Be ready to shoot to 300 plus yards. Be sure to bring good Binos and most important is a range finder. I personally have a very difficult time ranging pronghorns because they live in such wide open areas.
This was one of the first comments and for the area we hunted couldn't be more true. I had shot opportunities at 330, 443, 509 and 725. The yardage out here was so surprising. I am usually a pretty good judge but the terrain is so rolling, what looks like it's right there
can be much further due to hidden ground. There is little for reference! It took me two days to adjust to that. I'd think something was 2-250, no it was 320. 550? No, 700. 900? Nope, 1180. It piled up in a hurry. You can see forever out here!
Remember that their eyesight is like yours except zoomed in two miles while looking through a pair of 10x42s simultaneously, whilst living in areas with little to no cover. On the other hand, they are VERY curious, I've seen one come in on a rope from 500yds to 80 just by my friend waving a bandana over his head. I'm not a pro, but I've shot 3-4 and they are a blast to chase around. Have fun, shoot straight!
Again highly accurate, even understated. Everything out there was 15" tall or less. Even sitting on the ground you're 2-2.5x taller than anything else. If there's nothing to break up your outline they WILL see you. Standing or walking? They're watching you from 1200+ at times. Their eyesight is NUTS! They also seem to be very aware of things that are out of place, even if they haven't really 'seen' you.
I would have a bipod also on my rifle or have shooting sticks.
I had a 9-13" Harris as well as my new Vanguard tripod. Both very useful and I used the tripod to take mine.
On to the story. Might be TL;DR but I'm going to share.
I hunted nearly all day both Saturday and Sunday and saw 40-50 or more each day. We took off during the heat of the day but were at it most of the time. Typically we sort of stand hunted by finding good spots to lay in wait and glassing, glassing, glassing.
Early Saturday a couple of coyotes started howling and made advances on a group of 6 bucks I'd been watching since daylight at ~800 yards. They kind of worked around them for 20-30 minutes, making feints and harassing them. Then the bucks seemed to remember they had headgear and were bigger, so they grouped up and began going at the yotes like Cape buffalo after lions. The coyotes retreated a good distance and finally drifted off. They proceeded to come around in my wind and started howling and yipping. I ranged one at 410 but by the time I got the rifle on the tripod he had drifted more than I realized. I sent one his way and blew up a rock right under him. He stood there in a shower of rock particles for a second before deciding to get out of Dodge. I ranged the rock at 466 after he left. The shot had been right on for the lungs but the extra yardage saved his life. LO had said to shoot them if possible.
Being suppressed the shot had little affect; I had antelope around in 15-20 minutes. A great buck working a hot doe out of a herd came off a point 509 yards north of me. I saw him coming and was set up but when he cleared, he was walking fast. He took 2-3 steps in clear view but then broke into a run after his girlfriend and herd and was out of there to the west. But wait! The herd curled south. They're running up the backside of a ridge in front of me! After several minutes a small buck comes over the ridge towards me at 300 yards. Then a doe, then three more. I set up the rifle; he's going to come out perfectly! ... ... .... Where's my buck? Any second!... .... ... Crickets. I come up off the rifle and look over the ridge at the next. The herd had split when they were out of my sight, the hot doe went west, and my trophy is now 900 yards further out than he could have been. RATS!
No worries, though, here come some more! I'm glassing and waiting, and two bucks come from the west where the herd was and bed down at 1000 yards on the side of a hill. I watch them for a while; it seems like one is maybe ~13". Its getting hot-I decide a closer look is necessary and then I'll call it a morning. I slide down the hill in front of me and navigate a dry ravine and head up the ridge. As I near the top, even though it's rocky I'm going hands and knees. I reach the summit and both bucks are still bedded. I've cut nearly 400 yards off but they're still ~600. I've got no outs-rocks everywhere. I glass the buck-he's marginal but let's see what will work. I raise up to a hunched-over bending position and begin to slowly walk somewhat towards him. I'm angling a bit but it will cut the distance. I make 50 yards and he alerts and stands up. I wait but then walk again, and so does he. Another 100 yards but he won't let me close the distance. The smaller buck, who was further away, decides to leave the country, and his departure convinces mine to leave too. I pack it all up and head to HQ to get out of the heat for a bit.
Saturday evening was slow until 7pm. Sadly, I let a 14"+ with great prongs get by me just before last light. I was facing north, and he came from the west, right out of the setting sun. Even so I should have seen him but didn't. He got south of me and I finally saw him at 330 yards. I was sitting by a cattle panel; when I went prone, I couldn't get over the weeds. Slightly panicking, I STUPIDLY stood up thinking I could rest on the panel! Nope, it was a touch wobbly and he spotted me almost immediately and ran out to 407. He 'barked' at me and hid behind some weeds over the edge of a ridge while showing me just his head. I was a poor hunter.
Sunday morning found me back at the cattle panel. A nice 15" buck comes from the east at 725 yards and I contemplate a naked stalk. He beds down at 7:30, about 500 yards from a herd with a smaller buck. The smaller buck takes offense and walks all the way from the herd and pushes him out of his bed. Let's dance! They both pin their ears back and fuzz up and walk parallel to each other about 10' apart for 50 yards. They then faced each other, walked forward and crossed over so the left was right and right was left, and walked parallel another 50 yards while glaring at each other. The smaller buck eventually pushed the larger 300-400 yards further away from the herd.
About an hour later I get to see two bucks fight on the side of a mountain! They butted and pushed and butted some more. It was really neat. They were 1200 yards north of me, but the 10x42s showed them very clearly.
The entire time there is a herd of about 20 coming and going around this mountain. Five does break off southwest but eventually come back southeast and come by me at 125 yards. I didn't move and they just kept going. There is another coyote in the area; he pops up a couple of times at 190-400 but I just watched him today. There is another hunter to my southwest and we text about the coyote-he's seen him too.
A bit later, 500 yards west, I see a head just above the weeds. I quickly glass it-it appears to be a small buck? I only get a quick view and then it's gone. I text the other hunter but hear nothing. About fifteen minutes later he's there, now at about 300 yards and looks to be much better than I thought, around 13". He's still in the weeds to me and is gone south shortly. Five minutes later, BLAM! I soon get a text that says 'You mean MY small buck?' Woo hoo, we have one down! We tag him up and head into camp for lunch and processing.
Sunday evening, I’m now the last hunter in camp. I talk to the LO, he says ‘It’s all you, go where you’d like!’ I pick an area with some of everything-ridges, plateau, and water. I have a single doe come and hang out-she eats, drinks, gets to 100 yards but has no friends. She drifts away after an hour. Later, a buck works a ridge to my north at 1100 yards but doesn’t come my way. Even at that distance he’s a winner. Unfortunately, I have no way of stalking him. The sun works westward-I decide to leave out early and glass my way to the truck. No luck, there just isn’t much happening tonight.
Two days down, one to go, and I’ll probably need to head out by 1-2pm since I didn’t take Tuesday off work (dummy). Tag soup is becoming a definite possibility. I visit with the LO; he says ‘You’ve been everywhere but the back pasture-we’ve saved that up till now but it’s a hard hunt. Fairly flat and no cover except a fence post or this small, 100-year-old rock hooch built by some sheepherders.’ I get him to show me on the map but I go to bed with no decision.
4:30 comes pretty early Monday morning. I dress quickly-the successful hunter from Indiana is up too and packing to leave by 6. We exchange pleasantries and I start the truck at 5:03.
My mind is racing-where do I go? First gate, no decision. Second, same. It's about 20 minutes to the back of the place. Third gate-well, now you either go north to the cattle-panel area or west to the unexplored. You know me, I like comfortable. Every time I’ve been at the panel, I’ve seen something. But the west is calling. But…
Good thing, I’m plenty early (I like to be early). I sit in the truck. North or west? North or west
? Tick tock! CHOOSE!
You know what? Let’s flip! I find a quarter in the armrest and decide west is heads, north is tails. The coin says Heads. New country!
I park and start walking. I’ve memorized the map and head northwest towards the ‘hooch’. In the dim light I can see the first landmark, a rock-pile cornerstone about 700 yards from the truck.
I keep walking. The hooch should be just about here. Still going northwest. Walk, look, walk, look. Walk.
Time check, 5:52, Its still pre-dawn but legal to shoot since 5:46. Where’s the hooch? It ought to be right here! I glass with the rangefinder, no hooch. I can see the boundary fence 500 yards to the north, the eastern cross-fence 400 yards away as well. I should be standing right on it? AM I IN THE RIGHT SPOT????
SNORT! I glance over my shoulder southwest. 12 eyes are staring at me from about 200 yards. I’m over the edge of a slight ridge and six pronghorn bucks are staring over the weeds down at me. Apparently, I am very much in the spot I am supposed to be in, over 1200 yards from the truck in a pasture I’ve never seen, and I’ve walked nearly into the middle of some previously bedded pronghorn bucks.
I slowly kneel while deciding what to do. I pull the rangefinder and look at them-it’s the six bucks from the first day, the 'coyote' bucks. One of the bucks I’d thought a ‘marginal shooter’ from over 1000 yards away is now at 200 on the morning of the last day. Looking east into the sun and down the hill, they can’t decide what I am. They step towards me! Still kneeling, all I can see is heads over the weeds.
I get a plan. I reach over my shoulder and pull the tripod off my pack. I lay it on the ground and quickly extend it all the way and set the legs about as far apart as I think necessary. As they watch I put it upright and make sure the feet plant. The Tikka CTR unslings from my shoulder and I dial .4 for 200. I smoothly stand and put it right in the V and the bucks are in my view as I draw down.
Only problem, they’re facing me and all in a group. The wide one, the only one longer than 8-9”, is in the middle. I wait, one moves. The leader turns but one steps behind him. He clears but then another blocks. They’re going to bust! They finally clear, the sight picture is ready, the safety comes off and the rifle recoils on its own. Flame fills the scope.
I come down and they’re all running! What? Did I miss? At 198 yards, I missed?
The group slows after 100 yards. They come to a halt, now only five, and look back for the leader. The 143gr ELD-X had taken him through the top of the lungs and just touched the bottom of the spine. He hadn’t run; he’d gone straight down, lost in the recoil.
I had taken my first pronghorn.