Pronghorn, By T.R. Michels, Trinity Mountain Outdoors
Pronghorns (Antilocapra americana) are not antelope, and are not
related to the African or Asian antelopes or any other family. They are
the last survivors of a once widespread North American family known as
Antilocapridae. Many of their ancestors had pronged horns on both the
top of the head and on the upper nose. Adult Pronghorns may be from 4-4
1/2 feet long, 3-3 1/2 feet high, males weigh 100-150 pounds, females
75-100 pounds. Live 5-10 years, breed from September through October,
gestation 7-8 months, generally 2 fawns born in May or June. Color is
light tan to reddish tan, with white cheek patches on chin, neck,
chest, sides and rumps, ears are trimmed with black. Males have a dark
patch under the lower jaw. Both males and females have horns; the males
Their pronged horns, which range from 15-19 inches are shed annually.
Tracks are 2 3/4 - 3 1/2 inches long and they have no dewclaws. They
have glands at the base of each horn, a pair on the lower jaws, one on
the croup (upper rump), on the tail, one on each hind leg, and one
between each hoof. North American Population 380,000+.
Pronghorns are an open plains animal, often found in areas of
sagebrush, which is one of their main food supplies. They move a lot in
search of food and generally go to water once a day, at about the same
time every day. They also stay within a defined "home range." For some
reason Pronghorns do not jump fences but may crawl through a fence.
There are four recognized subspecies of Pronghorn. The American
pronghorn (A. a. americana) inhabits the eastern three fourths of
Montana, southeastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, western thirds of
the Dakotas and Nebraska, eastern portions of Wyoming and limited
portions of the other Rocky Mountain states. The Oregon subspecies (A.
a. oregona) inhabits southeast Oregon and portions of Nevada, Idaho and
California. The Mexican subspecies (A. a. mexicana) inhabits the plains
and deserts of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The Sonora subspecies (A.
a. sonoriensis) is endangered and inhabits the Mexican state of Sonora.
The Peninsula subspecies (A. a. peninsularis) is found in the Baja
Peninsula and is endangered. The Peninsula and Sonora subspecies are on
the endangered species list.
Because they live on open plains and semi-deserts pronghorns have
adapted their habits and senses to these areas. They have excellent
eyesight that they use as their main means of defense. Their eyes are
equivalent to 8 power binoculars and can see objects the size of a
human being up to two miles away. Because their eyes protrude from the
side of the head they have almost a 360-degree range of vision, they
can see the rump path of another pronghorn several miles away. Their
sense of smell and hearing is good, but not as good as deer. Because of
these adaptations pronghorns prefer high points on their range and
avoid heavily brushed areas and thick woods. In fact any cover over six
feet tall that might conceal a predator, including man, is usually
Pronghorns, like most animals, communicate through a combination of
sounds, body language and scent. Any hunter who has seen antelope is
familiar with the flared, white rump patch that is common to many
hoofed animals; deer, elk and sheep included. Pronghorn also fan the
tan hairs of their back when they are suspicious. When alarmed they
walk or trot with a stiff legged gait, raising the rump hairs before
Pronghorns do not vocalize as much as deer but fawns do bleat when they
want to be fed or want attention. Does respond to fawn bleats with a
short, low blatt or grunt. Trapped animals have been known to emit a
short bawl, alarmed animals snort like deer. When alarmed they may emit
a scent from the glands of the rump patch. Buck pronghorn mark their
territory with scent from their cheek gland, and they scrape the ground
and urinate and defecate at different sites to mark territories. During
the rut dominant bucks may hide with an estrous female in a gully or
canyon in places not normally frequented by pronghorns.
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.