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Pursuing Pronghorns On The Legendary Plains Of New Mexico

A first look at the new Savage 110 KLYM long-range rifle.

Pursuing Pronghorns On The Legendary Plains Of New Mexico

I am no stranger to chasing antelope across the western United States, having hunted them in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, but even to an experienced hunter, there are few words sweeter to hear than “New Mexico”. The state is home to some of the biggest antelope in the country and a hunt with Kennedy Hunting Services would be my first chance at any species in the Land of Enchantment. It would also be my first antelope hunt with a rifle in many years. My preferred style of hunting is getting as close to the animal as possible, which is why I mostly hunt with a bow in my hand. Going into this hunt, even though I would be using the new Savage 110 KLYM, I wanted to take an antelope from less than 100 yards. Not an easy feat in the wide-open landscape.

Upon my arrival, I was greeted with massive plateaus, covered with piñon pine and scrub brush. Even though I was here for a trophy antelope, I couldn’t help but think: “This is some awesome elk country.” That thought quickly left my mind as the pine-studded mountains gave way to expansive rolling plains littered with yuccas. “Now we are in antelope country,” I thought to myself.

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The first order of business was to get the rifles sighted in for the next day’s hunt. This was my first look at Savage’s new rifle, the 110 KLYM. Savage is one of the most recognized rifle manufacturers on the planet, so I could not wait to see what they came up with for this year’s release. I am a sucker for lightweight hunting gear. I don’t want to pack around unneeded weight, so when Casey Diefenbach lifted the KLYM out of the hard case and I saw the carbon stock and barrel, I knew it was exactly the type of rifle I love to hunt with. We had the KLYM, chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, dialed in with just a few shots, and we were all set for the first morning.

On the hour-long drive with my guide Ryan to the first ranch, our conversation covered everything from our college experience to what was for supper that night. We did not even make it through the first cattle gate and already had a nice antelope standing about 200 yards from us. This buck would be a shooter in many other states, but not here in New Mexico. Not only did I want a bigger buck, I wanted to be able to stalk as close as possible to an unsuspecting target.

We made our way down the two-track about another 500 yards to the edge of crest, then got out on foot and eased our way to the edge. Anticipation grew as we inched closer and closer, and when we finally made it to where we could see the valley below, we saw nothing but grass and dirt. We decided to sit and glass over the massive flat to see if we could find any antelope further off.

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After about 10 minutes of glassing, Ryan spotted an antelope we both agreed was a shooter. The buck was pacing up and down the fence line a long way off. Given the buck’s position, if we attempted a stalk, he would likely cross the fence off our ranch. We put that pronghorn in our back pocket and decided to go to the next glassing spot about a 10-minute ride across the bumpy pasture. From there, Ryan and I set out on foot to look over a creek bottom that ran across the south end of the property. We made it to a nice vantage point and set up the spotting scopes. There were about 20 head of cow elk in the bottom enjoying the green forage, but no antelope. On to the next spot.

We hiked another 20 minutes to a roll in the landscape. Ryan mentioned that just over the hill would be another huge flat, so we needed to ease up to the top. We lowered our bodies and snuck up to the edge where we could see, and finally, I laid my eyes on the antelope I wanted to put my tag on. Now the challenge was coming up with a plan. The buck had 15 does in the middle of a seemingly wide-open valley and we decided to use the slightly rolling landscape to try to hide ourselves as we eased into range.

As we closed to about 500 yards, I looked at Ryan and said “this is actually working.” The antelope didn’t have a care in the world. Well, until about 100 yards later when the does caught our movement. They weren’t going to stick around to find out what we were. We shook off the disappointment and started our trek back to the truck. At the top of the ridge where we first spotted the herd I decided to stop and glass them again, just in case. The entire herd was still pacing around, but the buck didn’t seem to have a clue why his does had spooked. All he was concerned about was getting them wrangled. As the buck kept pushing them in circles, they finally picked a direction and started moving quickly down the flat.

“They’re going to run right down that creek we were just at,” said Ryan, urgently.

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Suddenly the hunt turned into a race between us and the pronghorn, which can reach speeds up to 61 mph. My hopes weren’t high as Ryan and I were on a full sprint across the pasture, up and down hills, which didn’t look like much until you had to run up them. We crossed a steep drainage right before we got to the crest we needed to be on. As we worked up that final hill, I had a gut feeling to look back at the drainage we just ran through. As my feet continued west, I quickly turned my head to look back east. There stood our target buck. I stopped dead in my tracks and swung the Savage 110 KLYM around. I put the crosshairs directly behind the shoulder, did my best to control my breathing, and pulled the trigger.

The shot hit true and the buck made it just a few steps down the hill before he died. As we walked over to the antelope, I stepped off how far my shot was, 60 yards. I didn’t get to test the long-range capabilities of the Savage 110 KLYM, which I have no doubt are excellent, but if it wasn’t for the rifle’s light weight and nimble handling, I am not sure I could have swung around and shouldered it quick enough for the shot. Even gasping for air after our sprint across New Mexico, I was able to position the rifle and hold it steady for the shot. The 143-grain Hornady ELD-X bullet did its job and I was able to wrap my tag around the pronghorn of my dreams and enjoy some fresh antelope backstrap back at camp that night.

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The southwestern landscape was some of the most beautiful I have seen, and the quality of the antelope we saw over the course of the four-day hunt met all my expectations. I was able to hunt the way I like, attempting to getting as close as possible. Tagging out only a few hours into our first morning was a blessing, and it meant I was able to join in on the adventures of some of the other hunters in camp. Seeing the excitement the others had when taking their antelope was just as much of a highlight of the trip as taking my own.

Recommended


Savage 110 Klym

With a Proof Research Barrel and FBT carbon-fiber stock, the new 110 Klym is the perfect option for a hunter who is keen on lightweight gear. Coming in at less than 6 pounds, the Klym is made to accompany you into the most demanding terrain and combat the harshest of elements. The comb is adjustable with the push of a button to enhance the rifle’s handling and ensure a proper cheek weld, even with large-objective or otherwise higher-mounted scopes. Of course, the 110 Klym comes with the company’s proven Accutrigger, which is user-adjustable from 1.5 to 4 lbs. MSRP: $2,700; savagearms.com

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