By Warren Woogen, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.
Sometimes our best, most memorable hunts aren’t the ones where we’re the star of the show.
It all started back in the summer of 2017. My wife and I were planning a driving and camping trip from New York to Alaska.
My son Andrew, who had moved to Oregon, called me and asked if there was any chance we could be in Oregon at the beginning of September. He had gotten permission to hunt antelope in southeastern Oregon. My initial thought was this: Antelope hunting? I’ve only hunted New York whitetails and most of that time it was with a handgun or shotgun. To me, 75 yards is a long shot. What do I know about antelope hunting?
Regardless, we adjusted our travel plans to arrive at his house in time for the hunt. In the meantime, Andrew started working on his long-range shooting skills. He was reloading his own special loads for his .30-06 and researched the weather, elevation and terrain of the area we would be hunting.
The day before the hunt, Andrew and I made the more-than-six-hour drive to the hunting area, arriving with just enough daylight to set up our tent.
The next morning at sunup we hopped into his pickup truck and drove into the hunting area, but came up empty-handed.
After lunch, we were slowly driving down the road when we both spotted another buck antelope on the horizon. Andrew ranged him at 690 yards, and estimated he needed to cut that distance in half to even consider taking a shot, but the buck was looking right at us. He packed up and got ready to squat down on the side of the road. I drove the truck down the road for about a quarter-mile and stopped. By now, the antelope was watching me.
For over a half an hour my son crawled as close as he could get to the antelope. I continued to watch the buck through my binoculars.
At one point, the antelope started to walk away, and I saw the buck’s shoulder buckle as the dirt kicked up behind it. Then I heard the shot. The buck fell right there. I could not see Andrew, so I picked up the walkie-talkie and told him to stay put while I walked to where I saw the buck fall.
When I reach the downed buck, I told Andrew to stand up, and I was stunned to see where my son was: 400 yards away. I was blown away. He worked his butt off preparing for that shot, and it was the most impressive shot I have ever seen. I thought he was a little obsessed with the long-range shooting, all the practice and reloading he was doing, but boy, was I wrong.
Needless to say, I am very proud of my son Andrew. There might still be bigger bucks in that area, but his hard work and the shot he pulled off is the trophy to me.
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