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Hunting Stories

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Simply send us an email to stories@dockendrick.com. Tell us your hunting, fishing or even cooking story. Be sure to attach a photo. We'll post your story but will also preserve your privacy.

A BIG "Thank You" to Ian for sending us his hunting story. Not only is he a great hunter, he leads a pretty impressive Bible Study, too!

 
2008: A Double Portion of Blessing

It all began back in Christmas of 2007. My Dad (Tim) was offered the opportunity to go hunting in Canada for black bear with one of our good friends Dave. Dave was researching hunts and found a guided hunt with only two spots open for August 2008! It was a great opportunity and I encouraged him to go (while also having some fun razzing them about me not being able to go).

With this information I had a decision to make; to pronghorn, or not to pronghorn? I had been purchasing bonus points for antelope for five years and now had six saved up. I knew my draw odds were sitting right about 1% for a coveted Arizona unit (current world record unit), but I decided to take a shot at it. What are the odds I would draw my first season actually putting in? Turns out my odds were 100%. Not only did I draw second choice for the late season antelope hunt I wanted, I also drew second choice for archery bull elk in Northern Arizona; another great tag that I had seven points saved up in. I had a ton of work ahead of me and knew that I would be going at this antelope hunt solo so I hit the map store and purchased all the 7.5 minute maps I could find of my area.

I spent dozens of hours in front of those maps and my computer based topo software searching for the best places to scout. I read as many articles as I could dig up about hunting antelope out West and attended a few seminars to get some tricks of the trade. I called every game warden and biologist I could get on the phone and picked their brains about my area. After about two months, I had enough information to get a good scout in so I planned my trip in late June.

I took off out of Tucson early one morning and headed for Prescott. The drive was quiet, but I was focused on the job I had to do. After reaching Prescott I went straight into the spots I had pre-selected to scout. I had heard that the unit was chocked full of antelope, and it was. I was also informed that due to vast private ranches in the area it was very difficult to get access to most of these antelope; that was an understatement. The areas I initially chose to scout were foot access only, not a problem, but come to find out it was also where most of the other hunters would be during the two week season due to the private land issue. It was time to find a new spot. After a day and a half, and a little advice from some new friends, I zeroed in on where I would concentrate when I came back in August.

With camp packed up in late August and the Monsoonís quieting down a bit I hit the road, solo again, on my quest to fill an extremely rare tag. Once again, I pulled into Prescott and headed out into the National Forest to find a nice place to camp among the junipers. Camp was staked by early afternoon and I hit the trail to do some scouting before the morning opener. I glassed up a few nice bucks, but again they were all taking up residence on private land. Four hours later the sun was set and I headed back to camp to get some chow and some rest; it was going to be a long week. Four AM came knocking hard and after some breakfast I headed out. I had found a few nice hills to glass from that bordered private land where most of the antelope were rutting. That morning taught me many things and proved to be the spot I would focus on the rest of my time in Prescott.

Early the next morning I was back on those same hills. I glassed up a really nice buck, which came over a ridge to bed down mid morning. I watched him patiently for a few hours and noticed another buck that was approaching from behind me; neither of them offered me a decent stalking opportunity. Overall the small area I was focused on had four bucks moving through it regularly during the day. By the end of day two I had put about 16 stalks in on these four bucks and only managed to get to 86 yards. At the end of the day I was frustrated and made a decision to put up a blind in the area where they were moving the most to see if I could get a shot at something the next morning; my decision proved right. At 0805 on day three, a rutted up buck and doe ran through the area at 55 yards providing me with a great shot opportunity. Unfortunately I misjudged, shooting over the back of the broadside buck and blowing them out of the area. I was devastated knowing that I had been given this great opportunity and blown it. I perked up as much as possible and waited for a few more hours with no luck and nothing in sight.

It was getting hot at lunch time in the blind and I was cranky from my missed shot so I decided to pack out back to camp and get some grub. As I neared camp I thought to myself what I had read so many times in articles and books; that the difference many times between successful bow hunters and unsuccessful bow hunters is determination and drive. So I made up my mind to do a quick turnaround, eat and get back out to my blind for another go at it. Four bottles of water and one PB&B later I had my pack on my back and was making the journey back out to my spot. I arrived at the hill my blind was over at about 130pm and made my way up to the top. As I neared the top I decided to get low and break the horizon on my belly just in case they were bedded in the area. Let the blessings begin. As I looked over down into the draw I saw the same buck I had blown out earlier, bedded under a tree not 50 yards from my blind. I couldnít believe it, I thought angrily at myself, if I only would have stayed an hour more. I composed myself and realized I had a chance to stalk this antelope, the way I had wanted to fill my tag in the first place. I dropped my gear, grabbed my range finder and started in on him.

The next blessing came in the form of a 15-20mph head wind, seemingly from out of nowhere, on top of that there was only one juniper for 100 yards on either side of this buck and it happened to be right between him and me. I ranged the juniper at 130 yards and then ranged the tree he was under at 180 yards. I thought to myself this is perfect a 50 yard shot! Everything I had been taught by my Dad and friend Marty was flashing through my mind. Take your time, donít rush the stalk, remember the basicís, I could hear them say. I slowly made my way to the juniper, careful not to make too much noise on the dry, brittle earth and 45 minutes later I was at the tree. I couldnít believe I was sitting this close to a mature pronghorn. I calmed myself down and tried to imagine the shot as best as I could. I stepped around and ranged the buck he was right at 48 yards. What I had failed to see before I began in on him was that he was turned in the opposite direction as me, which was blessing number three for me on this stalk. He was broadside in some tall grass looking for some willing does and had absolutely no idea I was in the area. I drew back, stepped around the juniper, focused on my 50 yard pin, gave him a short bleat in hopes I could get him to stand. Like clockwork he stood straight up broadside, gave a look in my direction and by that time the arrow was in flight. He darted forward, made a fast 180 turn and went about 20 yards to the left of the tree he was bedded under, stumbled and fell. In all he scored 63 5/8Ē and more importantly filled the freezer with delicious meat!

Ian C.
Vail, AZ
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