Tag Archives: pronghorn hunting

Average Joe’s – Dad’s Wyoming Lope

                     The typical environment of Wyoming Pronghorn…

This isn’t so much a hunting story as a story about family, the passage of years, the things that change, the things that never change, and what it all means to us.

                   The key to a successful D.I.Y. Hunt anywhere.

In 1972 during one of the Boeing busts my father had to leave Mom and the kids behind and go work in Ohio because there were no jobs in Seattle where we lived. Two years later things got better and he was able to come home. On the way back he stopped in Wyoming to hunt Antelope. For a farm boy from Pennsylvania, this was a real adventure. He shot a small buck (about 8 or 9 inch) with Grandfather’s Savage 99 in 358 Winchester and was totally thrilled. The horns and hide went into the basement chest freezer till there was enough money to pay a taxidermist. 4 months later the freezer croaked and everything in it was ruined. The picture was all that was left, hanging on the wall and fading over the years.

Dad’s first Antelope – You have to love the Savage 99 in a rare caliber…

Dad taught me and my brother to hunt and deer season was a family ritual with us. We hunted close to home, in places we knew well, with family and close friends. Many years went by, pictures accumulated on the walls and horns in the garage. Then mom got sick. Dad took care of her, seldom leaving her side, and for the next 7 years did not hunt. Mom passed away in the summer of 2016. Dad was 83 now and I asked him if he thought he had a few more hunting seasons left in him. He thought maybe he did, so I started planning a hunt.

I had enough preference points saved up to draw an antelope tag in a decent unit in Wyoming that had adequate public land access, so that was no problem. I told him we could likely find a bigger buck for him than the one he took back in 74, but he didn’t care much about that. He’d grown up dirt poor on a farm and had always been a meat hunter. That wasn’t likely to change now.

The tag wasn’t a problem, but his knee might be. Dad had a bad knee that he had put off getting repaired while he took care of mom. Time to get that fixed. He got in to the Doc and got the surgery scheduled. It would be done 8 months before the hunt, which would mean he would not be 100% recovered, but the Doc gave him a green light, with some limitations… he couldn’t kneel on that knee, and it probably would not have full range of motion yet. That would present some limitations on shooting position and he couldn’t walk more than a few miles a day, but we figured we could work that out.

A nice grouping, and gets the job done…

Last problem was a rifle. Dad hunted with an old, beat up model 700 with a 4X fixed power scope. He always bragged on how accurate that rifle was, but with a low power scope and cheap factory ammo, how would you ever know? Not the ideal rig for antelope, but Dads shots had always been 100 yards and under, so it had never been a problem. He’s also a lefty, which meant I couldn’t loan him one of my rifles.

He came down to my place in September and brought the old rifle so we could give it makeover and see if we could get it set for the kind of longer shots you sometimes get in antelope country. I scrounged an old Weaver 3X9 I had sitting in the gun safe and we swapped scopes then we worked up some hand loads to test and headed to the range. With the load it liked best, allowing for a called flyer, that old beater of a rifle shot ¾ minute. He was right about that old rifle… and he could still shoot. Mission accomplished, we headed out to Tillamook bay to do some crabbing, which was another thing we hadn’t done in a while. We killed them. Best crab season they’ve had in ten years. There really are few things better than sitting in a lawn chair, eating fresh crab with a cold beer and watching the sunset over the ocean.

                                        Now that is a lot of fine eating…

In mid-October Dad came down to my place again. He had all the family camping gear in the back of his truck. I had called him the week prior and he had already started packing. In the end, he pretty much brought everything. Nothing had been used in at least 7 years, and some of that gear I hadn’t seen since I was a kid. Lot of memories there. We sorted through everything, weeded it down to what we thought we would actually use and stared driving.

We drove 16 hours straight through, with a stop in Boise to visit my niece who is going to school there. When my brother and I were little, Dad would load us in sleeping bags in the back of the truck with the gear and drive all night to eastern Washington to hunt. Now Dad got to sleep some while I drove. Lots of time to talk about family, old friends, and hunting seasons past. We arrived at Medicine Bow in the morning, gassed up, and headed into our hunt unit to look for lopes.

This late (mid-October) lopes would be forming up into bigger bands and the large bands are hard to get close to. We started looking for lopes in the foothills above the sage flats since the terrain often broke up the big herds into smaller groups and would give us some cover to work close.

Heading up into the hills we spotted a couple bucks that had broken off from a larger band. They were about 400 yards out and wary, but had not bolted. We piled out of the truck to see if the ground gave us any options for a stalk.

Hunting magazines will often give you advice about shooting in wind, but that advice is always about the effects of wind on a bullet. They never seem of offer advice on how to deal with the effect of wind on the shooter. I got out the Kestrel and it clocked wind gusting from 15 to 35mph in random gusts. It’s impossible to hold steady in that unless you can get prone and really hug the ground. It did not look like we’d be able to close the distance without being spotted. Decided to pass on these two.

Driving further up into the hills, we glassed a lone doe and buck in a basin sheltered from the wind. They saw us but did not looked spooked so we kept driving around the shoulder of the ridge and out of sight to where we could double back and try a sneak. Keeping low in the sage, we topped over the ridge looking down into the little basin and started to glass. We spotted our two animals about 300 yards out. Keeping low and moving only when they were looking away from us, we cut the distance to a little over 200 yards and found a big rock that Dad could shoot from without having to stress the knee too much. It was an awkward position, but best available under the circumstances. I got prone over my pack about 15 yards uphill so I could see Dad’s shot impact and provide a follow up if needed. The sound of the shot was whipped away by the wind almost instantly and there was an eruption of snow and dirt in front of the buck and both lopes took off. 200 yards is a long shot for Dad, and the buffeting wind and awkward position blew the shot. Dad was never a trophy hunter, any buck would do for him, and I was not fussy either as this hunt was about family, not inches of horn, but I started to get the idea that getting Dad a shot that was close enough, that he could take from a comfortable position, was going to be harder that I had thought.

            Though I have a real name of David, my callsign is Average Joe…

This was disappointing due to the miss, but here we were on morning of day 1 and we were already getting shot opportunities, so from that perspective, things were looking good. We decided to look for a place to set up camp. A BLM employee we met on the way in told us there was a BLM campground on the north end of the unit, in the foothills where prairie starts to turn to timbered draws. We headed north toward the campground and Dad insisted I take shotgun in case we ran across a band of lopes we could make a stalk on.

As we climbed north toward the campsite I kept one eye out for lopes and the other on the GPS screen. This unit is about 50% private ground, checkerboarded in with the BLM and state land and you have to get that right. Learned that from Frank years ago and using onXmaps. The lopes seemed to know there were some areas where they would not be bothered. They tended to group up on private ground.

We spotted a group of lopes headed south, parallel to the road, about 400 yards out and on BLM ground. As they passed behind a little ridge, Dad had me bail out and he continued on up the road to where the lopes would see the truck move on. I worked down to a point where, if they continued their course, the herd would come out from behind the ridge and maybe give me a shot. Right on time they started to appear, first a few does and yearlings, then a decent buck. I already had my rear on the ground and the rifle settled on the sticks. The shot broke with the crosshairs just behind the shoulder at a bit over 200 yards.

Dad with his 2017 Wyoming Pronghorn and sharing the moment with his son…

Years ago, Frank introduced me to Mike Abel (a fine gentlemen and superb shooter) when Mike drew a South Wagontire tag in Oregon, a unit I had hunted with Franks advice the year before. Mike and I have had a few adventures since then (Blacktails, Bunnies, and Rockchucks, oh my!) and Mike coached me a lot on my shooting (thanks Mike and Frank both), so I had no doubt about the outcome of that shot. The buck ran about 40 yards and piled up.

Dad and I took pictures, field dressed the lope, hauled him to the truck, and followed the road 4 more miles to the campground. A couple other groups of hunters were also there (deer and elk hunters) and we found a site near a creek in a little stand of aspen. I did the heavy lifting as far as setting up camp, but as Dad remarked to some of the other hunters in camp, that was only fair since when I was little he got to do all the work.

The campsite had some elevation and was just a mile or two south of the unit boundary we had tags for. From camp, we could watch lopes through the spotting scope. Not our unit, but still really cool.

         Relaxing in our camp on a great day of sunshine and companionship.

Just setting up camp felt good. It felt great to be setting up worn old camp gear that I remembered from my childhood. The lantern we’d used for 40 years, digging out the old camp stove and kettle… every gouge and ding in that old gear was a reminder of hunts and time with family many years ago. When I opened up a can of stew to heat up for supper, it looked a bit odd though. I checked the bottom of the can and the stamp said “best if used by October 2010”. Some gear does not improve with age. Fortunately Dad had packed enough non-vintage food to keep us twice as long as we were likely to stay.

Next morning we were out glassing a couple big patches of public ground that seemed to attract lopes. We spotted a band grazing and bedding on a flat, just clear of the sage, about a half mile from the road and thought they might be stalkable given the terrain. Once the road passed behind a little hill, Dad bailed out and I drove on about ¼ mile and stopped to watch the show. Dad followed a little dry wash to close most of the distance and made a slow crouching approach through the sage. Wind was gusting at about 20. He kept getting closer, 200, 150, and I kept thinking “What are you waiting for? Shoot!”. Finally they busted him at about 75 yards and the whole band tore out of there at top speed and trailing dust. Turned out the issue was the knee again. The wind was too strong and gusty to take a standing shot, a kneeling shot was not an option due to the recent surgery, and a sitting or prone shot wasn’t possible due to the height of the sage he was using to cover his stalk. By the time he worked past the tall sage, they had spotted him. We decided that this spot was definitely a draw for lopes and we would try to find a way to ambush a band as they filed down from the hills to graze in the evening.

The afternoon we spend driving and glassing an area the BLM guy recommended on the other side of the highway. Lots of lopes, but they had obviously been hunted hard and the terrain there did not offer much in the way of cover for an approach. Found some really cool geodes and some jasper and agate for my sister the rock hound.

On the way back to camp for lunch and some rest, we stopped to check zero on Dad’s rifle. I dug out a cardboard box for a target and set it up at 200 yards. Dad shot across the truck hood over a folded up coat. Great group. The horizontal stringing was all due to the gusting wind, which almost never stopped in this country.

That evening we were staked out at what we though was a logical funnel for lopes headed from some private land in the foothills to the flat we hunted that morning. With about 30 minutes of light left, we saw a lope headed down and it looked like we might be able to get out in front of him. We got closer, but at the last minute, he started to veer away. Dad took a standing shot over the sticks at about 150 yards, but the lope took off running. We watched him go flat out for half a mile and over a ridge. Did our due diligence and found no blood. Again, the inability to get a good position due to the knee and the gusting wind had blown the shot. Dad was starting to get frustrated, but this was only day 2. Lots of time left.

The next morning we decided to cover some new ground, an area east of Pine Creek that we thought might have a small band or two up some dry washes in the foothills. It had snowed the weekend before our hunt started and many of the bands we glassed every day were big groups. The big groups tend to stay on the flats and have way too many eyes on duty. They are very hard to get close to. Lopes tend to group in to larger herds and get more skittish as winter gets closer.

Following a little dirt 2-track up toward the hills we saw several groups, but all were down on the flats below the hills… private ground. Even these spooked and ran at the sight of the truck while still ½ mile away. Seemed like every day the herds were getting larger and harder to approach. We headed back toward the main (gravel) road to get some rest at camp and work out a plan for the evening hunt. It was only day 3, but the big herds, lateness of the season and that constant high wind had us feeling much less confident.

         Hate to leave this camp with Dad, as it has been a real blast…

As we were crossing several big blocks of private ground we approached a dry creek bed and saw a small band of lopes coming up out of it toward us. I glanced down at the GPS and was surprised to see there was an odd shaped ¼ square of BLM land right in the middle of the ranch land and we were right in the middle of it. I stopped the truck, Dad piled out, and I got out the binoculars to watch. He kept low in the road cut and got a bit closer as the lopes filed out of the creek bed. The herd just piled up there, about 100 yards away from him, and milled around, seeming not sure what to do. There was one good buck in the bunch, about 10 does and maybe 5 yearlings. Trouble was there was a doe standing right in front of the buck and a doe and yearling right behind him. There was no shot with the does and fawns in the way, and if the herd bolted and ran he’d never get a shot. Dad settled the rifle on the sticks and waited. I watched through the binos for what was probably a minute or two but seemed like much longer. I won’t say I heard angels sing… but the wind died down and the buck took two steps forward. Only the bucks front quarters and neck were in the clear, but Dad was under 100 yards and had good position. I heard the report of the rifle and the buck dropped like a puppet with the strings cut. Dad had his second lope on the ground, 43 years after the first one.

Written by David K. aka Average Joe

Jay L’s 2017 Oregon Muzzleloader Pronghorn

2017 Oregon East Beatys Butte Muzzleloader Hunt

First of all I want to say thank you very much for all the help…

Getting it done with the Muzzleloader by Jay Lubbes.

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.

Nice Cover Also!

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!!!

Randy R’s 2017 Nevada Pronghorn Hunt

First off I have known Randy, who lives in Washington for a number of years.  He once drew an Oregon Pronghorn Tag and got a hold of me.  He used Garmin and onXmaps HUNT back then and even found his own honey hole….

‘Yes Frank , We did use onX Maps. That’s how we found the honey hole when Travis had his tag a few years back. Just couldn’t find a mature one there this year. Have yet to see another hunter in that spot. I’m sure come rut time a big one will show. We have a friend in 033 now, looking for something mid 80’s. I’ll let you know how he does.”

 Hi Frank,

Just got back from Nevada and thought I’d better share my story with you.  Travis my son and I arrived in Mountain City on Sunday afternoon.  Right away we wanted to check out an area we knew held numbers of antelope west of town.  After locating several groups of animals that evening and the next morning we were not seeing much for mature bucks.

We decided to check out the unit to the east and look over some new country.  After few miles it started looking like lope country. Soon I glassed up a few does a mile away . We drove a bit closer and snuck in to get a better look.  Three or four soon materialized into 27 with one good-looking buck. We marked the location on the Garmin and pressed on.  By now it was pushing late afternoon and in the upper 80’s we arrived in a massive area that looked like prime antelope habitat with several good water sources.  Cruising and stopping to glass, I spotted the buck I knew was my #1 target.

Randy’s! Orignial target Lope in Nevada…

I attached a picture we took with a phone scope.  We left him alone and found a camp site a couple of miles away.  This area was getting a lot of traffic and other hunters out scouting. Seeing this I figured we’d have competition in the morning.

We struck a plan and went to bed thinking about the big guy all night. Up at 5:00 and on the road by 5:15 we planned to hike up a ridge to a good vantage point.  Sitting in the dark for 45 minutes we were  finally able to pick things apart.

Soon I spotted 5 antelope high up the mountain on a sage flat.  Getting the spotter on them I thought it was the big one.  We made a plan and the stalk was on. It was a steep and noisy climb trying to use the lay of the terrain as cover. After and good hour we closed the distance to 500 yards.

Not feeling comfortable at that distance we moved to a pile of rocks and shorted it to 380 yards.  Not pulling the spotter out again I readied for the shot.  As I got settled in I told Travis I wasn’t sure it’s our buck.  They were about to feed over the ridge top when I said I like him anyway. At the shot they all grouped up and I knew I had missed .  They fled over the top not offering a follow-up shot.  I figured we’d better go check, just to be sure it was a clean miss.

At this point we were nearly 7000 ft in elevation.  Reaching the top Travis picked them up 3 – 400 yards out grouped in tall cover.  They saw us and busted out of site.  Since we were up there we decided to continue along glassing the vastness below.  After another 45 min. of side hilling.  Travis shouts “buck”!  I looked directly downhill and 120 yards away was the buck I just missed staring at us.  All I could see was his neck and head. I threw up my .280 and squeezed off a shot. He immediately flipped over backwards and disappeared.

Randy’s 2017 Nevada Buck down and posing for the pictures…

Off went the Does crashing down the mountain stopping a 1000 yards away waiting for the buck.  Getting down to him I very was thrilled with his symmetry and the nice backwards hook to his horns.   After a few photos and tagging him I dressed him and down the mountain we went.  

At the road we both knew we were a bit turned around the road and surroundings did not look familiar. Looking at the Garmin and onX HUNT we realized the truck was 3.5 miles away as the crow fly’s.  Travis took off and I began boning out the buck and putting it into game bags.  

All Lope hunters would appreciate the symmetry of this Pronghorn!

After 1.5 hrs I was getting a bit worried when I seen a dust cloud in the distance and my grey Tacoma coming my way. He ended up climbing a high ridge and spotted a rig parked glassing.  Meeting up with 2 older fellows from Reno they had seen our truck and gave him a ride to it.  Still not sure where I was since he’d not marked my location. He looked at the map and thought I might be on the road  heading south of our camp which we had not explored yet.  Sure enough he guessed right and we got the meat iced up good and went back and broke camp.

Overall we had a great trip and was very happy with the buck I took. I feel very lucky to be able to still get out and enjoy what I love and to share it with my son.  

Randy 

Oregon – Sleeper State – Pronghorn Hunting

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!

A nice heavy buck, maybe next year!
A nice heavy buck, maybe next year!

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.

This archery buck scored 78" 13 1/2" with 6 1/2" Prongs.
This archery buck scored 78″ 13 1/2″ with 6 1/2″ Prongs.

When I first started out with my first tag for an Oregon Pronghorn, I had help from a Naval Officer that I knew while on active duty in the Navy, he had great deal of knowledge, plus his friend a young BLM summer help student that knew the area.  His name was Rod Briece, who later became my Commanding Officer and was a long time hunting friend.

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.

This buck scored 85" after be on the fireplace mantel for a year. He is 16 5/8" with 6" Prongs. Prongs are high on the horn, a key element.
This buck scored 85″ after be on the fireplace mantel for a year. He is 16 5/8″ with 6″ Prongs. Prongs are high on the horn, a key element.

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

BLM and the Private Food Plot via Google Earth and onXmaps HUNT
BLM and the Private Food Plot via Google Earth and onXmaps HUNT
You figure it out how you want to hunt. Find legal land and game! From onXmaps HUNT Viewer
You figure it out how you want to hunt. Find legal land and game! From onXmaps HUNT Viewer
onXmaps HUNT mapping from the computer.
onXmaps HUNT mapping from the computer.

 

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 archery buck score 86" 14 1/2" with 8" Prongs. Very heavy mass.
This archery buck score 86″ 14 1/2″ with 8″ Prongs. Very heavy mass.

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.

This is a great buck, worthy of any wall! Didn’t have a tag, but hunting season was upon us. 100 foot photo op!

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…

This is a great buck taken in Oregon also in a 2 season unit.
This is a great buck taken in Oregon also in a 2 season unit.

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?

Not a big buck in a 5 tag unit, but it was nice to be able to read his mind! He cut my path at about 75 yards, trying to double back to the basin!

 

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.

Which one is the shooter in this crowd?

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!

Bwana Bubba

 

What is Bwana Bubba Adventurers?

                              It is about sharing the hunt with everyone!

A rather large Gold Medal Aoudad or also known as the Barbary Sheep!
A rather large Gold Medal Aoudad or also known as the Barbary Sheep!
Pronghorn -Antelope are the game in the West that everyone should have on their wall. Not as easy as some think to hunt!  Cobra
Pronghorn -Antelope are the game in the West that everyone should have on their wall. Not as easy as some think to hunt! Cobra

This is a site that I write what I have on my mind. Others write stories of their hunting trips and I share them with the world. My site is design to help those that enjoy the great outdoors and find their Adventurer. Bwana Bubba aka Cobra

Frank Biggs

Ken’s 2014 Warner Unit Antelope Hunt – Oregon

The following story is one of the best that I have read on an Oregon Pronghorn Hunt.  As you can see Ken is a man of detail and the results show!  Thanks Ken!

“Hey Frank,

I would like to share my hunt experience with you since that’s the condition you gave me when you helped me with advice, locations and mapping.”

Kens Antelope 2014 Int 01
A great Dinosaur of the Warner Hunt Unit! An awesome hunt with action and lots of Antelope-Pronghorn to few!

The first phase of my hunt was preparation.  I had 12 points and decided it was time to quit doing point savers and get into the hunt.  I prepared an antelope worksheet, which I have attached.  My criteria were significant public land, a projected draw range around 12 points, and a high harvest percentage.  The Warner Unit second season looked like a good possibility.  Next I searched the internet for hours looking for any information on Warner.  I didn’t find much, but nothing negative and the general consensus was a good number of bucks, although maybe not the next B&C record.  Then I found the Bwana Bubba website and made contact.  You sent GPS waypoints and I managed to get them into my Magellan GPS and Topo! software.  Also at your recommendation I bought the Oregon Hunting Maps premier subscription from onXmaps HUNT for my iPad.  No cell service but I had pre-cached the maps and the iPad GPS worked like a charm.  Excellent suggestion and worth the price.  I also called and spoke with your friend Craig, the ODFW Bio for the area.  He was very helpful and I had enough information to decide to put in for the tag, which I drew.  After drawing I drove down and visited Craig in Lakeview.  We went through the maps I’d printed and we strategized the four main areas to hunt in order of preference.  The #1 area based on water and animal count this year was from about Luce Lake north to just above Colvin Lake.  There were also some springs still running in Coyote Hills that made that #1A.  The northernmost section of the unit was so dry this year the antelope had moved down to the area I hoped to hunt.  I spent the rest of that day driving around the unit to get the lay of the land and headed home.

The next phase of my hunt was learning about Antelope hunting first hand.  I borrowed my friend’s Rhino and trailered it into my chosen hunt area late the night before season.  I slept in my rig and was up early for opening day.  It took a couple hours to find the goats but as I got within a few miles of water they started appearing.  The main area I hunted was around Colvin Lake and north and east to Cement Springs in the Coyote Hills.  As I was driving down a road (road means you drive on the same big rocks as everywhere else but the grass is shorter) I came across a hunter packing out a beautiful antelope – the consensus of guys who later saw it was 82-83 – and gave him a ride several miles back to his camp past Colvin.  I tried to put the sneak on a group I saw heading into water at Colvin but hunters were already set up there so the shooting began before I got there.  I headed out to other areas and saw bucks other guys had taken and chatted with the State Troopers cruising through the unit.  Late that afternoon I travelled back in towards where the guy with the big goat had been and sneaked into a lake about half a mile long north and east of Colvin (see google earth picture attached).  Throughout the day I had seen just one buck on the hoof but I spent time practicing sneaking in on the does to see what worked and practice my skills.  Now down at the water I watched as one, two, three and then four herds came to water.  I noted the time they showed up and the locations, as well as their behavior.  This was my first antelope hunt and I needed all the intel I could get.  I checked out a fair number of antelope through binos but observed no bucks.  After some time the herd furthest away (about half mile) showed some activity and in the binos I saw some chasing going on.  Interesting.  Then I noticed one of the lopes had a prominent black cheek patch.  “Hey – that’s a buck!  And I can see horns at half a mile!”

The final phase of my hunt was the stalk.  Because there were some junipers and pines along my side of the lake I eased back to their outer edge and started heading down towards where the buck and does were.  Covering distance on that terrain is not quick and I needed to be careful so as not to be spotted.  By the time I got down to the opposite end of the lake all I could find were big-eyed cows staring up at me.  I couldn’t find the herd but as I looked into the distance across the sage there was a nice buck.  I hit the ground and kept watching in the binos as he was a quarter mile out, alternatively grabbing a bite of sage and trotting away.  He was nervous but could not see me as I had the setting sun to my back.  I watched him over the horizon and consoled myself with the thought he’d be back tomorrow at the same time so I’ll come an hour earlier.  I headed back to put glass on the other herds, by now moving away from the water.  It was at that point I thought I should at least walk the country the buck had gone into so I was familiar with it in case I needed to go in there the next day.  As I walked out across the sage, I saw him coming back towards the lake.  Again I hit the ground.  He cut the distance between us, moving from my right to my left heading towards the lake.

Kens Antelope 2014 Int 02
A closer look at Ken’s mature herd buck!

The sun was now quite low and every time he went behind any sort of bush or tall scrub I bent as low as I could and cut whatever distance I could.  I kept my shadow pointing at him as he moved so the sun was always in his eyes.  He just ambled obliviously towards the lake.  I figured in all the excitement he forgot to get a drink of water and was heading back.  When he went behind some scrub trees near the lake I moved as far forward as possible and figured I was at 150 yards from having ranged things earlier.  Then I saw why he went back – there were three does heading toward him from the lake.  Now I was in trouble, though, because there were a lot more eyes and they had a better angle on me.  As I reached forward to flip out the bipod on my rifle in preparation for a potential shot, all three does busted me.  They took off running from my left to my right across the sage.  The buck took off running behind them in the same direction.  I knew there were no people the direction I was shooting and had no time to do anything but take an off-hand shot at a running antelope.  So I pulled up standing and located a small juniper tree ahead of the does, putting my cross-hairs on its right side.  As soon as the does ran behind it and came out the other side I counted running antelope through the scope, “One, two, three…” and timed the movement of my rifle so I was already swinging to the right just as the buck came into the crosshairs.  I squeezed off one shot and watched as the antelope hunched, staggered several steps, and fell to the ground.  The shot felt good, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was surprised.  The 180 grain .300 Win Mag went through both lungs, and I couldn’t be more excited.   I had just enough sunlight to get some pictures before the work began.

The bottom line is this: Thank you for the great help – the hunt would not have been the success it was without it!

Ken Dixon – Professionals Pursuing the Perfect Project

Ken’s Check List:     Antelope Worksheet 2014

 

Antelope – Pronghorn Habits & Scouting

The best part of having a successful hunt is having experience with you.   On my first Antelope hunt I was very fortunate to have my a Navy buddy guiding me in an area that I have never been in.  My Navy buddy and I met when I was station at the Naval Security Activity in Imperial Beach, CA.   I was a young enlisted guy and he came in as a LTJG from Portland, OR.   I took him on his first duck hunt in the area of Imperial Beach and Tijuana.   We later got reconnected when I got off active duty and joined the Naval Reserve.   Rod retired as a CMDR from the Navy!

Grizzly Unit - Archery Lope

Cutting to the chase, my first Antelope hunt was a great learning experience for me.   I became a quick learner and listen to everything Rod had to say and show me.   He had a friend that worked for BLM in the area that knew the habits of the local Lopes.   My First Lope Hunt

After that I became quite hooked on Antelope and spent the next 20 years plus scouting, chasing and free guiding on Antelope in Oregon and a little in Wyoming.

I have found that Antelope are very habit forming in their movement.   I have seen the same buck or bucks working an area even after pressure.   I know that most people do not realize that Antelope any other animal that marks their territory.   One may not notice other animals doing so, but with Lopes the area that they live is a bit more arid and their marks show up.   I always found it particular that they would mark a dirt road.  I would catch them squatting in the middle of a road on scouting trips.  

Link: Grizzly Lope

Many times I hear that a hunter hasn’t seen an Antelope at all on a scouting trip or hunting trip.  I often ask them how much glassing had they done.   Glassing you will find the the sage brush moves and the colors aren’t green.   One has to have an eye when driving in or just looking for game.  If what you think you see is not rock, dirt, junipers, or sage brush, it is usually some sort of game.

Spotted from 1/2 mile away during rifle season!

Over the many years of chasing Lopes, I have found the same buck in an area from year to year, which includes the same feeding areas.   Years ago I chased the same buck for more than three (3) years in the same 5 X 5 square miles that I would locate him.  I do believe that he lived to be a ripe old age.

Don’t ever overlook the fringe area of timber in an arid location, especially in Oregon.   We have many units that the Antelope use the timber as would a Mule Deer buck.   We have areas like the Maury, Gerber Res, Paulina and many more that the successful hunters have found big bucks in the timber.

My words are to those that hunt for Pronghorn is to carry a great pair of Bino’s, water, Mapping GPS (Garmin), a rifle cartridge that can carry the distance in wind, and maybe someone that can spot game.

Derek’s Gerber Res. Youth Hunt 2009

I do love it when things come together for father and son hunts.  A couple of months ago I got an email from Derek, that his son had a Gerber Reservoir Youth Tag for Antelope in Oregon for 2009.
I had my old spots when I use to hunt down there and I also touched base with one of my old hunting buddies to verify any additional information on the area that we use to hunt.
Derek and his son would be hunting the last part of the season in the Northern Sector.

day-08-21-09-gerber-res.jpg

Day’s successful 2009 Gerber Res. Youth Hunt! 

Frank,
“I want to thank you for the waypoints for the Gerber youth hunt.  
We went down Thursday night and had only 3 hours to drive the flat and spot. 
Saw nothing and no sign at all!  I had talked to ODFW and they had not been able to find antelope in the Sycan flat or Klamath marsh area during the fly over.  Talking to some locals on the road they to say they have seen very few lopes in the area.  I told my son that we better take any buck that we can come across. 
Friday morning he went to the waypoint you had sent.  He told me that there was no water hole there but we some sign in the area.  I skirted the edge of the timber along the open flat and finally spotted a herd of 14.  I got my son to re-group with me and he was able to get along the edge of the timber and came out about 75 yards from the herd.  I had not closely spotted the herd as I did not want to spook them.  He picks out the largest buck and dropped it on the third shot.  They had trotted off so he was leading them by 6” on the first 2 shots.  The lope looked ok from a distance but ended up be a juvenile so the horn to ear ratio looked good to my son so he took it.
The area looked like a great area to explore more and maybe hunt again with a bow.  Hopefully the lopes have just moved to the rivers edge or up on Winter Ridge due to the hot weather.  Also all the dry lakes were full, so there is water everywhere.”

Thanks,
Derek Day