By Emily Anderson
Hunting on land close to home is advantageous for many reasons. While it may not be as glamorous as planning that back-country trip in the mountains with a nonresident tag in your pocket, it does provide a consistent hunt opportunity year after year. It often is the backup hunt we can pull out of our pocket when other plans fall through. Sometimes it is even the hunt holding our attention throughout the year since we may be driving by this land on our many trips to and from the office, taking inventory of animals in our ‘backyard’ honey-hole.
What is interesting to me is that these faithful, routine, or ‘backup’ hunts occurring each year will naturally vary depending on where you live. It is all a matter of perspective. One hunt someone consistently goes on year after year because it is a residential tag and a matter of convenience, may be considered a hunt of a lifetime for someone else several states away. E.g., An alligator hunt may be a bucket list hunt for someone living in the North, a whitetail hunt may mean an out of state tag for a Westerner, and then an antelope or a Mule deer hunt may be a big deal for someone on the East Coast. To some these are dream hunts. To others where the animals are close to home, they are the hunts relied on year after year. For me? It’s antelope. I put in for several tags each year that would trump my antelope tag if I got lucky and drew my first choice, but one thing is for sure… I have an antelope tag in my back pocket. It is the backup plan.
Once opening day rolls around mid-August, it isn’t uncommon for me to have a spare change of clothes in my car – the kind that blend naturally into the prairie land that antelope call home. Binoculars ride shotgun in the passenger seat, always within arms reach to take inventory of what is roaming the prairie land. My husband and I, along with our good friend, Allen, share permission to hunt a couple ranches near home. My phone often rings as I’m on the way home and I receive a report from my husband or Allen on a buck they saw on a specific section of the ranch. Conversations usually start out like… “Did you see that one up by the windmill?” or “There’s a bachelor herd over by the back ravine” and “They’ve been making their way to the North water hole late afternoon.”
I can remember a couple summers ago when I was driving home from the office and my phone rang. My bow was in the back seat and a thought was lingering in the back of my mind on whether I would have time for a quick hunt on the way home. Maybe one of the guys had an update for me. When I picked up the phone, I could hear the excitement in his voice and I knew Allen had more than just a regular update. It was good news! Buck down. I immediately turned my truck in the direction of the dirt road that led to the ranch. There was an antelope on the ground and I had to share in the excitement.
Paying attention to where the bucks were feeding, watering and grazing all summer long had payed off. Allen faithfully watched the habits of these bucks and had a feeling that as he eyed the bachelor herd graze over a section of the ranch on his way home one evening, that they would make their way down a ravine and over to the next watering hole. He decided to go for it. There was enough time to grab his bow and quickly make his way to the other side of the ravine to a natural blind in the brush. Just as he arrived, the bucks popped up over the ravine and Allen arrowed his biggest antelope yet!
One of the best parts – since it was close to home, we all had the opportunity to share in the excitement. I’m sure that I forgot to change out of my work clothes and may have even laid down in a cow-pie-laden ground to get just the right picture angle. It was worth it.
If you are fortunate to have a section of land to hunt near your home, it is worth the effort to pay attention to the movement of the animals. Take the time to study their habits. You won’t be sorry when it is time to pull out that faithful ‘backup’ tag in your pocket and chase after that animal you’ve been waiting to hunt all year long.
Emily Anderson’s hunting journey began shortly after she got married. She enjoys the passions for the outdoors, hunting and fishing as a team with her husband. She established www.FromTheDraw.com as a way to share her stories as a female hunter. Emily lives in Colorado which allows her to hunt elk each September in the Rocky Mountains. She is now a PSE Staff Blogger and will be posting daily about her experiences and views on archery and hunting.
Keep your eye out for the #elktour DVD over on huntography.com! Watch PSE’s Emily Anderson and Dustin Jones hunt elk DIY style on our amazing public lands in the Western United States. Huntography also films a deer hunting DVD called #deertour which you will be able to watch PSE’s Will Jenkins hunt whitetails. Huntography…filming America’s hunters, one at a time!