There are benefits to hunting deep in the backcountry, permeating remote wilderness and creeping into sweltering deserts. These advantages are psychological, strategic and financial. Out in the wilderness, off the grid, there’s still a place for the guy who likes to earn his trophy, rather than pay for it. You are going to spend a lot of time getting to where you need to hunt, so be sure you are packing the right gear and decoy setups to make the trip worthwhile in order to haul out a trophy.
Public Land Hot Spots for Antelope
You may already have an antelope tag for a particular state and unit, so you can skip this section and move on to what antelope decoys you need to pack or start scouting on Google Earth. If you do not have a tag yet, below are three locations where the application deadline for tags has not yet passed or there may be a chance to snatch up a leftover license.
Wyoming Antelope Hot Spots
Historically, Units 77 and 114 are two antelope hunting units with good public land access where leftover tags are available. Hunting pressure is low and annual hunter success is high (Unit 114 has a success rate hovering around 90 percent with hunters spending three and a half days in the field. Unit 77 has an average success rate in the 80 percentile with hunters spending nearly four days in the field). Both units offer thousands of acres of Hunter Management Areas and Walk In Hunting Areas.
Note: If you are not able to get a tag, reduced priced leftover tags go on sale June 22, 2017. Granted they will be areas where public land is limited, but if you can find patches and slivers of public lands bordered by private land, you stand a good chance of tagging an antelope. Your best bet will probably be unit 39 for a quality hunt with other areas to consider being units 25, 16 and 42.
Montana Antelope Hot Spots
Archers who purchase a 900 series license can get the jump on everyone else with a start date of August 15, two weeks before the other seasons open. It’s a great time to bust out the antelope hunting decoys on public land before the gun hunters show up. Also, gaining landowner permission to hunt the coveted private trophy grounds is easier when you are a bowhunter. Many landowners prefer hosting archery hunters over those using modern firearms.
Apply for a tag HERE and start scouting and researching best areas in the state now. All that is left to do then, is pack your antelope decoys.
Idaho Antelope Hot Spots
As long as you can live with the goal of 65- to 70-inch buck, Idaho is a great state for bowhunters looking for a tag late in the year.The deadline to apply was June 5, but you can check HERE periodically to check for any leftover or unclaimed tags.
Apply for units depending on the dates you want to bowhunt (August 15 - September 15 or September 10 - September 24). Idaho is a great state for hunters with the patience to sit by a waterhole or those wanting to try the ultimate bowhunting spot and stalk challenge. Click here for more Idaho antelope license info.
Antelope Decoy Tactics
Hunting pronghorns with a bow can be tough, even when using a decoy. Antelope are optically gifted and fast, which they have to be on the Great Plains where cover and camouflage are lacking. But there are some strategies a hunter can utilize to put the odds in his or her favor.
Whether the conditions of an antelope hunt call for spot-and-stalk methods or sitting in a blind over a waterhole, Montana Decoy’s line of antelope decoys will cover both approaches. The realistic 3D look, the packability and the poses of our decoys give bowhunter’s an edge against speed goats.
Use the Antelope Buck and Doe over a waterhole for luring big bucks in during the early season. Many waterhole hunters are hesitant to use a decoy because they believe it will raise flags to an already alert buck. However, in the early season, pronghorns are extremely aggressive as they try to grow their harems. Seeing an inferior buck with a potential mate will rile up the pronghorn as he approaches.
If you’re using the spot-and-stalk method, the Eichler Antelope decoy or Moo Cow provides all the cover you’ll need. The basic approach is to locate a target buck while glassing from a distance. Using the terrain to stalk within 200 or 300 yards. This is where the mobility of a Montana Decoy shines. The closer you can get without being detected, the better. Once in range, open the decoy up and wait - it will provide cover for you to kneel behind.
If the buck sees the decoy he should react quickly and start moving toward your position. If he fails to see it, try using an antelope challenge call to get his attention. When he is in range, draw back your bow under the cover of the decoy to get the shot off. The adrenaline rush you’ll experience is unrivaled.
Antelope are fun to hunt with a bow and will test your skills as a hunter. The odds of success are greater when decoys are used. There is no better feeling than closing the deal on a cagey old buck. Utilizing the mobility of a Montana Decoy will allow you to adapt on the fly and it’ll never be a burden in your pack.