by Chris Auch
Sometimes trial and error are the quickest way to success, but being prepared for the hunt can shorten the amount of time it takes to be successful. Bowhunting Antelope has proven to be my most stressful and depressing hunting experience to date. Up until 2014 I had used my longbow to hunt and harvest numerous antelope, but it took me 3 hard years of hunting to figure out how to do it with a little more ease. Here I will let you in on a few of the tools that I would suggest bringing out west to hunt these speedgoats. These are the common overlooked items for antelope hunting.
Dress for Success
Most archery hunts start anywhere from mid-august to the first of September. The weather is typically hot and dry with an occasional afternoon thunderstorm. Warm weather clothing that can wick away your moisture and sweat is a must as long sits in a ground blind can be brutal. When setting out on foot, I like camo that is light in color and has a dull appearance. Pick a camo that works for you and the terrain that you’re hunting. Rarely does one pattern fit all scenarios.
Lightweight leather boots work great for keeping the cactus out, although my feet do get a little hot on long hikes and stalks. Some spot-n-stalk hunters will actually wear tennis shoes to keep comfy for long periods of time on their feet.
Whether it’s backcountry boots, or gym shoes, the key is to keep your feet comfortable for long hikes and protected from the elements you’ll encounter in antelope country.
Let’s be honest. Antelope hunting is tough. And when you chase them with a bow, you’re attempting to do what many would say is nearly impossible. Antelope hunting in the wide open prairie creates a huge challenge due to an antelope’s incredibly keen eyesight. It’s no secret that one of the best ways to kill an antelope with your bow is ambush him at a waterhole. But you got to keep in mind that antelope are very sharp. They are quick to shy away from a “fresh blind” that they’ve not encountered before. Same day sets with ground blinds often result in spooked game. When possible, put your blind in place well in advance to give the local herd a chance to grow comfortable with your hide.
One of the best solutions for a quick hunt or same day set is to use a hay bale blind. Antelope do not spook from the natural look of the bale blind. It’s a natural presentation that is effective even when there are no other hay bales in the field. The Outfitter hay bale blind from Redneck Blinds is the perfect answer to wary antelope when an ambush is your tactic. The Redneck bale blind is strong, lightweight, easy to move, and can be left outside all season long under the harshest conditions. A noisy blind that blows around or flaps in the wind is a deal breaker. The strong metal frame of the Redneck bale blind is built to withstand the harsh winds that are common in antelope country.
A great tool that I now take everywhere with me, and not just during hunting season, is the Bowsmith tool from Real Avid. It has everything you need to do some quick repairs on equipment in the field. It’s a great solution for when things break down or get ugly miles away from the pro-shop. Plus the pliers work well for pulling cactus out of your knees.
A hard case for your bow is always a good idea to keep your bow from bouncing around in the back of the truck, 4-wheeler, or side by side. A few years ago I had a drop away rest malfunction due to dust. I had to use the bow tool to take the rest apart, clean, and oil up just so it would raise and lower like it should. Sight pins can also take a lot of abuse when it comes to rough rides across antelope country. Keep your bow in a case and save yourself the worry.
Crawling for critters with a decoy is the rage these days, and the same opportunity can be found when hunting for antelope with a cool decoy from Be the Decoy. The company’s SpeedGoat hat is designed to get you within bow range of antelope. Even in the early season, when antelope aren’t rutting, the SpeedGoat hat holds the bucks attention, allowing you to crawl within range for the shot.
You’ll also want to make sure that you have a quality cooler close by to store meat when success comes your way. Antelope meat can spoil about as quick as any big game animal in the woods. Quick butcher work is a must. Get the meat off the bone and in a good cooler with ice to make sure you properly handle what can be some of the tastiest meat of the season.
Antelope season ushers in the arrival of another hunting season. It’s a great time to be back in the field. Just be sure you have the tools for success as you head west in search of one of the wariest game animals in the west.