Bow hunting for antelope is one of the most challenging tasks a hunter will every face. The temperatures during most antelope bow seasons can be in the 90’s or higher. Factor in difficult rolling sagebrush or prairie terrain, rattlesnakes, and incredible eyesight and harvesting an antelope with a bow is very difficult.
A positive of hunting antelope is that you are always seeing them. Nothing like elk hunting where a hunter can go a couple of weeks without seeing an elk. Antelope are generally in site and help the hunter keep his/her motivation up for the hunt.
Unfortunately a lot of hunters don’t take antelope seriously. I have seen way too many antelope hunters, mainly during rifle season, drive around in their pickup until they see a herd of antelope, jump out of the pickup, and start spraying the running herd with bullets.
Methods For Bow Hunting Antelope
Stalking, ambushing or calling are the three main ways to bow hunt for antelope.
Stalking an antelope can be very difficult. Along with good hearing and sense of smell, antelope have amazing eyesight. Generally speaking antelope are very good at staying in areas that play to their amazing eyesight by staying in open country that makes it very difficult to stalk them.
A hunter must wait until their desired antelope wonders into an area that a hunter can stalk them. Perhaps the ideal, stalking terrain will have some rolling terrain, sagebrush, or rocky outcrops. Normally stalking antelope involves lots of crawling over cactus and rattlesnake infested terrain.
Ambushing antelope can work very well. Antelope normally have a limited amount of water holes in their area. Setting up at a waterhole can be very productive using a ground blind. Antelope can be very skittish around waterholes. If it is possible try setting up the ground blind at the desired waterhole a few weeks in advance to get the antelope used to the structure.
Antelope can be creatures of habit. Antelope like to cross ravines or fence lines at predictable locations. Setting up at a crossing point can be productive. Again setting up the ground blind in advance can be helpful.
At times antelope country can be near agricultural fields. In the fall green, winter wheat fields can be an oasis for antelope. If you find green fields surrounded by brown, dead prairie grass you have found an ideal spot for an ambush.
Antelope are susceptible to calling. They are also very curious animals. I have heard stories of waving a red flag to lure in an antelope, but have never had any luck with this technique. Flagging could possibly work during rifle season.
I personally have had great success with stalking within a couple hundred yards of a desired antelope, setting up a Montana decoy, backing away from the decoy about 20 yards, and calling them into bow range.
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An antelope call sounds something like a bleat. The first couple of times you practice with a new antelope call you will say, “there is no way this is going to work.” However, antelope calls can work very well. Not in every circumstance, but enough to keep give calls a try.
The antelope buck that is most susceptible to calling is one that has a herd of does he is trying to keep to himself. If you sneak within a couple of hundred yards of a herd buck, setup up your decoy, and start calling you can call in a herd buck.
When a buck comes to your call it can be a very exciting experience. On many occasions I have had a herd buck race to the decoy at full speed and be very aggressive toward the decoy. I have even had a very aggressive buck destroy a Montana decoy.
If you call a buck and he does not come in to your decoy you can try hiding behind the decoy and moving the decoy closer to the buck. I would not recommend moving the decoy directly at the buck. Try advancing closer to the buck at an angle always keeping the prevailing wind in mind. Try calling as you move closer to the herd buck. Often times a decoy will not scare a buck.
I take this technique to the next level. I tie a tanned antelope hide to my back to further sell the Montana decoy.
When you get within bow range wait for the buck to turn the other direction or get in a favorable position, then slide to either side of the decoy to get your shot. I recommend not shooting over the top of the decoy. A standing human figure can spook an antelope. Make the shot on your knees at a calm antelope.
A decoy of an antelope is not the only type of decoy to use with antelope. Antelope are used to sharing their feeding grounds with cows. I have used a black, cow decoy with success. A cow decoy works best in situations you don’t think an antelope will be susceptible to calling. Just slowly angle the cow decoy closer to the desired antelope. Be sure to take your time stalking closer like a feeding cow.
Bow hunting for antelope can be a very challenging experience. However, when you have an antelope on the ground after successful hunt you will be grinning from ear to ear for evolving to a level most hunters never achieve.
On a side note it seems obvious that antelope are distant cousins to African species of antelope. However, antelope are the only species on their own evolutionary branch and not related to any other antelope.
Depending on what source you reference antelope or the cheetah are the fastest land animals. I vote an antelope being chased by cheetah is the fastest land animal.
Obviously don’t try decoying or ground blinds during rifle season. Only use stalking techniques wearing orange during rifle season.