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Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 18:37:03

Pronghorn - Part 1
By T.R. Michels
Jul 27, 2006, 08:43

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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 are larger.

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.

Pronghorn Biology


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 avoided.


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 racing away.
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 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:, Web Site:

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