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Hunting Pronghorn Antelope

pronghorn Antelope
A watchful pronghorn surveys his territory

Pronghorn Antelope are considered by some to be the most dazzling of North American big game animals, with their distinct brown and white coloration accented by black cheek patches and glossy black horns. Few sights are more awesome for a hunter than a clear sky sunrise over a and high country meadow with a gorgeous buck sporting tall, glistening, black horns, after creeping to peak over a knoll for a chance to harvest one of these great animals.

The pronghorn is unique to the world and North America and is the only big game species that sheds its outer horn sheath each fall. The pronghorn is not a really an antelope but instead is a member of the goat family because of its lack of dewclaws on the front feet. They can attain speeds of 70 mph and cruise at 30 mph for long distances. Their eyesight is phenomenal and compares to a human using 8X binoculars. They depend mainly on their acute eyesight to warn them of danger, but there is nothing wrong with their hearing or sense of smell, and a careless hunter that doesn't keep the wind in his favor won't get close to a pronghorn. They are watching for us.

Hunting pronghorn antelope is an exciting challenge because they prefer the open country of the deserts, plains, and high country meadows so they can see any approaching danger a long way off. During hunting season, the grasses and forbes on the prairie are a light brown, and the sage is a dark gray-green, the pronghorns coat often blends in with these colors making sometimes making them difficult to spot on the open prairies unless their white bellies and rumps are visible above the grass and sage. All things being perfect sometimes these white patches make it possible for hunters to see them from long distances though. The hunter also has to discern if the white spot on the hillside or in the distance with the sun glinting from it is a rock or the rump of an antelope. Good binoculars or a spotting scope are tools that are required for these wary animals.

herd of Pronghorn Antelope, Bighorn Basin Wyoming
Pronghorn are usually found in herds

The pronghorns' unique coloring also offers and advantage to the hunter. The white underbelly usually ends at approximately the mid point on the rib cage. If the hunter is using a flat shooting rifle, the transition point from white to brown on the pronghorn offers an excellent area to rest the horizontal cross-hairs of their scope. Then it is a simple matter to put the vertical cross-hair just behind the front shoulder.

In the meadows, plains, and valleys of Wyoming and Montana pronghorns are abundant, although some areas of Idaho have them it isn’t in the Greater Yellowstone Region. It is often possible to see many small herds in a single day of hunting. About 90% are harvested on the first day! The openness of the country and unlimited visibility allows the hunters to keep Pronghorn Antelope in sight and keep them moving until they finally get into position for a shot. Unlike many other types of hunting where a good opportunity comes along once or twice a season, pronghorn areas often offer several good chances in a single day.

The most productive hunting method is glassing large areas-generally from a vehicle. Pronghorn Antelope country tends to be flat with plenty of dirt roads. Once a herd is spotted, the stalk begins to bring the hunter within rifle range. Just as with any other big game animal, it is helpful to get out to your hunt area, with binoculars or a spotting scope. When you find a pronghorn worthy of your attention, figure out his patterns.

Although their exceptional eyesight allows them to see things at great distances, if they don't recognize an object as a threat, as sometimes they don’t in low pressure hunting areas, they often ignore it or sometimes walk toward it. They have a high level of curiosity sometimes is their undoing. Although their great eyesight means many fruitless stalks, which usually isn't a problem because chances are another good buck is just over the next hill. While hunting these wary critters can require long-range shots, usually it is possible to restrict shots to whatever distance is comfortable for the hunter. Many Pronghorn Antelopes are killed less than 200 yards away, and many have been under 100.

Pronghorn Antelope Bighorn Basin, Cody Wyoming
Hunting Pronghorn in the Greater Yellowstone Region can also put you in some very beautiful country.

A pragmatic yet time-consuming method of bagging the buck of your choice is to profile him before the season and locate an area where he waters with some regularity. Depending on the temperature and dryness of the area, pronghorns usually head for their favorite waterhole sometime during the morning making such a water source an ideal ambush spot. During the rut, pronghorn bucks are just as stupid as the males of most species under similar conditions. They will seldom leave a hot doe despite the circumstances, hunting during the rut is very productive.

For those patient, enough to sit in a blind setting them above watering areas is fruitful as rarely do hunters set through the day without getting a chance at a buck as he tries to sneak in for a quick drink.

Unlike most big game the tend to be active throughout the day. There is no need to worry about being in position long before daylight. A nine a.m. start is likely to be just as productive as six a.m. By the end of the first week of pronghorn season, the animals spook easily. However, pronghorn do have a tendency to run for a short distance, then stop and look back to see if they are being pursued.

Those serious about harvesting trophy animals scout extensively prior to the season making use of the best quality binoculars, and spotting scope you can afford to help you locate a suitable buck from a distance. I recommend the Nikon 20-60x82 spotting scope, although expensive it is hundreds of dollars less that the top of the line models with indiscernible difference from the top glass in my opinion. Once you locate and judge a buck to determine he's the one you want, profile him until you get san idea of his feeding, watering patterns and patterns of movement.

Pronghorn Antelope do not move at night like most other big game animals so make this work to your advantage by locating a good buck the day before season opening and track him until he beds down at dark, most likely he will be in the at daybreak in the morning.

Pronghorn Antelope
The plains below the mountains of Wyoming and Montana is where many pronghorn make their home.

Since hunting on the open prairie is generally a long-range situation where the accuracy and flat trajectory of your firearm of choice are extremely important. Any rifle of .24 caliber or larger with a 100 grain bullet is capable of making clean, kills on pronghorn. Favorite pronghorn rifles include the 6mm Remington shooting a 100-grain bullet and a .270 utilizing a 130-grain bullet. Both rifles set up with a 3- 9X variable scope on them, and a bipod is often helpful even when trying to ambush them at close range. It is easier to be patient and wait for a standing shot at 300 yards with a bipod, than take a running shot at 100 yards. Having a flat-shooting rifle that is sighted in for 200 yards is an advantage in this situation. If the hunter is lucky, and the pronghorn haven't run off very far, then a shot may still be possible.

Pronghorn hunting is big business in Wyoming, with Wyoming having the largest population of animals. Wyoming is the top Pronghorn Antelope producing state and issues around 70,000 total Pronghorn Antelope licenses each fall followed by Montana with 29,000 licenses (Some say that Wyoming has more pronghorn than people!) Wyoming also has the most listings in Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young record books. Wyoming produced 222 record book animals and Montana with 65. For the all time totals listed in the record book Wyoming is far ahead with 1830 record book pronghorns while Montana 358.

While Pronghorn tags can be hard to draw in some states, there are areas in Wyoming and Montana where leftover tags are available almost every year.

 Hunting Outfitters

Green River Outfitters • This is a great place to relax, rejuventate and reconnect with friends, family or fellow employees. Our guests come from many walks of life and many places. Groups of Europeans touring the National Parks of the West make a point of spending a night with us and say that their time with us is the highlight of the whole trip! Corporate Executives bring their employees here for company retreats. They hold their meetings in the morning, then enjoy various excursions in the afternoon. Families of all size reunite or join us to enjoy the back country with many of the comforts of home.

Green River Outfitters, elk, deer, moose, bighorn, hunting
Big Game Animals of the Greater Yellowstone Region

 

Want to know more about hunting in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho? A Northern Rockies big game hunt is the ultimate thrill; it also justifies all those Cabela's and LL Bean purchases. The Greater Yellowstone region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming offer some of the finest hunting opportunities on the planet. It also has some of the most experienced outfitters and guides found anywhere. Add a Yellowstone region moose, elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bison, black bear, hunt, or maybe even a wolf hunt to your bucket list.

Some people say that it is just luck whether you harvesting big game when you are hunting, and it may be to some extent, but it is more knowledge than anything. Luck favors the prepared mind. One must have an understanding of the animal, and it's habits during any given time of hunting season. During hunting season game animals are often breeding or migrating and knowing what is on their mind can aid you in the hunt. That doesn't mean that they will be there to cooperate but that is where you would start.

Anyone who has hunted big game in the Rockies knows how important it is to be in good physical condition. Your physical condition will be put to it's limits so it is very important too first get into shape so your hunt won't end up as a disaster. After considering all these things, you still have to deal with an animal after it is down and be prepared to call on all your conditioning to cope with it. There are game hauling contractors that provide “ you tag them, we will drag them” services that you can hire to pack out our harvest. This can be money well spent. If it is your first Rocky Mountain hunt you do not want it to be your last.

The weather in Rocky Mountain country can change in a matter of minutes. The clothing and gear that you take with you are as important as anything else when you consider a hunting trip into the Yellowstone region backcountry.

If you are a nonresident hunter, it has already been a costly trip; so don't be unsuccessful by trying to save a few dollars. Make the phone calls, use the web, seek the advice of the local hunters, and use the proper equipment and consider the value of hiring a hunting outfitter that can guarantee you a shot at an animal.

There are resources to help you get informed such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Game and Fish department for the state you will be hunting in.

Elk
 
Jackson Hole Elk Herd

Most early hunting expeditions were by pack train to the fabulous backcountry and today’s hunts remain quite the same. For many this remains part of the attraction, to saddle up the horses and load up the packhorses and mules and setting out for hunting camp high in the mountains. Many outfitters in the Greater Yellowstone region hunt this old time style, with packhorses and tent frame camps because this is still the most efficient way to get to the remote areas where the hunting is best. Many bighorn sheep and deer outfitters provide hunting camps like this as well.

Elk hunting in The Greater Yellowstone region can be one of the most remarkable experiences of a lifetime. Here in the Greater Yellowstone region you will see either the splendor of the Grand Tetons, the Gros Ventre Mountains, the Wyoming Range, the Absoraka Range, Snake River Range, or the Big Hole's. Jackson Hole is also the home of the National Elk Refuge where 6 to 12 thousand elk spend their winter taunting you into thinking that your hunt is going to be easy. In the Greater Yellowstone area there are many outfitters and guides to choose from if you choose to not go without a guide. ------------------ More info

Mule Deer
 
Gros Ventre Mountain Trophy Mule Deer Buck

Southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming are both famous for producing big mule deer bucks. Most early hunting expeditions were by pack train to the fabulous backcountry and today’s hunts remain quite the same. For many this remains part of the attraction, to saddle up the horses and load up the packhorses and mules and setting out for hunting camp high in the mountains. Many outfitters in the Greater Yellowstone region hunt this old time style, with packhorses and tent frame camps because this is still the most efficient way to get to the remote areas where the hunting is best. Many bighorn sheep and elk outfitters provide hunting camps like this as well.

Your best hunting will probably be in the higher elevations where rugged country limits access to all but the most hardcore hunters and outfitters in the know. This area has long been known for its excellent deer habitat and herd genetics. Controlled hunts in the Upper Snake region are coveted for the opportunity to hunt mule deer during the rut in late November. --------------------- more info

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
 
Bighorn Rams on the fight

The Greater Yellowstone region is a stronghold of the bighorn and has gained a worldwide reputation for producing the some of the biggest Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. There have been many fabulous rams harvested in the Greater Yellowstone area with a good number of them scoring over 200. Bighorn sheep are heavy horned and often broom (breaking the tips of the horns off to help vision). It is very difficult to find an old ram that reaches anywhere near 40 inches long after the loss of the lamb tips from brooming. However, most sheep hunters value a heavy horned old ram regardless of brooming as a fine trophy.

The Greater Yellowstone region bighorn sheep have always been a premier trophy for sportsmen from around the world. The sheep outfitting industry in this area has a long respected reputation as good producers of trophies for their clients.---------------------------- More info

Shiras Moose
 
A nice Greater Yellowstone Bull Moose
It is said in Alaska that the most dangerous animal in Alaska is the moose. It is not that moose are more fierce or aggressive than bears, it is because more people are injured and killed by moose because many people think that moose are giant cartoon characters and consequently don’t give them the room they need to feel comfortable. Most animals have a "fight or flight distance" the shorter an animals fight or flight distance is the more likely they will fight instead of flee. Moose, bear and bison all have short fight or flight distances. The lesson being When observing or photographing moose don’t mistake their docile inspection of you as tameness because they are just trying to figure out if they want to trot into the woods or to kill you.--------------------- more info
Mountain Goat
 

 

Snake River Range Mountain Goat

The Mountain Goats of the Greater Yellowstone eco-system make a home on the vertical planes of the Rocky Mountains where they cling and move around on the impossibly steep slopes of this unforgiving and barren terrain, Mountain Goats can survive on scant food in incredibly hostile environs. Mountain goats fit perfectly into the category of "charismatic mega-fauna." Their beauty, grace, and athleticism, is a treat to watch and their cute faces are always a thrill to see. The kids are precocious, able to move on steep slopes within hours of birth, an awe-inspiring site in itself.

Although the Yellowstone Ecosystem has an abundance of Mountain Goat habitat, Goats are not endemic to the region. Between the 1940s and the 1960s, there were several hundred of the shaggy cliff dwelling creatures transplanted from western Montana to the Beartooth, Absaroka, Madison, Bridger, and Crazy mountains and the Snake River Range. Hundreds of them now inhabit the high country. Some of those animals are willing to leave their preferred high-elevation habitat to cross rivers, and valleys too colonize new places. There haven’t been any transplants in the Gallatin Range, for instance, but goats thrive there today. -----------------------------> More

Bison
 
Bison/Buffalo Full Moon

The Greater Yellowstone ecosystem is the only place in the lower 48 states where an endemic population of wild bison has survived since prehistoric times. Perhaps no other animal symbolizes the American West like the American bison. In prehistoric times millions of these quintessential creatures of the plains roamed the North America from northern Canada, south into Mexico and from Atlantic to the pacific. No one knows how many bison were in America before Columbus arrived but the guesstimate is about sixty million. They were the largest community of wild animals that the world has ever known. For a good part of the 1800s bison were considered to be in limitless supply.

After the Civil War the push to settle the west was on, new army posts were established, coinciding with the westward push of the railroads. The army and railroads contracted with local men to supply buffalo meat to feed the troops and construction laborers.

Bison were hunted nearly to extinction in the late 1800’s and were reduced to less than a thousand animals by the end of the century. Many western legends took part in the big buffalo hunt including Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Pat Garrett, Wild Bill Hickok, and William F. Cody, just to name a few. ------------------------------------> more

Black Bear
 
Greater Yellowstone Region Cinnamon Black Bear

The black bear ranges across forested Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia as well as much of the United States. A solitary animal most of the year, they pair up briefly during the mating season. Cubs remain with their mother for about a year, who protects which prevents them from being killed by the adult males. 
    

Black bears swim well and often climb trees to feed on buds and fruit. They have a keen sense of smell, acute hearing, but poor eyesight. They can be seen at any hour of the day, but are most active at night. When very young, the cubs cry when afraid and hum when contented.  .................................more

Pronghorn Antelope
 
watchful Pronghorn Antelope
A watchful pronghorn surveys his territory

Pronghorn Antelope are considered by some to be the most dazzling of North American big game animals, with their distinct brown and white coloration accented by black cheek patches and glossy black horns. Few sights are more awesome for a hunter than a clear sky sunrise over a and high country meadow with a gorgeous buck sporting tall, glistening, black horns, after creeping to peak over a knoll for a chance to harvest one of these great animals.

Hunting pronghorn antelope is an exciting challenge because they prefer the open country of the deserts, plains, and high country meadows so they can see any approaching danger a long way off. During hunting season, the grasses and forbes on the prairie are a light brown, and the sage is a dark gray-green, the pronghorns coat often blends in with these colors making sometimes making them difficult to spot on the open prairies unless their white bellies and rumps are visible above the grass and sage. All things being perfect sometimes these white patches make it possible for hunters to see them from long distances though.........................more about hunting Pronghorn Antelope

 

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