23 years to Fill Tag!

By Winston F. Dorian

March 18, 2023

My family & I moved to Albuquerque NM in 2000 and I have been applying for the “Once in a Lifetime” Oryx tag on the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) ever since for 22 years and was excited last spring when I finally drew my lifetime tag for a hunt scheduled on 9/11/22. The African Gemsbok (Oryx) were introduced onto WSMR in the early ‘70’s and have proliferated and become a nice revenue source for the state’s Fish & Game program.

Unfortunately the omen of that infamous day 9/11 ended up affecting my hunt in that it was cancelled due to active missions on the range. WSMR is a historic active military installation because it was the location for the first atomic detonation in the United States which is now called the “Trinity Site” and is discussed in the “Manhattan Project” movie.

Ultimately the hunt was rescheduled to March, 2023 and was excited that my son's best friend from high school Clint, his cousin Matt and a good close friend Tom would be accompanying me on this hunt. Getting access to an active military installation especially one as infamous as WSMR requires that everybody submit to a background investigation prior to being allowed onto the base. It was very special to have my son's best friend Clint from high school accompany me on this hunt because my son passed away in 2012 at the age of 21 years old and we had often discussed him going with me on this hunt when I drew my tag.

The hunt started out slowly because of active missions that morning that delayed our safety brief in getting out onto the range it wasn’t until after lunch that we were finally released to start hunting. We went to an area where we thought that there would be Oryx due to the terrain and spotted several that were bedded down but none were shooters. Later that afternoon after doing some more glassing we came across a group that was moving about 460 yards away and had two shooters in the group. We were able to get close enough to get off two shots that were about 400 yards and because of the high wind conditions we wounded one of the shooters in the leg.

We continued to glass and track them move and got back in our vehicle to cover more ground as they were running at a fast clip 20-30 MPH. Surprisingly and what became so funny amongst our group was that we were driving along a main road going about 50 miles an hour and the group of Oryx that we were tracking instead of running and turning away from our vehicle crossed right in front of us on the main road as we were heading South.

We jokingly told my friend Tom the driver that he almost filled one tag with 6 Oryx as they were in a tight group as they crossed the road! We were laughing and joking about it because as they hit the pavement several slipped on the pavement and went down their hoofs sliding on the smooth surface. Their decision to cross in front o is versus turning away ended up being a fatal mistake for the Oryx we eventually killed. We were able to get out of the vehicle and track and followed them for about 1/2 hour and we came up on the one injured shooter that was bedded down and were able to get within 100 yards for the kill shot.

Both my son’s best friend from high school Clint and his cousin Matt did an excellent job of keeping me focused on the right Oryx that was already injured in the group of the 2 shooters.

It ended up being a beautiful animal with horns that measured 36 1/2 inches on both sides. The ammunition functioned flawlessly was the Hornady Match ELD 6.5 Creedmoor 140 grain bullets & the only thing that we found left of the bullet was a dime sized piece of the copper jacket! There was no exit wound at all on the animal.

Despite the hunt being successful the best part was the camaraderie with these gents who joined me on this hunt!

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