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Old September 27, 2023, 08:19 AM   #1
ligonierbill
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Wyoming Pronghorn

I am thinking about this hunt for 2024. Have a couple preference points. Not looking to go cheap, although good value is always important. I used to live in SE Idaho, so I'm familiar with Wyoming, but I never tried for antelope.

What advice can you provide? Things to avoid. Best areas. That sort of thing. And if you have a favorite outfitter, let me know.
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Old September 27, 2023, 09:55 AM   #2
FrankenMauser
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WY has been mismanaging pronghorn for decades, and they were suffering severely.
This last winter dropped a cartoon anvil on the population from 45,000 feet and decimated many herds.
Fawn mortality was very high, including several units with 100% mortality in the western half of the state.
The state legislature still doesn't seem to care, or want to do anything about it.
We are watching the (rapid) approach to zero population across entire regions (starting before hard winters and droughts made things worse), and no one seems to care.

So, my advice is:
Wait for what natural recovery can occur under the current mismanagement.
Or, go to the eastern units, the mostly cultivated units, and pay someone to get access so you can shoot a big ol' buck in a grain field.


As for actually hunting, be capable of shooting in the wind, but don't fall into the trap of thinking that pronghorn can only be shot from 400+ yards.
If you can't get closer, you aren't trying or you're doing something wrong. It is exceedingly rare to end up in a situation where you simply cannot get closer, unless unlucky and you stack the odds against yourself to begin with -- like only giving yourself a day or two to hunt, hunting in a dead-flat unit, hunting at the end of the season when the animals have been chased for weeks already, and hunting at the end of the season when bucks are perched on high ground, having gathered up their harems, etc.

Go out when the bucks are in bachelor groups, and the does and fawns are scattered in very small groups. Watch and see what they're doing - how and where they are moving. Let the animals come to you. Don't chase them.
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Old September 27, 2023, 10:00 AM   #3
MarkCO
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I'm not sure the CO mismanagement has not been worse than WY, but I do miss hunting them. Had 2 tags a year in the 1980s, now it's hard to get even a doe tag in CO unless you hunt private land.

I'd ditto post #2...and get some practice in! I've crawled hundreds of yards through prickly pear and sage to get shots at them. Then had one follow me for a mile.
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Old September 27, 2023, 08:54 PM   #4
taylorce1
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My buddy filled one of his two tags yesterday. 127 yards with an iron sight .50 cal ML. He crawled across a green wheat field to close the gap. Second buck of this year, he killed one in UT two weeks ago at 300 yards with a 6.5X68.
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Old September 29, 2023, 10:52 AM   #5
ligonierbill
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I'm sorry to hear Wyoming's antelope have fallen on hard times. Thirty years ago, that wasn't the case. Nevertheless, I'll be there next year. More research to do.
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Old September 30, 2023, 01:39 AM   #6
FrankenMauser
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkCO
I've crawled hundreds of yards through prickly pear and sage to get shots at them. Then had one follow me for a mile.
Indeed.
I belly crawled through cactus for about 250 yards one year, to get the angle on a bedded herd at siesta time. Ended up being a 75 yd shot, because I just could not get the shot that I wanted without going over the top of the last little undulation in the terrain. I was in view, plain as day, crawling directly toward them for 15+ minutes, before I had to sit up and throw a rock to get the doe that I wanted to tag to sit up and turn a little to make absolutely certain that she did not have a black cheek patch (Wyoming "sex" regs suck sometimes).
A little bit of patience pays wonderfully.

Antelope are weird. Story time!

In 2010 or 2011, we were in the Big Sandy area, second to the last day of the hunt (for us). Since I pass on more shots than I take, I had one doe tag unfilled, but everyone else was tagged out. The whole family was there. My parents, my wife, all of my brothers and their wives, and all of my nieces and nephews.

We spotted a 'big' herd at about 450 yards, across the dry river (the Dry Sandy) with a bachelor group moving toward them -- about 600 yd from the herd and 300 yd from us, but needing to skirt a little hill that would bring the bachelor group very close (a conical moraine about ~40 ft high and ~200 feet at the near base). The herd was browsing slowly away and opening the distance, from us and the bachelor group.

Everyone started trying to get me to take a shot from the little knoll above our camp, maybe 25 feet higher and a ~425 yd shot, but I didn't want to. The wind was notable (~15 mph) but favorable, at 180 degrees relative, or close to it. But I wanted to get closer. The herd could already smell us (which I don't think matters much with does, but that's another subject) and didn't seem to care, so why not try?

I skirted inside and then through the tall sagebrush in a duck walk and dropped into the dry riverbed. I alternated between running, jogging, and walking, depending upon the footing and my proximity to the animals. The way that the dry river meandered meant that I had to cover over 1,200 yards to close that 450+ yard (and opening) gap to the herd.

Everyone was watching the stalk through binoculars.

On the close meanders, I would carefully crawl up and take a peek. Usually, everything was fine. The herd was browsing, and the bachelor group plodding along at a safe distance (thanks to the running and jogging portions of my stalk). More hoofing it.

I looked back occasionally, to see if any hand signals indicated that the herd had scattered. Everything was good.

And that is when things went sideways.
At a meander that I thought was at about 250 yards from the herd, and where I thought I was fairly well masked by the dense sagebrush (a mixture of 8-inch to 8-feet), I "popped" up onto the bank, rather than taking it slowly and very gently. Right across a bald patch of ground, were two young but determined bucks, now startled at watching me with every intent to spook and push the herd into the next county. They were still about 40-60 yards away. But I was way too close to pretend I didn't exist. My body was masked if I crouched, but they had clear line of sight to my shoulders, and head and neck; and more as I stood there like an idiot, trying to figure out what to do to salvage the stalk.

I did look back to the observers. They were frantically waving toward the near bucks and the rest of the bachelor group.

And then I remembered a few anecdotes about waving flags or hats, and having antelope relax and go back to normal - especially horny bucks. "I'm screwed either way. Why not?"
I took off my blaze-orange hat, raised it to arm's length, and slowly waved it back and forth a few times. Then I ripped it down, below the sagebrush as I ducked down to hide my whole body. I popped back up, like a bobbing cork. But I had the hat held as far out as I could get it, to my right side. I flicked and fluttered and flapped it around at arm's length, while ducking and popping, up and down. In the moment, I was just trying to be weird and not a predator. Looking back, it was very much not, but somewhat inspired by a sage grouse mating dance.

I looked back for direction and got something along the lines of, "what the 'frog' are you doing?!?!"

Eventually, the bucks dropped their heads, in turn, and started grazing again. So, I took the opportunity to shed the sweater that I was wearing (and now overheating in). I took it off in plain sight of the bucks - one hand still waving the hat for effect - and placed the sweater on the tallest sagebrush within reach, in a manner that allowed one sleeve to blow in the wind. I redonned the hat, dropped down the bank, and moved as quickly and quietly as I could to the next close meander of the river. This was my last chance if they hadn't moved. The next close meander was beyond them about 100 yards and then the dry river bed went the wrong direction, entirely.

I crawled over the bank at the next close meander, through the bottom of a thicket of dense and tall sagebrush, and got as exposed as I thought I could without spooking anything. The bucks were close. The herd was as close as I was going to get. I stashed my binos, water (yep, had some with me), and pretty much everything in the brush behind me. I had my rifle, shooting sticks, and "ammo wallet", and that was it.

Just some stupid bobbing and weaving, and flailing of a hat. I was in position and no animals cared.

--

I did get my shot. I could not get closer without blowing the herd into no man's land. One of the few times that I just could not get closer than "~200 yards" - to these particular animals - but I was comfortable with the shot. Wind still 180 degrees relative. Seated, off shooting sticks, 205 yards (according to after action measurements but 215 yd by my memory), I chucked a 180 gr Norma Vulcan just a hair low, between the eyes of the doe, from my Marlin XL7 in .30-06. It impacted the top-middle of the snout/nose, and exited the base of the skull. DRT. One shot. (Did not recover the bullet, sadly -- for any Vulcan I have ever used on game, in fact. Basically Nosler Partition performance.)
I don't advocate for head shots. But it was a doe, I knew the rifle and load, and I knew it would do what I needed it to.

The observers reported the incident as "like spotting artillery."
"We were watching, and then a doe dropped out of nowhere. Then we heard the 'bang-thwop'."

--
I just remembered. It was 2011, the year that my wife messed up my truck. Not a "woman thing", but a miscommunication and lack of understanding of "the big picture" thing. I obviously remember, but don't hold it against her. She was doing what she thought was best, without having been made to understand how certain other parts of the operation worked.
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Old October 17, 2023, 10:42 PM   #7
Northslope Nimrod
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Make sure the antelope are still alive in the area you are going. The antelope population near Evanston was depleted by over 90% from last winter.
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Old October 19, 2023, 05:23 PM   #8
Paul B.
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I've only done one antelope hunt and that was back in 2009 on a ranch near Logan New Mexico. Being totally frustrated at putting in for tags over quite a few years and never drawing once I did a guided private land hunt out of state. After reading that long shots were the rule for years I took a Winchester M70 XTR that was extremely accurate with the 150 gr. Sierra Game King and did some longer range practice prior to the hunt. Come opening day we spotted a nice head about a half mile away. I wasn't looking for something to go in the BC book but just a typical representative of the species. We did what turned out to be a very simple stalk and I shot my "goat" at roughly 75 yards. I can at least say I did it and in the month of August the antelope were not spooky at all. It probably was one of the easiest hunts I've ever done.
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