2-Kauger Black Widow Pistols Draw First Blood: Antelope (250 & 754 yards)

xphunter

Handloader
Sep 15, 2005
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1,876
Dan Ekstrom and I applied as a group for an early season tag south of Lander, Wyoming. We were both going for a bigger buck than what we had shot previously or maybe a freak. I can easily say there was no way I could’ve done this without Dan’s help. As of Wednesday, I was eight weeks out of my full knee replacement surgery. We stayed in separate tents, as I haven’t been sleeping well, since the surgery. On Monday and Tuesday evenings when we got back to our campsite, tents had been partially uprooted by the high winds. Thankfully, there was enough stakes down (combined with weight we put inside), that we did not lose the tents. The older tent, (not really a backpacking tent), but one you might take out to the lake to spend some time in, developed multiple tears after two days of high winds. The majority of antelope we saw, acted like they had been pushed and hunted hard for multiple weeks. I’ve never seen antelope so hyper before in my life. My guess is that it was extremely high winds and storms that were coming through. When we applied for this area, we talked about using two different Kauger Arms Black Widow pistols. Neither of these specialty pistols had drawn blood on big game yet, so it was a good time for that to happen.
Dan hunted with the 6.5x47 Lapua (Schmidt & Bender PMII 4-16) and I used the 25-284 (Leupold Mark 5 HD 7-35). Dan used the 130 grain Hornady ELD-M and I used the new 134 grain (.257) Hornady ELD-M. Kauger Arms built the 6.5x47 Lapua (Bartlein barrel and Holland brake) and Michael DeLoach of Nine Run Gun (NRG) built the 25-284 using a single shot Black Widow action and LH stock, Blake barrel, with an EC Tuner Brake. Both Black Widows have 15” barrels.
The Saturday before we left, we went out to Mac’s Gunworks, and started at 1000 yards on steel, then worked our way back. Took a break, then started at 600 yards and worked our way out to 800 yards. We knew there had been a lot of winter kill, so we knew that the number of big bucks could likely be down from the past. It was great being out in nature. We had several unsuccessful stocks, as one might expect. On the afternoon of the first full day of hunting, we found two bucks, and worked our way up the hill. After 50+ yards of crawling, I finally was able to take a closer look at these bucks, and decided that I was going to pass. Dan decided he really liked the one on the right, and with one shot put him down, with the shot being around 250 yards.
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We did a tremendous amount of glassing. We had two different window mounts, and used three different spotting scopes (Vortex, Leupold, and Meopta). The Meopta MeoStar S2 82 HD did all the heavy lifting in determining the quality of a buck at distance. It is in a whole other class in terms of quality. We also used tripods when glassing as well.
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With high winds (up to 47 mph) again on day number two, the animals were just as flighty and they had been before. About a half hour before legal hunting was over, I had a nice buck that was fairly close. I just wanted to take a look at it again before I pulled the trigger, but things didn’t work out. He really wasn’t what I wanted, but I was getting ready to consider going to a smaller animal, because of the difficulty we were having in finding quality bucks. The tent I was staying in, took more damage to the point, to where it would not be enjoyable to sleep in, considering the winds, and that we were supposed to get more rain that evening. That tent is now in the trash.
We broke camp, and drove back to Lander and stayed the night in a hotel. We were up early the next morning and back out for a half day of hunting. We were greeted by fog on the third morning for a while visibility wasn’t much past 50 yards. Thankfully, the sun began to burn it off, and we were able to see again. Winds were really kind of nice, running from about 6 to 11 miles an hour (around 7-8 on average).
Dan spotted a nice buck, and he also spotted a freak buck that were together by a water tank. Even though we were 2000+ yards away, those bucks took off and went out of our sight. When we finally got over to the area where they had been, we walked over and looked off the edge of a steep drop off, but with no success. As we were trying to decide what to do next, I looked and saw some antelope far off to our east. I couldn’t tell for sure what they were with binos. Dan began walking back toward the truck, and I headed straight east to get closer. I was able to tell through my Leupold Mark 5HD on my Black Widow, that it was the freak buck that we were looking for. They had placed themselves, as mature bucks will do, in a place that was almost impossible to stock them. With no other option, I just began to slowly make my way directly toward them. When I got to around 500 yards, they started getting a little fidgety, and I went prone, and could not see anything. They took off and disappeared over our horizon.
On the long walk back to the truck, I contemplated the morning. Once we got back to the truck, we decided to follow the two-track south, in hopes that we might get lucky and see them again. We found them, and although the distance was over 800 yards, they seemed to feel safe. I had been checking the wind throughout the morning. Now, I was in a position to where I could actually see them through my scope. As I was getting set up, I had Dan range the freak buck. It was just over 800 yards. I dialed the distance, and was contemplating the wind. Another little buck hanging out with them turned, and begin moving north (closer to us). Once they stopped, I had Dan again range the buck, and he was at 754 yards. He told me to dial for 750 yards. I dialed my wind, and then began making sure I was completely steady. At the shot, Dan called out that I hit him, and he ran a typical counterclockwise little hook, around 50 yards and piled up, never to move again. Impact velocity was 1835 ft./s.
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Both Kauger Black Widows drew blood for the first time on big game animals. The new 134 grain bullet did exit, which was really pleasing. I will be getting the European mount for this buck. Using a tape measure that Dan had in his truck, he measured 13.5 inches on one side and 14 inches on the other. I was using the new Revic Acura BLR10b 10x42mm Ballistic Rangefinding Binocular, and I was very pleased with how it worked. We had a great time! All of the things that went wrong or made things more difficult, just make the memories of the hunt more special. Here is one that I will remember for a while.
Neither of us imagined that strong winds would unzip a tent door/opening. When we got back to camp on Monday night the tent door on the more inexpensive tent was completely unzipped. I had closed it before we left that morning, but never said anything to Dan. Dan assumed I had left it open. On Tuesday morning Dan made a comment and closed the tent door. That evening I was fairly amused that the tent door was again fully unzipped. The amazing power of wind!
I hope each of you have successful hunting this season.
 
Excellent report, Ernie. The results speak for themselves. As to the wind, I can live without that. I have on a few occasions opted to make a trek into a nearby town to find a motel or hotel to squirrel away my tired body. It was a mark of wisdom!
 
Congrat's to you and Dan. Did you have a lot of pain with the knee replacement? I had one done 12 yr's ago and still remember the pain.
I have pain. Sleep has been the most difficult thing, because once you quit using it, everything gets tight.
 
Ernie the best thing i found for the pain while laying down was a inflatable pool raft under or between the legs.
 
Ernie the best thing i found for the pain while laying down was a inflatable pool raft under or between the legs.
I have used a pillow with success, but I am past that part now.
 
That is a great story and some fantastic looking critters. I know the Lander area a little bit and it is truly beautiful up there. Best part, though was reading that your knee surgery didn't keep you down.
My right knee kind of hated me for awhile, but sometimes you just need to embrace the suck, and go have fun! I had a ice water circulation pump in the vehicle with me (Dan's truck was set-up for that), and we had a generator at camp.
 
Excellent report, Ernie. The results speak for themselves. As to the wind, I can live without that. I have on a few occasions opted to make a trek into a nearby town to find a motel or hotel to squirrel away my tired body. It was a mark of wisdom!
Wind shaking Dan's 3/4 ton diesel truck and mirage making it hard to see clearly was frustrating at times.
The Meopta was nice to have. Dan was using a cheaper compact Vortex spotting scope with an angled eyepiece.
I was using a Leupold HD 12x40. I love the Leupold becasue of it's long eye relief and incredible field of view. Since I can turn it down to 12X, I can cover ground well on a tripod or window mount.

The Meopta's glass is such a grade above these other two spotting scopes though. All three had their usefulness for this type of hunting.
We spent a lot of our time glassing.
 
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