Bowhunting Pronghorns

Posted by: Dustin DeCroo on Jul 30, 2012
Page 2 of 3

Taking the Shot

When the speed goat slows down for a drink, it’s important to be prepared to take the shot because antelope don’t generally drink for very long as they don’t need a great deal of water to survive. If the buck presents a quality shot opportunity inside of your effective and confident shooting range----take it! Remember, a blind at a waterhole is designed to simply get the animal close enough for a shot. Just because it hasn’t come to the water, doesn’t mean you can’t shoot. For bowhunters with a limited number of days to hunt or looking to fill their tags quickly, the waterhole is an excellent choice.

Spot and Stalk

While hunting antelope over water is exciting and very successful, spot and stalk hunting for pronghorn is truly hard to beat. Stalking places the hunter in a one-on-one situation with arguably the best eyes in the animal world, in the most open terrain the country has to offer. It’s a game where you find out exactly what your stalking skills are made of, how long you can play the waiting game, and how much cactus you can deal with in your hands and knees. To some hunters, it is the ultimate spot and stalk challenge. If you’re willing to decrease your odds significantly and have your ego bruised on multiple occasions for the chance at one of the most self-gratifying archery hunts in the states, spot and stalk pronghorn is for you.

John Hermann Speed Goat 2011
Bowhunting.com Staff member John Hermann took this public land pronghorn on a DIY, spot and stalk hunt.


Spot and stalk hunting also gives the hunter the opportunity to take the hunt to the animal, unlike most whitetail hunting and hunting antelope over waterholes, where you have to wait for the game to come to you. One of the benefits of the spot and stalk method is that you can choose which buck (or does) you want to hunt. You can hunt to find one you like and then hunt for the kill.

Spot and Stalk Tips

There are a few very important things to keep in mind when you’re stalking antelope. First of all, many times the only way to approach an antelope without being seen is from directly "up wind". Don’t be afraid to attempt this, as antelope sometimes act like they don’t have noses. This isn’t to say that they won’t suddenly turn into a blazing white rump leading a trail of dust, but it is worth a shot in most instances. Second, if you find an antelope right at dark and can’t make a move on him before running out of light, don’t fret. Pronghorn are not crepuscular animals, meaning the majority of the movement is during daylight, not low light. What this means is that the next morning at first light, that buck should be very close to where you left him the night before. There is really no “best” way to go about a stalk, 95 percent of the time the “right” thing to do is totally situational. Don’t be afraid of blown stalks and don’t hang your head when you get busted because it happens to the best of the best… just make sure you learn from the experience and put the lessons learned to good use the next time an opportunity arises.

Realistic Expectations

The “trophy craze” that has escalated in recent years is an interesting thing. Basically, it gives people a standard that they feel is necessary to achieve, many times, on an animal they have never even seen. Thousands of hunters enter the western states with a “I want a 16 inch antelope” mindset when in reality they don’t have any idea where the “16 inches” even come from. Heading to an antelope hunt with unrealistic expectations only increases your odds of frustration and disappointment. Antelope are by far one of the most difficult animals to judge. It’s not uncommon for even the most seasoned of antelope hunting guides to occasionally misjudge a speed goat.

Sizing up your Goat

First of all, pronghorn have horns, not antlers (hence the name). They do shed the outer shell of the horn but it is made of hair, not bone, which classifies it as a horn. Antelope are scored in a manner that is similar to a deer, adding circumference, horn length and prong length to a final culmination. If you believe in “net” scoring, you can look up the deductions if you feel inclined. Many bowhunters are taking the “if it grows, it counts” approach, leaving the “nets” for fishing. The first measurement is the horn length which is measured from the base on the outside of the horn around the curl to the tip, similar to measuring the main beam of a whitetail. Pronghorn are scored using four circumference measurements: one at the base and one each at 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 of the horn length. For instance if your horn length was 14 inches, your circumference measurements will be the base, 3.5” up, 7” up and 10.5” up. If the third circumference measurement falls where the prong is coming off the horn, it must be taken directly above the prong. The final measurement is the prong. This is taken from the back of the horn to the tip of the prong. Adding these measurements for each horn will give you the gross score. The spread measurement does not count in the gross score.

Golf Course Antelope From Behind
Judging antelope from the back makes them look much larger than they probably are.

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1 Comment on "Bowhunting Pronghorns"

Re: Bowhunting Pronghorns #
Nice article. Well written with lots of good information for the first time hunter.
Posted by JGD on 8/19/2012 8:04:53 AM

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