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Old May 8, 2012, 02:36 PM   #1
FrankenMauser
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What are the common mistakes Antelope hunters make?

When it comes to hunting Pronghorn, what are the most common mistakes you see hunters make?

Unit choice?
Scouting?
Unfamiliarity with the species and/or area?
Shooting bucks when they claim to be after meat?
Weapon choices?
Lack of practice with the weapon?
Ammunition choices?
Ancillary equipment choices? (Binoculars, range finders, clothing, boots, etc.)
Shot distances?
Judging shot distances?
Shot placement?
Field dressing?
Trying to "age" the carcass?
Packaging?
Choice of meat cuts? (Turning it all into jerky, etc.)
Cooking it all wrong...?
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Old May 8, 2012, 03:41 PM   #2
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Don't bother 'aging' the carcass . Dress it out immediately as you should with any game . The off flavor is largly due to large amounts of sage brush in the typical diet. I had some caught in a wheat field - it was delicious !!

Does anyone have a "true " measure of the speed of these animals ? I had one experience where we were driving at 55 mph and a pronghorn joined us , pacing us for a mile or two. He gave no sign of effort and when bored with game he accelerated and left us in the dust !! He must have gone 70 mph ! I've seen many numbers of their speed but no one seems to actually measured it like we did. Do any of you have a real measured max speed ??
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Old May 8, 2012, 04:10 PM   #3
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Biggest problem people have with antelope hunting is "over" estimating the range.

Antelope are small and often are standing in grass making them look smaller.

I've seen many times people estimating the range to the critters and finding out they are sometimes up to 200 yards off.

I stopped by a group of out of state hunters glassing a mid size buck. They were guessing anywhere from 300 to 480 yards.

I used a range finder and showed them it was 228. I then used a map and protractor which confirmed about 225.

And for God's sake, don't shoot at running antelope. Those puppies can flat out run and its almost impossible to hit them moving.

Be patent. Find a good hay field, set up and wait, eventually they will make their way to the hay fields. Get up wind and behind a rise for your stalking. You can get pretty close if your quiet.

The earlier the season they are less spooky. Don't waste your time hunting mid day, they are napping so take a nap and hunt in the morning and afternoon.

Be careful crawling through the grass while stalking. Year before last I came nose to nose with a rattler.

Learn to adjust for and shoot in the wind. This place, Wyoming, is as Ian Tyson says, "too much wind, not enough whiskey".

No reason for extreme long shots. A few miles per hour era in wind reading will cause a miss or worse a wounded critter. Stick to shooting under 300 yards and the wind wont get you as bad.

For example using a 243 w/100 grn bullets a 3 mph wind era at 300 yards will cause you to be off about 1.5 inches. Where at 600 its nearly 7 inches.

Check your zero for the area you are hunting. Where I hunt its about 4500 ft elevation. Air's different.

Most communities you hunt will have Sight in days before the season opens. Take advantage of it. Our club had free sight in days at our range. (I normally work them).

Don't sight in at the bench, get prone or setting for your sighting in. Never seen a bench on the prairie. Learn to use a sling to steady your position. You'll have time to get into a good position.

Wear heavy britches. It's the Law of the West, that when you go to prone, kneeling or setting you'll be laying or setting or kneeling in cactus.

Don't stay in motels, throw your sleeping bag on the ground and camp where you hunt. Listen to the coyotes, and other prairie sounds. Motels cause you to miss the best part of the hunt.
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Old May 8, 2012, 04:25 PM   #4
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I always enjoy reading your posts, Kraig. Very informative and insightful.

As for the OP's post, the most common error I see with pronghorn hunters, especially myself, is obtaining correct range to the distance of the antelope. I'm a recent convert to pronghorn hunting and the first few seasons, my missed shots were due to inaccurate range estimation. Or as Kraig said:

Quote:
I've seen many times people estimating the range to the critters and finding out they are sometimes up to 200 yards off.

I stopped by a group of out of state hunters glassing a mid size buck. They were guessing anywhere from 300 to 480 yards.

I used a range finder and showed them it was 228. I then used a map and protractor which confirmed about 225.
...sad thing is that I WAS using a rangefinder.
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Old May 8, 2012, 07:35 PM   #5
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Best time of day to take one is early in the morning and towards the end of the day......this is when they bunch up and are more approachable without being spooked.

Mid day hunting is OK, but the bucks are busy keeping their harem together. This means they are constantly running and stressed, (meat not as tasty as when they are calm and relaxed).

Never try to outrun or drive antelope like deer....you'll only come away exhausted and empty handed.

They have the eyesight equivalent of 8X binocs.

Beware of the cactus and rattle snakes.....
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Old May 8, 2012, 07:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
...sad thing is that I WAS using a rangefinder
Get a USGS 1:2400 map of the area you are hunting. Get a pratractor with a 1:2400 scale. They work as dern good range finders.

Find the point on the map where the goat is. (You should already know you location). Use the protractor and you can get a dern accurate reading of the distance.

The thing about maps is they are "FLAT", meaning you can disregard any angle corrections shooting up hill or down hill.
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Old May 8, 2012, 08:09 PM   #7
Nathan
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Not walking.


Antelope look like you can just drive around until you see the one you want, jump out and shoot it. That is a limited success method.


If you really watch Antelope, you can see your way to them. I find looking off tall bluffs and figuring out how to sneak down to them the best way. Even Antelope which look like you can drive up and shoot one will be better hunted by finding a way to sneak up on them from down wind.

I share this tip because the right Antelope, is the one which is well protected by the lead doe from easy hunting.

Observation, walking and patience are the key to success.

Optics, rangefinders, long range heavy rifles and strategy will pay dividends!
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Old May 9, 2012, 03:09 AM   #8
FrankenMauser
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Sorry, I probably should have mentioned...
I'm not an inexperienced hunter looking for advice. I'm just wondering what other Antelope hunters consider to be some of the common mistakes new (or ignorant) hunters make. I've taken my share of speed goats.

Quote:
Does anyone have a "true " measure of the speed of these animals ? I had one experience where we were driving at 55 mph and a pronghorn joined us , pacing us for a mile or two. He gave no sign of effort and when bored with game he accelerated and left us in the dust !! He must have gone 70 mph ! I've seen many numbers of their speed but no one seems to actually measured it like we did. Do any of you have a real measured max speed ??
I've been compiling a lot of data on Pronghorn lately. One of my sources is a book put out by the Smithsonian Institute, titled "Mammals of North America". The latest edition has a 2009 publishing date, and cites a few sources that have clocked wild speed goats at 44.7 mph (72 kph is the figure quoted) for 'marathon' runs of up to 22 continuous miles; and 60 mph (97 kph) for sprints when they are avoiding predatory threats.

Interestingly, though... I ran across another source that discusses captive Antelope and some Antelope that stay predominantly on cultivated ground only being able to sprint at speeds up to 51 mph, and only able to maintain speeds averaging about 37 mph over 2-5 miles. Their hypothesis is that the captive (and lazy farm-based) animals don't see as many predatory threats, and never develop their cardio-vascular systems as fully. (I'm sure another factor is that they're over-fed and fat. )


I'll try to share a bit more in a later post. But, I have one more comment for now...
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraigwy
Don't waste your time hunting mid day, they are napping so take a nap and hunt in the morning and afternoon.
My own experience contradicts that - on the flat, slow-rolling lands of the plateau, anyway (and 4 animals taken just north of Kemmerer). Of all the Antelope I've taken, exactly two thirds (67%) were taken between noon and 3 pm. Knowing the lay of the land and the way the Antelope move through it is a tremendous advantage. I have never known Antelope to bed down in the same place predictably (for morning/evening hunting). I have, however, found that they like to take their afternoon rest (chewing cud, napping, etc) in predictable places.

In 2010, I even crawled through a saddle (hah! the "ridge" was maybe 10 feet tall) to within about 45 yards of a napping herd that was resting by their favorite water hole. Not only did they not jump when I came into full view, or when I sat up to get my rifle over some grass; but I actually had to throw rocks at a satellite buck to get my target doe to turn her head before the shot (she was big, I wanted to make sure there wasn't a cheek patch).

Last year, I wasn't patient enough to let the herds move to one of their napping areas in the unit I currently hunt. So, I picked off a healthy doe while she browsed her way to it. It took a little scouting and a plan, and I had to sit in the sage brush for about 30 minutes for the ambush; but it was knowing where she was going that got her into my freezer. Closer. Closer. Turn a little. A little more. Steady. Squeeze. Double-lung. Death-throw. Tag filled. No meat loss.

It may just be my personal stalking methods and the area I hunt in; but my experience has been fantastic during their mid-day 'rest' period.
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Old May 9, 2012, 04:15 AM   #9
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IMO,not being patient and moving around.Most of my pronghorn hunting has been on a private ranch.We just plain do not drive a vehicle on the ranch during the hunt.Even walking can run the herds off of 4 sections.I use low ground to travel.Stay off high ground.Don't skyline.

They will find low ground to disapear in.

Don't flash.Shiny guns,chrome anything,eyeglasses,etc.

If you do not use a laser rangefinder,learn to use a reticle feature in your scope,such as a duplex,as a ballpark range estimation tool.

It is the same principle of range estimation the mil-dot reticle is used for.

I am suggesting you know what your duplex looks like on an antelope at 300 yds. That tells you a lot.

Field strip them without spilling a bladder full of urine into the body cavity.The tenderloins will be much better.

Get the hide off,get them cold.I have my home fridge empty and ready.I drive home from the ranch on kill day,put quarters in the fridge,go back to ranch for big sky,beer,buddies,etc.

A common error,holding a touch high 'just cuz" when its unnecessary.The back straps are the best cut on the critter,chops butter fry to something really good.Unless you blow them to smithereens with a 2800 fps bullet.

Oh,sitting is a real useful position.Thing is,my hand,and my butt have been good at finding those prickly pear cactus with the long white fangs.

Last edited by HiBC; May 9, 2012 at 04:20 AM.
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Old May 9, 2012, 10:48 AM   #10
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Invest in a quality pair of binocs, my first time hunting the speedy goats I brought a cheap pair of buschnell binocs, my brother was spotting them way faster than I could, after looking through his I knew why, I dont know how many far off goats I would have missed if he didnt pick them up. That night I went in to town and did a serious upgrade to my optics.
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Old May 9, 2012, 11:29 AM   #11
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Same mistake as many hunters make: not being able or willing to sit still. Movement really stands out and will spook a wild animal no matter if you are downwind or how well camouflaged you are. Squirming around to get comfy, twisting around to get a drink, shooing away flies, moving hands or putting binoculars up and lowering them repeatedly will get you busted.

A friend and I sat and scoped out a herd of antelope that were tight up against the hill we were sitting on because a hunter about a mile away was moving around and trying to "sneak up" on the little buck in the group. Before we knew it, they were all around us, looking back at him and generally staying at a safe distance from the perceived threat. We were both right there, but neither of us moved much. They moved right around us and went around the hill. I could have tossed a rock at the buck when he went past, but we sat still.
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Old May 9, 2012, 09:33 PM   #12
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I took one out near Newcastle, Wy last year. The meat was delicious. Bacon wrapped antelope chops grilled over oak, garlic mashed potatoes, grilled corn off the cob and a Napa Cabernet. Yes, I am sometimes civilized!
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Old May 10, 2012, 12:09 PM   #13
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There are no more pronghorn left in Wyoming. They all, every last one of them, winter killed this year.

Sorry, just had to get the out-of-stater's a bit worked up!

The biggest problem I see with antelope hunters is that they do not remove the hide from their kill. It is well known in Wyoming that the hair from an antelope will spoil the taste as fast as anything. Also, most antelope are killed durring September, a very warm time in Wyoming. If you want your meat to spoil, leave the hide on the animal for the whole day! I would suggest, and do it myself, that antelope hunters take along a large cooler and several ice blocks. Skin and quarter your antelope at the kill site and place the meat in the cooler with the ice. You can then spend the rest of the day without worrying about your goat soiling!

Another problem that happens with antelope huntng is that hunters are to anxious to kill the first buck they see. I reccomend waiting and looking the area over. See whats out there. If the one you saw opening morning turns out to be the best one, go back and hunt him. He will be in the same area, as long as someone else has not found him also!

Finally, Kraigwy is correct, don't over estimate the distance. Where antelope live, you can see forever. The inclination is that anything out here is further away than it really is! If you have a good buck in your sights and you can see his horns without binos or a rifle scope, he is close enough. Watch the wind and hold on hair for the first shot. If you miss and are lucky enough for a second shot, you should get him! Don't chase after one that is spooked, you won't catch him.

But always, track down and finish a wounded animal. A wounded pronghorn can run for miles, so make sure you hit them good. Nothing can ruin a hunt faster than chasing a three legged goat for two days.

Oh yeah, hunt Arizona,they have way better antelope!
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Old May 11, 2012, 06:40 AM   #14
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Quote:
Does anyone have a "true " measure of the speed of these animals ? I had one experience where we were driving at 55 mph and a pronghorn joined us , pacing us for a mile or two. He gave no sign of effort and when bored with game he accelerated and left us in the dust !! He must have gone 70 mph ! I've seen many numbers of their speed but no one seems to actually measured it like we did. Do any of you have a real measured max speed ??
We had one pace us a few years ago too. He had no problem running with us at 55 mph and he looked like he was just getting warmed up. Had we not ran out of road, I believe he could hit 60 or more.

As far as tips, I'll echo Kraig a little.

Wear heavy pants and bring a long a good pair of leather gloves. Those will help keep needles out of your hands on a stalk.

Be prepared to shoot in windy conditions.

Be on the look out for rattlesnakes.

Be ready to take your shot at ranges from 20 yards to 300. I've had as many close shots as long ones.

Be prepared for both warm and cool weather. On one trip, it was 70 one day and the next morning we woke up to 3" of snow.

Finally, even if a herd busts you, don't give up. If they don't spook and run, you can often slowly sink into the sage and after 10 minutes or so, the herd might not consider you a threat giving you a shot.

Yes, antelope can and do jump fences.

Finally, if you do get a nice buck, be careful dragging it out enroute to the taxidermist. They are fragile animals and the hair can come during your drag.
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Old May 11, 2012, 04:20 PM   #15
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Nice try, Wyoredman, I was just out there last week.

I saw more antelope in a 45 minute drive between Cheyenne and Laramie than I saw deer all last season here. Amazing and super cool looking animals. Definitely planning on getting out there to hunt, especially if my moving plans go through.
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Old May 13, 2012, 12:33 AM   #16
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Quote:
I saw more antelope in a 45 minute drive between Cheyenne and Laramie than I saw deer all last season here. Amazing and super cool looking animals. Definitely planning on getting out there to hunt, especially if my moving plans go through.
Those are decoys, deployed just to get non-residents to buy licenses/tags.
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Old May 13, 2012, 02:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Field dressing?
Is my number one thing I see a lot of hunters make a mistake of doing properly on pronghorn. It is hot during pronghorn season and and just the regular field dressing like they do during deer and elk season isn't going to cut it. You have to get the hide completely off of the animal as soon as possible, and get it into the cooler or the shade if you want venison that is good to eat.
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Old May 14, 2012, 10:07 PM   #18
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Antelope are curious critters - what we found to work well was a large piece of white cloth while hiding behind a clump of sage - waving it over your head will tend to bring them VERY close unless the wind changes

wrong things to do?? shoot it on the run or shortly after it has run - the meat will taste like the cow patty in the pasture- -better to glass and shoot it while slowly grazing or laying down

Cooking with teriyaki or similar always worked nicely, especially in a fondue. Shredding it and making tacos also worked well

Most antelope hunts are done in typically warm weather - at least in NV - so getting everything cooled down QUICKLY is paramount

have fun
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Old May 14, 2012, 10:18 PM   #19
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Flags work very well. Get a bright orange flag and plant it out in the open then back off about 200 yards. Often times the Antelope will come and check out the flag. Especially if they are not use to seeing flags.

Not real sporting but it does work.
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Old May 18, 2012, 11:49 PM   #20
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Know your strengths and practice your weaknesses until they are no longer weak.

This goes for spotting, stalking, range estimation and marksmanship. As far as guns go, a .30-30 can be just as effective as a .270, provided you taylor your hunt to play to it's strengths. Don't get too hung up on caliber, just learn to shoot it well out to 300 or even 400 yards, and learn what 300 yards of prairie looks like. Also, learn to get on target at 100 yards quickly, before he starts to run again.

Actually, here in MT we shoot a lot of speed goats on the run, but usually at less than 100yards. That is because the herds get bounced around a lot on opening day, and you are as likely to blunder into them with a pickup on a field road as you are to stalk up on one. It is a simple math problem. Once you know the proper lead, use the known approximate length of a goat, say 4ft, to measure your lead. While swinging your lead, deliberately press the trigger when the horizontal wire is on the animal.

Seriously though, DO NOT LEARN ON GAME ANIMALS: get a few old tires and some plywood. Make rolling targets with 10" centers and find a steep hill. Get them rolling about 15-20mph and shoot them with a .22 and SUB sonic ammo. The target is only 1/3 as fast as an antelope, but your ammo is 1/3 the speed of most big game rifles. The lead will be the same. Practice, practice, practice, out to NO MORE than about 100 yards. This shot CAN be mastered.
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Old May 19, 2012, 08:36 PM   #21
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Thats crap, there is no reason what so ever to shoot at a running antelope.

I've shot running boar (targets not animals), use to be good at it, I've taught shooting movers in sniper schools BUT I'd never shoot a running antelope or any other critter.

I don't care how many tires you shot, its not the same.

How many here can tell the difference between an antelope running 30 mph or 45 mph at 100 yards? I doubt any of us can, so what do we have.

At 45 MPH a critter is running 66.15 fps, at 30 its 44.1 fps. The time of flight of a 243 @ 3000 fps MV has a time of flight (TOF) of .1034.

So you have to lead the critter 6.615 if running 30 MPH or 4.41 if running 45 mph. That's two feet difference.

Can you judge 2 feet in front of a running antelope???? I highly doubt it, but if you're off, you have a wounded critter off to die a painful death.

Also when the critter jumps up and starts running, it takes a second to get up to speed, (suckers are quick), In that second can you tell if the animal is 100 or 110 or 90 yards away, I highly doubt it.

Again, there is no reason what so ever for shooting at a running antelope (or any other animals).

Antelope are majestic creatures and deserve fair chase and clean kills. Not having their legs shot off or gut shot by an unethical hunter who's too lazy to wait until they stop and start your stalk all over.
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Old May 19, 2012, 09:05 PM   #22
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A lot of good advice here. The reason the flag/hankerchief trick works is their eyesight is amazing but they're stupid as a stump. I've had to literally get out of my car wave my arms and yell from 10ft away to get them off of the road in front of me! I think they didn't realize I was a human while I was in the car.
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Old May 19, 2012, 09:10 PM   #23
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Yesterday afternoon I went to our club range to rebuild the target frames on our 25 yard pistol range.

This little doe antelope stood on the firing line for about 30 minutes watching me build the frames.

They are curious creatures.
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Old May 19, 2012, 09:57 PM   #24
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Wyoredman is dead on. I have seen too many Prairie Goats wasted because they were not properly cared for after the kill. You should skin and bone a Goat in hot Sept. weather pronto. I also wash the body cavity with warm 7-Up to clean body fluids from the animal. Goats have scent glands in the hind end that often expell musk when shot. Get this on you hands and it gets on the meat. I use rubber gloves and wash them before cutting up the meat. Antelope eat Sage Brush Hay fields or not. They must have Sage for their stomachs to digest properly. As for Areas I much prefer the Western Desert Public Lands over the private lands in Eastern Wyoming.

Oh yes as Wyoredman warned the Winter and the Wolves have killed off most of the Wyoming Goats.
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Old May 20, 2012, 12:55 PM   #25
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I'm definitely on board with not shooting at running goats. If you do the math (like Kraigwy's example), it shows that you have to make several very precise judgments in a split second. I'm sorry, but my brain can't calculate an exact range and speed that quickly. What my brain does calculate that quickly is, "I'll pass, and wait for one that's sleeping." (The meat will be better, anyway.)

I do make an exception, though: wounded animals. If you or some one you're hunting with manages to screw up a shot and wound an animal, you'd better stop them as soon as possible. In that case, I will shoot a running goat. (Not "shoot at", but shoot. If you're just lobbing bullets at them randomly, you shouldn't be there, anyway.)


The easiest solution to avoiding the "bouncing" herds on opening day is to not hunt opening day.
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