It was five days of sitting in sagebrush, fighting to stay motionless in the mosquitos, heat and cold of the Colorado outdoors, five days without seeing a buck antelope, five days of patiently waiting until skill and luck produced the most thrilling moment in Mike Camilletti's 20 years of bow hunting.
Camilletti harvested near Craig on Aug. 20 what is possibly the highest scoring antelope ever taken with a bow in Colorado and the third largest in the world.
Camilletti will have to wait about 30 more days before it is confirmed. The Pope and Young Club record book requires that the horns on the animal must dry for 60 days after it is harvested before a measurement is official. The Colorado record antelope scores an 85 in the Pope and Young record book, according to Glenn Pritchard, an official scorer for the Pope and Young Club. The previous record was shot near Snake River by Judd Cooney in 1998.
Camilletti's buck scored an 85 6/8 points immediately after it was harvested. That is slightly higher than the state record. The score is measured on the antlers alone with points accumulated by the height and mass of the antlers. It is tough to say how much the horns will shrink during the drying period.
"I've been told a lot of different things," said Camilletti. "I'm not sure what will happen, but I'm confident that it will beat the old state record."
Camilletti is humble about his accomplishment, but it took a lot of effort to take the trophy antelope. He scouted the animal for three weeks before the hunting season to find out where the animal was watering. He began to doubt his scouting efforts after sitting in his blind for five days waiting for the animal to show up at the watering hole.
"I started to think to myself 'Boy, I don't know about this spot,'" said Camilletti. "I think I'm very successful and very lucky. It was extremely rewarding to finally get him in the end."
It was about 7 p.m. during his fifth day of hunting before Camilletti saw the buck.
About 20 does came in to water first, it took the buck 20 minutes to slowly saunter toward the water hole. As the massive buck leaned its head down to drink, it offered Camilletti the opportunity he had been waiting for. Not letting the size of the animal distract him, Camilletti's arrow stayed true and found the mark.
"It was a textbook style," said Camilletti. "He stuck his nose in the water and gave me a good broad side shot at 20 yards."
Camilletti occasionally enjoys taunting his friends at work with stories of the successful hunt, but he keeps the location of where he shot the antelope a secret. The only thing he'll let slip is it was on private land close to Craig.
"It's kind of like a fishing hole," said Camilletti. "If I tell where I shot it, a bunch of people will be out there next year."
This won't be the first time Camilletti's name will be in the Pope and Young record book. In 1993, he harvested the third largest mountain lion in Colorado.
The antelope was an omen for how his hunting season would go. He also harvested a five-point bull elk and a nice mule deer with his bow this year.
"It was really a good year for me," said Camilletti. "I was fortunate enough to harvest some really nice animals this season."
As far as tips for other bow hunters, Camilletti said the most important thing a bow hunter can do is be dedicated to the sport and persistent in the field. Even though he had an incredible year this year he plans on trying to top it next year.
"I would like to get a really good mule deer buck next year," said Camilletti.