Four tips to consider when hunting antelope this year
Antelope hunting is one of my favorite hunts to go on year after year for three main reasons. The first reason is that antelope habitat is typically flat or low rolling elevations. After months of hiking up and down steep mountains, it is a much needed break for my feet and legs. Secondly, antelope hunting is a hunt with long-range visibility, which translates to seeing antelope throughout the day, keeping morale up. Finally, antelope hunting often yields the highest success rates for my hunting partners and me, which makes for a fun camp. For these reasons, I always schedule and plan at least one or two antelope hunts a year. Though it is one of our highest successful hunts, antelope hunting is not a walk in the park and requires some skills and preparation prior to it. These four tips will help you be prepared and find success the next time you choose to chase the fastest animal in North America.
A well-planned stalk is crucial
Though a hunter might be able to see antelope all day long during their hunt, getting within range is difficult. This is why a well-planned stalk is crucial. When you see a buck or doe that you desire to try and harvest, look at the direction they are headed, seek out terrain breaks or cover that may help you get there undetected. Your goal should be to stay out of site as long as possible to get within range. Antelope can run over 55 mph, but they can walk fast, too. Try to be where they will be instead of hiking to their current location. Remember: they rely heavily on their eyes, but seem to have trouble determining your distance from them, especially at a long distance. If possible, stay in a straight line facing the antelope until you get to the cover you will use for the stalk.
A long shot is probable
Though hunters across the West hunt antelope with bows and muzzleloaders, it is vital to understand that a long shot should be the expectation, depending on the terrain and cover available—the less terrain differences and cover, the longer the shot expectations. Typically, most of the antelope I shoot with a rifle are 300 to 400 yards out. This means that you not only need to be proficient with your rifle, but you also need to have equipment that allows you to range the antelope. Antelope can be extremely difficult to range without a ton of cover and terrain differences. Try to use a bipod for ranging to get the most steady and accurate results. When it comes to bowhunting, you might see shots around that 50-60 yard mark if you’re spot and stalk hunting, obviously much closer if you’re using a ground blind over a water source.
Earlier in the season, the better
Though antelope are very wary critters, I always find my best luck earlier in the season. This is true in that early-season antelope have experienced less pressure, especially from rifle hunters, and will often let you get within gun range without spooking. As they receive more pressure and hear more gunshots, they will be less likely to allow you to get into rifle range, often spooking at 800 to 900 yards, making an open country stalk impossible. When this happens, you may need to change your strategies if you wish to succeed. Sometimes, this means waiting in one place for antelope to come into range and, other times, you must stay low and out of sight to avoid spooking your quarry.
When in doubt, stay put
Whenever you see antelope throughout the day, but struggle to get them into range, staying in one location may be worth your time. Antelope are fast movers, especially during rifle season when hunting pressure is high. Find a pinch point near a fence opening, a water hole or a crossing that allows you to wait for the buck to come to you.
Most antelope hunters spot from the road and then make a plan, so if you can use GOHUNT Maps to locate the farthest areas from the roads, you may find antelope heading to you instead of you having to stalk them. Remember to bring some snacks and drinks to help you stay put for longer. If you are not seeing any antelope in a day hunt, move to a different area in your hunting unit and try again.
Antelope hunting is one of my favorite hunts each year and could be yours, too. They are a blast to chase with any weapon, but my favorite is rifle season. You will not regret it if you can carve out some time in your western hunting schedule to chase these fast and wary critters. You can hunt them all day long and should see several groups a day if you are in a good area. Use these tips to get you close enough for a shot, but make sure you are proficient with your weapon and you will have an excellent chance to harvest an antelope this fall.