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General Hunting

Shooting From Windy Stand

Contributing Writer

 

You know it's breezy when a double ladder stand moves with the
wind

 

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Wyo womens Antelope Hunt

Staff Writer-Wyoming

 

 

In spite of the winter storm that hit the area the night before, and continuing into the first day of the hunt, the first annual Wyoming Women's One Shot Antelope Hunt was a success.

 

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Turkey Torture

Now I would personally never torture a turkey, but they sure don’t mind torturing me!

This past turkey season was a torturous one for me, as it had me battling wind, wood ticks and weather. In my home state of Minnesota, we are drawn through a lottery system as to which hunt period we get to hunt. Again this year I wasn’t drawn for the time period I requested, so I was stuck with the last two weeks of hunting season. Yearly statistics from the DNR show that the end of the season has a much lower harvest percentage than any other time. To make matters worse, I forgot my flashlight, knife, black face mask and had no stitch of camo clothing along. (I had plenty of black for use inside my Double Bull blind.) To top it off, I would be hunting only with my bow.

The first morning out the temperature read 35 degrees. Cold for late May!

I had spotted some toms and a hen using my Nikon spotting scope in the upper field at my cousin’s farm. This is where I would set up a ground blind for the next morning, as turkeys were often in that area early in the day. Over the course of several days sitting in that location, I had hens come in to my hen decoys and hang around for over a half hour, feeding and preening. A jake did come in also, but he was well out of bow range.

Hen and decoy

Two feeding hens

Hen preening

On the second day of the hunt, and now a freezing 32 degrees, I did call in a couple toms that appeared with a hen. Once again they hung up just on the other side of the fence with lots of tall weeds and woody brush between us. They decided it was in their best interest not to hang around. The hen didn’t mind though, as she stayed for over an hour on my side of the fence, while the two jilted toms left with three more toms they met on the way. Oh the torture!!

Two toms, out of bow range

Every day the wind was blowing and gusting to 35 mph. It was a real chore trying to keep my decoys up right. I even hammered the decoy stakes into the earth before putting the plastic forms on them, but they still couldn’t hold up to the relentless and constant wind. Countless times I was out of my blind resetting my decoys. This is something I don’t like to do while in the middle of a hunt but found it necessary. While sitting and waiting in my blind, I would scan my clothing for ticks that would find their way onto my body. Pick and toss. Pick and toss. Ugh!!

I had also set up a second ground blind in another location to the south, where turkeys often hung out while traversing the area. This chunk of land could be seen for a great distance from the many hills, and toms were often spotted pirouetting here.

It wasn’t until the end of my hunt on the south end at 8:30 p.m., that I noticed a jake coming in towards my blind from the right. He met up with my two hen decoys and was now in bow range.

Jake with two hen decoys
 
But, out of the corner of my eye to the left, I spied several toms running down the hill towards my decoys. Now I had a dilemma. Should I shoot the jake that’s right next to my blind or wait for the toms that are making a beeline for my dekes? Once again, as is so often in my hunting life, I made the wrong decision. I got greedy and wanted a tom with a long beard, as opposed to the barely-over-an-inch beard that the jake was sporting.

Then, at a most inopportune time, a raccoon came running full speed by my blind. This scattered the turkeys and they headed back up the hill the way they came. I looked to my right and the jake was also leaving the vicinity, now out of bow range. I dropped my head backwards and looked up towards the roof and shouted silently to myself, “Noooooo! Come baaaack!!”

My cousin asks, “Why don’t you just buy a turkey at the store?”

“What would be the fun in that?” was my quick and truthful response.

Why do I let those pea-brained turkeys torture me so? Perhaps because I know that they will be back next year, with several more new buddies in their company. And I’ll be back to try harvesting one once again, even if it tortures me!

 

Annie Trampelope

It’s not the nicest name for an antelope decoy, but its owner thought it was fitting.

Paula, Kathleen (otherwise known as Kishka) and I, have been going to Wyoming together for the past five years to bowhunt deer and antelope. Because of this, Kishka decided to make a decoy to help us get close to the antelope. She promptly named her Annie.

The following year, Paula’s husband Terry made a more realistic decoy for her. His artistic talents are a bit above Kishka’s, and she knew it.

“My Annie looks like a tramp compared to your decoy”, Kishka mused.

“Annie Trampelope!”, I blurted out.

That was all it took. Annie, the cute, cuddly-looking decoy would now become affectionately known as Annie Trampelope. Don’t get me wrong, Annie was a well loved decoy that Paula and I used on a stalk, that we wished would have had a different outcome. The story goes like this:
 

 
After a long sit in our respective ground blinds, Paula and I watched a bunch of antelope come from the field below us and cross a distant fence to head upwards and away from us into the highlands. We thought that was the last of the speed goats from the field below, but since we didn’t know for sure, we decided to grab Annie and sneak down the hill to the field to see what we could see. It was a good thing we did too, for when we neared the bottom of the hill, we saw a doe antelope bedded down behind a knoll. We went from quickly creeping to cautiously crawling. On our hands and knees, we took a few crawling steps at a time, Paula in front holding the decoy, and me behind her clutching my bow. We would then stop and Paula would use a laser rangefinder through a hole in Annie’s masonite body to check our distance to the doe. Way too far.

“Let’s keep crawling.”

After every few steps we would stop and range.

“She’s looking at us now.”

“Is she moving?”

“No, but I see there’s another antelope too!”

“How far are they?”

“58 yards”

“That’s too far. Can we keep going?”

“Ok”

This continued slowly until we got to within 42 yards. But we discovered that there was not only just one other doe, but a few more that now came into our view. Trying to keep ourselves invisible to several antelope while hiding behind a small decoy was quite a chore. When they were all up on their feet and ready to bolt, Paula said, “It’s now or never.”

While still low on my knees behind Paula, I drew my bow, rose up, and set my pin on an antelope closest to me. As a left-handed shooter, my best aiming “swing” is from center to the right and this doe was a little too much to my left. I let loose my arrow anyways, and with my off-kilter stance, the bowstring whacked my arm and the arrow veered off course, not making it to its intended target.

The only thing I brought home on that hunt was a bruised arm. It didn’t matter though, as we had a great time trying this new approach to antelope hunting.

We felt pretty good that we got as close as we did and cute and cuddly-looking Annie Trampelope played a big part of that.

I’m sure Annie will always have a place on our Wyoming hunting trips in the future.

 

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