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"One Great Prairie Goat"
Written by Greg Busch

One Great Prairie Goat
When I found out I drew a 2003 North Dakota rifle antelope tag, I was really excited. We don't have a lot of antelope in North Dakota and are not known for producing big bucks. Three years before, I had drawn a tag and scored on a 12-1/4 inch buck. This year, I set a personal goal to harvest a buck over 13 inches. I spent a lot of time at the rifle range to become more familiar with my rifle and hand loads. I shoot a 7mm magnum with 139 grain Hornady bullets. I also hunt an area I am very familiar with. It lies right on the Montana border where I also bowhunt both antelope and mulies.

I didn't get to hunt the first 13 days of a 16 day season because of my work schedule and a solo backpack hunt for elk and bear in Idaho's Selway Bitterroot Wilderness. I knew I could only hunt the last three days of season, but still felt confident. My first day hunting I spent looking over and stalking many antelope. I passed them all up. One buck in particular I felt would be right around 13 inches, but with the difficulty judging them I decided to pass and look further. It was a hard choice to make and I soon questioned my decision.

One Great Prairie Goat
The next morning was the same routine of looking for distant herds. After about an hour of glassing, I spotted a large herd approximately 1 1/2 miles away. There ended up being 26 antelope in the herd with five bucks. Even at that distance, one buck in particular stood out. I could see a lot of black above his head and knew he was worth a closer look. A quick side note, I was using Swarowski binoculars I bought five years ago after much scrimping and saving. They are the single best hunting purchase I have ever made. I wasted many years looking through marginal binoculars. What you read is true, you have no idea the number of animals you miss by failing to utilize quality glass. I closed the distance and quickly realized I was looking at a very nice antelope. I spent the next five hours trying to stalk close enough for a shot without getting busted. About an hour before dark, the herd was up and feeding in my general direction. I was not able to get a shot until right at dark. I was fortunate to connect with this buck at just over 350 yards.

When I walked up to my antelope I knew he was "a good one!" He was 14 and 5/8 inches, had 6 1/2 inch bases, and 5 1/2 inch cutters. I was tickled pink! The weather had been over 75 degrees and was going to get hotter. Even though I had some more time to hunt, and a couple nice muley bucks located to bowhunt, I loaded up and got him to the taxidermist. It really pays to look over a lot of animals (with quality glass) and pass on the smaller bucks. Hunting antelope on the ND prairies is one of my favorite things to do. I realize the next time I draw this tag I may be hard pressed to find a better buck than the one I just harvested, but will sure enjoy trying!!