SHOOT THE GAP FOR PRONGHORNS
The pronghorn rut might be the most underappreciated hunting experience in North America. If a big buck takes a break from chasing does at 50 mph, it’s because he’s seen another buck that needs a beating. Antelope take their loving seriously.
The best activity is from midSeptember through early October, which coincides with many states’ muzzleloader and rifle openers.
It’s also one of my favorite times to hunt with a bow. Getting within range of a buck during the rut can be a challenge. But with so many animals on the move, you can narrow the odds by taking a play from the whitetail hunter’s handbook.
1. Find an Opening
Antelope do not like to cross fences. You’ll sometimes see a buck squeeze under barbed wire, but he’s just as likely to run alongside it for a mile until he finds an easier crossing. Fence gaps are deadly ambush points. Set a trail camera in a gap to see if good bucks are using it, or simply glass from a distance. The ideal scenario has small herds on both sides of the gap. Does will meander back and forth, and bucks on both sides will inevitably see and challenge one another.
2. Lie in Wait
Rifle hunters should set up within a couple hundred yards of the gap for a shot. Lie prone next to some cover, such as a yucca or two, and keep still. If you’re hunting with an open-sighted muzzleloader or a bow, erect a pop-up blind 30 to 50 yards from the fence gap. Though antelope use their eyes far more than their noses, they’ll spook if they smell you. So keep the wind in your favor as much as you can.
3. Run a Fake
If you’re patient and there are antelope around, you can almost count on getting a shot at the fence gap. But you’ll need to stretch or scratch something at some point during your wait, and that’s probably when a buck you haven’t seen will catch you moving. A pop-up Montana Decoy weighs next to nothing and can be deployed in a second or two (just be careful and check regs during firearms season). A deke might save you from being busted—and if you’re lucky, bring your buck in on the run.
If a pronghorn buck takes a break from chasing does at 50 mph, it’s because he’s seen another buck that needs a beating.
Fake Out A hunter glasses from behind a pronghorn buck decoy.