By Mark Kayser of American Hunter
Pronghorn antelope behavior offers a variety of hunting styles. So, consider a variable approach to your next hunt. Unlike most big game, pronghorns move about all day with a schedule you can target.
6 a.m.–10 a.m.
This is prime time for pronghorns to water. Shooting light should arrive by 6 a.m. Go to your hunting area in the dark to avoid detection. Be alert. It’s not uncommon for antelope to go to the nearest waterhole immediately at daybreak. Far off herds probably will take longer to arrive. Even when they are within sight of the water, their nature prods them to approach as they cautiously search for danger.
The good news is that they don’t fear ground blinds. Plus, they tend to drink a lot at one time. They require 3 to 4 quarts daily on warm, fall days. Once they commit to drink you’ll likely have ample time to re-range the distance and make a comfortable shot from your bow blind or a rifle perch nearby.
10 a.m.–2 p.m.
During bow season, the midmorning to midafternoon time period is perfect for decoying. Decoying antelope works anytime due to a pronghorn’s curious nature, but for heart-stopping action decoy during the September rut.
You can stake a 3-D decoy within shooting distance of your blind, but stalking close to a herd and deploying a 2-D model of a young buck has the spark to send the herd buck charging your way. For best results slowly raise the decoy from a downwind location no closer than 150 yards. If you stake it too close it could spook pronghorns. Hide behind it and get ready. Any buck could charge, so range fast and draw the bow horizontally while slowly rising to shoot. Wearing a Be The Decoy hat and tan shirt has the ability to stall a responding pronghorn for a closer shot.
2 p.m.–6 p.m.
From midafternoon until the dinner hour, consider a spot-and-stalk approach. After filling up on water, browsing and breeding, pronghorns may bed during the afternoon heat long enough for you to stalk a stationary target. Equip yourself with a quality binocular and scan the horizon. Once you locate one, mark the position of the herd and go to a downwind position.
During the stalk you must stay hidden. A herd can include a dozen or more animals. That’s 24 Hubble telescopes looking for danger between catnaps. When you feel you’re in the zone, take every precaution while peering for confirmation. When the buck turns his head completely away, rise slowly and draw, but shoot fast.
Unlike most big game, pronghorns can be active from morning till night. Understanding their routine and habits can turn anytime into the right time.
After 6 p.m.
For me, the evening hours are a time to scout on the way back to camp, regroup and relax. But if you are on limited time you can continue the stalk or even return to your blind for the possibility of a late-night drinker. Shooting light ends by 8:30 p.m. Get some rest. Dawn will signal the start to another day in pronghorn country and all options are again on the table for this American original.