No matter how much you research, watch videos, or talk to fellow hunters about their experiences, you are bound to find something that you’d do differently the next time you get out. The cool thing is that it changes depending on the species, method of choice, time of year, terrain, and amount of time you have. I took little notes when I was on my recent archery antelope hunt - things that I’d want someone else to know before attempting to spot and stalk a speedgoat. A few of these I knew prior to the hunt from talking to friends, while others I learned by actually chasing them myself.
Wear knee pads (or invest in pants that have them built in) to protect them from the rocky terrain in the event that you find yourself army crawling across a field of sage brush to close the gap. I know it sounds silly to have knee pads but I would rock the heck out of them. My knees are hating me right now! I easily crawled over 600 yards on this hunt.
Practice shooting out to 80 yards and be extremely comfortable shooting at least 60. Every shot I took was between 54-82. Yes all 12 of them. The few times that I had antelope at 40, I couldn’t even execute the shot because they took off.
Practice shooting your bow in the wind more than ever before. A calm shot opportunity wasn’t the norm. I missed 10 of my 12 shots because I was usually way too far left or right, although I admit some of those were light wind and I should’ve been able to get it done. Finally on my 11th shot I removed my Quivalizer and smoked him at 71 yards while he was facing me. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a problem with the Quivalizer in the field. I absolutely love having it on my bow and will continue to use it for all the reasons I mentioned in this video, but I’m currently working on a solution for when I want it off my bow, yet easily accessible. I’ll be sure to follow up about this if/when I figure it out.
Decrease the time it takes to execute a shot. From ranging to pulling through the shot, it has to be quick 99% of the time because they will most likely see you before you ever range, then be curious enough to stand there and attempt to figure out what you are. This happens for all of 3 seconds (I’m exaggerating...kind of).
Expect to fail. I don’t mean go into it thinking you’ll miss 10 times like I did (although you might). I mean expect to screw up over and over again on stalks. I put in well over 30 stalks to get my first antelope, and even that number is low for a handful of people I’ve talked to.
Get used to having cactus and other pokey things all in your hands. One person on social media suggested a leather glove as I was leaving for my hunt. You, my friend, are a genius. I’ll be picking stuff out of my hands for weeks! Furthermore, take tweezers on your hunt! I was pulling cactus out of my hips & knees too!
Don’t be afraid to try new methods. We tried a decoy, waving a white material, calling, coming over ridges as they worked across the face on the other side, closing the gap while they’re bedded, belly crawling hundreds of yards through open sage, waiting for them to feed towards us, etc. I feel like the only thing I didn’t do was sit water, which is a highly effective way of killing an antelope. It’s just not what I wanted to do. However, even if I wanted to, it would’ve been tough with all the rain this year.
Take good glass. I cannot believe how much better I was able to see when I stole my husband’s Endeavor ED II 10x42 binos, so naturally I got the Endeavor ED IV set for myself which are even better at low light. Before this trip, I had been using the Endeavor ED binos, which are still great for hunting back home, but the IIs and IVs are so much more crisp - especially at low light! I saw more stuff than I ever have on a hunt and I know for a fact that it’s because I upgraded my glass. My eyes aren’t great, I don’t spot stuff easily without my binos, but I can’t stress the significance of having better glass this trip. If you can’t see them, you can’t shoot them. Plus, being able to spot more animals makes you feel really good!
Learn to break down an animal using the gutless method, starting with the back, rather than from underneath (all I’ve ever known). I cannot believe how much faster it is, and antelope meat needs to be cooled off faster than other game. They just spoil quicker with their thin hide, paired with the early season heat that’s usually a factor with antelope hunting. I’m going to start utilizing this method for other hunts as well. It’s quicker, cleaner, and saves you from carrying a ton of weight on your back IF you choose to leave the bones as well. It’s something I’ll have to practice because it’s different than what I’ve always done, but I’m a huge fan of this method over mine!
Invest in quality shoes that are comfortable in rugged terrain, specifically shoes that go above your ankle to help with stuff poking your ankles. I don’t know that I’ll ever rave about a pair of shoes the way I have (and will) the Danner Wayfinder boots. They’re hands down my favorite shoe I’ve ever worn, and they fit my super narrow foot like a dream. I cannot wait to take them on my elk hunt this September and hopefully test them with some weight on my back!! I think the extra ankle support is a huge reason my knees didn’t hurt on my antelope hunt too. I felt so stable no matter what we were going through. Highly recommended ladies!!!
Hunt all day, even through early afternoon. So many animals I only hunt morning and evening, but antelope are different. I put on so many stalks mid-day! Even people who sit water end up sitting all day for antelope. Beat the heat! Tough it out and don’t take a mountain nap. Be prepared to stay out all day. I packed my Peak Refuel meal for lunch with a MtnOps Ignite trail pack every single day. I never got sleepy. Although, I will say that I ate the entire 2 serving pouch every lunch, so be mindful of that when you consider splitting it with someone.