Savage ambassador, Sally Doty did it! Her first solo rifle antelope hunt is complete!
Updated: October 18, 2020
I first got into antelope hunting several years ago after I moved for Minnesota to South Dakota. These creatures really intrigued me since I heard that their curiosity can be their undoing. I started by trying to bow hunt them (exceedingly difficult) to finally rifle hunting them when I got my first tag. I went on a few hunts and shot a few young, but respectful goats.
In 2019 I got an antelope tag for a county west of Pierre, SD where I live, and my husband got his tag for three hours NW of Pierre. We knew that we could not hunt together so we had to split up. This being my first solo rifle hunt I was a bit nervous. I had my rifle, ammo, tag, safety orange, game bags, and a knife…I was set. Early morning could not come soon enough!
I ventured out to an area that I knew housed a decent buck. The week before I scouted for groups so that I would be well prepared for rifle season. I noticed that on the public ground there was a herd of cattle right where the antelope were the week prior. I called my husband wondering what to do. He said to check the other side of the public since the antelope probably moved over to the pasture without cattle in it. As soon as I turned to look an antelope doe spotted me and sent the who herd running what looked like several counties over. These creatures are known to run, and they are fast! Since I knew that I blew this stalk, and the other spots were overrun with hunters I decided to call it a day.
I woke up that Sunday morning to see a lot of fog. I was not quite sure if I wanted to go and felt deflated from the day before. I decided to make the 1.5-hour trip out right at daylight so the fog would not be around for my drive. The fog never lifted, and the visibility was worse out west. I got out of my vehicle and could see maybe 100 yards max. I walked to my spot. It was misting heavily, and the wind picked up. I sat on a hillside for almost three hours seeing nothing. I thought it was useless since I would scare them at this close of range. I decided to pack out and hike about 2 miles off the public back to my vehicle.
On the walk back I was not discreet. I was humming in my head and talking to myself about things I needed to get done that day. The hunt was over, and I was ready to put some dry clothes on. About 500 yards from my vehicle something darted onto the trail, stopped, and looked at me. I thought the antelope had seen me and were all running away. It was the buck I was after and it appeared that he was alone. One thing I have learned about antelope is that they like to run around and mark their territories away from the does. He was out on a gallant stroll. While fumbling with my firearm he looked at me and kept running.
By this time, the fog was lifting a little and I could see out to a few hundred yards. He was sprinting from hay bale to hay bale marking, then moving on. I figured I could cut him off. I walked angled towards the direction I thought that he went for about 1000 yards. When I did not see him, I felt discouraged and figured it was time to finally pack up. After all, my shoes were full to the brim with rainwater and I had blisters.
Now the events that transpired after this reminded me of the end of thriller. As I was about to turn around a curious creature took a step out from behind a hay bale. At 55 yards I knew what this creature was. I was going to freehand my Savage 110 Long Range Hunter, but my right shoulder cramped. (It does this all the time shooting, I have yet to figure out why) I decided to sit down and put the bipod legs out. I put the legs up to the correct height, adjusted my Bushnell Forge riflescope, and let a bullet fly. He just stood there facing me. I did not know what happened, but my only thought was he is too close, and he needs to move further away. He started to trot off, but not too far just to around 80 yards-this time broadside. I again lined up the cross hairs of the scope of my 6.5 Creedmor and let it fly. The bullet hit and sent the goat in somewhat of a spin to the ground.
I had done it! My first solo rifle antelope hunt complete. I called Ben took some photos of myself and the antelope since no one was around. I quartered him out in the field, got out of there and warmed up at the house. I was so proud of myself for what I had accomplished that day. My first solo antelope rifle hunt on public ground was in the books!
Before this hunt, I could not tell someone of a great story or a great hunt. I just could not pick a favorite one or the most memorable one. After this experience I have a favorite species to hunt!