Belle River Outfitters
Fifteen years ago I got lucky when, while looking for antelope in South Dakota, I ran into the Kudlock family. Terry was just starting a bow-only antelope and deer outfitting service. Since that day, I have returned numerous times for both antelope and deer. The Kudlock family is a hardworking ranching family that treats you like one of their own. Once you have experienced the ranch - the hunting, the cooking and the hospitality - you will continue to go back also.
This year, Eric Pearson (college football teammate, friend and hunting buddy), four of our friends and I made the journey. Eric and I have been there together six times but for the others, this would be their first Belle River experience. In addition to Eric and I, the other hunters were John and David Morton (hometown neighbors), Derek Cherne (college football teammate of mine and Eric's) and Mitch Gebheim (high school classmate and friend of Eric's). The hunt was scheduled for four days but was quickly reduced to three.
Day 1: We did not hunt because the day was hampered by 60+ mph winds. We all decided it was best and ethical to not shoot in those winds so we toured the ranch and scouted for antelope and deer.
Day 2: The day was forecasted to be cool but dry so Terry,Tim and Brandon decided to mix things up and put some of us on waterholes and some in blinds on alfalfa fields. The day was productive and text messages were coming in steady on who was seeing what. Everyone was seeing antelope, just nothing close. At approx 2 pm, the first text of success came in: Mitch had taken his first antelope. The next success text came from Eric around 5:30 pm. This was Eric's best antelope to date with beautiful cutters and a tight curl. (No ,it did not rain- Eric's antelope expired in a creek.) The day came to an end with two successful hunters and the four others all seeing antelope, including one swing and a miss and other bucks being passed.
Day 3: The weather was starting to warm up and the day looked promising. The two successful hunters got to sleep in the rest of us headed to our blinds. The antelope started to water around noon and we were all sitting water. I had a really good buck water but too far out, so opted to pass on the shot. At 1:40,the first text of success came from John, who had just taken his first antelope, and to say he was excited would be an understatement. David was having a slow day but the day was getting warmer by the minute. Derek, however, had been seeing antelope all day and was just waiting for the right opportunity. That came at around 6:45 pm and Derek made good on his shot. His first antelope and two more very happy hunters.The day came to an end with David and I knowing we would not be sleeping in on the last day but would be in the blinds for the long haul on the hottest day yet.
Last Day: David and I headed to our blinds with high hopes as the day was predicted to be warm. David was sitting in a blind called The Seep. He could see for miles and had been watching antelope all morning. He just needed one to water. I was sitting a blind that you must stay attentive in as you can only see a few hundred yards and when antelope are thirsty, they can cover that distance very quickly. At 9 am I had a doe and two fawns water; by noon it was getting hot. I checked in on David with a text and he said he was doing good and was watching some bucks bedded at around 600 yards. Around 12:30, I looked out the window and saw a set of horns just over the dam. I waited patiently but after 5 minutes was not sure where he had gone. I leaned forward to check the backside and saw a doe and fawn run over the hill to the water. Hoping he was not far behind, I nocked my NAP Killzone- tipped Easton. When he appeared at the edge of the waterhole, I drew and anchored my Hoyt Carbon Spyder, placed my pin behind his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. My arrow found its mark and I watched him run a short 30 yards and expire. The time was 12:40 and we were now 5 of 6. After taking care of my antelope and checking on David, we all loaded up in Derek's truck with Vortex optics and headed to a vantage point approx one mile from David to hopefully watch him take his first antelope. Within 30 minutes of setting up we watched three bucks leave their beds and slowly make their way toward The Seep. After some time, one buck broke away and headed on a bee line toward David. You should have seen us - four adult men acting like little kids hoping and praying that the last man standing would get his opportunity.(David is only 17). I cranked my Razor spotting scope up to 60 power and gave a play by play as the other guys watched patiently through their binos. As the buck got within range, I saw him snap his head to the left and look right at the blind. My first thought was uh-oh. (Later I found out David lip smacked to stop him) The next moments were some of the best of my hunting career. I caught a glimpse of the arrow through the sunlight and watched the antelope spin. The entire time telling everyone in the truck, "He shot! He shot! The antelope is done! He's done!" We all started high-fiving, hooting and hollering. We called Tim and
Terry and they were soon on their way. We all headed up to see David and his first antelope. The time was 3 pm and all 6 tags were filled.
I can't say 'Thank You' enough to the Kudlocks for 15 years of great times, great food and memories that will last forever. Tim, Terry and Brandon - you know your animals. Lisa and Sharon - you prepare the best food in the West. To Mitch, Eric, John, Derek and David - Congrats again and Thank You for the new memories.
Art & Michelle Helin have enjoyed the outdoors their entire lives. Here, they share their passion with you.
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