Pronghorns are curious, and any strange or new object on their range is
likely to be investigated. Antelope have been known to approach paper
or rags caught in sagebrush. Hunters often take advantage of this trait
by waving a white handkerchief to get wary animals to come closer.
Rifle hunters often drive around or through areas where antelope occur
to locate the animals.
A few days of observing pronghorns with
binoculars will often tell the hunter where the bigger bucks are
located, and which hills, ridges and drainage’s they use. It will also
show which watercourses they frequent and what time they go to water.
Once the travel routes and water sources are located an ambush can be
set up. Then it is a matter of making a stalk to take the animal at
long range. Pits or blinds in funnels along travel routes or near water
can also be used by firearm hunters.
Blinds near water are often the most productive for archery hunters.
They can be constructed of brush and weeds, utilizing existing live
plants as part of the blind. Man made blinds should utilize some
natural material to break up their outline. Depending on the area,
sage, grass, tumbleweed, cattails and even rocks can be used. Be sure
the blind is large enough for the purpose and gives you the chance to
stretch out, you may be spending long hours in it.
Take along a lunch,
plenty of water and something to urinate in so you don't have to leave
the blind. Once the blind is set up take some practice shots to check
angles and make sure there is enough room to draw and maneuver.
pace off the distances to different areas by using rocks as distance
markers. Take precautions not to be seen entering or leaving the blind
by getting there before sunrise and leaving only when no animals are
near, preferably after sundown.
Even though you are in the blind be sure to use unscented soaps and
products to eliminate human odor. Scent Shield, Scent Killer, N-O-Dor,
Odor Lock and other products help eliminate unnatural smells. If you
want to be sure you don't leave any scent use one of the new scent
elimination suits to absorb any odors you may give off.
You can also use techniques to attract pronghorns to you. Decoys have
proven to be a successful tool in bringing in antelope. Guides and
hunters have used silhouettes of plywood and fiberglass, archery
targets and hard-body decoys. The archery targets and hard-body decoys
are the most realistic but the hardest to transport. Silhouettes are
easier to transport but lack realistic detail, especially if the
antelope approaches from the back or front of the decoy.
I struggled with this problem of compactness, lightweight and
portability until I came up with the idea for the Feather Flex bedded
deer decoy. Once I field tested it I knew that by changing the color
and facial markings and using horns instead of antlers, the same decoy
could be used for whitetail, mule deer, elk calf or antelope. The
Feather Flex antelope decoy weighs about a half of a pound, rolls up
for transportation and is effective. While it does not offer the high
profile of a standing decoy it does attract antelope and give a sense
of security to antelope approaching waterholes. Buck antelope are
territorial and will often check out a buck decoy, giving the hunter
the opportunity for a shot. The decoy can also be used to distract the
animal's attention from the hunters shooting position, pit or blind.
When antelope approach a water hole they are very skittish and they
often survey the water hole, blind and decoy from a hill. If they do
not detect danger they may approach, stop, move away, and then move
closer. If the animal moves out of sight be ready for it to come into
view again or to approach from a different direction. Be ready before
the animal gets close so you don't make any suspicious noise or
movement when preparing for a shot.
If the animal is reluctant to come
in a call may work. Pronghorns are known to come to a predator call
that may sound like a young antelope in distress. I know several
outfitters who are using deer grunt calls to bring in antelope. The
grunt may arouse curiosity, give a sense of security, attract a buck
out of breeding interest or dominance, add realism, or stop the animal
long enough for a shot.
If you are interested in more big game hunting tips, or more big game
biology and behavior, click on Trinity Mountain Outdoor News and T.R.'s
Hunting Tips at www.TRMichels.com.
If you have questions about big game, or waterfowl log on to the T.R.'s
Tips message board. To find out when the white-tailed deer rut starts,
peaks and ends in your area click on Whitetail Rut Dates Chart.
This article is an excerpt from the book Hunting Northern & Western
Big Game ($9.95 + $5.00 S&H), by T.R. Michels, available in the
Trinity Mountain Outdoor Products catalog.
T.R. Michels is a nationally
recognized game researcher/wildlife behaviorist, outdoor writer and
speaker. He is the author of the Whitetail, Elk, Duck & Goose, and
Turkey Addict's Manuals. His latest products are Hunting the Whitetail
Rut Phases, the Complete Whitetail Addict's Manual, the 2005 Revised
Edition of the Elk Addict's Manual; and the 2005 Revised Edition of the
Duck & Goose Addict's Manual. For a catalog of books and other
hunting products contact: T.R. Michels, Trinity Mountain Outdoors,
E-mail: TRMichels@yahoo.com, Web Site: www.TRMichels.com.