Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"A Great Day at 7 J" by Jacob Hout

On Thursday, September 23rd 2010, Jack Loser, owner of J&D Strings (left),  Russ Beavers, Tenpoint Crossbows production manager (right) and I, Tenpoint Crossbows R&D Technician (center) took off for 7 J Outfitters in Sundance Wyoming for what would be the first antelope hunt for each of us.

The way our trip started, our odds for success looked pretty dim.  Due to a cancelled flight, the six hour trip from Ohio to Rapid City, South Dakota ended up being a twenty one hour trip.  It was after midnight when we got to 7 J Outfitters and we were not going to be able to hunt the first morning of our two day hunt.

On day one of the hunt we got up at daybreak and instead of being in our blinds, we had to put our bows together and sight them in. 

Our guide, Jimmy Wells, picked us up around 7:30 a.m. and took us down the road about an hour and a half to the 100,000 acre cattle farm where he has had great success with antelope.  The drive was amazing, scenery was great and the number of pronghorn in every field we passed had me excited and ready to get in my blind.

First, we dropped off Jack at about 9:30 a.m.  I got set up by 9:40 a.m. and Russ about fifteen minutes after that.  At the time I was sure that Russ was hunting the same water hole I was, but out of a different blind. 

For about the first hour I was watching antelope bucks chase does off in the distance until I lost sight of them.  Only fifteen minutes later I noticed two nice bucks behind me chasing each other around what I thought was Russ’ blind.  Eventually the larger of the two bucks chased the other off as they both disappeared into the sage brush.  I was a little confused because I still thought Russ was in that blind.  Why hadn’t he taken a shot?  I wasn’t sure if he was sleeping off the rough day before or just being too picky.

Another few minutes passed when I noticed a very large buck tailing a doe in my direction.  My palms started sweating and I could feel my heart racing, but the doe took off and headed down toward the other blind.  I started yelling toward Russ under my breath as I watched the buck and the doe in front of “his blind” for about ten minutes.  Why didn’t he shoot?  Suddenly, the buck started acting nervous and kept looking beyond my setup.   I slowly turned around and there was a buck at about fifty yards circling the water hole.

I had my Turbo XLT set up with a Steddy Eddy monopod system, so I felt confident taking a 50 yard shot.  As I took aim, though, I heard the sound of stampeding antelope, so I backed off.  Two bucks and eleven does came barreling toward the water hole.  By now I was shook up like never before.  I took aim at the closest buck, and I am pretty sure the biggest of the three, and made a perfect 28-yard shot.  The buck went less than ten yards and piled up on the bank of the watering hole.  I was excited, relieved and, by this point I had figured out that Russ wasn’t in the other blind.

The rest of my time in the field was spent taking pictures and impatiently waiting for the guide to call and check up on me so I could give him the good news.  A couple more bucks and a handful of does wandered by my blind over the next few hours, so I got some very good photos of them.

About Three o’clock I finally got a text from Jimmy.  I gave him the good news and he told me he would be there in about 15 minutes.  After the 15 minutes passed, I got another message that read “Jack shot one as well so I will be just a little bit longer”.  I thought to myself how great it was to get two out of three on the first day.

After a few minutes that seemed like hours, Jack and Jimmy showed up.  We got some trophy photos of our prairie goats and started loading them up when the two way radio beeped and interrupted our conversation. 

It was Russ.  “Does any one have a radio on?  I got one on the ground” He said. 

The three of looked at each other in disbelief.  Jimmy smiled and replied, “Good job, let me check on the other two guys to see how they are doing and I will be right over”.  I loved his reply because it led Russ on when he had no idea that we all shot one. 

The three of us arrived at Russ’s blind, and he saw that both of us had also harvested bucks, there was a short period of hand shakes and congratulating.  To top everything off, as we were taking pictures, another buck walked up to the watering hole.  What a great way to end the perfect hunt.

We spent the rest of the trip doing a little sight seeing, relaxing and enjoying the fantastic food and hospitality that Jeff and Debbie Smith (owners of 7 J Outfitters) provided us.

Debbie did ask me not to advertise the fact that we all tagged out on the first day because it doesn’t typically happen that way.  Love must have been in the air the day of our hunt the bucks and does sure did not have us on their minds. 

My personal opinion is that Russ and I were just rewarded for our patience in the airport the day before.  Maybe it was just luck but, who cares.  This was the best hunt I have ever been on, and I highly recommend 7 J Outfitters to anybody.  They are great people with a great setup and the properties they lease have a ton of game on them.  Thanks again to Jack and 7 J Outfitters for making this trip everything that it was.

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