The One Shot Antelope Hunt – A 1939 challenge between Harold Evans of Lander, Wyoming, and Hank Dahl of Golden, Colorado, to shoot an antelope with just one bullet led to the first One Shot Antelope Hunt held on Labor Day weekend near Lander in 1940. There were only two teams that year—one from Colorado and one from Wyoming—with five men on each team, but it was the beginning of a tradition that has flourished. The hunt has been held every year since, except from 1942-1945, when it was suspended during World War II, and has been the inspiration for similar events in North America and Africa. On August 23, 1949, after the Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced it would no longer furnish wardens as guides for the hunt, and the governor would no longer furnish free licenses for participants, citizens of Lander incorporated the One Shot Antelope Hunt Club to perpetuate the hunt. Through the years the Wyoming and Colorado teams have served as co-hosts to teams from nearly every state.
The Hunt has undergone very few changes since it inception. The number of team members varied until 1966, when it was changed to three hunters.
The hunt is always held on opening day of the antelope hunting season near Lander, with all team members gathering on the day before the hunt to sight in their rifles and participate in pre-hunt shooting competitions. An impressive Shoshone Indian ceremony featuring “The Legend of the Hunt” is held in the evening, when each One Shot hunter is made a blood brother of the tribe, given an Indian name and a sacred Indian medicine bag, and has his bullet blessed for the next morning’s hunt.
After the hunt, at the Saturday evening Victory Banquet, team members tell packed audiences at the Lander Community Center why they did or did not collect their bucks with one shot each. Only buck antelope taken with one shot are credited. Antelope taken with more than one shot are considered a “miss”. Each hunter who scored is presented a silver bullet; those who did not are presented laughing antelope plaques. The evening ends with members of the winning team dancing with the Shoshone braves while the others are relegated to dance with the Indian maidens in a traditional Round Dance.
The feeling of camaraderie during the hunt develops a bond of friendship among the hunters, and is renewed when team members return to Lander for future One Shot hunts. When they return, though, it is as Past Shooters.