That was my mantra as we prepared and throughout Brad’s 2015 Big Valley Hunt. It all started when a friend had recommended us to Brad for his pronghorn hunt. While I had never guided in the Big Valley unit, I had helped my brother in law on his hunt way back in 2002. I felt extremely confident in my abilities to find Brad a quality pronghorn in the unit. And so Brad and I began to talk in late June and we made our first preliminary trip to look the unit over on July 4th. Upon Shelley & I’s return, I was excited and apprehensive about the potential of the unit, Shelley confidence never waivering.
Brad made it official and we booked his hunt for the 25th of August. We made 7 scouting trips to the unit, our goal was to find bucks and build our list of potential shooters, and I’ll tell you what the Big Valley unit was kicking my butt. We found antelope and we found bucks, but what we didn’t find was quality or quantity. We had located 10 – 12 bucks over this vast unit but none of them could make it to our shooter list, and I was feeling the pressure. To compound things CDFW had doubled the tag quota for 2015 to 20 tags.
As the days clicked by I was digging in all my bag of tricks, researching, covering ground, glassing public, private just trying to locate a shooter to at least put a plan together, forget Plan B or C, I was still working on Plan A. Somehow through our network of friends, we began to put pieces together, contacts, potential locations, rumors of buck some a year or two old and it seemed like I was on my cell, GPS and laptop as much as I was behind the 15’s scouring the sage.
When Brad arrived at camp on the 24th we had a good plan for our hunt, but it wasn’t a great plan. Over the last 8 weeks we spent a lot of time eliminating areas in the unit, we also managed to keep track of several bucks for Brad to look over, however, we didn’t feel we had a definitive shooter. We would check on the bucks some I’m sure would have been taken by other hunters in the first few days others may have changed location due to the pressure, but at least we had a plan.
Brad elected to pass on several bucks, and as luck would have it we had a little pronghorn testosterone flying in the late August air. The buck Brad chose was not one that I can say we had ever located during our preseason scouting. He was a late arrival to the party; he had decided to take the does of a buck we had previously located. Bad for him, good for us!!!
We first located him at 10:00 a.m. on the second day of Brad’s hunt and at 5:50 p.m. Brad was able to take his first pronghorn with a single shot from about 223 yards. It’s an exceptional pronghorn, with a right horn length of 16 inches and a 7-inch base and left horn of 15 5/8 inches and a 6 7/8 inch base, a total B&C Gross Green Score of 79 7/8 inches. I think Brad’s smile say’s it all, and if you could see mine, it would probably be equally as big, but I was too busy throwing that Big Valley monkey off my back.
We are forever grateful for the opportunity to guide Brad on his first Pronghorn Antelope Hunt. We also want to say “Thank You” to all of our friends whom helped us out along the way, big or small your help played an intregal part in our ability to provide a memorable and successful hunt to an SC2 Outdoors client.
I especially want to say “Thank You” to Randy and his family for befriending a complete stranger. I know you were busy farming but you always took the time, when I bothered you. I hope soon to be able to return the favor.
Posted in: California Pronghorn Hunting
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