Back at camp, we took the antelope quarters and placed them on a rock in the middle of the stream next to our tent. The running water kept the air cool and the steep cliffs kept the sun off the stream all day. The quarters cooled quickly. We prepared lunch and enjoyed some down time before three of our group headed home with their quarters. Rolin stayed back with us and we headed out to fill the last pronghorn tag.
The year before, Tristan had filled his buck tag in a place where a natural corridor ran behind a large hill, creating a very secluded environment for the antelope. We had watched them use this place before and as they ran down the corridor they would pause behind the big hill to catch their breath and relax a bit before heading back out into the open. We decided to check this spot out again. Rolin and I stayed on the front side of the hill while Tristan headed around it to see if he could catch anything feeding back there. While we waited, Rolin and I glassed the open land before us. Miles away we could see little tiny dots of brown that, after looking through the Vortex spotting scope, we realized was a herd of elk. We also spotted antelope way off.
Although muted, we heard some shots coming from behind the hill. We anxiously waited as the time ticked on. Finally, Tristan radioed for us to come pick him up. We were anticipating a happy smile when we rendezvoused but instead he appeared frustrated. He relayed the story to us of him getting a good 510 yard shot at an antelope that was occupying the corridor with a small herd. After his shot he watched as the herd ran off seeming uninjured.
We scanned the hills and Rolin noticed a patch of white a little higher up the hill than where the herd had ran. Apparently Tristan’s shot was very good and the antelope had immediately split from the herd before Tristan got his binoculars on them to watch and he never saw it run up the hill and fall. The excitement hit and we grabbed our gear and hiked to the antelope.
It was a huge doe and we quickly got it quartered and bagged. As Tristan and Rolin were hiking back down to the truck I sat down and looked out over the vastness. The sun was starting to drop low in the sky and the shadows were getting long. The day had been filled with running, gunning, skinning and packing. A smile crept over my face and I knew that this moment would be forever etched into my mind.
I headed back to the truck and we made it back to camp before dark. We placed the last antelope quarters on the pile with the rest, made a great dinner of BBQ chicken and sat around the campfire telling stories until the stars were brighter than the coals.
Eventually we turned in and slept to the gurgling sounds of the stream. When we woke to break camp, we found the motivation after a few cups of steaming coffee. Once everything was loaded up, we left the site with little evidence of the vast experiences that had taken place there over the last 36 hours. All that remained were a few patches of flattened grass, tent stake holes and a lot of memories.