By Danielle Phillips
I would like to tell you about my first antelope hunting experience. My hunt took place when I was 10 years old near Sierra Blanca, Texas. A good friend of my dad, Coll Bramblett, had some extra permits on his ranch and asked if I would be interested in going hunting for pronghorn antelope. I had never seen an antelope in the wild much less hunted them, but was excited to get the chance.
One Saturday, my mom, dad, and I got up early in the morning to meet Mr. and Mrs. Bramblett and then took about an hour drive to their ranch. Once we got there, we unloaded a huge Polaris ATV, which had a big bench seat high in the bed that looked over the top of the cab. I had never hunted this way and was extremely excited. This particular trip, my dad was filming the hunt for a TV show.
It didn’t take long before my mom spotted the first buck. He was running across the field about 500 yards away. That was a little too far for my youth model .243. Even if it had been closer, my dad didn’t want me to take any running shots.
As the day went on we got on several groups of pronghorn, but they were always 250 to 300 yards away and always moving. I’m used to hunting out of a stand and taking a nice, broadside shot within 100 yards. This was much different and I was really nervous about taking a long shot.
We finally spotted a few antelope walking down the fence line. Mr. Bramblett thought it might be worth a try if my dad and I got out of the Polaris and tried putting a stalk on them. So that is exactly what we did. This was my first stalk ever and I thought it was really cool!
We got within about 270 yards before my dad said that they had spotted us. He helped me position my gun on the shooting sticks and told me where to aim. I got the antelope in my scope and slowly squeezed the trigger like I had practiced. “BOOM!” The rifle went off and so did the pronghorn. My dad said that I had shot right under him, but that it was OK because it was a clean miss and he was proud of me for trying such a long shot. I was glad to get the experience of a stalk on foot as well as try a long shot, but most of all I’m happy I didn’t wound the buck.
The day came to an end and I didn’t get a buck, but I was real happy to get to go out and hunt and have the opportunity that some people never get to experience. Thinking that it was the end of my antelope hunt for the year, I heard Mr. Bramblett ask my dad if I would like to try again the next day. He looked at me and said, “It’s up to her.” I remember thinking, “Yes, yes, yes, please!” My mom was surprised and said that she knew right then, that I was really into hunting if I was willing to get up early the next day and do it all over again. She decided to sleep in.
After a good night’s sleep and knowing what to expect, I was more ready than ever. We met the Brambletts at their ranch and we were off hunting for a good pronghorn. We hunted a different section of their ranch all morning and saw a few mule deer doe and a turtle. Then when I was thinking that there were no antelope on this end of the pasture, Mr. Bramblett said “There are three bucks laying down right in the open about 200 yards.”
As soon as I saw them they stood up and my heart started racing. Finally, I got a closer shot and knew that it was really going to happen. Then the biggest of the three started running right across the gravel road to our left and was actually coming a little closer. While all this was happening, my dad was getting me in position to take the shot and Mr. Bramblett was trying to range the yardage for me.
Then all of the sudden the buck stopped and gave me a broad side shot. My dad said, “There he is; take him.” I put the cross hair on the biggest one and pulled the trigger. To my surprise, the buck just stood there. My dad took the gun from me, ejected the shell, put another one in the chamber and in a matter of a few seconds had me back on the buck.
Right when I got on the buck again, he started to run and I remember thinking, “Oh no, he is going to get away.” Then a loud whistle from my dad made the buck stop in his track and look right at us. This time my dad said, “Take your time and put him down.” I took careful aim and squeezed the trigger. The gun went off and I heard a “KAWHOP!” The buck dropped straight down. I couldn’t believe it! I then heard everyone cheering and Mrs. Bramblett saying, “That a girl Danielle, great shot.” My longest shot to date—162 yards
In celebration, I was given the opportunity to drive the Polaris back to the ranch house. At first, I was scared because I had never driven anything before. Once I got the hang of it, I felt more comfortable and luckily, with no crashes, drove us back safely.
What was really cool is that my dad filmed the entire hunt. When talking about it to everyone on camera, I got to dedicate it to my grandpa, who turned 67 that very day.