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"Catfish & Speedgoats"
Written by Brad Robins

Catfish & Speedgoats
It was June 17th when I went online and found out that I drew my second antelope tag in Oregon! I had been buzzing around telling everyone that I was really two years away from having decent odds of drawing. My non-hunting friends were not impressed with my enthusiasm as they didn't realize how hard it is to draw here. But, I drew the tag!!!

I immediately went into scout mode and began right where I killed a buck 7 years prior. I believed I could just go over to the unit and pick a good one out. I dove into the pile of maps I have and found my notes from that hunt. From BLM and state land availability, I knew it would be a fun hunt.

I immediately began outfitting myself at the local Bi-Mart and other sporting goods stores. A rangefinder, a window mount for the newer spotting scope, three True Sage t-shirts and plenty of 130 grain ammo made my wallet a lot thinner. I shot lots and felt okay out to 300 yards.

My Dad and my best bud, Al, would accompany me on the hunt. We decided to also fish a lake near where we would concentrate our efforts. We wanted to leave on that Monday before the Saturday opener to give us plenty of time to scout and fish. In the weeks prior to leaving, Oregon had numerous large fires due to the lightning storms. One such fire was just east of where I hunted last time. I was a bit nervous.

We left Tuesday morning with high hopes. Dad's melanoma issues made his decision to stay a hard one, but it made sense. It would be Al and me tackling the sun, heat and wind together.

We drove to my area and found...nothing! No tracks, nothing! We then drove to the lower fields where the "No Trespassing" signs out numbered the 'lopes. We talked to the rancher, and he said that the 'lopes were coming into the wet, green fields in droves.

The next day, Wednesday, we drove into an area that Dad and I had hunted 7 years earlier. The rancher there was almost teary eyed as she described the burn's effects on the range. We drove through it anyway. I saw one coyote, that's it. Sad! In a few years, that land will attract a lot of critters with the green-up. On the way out, near the highway, we saw a medium 'lope and logged him into our minds.

Wednesday afternoon found us driving into our lake campground. We quickly launched our boat and fished like mad to catch dinner. Eight catfish later, we were happy.

Our neighbors that night spoke of a herd of antelope upriver about five miles. Oh boy! We decided to motor up there at day break. The next morning, we motored up to the spot and immediately spotted a herd of 11 'lopes. A thick, short horned buck was in the group. We were conflicted because he was shorter, but they were all alone and no 'lope hunters were around!

We caught numerous catfish, four over 28", the next two days. The antelope herd was still in that square mile each time we checked on them. The last scouting effort found me high on a mountain looking for the herd. I found them in a tight little saddle that had a small depression in the middle of it. What a great spot to hide. Again, my mind logged that spot as a possible escape route and bedding area.

Opening morning found Al and I motoring up river at day break. We found the herd and Al dropped me off 1/2 mile down river. I made metal notes on which bluff I could creep to and get a shot. As I crept over the last few yards to look at the herd, they were already moving. I laid down my pack and ranged them at 340 yards. My rifle just couldn't clear the sagebrush, so I backed out. I immediately went to the saddle to intercept. I sat ready for 1/2 hour. NOTHING! I then decided to take on a frontal attack and ease around the bluff. At 60 yards, I saw ears of the leading doe. I sat there for an hour. I then schemed that if they did indeed get up, I would be pegged. I had to move. About 100 yards away was this draw with a deep wash in it. I backed out and slithered up it until I could get a clear shot. The last few yards really were slow and tense. I knew I would pop out at a close range, and with the eyesight of antelope listed at 20 power, I was real slow. The pack and rifle were in front of me as I looked over the still bedded herd. I cleared the last sage limb and found my buck. I knew at 102 yards, my rifle would be shooting a touch high. The buck's brisket, neck and head were the only target I had. I settled the crosshairs on the base of the lower white spot and touched it off.

At the shot, grass blew everywhere, does were running everywhere. I quickly scoped all the animals. No buck. I caught a glimpse of something in the tall cheat grass. It was my buck!!!!! I walked over and quickly noticed how thick the bases were and how far the diggers came out!

I then ran over to the end of the ridge that looked over the lake. I whooped and hollered as Al ran back to the boat and motored the 500 yards to the beach way below me. He hiked up to me and we were two very excited guys. Nothing like a culmination to a great week of adventure and the uniqueness of hunting antelope out of a boat!

After a few pictures, we quickly quartered and caped the buck. The boat ride cooled off the buck fairly fast in that cool desert morning air.

An hour later, we had broken camp and started that long trip home. Talk about giddiness for 10 hours. Lots of fish and a good buck on ice!