3 May 1999

Scrape Lines on the Prairie

by Don Clower

Scrape Lines on the Prairie

The letter from the Idaho Fish & Game brought the bad news that I had again failed to draw a tag for the controlled muzzleloader hunt for antelope in unit 41. Well there is a general archery season for antelope in unit 41 and I made up my mind that I would try and take an antelope this year with my bow.

This year's archery season was going to be special for me because I switched to a longbow last February and have fallen in love with traditional archery. I have hunted with a bow for over 30 years and I felt like a kid with a new toy and I was really excited about my first hunting season with my new Brackenbury longbow.

The day before the opening I drove down to an area that I had previously hunted antelope. There was a natural seep about 3 miles back up in this canyon and I had always seen antelope in this area during the late muzzleloader season.

Well the seep was bone dry and I saw no antelope during my hike into the canyon. As I was walking out I saw a small scraped out area along the dry creek bed. It looked a lot like a white tail deer scrape. It was about two feet in diameter and the antelope had marked the scrape. Well, I followed the dry wash for several hundred yards and there was a scrape about every hundred yards or so. Now I had never read that antelope bucks marked their territories, but this is sure what it looked like to me. So I decided that I would ambush this scrape line the next morning.

Five o'clock in the morning found me hiking up the dry creek bed carrying my pack and my antelope buck decoy. I set up the decoy 20 yards from a huge granite boulder that was split in the middle and offered me a place to hide. I stacked some dry tumble weeds around the boulder to add some extra cover and began my vigil.

After 5 hours of waiting I began to think I was wasting my time hiding in this old rock in the 100 degree heat. I decided if I saw nothing by 11:30 I was going to quit and check out another place. About 11:00 I was glassing the area when I saw this antelope appear over a ridge about 300 yards away. Not only was it an antelope, it looked like a real monster with a huge set of horns. The buck ambled slowly along and stopped to sniff every bush along the way. He seemed to be in no hurry and he was all by himself. He was following the scrape line and was coming my way but it was taking forever. About 200 yards out he stopped and started looking off to the left and I began to worry that he might take a new course. So I began to wave a small white flag to get his attention. Well in a matter of seconds he spotted the white movement and began to stare at my position. He must have seen the decoy because he became quite agitated and after a couple of minutes he started to run towards me at a very fast pace.

This caught me by surprise and I immediately nocked an arrow and prepared for his arrival. Well, he stopped about 75 yards away and began to snort and stomp his foot at the decoy. Every couple of minutes he would come 10 or 15 yards closer and go through his routine of snorting and stomping at the decoy.

Needless to say I was about to have a heart attack waiting for him to get in position for me to take a shot. He had to pass by my hiding place and I could only get a shot when he came into view after passing around the rock. I could see him through the weeds I had put up around the rock and a crack in the boulder. I kept telling myself not to look at the horns and to concentrate on the body and the vital zone. When he finally appeared around the edge of the rocks and into my field of vision, I quickly drew and released the arrow in one continuous movement.

The buck jerked his head around at either the sound or the movement of the shot. Then he jumped straight up and raced back down the hill. I saw my arrow bounce off a sagebrush and for a second I thought I had missed. But, I noticed the antelope was running a little crooked and he stopped about 100 yards down the hill. He then started to weave back and forth and finally laid down. I slipped over and retrieved my arrow and there was evidence of a lung shot. After a couple of minutes I sneaked down the hill and eased up to the antelope. He had already died and I finally realized that I had taken an antelope with my longbow. What a feeling I experienced at that moment.

Now I am no expert on antelope hunting but I do believe that antelope bucks mark their territory in preparation for thc breeding season and that ambushing these scrape lines is one method of taking an antelope buck in early August. This buck scored 72-7/8 in the SCI record book. Needless to say I am looking forward to next August to try out my new antelope hunting theory. It also goes without saying that I am hooked on traditional archery.

Don Clower
Idaho Wildlife Council
Idaho Fish & Game Commissioner

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