It’s finally time again to chase speed goats in New Mexico and as is the custom it seems, there was a mix of family and close friends but this trip featured a special guest. My seven year old nephew Cason would be along on his first big hunting trip. I couldn’t wait, finally somebody with my mentality that I could act like a fool with.
Armed with a slingshot I made him from a deer antler he had high aspirations of killing any and all game that came his way. The only real thing in any danger was his left thumb and any innocent bystanders that might catch a ricochet.
We took Cason out of school early after his spelling test. I told his daddy he should just skip it, I mean I know school is important but so is getting a proper education and he will learn more on a road trip with Uncle Chris than he will from that teaching lady. Now wether these lessons will help him in the future is yet to be determined but I bet they are more fun.
This would be the first big trip for my Land Cruiser also since we brought it from Michigan. Nate and Cason would ride with me and I figured between Nates lack of confidence in my ride and 7 hours in a truck with a seven year old he may need some blood pressure medicine by the time we got there but all was well. First stop JTs in Childress Texas.
I got a tip from my mom about this place on her way to Colorado a month ago so we had to stop. She couldn’t believe I hadn’t eaten there, she said you have a whole website full of cafes and you’ve passed this place a dozen times. I can’t eat at all the cafes in Texas but I’m trying.
JTs had a great burger and I really liked the place. Simple, good food with local decor. They did get a strike against them for not having bacon for the burger but I just made it double meat to make up for it.
We got to the ranch just before dark and Cason couldn’t wait to find something to sling a rock at so we did a little walk around the yard and busted out a rabbit. He ran across the highway and stopped. We snuck up on him and I shot “several” times in his direction before finally connecting. Cason picked up a rock that was too big and hit his thumb, see we have already learned two lessons, big rocks don’t work in slingshots and Uncle Chris can’t shoot.
Well Thumper flipped over into a culvert under the highway to die and I can’t fit in a culvert. Bringing Cason was a great idea. I sent him into the culvert with his slingshot, he couldn’t pull it back in there but he didn’t think of that. I convinced him that all the spider webs were old and snakes don’t live in culverts and about that time his dad showed up. He wasn’t so convinced but we got the rabbit out and we had our first kill.
The grass was way taller than we are used to for this ranch and it made it very difficult to find the antelope. We put a lot of miles on our vehicles trying to locate animals and then if they bedded they would disappear again. Nate and Cason rode with me in the Cruiser and Cory and Hoss took the Ranger to a different pasture.
Nate had been doing a lot of long range shooting and wanted to find a nice goat that he could shoot at 500+ yards if the opportunity arose. The first problem we had was finding an antelope period, the second problem was getting on them. I don’t know if it was the weather or what but they would see us at 1000 yards and run like they did something wrong. We decided to utilize the roof rack of the Cruiser to spot from and shoot if we could get one close enough. After finding a herd with a buck worth taking we just sat on the truck and waited. The bigger buck was busy running off the small bucks but the does were content with their location so I told Nate lets just hang tight and wait for him to come back to the does, and he did.
After a lot of maneuvering around for a shot and some conversation between me and Nate that would not have been Cason friendly, luckily he was asleep in the truck, we got it all lined up. I called the range at 538 and Nate dialed up. First shot was back a little but a hit. The buck just stood and Nate put another in him, he was slowly going down so we made our way closer for the final shot and Nate had a real nice goat and our first of the 2015 trip.
We found the best way to get a good view was to stand on the top rack of the Cruiser. At one stop as I was on top I told Cason to take a picture. He took the phone and said, Uncle Chris do some poses. You don’t have to ask me twice. Here’s the results of Cason’s photo shoot.
Day two dawned clear and a little warmer but the antelope were still scarce, so me and Cason spent a lot of time shooting slingshots and mostly just making Nate question his decision on riding with us in the same truck together. Hoss killed a nice rattle snake and a couple coyotes while out looking for antelope though and anytime you kill a coyote you have gained points with the landowner so that’s a good thing.
Somewhere along the way Hoss traded places with Nate and Cason so now I’m back on the hunt. I haven’t had a tag in three years for an antelope but I find just as much enjoyment in finding them for these guys and I always want to be there when one is killed so I really like having the guy with a tag in my truck.
We didn’t find much as far as antelope go but what we did find was some prairie dogs. These chubby rodents have been eliminated from this ranch for quite sometime because of the destruction they cause to the land. Not only do they kill huge amounts of grass but also leave holes that livestock will stumble into. I’m not gonna lie and say that I told all the boys and we were gonna have a great prairie dog shoot because I didn’t. In fact since we only seen two I looked at Hoss and said don’t tell anybody, I want to kill that fat sucker. I know it’s not real nice of me but I didn’t have a tag dang it and killing a prairie dog would help me feel like I accomplished something good.
All of Denny’s horses are pretty tame but I told Cason they were wild mustangs so he decided to try and pet one that was out in a pasture. As he got closer he put his hands up like it was a hostage negotiation and I asked him what he was doing, he said, when you approach wild mustangs you have to show them you don’t have a weapon. That line and that scene made the whole trip for me.
Third and final day of the hunt and we needed two goats. This has never happened before, we always spend day three coyote hunting because our tags are full but today we had work to do. Hoss was with me again and we decided to go see if we could find a buck we had seen earlier that was with a few does. We found him from a few miles away but somewhere between seeing them and getting to them they had moved. We glassed around until we spotted a doe and then just watched and sure enough he was in there but with the tall grass we couldn’t see him. We made our way up to 324 yards and Hoss got a rest he liked and I rechecked the yardage. 324 and he was mostly broadside, Hoss squeezed and the buck never took a step, he fell right in his shadow. Hoss lost him in the recoil and as a doe ran off he caught the movement and thought the buck got up but I assured him he hadn’t moved. Buck two was tagged and it was story time. Turns out Nate and Cory had seen the whole thing from the far end of the pasture.
Nate and Cason are back in with me and we are on the look out for the last goat. We spotted several groups of does and even a few small bucks but nothing worth spending time on. Cason kept his slingshot at the ready to do a drive by on something if needed.
We got a call to not go into a certain pasture just yet as Cory didn’t want us to spook a group they had found with a buck in it. I seen this buck on the first day but couldn’t convince anybody to take a second look at it. I personally would have shot him that day but these guys have all killed multiple antelope and know what they want so we moved along. Now here it is the last day and there seems to be some interest. Nate and I eased into the back of the pasture and watched from the Cruiser as Hoss and Cory made their way to within 150 yards of the bedded buck but again with the grass there wasn’t much of shot. Finally they had a shot and Cory was on target. We never heard the gun go off with the wind but seen Cory raise his arms up and knew it was over.
Hoss and I had found them out of the dens twice already but my marksmanship was lacking and I missed. The next time we eased up on them and old fat boy was sunning so I lined him up and shot a foot high. What the hell? Hoss said high, I aimed lower, high again, I aimed even lower, finally after a volley of bullets I lucked into him. Guess I need to recheck that scope. Anyway I got it done and again we had taken out what the ranchers consider a nuisance from the ranch.
We all went back to the house and talked over the last few days adventures and solved some of the worlds problems. It’s always sad to watch the sun set on the last day but we will be back and soon enough Cason will have a tag and I wouldn’t miss that for the world.