Hunt One of North America's Most Unique Animals - Montana Antelope
As the mountains of Western Montana give way to the plains in the east, the landscape isn’t the only thing that changes.
Here, amongst the wide-open spaces, where trees become scarce and empty fields stretch as far as the eye can see, the antelope gather together in herds to call the open land their home. These incredible creatures make for not just an amazing hunt, but a unique one that you won’t find with any other animal.
The pronghorn, normally called an antelope or American Antelope, is more closely related to a goat than it is to true antelope. These creatures are smaller than a deer, but can run at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. Their speed isn’t the only advantage they have though. With eyes located farther to the sides of their head, they have a field of vision that wraps 300 degrees around them. Because of their keen eyesight, they can detect movement as far as 4 miles away. These superpowers mean that when danger shows up, they can easily outrun any other land animal in the USA.
Despite their prowess, those who choose to hunt them are in for an adventure. You’ll experience the west like none other, discover lands that dreams are made of, and create hunting memories that will fill campfire tales for years to come.
Antelope Hunting in Montana – The Last Best Place
Montana provides an incredible opportunity to experience the land, discover the area, and harvest one of these amazing animals.
An antelope hunt in Montana hits a little different than other hunts.
When you come to hunt in Montana, you get about as far north as you can go, while still staying in the US. Since rifle season opens in October, you might have warm summer-like temperatures, or it might be cold and snowing.
One of the best place to find an Antelope herd - on Lewis Ranch in Lavina, MT.
Antelope Hunting Tip #1: A multi-day hunt can bring weather from all four seasons.
The weather only serves to enhance the charm of hunting in Montana. From a sun-soaked day on the prairie, to fields glistening with snow, the weather may change, but it won’t change the beauty of your antelope hunt. Be prepared so that no matter the weather, you can enjoy your time.
Antelope Hunting Tips with a Rifle
Rifle hunting and bow hunting present themselves with certain challenges for the antelope hunter.
Unlike deer or elk, where you can use the terrain and the trees for cover, antelope are often smack in the middle of a wide open field. As they have adapted to life in the plains, the antelope know that they can run faster than any predator, and if they stay away from the trees, there is little chance of being ambushed. It also means that there is often no way to approach them without being seen. The hunter has to be a little more creative with the approach.
Antelope Hunting Tip #2: Hone your skills at long-distance shooting.
To really take down an animal, you will want to be very comfortable shooting at longer distances. It’s not uncommon to shoot from 400 or 500 yards out because you simply cannot get any closer without spooking the animals. Taking distance shots takes a lot of time and practice at the range to fully understand your rifle. If you don’t feel up to the long shot, there are ways to sneak in closer.
Antelope Hunting Tip #3: Search the terrain for hard-to-find hiding spots.
Despite their propensity to gather in the middle of fields, there is generally some sort of cover around. It just takes a keen eye to spot the shallow dip in the field, or the undulating hill you can skirt around. Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty either; crawling is a great way to sneak close enough for a clean shot. Getting down low means you can duck beneath the tops of sagebrush or prairie grass where the antelope can’t see you.
A view of the Antelope in the fields at Hamm Ranch in Wilsall, MT.
Antelope Hunting Tip #4: Use a good range finder.
If you have hunted deer, you are probably familiar with the size of those animals. Antelope, however, are roughly 25% smaller than deer. Combine that smaller size with the fact they stand in fields with nothing around them to make a good size comparison, and trying to “eyeball” the distance leads one to believe the animal is much farther away than it actually is. Many an expert shot has missed due to failed distance calculations.
For those who love a challenging long distance shot, antelope hunting in Montana is perfect. For those who want the extra challenge of stalking up to an animal, bow hunting will push the limits of how stealthy you truly are.
Antelope Bow Hunting Tips
Getting close enough to hit an antelope with an arrow might sound daunting. After all, they are often standing in the middle of a wide-open field; how does one get within 50 yards to ensure a clean shot?
You have to know the landscape and understand how the antelope processes information on the prairie.
Antelope Hunting Tip #5: Find the watering holes.
Archery season starts a month earlier than rifle season. Some districts allow the hunt to start in the middle of August with what is called the 900 Series. Here in Montana, August and September see very little rainfall, and hot temperatures. Antelope must drink daily to survive during these hot times; knowing where they go for water means you know where to stake yourself for a successful bow hunt. Get there first, and wait along their migration path so you get a clean shot at a passing herd.
Pratt Ranch at Crooked Creek in Shepard, MT.
Antelope Hunting Tip #6: Camouflage yourself.
While bow hunting you aren’t required to wear blaze orange. But that’s not the kind of camouflage we mean. Instead, use the terrain, sagebrush, grasses, and even larger fence posts so that you not only blend in, but you confuse the antelope. A human walking right toward the herd will make them run; but if they can’t figure out what you are, they get curious and may come in for a closer look. Hunters have even waved a white flag in the air to spark curiosity, and let the antelope walk right toward them.
Antelope Hunting Tip #7: Invest in a decoy.
Antelope are swift-footed and have amazing eyesight. But that incredible vision doesn’t always translate into incredible reasoning skills. Simple decoys can convince that big buck you’re after that you are one of them, allowing you to sneak up close enough for a shot. Decoys can attach to your bow, and allow mobility, or they can be larger stationary antelope replicas. Be quick though, once you’re made you only have a few seconds to land a well-placed arrow.
Where to Hunt Antelope in Montana
Knowing how to hunt antelope is half the battle. But in order to hunt them, you have to find them first!
An entire trip can be ruined if you don’t know where to go. Let’s not leave that up to chance. Here are three great properties through LandTrust that are known to have antelope (including a lot of impressive bucks).
Discover the wide-open spaces of Eastern Montana at the Vassar Ranch. With 6,800+ acres of rangeland and cultivated farmland, there is no shortage of opportunity to find the perfect antelope for your hunt. Sagebrush, hills, and large hay bales provide the cover you need to sneak in close for a nice clean shot.
Vassar Ranch in eastern Montana.
Hunt with the mountains as your backdrop at the Hamm Ranch. Montana is known for majestic peaks. Near the middle of the state antelope call over 1,000 acres on the Hamm Ranch their home. With the Bridger Mountains to the west, and the Crazy Mountains to the east, you get the full Montana experience hunting this land.
Hamm Ranch fields, the perfect spot for Antelope to gather.
Harvest your Antelope up north at the Kimmel Ranch Partnership. About 10 miles south of the Canadian border, the Kimmel Ranch is divided into two areas to ensure that hunters don’t “bump” into each other on the 3,400 or 3,700-acre sections. Vast alfalfa fields, and rangeland as far as you can see provide amazing habitats for all sorts of wildlife.
Or choose your hunt on any of nearly 30 properties that you can easily book access to through LandTrust. No matter what part of the state you want to visit for your antelope hunt, landowners are ready and willing to open up access. Choose the land that best fits the location, your budget, and what amenities you need to be included in your hunt. Then, discover antelope hunting in the Last Best Place.
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