For the past several months, hunting season has been on the minds of many of us. Well, if you are an antelope hunter, the time has come for the preparation and practice to pay off! South Dakota’s antelope herd has been hit hard in recent years by both harsh winters and predation. Coyote populations are outrageous right now and the “speed goats” have felt the effect.
The Department of Game, Fish, & Parks recently published their 2013 population distribution map showing where the highest densities of antelope can be found. As can be expected, the highest densities can be found in the westernmost portion of the state. However, that does not mean that excellent opportunities cannot be found in other parts of the state. It just might mean that you will have a much harder time finding access to land that holds antelope, but if you do, it will be very much so worth it.
Here’s 3 quick tips to help you find success while pursuing the fastest land animal in North America, this fall.
For anyone who has ever hunted pronghorn before, you know that water can be a speed goat magnet. If the temperature is hot and the antelope are rutting, the will most certainly be in dire need of water. Setting up a ground blind or laying along a water source can provide you with an excellent opportunity to harvest an animal. However, not all water sources are created equal. Antelope primarily live in pastured areas and grassland terrains. Sometimes this means that there may be several water sources within a short distance of each other, depending on how the rancher has their system set up. Look for water sources that aren’t green or algae filled, because if there is better water nearby, the animals will surely be using that. It sounds simple, but if you come across a water source, you must look around to see if antelope are even using it. Look for tracks around it, because if cattle are the only creatures visiting the water, you would be wasting your time by setting up there.
Use Your Feet
If you are hunting public land, it might be necessary to hike in three, four, maybe even five miles to get away from roads and other hunters. Antelope might let you get away with a little bit more motion than a wary whitetail, but they aren’t going to let you fumble around too long. If where you are hunting is heavily pressured, they will certainly change their habits a little and alter their patterns. This tip can often times make it seem like antelope hunting is too much work. However, if you follow the next piece of advice I have to offer, then you can save a little wear and tear on your feet.
You Have Eyes, Use Them!
Having a great pair of optics is critical to saving yourself time and energy stalking antelope that you later could decide not to harvest. Be careful though, as mid day glassing can be effected greatly by the heat waves that the plains often have. The waves can make a pronghorn look like his horns are much more massive than they might actually be. With this said, the best times of the day to glass are earlier in the morning and later on in the evening.
You may have heard these tips before, but that is simply because these are easy to overlook when the season comes around. On behalf of the entire Examiner.com team, we wish you a safe and successful season this fall!For the past several months, hunting season has been on the minds of many of us.