Antelope Hunting - My Favorite?

Discussion in 'Antelope Hunting' started by VarmintGuy, Mar 23, 2008.

  1. VarmintGuy

    VarmintGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2008
    I harvested my first Antelope in 1969.
    That was 38 seasons ago. I have Hunted Antelope in both Wyoming and Montana. And for many of those years I Hunted both states each fall!
    Many of those years I also harvested additional doe Antelope as I enjoy Antelope steaks and Antelope hamburger very much!
    Antelope hamburger makes excellent Chilli and Burritos.
    Since I retired early (at age 49) and moved to Montana the next year (1998) I have only Hunted in Montana for Antelope.
    Antelope Hunting allows me to do two important things - I get to roam around on the high plains AND I can Hunt these animals from dawn til dark! No down time - if its light out, its Antelope Hunting time!
    Over the years I have "aided" at least 25 neophyte Antelope Hunters to their first harvest! This also give me great pleasure. Two of those Antelope "neophytes" I helped harvest Bucks that had higher scoring horns than I have ever taken!
    I have used quite a number of different Rifles and calibers to harvest Antelope with including the following: 22-250 Remington, 224 Weatherby, 220 Swift, 243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, 6mm Remington Ackley Improved, 240 Weatherby, 257 Roberts, 25/06 Remington, 260 Remington, 264 Winchester Magnum, 270 Winchester, 280 Remington, 7mm Remington Express, 7mm Remington Magnum, 308 Winchester, 30/06 and 300 Winchester Magnum!
    I have helped all three of my sons harvest dandy Buck Antelope and they enjoyed the country and the Hunting nearly as much as I did.
    Someday I hope to get my daughter out into the Antelope habitat to Hunt them or just watch them for a few days on the plains - September is a great month for that!
    Several years back I purchased another Rifle in 270 Winchester caliber. It is a Remington Model 700 Sendero with a heavy 26" barrel! I mounted a Leupold 8.5x25x40mm variable scope on it and headed for the range.
    The first bullet I tried in this Rifle was the Nosler 130 gr. Ballistic Tip. It proved so accurate (and later so lethal on Antelope and Mule Deer) that I settled on it and could not be happier!
    I Hunt Antelope mostly on public lands and long shots are the normal here in Montana!
    With this Rifle/bullet/scope combo and my Leica Laser Rangefinder I have taken Antelope out to 506 yards.
    I prefer 200 yard shots but those are difficult to come by - especially on public lands! Antelope seem to have a "safe zone" out around 275 to 350 yards that allows them to become or to remain calm (even when they supect a Hunters presence!) and they often offer broadside standing shots at these ranges! These shots are easily accomplished with my latest Antelope Rifles and good bi-pod rests.
    I would like to pass on just a couple of Antelope Hunting "secrets" - or tips I have learned to "live by" over the decades!
    #1: Scout your area for as many days as possible (feasible) before the season opens!
    #2: Have the rising sun at your back on opening morning as you stalk your chosen and scouted Antelope!
    #3: Get out of and away from your vehicle to do your Hunting (stalking) - mature buck Antelope KNOW that vehicles bring danger along with them. You can get up on lesser Bucks in your vehicle often times, but mature Bucks come Hunting season WILL leave the herds and go off by themselves to avoid vehicles and Hunters!
    I keep debating with myself which do I love more Antelope Hunting or Mule Deer Hunting?
    What a pleasant dilemma.
    Long live Antelope on the high plains!
    Hold into the wind
  2. Slopeshunter

    Slopeshunter Well-Known Member

    Apr 27, 2006
    Nice writeup Varmint Guy! I too love antelope hunting, partially because here in Alberta it takes about 6 years to draw an antelope tag:mad:. But it's a hunt I always look forward to. Nothing like hunting those speed goats on the praries.


  3. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

    Jun 12, 2001
    So how did the 224 Wby work out? I might build me one but not for antelope hunting.
  4. Stormrider

    Stormrider Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2006
    22 Cheetah worked extreemly well on every antelope it was aimed at.
    I too, love to hunt antelope.
  5. VarmintGuy

    VarmintGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2008
    Buffalo Bob: I was using 55gr. factory Wetherby ammunition on that Hunt and one shot to the heart/lungs at about 225 yards "dropped" right there.
    My 224 Weatherby is a German made factory Weatherby Rifle.
    Back then I had a 4x12 Leupold variable on it.
    Now I have a Leupold straight 6 power scope with Euro-Du-plex on it.
    Back when I had the 4x12 Leupold on it I could shoot groups as small as .452" (5 shots at 100 yards) with it.
    Normal size groups were under .750" back then.
    I liked the round and brass life is pretty good.
    Best of luck if you decide to build (try) one.

    Slopeshunter: Come on across the border into Montana and try for a 700 region Antelope tag. You are about guaranteed one every other year there - if you also apply for the "bonus point" program. I forget how much the non-resident tag is but think its about $225.00 (U.S.).

    Hold into the wind
  6. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

    Jun 12, 2001
    If you are feeling poorly and sickly would you mind including me in your will?
  7. Tbone

    Tbone Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2008

    I have hunted SE Montana for over 25 years along with various areas in Wyoming for the fleet-footed antelopes. I suggest a .270 be the rifle of choice. It has the extra smack over a lesser cartridge at longer ranges. Not to say that a .243 won't work, as many good hunters do use it. I have even used a 45/90 Black-powder Cartridge Rifle to take goats. A range-finder sure helps on the longer shots :D .

    If I had to choose only one game animal to hunt, it would be our prairie-ghost, the prong-horn antelope.

    Last edited: Mar 31, 2008
  8. VarmintGuy

    VarmintGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2008
    T-bone: Jim, that is something I have never done - used a black powder cartridge to Hunt Antelope with!
    Good for you!
    The 243 is an excellent cartridge for "Speed Goats"!
    I have used four types of Laser Rangefinders for my Antelopin.
    This latest one is my favorite - it is the Leica 1200 Model.
    I never plan on "lasing" an Antelope out at 1,200 yards but the added "power" of this 1200 Model over the previous Leica I owned (the 800 Model) makes for more reliable ranging - at least it seems to me that this one gets "ranges" better than the fine 800 Model.
    I do love to Hunt Antelope.
    Just today (in the cold and sporadic rain) during my local travels I saw my first newborn Antelope fawn of the year here in SW Montana.
    By coincidence a lifelong friend who left my home this morning at 0600 hours and continued on his journey from the Seattle, Washington area to Forsyth, Montana called me from Forsyth tonight to say he made it OK and that he saw an Antelope fawn being born. He had stopped on a freeway interchange on ramp (I-94) to relieve himself (rest stops are notoriously sparse in Montana!) when he looked over and saw the birthing not 150 yards from his position! He retrieved his binoculars and watched the fawn get his first "bath".
    Over the decades I have noticed more and more often that the doe Antelope will come right up to highways, freeways, county roads and ranch complexes to give birth!
    I am sure the reason for this is because the ever present Coyotes (during Antelope birthing season) are VERY hesitant to come close to highways and roads!
    A few years ago here in Dillon, Montana I went to my rifle range to do a sight in verification for one of my Varmint Rifles. I saw a doe Antelope along the county dirt road and she was walking slowly in the humped over pre-birthing posture that is quite easy to recognize. Anyway I get to my range and realize I have the wrong ammo box for that Rifle.
    Homeward I go and sure enough here is the same doe Antelope now with some blood on her inner rear thighs and a brand new wet fawn near her. They were not 75 yards from the road. AND in the background was not one but TWO Coyotes eyeballing them!
    And me with NO ammunition!
    I waited the Coyotes out and scared them away eventually.
    I get home get my ammo and am heading back to the range when a friend of mine and his young son stop me in the road and wanted to talk.
    I asked them if they would like to see a newborn Antelope and they followed me to the "scene"!
    And I use the term "scene" specifically because of what we saw there!
    NOW, there is a Golden eagle swooping repeatedly down on the newborn!
    The mother is trying to fend it off, AND, the Coyotes were still in the area.
    We stopped near the Antelope and the Eagle quit swooping at the mother and her NOW two fawns!
    Just that quick (about 20 minutes) the mother had birthed her second fawn and now was standing guard over the two toddlers as they tried to get themselves standing and cleaned by their mom!
    I had ammo now and I was loading my Varmint Rifle willing to "bend the rules" a tad and shoot those Coyotes from the road!
    That turned out to be unneccessary as the two pickup trucks and the human voices sent them over a distant ridge!
    I never cease to be amazed by mother nature and her intricacies and adaptabilities.
    The weather here now in SW Montana (and eastern Montana according to my friend) is absolutely horrific!
    Yesterday it snowed two inches and then rained and sleeted most all day, and the high temperature for the day was 27 (twenty seven) degrees BELOW the 100 year average high for the date!
    I fear some of this years Antelope newcomers will succumb to the weather as well as predation by Coyotes, Wolves and Eagles!
    Long live the Pronghorn!
    Hold into the wind
  9. magicofmt

    magicofmt Well-Known Member

    May 9, 2005
    Weather may get a few young of the year, but all this moisture will help immensely for the summer grass to make for some large horns this year. Many antlope will be really healthy all year now, does too!

    I thought I was the only one that thought the antelope came to the main roads to give birth because the coyotes wouldn't , wow!

    Good luck this fall, can't wait!
  10. johnnyk

    johnnyk Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2001
    Varmint Guy, I was just in Dillon for 3 days (May 27-29) working at Barretts. I saw doe antelope standing very near the road also. I thought they were overly friendly! LOL. What does it cost for a non-resident to hunt antelope there? JohnnyK
  11. VarmintGuy

    VarmintGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2008
    Johnnyk: Pardon my slow reply, been busy Spring Bear and Varmint Hunting.
    Were you working at Barret's Mineral Plant or at the hospital named after the Barret's family - Barret's Hospital?
    I live just 2 miles from the hospital - next time you are in the area call me at 406-683-6888 and I will come pick you up and take you to lunch!
    The non-resident Antelope license is $205.00. In the Dillon area your chances of being drawn the first year (no bonus points) would be about 10 to 15% - for residents its about 30%. In eastern Montana your odds would be about 50% the first year and 100% the second year (if you werenn't succesful the first year you applied).
    The new state record Buck Antelope was killed in 2,006's season not 4 miles from Barret's Hospital or 6 miles from Barret's Minerals Plant!
    Sorry I missed you - call me next time you get up this-a-way.

    Magicofmt: I remember distinctly, from many decades ago things were different. Back then, when Coyote pelts were REALLY worth big money Coyotes populations were much, much lower! People snared them trapped them and shot them for big bucks!
    And some folks just poisoned them - anyway there used to be just a fraction of the Coyotes that we have had over the last 25 to 30 years.
    With the much higher populations of Coyotes since about 1975 the doe Antelope then started using the safety or buffer zones near highways and county roads and corrals to birth their fawns!
    Don't ask me how they figured this out - they just did!
    Nature never fails to amaze me.

    Again pardon my slow reply.
    Hold into the wind
  12. johnnyk

    johnnyk Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2001
    I was at the mineral plant. Myself and two other techs were converting their hydraulic rail scale to digital. Messy job but customer was happy.
    I'll put your phone number in my cell. I should be back out in Sept for Barrets scale servce. Anything to hunt then? JohnnyK.
  13. WyoHunter

    WyoHunter Active Member

    Sep 26, 2003
    Antelope are one of my favorite to hunt. I've hunted them in Wyoming and Colorado. It's one of the best hunts as far as I'm concerned. If you're not seeing antelope you're either in a poor area or afraid to get out of your truck and WALK. I've shot antelope with my .257 Ackley Improved, .257 Weatherby Mag, .270 Win., 7MM Rem. Mag and .30-06. Most have been in the 200 yard range but a couple were taken at 375 - 400 yards. It's an excellent way to introduce a new hunter to hunting as there is always something going on. Generally you can make it a fun hunt and a great experience. If you enjoy spot and stalk hunting there a great game animal to hunt.
  14. VarmintGuy

    VarmintGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2008
    Johnnyk: If the greens continue to be UNSUCCESSFUL in their manifold attempts to stop the September 15th opener of the inauguaral Wolf Hunt here in Montana then I will be out after Wolves!
    In my spring Bear Hunts of recent several times I literally became nauseated at the number of Wolf scats I saw with Elk hair and Moose hair in them!
    The signs of Wolf kills were everywhere I Hunted spring Bear at this year.
    I am going to diminish the over-population of Wolves this fall - if at all possible!
    The fall Bear season will also open on September 15th.
    The archery season for Deer and Elk will be in full swing the first week of September and I will be out then to get cozy with a Wolf pack if not with a bugling Bull Elk!
    The Varmints are a little slow in early September (do to heat and the summer hibernation of Ground Squirrels mostly).
    But if you are a fishing type person then the Trout fishing is just splendid during September both in the rivers and lakes near Barret's.
    Be sure to call when you are in town (or before you come to town) and if I am not out Hunting something I would love to have you over and show you some "stuffed" Antelope on my walls and maybe a few live ones in my fields!

    It seems to me in my observations afield during the last two weeks here in SW Montana that indeed the Antelope fawn crop is down somewhat from normal.
    These observations include one from yesterday where my gunsmith friend and I were out Hunting Ground Squirrels and Badgers and we came across a herd of 9 adult and yearling female Antelope and just 3 fawns of the year in with them.
    This observation was made in 4 inch high wheat and there was no chance any fawns were lying down anywhere we could not see them.
    For a group this size I feel 8 fawns of the year would have been normal.
    I have made many other observations like this recently.
    Another interesting observation we made was while driving along a ranch road we came around a hill and there in front of us 200 yards away were two adult female Antelope grazing - in between them was a tiny fawn of this year.
    One of the females darted off about 100 yards then stopped and turned around to look back at us as we approached the other adult and the fawn. At 120 yards distance the adult snapped her head at the fawn and the fawn dropped in the 12" high alfalfa instantly and was gone from sight as we passed within 60 yards of its hiding place. That adult Antelope then walked slowly away from the road and looked over her shoulder at us as we drove by.
    That same day back closer to town in a non-Hunting ranch we watched a large herd of Antelope (60 or so) feeding in an irrigated and cultivated field.
    The crop was maybe 10 inches high.
    All of a sudden 7 tiny fawns burst into an all out run from the center of the herd and headed off in single file! The leader must have been full of vim and vigor as it ran in one direction for 50 yards or so then made a hard turn to go 180 degrees in the other direction. This direction changing and running lasted for at least a full minute when all of a sudden the group of 7 all made emergency stops and stood around looking into each others faces!
    It was like they were trying to decide who would be the next one to lead the pack in a run?
    The tiny Antelope looked funny running in the 10" deep foilage as you could not see their legs much at all!
    They looked like white sausages cruising along on top of the green grass.
    I live just a few miles from this large herd and I am going to go back there soon and count the fawns in that large herd. Just for curiousities sake.
    Its bothering me that there may have been a fawn loss this year do to the bizarre weather we have been experiencing here abouts!
    Even if there was a fawn loss here this year the Antelope numbers here in SW Montana are at record numbers.
    SW Montana is not the best Antelope range in Montana by far!
    The valleys here are all 5,200' to 6,000' in elevation and the winters decide how many or how few Antelope live from year to year!
    We have had mild winters for 11 years in a row now and the Antelope like I mentioned are at record numbers. Still its only a 30% chance for resident Hunters to draw a tag here in SW Montana.
    While over in eastern Montana where I traditionally Hunt Antelope its a 95%+ chance of drawing an Antelope tag for a resident.
    Long live the Antelope!
    Hold into the wind