In May I learned I had drawn a Pronghorn tag for “Horns longer than ears” in the Northwest portion of Nevada. I was shocked because I thought it was a long shot tag that was statistically unlikely to draw. I immediately planned a scouting trip with my running buddy Leigh for the 4th of July Weekend.
Scouting the Unit
Over 3 days we covered the unit main roads to get a feel for the area. I was struck with the feeling that antelope densities were not high as I had experienced in Wyoming and Colorado. Many waterholes were dry, and the animals we saw were pretty skittish.
We were fortunate to make friends with a local cowboy who gave us names of landmarks to check out. This was the biggest part of why I chose my specific part of the unit. We only saw about 25 animals total and small bucks. It was then I decided I would need at least two full days of scouting before opening day.
Opening day was on Friday, August 22nd. On Tuesday, I took the kids to school and finished packing the truck for the trip to the Black Rock. After various stops along the way I was at my home on the range in an aspen patch just an hour before dark.
That night I could hear the rodents rustling all around the underbrush and edges of the tent….ALL NIGHT, rustle, rustle, rustle…They were bold. They would grab food off the table with you right there. I made sure to keep the tent zipped up and I was glad I had hard sided lockers for my dry food. A nearby camp caught 18 in traps one night resetting them. I watched one get caught 30 seconds after they set it.
Wednesday morning (Opening day -2)
I woke up after daybreak for my first day of scouting. I found a little buck right off the main road. About 3 more miles up the road along the Wilderness boundary, I found another better buck with 9 does. I watched him push them around the lower draws. I never did relocate them the rest of the trip.
Midday was uneventful on antelope sightings.
At 6:00 pm I started seeing antelope again. It was on a bench that had good grass, and the rancher was hauling water to cows on a 10 mile two track circuit. Saw total of 5 small bucks and 7 does and fawns before dark
Days total: 7 bucks, 16 does and fawns. Also saw a few Feral Horses.
Thursday morning, (opening day -1)
Woke up to find 3 mule deer bucks checking out my camp. Nothing monster, but I had heard them come down the trail and drink water behind my tent that night.
Drove to the area I had seen the majority of antelope and pushed into a wilderness access road. Right at the turn I found where the deer and the antelope play. There were 6 antelope does and fawns, and 4 mule deer bucks at 7:15 in the morning. Further along I saw a decent buck with 2 does , then I found a Spring 1 mile in from the road that had a good buck and his does at it, along with a herd of Feral Horses. I liked how he looked through the spotting scope and decided I would be there on opening morning. I hiked in a dead end road to look over some more big country in the wilderness. A decent buck and 2 does busted me 300 yards from the road end. Found their trickle of water and a huge roadless canyon that fed into the main canyon. It was pretty but I wrote it off as not good antelope country.
Napped through the midday at camp.
Went back to the cow trough circuit. Spotted a buck with does that I decided was my back up buck.
Further down the road just before dark, I watched a 70 inch buck chase off a rival from his does. Headed back to camp happy I had a plan for opening morning.
daily total: 7 mule deer bucks, 6 Antelope bucks (2 shooters), ~27 antelope does and fawns, More Feral Horses (quit counting and a lot of repeats)…
I headed out at 5:00 am for the hour drive to my spot and was near the springs at daybreak. In the Wilderness I saw one buck hightailing it over the ridge, and another with a doe out in a big open bowl that looked unstalkable. Neither was my target buck at the springs. I snuck around through the draws with the wind in my face and set up 80 yards from the springs with a commanding view of the basin for 3 miles in a 90 degree direction. Nothing moving except Feral Horses. Had a total of 40 of them come into the springs. They got as close as 35 yards but never spooked or showed any signs of seeing me. That grey sweatshirt was great camo.
That afternoon I had no action at the springs so after a walkabout (where I had a doe and 2 fawns at 108 yards), I went to my back up buck’s location to see if I could find him. I parked the truck by a draw and he and his does came out of the draw behind me at 300 yards on the skyline. No shot before they took off. I bumped them twice more and pretty much blew ’em out of the country. Spent the rest of the evening glassing in the wind and saw nothing….nada , zip , zilch. I was feeling pretty down.
Days total: 3 bucks, 8 does, 40 feral horses. One blown opportunity.
Opening Day +1
I decided to head back to the springs but vowed I would stalk any buck in a good position I found on the way. Right at daybreak I parked behind a rise and glassed the valley I would have to drive to to get to the trail that would take me to the spring. I found the unstalkable buck from the day before chasing a doe. I watched them feed around a big hill and then drove my truck down to a draw a little closer, by the Wilderness boundary and loaded my pack and flanked counter clockwise around the hill.
When I crested the hill I saw the antelope had moved another half mile to the next rolling finger. I backed back down the ridge and looped counter clockwise again for another mile around to the next saddle. The antelope had not moved through the saddle when I moved up to the crest, so I hugged the rim rock along the top, and peaked into the valley. I spotted three antelope does, as they saw me, and all looked in my direction. After a minute I finally located the buck 30 yards behind them quartering toward me at 311 yards. I took a rest over the rock and held the crosshairs at 7x just in front of his withers. At the shot he jumped and ran about 30 yards toward me and stopped broadside. I put the crosshairs on his neck and dropped him there. The .300 win mag 150 grain bullet had hit in front of the shoulder and exited in front of the hip. These critters are tough!
All this time I had an idea he was a mature buck , but when I walked up on him I was pleasantly surprised. I looked at my watch and it was 7:09 am. It took me an hour and a half to take pictures, and then break him down for the hike out to the truck.
Now that I have had time to reflect on the hunt, I’m glad I did this hunt solo. I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I found I was able to find more antelope during the hunt than during scouting. I also think that now I’m more comfortable with the area and terrain. I could enjoy taking someone else with that tag to that area.