Yamaha Outdoors Tip of the Week - Mix It Up
By Bob Humphrey
There’s little question that the white-tailed deer is North America’s most popular and most pursued big game animal. Participation in pursuing whitetails exceeds that of all other species combined. But even the most dedicated whitetail hunter occasionally needs a change of pace. If you find yourself looking for a little distraction, here are a few suggestions.
Unique to our continent, they’re the fastest land animal in North America. Their eyesight is unrivaled among mammals. They are abundant in many parts of the west. Licenses and permits are usually available over the counter, at a reasonable price. And in many cases they probably represent the best odds for taking an animal that will qualify for the record books.
The two most popular hunting methods are spot-and-stalk and hunting from a blind overlooking a water hole. The former is preferred by gunners while the latter is the most popular among archers. Pronghorn typically occur in wide-open country, and may travel long distances, so some type of vehicle is strongly recommended for spot-and-stalk hunting. An ATV or Side-by-Side vehicle are best because you can cover rougher and more diverse terrain than in a conventional truck. For bowhunters, these off-road vehicles can get you to and from more remote (and less hunted) water holes.
Also unique to the Americas, the javelina is the equivalent of a New World pig. Though unrelated to Old World pigs - which were introduced to North America and are now common as both domestic livestock and feral game - javelinas resemble pigs in both form and function. They have poor eyesight, but a keen sense of smell, which they use to locate food in their arid southwestern habitat.
Hunting methods vary, with spot-and-stalk and stand hunting being the most popular. They’re often targets of opportunity, taken by hunters while pursuing other game, but represent a worthy challenge on their own. Because of their poorer eyesight (they can discern moving objects quite well) spot-and-stalk hunting is a viable alternative to both gun and bow hunters. In both cases however, you must be stealthy, and extremely mindful of the wind.
The only foreigner in our trio, Aoudad or Barbary sheep were introduced into the southwest and are now a prolific free-ranging game species. Being much more stocky - a mature ram can weigh over 300 pounds - They lack the blistering speed of the pronghorn, but have keen eyes and noses. They also prefer more rugged and uneven terrain, and are typically less abundant and more elusive than pronghorn.
The preferred hunting method for both gun and bow hunters is spot-and-stalk. The most effective method is to cruise accessible areas by ATV, using good optics to scan surrounding hills and canyons. Once a flock is located, riders dismount and pursue on foot, using terrain, cover and wind to mask their approach.
These are but three of the many other big game species you can pursue if you’re looking for a change of pace. And it should be noted that all three can be found in the same areas, and even on the same hunt.