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Chasing Wyoming Goats with the PCBA

December 6, 2017
By Travis R. Hunt - OVO Pro Staff , Ohio Valley Outdoors

This article is both a story and lessons learned from my participation in the 4th Annual Lyman Wyoming Antelope Hunt with the Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America, Inc. (PCBA), which was held during the second week of August 2017. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be accompanied by my son, Logan, who is graduating from college in May and will be commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. We were blessed to have countless hours of shared time (without Wi-Fi) in a remote ground blind to do nothing but talk. Additionally, my venture to Wyoming was supported by SKB Industries and LevelLok. Their fantastic products enabled me to safely transport my reverse draw Horton crossbow across the country and then to efficiently steady my crossbow during the shot. Enjoy the story:

I knew better but subconsciously the sage brush and juniper landscape that lay before us could readily be mistaken for a vast flat opaque ocean. At least that was the thought this hunter, accustomed to the woods of Ohio, experienced as my son Logan and I drove our rental truck on the pre-dawn dirt roads of western Wyoming. I was jolted from those thoughts as my Ford F-250 lost traction and began to slide across the muddy road. As I switched the truck into four wheel drive I was grateful for not choosing to save $20 a day and drive the economy car. The greasy gray clay was relentless, but we soon arrived at a ground blind that was nestled between two foothills and positioned about 100 yards away from a watering hole. This pond is frequented by the free ranging beef cattle as well as by the native pronghorn antelope. The greasy clay made our descent from the road to the blind treacherous in the dark. However, as the sky awoke we were treated to yellow and red hues engulfing the foot hills. This was the scenario that presented itself as we assumed our vigil overlooking the watering pond. Both my crossbow and my LevelLok Monopod were leaned against the walls of the blind as we awaited a thirsty prong horn.

The preceding evening a thunder storm blanked our area and in the morning, many standing puddles supplied the pronghorn their ration of daily water. Therefore, the need to venture to the watering hole was not a primary drive. This was true and we did not see a pronghorn that day. When we returned to base camp, the volunteers treated the hunters to a feast of corned beef, grilled fish and all the fixings. Tony from Utah and Henry from California are both wheelchair bound PCBA hunters who filled their pronghorn tag the first day. Otherwise, myself and the six other hunters were empty handed.

Article Photos

The OVO Pro Staffer and author (standing, sixth from left) was part of a group that participated in the 4th Annual Lyman Wyoming Antelope Hunt with the Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America, Inc. (PCBA) in mid-August. Photo courtesy of Travis R. Hunt

I sat in the blind as a member of the PCB that was randomly drawn to attend one of the nine annual PCBA hunts. This hunt was a blessing for me and a cumulation of considerable effort from many selfless volunteers. Notably, Jeff Stewart coordinates the hunt and spearheaded the local arrangements committee. Jeff had worked with the State of Wyoming and obtained 10 coveted Wyoming non-resident hunting licenses, which were given to each PCBAA hunter. August 15, 2017, was opening day of the Wyoming pronghorn archery season and my fellow hunters and I were eager to oblige Stewart. We each made the journey to Wyoming for our own reasons. A male pronghorn is referred to as a goat and this goat hunting trip would be the last few days Logan and I would have alone before he graduated college and accepted his commission.

The second day was filled with giddy expectations as we returned to the blind. After seeing no antelope the day before, seeing two goats approaching from the north made us both come to attention. The goats came and went; however, a few minutes later a mixed group of six approached from the southwest and snuck a quick drink before bolting back up the clay cliffs. About a long hour later a line of goats and does appeared from the southwest, drank and departed. This scene replayed one more time and on each occasion our blind was approximately 125 yards away. After a muted consultation we decided to move the blind. After all, history eventually repeats itself. We pulled up the blind stakes and repositioned the blind along the backside of a small clay mound in 30 yards as from the prime watering pond entry point. By now the Wyoming desert was cooking and we decided to return to the truck so we could let Cody, our guide, know we moved. To complete this simple task we had to leave the area and walk about 1/2 mile to the truck in an effort to simply gain a wireless bar.

We did so, met Cody, and accepted his invitation to go mobile and see if we could find a bedded goat and attempt a stalk. To no avail, we decided to return to our repositioned blind. In sheer jest I told Cody "I bet there is a big goat standing where our blind was." Unbelievably, that was exactly the scene that confronted us as we rounded the bend. Though not a huge goat, I would have gladly arrowed him if able. He bounced off, as pronghorn do, and we settled into the blind. For the next few hours we stood vigil over the watering pond. The dusk settled in and we realized tomorrow was our last day to take a pronghorn.

Fact Box

"Rather, the antelope, roam the tops of ridges or the flat desert plain, run into the watering hole, gulp down the water, and sprint away back to the security from whence they came."

There were two lessons that I quickly learned that initial day in the blind. First, the desert landscape of Wyoming is barren. With this aid, there are no trees to hang a stand and no substantial ground cover from which to mount a spot and stalk. Therefore, archery hunting antelope is relegated to a ground blind that is positioned to give the archer a close shooting opportunity. Secondly, antelope are not like whitetail deer in that they do not meander through the woods in search of food and water. Rather, the antelope roam the tops of ridges or the flat desert plain, run into the watering hole, gulp down the water, and then in what I counted to be no more than 15 seconds, sprint away back to the security from whence they came. These challenges resulted in the requirement for the archery hunter to have a ground blind prepositioned with close proximity to the watering hole.

As we began the last day of the hunt, I knew that relocating the blind may provide me an opportunity to fill my tag. As I observed groups of antelope approach the water they abruptly stopped and bounced away as they became suspicious of the blind in the new location. I told Logan that we only need one antelope to "be comfortable" with the blind and that would give us our shot. Time passes slowly in a blind and even more slowly as anticipation builds. Not to be disappointed two young goats appeared on the ridge top and ran down to the watering hole. However, they applied their brakes and looked at the blind. One walked away but the other goat began to walk towards the watering hole. My shot would soon present itself. In a few seconds, my prediction came true as the goat presented a target at 50 yards. I squeezed the trigger.

This is where I need to stop the story and admit that being from the woods of Ohio my archery shots are typically less than 20 yards. Am I spoiled, not necessarily, that is just the reality of the positioning of my shooting towers to the established paths the deer travel through my property.

Before boarding the plane and after landing and removing my crossbow from the SKB Roto Crossbow case, I confirmed my aim at 20 and 30 yards. I was golden and the arrows were true. However, when I squeezed the trigger on my crossbow, I anticipated the pronghorn to drop. The antelope did not drop. Instead he abruptly reversed course and we watched him bound up the ridge. I missed. Actually, I think it was a close miss but it was definitely a miss. After all the expense, anticipation, and time, the entire hunt came down to one shot. I was swallowed into the chair as the reality of the blown shot sunk in. All hunters miss and you would not be a hunter if you did not miss. But truthfully, I am not accustomed to missing and this was particularly challenging to relegate as my son looked on.

The hunt concluded with a banquet that evening. Out of our group of nine hunters, only Tony from Utah and Don from California successfully harvested a goat while Mike from Illinois harvested a doe. Impressively, Tony and Don filled their antelope tags from their wheelchairs. Though we were poor in goat meat we were rich in camaraderie. The antelope and buffalo brisket feast was followed by dessert and door prizes giveaways. Each hunter received a gift bag and many won carved antler and arrow head knives and custom cedar shaft recurve bow arrows.

I encourage you to follow the PCBA through their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/groups/432479773554576/) and to consider supporting their all-volunteer mission.

In conclusion I would like to acknowledge and thank the following volunteers and sponsors:

Redneck 4H Shooting Sports, Lyman, WY Serving and cooking

Tata Chemicals North America, Dover, NJ Provided 5 hunting guides

Troy Bradshaw, WY Official scoring services

Carl Edwards, WY Operates a corporate landowner / hunter cooperative

Jeff Sanders, Lyman, WY Local arrangements chairman and overall event coordinator

SKB Cases, Orange, CA (www.skbcases.com) SKB manufactures professional grade cases for multiple industries one of which is the hunting industry. I partnered with SKB and utilized their Roto Crossbow case. The Roto Crossbow case is a clam shell design, high density plastic case, with exterior security straps, wheels and complete with interior foam padding. The case enables both the bow and accessories to be transported as luggage and helps assure that your implement is protect while in transit and accurate upon arrival. An SKB case is an investment that any hunter who travels should consider making.

LevelLok, Pittsburgh, PA (www.levellok.com) - I partnered with LevelLok to utilize the LevelLok Monopod Shooting System. This lightweight but professional grade is an adjustable monopod that provides the shooter a steady platform form 23 to 61 inches. Additionally, the device doubles as a walking stick which is invaluable in the woods of Ohio as well as the desert of Wyoming.

 
 

 

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