Antelope hunting is one of those things almost anyone can do, even if they are on a tight budget. Steve Fernandez from Colorado spends much of his fall guiding elk hunters at Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico. In his down time, he likes to chase speed goats. “Before the elk rut gets in full swing, I will chase antelope. I try to kill my goat early in the season so I can be done hunting before I have to switch gears and go elk hunting.”
Fernandez loves bowhunting big antelope bucks and uses a variety of tactics to fill his tag. “I start by spending a lot of time glassing in the late summer before season opens,” Fernandez said. “I try to figure out where the water is they are hitting, the travel routes they take and then put out blinds near water holes that receive a lot of action. I also put out trail cameras to further figure out big bucks.”
Fernandez is a big fan of high end optics and prefers using Swarovski optics. “If I am going to spend hours glassing, I want the best glass that can really help me narrow down my search, Fernandez said. “Good glass is necessary.”
When he has a few bucks figured out, Fernandez puts out pop-up blinds. “I put them up a week or more in advance and I build a barbwire cage around blind so the cattle can’t chew up the blind,” Fernandez said. “By leaving a blind out for a long time in advance, the goats and even the big bucks get comfortable coming to the water tank.”
Fernandez has had the best of luck staying in his blind all day long. “I will arrive long before the sun comes up and stay until dark, Fernandez noted. “I bring extra food, Wilderness Athlete drinks and magazines and don’t climb out of my blind until it is dark or after I shoot a buck.” Fernandez says big bucks often sneak into a water tank during the middle of the day and often that is when many hunters go home or go out to lunch for a little while. “Staying in a blind all day can be difficult, but it can really pay off.”
If blind hunting doesn’t work, Fernandez isn’t afraid to spot and stalk antelope with the help of a Montana decoy. “I have found that if I stir the dust up in front of my decoy which makes it look like a buck scraping at the ground, real bucks will come running in. I don’t even have to do much stalking. The bucks come to me,” Fernandez said with a laugh. By making the decoy look alive, Fernandez has brought many bucks within bow range. “I have killed a fair number of bucks by using a decoy. It is challenging and exciting.”
You may think because Fernandez is a guide that he is hunting on premium-leased land. That is not the case. He hunts public ground or simply knocks on doors. “I try to hunt on a budget as much as I can and I am still able to be successful because I hunt hard.”
As you can see in the picture above, the hard work pays off.