Pronghorn Plus
Successful Hunter|March - April 2020
Hunting Big Game and Bonus Birds
Jack Ballard

Pursuing pronghorn, like hunting any other big-game species on public land, means rolling with the variabilities of weather and the presence of other hunters. A measure of luck also helps, as does hunting in an area with a stable or expanding antelope population. It pays to have a plan, especially for opening day. In our home state of Montana, similar to other hot pronghorn destinations, the animals can go from surprisingly tolerant of humans to wilder than the fabled March Hare in a matter of hours.

It was with those specific factors in mind that my wife, Lisa, and I found ourselves wandering the back roads of eastern Montana on the second Friday in October. Antelope season opened the following day. Early that morning we’d dropped our camping trailer and pitched a wall tent for Bill, a friend from Missouri joining us for the hunt, at a secluded campground. Lisa and I had both drawn tags. Bill struck out in the nonresident license lottery but chose to tag along to learn more about the quarry with an eye toward a future excursion and to hunt upland birds and waterfowl if opportunities presented themselves.

Now midafternoon, we puttered down a graveled road, its surface covered in the shattered red shale infamously known to state residents for its ability to puncture light-duty tires on pickups and hunting rigs. Between the driver’s and passenger’s seats in our Expedition, we’d cached paper maps showing land ownership and properties enrolled in Montana’s Block Management program, which provides public access to private land. Some units require written permission and reservations from the landowner. Others grant access via same-day enrollment on a simple form at a sign-in box. Attached to the windshield with a suction cup was a Garmin GPS outfitted with software from onX Maps (onxmaps.com) showing the precise boundaries of state, federal and private lands.

The plan, as it was, and generally is each time I hunt antelope on opening day, consisted of locating a herd with a desirable buck, though our tags could be used for does as well. Put a herd to bed, so to speak, at dusk on the previous day, and odds are very high they’ll be nearby in the morning as antelope are much less inclined toward nocturnal wanderings than elk or deer. We’d seen several herds since noon, but all were snoozing on private land, save one band on its feet nibbling regrown alfalfa from a hayfield.

On a long, undulating climb through a grassy vale punctuated with chokecherry thickets, we spied creatures near the road. A background color of yellow on the GPS indicated we were on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acres. I carefully backed the Expedition over a low rise out of sight. We hopped out, retrieved our firearms and snuck up a roadside draw toward a tangle of chokecherries.

A half-dozen sharp-tailed grouse burst into flight at our approach. One dropped to my 12 gauge. Bird in hand, we joked that we wouldn’t go home completely skunked despite the outcome of the antelope hunt. The conversation then turned to calculating the price per ounce of the sharptail cutlets (around $65) should they be the only meat added to the chest freezer in our garage.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

RELATED STORIES

THE SQUEAKY WHEEL

Welcome to February, 2021. It’s already one month into the new year, and I gotta wonder how many people made those resolutions on New Year’s and have already quit the attempt to make the changes they wanted to see in their lives. Very unfortunate.

2 mins read
Born To Ride Florida
February 2021

INDIAN LARRY'S BLOCK PARTY - REVISITED

Born To Ride continues to look back at our relationship with Indian Larry. Here is a reprint of an article BTR published in August 2004

2 mins read
Born To Ride Florida
February 2021

BILLIE EILISH, UNFILTERED, IN NEW DOCUMENTARY

If you’re coming to “ Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry ” hoping for a primer on the music sensation, you’ve come to the wrong place. Filmmaker R.J. Cutler’s two hour and 20-minute documentary about the “Ocean Eyes” singer and songwriter is not biography or reportage. It’s a verite-style plunge into her life, her home, her concerts, her process, her Tourette’s, her brother’s bedroom where they famously write all their songs and even her diary in the year in which she became a star.

3 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #488

No Mercy

Ralph Macchio Talks Tech, the Switch to Netflix, and Season 3 of Cobra Kai

7 mins read
Innovation & Tech Today
2020 Year-End Issue

MIRANDA FLYING COOP & LEAVING HUBBY BEHIND!

She’s desperate for alone time

2 mins read
Globe
March 08, 2021

LISA MARIE'S LIFESAVING BREAK FROM SCIENTOLOGY!

Rebuilding her life with psychological therapy forbidden by church dogma

3 mins read
Globe
March 01, 2021

KRISTOFFERSON, 84, RIDES INTO SUNSET

Hard-living outlaw turning recluse as his memory fades

2 mins read
Globe
March 01, 2021

Design Hunting: Rock-Star Journalist Lisa Robinson Has Lived in Her Apartment for 45 Years

She’s kept an archive of the cassette tapes containing hundreds of interviews she’s done in her Upper East Side rental.

5 mins read
New York magazine
February 15–28, 2021

GO AHEAD, DO NOTHING

We push ourselves to work harder, but taking a break can often fuel a burst in productivity and creativity

3 mins read
Reader's Digest US
March 2021

TAXING TIME: HOW THE PANDEMIC WILL AFFECT FILING YOUR TAXES

The pandemic has made everything a bit trickier — tax filing season is no exception.

4 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #485