the BEST Trophy Pronghorn Antelope bowhunting tactics

Bowhunting Trophy Pronghorn Antelope, what's the best tactic?

Bowhunting Trophy Pronghorn Antelope, so what’s the best tactic?

Almost every TV show or article says, “Sitting Water”. 

Really??? Man, I disagree, especially in the Southwest.

Why???  the Monsoon!

The Monsoon produces 3/4 of the Southwest’s total rainfall during just a couple of months.   It’s the only time of year water is generally not that scarce in Arizona & New Mexico.   Typically, August is the most active Monsoon month and that’s when you will be bowhunting pronghorn antelope.

4 Archery Pronghorn Antelope tags and I was blessed to kill 3 P&Y qualifying bucks, all at less than 35 yards.  

So what is the BEST trophy pronghorn antelope bowhunting tactic?

Whatever works!

Yup, whatever freaking works.

A little back story…

A decade ago, I drew a tag & so did a friend.  My friend had killed a good buck on the first day of his only other antelope hunt, while hunting off of water, so that’s what he wanted to do on this hunt.

Well, what showed up???  3 inches of rain in just 2 weeks!

My friend decided he wasn’t going to hunt, until it dried out.  I had the time off work and there was NO damn way I was not going to hunt just because I couldn’t sit water.  Long story short, I ended up killing an 80″ double prong buck, while my mom filmed the hunt.  Yes, my MOM filmed the hunt.

My friend, well he still hasn’t killed another pronghorn antelope with his bow.

Craig Steele holding his 80" buck from 2003.

Craig Steele holding his 80″ buck from 2003.

Adapt or stay home.  

I am not a SUPER hunter, but too many guys are not willing to adapt.  They want the hunt to be perfect and they can’t handle failure or a change of plans.  I am here to tell you, if you want to Consistently kill trophy pronghorn antelope with a bow, get use to failure and adapting.

Bowhunting pronghorn antelope is a mental game.  Many times you are hunting in temperatures which will be near triple digits, so you must stay mentally tough and physically prepared.  You are typically hunting ALL day as well, so you have to pace yourself.

What’s my most successful tactic?

For me, it’s what I call, SPOT-STALK and WAIT.

If you are hunting a herd buck, he is generally tough to get to, because of all the eyes, so you have to be patient.  99% of the time, we as hunters get too impatient and we try to make something happen too quickly.  Generally, it is rare for a really big buck to bed in good place to spot and stalk with a bow.  This is why I call it, spot-stalk and WAIT!

In the below video, my sister & I hang close to a herd buck during blazing hot temperatures. We stayed patient and he finally came into bow range while chasing a small buck off. Keep in mind, my sister wasn’t a physical specimen, but she trusted I knew what I was doing, so this gave her the confidence to stay mentally tough.

Bring sunblock & chap-stick!

I prefer to buy time and just hang close.  Sometimes you will do this for days, but eventually you will see an opportunity and something good will happen.  Many times, another buck will lure the herd buck away and all you have to do is set-up in his path.

Below is video example of getting close to over 20 head of pronghorn antelope and just hanging with them.  The hunter missed, but we got a great shot opportunity when most would say it was impossible.

Terrain & cover helps!  

Some areas are just not good areas to spot and stalk pronghorn antelope.   The less cover you have, the more stealthy and patient you must be.  It’s POSSIBLE, but you have to be extremely patient and you must overuse every piece of ground cover you have.  Remember, your hunt is several days long, not 1 stalk, so hang tight.

My thoughts on Decoys

Decoying does work, but not every time.  I typically like to use it as a last resort, but it just depends on the situation.  Antelope bucks can get very aggressive during the rut, but often, I believe they come into a decoy because of curiosity.  They simply see a little flash and they just can’t help it, so they come.

Again, using a decoy is something I never rule out.  It’s something, I and many others have done with success, but it’s not my personal #1.  I have also never really decoyed in a real big buck, but I am not saying it’s impossible.

Patrick had a really bad foot and we got to within bow range of this buck, before using a decoy to stop him.

Patrick had a broken ankle on his hunt, but we got close, before using a decoy to lure him closer.

Sitting Water

I personally HATE sitting water on my own hunts, because I feel limited to whatever bucks come into the water.  I also believe in my own abilities and have the past experience to understand I just have to keep grinding.  Eventually, I will get my shot and hopefully I place it right be hind the front shoulder.

Sitting water under the RIGHT conditions can be very effective, in fact probably the most effective if you just want to kill a buck.  When it is dry and you have burning temps, the pronghorn have to water, so it’s just a matter of where.

Bowhunting Pronghorn Antelope #EPIC moment!

In 2013, while guiding for Exclusive Pursuit Outfitters, I personally witnessed and filmed an awesome event. This was all made possible because we were patient.  We hung close to this herd, because I knew it was our best chance to kill him.  The big buck for what ever reason had something against 1 little buck in the group and eventually it cost him his life.

Check-out the 2 minute video below:

I have hunted, guided and helped friends on many archery antelope hunts.  You get so much experience when you are in the field every year and you learn to be mentally prepared.  Most of the time, people just need confidence.  We get concerned, because of what we may have read or possibly seen, without actually having the experience to cast out the doubts.  It really can affect hunters who lack mental toughness.

Have fun.  Hunt hard and stay patient!  #LiveIt

Have fun. Hunt hard and stay patient! #LiveIt

So, when you are sitting in the heat WAITING for the big buck to come by, I hope you remember; don’t give up and stay patient!

Oh yeah, a little piece of gear advice, invest in a pair or two of mechanic gloves or batting gloves.