Photo by Layna Hendrich of PhotographyLayn

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Antelope Hunt

I am finally home for a few days before I take off again, so I wanted to take a few minutes and share with you all about my antelope hunt. It was an amazing experience! So many firsts for me- first time to hunt antelope, first time to harvest with a rifle from my personal wheelchair, first time to hunt with all women. Lots of firsts that I will definitely repeat.

Russ and I headed towards The Ranch at Ucross in Clearmont, Wyoming, on Thursday morning, October 9th, for the second annual Wyoming Women's Antelope Hunt, hosted by the Wyoming Women's Foundation. We got checked in and unloaded our gear before heading to a safety meeting with the Wyoming Game & Fish reps. Once we finished, everyone met at the shooting range to site in our rifles. I had a loaner 6.5x284 from The Best of the West, and I really enjoy shooting it. It is accurate at long distances, with no recoil- my perfect firearm. I also practiced shooting from our Wyoming Disabled Hunters' Action Track Chair- another first!

At dinner that evening, I was honored to be asked to speak to the hunters, guides, and staff members present. It was a great opportunity to share my story, WDH, and adaptive equipment. Russ and I were also introduced to Mike Rodriguez, who would be our guide for the next few days. We settled on a time to leave in the morning, and headed back to our room to get some rest before our first day of hunting.

On Friday morning, we loaded up the Track Chair and all of our gear and headed out with Mike and Miranda, the other member of my hunting team. Mike owns a cattle ranch in the area, and he and his brothers manage several more, so we had lots of land to scout for antelope. We spent the entire morning chasing small herds of antelope, checking out the bucks that were available. We saw a few that we liked, and after a lunch break, we headed back out to see if we could get close enough to an elusive buck from that morning.

After more scouting, Mike spotted a buck in the hills that Miranda liked, so we parked the truck and they set off on foot to see if she could sneak up on the small group without being seen. Russ and I stayed in the truck, but we were able to watch from a distance as she harvested her antelope. So cool! I am not used to hunting on a team, so it was very exciting cheering for another woman providing for her family through hunting.

Russ headed out to help Mike with the field dressing and retrieval of the antelope, and then we took it back to the ranch to prepare it for processing. We went back out for a few hours, but didn't see anything worth pursuing, so we decided to hold off until the next day to continue my hunt.

Mike picked us up on Saturday morning after feeding his cattle, and the four of us headed back out. He had seen a few herds on a property we hadn't visited since early Friday morning, so we started scouting for a buck to take. After driving for a short while, and watching a few different antelope, I decided on a buck walking across the side of a hill about 400 yards from the truck. Mike and Miranda stayed in the truck while Russ and I unloaded and set up my rifle. I had planned on shooting from the Action Track Chair, but we didn't have much cover, and we were worried that the noise from unloading it would spook the animals.

Russ set up my shooting sticks and ranged the buck- I could see him through my scope at about 370 yards. I got settled in and waited for him to stop walking and stand still. I watched him stop for a while, and decided to take my shot. Just as I squeezed the trigger, he took another step forward. He went down, and would have bled out fairly quickly, but I don't like waiting and prolonging any suffering, so I squared up for another shot. He was down in some tall grass, so it was actually a tougher shot than the first, but I knew this time he wouldn't be moving. One through the heart and he passed immediately.

We loaded up in the Track Chair and headed out to retrieve my antelope. I was able to pull it back myself with the Track Chair- something I've never done before. Being so independent was a very empowering moment for me. We loaded up and headed back to the ranch, where Russ and I began the processing to take the meat home to Cody. Sausage time!

The majority of the ladies harvested over the two days of hunting- and some were hunting for the first time! The Wyoming Women's Foundation raised support and money to continue making a difference in the lives of women and girls throughout Wyoming. Women were empowered and taught economic self-sufficiency through hunting, and relationships were forged through friendship and mentoring. It was an amazing weekend.

I am always grateful for a successful harvest and the opportunity to provide meat for my family. I am also thankful for the new friends that I made and all of the "firsts" that I was able to experience. I will post a few pictures below. Head over to my YouTube channel to see some of the footage we shot with my GoPro camera for a personal vantage point!

Loading the Action Track Chair

With Miranda
Got him!

With Russ (L) and Mike (R)

Group shot on Saturday night

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your first Antelope Ashlee!! Awesome job! ( Blind Okie Hunter )