Riley’s First Antelope

Hunter: Riley Palmer
Age: 11
Oct. 8 2016

Riley decided he wanted to get a mentor antelope tag this year and I jumped on the opportunity. Riley and I headed out on a warm October morning before sunrise, which just happened to be me and my wife's wedding anniversary as well. She's a trooper! When daybreak came we spotted a few herds off in the distance and started our stalk. That morning we got busted on a few different stalks and had a small herd we were after spooked off by ATV's as well. Hunting public land can be tough sometimes. Just when we were both getting a little frustrated and tired, we decided to drive a few miles to a different location. And it paid off!

Riley spotted a herd of about 30 head way off in the distance. They were in a great area to put a stalk on so we took off. We drove a trail down and around to the north of them. Then put the boots on the ground once again. He had a plan and was determined to make this one count. We hiked about 2 miles, up and down the draws until we were below the ridge they were bedded down on. At the bottom of that last hill we had to climb, we quietly made our game plan. Riley led the way up the ridge with me following close behind. When we got towards the top we army crawled over the edge, and there they were bedded down with no idea we were around.

The grass was so tall when he set up with his bipod he couldn't see them through the scope though. While he re-adjusted himself we got busted by the closest goat to us, she was 250 yards out standing up looking right at us. As I thought to myself "here we go again" I look over to Riley and see that he's set up and on her. Then the shot rang out, I heard the thud and she dropped! The look on that kids face was absolutely priceless, smile from ear to ear and proud as could be. He put in the work and downed his first speed goat.

When we walked up to her we had another surprise. She was wearing a GF&P radio collar. Wow how cool, his first goat and to top it off it was collared. A little freaked out at first, "he says oh no what is that"? But after I explained and he was able to talk to the local Game Warden on the phone, he was good. So a few days later we get the chance to take the collar in to one of the biologists at GF&P. After a great conversation, some cool congratulations from the GF&P guys and a little info on his first goat, we were ready to hand in the tracker and head home. Then the coolest part happened. The biologist asked Riley if he'd like to keep a collar as a trophy since it is a very rare deal and his first antelope. Of course the kid jumped on the opportunity. Since the collar he turned in was still working, they gave him one that was no longer in service to keep as a souvenir. So now he has a trophy from his first ever speedgoat hanging proud in his room. A big thank you to the guys at the GF&P Outdoor Campus Biology office in Rapid City, you made this kids hunt that much more special and memorable!

Thank you Riley! For one of the most fun hunt's I've ever been a part of, I'll never forget that day.

Rusty Palmer

Rapid City, SD

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