by: Kenny Hollingsworth, Pro Staff
It was finally time! August 2017 rolled around and it was time to head to the airport for Billings, Montana. I was returning to hunt antelope with one of my favorite outfitters once again. Dave Nelson of Nelson Outfitters. This was to be my first hunt of the year, after a summer of practice with my new Reign 7. To say the least, I was stoked to be back out west. Dave is based out of Sheridan, Wyoming, but also leases ground in Montana. This was to be our destination for antelope on this trip. Nelson runs a first-class operation and I was completely confident we were setting up in a great area.
Dave picked up me and my camera man, Dennis Pridgen , at 4 a.m. on the first morning. After a 45 minute drive, we pulled into the vast ranch we were hunting. The strategy this time, was to setup on a water source and wait for a nice buck to come in for a drink. After being greeted by a beautiful Montana sunrise, we settled in for what was to be a long hot day. The forecast was for a high of 97 with very little wind. Perfect conditions for our strategy, but making for a sweltering sauna inside the blind. It didn’t take long for me to spot a group of 6 bucks on the horizon. They were about 500 yards away and feeding on the skyline. A couple of nice bucks were in the group. They eventually fed off into another draw out of sight. It was a slow morning until around 11 a.m., when I spotted a really nice buck making his way down the draw towards our setup. This looked like it may be our chance already! Unfortunately, when he approached the tank, he circled behind our blind. Even though he was only 15-20 yards, there was no possibility of a shot this time.
“After being greeted by a beautiful Montana sunrise, we settled in for what was to be a long hot day.”
As the afternoon progressed, the temperature continued to rise. The weatherman was spot on with the forecast and we really began to feel it in the blind. It felt like someone locked me in a hot car! Usually midday is a slow time for movement, but we didn’t want to risk ruining our spot by getting out of the blind. This was to be an all day sit, and we planned to stick it out every day until we were successful. Around 3:30 p.m. we had a small buck come in for a drink. Off in the distance we spotted additional antelope up and feeding. Things were looking up!
About an hour later, I was completely caught off guard by a large buck! He suddenly appeared from behind our blind at only ten yards. He was staring into the blind and we couldn’t move at all. Eventually he decided something wasn’t right and he trotted down the hill beside the water tank. I reached for my bow as quickly and quietly as possible. As I came to full draw with my Reign 7, the buck was already standing beside a rock I had previously ranged at 65 yards. He stopped briefly to get a drink and I had my chance. I made a perfect 63 yard shot and he fell within sight. My best antelope buck to date, and my first big game animal in Montana. The first hunt of the season had turned out perfect!