After months of anticipation, and weeks of preparing for deer season, driving 25 hours and 1,689 miles from Pennsylvania, we finally arrived in western Nebraska. We arrived around 4 p.m. that afternoon and got right to scouting the South Dakota-Nebraska line. On our first full day of scouting, we saw how much potential there was to harvest an antelope in South Dakota; however, we set out to Nebraska with only deer tags because we, unfortunately, did not draw for an antelope tag so Ryan made the decision to purchase his goat tag for South Dakota.
The first day of hunting rolled around and I dropped Ryan off in the area where we had seen a pretty big speed goat the night before while I headed off to chase after muleys. I finally got to the area I was hunting, and sure enough, I got a text from Ryan: “Long live the Goat.” Ryan has never been out west before or ever hunted pronghorn, and in my experience, I know how challenging and fun antelope hunting can be, so when I first read the text I thought he was pulling my leg. So I FaceTimed him, and sure enough on his second stalk ever hunting Antelope he got the job done and harvested his first-ever antelope, and a damn good one at that. We spent the rest of the day processing the animal. Had ourselves a good meal and headed out to scout that afternoon for mule deer.
Day three rolls around: We woke up that morning not really having a game plan because we didn’t see anything promising the night before. The hopes were not high for the morning of day three. We were fully prepared to spend the morning scouting and glassing a new area, but little did we know as we’re driving away from camp, the headlights hit 4 glowing eyes. We grabbed our binoculars and see that it is a bachelor group of four muley bucks, and suddenly it’s game on. We drive about a half mile across the plains, park the truck and begin our stalk. It is still pitch black at this point and we were able to get in a dried-up creek bed to get to where we last saw the muleys. Daylight rolls around and we see them about 250 yards coming right to us, and we couldn’t be more pumped.
This is where the drama begins. Another truck comes driving through the pasture and sees the bucks and can clearly see our truck parked in the area. But that didn’t stop this group of hunters. Not only did they mess up our hunt, but they parked right next to our truck and started walking right at the bucks, and completely ruined our hunt. We watched the bucks run off and luckily enough, we were able to get back on them. These are obstacles as public land hunters we all know we are going to run into, but just like anything else in life; it’s how you respond to a situation that will determine your success.
We headed back to the truck and came up with a game plan. Ryan dropped me off about a quarter mile away for me to make a stalk on the bucks while he stayed up on the ridge top and could keep an eye on the bucks. We came up with hand signals so that I would know what the bucks were doing and whether or not I could inch my way closer. So I headed off and found my way into the dried up creek bed where I was able to disappear. I headed up the creek bed to a deadfall that was about 500 yards from where I last saw the bucks. I got into position and sure enough not even 30 minutes later here they come on a string at 112 yards. At this point my heart is racing and I know this is going to happen. That moment I spent all summer long practicing shooting my bow out to 100 yards was going to pay off. Little did I know the bucks were going to come in within 5 yards. The biggest buck in the group was the lead deer, and I shot him at just 4 yards. I couldn’t believe what just happened, never in my life have I ever been so close to an animal, let alone one of the hardest to hunt on public land in Nebraska. The buck ran maybe 60 yards and piled up in the creek bed.
If you would’ve told Ryan and I we would have gotten the job done on day two and day three, we would have laughed. We were both extremely blessed to capitalize on the opportunities we were given, and we created memories that we will have for the rest of our lives. Ryan still had a deer tag to fill but unfortunately our luck came to an end and he was unable to fill his deer tag, but absolutely nothing to be upset about. With our heads held high, it was time we headed back to good ole Pennsylvania.