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Columnists : T.R. Michels
Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 18:37:03

Pronghorn - Part 2: Hunting Them
By T.R. Michels
Aug 3, 2006, 10:42

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T.R. Michels
Sponsored By TRINITY MOUNTAIN OUTDOORS
E-mail: TRMichels@yahoo.com, Web Site:
www.TRMichels.com


Pronghorn Hunting Techniques, by T.R. Michels

Pronghorns are curious, and any strange or new object on their range is likely to be investigated. Antelope have been known to approach paper or rags caught in sagebrush. Hunters often take advantage of this trait by waving a white handkerchief to get wary animals to come closer. Rifle hunters often drive around or through areas where antelope occur to locate the animals.

A few days of observing pronghorns with binoculars will often tell the hunter where the bigger bucks are located, and which hills, ridges and drainage’s they use. It will also show which watercourses they frequent and what time they go to water. Once the travel routes and water sources are located an ambush can be set up. Then it is a matter of making a stalk to take the animal at long range. Pits or blinds in funnels along travel routes or near water can also be used by firearm hunters.

Blinds


Blinds near water are often the most productive for archery hunters. They can be constructed of brush and weeds, utilizing existing live plants as part of the blind. Man made blinds should utilize some natural material to break up their outline. Depending on the area, sage, grass, tumbleweed, cattails and even rocks can be used. Be sure the blind is large enough for the purpose and gives you the chance to stretch out, you may be spending long hours in it.

Take along a lunch, plenty of water and something to urinate in so you don't have to leave the blind. Once the blind is set up take some practice shots to check angles and make sure there is enough room to draw and maneuver.

You can pace off the distances to different areas by using rocks as distance markers. Take precautions not to be seen entering or leaving the blind by getting there before sunrise and leaving only when no animals are near, preferably after sundown.

Scent Elimination

Even though you are in the blind be sure to use unscented soaps and products to eliminate human odor. Scent Shield, Scent Killer, N-O-Dor, Odor Lock and other products help eliminate unnatural smells. If you want to be sure you don't leave any scent use one of the new scent elimination suits to absorb any odors you may give off.

Decoys

You can also use techniques to attract pronghorns to you. Decoys have proven to be a successful tool in bringing in antelope. Guides and hunters have used silhouettes of plywood and fiberglass, archery targets and hard-body decoys. The archery targets and hard-body decoys are the most realistic but the hardest to transport. Silhouettes are easier to transport but lack realistic detail, especially if the antelope approaches from the back or front of the decoy.
    
I struggled with this problem of compactness, lightweight and portability until I came up with the idea for the Feather Flex bedded deer decoy. Once I field tested it I knew that by changing the color and facial markings and using horns instead of antlers, the same decoy could be used for whitetail, mule deer, elk calf or antelope. The Feather Flex antelope decoy weighs about a half of a pound, rolls up for transportation and is effective. While it does not offer the high profile of a standing decoy it does attract antelope and give a sense of security to antelope approaching waterholes. Buck antelope are territorial and will often check out a buck decoy, giving the hunter the opportunity for a shot. The decoy can also be used to distract the animal's attention from the hunters shooting position, pit or blind.

Calls

When antelope approach a water hole they are very skittish and they often survey the water hole, blind and decoy from a hill. If they do not detect danger they may approach, stop, move away, and then move closer. If the animal moves out of sight be ready for it to come into view again or to approach from a different direction. Be ready before the animal gets close so you don't make any suspicious noise or movement when preparing for a shot.

If the animal is reluctant to come in a call may work. Pronghorns are known to come to a predator call that may sound like a young antelope in distress. I know several outfitters who are using deer grunt calls to bring in antelope. The grunt may arouse curiosity, give a sense of security, attract a buck out of breeding interest or dominance, add realism, or stop the animal long enough for a shot.

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. 

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