Story and photos by: Jordan Kauer
Over the years, antelope hunting has transitioned from a hunt I could take or leave to the hunt I look forward to the most every year.
Not because I enjoy sweating for hours on end in a blind or would prefer to hunt an Antelope over a monster Muley, it's become a great way to introduce my kids to hunting. There is less stress than climbing steep hills and constantly not having enough snacks to keep them happy.
Our Antelope season opens a couple weeks before my boys start school. To end the summer on a good note, I take all that time off and we camp, hunt and fish until they have to start school. The boys enjoy helping me set up blinds before the season opens as well.
We usually have pretty good success the first few days of the season, but this year was rough. With my son’s BMX racing, we missed opening day but made it out in time to do an evening hunt the following day. That night, we had more antelope come to the water hole in a few hours than I had ever seen before. They were all does and little bucks, but they gave me high hopes for what the week would bring. The next day we had a couple does come water but that was it for the rest of the week. I don't know what changed, but that was the longest period I've ever had without a single Antelope coming in. My boys were getting burned out, so we took a day to do some fishing before I had to head back to work for a few days.
We returned the following week and hunted for another three days with absolutely no action. My buddy Jake had killed an antelope out of his blind the prior week, so he told us to go try his blind. We had some does come in on our first sit which boosted the kids spirits and got them motivated again.
I had to go work a couple more days, so we loaded up and headed home again. We only had two days left of the season on my next break from work, so I asked the boys if they wanted to try again or if they were done for the season. They of course said we couldn't kill one if we didn't try, so we loaded up and headed out. In all honesty, I think they just wanted to miss those two days of school.
Right at daylight on our last hunt, we had a couple does come in. I asked the boys if we should shoot a doe, and they said they'd rather kill a buck. We agreed we would hold out for a buck in the morning but that afternoon we would take whatever antelope gave us a shot. It wasn't 30 minutes later and the biggest buck I've ever had a chance at came to the water hole. Man was I glad I didn't shoot a doe. The buck came up to water and I drew back, settled the pin behind the shoulder and slowly squeezed the trigger. To my surprise, I saw the arrow fly a foot over the buck’s back. I was sick. 16 days in a blind, I finally got a chance at a great buck, and I missed.
I double checked my slider sight and it was dialed for 25 yards. I thought maybe buck fever got the best of me. I don't know who was more disappointed, the boys or myself. I had about figured my season was over when my older boy said, "he's coming back." I couldn't believe it. Sure enough, the buck was headed back to the water. I quickly ran the scenario of why I missed through my head and thought maybe shooting out of the chair might have changed my anchor point. That’s when I got down on my knees and prepared for a second chance. The buck came in to 32 yards this time and I adjust my sight for the distance. I took some extra time running everything through my head before I touched off the release, and was dumbfounded to see the arrow go a foot over his back again. I thought I did everything perfect that time and either my bow is messed up or the mesh of the blind I was shooting through was throwing the arrow off. I found my arrows and ranged a dirt clod at 35 yards and center punched it. Then I climbed back in the blind and shot at the same clod through the mesh and I was a foot high. Problem solved. I gave the boys my knife and told them to cut the mesh out in case the buck came back a third time.
A few hours later, I told the boys I wanted to take a nap and I needed them to keep an eye out for antelope. I was just starting to doze off when my boys shook me and said there was some coming in. Sure enough, there was half a dozen does headed right for us. We had a quick team meeting and decided we would take a doe and get home so they didn't miss too much more school.
The does came into the trough and I drew back for a shot. As soon as the lead doe put her head in the trough, I settled the sight but my oldest boy said, "don't shoot, don't shoot, a buck is coming!" From my angle, I couldn't see him but let down carefully trying not to spook the does that were only 15 yards away. About a minute later, the buck was at the water and gave me a perfect 25-yard shot. This time the arrow flew true.
I am super proud of my young boys and their patience and drive to be successful. We spent 16 full days in a blind and I didn’t get a single complaint out of either of them. Honestly, I was ready to be done, but they wanted to keep after it and that kept me motivated. Hunter, my oldest boy, can start hunting this fall and I'm looking forward to switching roles so he is the shooter and I get to sit back and watch.