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My pre-season scouting and successful Labor Day weekend muzzleloader hunt

I posted in the Southerwest forum some pictures and video from one of two pre-season scouting trips I did. Here is the link for the antelope buck fight.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t8FiYgKJEo

Here is the link for that scouting trip:

http://www.biggamehunt.net/forum/i-spent-yesterday-scouting-awesomeness-...

I went back out for my second scouting trip and saw some nice antelope, more oryx (African gemsbok), a ton of Barbary sheep (auodad) and one mule deer.  Here are a few of the goats I spotted.

 

 

Friday morning we went back to the range.  I didn't like the groups I was getting with a particular batch of BH209, so I switched to a new batch and got some nice groups at 100 yards.  Then, we shot at 200, 250, and 300 yards.  My shots at those ranges were all within 3 inches of the BDC marks on my scope.  We went out scouting that afternoon for an hour after we did check-in/registration at the check station.  We spotted a nice buck and a herd of does and ten minutes after legal shooting light the next morning, we spotted the same goat and crew again within a few hundred yards of where we'd seen them the night before.  We repositioned to use a draw for cover and discovered a dirt road leading directly to the goats.  We followed the road and popped out within 200 yards of them.  We evaluated the goat and I decided to go ahead and harvest.  Let's just say that I suck trying to shoot off the shooting sticks.  I think I'm going to stick to shooting off my tall Harris bipod.  I pulled my shot high and the herd fled.  He was a nice buck, but nothing that was going to be above 70 B&C.

We got back in the truck and continued onwards, spotting a few small bucks that we didn't even bother trying to get close on.  Finally, we saw a very nice buck with two does a little over a half mile away in one of the grazing area subdivisions of the hunt unit.  The heat mirage was starting but we could still see he had a lot of mass and was fairly tall.  We repositioned around and  put a stalk on him but he wasn't where we thought he was. Then as we were driving out, he and his two does busted cover and headed up the hill, somewhat slowly.  We got out of the truck but the only chance at a shot we had was with him silhouetted against the horizon at 200 yards and I don't like shooting over the horizon due to safety issues.

We repositioned, had lunch, then swung around to the east side of the grazing unit where we spotted him and both does again.  They ran east and we repositioned even further east of them in the truck.  We jumped out and made it in a bit closer. My buddy called out 299 yards. I had my rifle drops dead on to 300 (no wind).. but between the dehydration and everything else, when he said "299" for some reason I my brain wasn't functioning right and I rounded down and used the 250 mark. The bullet hit just under him dead center. Had I used the 300 mark, he'd have been dead.

We reacquired him and his does an hour later and Justin stayed at the truck, calling me on the radio. It took me over an hour to stalk the 1100 yards to him. He had bedded down. As I got close, he jumped up and began chasing his does. I flashed my antelope decoy and one of does he had been chasing ran in to 225 yards. I had a narrow view of her, about 30 yards wide left to right, with everything else being blocked by yuccas and other brush. I saw him run behind here, roughly 5 yards back and he stopped broadside. I had my rifle on its long Harris bipod (36"?) and I fired from the sitting position when the crosshairs stopped on him, with the 200 yd mark on the top of his back and the 250 yard mark on his belly. Justin, from 1100 yards back, could see the hair fly before he heard the muzzleloader crack through his spotting glass. I didn't see it because my vision was obscured by brush, but the goat ran 15 yards and flopped. Impact was high shoulder. 300gr Nosler SSTs do the trick! I actually heard the wet "THWAP!" just like on my previous goat hunt of the bullet hitting flesh.

Truth be told, when I walked up, the salt sweat was stinging my eyes so badly.  The goat actually looked little.  I radioed back to Justin that he was small but I was still happy with him.  Justin headed my way with the game cart and I broke out a dollar bill to field measure.  I was mistaken... dollar bills are 6.15 inches, not 5.15 inches.  He measured two dollar bills and roughly an extra three inches.  Justin arrived with the cart and goes "dude! that's not a small goat!"  Hey, it's only my third goat harvested and between the sunburn, the dehydration and the fact that his horns made the rest of his body look small, I'd severely underjudged him lying on the ground.  We rough scored him that night.  Right horn was 14 7/8", left horn was 15" and his prongs measured close to 4 4/8".  Total rough score puts him at 77 5/8".  80" is B&C entry book level, I believe. 

Here's the goat I harvested at 225 yards:

compared to last year's goat, shot at 276 yards:

Here's the writeup from last year's hunt:  http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_2/676402_Successful_muzzleloader_antelop...

prhunter's picture
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Location: El Paso, Texas
Joined: 02/22/2009
Posts: 631
Congrats on a succesful hunt.

Congrats on a succesful hunt. Thanks for sharing!

Critter's picture
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Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4421
Looks like it was a great

Looks like it was a great hunt. 

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Joined: 06/15/2014
Posts: 16
My biggest critique of the

My biggest critique of the whole hunt was my shooting.  That rifle, if I'm smart with the drops and the wind is calm, will connect to 300 yards every time.  I need to slow down and make the shot count, rather than getting buck fever.  That happened on both misses.  Off that bipod, when I take my time on the shot, I'll connect.  I managed an 8" group at 300 yards with it last year.  Hell, I own bolt guns that won't shoot that well.  Knight Mountaineer.  The time spent perfecting my load data was worth it.  I've got 20 more tubes of powder pre-weighed in quick load tubes.  I shouldn't need to reshoot again other than to verify my zero before hunts.  Changing batches of powder definitely made a difference.  I think in the future, I'll buy powder in 2-3 can increments if I can get them all in the same batch.

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Joined: 06/15/2014
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Doh!  Double post.

Doh!  Double post.

Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Location: San Diego, CA
Joined: 07/27/2007
Posts: 5813
Some nice speedgoats there!

Some nice speedgoats there! Congrats!

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