Montana antelope hunting can test some of the most seasoned archery hunters. Long hours in a blind are the norm, patience is virtue when these speed goats got all day, everyday to do their thing. When the heat is on in August, antelope have to water. Our ranches have multiple water sources, several small creeks and a small lake. Hunting pronghorn over these water sources can provide some exciting action. One thing I've noticed over the years guiding antelope hunters here in Montana is, morning through early afternoon seems to be the best times to sit for antelope. The afternoons historically seems a little slower, which can be a good time to spot and stalk with a decoy.
Antelope decoys can either make a hunt, or scare a good buck into the next County. For whatever reason I'm not sure, but one thing is for certain, you usually get a reaction from these speed goats while decoying. I'm not going to lie, most reactions are not positive. Especially if there are antelope does around. I've seen more does try to walk into a decoy and a buck will run them away from it. probably the best scenario to try and decoy a buck within bow range is to find one all by himself. I've had lone bucks come running into a decoy after seeing it from over 1/2 mile away. And I've had antelope bucks run as hard as they can away from a decoy when they see it. A lot has to do with the mood the antelope is in that day. Either way, using antelope decoys can provide some great entertainment during your antelope hunt if things slow down from the blind sits.
gate openings are a great blind set up. Antelope typically will make scrapes at these gate openings. Kind of like a community scrape on a field edge used by whitetail deer. These antelope scrapes can tell you how often bucks are using a particular gate opening. If there are fresh tracks, and droppings in the scrape, then it's a good bet their using it quite regular. If there's a wet spot in it you just missed hm and setting up on fresh sign like this can be a deadly tactic. When antelope are using a gate opening with a active scrape, get on that spot and put your time in a blind. You should be rewarded for your efforts.
One antelope hunter I had was sitting over a double gate opening between two alfalfa fields that was getting some traffic. One of the largest bucks on the ranch was in the area and kept sprinting through the gate openings chasing smaller bucks off the alfalfa fields. three days he hunted the buck and had him within bow range several times, running none the less never offering a shot. So I moved him to another gate opening I saw a buck go through while glassing. Within 30 minutes I had the hunter picked up and a blind set over the new gate opening. What I failed to realize glassing from a distance was, this gate opening had a very active scrape on it. I wasn't even off the ranch yet when the hunter called me and said turn around, I just arrowed a big buck and he's down. What a great feeling. So don't overlook small fence crossings or gate openings where they funnel traffic. These are great locations to look for antelope scrapes.
Antelope hunts here in Montana start mid August. Around this time is when we start seeing bucks making scrapes, raking tall weeds with their horns, and singling out as they are preparing for the hierarchy and who gets the prime pastures with all the females. Even though peak rut falls around mid September, these late August hunts are almost more effective at getting antelope within bow range. Archery hunting these pronghorn antelope during this time can provide you a great early season bowhunting experience. Apply for the statewide archery license in May before June 1st and you have a excellent chance to be chasing these trophy antelope with your bow in the shadows of the Crazy Mountains here in Montana this Fall!