What could you accomplish in 24 hours? We challenge ourselves daily, whether it be in our professional lives, physical well-being or mental state. We live in an age where time is everything. It consumes every aspect of who we are and what we do. So, I set out to challenge my hunting skills and luck to bag a DIY Wyoming pronghorn in 24 hours.
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The challenge was simple. Once the plane’s wheels left the ground in Louisiana, the clock started. If that sounds nerve racking; well, it was. Here are the times I had to remember:
Clock started – 10:25 am CT
Legal Shooting Light – 6:20 am MT
Clock Would End – 8:30 am MT
Arrive at Airport – 12:30 pm MT
Realistically, I needed to be done hunting at 8:30 am, and that was cutting it close. I arrived in good shape, but nerves rattled as I wheeled the Pelican gun case through the Denver airport. I’d selected three areas to focus the hunt where I’d had success in the past. That would give me a leg up on the competition. Since this was a public-land hunt, I was competing against the clock, the prey and other hunters, a massive challenge.
Public lands in Wyoming offer some of the best Pronghorn hunting in the country. This was my fourth year hunting the Cowboy State, and each hunt produced a quality animal.
The biggest problem encountered on most public-land hunts are boundaries. A great mapping system keeps you on public grounds no matter the cell coverage. The mapping system used was called Basemap. This was the first hunt I’d used the system, and I was shocked how much it helped in the preplanning stages. I selected some areas offline, just in case my signal dropped out. Experience in an area can only get you so far. The rest is up to your mapping system.
The alarm clock went off as I drove to the hunting grounds. Running on adrenalin in anticipation of the big hunt, I decided to eliminate areas and focus on the parcel of school property where I’d taken last year’s Pronghorn. With only a couple hours to hunt, speeding around the country side wouldn’t have been the best call. Plus, intel from a good buddy noted there was an abundance of critters on site.
Public land hunts aren’t always kind. As I slipped down the draw at first light, the antelope fed a mere 250 yards away. If I had any other gun, that’d be an easy shot to make, but I love a challenge, so I carried the Ruger American Ranch in 300 BLK. This caliber is widely known as a fantastic round for wild hogs, but with today’s ammunition, it can easily handle Pronghorn, whitetail or even mule deer. Distance, however, is limited, and a close, well-placed shot is paramount.
A nice Pronghorn was within reach, but as I peeked over the mound of dirt I sat behind, two hunters were stalking from the east and two hunters closed in from the north. I was the closest gun to the group, but that didn’t matter as the four, orange-clad hunters gave chase. After ten minutes of what-the-hell is that walking towards us, the herd exploded south. I debated, albeit briefly, giving chase, but time was running out. That first, failed stalk was at 8:13 am CT. One hour left until I had to depart.
I hauled tail back to the Nissan Titan to get on another group of Pronghorns. It didn’t take long to find them. A small group fed in the wide open while I drove past, looking for an opportunity to bail out to give chase. For the life of me, I couldn’t get out of sight. However, it was a lucky day indeed because another buck violently chased a doe right toward the first group, which prompted a fight and chase to the other side of the hill. Perfect time for me to run.
As I crested the hill, five bucks gave chase to no less than fifteen does in the bottom below. I’d hit the mother lode. All I needed to do was stalk 550 yards of open ground. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen—not with 18 sets of eyes tuned up just looking for a reason to truck it to the next unit. I decided to play the slow game with 45 minutes left on the hunt. It’s funny how at peace I was knowing I was going to eat tag soup. That is, until the chase led a great buck right into my lap.
I enjoyed watching the bucks chase the does and each other around, but one buck broke from the pack on the heels of a doe that didn’t want to be caught. I hit scramble mode since the Pronghorn closed rapidly to my spot. The rest was a blur. Thankfully, the moments were captured on the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro. Otherwise, I would forget many details. I do remember the awe that came after, thinking about how fast it happened.
The shot broke at 7:46 am MT. I drove out at 8:30 am MT, which was exactly when my alarm was set to close.
I’d completed the 24-hour Pronghorn hunt, but I’ll never do it again. Much like our daily lives, we pace ourselves right out of memories. Sure, I’ll remember that crazy time I went after Pronghorn in only 24 hours, but I missed the opportunity to drive some backroads and spend valuable time with friends I don’t often see any more.
Take an extra day or two on hunts like these. You’ll never question yourself on memories made, but memories lost have a lasting effect. ~ KJ
Truck: Nissan Titan SL Midnight Edition
Rifle: Ruger American Ranch 300BLK
Ammunition: Hornady Full Boar 110 gr. GMX
Scope: ATN X-Sight 4K Pro
Binocular: Bushnell Fusion
Camo: Sitka Apex Hoody and Sitka Timbeline Pant
Knife: Havalon Piranta Edge
Kevin Jarnagin (KJ) hails from Oklahoma, but quickly established Louisiana roots after joining the Gun Talk team. KJ grew up as a big game hunter, and knows his way around a bass boat. Whether it’s making his way to British Columbia for elk or training with pistols, Jarnagin always seems to find a gun in his hands and adventure on his mind.
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