In the past year Joe Foss has tried playing on the antelope's curiosity by raising one foot from his position of cover and waggling it, and by making whimpering noises like an injured jack rabbit. The antelope came closer, but not close enough, barked nervously at the governor and withdrew.
In this day when its number has been reduced from millions to thousands the antelope is far too spooked to gambol and race against every man and horse, too wary to come arunning after every waving flag. It has a sense of caution, imbued most often with an urge to keep moving, seeming never content to be where it is but always wanting to be somewhere on the next hill. In open, unbroken country where there is no better concealment than sage, a bow hunter has about as much chance of working up on the ever-restless antelope as he' has of visiting the dark side of the moon. The hunter may crawl a half mile absorbing the fragrance of sage and the needles of cactus; the antelope meanwhile has probably seen him or merely moved on another mile for the sheer hell of it. On his last try with a bow Governor Foss and Game Warden Chuck Kilburn worked a buck into a fence corner for what looked like a sure shot for either man. The buck went over the fence.
Biologists attest that antelope are quite capable of clearing six-foot fences, but in the old days antelope would not jump fences. Most antelope will try to get through or under the wires rather than over, but the breed is getting smarter and some now jump.
In love with wildlife
An antelope hunting party led by Joe Foss probably has an edge on an average party of equal size. A Foss party is generally made up of men like himself, who are much in love with wildlife and very hep in the ways of all game. The game wardens of the state have gone in strongly for bow hunting, and when Foss goes for antelope he is accompanied by six or eight wardens, who are willing to take their chances against the governor at 10� poker at night and then enjoy the longer odds against antelope all day. The love that Dakota wardens have for wildlife is epitomized by Warden Kenny Scissons, who accompanied Foss on his vain try for antelope this season. When he lost the last of his own upper teeth, Scissons had elks' teeth built into his false uppers. He thereby qualifies as the only American who is part English, part French, part Sioux Indian and part elk. Scissons' love for wildlife skidded recently when he befriended two beavers by giving them a home in his cellar. The beavers went through all the carrots Scissons had stored up and then ate away the bottom of the cellar stairs. Scissons discovered this one night later when he backed down the stairs carrying things and went tumbling across the cellar floor.
The best way Foss and his wardens have found to go for antelope is to pick terrain where there is some cover in draws or open washes along routes most used by antelope. Antelope do have a penchant for following fence lines and for crossing draws at specific points, but they are by no means as set in their ways as woodland deer. When an antelope finally moves within range, it may be at a walk or traveling 20 miles an hour. At the hum of a bowstring the antelope will be gone. The hunter thus needs a fine set of eyes, skill at getting the arrow off fast and extreme skill at leading his target.
In these respects Joe Foss is fairly well set. At a mile and a half, a distance at which the average man can barely distinguish an antelope herd from the mixed colors of sage and grass, Foss can separate the herd into bucks, does and kids, appraise the size of the bucks' horns, and give a fair account of what each animal is doing at the moment. (Companions have checked his naked-eye reports with binoculars and found them to be astonishingly 100% correct.) It is, Governor Foss reckons, the eyesight and sense of leading the target developed as a hunter that helped him most against Japanese Zeros in the Pacific.
There is no doubt that Foss and other good bow hunters' chances for an antelope would be improved greatly if there were some sort of moving target for use in the long off season to sharpen the sense of lead needed against running antelope. Getting an arrow into an antelope is not so much a matter of aim, but more of gauging antelope speed and, quite literally, putting the arrow on a collision course. The sense of lead required in the sport was demonstrated in the last shot Joe Foss made this season. At 50-yard range Foss led a running buck by four body lengths and saw his arrow pass just behind the buck's rump.
The odds probably will always lie with the antelope, a fact that does not bother Joe Foss at all. "You tell me," he exulted after his last near miss, "where you can find such good sport in such beautiful country."