Hunting Memories

Lassen County Antelope Hunt

Hunting season has started at the Johnston house. I drew an antelope tag in the Lassen County area. So on the 21st of August, I left for the hunting grounds. The season opened on the 24th, so I put in a few days scouting.

The area I hunted has about 40+ head of antelopes. Three bucks in the 14-inch range, two 15s and a couple smaller.

Most of the bucks were tall but narrow. I spotted a good buck Thursday night with some does off to one side of the flat. I really liked this one because he was wide and heavy with big prongs, he didn't appear to be overly tall but his horns had deep curls which turned all the way over and pointed back down.

Having everything I liked in horn structure, I was intent on his harvest. I spent the rest of the days before season patterning him with his does. Saturday morning came and I was hopeful I would see him again. The whole herd had combined together Friday night due to other hunters moving into the area. As a result they were pushed out to the middle of the flat which happened to be two miles square.

I went ahead with my plan of ambush by getting out into the flat before first light. At about 500 yards into the area I ran out of cover. I was within 600 yards of the herd as it became light. I noticed other hunters moving in on the opposite side of the herd. After about 30 minutes the bucks started pushing the females around, and to my surprise they were coming my way. Then, a stroke of luck — the buck I really wanted broke from the herd and came within my range.

At 310 yards and no hope of further closure, I took the shot.

I held high on the rib cage and kept telling myself, "You came all this way and put so much into this moment, don't jump the trigger."

As the gun went off, my hat got knocked backwards as I was looking into the sun, and I lost the buck for a moment. When I saw him again he had done a 180-degree turn with all four feet going into different directions, then had took off at WARP speed back toward the open ground. I thought, "Oh shoot, I missed," so the lead slinging commenced.

After emptying my gun and refilling my magazine, I noticed him standing broadside with his head down, so I knew he was hit a little far back. After a final shot to put him down, I claimed my trophy.

His horn length is 13 inches, base diameter 6.75 inches, with 5-inch prongs — What a buck!

Submitted by Matt Johnston

Editor's Note:
Johnston did a double on antelope in California during 2002. Read about that in the next issue of

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