Most hunters have filled whitetail tags but few have bagged a pronghorn antelope. Just the name conjures up images of the American west – wide open prairies with cowboys and Indians and lone hunters in pursuit of elusive game.
Wide open spaces are still a hallmark of pronghorn habitat, but these days they’re likely to be found on private ranches that require permission before hunting. And, like deer, most antelope live in dense brush where they can’t be seen until you are too close for a shot.
Where Do Pronghorn Antelope Live?
Pronghorns are found in the western two-thirds of the United States, primarily in western states such as Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota. The Rocky Mountain Pronghorn spends summer in high mountain meadows and moves to lower elevations for winter. The Desert Pronghorn spends most of its time year-round on rocky slopes or sandy flats where forage is abundant. Both types are excellent jumpers and can run close to 50 mph over short distances.
How to Get a Pronghorn Hunting License
Pronghorn antelope are considered a game species in 38 states. Licenses to hunt pronghorn antelope can be purchased either as resident or non-resident. Cost varies by state so check with the local game agency about the specific steps for acquiring a license.
You Should be Hunting Around Water!
Pronghorn antelope are masters of escaping predators. Unlike other large animals in their range, pronghorn antelope rarely travel short distances and so can be difficult to track. For this reason, they spend a great deal of time seeking refuge from predators in wide valleys or other areas where the animals can escape quickly if necessary.
Antelope are also conditioned to running away from danger. When hunting them, you should always expect a long, hard chase before you can shoot an animal. And, when you find an antelope, it is almost certain to be no more than a mile from any water source.
Therefore, you should be looking for antelope near water. In fact, it’s wise to plan to hunt any antelope location that is within ¼ mile of a permanent water source.
Spot and Stalk Pronghorn Hunting
Hunting pronghorn antelope is a sport that demands patience and stealth. When you have found an area that contains antelope, the first thing to do is sit down and watch them. Wait for an hour before deciding on a strategy.
While observing, identify a few different types of plants that the antelope are eating. If you find a single plant in particular that most animals are eating, note its location and return in late afternoon with your bow ready.
When you return for your stalk, use a foldable walking stick for noise-free travel. Make sure to wear a good pair of hiking boots that are also quiet. You should also carry the smallest bow possible. Antelope have excellent eyesight and will react to movement faster than most other animals.
What Kind of Spotting Scope Should You Use?
Because pronghorn are often difficult to see until it’s too late to shoot them, you should use top optics when hunting them. A small spotting scope mounted on a tripod can help you locate and identify antelope with pinpoint accuracy. You should also carry binoculars for hand-held use, as they are much more portable than a spotting scope.
Once you’ve spotted several antelope, choose the best one and plan a route that will place you behind it in the most stealthy manner possible.
What To Wear for Pronghorn Spot & Stalk Hunts
If you’re hunting in late summer or early fall, it’s a good idea to wear camouflage clothing. This can help you blend in with the environment and help your bag to pass unnoticed among antelope.
When scouting a pronghorn hunt, avoid wearing clothing that heavily advertises your presence. A hunter that wears camo in an area where pronghorn are scarce will likely have a difficult time finding any at all. Avoid brightly colored clothing and loud colors, too – they can break up your outline so much that you’re indistinguishable from the background.
Pronghorn antelope are challenging to hunt. But they are also very rewarding, and hunting them can be exciting when the action finally happens. If you have the patience to let nature do its thing, you will be rewarded not only with a beautiful animal but also with a memorable story of chasing it down.