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
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.