“Slow And Steadfast” | A Tough Public Land Rifle Hunt For Antelope | THE HUNGER

by Josh Dahlke

Content Director MORE FROM Josh

The numerous and often unexpected challenges of hunting pronghorn antelope on public land can be overwhelming to any hunter. Killing an antelope on this hunt seemed impossible at times, but the meaty results proved we have to keep our heads in the game all the way down to the wire.

Among all the lessons learned on this hunt, a few will remain etched in my logic for future hunts …

First, you never know what that crabby ol’ lady, Mother Nature, might throw at you. In this case, a heavy snow followed by a rapid warm spell meant the roads turned to hell. Some of the best public ground in this area was situated along a mud road. Despite my best judgment, I decided to travel that road with my pickup. I nearly got stuck, and regretfully I pissed off a local rancher who was sure to let me know by writing on my truck windows with mud. I should’ve trusted my instinct and trailered my Yamaha Wolverine for this adventure.

Secondly, this hunt gave me a serious opportunity to redefine and re-examine “long-range shooting.” Had we not been filming (notably in 120 frames per second), my missed 420-yard shot at a pronghorn doe would’ve been quickly erased from my memory without much further thought. However, in reviewing said shot (see for yourself at the 1:55 mark), I realized how long it takes a bullet to travel that distance. Even when shooting the blazing-fast 6.5 Creedmoor, you’ll see my target antelope was able to take an entire step while the bullet was traveling through the air. My bullet zipped right between her legs. And how about the other antelope that was approaching even faster from behind? Two close calls. Many shooters and hunters wouldn’t even consider 420 yards to be long range, but perhaps this self-deprecating example will result in some chin scratching.

While I’m quite confident in my ability to shoot accurately out to 400 yards, this was a good reminder that pulling the trigger on a wild animal at such distances comes with real-world variables that you won’t find on the shooting range. Most hunts are defined by split-second decisions, and every scenario is different. I’d be lying if I said I’ll never take another 400-yard shot, but certainly this lesson will enhance my vigilance during the moment of truth.

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