Just don’t let the antelope see you

Sometimes an antelope hunt is easy. Other times, the critters seem to have you figured out.

In Wyoming, antelope hunting is often an afterthought. We tend to focus on elk, and deer are a close second. Not many of us do a whole lot of planning for our antelope hunts.

Maybe that’s partly because compared to deer and especially elk, antelope hunting can be pretty easy. As long as you’re not trying to get the next world-record buck, most of the time, it doesn’t take much.

That’s not to say antelope hunting is always easy. Sometimes, the goats seem to know what you’re doing long before you do. They can see about 20 times better than we can, and when they decide to get out of the county, they can do it faster than you can blink.

So the trick is to get close enough to the animal you want to shoot without causing it to run. One way to do that is to glass the area with your binoculars until you find the goat you want. Then take a good, close look at the terrain. Map out a route to the antelope where you’ll have the best cover. You’ll still probably have to take a long shot, but if you pick a good trail through gullies and washes that will keep you hidden, you shouldn’t have to take a shot at a moving goat.

While you’re glassing the critters, think about what they’re likely to be doing while you’re sneaking up on ‘em. If you’re watching a bunch of goats that’re rutting, they’ll probably move away before you get there. If they’re bedded down, as long as you stay hidden on your sneak, they’ll probably still be there when you get to where you want to take a shot.

If you’re hunting in an area where sneaking up on the animals just isn’t an option, you can ambush ‘em. That’s an especially good tactic when you’re bowhunting. The best way to set up an ambush is to walk a fence line until you find where they’re crossing under. Look for tracks, maybe a bare patch of dirt where their bellies drag as they cross, and hair on the bottom strand of the fence. Then find a place to hide where you can see the crossing point. You may have to sit for a while, but antelope are pretty habitual, and you’ll probably get a shot eventually.

Get out there and get your goat.