Passive-Aggressive Pronghorns

You gotta know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em, when it comes to hunting antelope.

Having just returned from a pronghorn hunt plagued with inundated country, I quickly discovered that our blind setups overlooking water were going to be trying at best. My son and I came close with one buck aggressively defending a waterhole site from other bucks, but he never did give us an ethical shot to test our new Mathews bows. Realizing that waterholes were going to be a bit of a bummer, we switched to decoying to give us an advantage in our stalks.

From 20 years of decoying experience, I knew our faux pronghorn setups wouldn’t be as effective in late August as they would during the September pronghorn rut. Even so, we did get some action using Be The Decoy attire and a fake speed goat decoy.

We didn’t score on our first attempt, but we’ll be back. If you have an upcoming pronghorn hunt in the fog of the September rut, here are some tips to make your decoying attempts a rousing success.

  • Consider hunting with a partner. A plastic or photo decoy can flip, flop and blow away in the wind. A partner can help you stabilize the decoy and range the incoming buck at the same time. Plus, you might need help packing out a dead critter.
  • Stay out of sight. Yes you know that pronghorns have great eyesight—as good as your Nikons—but if they do see something suspicious, it radically drops their likelihood of coming to your decoy. Keep your butt low.
  • Move in close. But not too close. You need to be close because your satellite buck decoy is imitating an intruder. Get in a pronghorn buck’s space by sneaking to within 200 yards. If you get to within 100 yards or less, your sudden appearance might actually spook a herd. And refer back to point number two. Stay out of sight.
  • Raise the decoy without suspicion. Don’t just hoist the decoy up like raising a flag. Watch the herd, and when attention is elsewhere, slowly raise the decoy to imitate it coming over a hill. If you shoot it up fast it can also start security bells to ringing.
  • Shoot fast. Most bucks respond rather quickly if they’re in the fighting mindset. This means you have to be ready. You should practice drawing your bow horizontally from behind the decoy, raising up slowly but steadily, and shooting quickly. You’ll only get a few seconds to launch.
  • Bugle to bring them in. Lastly, pronghorn bugle. Yes, you heard right. Their bugle is a series of snorts that you can hear me imitate on a video blog on this site. Do a quick search. You can also peruse online resources to hear the sound, but learn it and practice it. On my August hunt I called in at least four bucks. You can do even better during the heat of the rut.

Got get them!

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