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#3257774 - 11/17/20 07:40 PM A girl and her pronghorn
DesertRam Offline

Registered: 04/26/01
Posts: 8949
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
I must start this tale by reminding myself and others that I am blessed. Not only do I have parents who encouraged me in all aspects of my life, including hunting, I now have three kids of my own who I am proud to encourage in the same manner. These kids, who you have read about and seen pictures of right here on Predator Masters, are becoming great hunters in their own right, and are active fourth generation American hunter-conservationists. My older two kids have been pretty successful, both in drawing tags and filling them. Their younger sister, who is just 11, got her first chance to hunt big game this fall. This is her tale.

In many cases, the most challenging part of hunting big game in New Mexico is simply drawing the tag in our lottery. Fortunately, the NM Game and Fish has been pretty proactive about establishing youth seasons in an effort to enhance hunter recruitment. However, even those youth hunts are way over subscribed. For instance, there are only five tags available for this pronghorn hunt, and several hundred applicants. Carrying on her older brother’s lucky streak, who did this same hunt in 2017, my youngest drew this tag on her first try. We headed out for her hunt in early October, but not before plenty of shooting practice.

As before, this hunt is on the Army’s White Sands Missile Range, so most photography is prohibited. As a result, I have few pictures of this hunt to share. That may be good for you all, as it prompts me to keep the story-telling to a minimum. Final preparation for the hunt started on a Thursday afternoon, when I hooked up to the fifth wheel and dragged it to a comfortable RV park in San Antonio, New Mexico. There we met my dad, set up the camper, and had a nice dinner. We were up not so early Friday morning so we could be at the WSMR gate in time for the 10:00 security/safety briefing. Here is Sarah and her Papa, my dad, waiting for the hunt officials to let us in the gate.

Unlike years past, COVID kept us from mingling with the four other youth pronghorn hunters and 50-ish oryx hunters. Instead, we hid in our trucks and listened to the briefing on the radio. Then we were directed in an orderly fashion out of the parking lot, avoiding the typical Oryx 500 that usually results when hunt officials cut everyone loose. The COVID-safe approach to the hunt orientation was actually much smoother and more efficient than the traditional setting. I liked it. Anyway, just before lunch we were off and running, looking for Sarah’s first big game animal!

Using information gained during our last antelope hunt, a semi-recent oryx hunt, and input from helpful hunt officials, we were glassing good areas relatively quickly. We saw several herds of pronghorn, and made a few unsuccessful stalks. We stopped for a tailgate lunch, but I had forgotten the bacon for our BLTs, so we had to use emergency packets of Spam. Turns out that SpamLTs aren’t too bad! By sunset, we had made several attempts that didn’t pan out, so we started heading for the gate (you have to check out just after shooting hours end at 30 minutes after sunset). On the way, I spotted a decent little buck just off the road, so I coasted the truck into the bar ditch and Sarah and I jumped out. We made a short stalk and got within about 130 brush-filled yards of the buck. We got set up on the Trigger Sticks, and when everything seemed to line up in the clear, she took a shot. A clean miss! Buck fever? Perhaps. Anyway, the buck trotted out a few dozen more yards and stopped again, this time clear of all brush and in the wide open. Sarah lined him up through the scope, and then said, “Dad, he’s on the hill and there’s nothing behind him. I don’t think I should shoot.” I had observed this too and wondered what she would do. She knew not to shoot until I give the green light, but I hadn’t said anything yet. As it turns out, she knew the right thing to do and did it without being reminded. Good kid! I told her so and we returned to the truck as the buck wandered over the hill into the rapidly falling darkness.

On Day 2 we were allowed to enter before shooting light (30 minutes before sunrise), so we were at the gate and ready when they opened up. Off we went to where we had taken a shot the night before. That buck was nowhere to be found, but we finally spotted a herd of pronghorn that had a buck in the group. We tried to plan a stalk, but the wind just wasn’t right for an unseen approach. We tucked their location into the backs of our minds for later and moved on. A few miles down the road, I spotted another herd in the distance, this one with three bucks that needed a closer look. Sarah and I left Papa with the truck and headed out into the desert on a stalk. We got nearly into her comfortable shooting range, and then stayed there as we played cat and mouse with the bucks for over an hour. We would shuffle into range, get set up on the bipod and almost ready to shoot, when just in time the antelope would spook out of range. Then we repeated. Again, and again, and again, until finally all the potential targets were well out of range and departing the scene. A bit discouraged, we were about to head back when I noticed a new group of goats off at a tangent to us.

About the same time, I saw my truck headed in their general direction. Now, you have to remember that I’ve been hunting with my dad for decades, so when he pulled up stake and left his observation post, I knew he had a reason. I told Sarah, “Let’s hurry to good cover, I think Papa’s gonna make a play for us.” And I was right. We made it several hundred yards to a clump of yuccas just in time to see my dad easing over the hill beyond the pronghorn. His presence worked perfectly to our advantage, concerning the antelope just enough to nudge them in our direction. Within minutes, the herd walked right past us in single file, with a decent buck at the back. We were set up and ready, with the rifle on the highest bipod setting to get above the grass and Sarah perched on my knee, putting her at the perfect height. The does filtered by us, giving us the eye but not really knowing what we were. They didn’t seem inclined to stop, so when the buck was in front of Sarah’s rifle at about 70 yards, I whispered in her ear to shoot when ready. She asked, “While he’s walking?” “Yep, take the shot now.” She did, hitting him solidly, if a little far back. The buck made a mad dash, but just couldn’t keep up with his does. A few seconds later he was down in a cloud of dust.

I have been involved in many hunts, some great, some less than great, some wonderful, and some downright unpleasant. I have helped adults and kids alike fill their first and later tags. In all that, I have never been around a kid who got as excited as Sarah did after the shot. She was cool as a cucumber until she pulled the trigger, but as soon as the buck was down, she nearly screamed with incredible excitement “I got him Daddy, I got him! Did you see that? He went down so fast! I got him! I can’t believe it. I got him!” She was absolutely stoked. I couldn’t help but feel the same. I was overcome with pride, gratification, and sheer joy. Still am. This will go down as one of my greatest hunting experiences. I can’t wait for the next!

Here she is, proud with her first big game trophy.

On the range you are allowed to drive right to a downed animal, so we did that. We strung the buck up on my hitch-mounted game hanger and quartered him directly into the cooler. Very tidy. We finished up and checked out in time to make it back to San Antonio, for lunch at the famous Buckhorn Saloon. Dad and I had great burgers, while Sarah finally enjoyed the BLT she had been looking forward to for a couple days.

After some good food, we headed back to the camper for a little R&R. Sarah also showed off her trophy to the RV Park owner and another bunch of hunters staying at the park.

"A person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it." K as played by Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black

#3257781 - 11/17/20 08:36 PM Re: A girl and her pronghorn [Re: DesertRam]
hm1996 Offline
PM Junkie

Registered: 07/23/06
Posts: 16268
Loc: S. Texas
Congratulations, Sarah, good shooting & nice trophy!
Great memories and story Troy. Thanks for sharing.

If what's ahead scares you and what's behind hurts you, look up; He never fails you.

If My people will humble themselves, pray, seek My face & turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven & will forgive their sin & heal their land.

#3257795 - 11/17/20 09:54 PM Re: A girl and her pronghorn [Re: DesertRam]
lockrotor Online
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 01/21/11
Posts: 1598
Loc: West Central WI
Congrats to Sarah for shooting such a nice looking Pronghorn. WTG for Dad and Grandpa for the great lesson you have this young hunter.

#3257810 - 11/17/20 11:55 PM Re: A girl and her pronghorn [Re: DesertRam]
crapshoot Offline
Retired PM Staff

Registered: 03/22/02
Posts: 22531
Loc: Henderson,Nevada,USA
Congratulations to you both. Way to learn em dad!
I carry a gun because a cop is to heavy.

Average response time for a 911 call is 10 min.
Average response time for a .45acp is 900FPS.

Remember, if you're not pissing off a liberal......You are one!
Ted Nugent

#3257822 - 11/18/20 09:44 AM Re: A girl and her pronghorn [Re: DesertRam]
weekender Offline
Die Hard Member with a vengeance

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 4204
Loc: NC
Congrats all around. 3 generations all being successful on the same hunt. WTG Sarah on your first biggame animal.

#3257832 - 11/18/20 10:39 AM Re: A girl and her pronghorn [Re: weekender]
Bob_Atl Offline
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 01/09/15
Posts: 2229
Loc: in the field, or not..
Congrats girl, WTG and keep up the excellent shooting..
.... rule #9 ....

#3257888 - 11/18/20 06:12 PM Re: A girl and her pronghorn [Re: DesertRam]
GC Online
PM Junkie

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 16665
Loc: Missouri
Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

#3257912 - 11/18/20 09:28 PM Re: A girl and her pronghorn [Re: GC]
tripod3 Offline
PM senior

Registered: 09/27/04
Posts: 8585
Loc: WA
Very nice, a lifetime deal there. Three fortunate generations.
Can't Have Good Without Bad

#3258698 - 11/28/20 08:19 AM Re: A girl and her pronghorn [Re: DesertRam]
Terry Lightle Online
Seasoned Member

Registered: 01/13/19
Posts: 225
Loc: Sand Springs,Okla
The way it is supposed to be

#3260938 - 12/13/20 09:58 AM Re: A girl and her pronghorn [Re: DesertRam]
GTOHunter Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 01/08/12
Posts: 1458
Loc: Southeast Missouri
Congratulations to You,Your Dad and Your Daughters,Your bringing Your Kids up Right!
If I'm not Hunting Predators I'm out Hunting for Pontiacs!

#3266496 - 01/16/21 11:47 PM Re: A girl and her pronghorn [Re: DesertRam]
204 AR Online
PM senior

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 5086
Loc: Nebraska
A little late here, but wow what a trophy! Congrats all around!
photobucket sucks


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