention. I heard that old familiar sound of a “huffing” rutted-up buck very close to me. I had been engrossed in the newest book by John Grisham and the noise startled me.
By the time I looked up the buck had gotten his drink and was headed across the little tank dam at 50 yards. I had very little time to act, and lo and behold I watched my arrow sail a foot over his back. I was sick. He wasn’t a monster but he was a Pope and Young and that is what I had come for.
Looking For One Good Opportunity
I've always been a firm believer that on any given bow hunt you are looking for one good opportunity. I had just blown mine, and after all that sweating. To say I was disappointed in myself would be an understatement. I knew there wasn’t a great chance at another opportunity but again I was determined to sit it out.
Around three o’clock I was burning up my binos when I heard huffing and what sounded like a fight right over the tank dam out of my sight.
Burned On My Brain --- For the Rest of My Life
What happened next will be burned on my brain for the rest of my life. It is one of those moments that only happen in the wild places and can never really be done justice with the written word.
All of the sudden the two combatants burst over the tank dam and rolled into the water. They were in water up to their flanks. I witnessed what I can only guess was one of the "baddest" antelope fights of all times! They went at it for 3 or 4 minutes that seemed like an eternity to me, and all at 35 yards. I was in such awe that I hadn’t even thought about actually shooting one of the them.
One of the goats was the one I had missed earlier, that I would have been thrilled with. But, the other buck was considerably larger, both in horn and body. I wanted him in the worst way!
A Stroke of Luck
After they finished their contest in the water the smaller buck, sensing defeat, took off the way he had come. The larger buck savored the victory and had himself a long drink. When he had enough he left the water and by a stroke of luck walked straight to me.
At 18 yards, I let the 650-grain Grizzlystik arrow fly. It flew true and disappeared right into the heart. I was elated, to say the least. I had killed my goat. The buck hadn’t gone 20 yards before piling up.
Underwear and Boots!
I went to go admire my quarry in what else, my underwear and boots! The buck was an old warrior. He was battle-scarred and actually had a pretty freshly broken back leg I hadn’t noticed on the hoof. He was exactly what I had wanted.
Pope and Young Record
The buck ended up being a mid 70’s buck and made the Pope and Young records at 75 and change. I could not have been happier. For kind of a last minute thrown-together hunt, everything worked out just right.
A Mid-Season, Budget-Friendly Hunt
If you are ever looking for a mid-season filler hunt or are just looking for budget-friendly hunting, I recommend trying an archery antelope hunt. It can be a ton of fun without breaking the bank.
As a side note, I had quite the accident while taking care of my trophy. The buck was caped and quartered and the work was all but done. I only had left to cut the lower legs off at the joints on the back quarters.
Tiredness and carelessness got the better of me and I cut my left index finger at the joint and it was bad. Being a long way from the nearest hospital, I did a homemade patch job with alcohol and super glue. That old finger still doesn’t close all the way! Be careful out there.