For big game hunters, an Arizona antelope tag may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
My first and only antelope tag became a reality after 28 years of unsuccessful attempts in the lottery drawing.
Well, Tonto Basin resident John Ewing drew an archery permit for unit 19-A near Prescott and came away with an 80-inch-plus buck that will make the Pope and Young Club.
John graduated from Payson High School three years ago, where he was an honor student who still found time to pursue the time and energy required for archery hunting.
He has been an avid archer for 10 years and has been very successful in his pursuit, bagging a javelina, turkey, mule deer, whitetail deer, bull elk, black bear, and yes, now a record antelope.
Knowing John as one of my students at Gila Community College and his outstanding work ethic, I am not surprised by his success in archery hunting.
John saw this antelope at first light and made the shot more than four hours later.
During those four hours, he was planning his strategy for a 400-yard stalk in a belly-crawl position so he could get close enough to release an arrow.
Antelope country means no trees and relatively short grasses, which equates to a stalk that is very tough.
Of all the archery hunts he had been on, this was by far the roughest. His elbows and knees were scarred and scratched from seven days of low crawling and trying to get into position to make a shot.
If you aren't aware, antelope have very keen eyesight, which is comparable to a human looking through a 20-power spotting scope. Needless to say, a stalk with a bow is extremely difficult, which translates into about 10 percent hunter success rate.
John's father, Bill Jack Ewing, accompanied him and spent a lot of time looking for antelope and encouraging his son during the previous seven days. This is another example of quality time spent in a father-son relationship. These are priceless moments captured in the hunting experience.
I asked John if there were any tips he could give an aspiring archer. He responded quickly: Practice. Practice. Practice.
A typical practice for John is 100 arrows at various distances from 30 to 100 yards. This means he was absolutely comfortable with a 70-yard shot.
I might add, when not hunting with a bow he spends time looking at wildlife with high quality optics, which is essential for successful hunting trips.
As John finished telling me his hunting experience on this antelope adventure, he jumped into his truck and started to drive away. All of a sudden, he stopped after about 50 yards, backed up and came back to where I was sitting. He just wanted me to know that he gave God all the glory for the weeklong hunting experience with his dad and the trophy antelope. Just to hear a "cowboy tough" young man say this brought a tear to my eye.
Congratulations, John Ewing, on a superb trophy antelope.