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15

Crossbow trivia question for all ACF members and crossbow enthusiasts:

Your crossbow shoots a 2219-XX75 arrow tipped with a 125 gr. Spitfire broad head at approximately 310 fps.  You're sighted-in for a 20 yd. zero.  You have a steady wind from left to right at 30 mph with gusts exceeding 50 mph.  Your target is at 25 yds.  Do you hold:
     a) 6 inches left of target
     b) 12 inches left of target
     c) 18 inches left of target
     d) other

This archery Pronghorn Antelope Hunt took place with Jack Cassidy Outfitters on the Lisco Ranch near Douglas, Wyoming, the first week of September.  The Lisco Ranch is a 15,000 acre cattle ranch.  The terrain was rolling sagebrush prairie nestled between hills approaching 1,000 feet.  The beautiful North Platte River meandered through the south side of the ranch, flanked by tall cottonwoods and irrigated alfalfa fields.  The banks, lush and green adjacent to the arid sagebrush prairie, appeared like an oasis.  Our bunkhouse was situated next to the river, providing a quiet, scenic refuge from the long days afield.

Upon arrival, I shot a few bolts to make sure I was sighted-in, which drew a few strange looks.  As the only bow hunter using a crossbow, it drew questions about crossbow performance.  It's becoming increasingly apparent that the crossbow is gaining acceptance among bow hunters as simply another bow hunting option.

The next day we were up at 4 a.m. for breakfast.  After being coached on judging pronghorns, we packed our lunch and snacks then headed out at sunrise to our blinds.  Some blinds were situated next to alfalfa fields, but most were at the numerous water holes scattered amidst the vast prairie.  I strongly suggest you take along as many back issues of your Horizontal Bow Hunter Magazine as you can.  Reading material is a must for the long 10-12 hour days in your blind.

The first morning brought more than 20 antelope past my blind, which was overlooking an alfalfa field.  There were several nice bucks in the groups that passed by my blind--all too far away for a shot, unfortunately.  That afternoon, Jack moved me to a blind at a water hole called "The Pipe" where he had seen several large bucks that morning.  After putting 250 gallons of water into the water hole, Jack left me to continue my vigil scanning the prairie.  A good set of binoculars came in handy as I watched numerous antelope milling about in the distance.  Later in the day, I videotaped 3 bucks about 150 yards away as they sparred with sagebrush, bedded down and eventually left when Jack appeared to pick me up.  He had been watching them through a spotting scope on a high hill about a mile away and estimated the largest buck would score in the mid-80-inch range--truly an exceptional buck.

The next day brought a cold drizzle with wind like I'd never experienced.  When I got settled in my blind, the wind became so fierce at times I would plant my feet against the front of the blind and my chair against the back with arms outstretched in an effort to keep the blind from caving in on me.  Even with this effort, I was convinced I was going to become a doghouse tumbleweed and end up somewhere in eastern Wyoming or western South Dakota. 

At noon when the sun appeared, I saw numerous antelope in the distance with occasional appearances at my water hole.  The wind continued blowing all day and seemed to make any visitors to the water hole very nervous from the wind buffeting my blind.  At 4:00 a nice buck and a doe came in for a drink.  When they would stare at my blind with those large dark eyes, it felt as if they were looking right through me.  When the wary doe moved off out of sight, I knew this was my chance.  With a broadside shot at 25 yards, I placed my red dot 6 inches left of target to allow for the wind, still blowing at a steady 30 mph with gusts exceeding 50 mph.  Just as I sent the arrow on its course, a nasty gust hit pushing my arrow 18 inches left of my aim point.  When the arrow struck, the buck trotted off about 40 yards and lay down. 

I ranged him at 42 yards, reloaded my crossbow and sent another arrow at him lying on the ground.  That shot was quartering into the wind.  Where that arrow went is anybody's guess.  The buck got up at the sound of the crossbow going off, walked another 15 yards and went down for the count.  When I went over to inspect him, I couldn't believe what the wind had done to my arrow trajectory.  I had managed a liver shot, but the arrow had exited just in front of the offside hind quarter as if the buck had been quartering to me.  Lady Luck had indeed shined upon me.

The answer to the "Crossbow Trivia Question, learned the hard way, is (d); pass the shot if it is beyond point blank range.  You simply cannot judge how wind that strong and gusty will affect your arrow.  Even practicing in a 20 mph wind didn't prepare me for these kinds of conditions.

With my buck on the ground, it was time to signal Jack.  We were instructed that if you need assistance, wrap your blind with T.P.  The white against the blind could be easily seen from vantage points miles away by the outfitter with spotting scopes.  Simple enough, right?  I challenge anyone to wrap a doghouse blind with T.P. in "wind from hell."  I fought wrapping that blind in T.P. for nearly a half hour.  About the time I would get half way around, it was already blown off.  I had T.P. dangling from sagebrush as far as the eye could see.  I came to the conclusion that this was impossible without gallons of wall paper paste.  As I stood there admiring the T.P.'d sagebrush prairie, I noticed 3 lengths of white PVC pipe lying close by, hence the nickname for this water hole, "The Pipe".  Refusing to be defeated, I tied the pipes to the blind with some baling wire.  Success!  I set about cleaning up as much T.P. from the sage brush as I could in the 20 minutes before Jack and Mr. Lisco arrived.  I hardly made a dent in the T.P.'d appearance of the prairie.  

They arrived grinning like two opossums eating peanut butter.  I'd been had.  They sat atop a high hill more than a mile away and had seen me put my antelope down, then continued to watch laughing uncontrollably at my futile attempts to wrap the blind with T.P.  When they saw me give up in frustration, they headed my way not even realizing I had defeated the wind with the PVC pipes.  Seeing the pipes dangling from my blind provided yet another belly laugh for them.  Once they were able to control the tears from laughing so hard, Jack congratulated me on a fine buck, as well as, my ingenuity in defeating the "wind from hell".  He told me not to worry about cleaning up the T.P. strewn across the prairie as he thought it would be unreasonable to ask a man to walk across the eastern third of Wyoming picking T.P. off sagebrush.

Back at camp, after Jack told everyone of my battle with the wind and T.P., my antelope was green scored at 66 2/8 inches and the first buck taken by the group.  Other hunters had seen dozens of antelope but no shot opportunities.  One of the hunters proclaimed to have seen a bull moose along the river.  His buddies rode him like a borrowed mule until he showed them the video he had taken of the moose.  The outfitter said it was rare to see Shiras moose this far east in Wyoming.

The balance of the hunt produced several nice bucks scoring in the mid- 60's with a couple in the mid-70 range.  A few hunters had combination Antelope/Mule Deer Tags and managed to take a few nice mule deer bucks along with their antelope.

As the only crossbow hunter, I was pleased at the reception the crossbow received by this group of compound bow hunters.  There were hunters from New York to California, Wisconsin to Missouri, of all age groups and professions.  They all looked upon the crossbow as just another option to use for bow hunting.  That's the kind of progress we're looking for, fellow ACF members.

If you're looking for a low impact, interesting, fun and affordable hunt, consider a Western Pronghorn Antelope Hunt.  Good Hunting!  Jonathan Kaul, ACF Member #001639.

Posted in: Member Stories

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