August 30, 2021 3 min read
By Jace Bauserman
If you’re on social media, get newsletters or just happen to cruise the web it’s hard to avoid the recent barrage of pronghorn antelope images flooding the web. Make no mistake, pronghorn are the symbol of the American West. Related to no other animal on planet earth, the species’ closest living relative is the giraffe. Yes, you read that right, the giraffe! Beautifully marked and sporting an ebony tower of annually-cast horns, this plains dweller is a worthy bow hunting adversary.
Side of tags being readily available and the fact that those tags don’t cost blacktop burners an arm and a leg, this animal can be hunted effectively with a variety of techniques. So, here we go. No fancy Hemingway writing. Just the nuts and bolts about four tips for putting a speed goat on the ground in the coming weeks and months.
Hunting pronghorn over water is comparable to the action one would have on a hot bear bait. If temps are baking the earth and you locate a hot water source, get a ground blind set up and put in your time. Unless you’re able to get your ground fortress out days ahead of time, don’t crowd the water. Back the blind up to 35 or 40 yards and get set. Try to face the blind opening either north or south to avoid sun glare. It’s also recommend to run an Ozonics unit to better help with scent control.
A favorite method for hunting pronghorn, due to the challenge it requires, is spot-and-stalk. This method takes a combination of patience, aggressiveness and a relentless desire to succeed.
The patience piece comes into play when glassing. Find an area with undulating terrain and post up. I highly recommend a pair of tripod-mountable binos and a quality spotting scope. The aggressiveness comes in once a stalkable buck is spotted. Pronghorn aren’t like high-country muleys; meaning they don’t often bed for hours and hours at time. I’ve watched bucks bed down at 8:15 a.m. only to get up at 8:17 a.m. and walk for three miles. Pick some good landmarks, and if the terrain allows, work to close the ground quickly. One great tip when picking landmarks is to carry a small handheld camera with a solid optical zoom. This allows you to take pictures of your landmarks and pull those landmarks up on your stalk.
There is no more exciting way to bowhunt the prince of the plains. Just know it’s not nearly as easy as it seems on outdoor television. The window for a quality decoy hunt is short. When you start seeing dust trails on the prairie and the wind isn’t blowing, it’s time to deploy a fake. Pronghorn will chase challengers at warp speed for miles.
Mature pronghorns guarding a harem of ladies are extremely territorial, especially when one or more of those ladies are in estrous. If you’re hunting with a partner, I highly recommend Rinehart’s Doloma Series Antelope Buck Decoy. The decoy looks incredible and sports a head and neck area that pivot. Pronghorn like movement, and your partner can twist-and-turn while you prepare for the shot. If you’re on a solo mission, nothing works better than Ultimate Predator Gear’s Stalker Pronghorn Buck Decoy. This decoy mounts to the front of your bow and provides an ultra-lifelike look.
Fence Line Crossings
If your waterhole plans get foiled by rain, the rut isn’t rocking and spot-and-stalk isn’t your cup of tea, spend some time behind the glass watching fence crossings. Pronghorn are drawn to fences and will walk them for miles. Typically, they will have a regular crossing point. Note where pronghorn go under a fence and then go investigate. If it’s a major crossing the ground will be free of weeds and vegetation, and sometimes there will actually be a little tunnel, which is made from the bellies of going-under-the-fence pronghorn. There will also be hair in the wires.
If you find a hot crossing, set you blind 40 yards off the crossing and settle in. Pronghorn can get a little wary to blinds set on a fence line, and this is the main reason I like to set my blind at this distance. If the fence is full of tumble weeds and the like, you can set your blind much closer. Just be sure to use the tumble weeds to brush in your ground hide.
Get after it!