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Author Topic: Cows in My Path - by Charlie Lamb  (Read 293 times)

Offline Terry_Green

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Cows in My Path - by Charlie Lamb
« on: April 06, 2003, 10:04:00 AM »
Cows in My Path - by Charlie Lamb

 

  Antelope hunting is mild weather sport. Mirage and dirt devils. Parched lips and short sleeves. Check the old pit blind for rattlers and settle in to wait for the parade of antelope to start for the water hole. NOT!!!

Some antelope seasons can run late enough that cold weather becomes a factor. Late enough that longjohns and hand warmers are more appropriate than canteens and sun block.

One particular hunt comes to mind every time I see a photo of some lucky bowman flexing a bare bicep, holding a black horned buck.

It was October in western Wyoming. As far as normal antelope seasons go it was late. A blanket of new snow, thick and fluffy lay on the distant mountains.  Lower down, it lay like a powdered sugar dusting on the sage brush hills and alkali pans of antelope country. Day time temperatures were barely making it into the thirties.

Most of the antelope were already gone from this country. The yearly drift to the friendlier climes of the Red Desert from their higher elevation summer range was about over. Few antelope remained at this elevation. The ones that did could be found in the ranch lands, feeding on the remnants of harvested alfalfa.

I knew that a few head would still be hanging on the meadows of a friends ranch. Earlier in the season I had built a blind of hay bales in an area of one field where antelope tended to linger.
Each year my rancher friend would leave a couple of dozen bales laying around the fields for me to make blinds of.  The goats got used to my little hay forts quickly and properly placed they were very effective. I had erected one in a favorite spot but I'd been up in the high country chasing elk and hadn’t gotten to use it for a couple of weeks. I was worn out and needed to follow a more leisurely schedule for a while. I planned for a day in the antelope blind.

I got to the field before first light, pulled on a heavy jacket, wrapped my scarf around my neck and plodded into the darkness toward my blind. Ahead in the blackness, the sound of alarmed antelope found it’s way through my stocking cap to frosty ears.

The tag in my wallet was for a doe. I’d already taken a nice buck in September and this one would be just for the meat. Antelope is mighty fine eating if well cared for, and I sure wasn’t going to lose one to the heat on this trip.

Finally I approached my hay bale blind. Something was different! I was expecting to see a single dark blob in the darkness. What I thought I was seeing in the blackness this morning were several dark blobs. As I got closer the blobs began to move. My rancher friend had turned a bunch of his cows in to the pasture.

They were busy doing what cows do best, reducing hay bales to a pile of rubble.

I hurried over and shooed them away. The blind was a shambles. Only three bales remained in tact. That’s not nearly enough to hide a hunter from a sharp eyed antelope.

I decided to try and make the best of it. Piling and stacking I made a wall of hay to hide behind. The plan was for the antelope to pass at an angle that would give me cover. When an antelope got close enough I would simply raise up and shoot.

At that point it didn’t matter that the “raise up and shoot” thing had never worked on antelope before. It was the only plan I had and I was going to play it out.

I’d no sooner hunkered down behind my pseudo blind than the cows came back! This time they refused to be “shooed“ and stood stupidly staring at ten yards. They were too intimidated to come closer but too dumb to leave.

I knew at this point that any goat that approached my hide would be tipped off by my bovine gallery. Well poo!

For about a half an hour I had been trying to blend into the cover of my blind. I was shivering from the cold with an occasional break to chase off my private cow herd. All it took was a slight wave of the hand to get them to give me a little space. I was planning a major retaliation against my cud munching audience, when over the back of one of them I spotted antelope approaching.

 Their path would bring them within range. That was obvious. It was also obvious that they would come by the open side of my little hay pile. The fast rising morning sun was flooding the blind with brilliant white light. It felt warm and friendly to this chilled bowhunter. But it wasn’t doing me any good. I stood out like a  highlighted word on a page, illuminated by the felt tip stroke of brilliant morning sun.

My previous chill and the excitement of the approaching antelope had reduced me to one big, vibrating, camo lump. I gripped my recurve in trembling fingers.

At this point the antelope had closed the distance to less than thirty yards. I was trying to will my self to look like a bale of hay. It even seemed to be working. The goats didn’t seem to see me. I just knew that was going to change shortly. Of course the cows were still fooled. As a matter of fact they were closing the gap. They were five yards away and shuffling closer.

At last the lead antelope closed to fifteen yards. It’s head was down, pulling up mouthfuls of alfalfa as it moved. I pushed the bow toward it’s chest slowly. I didn’t want to spook it but I also didn’t want to panic the closest cow, which was now just a few feet away.

As the bow limbs snapped forward, the cows lumbered away. Fortunately the arrow had met the vitals of the goat and passed on through. The mortally stricken animal dashed fifty yards and piled up. YES!!

I guess the cows had been a kind of confidence decoy. The antelope never had a clue.

 As I took my photos and bent over to attach my tag to the leg of my trophy doe, I looked up to see the cows contentedly feeding on my blind.
 
They were welcome to it.

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