First of all I want to say thank you very much for all the help…
Well I put in for a muzzleloader antelope tag down around Beatys Butte. I knew this hunt would be crazy hard being it was muzzleloader and it’s after rifle season if I even drew it.
I was at work helping dig and lay storm drain when my foreman got super excited and started yelling that he drew his dream hunt. Well of course I had to check my draw results. Holy smokes I drew my lope tag. Throughout the day I checked 4 or 5 times and each time the website said I drew it. So that night I started studying google maps and started researching field judging and just all sorts of things. I get a hold of Frank not knowing who he was and I picked his brain. Told him I was buying onX HUNT Oregon and pairing it up with a Garmin 64s.
Weekend before 4th of July (my anniversary weekend) we make the 9 hour trek to scout around some areas Frank gave me. We see a few goats but they were few and far between. A couple of decent bucks were spotted.
A month later after studying a ton on onX HUNT I decided to go look at an area that was behind some private property that had a few water holes. I see a ton of Antelope and 3 really good shooters.
I head down the day before season and meet up with a buddy named Jeff. We get camp all setup and we decided to take the Razor out for a cruise to scout. We see a few antelope nothing to spectacular but I’m in good spirits seeing some.
Next morning we head out before daylight out to where we see some goats the night before. Right at daylight we decided to give 2 smaller bucks a pass and we kept on heading out. We glass a few decent lopes that may have been shooters but they were so far away and we really didn’t have a good advantage point to get a real good idea if they were shooters or not.
We decided to head back towards where we see the smaller bucks. We look 600 yards in front of us and we see a bunch of Mulie does and one loner Lope together. We see he had good cutters and good mass and it was game on. We close within 120 or so yards take a look and liked his mass and cutters. Took the shot and down he goes I’m tagged out by 0715.
We take a few pics get him to the Razor and ride 6 or 7 miles back to camp. I get him caped out and put in the coolers. We tear down camp as fast as we can load up the Razor and I get to Sewell’s Taxidermy as fast as I could. Seeing a ton of Antelope on the way out with a huge smile on my face. I get to Sewell’s and they were very impressed with this buck being my first lope ever and with a muzzleloader at that. Well they tell me that he looks like he might be a book buck. He tapes it for a green score real quick and green he came out 74 inches.
I would have gone in 100 percent blind if it wasn’t for frank helping me out with some waypoints. Yes I branched out and found my own little honey hole, but I would have went out to a couple of those spots if my morning hunt was a bust. Great guy and very knowledgeable. Thank you again!!!
Through time in the field, knowledge comes to all!
None us come out knowing everything. So over the years I have absorbed a great deal of knowledge about hunting Pronghorn – Antelope that roam the high plains and arid lands of the United States. Pronghorns are one of the most magnificent mammals that has survived since the Ice Age. It is one of the few living links to the Ice Age. They are an ancient species dating back about 20 million years and are the lone survivors of a family of hoofed mammals found only in North America (Antilocapridae) A little history class for hunters!
Oregon truly is a sleeper state for hunting Pronghorn – Antelope – Lope or Dinosaurs! Problem is getting a tag for resident or even non-resident. Many non-resident hunters put in for many states, with the hope of drawing. As for those of use that live in Oregon, getting a tag runs from 8 to 25 years for a rifle tag and 1 to 3 years for archery. Sometimes you might be lucky and draw a tag based on the hold back tags put in random draw. As a biologist friend of mine once told me Oregon’s Pronghorn units all hold Boone & Crockett warrantable bucks. Biggest problem is holding out for the big buck, judging bucks, know the whereabouts and what unit has the best possible chance for a trophy buck.
We did not go blindly into the hunt unit, as there was a game plan to check out many different areas of the unit in a short period of time. We did get into the unit prior to the hunt by one full day to scout. We had about 4 game plans with the A, B, C, and D plan changing with the sighting of bucks. The final plan of the day became a A plan for the opening morning. I was successful on my first Pronghorn hunt to get a buck that scored 85″. He and his does had come into the same waterhole that we had seen them at, the evening before. At about 0715 the buck came to the waterhole. The rest is history at 250 yards from the rocks! Point being prepared and having options on the hunt.
Over the following years in this particular unit it put out many trophy Pronghorns. This does not include the ones that a few missed during the hunts and the hunter came up empty handed…
One of the greatest lessons that I learned with hunting Pronghorns is the use of the binoculars and patience. Finding vantage points and glassing over massive areas. Pronghorns have always been the animal, you don’t see me now, but wait long enough I will be standing there. Amazing creature that has intrigued me for many decades. Even on that first hunt, we glassed from afar and it paid off. I always look for mass from a side profile of the head. If warranted, I have a spotting scope to do a better judgement of the buck. Many times the heat waves in the high desert are so bad that there seems to be an illusion of what you see. So seeing the side profile is most important. Length is not always as important as mass and the high of the prongs (cutters) on the horn.
Mapping is very important for hunters, whether it is Pronghorn hunting or any other movement in the outdoors. I find it is almost as important as the optics and the weapon of choice.
Until recently, lets say 1998, most of us would have B.L.M. maps or other maps to find places to hunt. The GPS came along and it was ok, to know where you were, but not much good to know where to go. A few software companies tried back then, but were crude and not very accurate. Along comes onXmaps HUNT (2008) and what a success story for the company and the people that use their products. It is a lot of fun to have knowledge of places to hunt (landmarks), take them and mark them in the mapping software on the computer and then move them to the GPS. A great way to share information that is accurate. Like having a snapshot of a hillside that you have seen, but now you get to remember where it is. Better yet, at times when using the software and Google Earth via the laptop to Garmin GPS, it like watching TV… Remember by using this software, you might even be able to find a rancher or farmer that dislike Dinosaurs and will give you permission. For DIY you’ll find that you just might not need a guide for out of state hunts. Many got it figured out how to hunt public land for Pronghorns! onXmaps HUNT
We all have options on what caliber to hunt with for Pronghorns and my thoughts are no different. Having many calibers to choose from, I am a firm believer to go big on this medium size mammal. It is not the fact that a 243 Win, or 257 Weatherby won’t get the job done, but I don’t remember to many times that the wind was not howling after the sun comes up. My favorite light caliber is the 257 Weatherby, but if I get one chance to get a tag in 15 years and I have to make that 500 yard shot due to not being able to crawl within 250 yards, I will take my 30cal to get the job done. Shrugging your shoulders with that comment, just think about not getting there with the shot… There are many great calibers and my first was taken with a 7mm Remington Mag. Overkill, ya it might be, but still a 30 cal 180 grain that is going to make a hole in and out most likely. I do know I will have a kill shot and and not have to track the buck very far in most cases. One has to be comfortable with the rifle and trust what it will do or what you can do.
This brings up another subject: Making sure you have great shot placement and anchor the Pronghorn down. Tracking for trying to find a Pronghorn in the sagebrush after a hit from afar, might just lead to not finding it. Years ago one of my hunters that I gave waypoints to shot a monster lope in a large sagebrush flat. It was late and darkness was fast approaching. He decide to wait for morning! A great mistake as one loses focus of what he or she might have seen with the shot. With a Pronghorn left overnight, the coyotes have already taken are of it. You might be lucky to find the horns, but in many cases the horns have been taken care of also. Anchor the animal as with any animal in it’s tracks or close proximity.
In my time I have done a great deal of scouting and researching of Pronghorn or Antelope as most call this great animal from the past in Oregon and the rest of the Western States, where they roam in huntable numbers. For archery hunters in many of the Western States you have a chance to hunt every year for Antelope. Whereas with a rifle you might have to wait some 8-25 years to draw a tag, at least in the Oregon. I have hunters in Oregon that are now hunting almost every year with the bow. A great challenge to hunt with the bow, but what a rush and accomplishment to harvest up close and personal. You’ll find hunting with the bow for Antelope a great sport that you won’t be able to stop doing. I have been told by my hunters that they have had the best experience hunting Antelope over anything else they have hunted in North America. It could be that they see a lot of Antelope while hunting them. Since competition for tags is so great, some of use will wait the whatever years to get the rifle tag, get it done and the following years put in for a bow tag. Not many years ago in Oregon and I am sure in other states, you put in for a rifle tag and make your second choice a bow tag. I do believe that I did this at least 10 times over the years. Very fortunate to have harvest a number of great bucks with the arrow. Now I find that many are taking great bucks with the arrow in many hunt units in many states.
I one thing I have learned after all these years and not even being in some of my old haunts for many years, is that Pronghorn are animals of habit from generation to generation. They cover the same ground and do the same things from one generation to another. Most of the land in which they live never changes. There was one buck that my friends & hunters chased for about three years and never got. I really wanted him for myself is what all thought. He would be located in the same spot within a 1/4 mile and escape basically the same way. His escape route was not one you could cover and he knew it. Now if we ambushed him in his normal spot he could have been taken. He was one of the biggest Antelope I ever hunted. I did get one hunter on him at very close range with a standing broadside at 250 yards. He missed the buck and the hunt was over for him! The hunter who I knew well told me he had been a Marine Sniper… A few years back I went back to a spot which I hunted and guided about 20 years ago. The only thing that had changed is the B.L.M. put a solar power water pump on a water hole in one of my favorite spots. Even the old ranchers sign was still there and he had been gone for a long time. The sign had stated in so many words that you were crossing into his lands. This happen to be B.L.M. that he leased, but did not own. Now you know one of the reasons to have a mapping and gps system that lets you know your legal. Many times my hunters tell me, “WOW”, you were right on the money for Lopes being there…
I have seen mature bucks standing in the middle of a back country road in B.L.M., marking the road. No, not by scratching but by urinating in the middle of road. Once someone knows some of the peculiar habits of Antelope, you can use it to your advantage. Such is the case a couple of years ago when I spot a group of Antelope in a 5 tag unit. I wanted the picture of the buck and just knew he would go around the mountain and want to get back into the hole. He did just that and my son asked how did you know?
I have taken a great deal of Antelope with the bow and all but a rifle kill has been from stalking. A great deal of the bow hunters I know do wait on water, but you have to have patience. One of my GPS Hunters – Bowhunters sat for two (2) days for more than 12 hours. He as been successful two (2) years in a row on the same waterhole. I do love to stalk them and arrow them before they know I am there. Antelope do lay in the sagebrush flats and with a lot of glassing from a vantage point you can find them and stalk within bow range easily.
Note: Then there is the issue with sunglasses, I will always wear sunglasses (favorite are Ray-Ban Wayfarer-easy to lift with bino’s with no bind) during the day and “Photo Grays” for the evening hunts. I felt if the game, especially Antelope can’t see my eyes or movement then I could close the gap on them even easier once spotted. I always wore a hat and a backpack with the spotting scope & tripod sticking out of the top. It is what it is with habits and wearing the same pants on every hunt!
Most experience hunters have their ways to hunt game, whether it is from stalking, waiting, ambush or just being lucky and walking into a shoot-able animal. It is whatever works for you, that makes the hunt!
You also have to be patient and let the smaller bucks (“VILLAGE IDIOTS”) go by, so you can harvest the trophy buck.
Just a short little video of a nice buck ( we had him set for the following year) in the Grizzly Hunt Unit in Oregon: Pronghorn in the Big Muddy!