As a bow hunter, I believe if you haven’t missed, you don’t shoot enough. It’s bound to happen, but by the time my Montana pronghorn hunt was over I felt like my arrows had anti-pronghorn magnets! Since this was my first antelope hunt ever, I decided to start out hunting in a ground blind over water. This is the highest percentage method to take a pronghorn with a bow, however it can be some LONG hours in a blind! After sitting for a couple days I decided I would prefer to test my stalking abilities.
Sure pronghorn have incredible eyes, but even the wariest bucks can be stalked if you use the terrain. We set out looking for bucks in locations where I could have a chance at stalking. What I was looking for were bucks in hay fields so I could use the hay bails to position myself out of their line of sight as I stalked. Each stalk I got closer and closer cutting the distance from 90-yards all the way to 49-yards.
Three of us stalked this buck and finally were within range. I drew behind the bail, stepped around the side and my arrow zipped right over his back as he ducked, and ran away within a blink of an eye. Disgusted I went over found my arrow and decided not to be too upset. We had the stalking part down, now all I needed to do was pull my weight on the shooting part.
As the day starting winding down we found a buck feeding with several does around him, however there was a big cut leading right to him. Most of the Powder River country appears flat, but there are a ton of ditches and cuts in the hills that you can use to your advantage when stalking. Sometimes you just need to sit back, look over the situation with your binos, and decide if the buck is in a doable position.
This buck was in an ideal setup. Moving quickly through the big ditch, I looked up and realized all the does were dropping into the ditch I was in and heading to the other side. They all passed within 30-yards as I crouched down hidden in the sagebrush. I thought this will be perfect, the buck will follow and I will have a 30-yard shot. Well this wasn’t the case! The buck stayed on the far edge of the ditch, however I had run out of real estate. There was nothing more I could hide behind and moving even one step further would put me in the wide open. I ranged the buck and he was right around 60-yards which is a long shot, but I had been practicing this distance all summer.
I drew and as soon as my pin settled on him he looked up. Not sure if he would go back to feeding or run the other way I released my arrow and rushed my shot. My arrow went too far left missing the buck completely. Disgusted, I decided to head back to camp and make sure my bow had not been knocked around. At the range, I shot perfectly and realized this must be a case of Speed Goat Fever!
As frustrating as it was leaving Montana knowing I had a chance to take a pronghorn buck spot and stalk, I also realize that this is part of hunting. You can’t always take home a buck and there are times that as a hunter you will make mistakes. We are all human and I just hope this will make me a better hunter, and remind us all that it is really called hunting for a reason and not killing. Overall it was a wonderful trip and you can’t beat the game rich environment of Montana! Now I’m headed off to Colorado to hunt velvet mule deer and maybe even get a crack at an elk!