Antelope hunt provides great father-daughter adventure
Alexandria's Dean Krebs knows the time could be ticking for him to go on a hunt like he just got back from out west with his daughter, Lauren.
"I just wanted to do it to have a father daughter experience," Krebs said after returning home from hunting antelope near Gillette, Wyoming. "You only control your kids' lives until they go to college. After that, you're not guaranteed you'll be able to go on a hunt like this when they get busy with their lives. I didn't know anything about hunting antelope, but she's 13 and we can do this together."
Dean and Lauren set out to enjoy an adventure over MEA break in mid-October. That was going to happen regardless of whether or not they filled a tag, so the fact they brought home two antelope only added to the excitement.
The two set up camp near Gillette on the first night there but never saw an antelope on public land in the area on their initial hunts. They talked to game wardens and locals at sporting goods stores who all delivered a similar message.
"They said the private land was all buttoned up by outfitters," Dean said.
Through conversation, Dean was tipped off to a piece of public land that had a tendency to hold antelope. They would have to park off the interstate, but that was legal. Dean called the state patrol to check and got the OK.
The next morning, they crawled up over a ridge not far off the busy road. There in a valley a long ways away were a small group of does feeding. The two were keeping watch on those when Lauren noticed more antelope that had come up a small drainage about 40 yards away.
"We still had scope covers on and not a bullet in the chamber," Dean said. "Lauren said, 'Should I shoot?' I just thought with what we had seen on the land we had access to that she better take this if we want an antelope."
Lauren made a clean shot on a young buck that took just a couple steps before falling over. They got the meat back to the truck before sitting over a valley that night.
The two returned to that same area the next morning with Dean's tag left to fill. After only seeing a few does, they went looking for some new terrain.
A road off the interstate ran parallel with a river that served as the border of the unit they could hunt. The road was on the wrong side, meaning they would have to cross the water to get back onto property they could hunt.
"There were a million mule deer and a million antelope but they were all on private land and on the wrong side of the river," Dean said.
It wasn't long, though, before Lauren saw a group of about 10 antelope in a field across the water. Dean pulled up his OnX map - a hunting map system through his phone app that shows public and private grounds, along with giving landowner information on private pieces. Right there was the owner of the property where the antelope were.
The Krebses had already been told that getting permission on private land was all but impossible. They pulled into the driveway and asked anyway, gaining permission to thousands of acres.
Now all they had to do was cross the river to get to the fields they could hunt. That required driving through the water in their truck.
"Water up to the running boards and it's so milky you can't see where you're going," Dean said.
They got across the river without a problem and set out after the group of antelope Lauren had spotted. There were two bucks that they knew of in the group.
It took a long stalk to close the deal. They dropped their packs once the terrain got too high and belly crawled for about 80 yards through the cover and around the small cactuses on the landscape.
The antelope went over another hill, allowing Dean and Lauren to stand up and close the gap a little quicker. They reached the crest and saw them standing 150 yards away. Dean took aim at one of the bucks, pulled the trigger and wasn't sure if he had hit it right away.
"I knew there were two bucks, and I thought only one of those ran off," Dean said.
They walked over and found the buck dead right where he had stood, not more than 10 feet from a field road they could drive a truck up to to pick him up.
Krebs already had a good hunting season going before this trip after shooting a bull elk on public land out west with his bow. This trip was different, though.
"It's way less intense and just fun," he said. "That's how I'd describe it."
Not quite as exhaustive as an elk hunt. There's no need to be up two hours before daylight to pack into the mountains or quarter out hundreds of pounds of meat. Krebs found it to be a perfect trip for anyone looking to get a kid out for a hunt they won't forget.
"I just enjoyed the adventure with Lauren," he said. "Driving across this river and then having a great stalk, the ups and downs, having to belly crawl. Just the whole experience was good."