By Bob Humphrey
Last month I talked about tactics for decoying pronghorns. But that’s not the only method for duping these keen-eyed prairie speedsters, or for that matter the easiest. In terms of effort expended, the easiest by far is sitting over a waterhole. And for a bowhunter, it’s also the most productive. What follows are a few tips to improve your odds.
1) Set your blinds well in advance of your hunt. This gives speed goats time to become accustomed to them. A couple years ago I arrived on a Montana hunt the day the guide put out our blinds. For the next three days all hunters reported the same thing. The pronghorn would
approach waterholes only to within a hundred yards or so, stopping frequently to stare at the blinds before eventually heading off to other waterholes without blinds. The year before I hunted a different outfit where the blinds had been out weeks ahead of our hunt, and the goats never hesitated coming to our waterholes.
2) Hunt the heat. Hunt all day if you like, but your best odds will come during the hottest part of the day. Pronghorn are much more diurnal than whitetails, moving mostly during daylight hours. This makes dawn and dusk particularly important feeding times. As the sun and the temperatures climb, goats become less active and head for water.
3) Approach carefully. The one advantage to all-day hunting is you can approach in the dark, before the sharpest mammalian eyes on the continent can spot you. If you opt for hunting just peak times, you’re far better off having someone drive you to your blind than walking in. Pronghorn aren’t nearly as bothered by the sight of ranch vehicles and ATVs as by the sight of a human on foot.
4) Whether you hunt all day, or just mid-day, make yourself comfortable. Bring a comfortable chair with a seat cushion and a solid back. Make sure you have plenty of water to stay hydrated, and food to stave off hunger. Be very conscientious about odor control and wear a base layer of moisture-wicking material.
5) Stay Alert. It’s easy, and tempting to nod off during the heat of the day when the action is slow. But things can happen fast around waterholes. Antelope are the fastest land animals in North America, and once they make up their mind to visit a certain waterhole, they waste little time getting there, or sticking around when their belly is full.