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Sportsman’s Quest: Good hunting partners enhance the experience

August and September are the months of the Pronghorn Antelope. The population in Nevada has been thriving and hunters have had a good season.

While hunting near Ely, both my hunting partner, Violet, and I successfully filled our management tags, as did many others, putting natural antibiotic and hormone-free meat in the freezer.

This was not an extreme hunt, but part of the Nevada Dept. of Wildlife’s effort to bring the population in balance. However, the true hunting spirit was present as always and included the preparation, physical effort, the cold early mornings, hot days and hours of glassing of hillsides and plains that define the hunting experience.

It’s also the smell of the fresh sage and ripening Juniper berries which assault the senses in the early morning daylight as the natural instincts become awakened once again from the dormancy of life’s tedious tasks of office, work, society’s noise and demands. The hunter once again becomes the predator, as he has been for thousands of years. It’s a simpler task as the senses become more enhanced and active. Hearing is more acute as the vocalizations of birds become more important, as they may be the alerting voices to prey activity. The touch of gravel or twigs on the trail is clearly felt as one focuses on traveling or stalking quietly forward.

This is where we were when Violet whispered, “Don’t move, two antelope are behind you.” As they moved to my left at about 100 yards her aim was true and our first tag was filled.

As we drove back to camp she again pointed and said, “There are two more.” It was now my turn and as the larger of the two was briskly quartering away, it stopped and looked back. I filled our second tag.

My hunting pals Amanda and Ben Arata, however, had a much more classic hunt. They are not only brother and sister, but best friends and best hunting partners with many shared experiences over the years. Amanda’s drawing a buck antelope tag gave them another opportunity.

While on a long weekend hunt near Elko, they spent many hours glassing the area and finally found the one they were looking for, but also found it would be a difficult and long stalk. They circled around a prominent hill to keep out of sight and when on the back side also came across a group of Desert Bighorn Sheep, which pinned them down.

As the sheep moved off they continued their stalk and rounding an outcrop they found the buck was still grazing at considerable distance. Using her 280 improved Ackley, Amanda leveled the cross hairs and made a great shot, dropping it instantly.

Then, as always, the work began, but with their combined years of experience in the ranching and dairy business they made short duty of it; as I said, “Hunting Partners.”

The stories continue as my friends and antelope hunting mentors Jeff and Andrew Miller tell me of their families’ preparations for another antelope hunt near Ely this weekend. With their experience and history I expect a good story for a future article. Andrew has also achieved some success as a writer with his story of the Boone and Crocket trophy antelope his dad shot appearing in the current issue of Eastman’s Hunting Journal. Well done Andrew (A story of their trophy hunt can also be found on the website www.sportsmansquest.org).

As you can see “partners” come in many forms. One closest to my heart is exemplified by father and daughter, Dominick and 17-year-old Adriana Sandoval, who were also successful at filling her antelope tag this season. I look forward to hearing more of their story and of the many hunts they will share in the future. The torch is passed.

With the final period put on this article it’s back to finishing the processing of this delicious antelope gift we are able to put on our table. It will become roasts, steaks and hamburger. I used to make salami and hunters sausage myself, but have surrendered to the masters at John Mulls Meats and Road Kill Grill in Las Vegas. I’ve tried to copy, steal and beg for Chuck Fromer’s secret recipes and failed, so the remainder of the meat goes directly to Chuck and the crew. You can give him a call at (702) 645-1200.

As all hunters know, there’s something special about meat that was self-harvested processed and prepared. It’s the tradition and heritage of our fathers and forefathers.

Moving through September and into October it’s the time of the elk and deer. The temperatures are cooling and the mating rut will begin. I’m getting ready for both and wish all hunters luck. See ya out there.

Dan Simmons is a Pahrump resident and an avid outdoorsman. If you have a story or comment about this or other articles, please contact him at dansimmons@usa.net or give me a call at 775-727-9777.

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