Lander, Wyoming lies pretty much in the middle of the state, on the road from Rawlings — on Interstate 80 — to the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Thousands of vacationers drive through Lander each year, some stopping for supplies or to spend the night. As a hunter I knew it as the hometown of the One Shot Antelope Hunt, an annual event dating back to 1940.
There are three categories of guests – shooters (the official hunters), past shooters and their guests. Through the years, this event has evolved mostly into a celebrity thing, featuring politicians, movie stars, astronauts, famous athletes and other notables. Obviously it’s very special to be selected as a shooter on one of the teams, but Brenda and I were thrilled to get an invitation, from past shooter Bert Klineburger, to be his guests at the activities: and as a bonus, he would personally guide us on an antelope hunt, while we were there.
The “official” hunt is for one day only — for one male antelope each — and only one-shot per shooter, with three shooters per team. The team with the most antelope wins. If the top two teams tie, the team with the shortest time till the last antelope is declared the winner. The purpose of the One Shot Antelope Hunt is not to shoot antelope, but rather to promote sportsmanship, conservation and comradeship.
We were up and out early, driving to a nearby ranch – arriving at first light. As guests of a past shooter, and not official contestants, there was no pressure about time or the number of shots fired, but Brenda and I are both pretty competitive and wanted to stay with the theme of the shoot.
Brenda’s chance came early that morning and she made a perfect, one shot kill at 90 yards, as her buck fed out from behind the cover of a small rise. Three and a half hours later we spotted two bucks fighting, just like whitetail deer – but well beyond range. Suddenly they broke off and ran in our direction, one chasing the other. The lead buck ran under a fence and his pursuer stopped the chase. Continuing in our direction, the lead buck slowed to a walk and came to within 140 yards, at which time I shot him. So that was our experience with the One Shot Antelope Hunt; what an interesting part of our hunting heritage.
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