Antelope hunting is something that takes time to become good at. But anyone attempting pronghorn hunting would do well to start with the below advice, compiled based on real-world hunting experience.
The three “p”s: Patience, practice, and persistence
When it comes to antelope hunting, there are three primary factors to focus on (these apply to almost all big game hunting trips as well. Think of antelopes as practice for mule deer or elk hunting .) Each of these factors, when developed fully, can help improve your chances of a successful hunt and reduce the likelihood of returning home full of disappointment. Let’s examine each of these aspects in turn.
Patience is incredibly important for any hunter, but it’s especially true when hunting an animal such as an antelope. Antelope aren’t easy critters to take down, and you can’t rush something as delicate and skillful as hunting them.
Patience directly translates to appropriate planning. You can’t simply stride into the forest with your rifle drawn and go after the first antelope you see. Instead, when you do sight an antelope, you need to plan your approach and take care to close the distance slowly and quietly so that the antelope doesn’t become skittish and run away.
Being patient will allow you to find optimal cover, as well. You don’t have to be shrouded entirely by bushes to have affected cover; this is especially true if you’re wearing good camo and hunting boots to cover your approach, anyway.
In addition, don’t be afraid to go onto your hands and knees or even go prone it lets you get within the optimal firing distance. This takes a lot longer than walking on foot, but the results will be worth it.
Any successful hunter has had to spend lots of time getting to know their weapon and equipment. Picking up the first rifle you see will result in missed shots and bitter failure.
Instead, should choose your weapon carefully and spend time practicing with it exclusively. Learning how your rifle fires and feels as soon as you pull the trigger can help you know the perfect spot and angle from which to take the killing shot.
This is very important for hunting antelope since your kill shots will often be from ranges as far as 300 yards out. That kind of accuracy doesn’t happen to a hunter overnight; it only arrives after spending hundreds of hours examining and using your weapon and maintaining it to ensure perfect performance when the time is right.
In addition, it’s important that you practice with your rifle from positions that you will reasonably assume during an actual hunt. Going to the target practice range and only shooting from a standing position will leave you ill-equipped to make an accurate shot if you have to fire while on your belly.
To get some good practice in, switch up your position, and try to simulate the conditions that you likely experience during a realistic hunt. If you put in enough time and effort when the time comes to actually make your shot, your body will have already experienced many of the factors. The practice will coalesce into excellence, and you’ll be successful.
Finally, it’s just as important to remember that no hunter succeeded on his or her first try. Sticking with the hunt is critical. No matter how good you are, you won’t hit every shot one bag to every single antelope that you try for.
Don’t take it personally: antelope are very fast creatures and have specifically evolved to avoid predators. But the good news is that antelope are mere animals. Often, a missed shot is just a delay.
This is because many antelope will only retreat for a short distance before forgetting all about you. You can pursue the same antelope over a long period and get a second chance if you stick with the hunt. Persistence can often lead to rewards, so don’t let a short-term failure produce long-term disappointment.
Pronghorn antelope: Strengths and weaknesses
Let’s take a look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of antelope.
Antelope strengths are:
- Vision: Antelope possess extraordinary vision and can spot you from 100 yards away or more relatively easily. They can be fooled by camouflage but any movement is likely to be picked up if it seems unnatural to them.
- Speed: Antelope are incredibly fast and can easily clear speeds of about 55 mph when they are running away.
Antelope weaknesses are:
- Hearing: Antelope doesn’t possess great hearing compared to other prey animals of their size – this helps boost the success rates of pronghorn hunts vs other types of game.
- Smell: Antelope also aren’t the best when it comes to sticking you out of the ambient scents of the environment.
- Memory: As we described above, antelope will quickly forget all about the danger presented if they managed to temporarily evade you. Use this to your advantage and don’t give up immediately if you miss your first shot.
Check out our picks for the best hunting blinds before your next hunt
Where to Hunt
Within the US, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico are all common spots for successful antelope hunting, be it in archery or rifle season. (The public land in Wyoming is particularly beautiful.)
Check out this video showing highlights from a pronghorn antelope hunt in Wyoming:
FAQs about Antelope Hunting
What type of gear do I need to hunt antelope?
For antelope hunting, the basic gear needed includes a rifle or bow suitable for taking game at mid-range distances; ammunition or arrows; optics such as binoculars or a spotting scope; clothing suited to the weather conditions; and a cooler for transporting harvested meat.
What is the best time of year to hunt antelope?
The best time of year to hunt antelope depends largely on where you are located. In the western United States, in general the fall months (late August through October) are the most popular times for antelope hunts due to mild temperatures and abundant herd activity during this period.
Where can I find public land suitable for antelope hunting?
Public land suitable for antelope hunting can be found in many areas across the country, including national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests, Bureau of Land Management lands, state lands and more. Consult your local Department of Fish & Wildlife for details on access to public lands in your area.
How far away should I stay from populated areas when hunting antelope?
When hunting antelope, it is important to stay at least 500 yards away from any residential areas or other populated places where people may be present. This distance should also be maintained when setting up a blind or taking aim with a firearm.
Are there any safety considerations specific to antelope hunting that I need to be aware of?
Safety considerations for antelope hunting include wearing blaze orange clothing when in the field; always knowing the location of other hunters in your group; avoiding contact with wildlife such as deer, elk and bears that may inhabit the same areas as antelope; and following all applicable laws regarding firearms usage and safety protocols when handling firearms or bows in the field.
Following the above advice is sure to yield great results on your next antelope hunt. Be sure to practice safety and exercise caution on each of your excursions.