Good luck and bad luck on a Kansas pronghorn hunt

My long-awaited pronghorn hunt has come and gone, and it was a trip that contained  a lot of luck…and most of it was good.

– Twenty years ago I was very lucky to have met a rancher who is now a great friend ,…which opened about 23,000 contiguous acres for my muzzleloader hunt.

Pronghorn hunting is usually a game of spotting the animals in the distance, then sneaking close for a shot. Heavy fog made hunting challenging last Thursday morning.

– That the milo crop ripened a bit late was a bit of bad luck because it meant he’d be eye-deep in harvest during my hunt.

– Out in the area in June, I noted that the pastures were about totally without cover because of drought, and I wondered how I’d get close to a pronghorn. I got lucky and we had summer rains and the pastures quickly greened and grew. I got unlucky when they grew too much, and for the first time in 35 years of antelope hunting I was dealing with too much cover. It was hard to spotted bedded bucks in some tall meadows. Four times in about 90 minutes I tried to get a shot at the best buck on the ranch, only to have too much grass in the way when I knelt down to use my rifle’s bi-pod.

– The one set appointment I had all week was when my friend could have taken off a few hours from harvest, and the weather was perfect for hunting.

– He had some bad luck later that afternoon when his combine broke, which was good luck for me because it would be mid-morning the next day before it was fixed so we headed to the ranches. As well as fun to hunt with, my odds of getting a buck went up considerably because of his amazing vision and knowledge of the ranches.

– Fog that limited visibility to no more than 100 yards was our bad luck at sunrise, when it’s easiest to spot pronghorns in the distance. That the soup lasted until 11 was my friend’s bad luck because it meant the milo was wet and he couldn’t head in for harvest. That was lucky for me because that meant he could stay and hunt a few more hours.

After a couple of blown stalks on Thursday, I lucked on to this buck watching me at about 150 yards. The delayed fire in the muzzleloader was unlucky, that I still hit the buck where I was aiming was probably mostly luck.

– An old doe thwarted us with her eyes as we tried to move in on one herd that had two excellent bucks and another that was danged nice. She busted us with her nose when we tried to move in on the herd as they trotted over a hill. A half-hour later we arrived at a place where we hoped to intercept the herd a half-second late and got busted again just out of muzzleloader range.

– Next we lucked into finding a herd  we’d spooked earlier in the morning, but the second time they were in a good enough place we figured we had  at least a 50/50 chance of sneaking to within range.

– Half-way to the herd  I looked up and saw a nice buck watching our stalk, not sure what we were. As luck had it he was at about 150 yards, a range at which I was very confident. The rifle picked  a bad time to have its first hang-fire, that’s when there’s a half-second or so pause between when the cap ignites and the powder takes off. I was extremely lucky that the sights stayed solid through the hang-fire and I still hit the buck where i was aiming.

– The buck died instantly, on my favorite ranch in the world, while hunting with one of my best-ever friends. There was no added mess or complications getting the buck to town and cooled, and the meat looks and smells like it will be amazing to eat. No doubt, I’m a very lucky guy.