This weekend is the beginning of Montana’s antelope hunt. If you received a tag for an applied area, or plan to head east for a more open antelope area, it is time to get ready to head afield. Weather is typical Montana so be ready for rain and snow.
My tag will place me along the Musselshell River in central Montana. You can’t help but be reminded of the hunts of natives, pioneers, and Mountain Men. The “Musselshell” stirs strong stories of wonderful hunting. I will be hunting with a friend that I mentored years ago.
Yellowstone Kelly enjoyed hunting antelopes. An early Mountain Man and guide, Kelly enjoyed hunting these abundant and manageable critters. A dressed antelope could be carried over the shoulder. Once near a tree, the “lope” would be hung on a branch and tagged with a scarf or symbol of the hunter. No one would mess with other hunters kill, unless invited. Sides of ribs stacked against a fire, steaks and chunks of meat spitted over a fire, or cleaned intestines stuffed with bits of meat, marrow, and fat were common recipes. Hunters would eat 20 or more pounds of meat daily.
The first antelope I tagged was a buck. My friend told me to set up near water or green grass and wait. After a few hours, a large herd of “lopes” crested the hill. I was sitting in a dug-out hole along the bank. Out of the wind and cozy. I had cut a shooting stick and waited with my single shot rifle. I scoped a nice buck and pulled the trigger. In an instance, the herd vanished. I went to the place the buck was standing and found blood.
Following a blood trail is a fun part of the hunt we rarely talk about. Since the buck was higher on the slope and ran over top, I could not see where he fell. Within 100 yards, the blood covered sage led me to my buck. After dressing the buck, I threw it over my shoulder and began the trek to the truck.
The nice buck seemed lighter as I made the best out of the task. Once at the truck, I saw my buddy coming across the prairie with his pronghorn. The weapons, gear, and clothes may have changed but the spirit of the hunt always stays the same.
Hunt hard, hunt harder!
For more Montana Grant, visit him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.