My wife Kim drew a muzzle loader antelope tag down in some very unique country in South Eastern Colorado. Kim had never spent much time shooting iron sighted rifles, so we started practicing with our LHR Redemption .50 cal rifle early this summer. She quickly caught on and soon became proficient at loading and cleaning and all the other peculiarities involved with muzzle loader hunting. Opening day found us all by ourselves in some seriously interesting high desert and canyon country. It took less than a hour to start seeing goats, and after some low range 4WD crawling we had entered a part of the unit that I don’t think anybody has been on in quite some time. We topped a steep hill and jumped a big herd of antelope, they had been lounging around an old dirt tank that was still holding water. The goats ran straight downwind and began milling amongst the cholla cactus about a mile away. After a bit of study with a spotting scope we located the herd buck and he was a complete stud! Incredible mass, 14 plus inch mains, long cutters and that absolutely mature male build, deep chested, thin waist and a jet black face and cheek patches. After studying the situation I told Kim that there was only one way to try and get on that buck with the wind the way it was. We were going to have to slip over the side of a steep volcanic hog back just to the south of us travel past the goats until we could get the wind on them then pop back over and try to stalk them with the wind on our side. We loaded out packs and headed over the hog back. On top of the hog back we were treated to some 111 year old graffiti. Apparently Jacobos Toas was pretty sure he needed to hammer his name into the lava rock in 1908. It was a really neat reminder that we were not the first people to climb these rocks and it made me wonder what Jacobos was doing up here and who he was. A view of the spectacular high desert country from atop the hog back. A deep draw with active water in it. An oasis in the desert. To make a long story short we were successful on getting the wind on the goats. We crawled to within 140 yards of the buck. Kim got all set up and the muzzle loader misfired on the shot! That was that for this herd. We loaded the rifle on Kim’s pack and started the long walk back to the truck. On the hike back to the truck I spotted a bull elk coming off the ridge and we sat and watched him. He came down to the dirt tank for a wallow and put on a great show for us for about 15 minutes. Sorry for the lousy picture but it was from about 80 yards away with a cell phone camera. The next several days found us searching locating and a unsuccessfully trying to put the big buck on the ground. We crawled for miles, we tried decoying him, we tried ambushing him, luck was just not on our side with this smart old buck. On the last morning of the hunt sunrise found us on a high spot glassing. The wind was blowing stiffly out of the west. I half jokingly mentioned to Kim that she needed to find herself a buck on her side of the truck because that was upwind with the sun at our backs. She picked up her binos and not 10 seconds later said ”there’s a buck.” I looked through the binos and found the loan buck about 2 miles distant wandering about in a patch of cholla cactus. I put the spotting scope on him and was able to tell that he was a mature buck but from the looks of it not a huge trophy class buck. Kim decided she wanted to go have a closer look. The terrain was perfect for a stalk so we loaded up our packs grabbed the rifle and headed out. After we’d closed to about 1000 yards I was able to look the buck over once again and he wasn’t a bad buck. He was fully mature and carried good mass. Kim decided to give it a try. I think mainly she was tired of the multiple failed attempts on the huge guy, I was in full agreement as my knees and elbows were raw from the past several days worth of crawling. We were able to sneak to within 358 yards were we sat in the shade of a cedar tree and watched the buck. He had seen us but didn’t know what we were, his natural curiosity brought him trotting our way. I’ve often seen antelope do this, if they don’t know what you are they’ll either take off at full speed or many times they trot in for a look. The buck pulled up and stood broadside at 124 yards. Kim released the safety and very calmly sent a 270 Gr trophy copper slug through his chest. He dropped in his tracks. This was the culmination of many hard hours of stalking and crawling and failed stalks. We spotted and judged multiple bucks we had an equipment failure, Kim had to learn how to shoot a muzzle loader and how to effectively use iron sights. We were sunburned, full of cactus spines, tired, beat up and both as happy and proud as hunters can be. It was a team effort and a wonderful struggle that ended in sweet success. That night we ate fire roasted antelope tenderloin as Kim told and retold the epic story of the hunt to our children at the diner table. It just doesn’t get much better than this.