WILD HARVEST: American Antelope For Canadian Hunters

A series of harsh winters across the Canadian prairies have largely depleted our stocks of this magnificent and one-of-a-kind species. Pronghorn antelope populations still persist in Saskatchewan and Alberta, with only the latter still offering very limited outfitting opportunities for non-residents. Recovery has been slow and the pronghorn glory days seem to be behind us, for now, in Canada. Look south of the border, however, and the forecast appears much brighter. Seldom do you hear of Canadians entering the US for hunting opportunities, when compared to the scores of American hunters venturing north in Canada. As a Canuck, if you have ever been interested in hunting the lower 48, consider questing for speedgoats in states like South Dakota, Montana, Colorado and especially Wyoming.

Wyoming boasts more antelope than people residing in the state. Better yet, non-residents are able to hunt unguided and without the need to book through a licensed outfitter. Generous numbers of well-priced tags are available for both archery and rifle hunters and many ranch owners are happy to grant permission on their private property for a modest trespass fee (a silly term, which should be renamed to an access fee, in my opinion.) Not only are these animals plentiful and handsome, but success rates are high, landscape and weather are both pleasant and huntable and the table quality is better than most people give them credit for. I find pronghorn venison very comparable to any whitetail.

My 2013 speedgoat adventure began when I was fortunate enough to guide a fellow by the name of Dean on a 2012 Saskatchewan whitetail hunt. We instantly hit it off as friends and by the end of the hunt he invited me down for pronghorn, mentioning I did not need to book through an outfitter. I’m not sure if Dean was just being polite, but I certainly took him up on his offer! The draw deadlines were in June and I experienced 100 per cent success, drawing two buck tags in my first choice units. My plan was to go for the post-rut rifle season in mid October. Fast forward a few months and upon completing my moose guiding season in northern Manitoba, I drove to north-eastern Wyoming. It was an easy, pleasant drive and the excitement began to bubble upon entering antelope country in the western Dakotas, spotting bands of pronghorn from the truck.

Hunting this truly unique and handsome animal is something everyone should experience. Dean and I easily glassed 200 to 400 or more antelope each day while hunting, without putting too much effort into it. We were able to be pretty selective, looking for mature, above-average bucks. On the second day, I took a beautiful antelope at 312 yards. The first time you harvest a new species and walk up on them is always a special moment. I inspected the unique animal with much respect and admiration. Dean followed up an hour later, anchoring another dandy speedgoat with deep curls, resembling a candy cane, from the same ranch. What a day!

To fill our second tags, we opted to challenge ourselves a little more and made it a point to hunt public land only, and in areas that my friend Dean had never ventured to before. We had our work cut out for us, and began spotting as many mule deer as we did pronghorn. The antelope were understandably more sparse and skittish on public soil, but within a day or two Dean and I had each taken our second bucks. This completed my do-it-yourself American pronghorn antelope hunting trip. A trip I anticipate doing again soon. Cheap, successful and very enjoyable – how can you go wrong? It was an opportunity I knew many of my Canadian hunting buddies had never experienced, and I’d like to change that.

A uniquely new-world species and genetically nearest to the giraffe family, the handsome pronghorn antelope is not actually a true antelope, but is North America’s fastest moving land animal. Experience them for yourself on a hunt with a close buddy and I promise you won’t regret it.

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