Another opening day of antelope season was upon us. This is year two of the party pass that we put in for around central Montana. There is a great group of guys that get together every year and head to chase the speed goats. Sam Kuehn, Robb Latrielle, and Robby Farnes came and picked me up the Friday before opening day to make the long journey halfway across the state. Each year we stop at a bar for a bite to eat and some drinks. This is where we draw straws to see the order of who’s going to miss first. The next day we went to scout and talk to the ranchers that we had permission on the year before. Everything was a go and we were ready for opening day. That morning we found the antelope on one of the ranches we could hunt. Sam Kuehn was the lucky winner of the first miss. It was a far shot and Sam was able to scare the antelope over the ridge for a better stock. Robb and Sam made the hike over the ridge where they were able to make the stock on two seperate bucks. Robb shot the first one followed by Sam not too long after. To this day no one knows how many shots they took but it sounded like a war zone. Robby and I went to the back side of the ranch to see if we could find another group while Sam and Robb drug theirs down to the road. Robby and I luckily found a group running right for us on the back side of where the other two antelope were shot. They were on a dead sprint right at us and I took a couple of shots (by a couple I mean maybe 2-5). I missed due to Robby distracting me behind my back laughing. We went over the next ridge where the antelope had stopped. I had a shot at a buck at about 150 yards, but I felt bad that Robby hadn’t had any shots yet and I need to cool my barrel down. Robby made a great shot on a buck and dropped it. After meeting up with everybody and getting the antelope in the back of the truck we went out looking for my buck. As we drove out we spotted a buck on public land that had been hammered with no luck by other hunters that morning. We couldn’t believe there was one standing out in the field. Robb headed out on the sneak with me and gave me the yardage with his rangefinder. I kneeled down and dropped the buck in its tracks at 250 yards. Those guys called it luck but I let them know that I was missing the other antelope on purpose. I wanted to fill my tag on public land. I told them that private land was just too easy and I wanted a challenge (even though I was lying through my teeth). After a few good laughs and some bashing on each other we headed to town to celebrate a good day in the field. Another great hunt with not so great hunting partners!
My buddy Gary Stark called me Sunday night to see if I wanted to go for a Tuesday all day hunt. This was the first week of big game rifle season and I happened to have the day off. We decided to meet at the gas station that morning and Gary jumped in my truck to go chase whitetail and elk. We arrived at our hunting spot about fifteen minutes before shooting light. After getting all of our stuff ready Gary and I talked about the game plan. You need to understand that Gary is a good luck charm. Everytime he goes with somebody they end up filling their tag. Gary on the other hand only seems to give luck and not get it. He is a good sport and a great pack mule. I told Gary that he could shoot the first buck we saw that day (or should I say shoot at the first buck we saw). So Gary and I walk down an old logging road at first light with snow lightly falling down. We were about thirty minutes into the hunt when I happend to look up and see a nice whitetail buck cresting the ridge. It looked like a picture you would see on the front page of a hunting magazine. I raised my gun up and told Gary about the buck. He was unable to locate the buck and whispered that he couldn’t see it. As Gary spit the words can’t see it out of his mouth I squeezed the trigger. The buck was about 250 yards up the ridge and I could see him stumble away after I shot. After a few choice words from Gary that were directed towards me we started laughing. Is this really happening to Gary again? All I could think is thank god I brought my good luck charm with me. We walked up to where I had shot the buck and found good blood. Gary and I tracked him through a light skiff of snow and there he layed about twenty feet from where I shot him. After giving each other high fives and Gary relaying a few more choice words to me we took some pictures and cleaned the buck out. We drug him down to the logging road below us and I told gary that I would head back to the truck and get the game cart. We made a plan for Gary to continue hunting since I could drag the buck out myself with the cart. I had the deer back to the truck about an hour and a half later where I met Gary who of course didn’t have any luck. This was a very memorable hunt and now I have the rest of the season to remove the black cloud from over Gary’s head and try to get him a buck.