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View Full Version : Questions for Mike E. and Other Antelope Gurus re: Antelope Behavior & Scouting Trip



wby4life
08-10-2011, 09:51 AM
My brother-in-law and I were looking to hunt a new area this year due to the declining antelope numbers across most of South Dakota where we have archery hunted the past 2 seasons. Last weekend we spent a day-and-a-half looking for our continent’s fastest land mammal. Needless to say, we were more than pleasantly surprised when we encountered 600-700 of them in this short period (FYI – 90% of these were on public land)!

When we would find an antelope we marked it on my GPS; gave it a special reference code for the GPS waypoint; recorded this waypoint into a journal and took notes on its features, rough score, behavior, what it was doing, where we thought it was headed to/coming from, time of sighting, etc.; then I would take a picture of the antelope with my digital camera/spotting scope. Now we are transferring this information to maps and re-naming each digital photo with the special code for each waypoint so we have a visual reference and GPS location to each antelope so we can put together a game plan before the archery opener. Of the 600-700 antelope we saw, we marked and made notes detailing about 105 bucks (no duplicates). Of these bucks, and using Mike’s 4x7 scoring system, we estimated that a majority of them were Pope and Young, with several in the 70-75” range. I don’t think we saw one that quite pushed 80” though.

Alright, there’s a little background to precede a few questions I have for you guys based on the behavior of the speed goats we saw this weekend (sorry this is a bit lengthy...feel free to answer just certain questions if you want).

The first question I have, or at least observation that we made, was that the largest bucks were either by themselves or with harems of does that contained no other bucks. We saw many bachelor groups of bucks as well, but a lot of these groups consisted of smaller bucks and maybe a few nicer ones mixed in every now and then. These groups numbered in quantity of 5, 7, and even 14 bucks (and a few in between). I guess my question would be that is it typical for larger, more dominant bucks to isolate themselves this time of year and in some cases already be gathering their harems? This was August 6th and 7th when we observed this. Also, of these bachelor groups, will all the bucks stay in the same general area over the fall or will they spread-out much? Will the larger bucks stay in the same area?

The second question is that when we spotted the bucks, a lot of them, and probably mainly the more dominant and larger ones, would make scrapes in front of us. They knew we were there so was that a way of showing aggression towards us to “protect” their harem” or were they just nervous? Most of the time this occurred when there were other does around. They would paw at the ground and then make droppings where they just scraped. Is this common this time of year?

The last question I have is that the area that we scouted consists of 95%+ of grassland and pastures (like most antelope country), but there are a few small alfalfa hay fields and some cut grass hay fields (round hay bales are still sitting in some of them). It seemed that we would find antelope in these areas, especially early morning and evenings. I know they probably use this as a feeding area but I also know they feed on the taller, uncut grass as well. I did spot some of the antelope bedded right in the alfalfa in the middle of the day so I am uncertain if they were bedded there or feeding there? Maybe both at the same time? If I were looking to setup a ground blind, when can I expect the antelope to feed, bed, and water? I am uncertain if they also bed in these fields? Do antelope feed all night? I know they feed throughout the day and water in the day because of their small stomachs. How and when do I hunt this area and get in and out without spooking the antelope? What times of day and night do they generally a) feed, b) bed, and c) water? Any more insight on this would be extremely helpful.

Also, I have attached a few pictures of the antelope we spotted. Feel free to give your best guesses on their scores if you want or just look take a peek for your enjoyment! The picture file name format is “AB*-11” where the “*” is the number of the buck so you can see which pictures are of the same buck. Also, these are in my personal album “2011 Antelope Scouting” if you want to see additional photos since I can only upload 5 per post. Thanks a lot guys for your responses in advance! Good luck this fall!

John

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wby4life
09-01-2011, 08:15 AM
I have condensed my previous post and questions so it is a little easier to read and gets right to the points that I would really like for someone to help answer. Thanks!

My first question…is it typical for larger, more dominant bucks to isolate themselves this time of year (August 6th) and in some cases already start gathering their harems? Also, of the bachelor groups, will all the bucks stay in the same general area over the fall or will they spread-out much? Will the larger bucks stay in the same area?

The second question is that when we spotted the bucks on this scouting trip, a lot of them, and probably mainly the more dominant and larger ones, would make scrapes in front of us. They knew we were there so was that a way of showing aggression towards us to “protect” their harem” or were they just nervous? Most of the time this occurred when there were other does around. They would paw at the ground and then make droppings where they just scraped. Is this common this time of year? I think I remember from Mike’s book that they make scrapes most of the year?

The last question I have is that the area that we scouted consists of 95%+ of grassland and pastures (like most antelope country), but there are a few small alfalfa hay fields and some cut grass hay fields (round hay bales are still sitting in some of them). It seemed that we would find antelope in these areas, especially early morning and evenings. I know they probably use this as a feeding area but I also know they feed on the taller, uncut grass as well. I did spot some of the antelope bedded right in the alfalfa in the middle of the day so I am uncertain if they were bedded there or feeding there? Maybe both at the same time? If I were looking to setup a ground blind, when can I expect the antelope to feed, bed, and water? I am uncertain if they also bed in these fields? Do antelope feed all night? I know they feed throughout the day and water in the day because of their small stomachs. How and when do I hunt this area and get in and out without spooking the antelope? What times of day and night do they generally a) feed, b) bed, and c) water? Any more insight on this would be extremely helpful.

Mike
09-05-2011, 08:44 AM
Wby4life first I would like to invite you to read my book on antelope hunting. In the book I have a whole chapter on what I call Alpha bucks. They have a territory and after the winter will go back and stack out that territory every spring until they are run off by a much more aggressive buck. In there territory they will make scrapes and other bucks that come in will make scrapes. No indication that scrapes are recognized by does or other bucks. The rut starts in September and bachelor bucks that don’t have a territory are wondering around looking for does. If they come into an Alpha bucks territory they will get run off for sure.

The best place to set up with a blind is on water. Get into it dark morning and stay in until dark night. Antelope will come into water each day. And will come in at generally the same time each day and it could be any time of the day. So just waiting in a blind on water holes is the way most bow hunters harvest bucks. The spot and stock can work but takes more skill. All these questions are address in the book. Oh those bucks in the photo I would say are low 70’s high 60’s. With the book is a DVD with a section on field judging with plenty footage of different size bucks. The book will address all your questions about trophy antelope hunting. Good luck and let me know how you do. Mike Eastman

wby4life
09-07-2011, 09:32 AM
Thanks for your help Mike! I actually read your book awhile ago, but I tend to have a bad memory so I am re-reading it now to try and pick up on the points that we are discussing now. It's a good read (just like your mule deer book) so it's not really a chore to have to read it again - good work!

I'm headed out west hunting today and plan on spending 4 days to try to get a good buck...we'll see! Thanks again and I hope to have some good photos and a good story to share with you! Good luck this fall.

bowhuntress
09-07-2011, 11:20 AM
Hope to see some trophy pictures when you come back to the forum! Good luck on the hunt!

wby4life
09-27-2011, 03:38 PM
1758

Sorry for the late response...we got 1 of the 4 bucks we could shoot. Also a doe as well. Saw lots of antelope but had a little bad luck on a couple of them (including a 75" buck that was at 1000 yards the whole day but would not come into our water hole).

Elkoholic307
09-27-2011, 07:37 PM
Nick Mundt?

wby4life
09-27-2011, 07:53 PM
Yeah it is....we all had a great time on this hunt. We live in the same town now and I shoot with him and his gf on occasion. This happened to be our first hunt together...hope to have a few more.

Codes
10-04-2011, 07:06 PM
What part of SD? We ran into some guys from Brookings...they worked at a taxidermy place. Do you happen to know them?

Of those pics I dont think you have any that would reach in the 70's. Low to mid 60's.

Congrats on the speedgoat!

wby4life
10-06-2011, 07:45 AM
What part of SD? We ran into some guys from Brookings...they worked at a taxidermy place. Do you happen to know them?

Of those pics I dont think you have any that would reach in the 70's. Low to mid 60's.

Congrats on the speedgoat!

Codes:

Thanks! I sent you a personal message to discuss.

wby4life
10-06-2011, 08:08 AM
1814

Well I finally got an antelope...my first! It was with my Weatherby .257 rifle (first time rifle hunting antelope), didn't end up connecting with my bow this year, but it was good to finally get one under my belt! We got some great footage of it too and I am working on getting it edited so I can share with you guys!

We had saw a lot of nice bucks on public land (scouted/archery hunted this area about 5 days over the past 2 months), even a few great ones that we had spotted for the 3rd or 4th occasion, but it just got flooded with hunters the day before the opener! I was able to find a piece of land that no one seemed to be scouting and spotted 4-5 fair bucks (2 of which looked like they were going to square off). So I came back there the next morning thinking that this would be my best chance to not compete with 100's of hunters and spotted this one at 1000 yards at first light. My brother-in-law got in a drainage and stalked to within 340 yards and it seemed that it was time to take the shot as I was losing elevation on him as he was getting lower towards a water hole. When I was settling the crosshairs he finally did get too low and I had to move. I was able to reposition on him at 275 yards. He was walking right at me (towards a water hole between us) so I had to wait until he turned broadside. When he finally did, I squeezed off the shot and he went right down! What a great feeling! I have shot a lot of deer over the past 13 years but shooting my first antelope was like shooting my first deer 13 years ago....awesome!

Pronghorn73
10-06-2011, 10:08 AM
Good job, congrats.