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So we just got back from the pronghorn hunt today. We went up to Vernal Utah, which is in East central Utah near Wyoming and Colorado, on Friday. We left the house at about 9:00am and rolled into Vernal about 1:20pm. We stopped in town and ate lunch at Golden Corral.

Then we got back on the road and headed North towards Flaming Gorge Reservoir. We went through some really pretty country, saw a few mule deer, lots of great places to hunt elk, but no pronghorn habitat.

Flaming Gorge

Crossing Flaming Gorge Dam

Flaming Gorge near the Dam

Flaming Gorge near the bridge and the Flaming Gorge suspension bridge.

We then decided to head back south and got east trough Vernal towards the Dinosaur National Monument because it more desert down there. Still nothing. We went through the Monument and wound up at the mouth of a canyon that had a river running through it. We got out, stretched our legs, took some pictures, then headed back to Vernal.

On the way back to Vernal.

Dinosaur National Monument.

We decided to go out towards Diamond Mountain near town after a suggestion by a park ranger in the Monument. We drove out and decided it looked pretty good. There were lots of turn offs for us to unload out ATVs and ride in the back country, hopefully coming across a heard hidden away behind some rolling hills.


We went back to tow and pulled into a KOA to set up camp. We got to bed early so we could get up at 6:00am to set out at first light. My dad and I both have a condition called Sleep Apnea where we stop breathing in the middle of our sleep cycle. We both have machines called CPAPs that pump air into our mouths keeping our airways open. Mine has a humidifier that keeps my sinuses and mouth from drying out. Well it got so cold that first night my breath and the warm air would condensate on my mask and in the air hose and then drip cold water on my face, or collect in the hose and gurgle, either way waking me up. What a pain.

Unlike deer, pronghorn are not nocturnal so we were able to hunt them in the middle of the day. We woke up and headed out for Diamond Mountain. We got to a nice place, unloaded, and rode down a fairly nice road. Well about 3 miles down the road we came across as farm and decided to turn back. Part of the are was public BLM land, but some was private and we didn't want to make anyone nervous or mad thinking we were hunting on their land. On our way back up the road we passed an old farmer in his truck. We waved but all his did was give us the stink eye. We crossed the highway on the ATVs and found a nice dirt trail on BLM land, but found no sign of our prey. We loaded back up and went back to camp to pay for another night and have breakfast.

Dad making breakfast.

We set back out, but this time went south towards the Ouray Indian Reservation border and Book Cliffs. All of this up to the Reservation Border was BLM land and looked like some of the nicest pronghorn country we had seen. We drove for a while and my dad says " there's a few!"

So we flip around to go back. I load up my rifle as we pull up on the shoulder parallel to them. They are on the side of a small hill, 4 of them, about 500 yards away from us. I jump out of the truck, hop over the railing, and try to duck walk behind some brush to try to conceal my stalk.

But it was all for naught....they were on to me the second I got out of the truck. They bound off over the hill as I squatted down to get get a better look at them. I figure they must have just gone behind the hill so as not to be seen. Pronghorn are kind of "out of sight, out of mind" creatures. So I make my way across the plain towards the hill, headed right for a small notch in the hill with a tree in it to keep me hidden.

Well I pop out from behind the tree and they are now about 1000 yards away from me to my left. Pronghorn are the fastest land animal in North America and can run 65mph. Well I figured it was only 1000 yards. I can walk that.

There is a dry river bed with lots of vegetation going towards them, so I try to stay behind the trees where they can't see me. As I come up out of a wash I see my dad on my Polaris. "They're over there!" he tells me "climb on." So we ride North towards the group, find a dirt road that goes up parallel to them.

I spot them up the road and about 475 yards away from the roadside. We pull up behind some scrub oak and I duck-walk behind it to keep me concealed. I walk like this for about 75 yards...all the way up to the last bush. I sit down on the left side of the bush to take aim....and site right down on a cactus.

So I pull the cactus out of my ass, bring my rife up, and find the buck in the group. He is not giving me a broadside host and is about 400 yards from me...as close as I can get. He is standing at a bit of an angle, showing me part of his right side.

I try to steady my breathing as I have just humped over about half a mile of very rugged country. My crosshairs are dancing all around his torso....I let out half a breath, aim for his right shoulder, squeeze the trigger, the rifle bucks and the group scatters. Two does go to the left, the buck and the third doe go to the right. But then he stops after about 50 yards and looks at me.

"Damn" I thought "I missed him. Oh well, he's giving me another shot." I try to steady my breathing again, chamber another round, center my crosshairs on his neck this time because now he was facing right at me, no side visible, and squeeze. BAM! The rifle goes off.

I hear a THWACK! and see the buck go down as 130gr .270 Win thumps him. "You got him!" my dad yells. The does scatter to our right, but circle back to see what happened to the buck. It was kinda sad them just looking back and forth from us to where the buck was.

We go up to where the buck is. He's laying on his right side with blood draining from his nose and mouth. I had shot him in the head at 350 yards. "I would have never taken those shots kid" my dad tells me "I would have been afraid of missing. Good shooting!"

We roll him over to clean him out. The first shot grazed his belly, went in through his right thigh at an angle, continued on to go through his testicles taking his left nut out of the scrotum, into his inner left thigh, and out his left. My dad and I joked that this was why he let me shoot him a second time. His right eye is bulging out and his skull under his right horn is completely broken so his right horn is wiggling around when he is being moved. We didn't know it until we got him to the taxidermist in Vernal, but I had shot him through the right eye and out the back of his head at 350 yards.

Great success!

In the eye...

Out the back.

90 pounds cleaned and dressed. Big for pronghorn.

We got back to camp after we dropped him off to the taxidermist and butcher, celebrated by having some roasted marshmallows, and went to bed. Best hunting trip I have ever been on.

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Nice pics and beautiful country.


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There are so many gorgeous places out west - Sedona, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Muir Woods, Death Valley, The Rockies, Mt. Whitney -- but I'm simply in awe of Utah: The entire state is filled with amazing places, from Comb Ridge to Canyonlands, Muley Point, Moki Dugway, the Aquarius Plateau, Fisher Towers, the list just goes on and on.

Sounds like a great hunt.

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