Am­bush An­te­lope on the Edge

One of the best ways to tag an an­te­lope on pub­lic land is to hunt the bor­der of pri­vate land

Outdoor Life - - WILD AMERICA - By Ron Spomer

Al­falfa, wheat, and other crop fields on pri­vate land might hold herds of pronghorns for days at a time. But even­tu­ally pronghorn bucks cross back onto pub­lic land, giv­ing the rest of us a chance. Here’s how to be ready when they do.

Find the Cross­ing

Scout early, even if that means burn­ing va­ca­tion days be­fore the sea­son opens. What you learn could put you in per­fect po­si­tion to in­ter­cept the area’s big­gest buck the minute the hunt opens. Pronghorns min­gle, chase, and even­tu­ally cross fences onto pub­lic land. Iden­tify their fa­vorite cross­ings and note what time of day the an­te­lope hit them. They usu­ally use a low spot for crawl­ing un­der fences (they don’t jump over fences like deer do). Con­sider that few pri­vate lands go un­hunted. Where will ranch hun­ters ap­proach from? And more im­por­tant, an­tic­i­pate where pronghorns will flee to.

Make the Move

If hunting pres­sure doesn’t push bucks onto pub­lic land, thirst likely will. Many pri­vate fields don’t have wa­ter, but pub­lic lands, set up for cat­tle grazing, usu­ally have ponds and pools— an­te­lope will travel a mile or more from pri­vate fields to find th­ese wa­ter sources. If you find wa­ter­ing holes with lots of an­te­lope sign, set up along a trail or at the wa­ter source it­self. The rut gets bucks mov­ing too. From Au­gust through mid-oc­to­ber, bucks main­tain ter­ri­to­rial bound­aries by mak­ing scrapes, scent-mark­ing weeds with their oily cheek patches, and snort­call­ing while dis­play­ing atop hills and ridges. Watch a pre­sea­son buck all day and you’ll have him pat­terned for when it’s time to hunt. If all else fails, lure the buck off pri­vate ground with a mix of call­ing and flash­ing a buck or doe de­coy. I’ve seen pronghorns charge a half-mile to con­front an in­ter­loper.

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