Today’s blog post comes to us from Jim Kinsey of Skull Bound TV. Jim shares a behind the scenes story from tonight’s Antelope hunt airing during “Racktacular!“. You can watch the episode Wednesday night at 8:30 PM EP, Friday at 9:30 AM ET and Saturday at 2:30 AM ET.
Crawling on our bellies through patches of bunch grass, sage and cactus the four of us inched closer to top of an old weathered butte. Orange hues lit up the herd of bedded antelope below us as time slipped away like sand in an hourglass. Born with a 320 degree field of vision, the antelope rarely misses anything that approaches it. I carefully reached for my binoculars to inspect if our stealthy approach had been noticed. One of the three bucks in the herd supported two massive black sheaths, one protruding forward and the other
dropping down around its face. This animal looked as though it walked strait out of a Dr. Seuss book. In my 28 years of chasing this prairie speedster I’d never seen anything like it! Jana immediately named him the “Super Freak”. Just then he stood up and began to feed slowly from left to right amongst two other great antelope bucks. Quietly I dialed the turret on my Vortex Razor HD to 450 yards, deployed my bipod and followed his every move in the crosshairs. Time slowed down to a standstill. My heartbeat grew louder as the buck continued to slowly walk away. ” He isn’t going to stop”, Jana whispered while working feverishly to capture the hunt go down on film. I eased off the safety, took a deep breath and slowly began pull the trigger on my custom built .338 Lapua.
Antilocapra americana, the American Pronghorn, has always held a special place in my heart. The fastest land mammal in North America, the antelope can reach speeds of 55 MPH making them a challenge to hunt. Miss them once and you may never get another chance. Over the years Montana has generally had liberal bag limits under a special license application. Most of my hunts took place in district 700 which covers a good portion of the South Eastern part of the state.
Jana and I were the lucky recipients of two unit 700 general antelope tags and with our good friend Levi Johnson having access to some great property east of the continental divide we knew our trip to the badlands would be a great time had by all. Unusually warm weather during September made for a smoky bow season as much of the mountains back home were on fire from an extremely dry summer. Leaving the smoke behind Jana and I loaded up our gear and headed to meet up with Levi in Winnett, MT. Six hours later we arrived on the eve of opening day with high hopes of scoring on two lopers.
Opening day was a chilly 17 degrees making for one cold morning. The previous night’s rain showers now painted the landscape with a mirage of ice crystals. As the sun rose in the east we spied a nice herd with three great bucks over a mile away. Jana was behind the rifle first with me filming her adventure as it unfolded. Real, raw and unpredictable is what I love about filming and producing Skull Bound TV and this adventure was off to a great start. Levi’s 15 year son Logan came along to lend a hand too.
The four of us made our way to the last place we saw the small herd of speed goats we’d spotted at first light. We closed the distance to 600 yards but had to wait for the three bucks who were still posturing around their harem of does to move out of sight. ” They’ve got to move around that corner of the ridge then we can make a move”, Jana motioned pointing at the opposing ridge. One of the bucks horns laid out from its head and appeared unusually wide. ” I’m going to try for the wide one” Jana whispered as the three bucks eventually feed around the edge of the ridge and out of sight. By now the crystallized landscape had turned in to the infamous Eastern Montana gumbo. Every step we took added pounds and pounds of mud to our boots.
After a long hike through the muck, we slowly worked along the edge of a sage line and peered down to where we thought we’d be around 300 yards from the herd. Suddenly Jana and Levi caught a patch of white not 100 yards away. The entire herd was working their way towards us and we were literally caught out in the open. Jana wasted no time deploying her bipod on her .300 WSM and lining up on the wide buck still unaware of our presence. I eased my camera up and leveled out my tripod in to position which caught the interest of several does. ” I’m on him”, I whispered hitting the record button on my camera. ” Whoomp” the .300WSM sounded off. The wide buck ran a few yards and quickly expired.
“That happened fast” Levi said as Jana reached over to high five me with our first spot and stalk coming together. The unique wide horned buck lay on the open prairie as we watched the herd vanish as quickly as they had appeared. I couldn’t believe how the hunt had just transpired. We took lots of pictures and began scouring the sage flats for another buck when Logan spotted a nice sized herd nearly two miles away through the spotting scope. Cutting the distance over the next hour we made our move up a fairly steep butte with hopes of intercepting the group on the backside on the ridge. Cautiously we moved into position and spotted the craziest buck any of us ever paid eyes on. This old buck looked like he walked right out of the Chernobyl reactor. Droopy black horns and a massive body lay motionless in his bed watching for any hint of danger.Slowly pulling the trigger I knew my shot had to be perfect at 460 yards. With Jana rolling on the camera and the buck out of his bed and on the move, I knew it was now or never.
The arch of the 250 grain accubond flew an inch over his back and into the dirt on his far side . The “Super Freak” dropped the hammer like a 1/4 mile muscle car and moved away at break neck speed. I relived the shot over and over trying to figure out how I missed? Then I realized the angle of the buck from our position was fairly steep. I never compensated for it and thus missed the buck clean. Rookie move, and Jana had it captured for the world to see. With two hours of light left it was time to go light and strike fast. The four of us performed the Marine Corps shuffle as we attempted to catch up with the herd over the next three miles.
After our forth failed stalk everything finally came together. We were on stalk number five and closed the distance to 300 yards. Jana and I set up the camera as the herd looked in our direction knowing something wasn’t quite right. The group of antelope milled around in a circular motion for a minute before I laid eyes on the Super Freak”. “Jana you on him?” , I said trying to line up on the buck as he broke from the center of the herd and began to make his get away. I knew this was the second chance and last chance I may ever have. I led the buck by 3 ft as he trotted from left to right. The Lapua barked! The impact was fast fast and furious as the giant non typical antelope took his last step under Montana’s Big Sky. I looked back at Jana not knowing if she had caught the shot on film but her smile said it all. She got it all and I couldn’t have been happier at that moment in time. As we approached the “Super Freak” I remember thinking of how our never give up attitude paid off with an antelope for the ages. Jana and I are having both our bucks mounted together to remember the best “one-day” antelope hunt on record with a trophy of a lifetime we named the “Super Freak”.